I was reminded of the importance of my family this past weekend as we celebrated the annual Marcon Family Reunion in Door County, WI. It was an unusually high turnout this year. We had more than 75 family members descend on our special summer spot. Our home, in particular, was filled with sleeping bags, kids toys, beach towels, and enough electronics to open an Apple Store.
It was a bittersweet reunion as it was the first one without either of my parents in attendance. They were the patriarchs of the family. That role has now fallen to me. As with most of my personal events, I was struck by the parallels to business. I think there is a clinical diagnosis for people that find the business application in every personal situation.
“Yes, it is called “pathetic,” my wife, Mary, comments as she reads over my shoulder.
What can we learn from family reunions that will make our businesses better?
Celebrate the past
Like families, businesses cannot forget the past. It is the foundation upon which we build. The stronger the tie to the past, the stronger the foundation.
Honor your elders
At reunion time, the “elders” of the family are held in high esteem. All of the youngsters show up to “kiss the rings” and hear the stories. If you learn not to roll your eyes at the stories but, rather, open your eyes to the wisdom of those who have done it before you, you can really learn a lot. It can save you from much pain and suffering down the road.
Build on tradition
Every year, we add a little new event, item, location, etc to our reunion. We don’t turn the whole thing on its head; instead, we build on the foundation of the past.
Embrace the next generation
The next generation is the lifeblood of a family. It is also the lifeblood of a business. Embrace them. Learn from them.
Mourn the losses
Every year, we take a moment before our reunion dinner to mourn the losses of those who are no longer with us. We are sad for the loss of their company. We get great joy from the life they led and the impact they had on our lives. Imagine if businesses did the same thing when a valued colleague departed the company?
The family reunion is fun. We laugh… A lot. We need to laugh more in business. Better ideas come from people who smile (I think the Harvard Business Review studied that).
We do not start an event at the Marcon Family Reunion without a prayer of thanks – for our family, for our health, for our good fortune, and for the strength to lead and have an impact on the world. In my book, that’s not a bad thing for most businesses to recognize as well.
If you want to learn these lessons first hand, we’ll all be back in Door County, WI next summer on the weekend of July 28. But, I suggest not waiting that long.
Michael C. Marcon is the founder & CEO of Equity Risk Partners and former chairman of the Ursinus College board of trustees. He tweets from @mcm7464. Tweet him any of your questions about business, leadership or life.