Today’s episode features Jack Beauregard from the Successful Transition Planning Institue. In this episode, we’re talking about authenticity and what is involved in living a good life and leaving your business with a compelling future ahead of you. We’re also going to talk about Jack’s new book: 7 Principles for Living with Authenticity.
Jack has been an outspoken proponent of making sure that you have something besides golf or travel to look forward to when it’s time to leave your business. If you don’t pay attention to his message, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with sellers remorse. And, I’m sure that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.
Here are some of the things we’ll be covering in this episode:
- Why connecting with who you are is crucial to have a successful exit from your business.
- Get rid of the either or thought process you might have.
- What’s the next act in your life going to involve?
- Learn to have your identity be more than your business.
- Learn what the really important questions are for your life after business.
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Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business.
And you’re in for a big treat today. You know, of the things that I have talked about forever are what I call the remorses in life. And there’s lots of remorses. If you own a business, you could sell your business and end up with seller’s remorse. You could make a trust and end up with giver’s remorse. So, there’s lots of remorses that we have in the world. And one of the things that keeps us from having these remorses is proper planning.
Our guest today is Jack Beauregard. Jack is a really interesting guy. He’s written three very good books. He’s from the Successful Transition Institute. He is the founder of it. His first book was The Power of Balance. His second book, Finding Your New Owner, for Your Business, for Your Life was where how I came across him because I work in business transitions and I have learned, over the years that most transitions really fall apart because owners don’t know what they’re going to do after they leave their business and haven’t planned properly.
And his newest book which I really like is Seven Principles for Living with Authenticity. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, is how to live an authentic life. And instead of me yammering on like I have a tendency to do, let’s bring Jack in.
Hey, Jack. How are you today?
Jack: Good. Thank you, Josh.
Josh: So, what is living with authenticity?
Jack: Living with authenticity is basically really breaking out of the attachment – of the external orientation or the false self and discovering first and connecting with who you really are. And one thing I have found so often in the business succession arena is that to be successful an owner needs to know who they really are and ought to know what they really want to do, both with their business and with their life.
Josh: That makes a whole bunch of sense to me. You know, it seems to me that an awful lot of owners, and I could put myself in that category for many years, really don’t pay a lot of attention to their personal values. And do values have a role here?
Jack: Key roles. You know, what we value, when we were in our 20s and 30s, starting a business, and what we value in our 60s and 70s are totally different. And we have to make our choices based on the values that we have at our current stage of life.
Josh: So, when people don’t have a successful exit from their business, how does your book of Living with Authenticity fall into that? And how would that help them from keeping from having that exit, which they say, “Gee, I wish I didn’t do that.”
Jack: Really, what it comes down to is a new way of thinking. They cannot use the either/or way of mentality that made an owner successful, you know, in the business, growing the business where “I’m going to beat the competition”. It’s either I will win or lose. It’s an either/or, black and white mindset. What needs to happen is a transforming their thought process to a both/and way of thinking.
Josh: What is a both/and way of thinking?
Jack: Basically—well, let me give you an example with owners. Most owners are Chief Operating Officers .They go into the company on a daily basis and they’re solving a problem. They are running the company. But they also need to take on a new role of CEO – Chief Executive Officer, and figure out “what am I going to do with this business three to five years from now?” So, they’re both in the company and outside of the company.
The same thing in regards to doing a transition – not only for the business but for their personal life, is that what they need to do is to figure out what do they really want to do and not to fall into a void after they leave the business.
Josh: Yeah, that’s really a key point. And the only way I’ve ever seen business owners be able to do that is to become operationally irrelevant in their business which means they’re out of the day-to-day operations but they’re very strategically involved in their business. And we coach people. And I’m interested in your comment on this, to actually start leaving their business as soon as they successfully become operationally irrelevant and become an owner and not a manager.
Jack: It’s a good point. You know, really, in a way, they really should’ve started having an exit plan when they first started the business. Have an end goal in sight.
Josh: And, you know, people tell me that all the time. And frankly, when I think back to when I was starting a business, if somebody had told me that I needed to have an exit plan, I probably would’ve said, “Get the hell out of here” because I have no interest in it. And frankly, I didn’t have time for it back then.
For me, my own story was, my industry went away so I had to leave the business. And it really was a five-year process of realizing the industry was going away. Luckily for me, I did a “what next?” process before I left and I was lucky. I didn’t learn any of this stuff until I went into my next business which is the advice business that we’re in today.
In your own particular journey, you’ve been through a similar journey, we owned a bunch of companies, how did you come to the realization that you needed to be thinking about the next chapter in your life?
Jack: When I started the Institute, one of the key factors was “what am I going to do as I age?” So, I built in a succession plan into the operation of the business. And that’s where my business partner comes in where Paul Cronin will be taking over running the company as I will be pursuing what I’ve really wanted to do, is to speaking and talking more about the identity issue that holds so many of the owners back.
Josh: So, let’s talk about that. What is the identity issue? That’s an interesting term.
Jack: Really, I have found, Josh, over the years that a key factor besides the emotions and fears for the soft issues is the identity of the owner is that, “I am a business owner” and they’re not able to answer “who am I when I’m no longer on the business?”
Josh: Oh, great point. That is absolutely so true. You know, the folks that I see who sell businesses and have seller’s remorse, which is unfortunately the vast majority, that’s their issue. The phone stops ringing.
Jack: Yup. The whole sense of feeling irrelevant.
Josh: Yeah. When I sold my vending company, I was arguably one the most important people in the industry – at least, in my own mind. But everybody in the industry knew me. The day I sold my business was the day the phone stopped ringing. And if I hadn’t had a new place to go, I would’ve been devastated.
Jack: Exactly, because, again, it’s who we are. We just totally identify not only with the business but the roles, the sense of relevancy and our social contacts.
Josh: So, when we talk about the power of authenticity as it factors into the business succession process, what does that mean?
Jack: First thing is, what happens is it solves a major issue as owners take an R&D approach. And this time it doesn’t mean research and development but repression and denial.
Josh: I love that.
Jack: But it’s so true. It’s that, you know—I have heard so many of the accounts say , you know, “Bill, you’re 68 years old, 80% of your net worth is tied in the business. What are you going to do?” “I don’t want to talk about it. Talk to me in five years.” The whole issue is that they repress it and deny it as if they’re never going to leave which is never going to happen. They’re going to leave vertically or horizontally. That’s a fact.
So, that’s where the authenticity comes as it breaks through that repression and denial. And it also goes back to is, “what real outcome goals do they want for their personal life, for the business? And what’s their transition goals for the business and for their life?”
Josh: Those are really good questions. You know, one of the things you said just now is five years. And every time I here that somebody who owns a business say, “five years” I suspect true, what I call perma-five.
Jack: Yeah, a good term. It’s true.
Josh: And, you know, you immediately picked up what perma-five is. But perma-five is whatever’s going to happen is five years off. And if I go back two years later, it’s still five years. And three years later, it’s still five years. And what I’ve learned when people say five years, it really means they have no idea what they need to do. They just know there’s something there.
Jack: Exactly. And they don’t even want to discuss it. It’s like “go away” [inaudible 00:08:46] don’t they?
Josh: Well, they certainly don’t want to discuss it. They don’t know what to discuss because they’re not sure what the issue is.
Jack: Exactly. And also, it’s really—it’s fascinating because entrepreneur business for you, the upside is they’re risk tolerant. But the downside is, they rather not know what to do in order to avoid the emotional pain of thinking about the whole issue of leaving.
Josh: Yeah. It’s absolutely true.
One of things that I know that you do a lot of work on, which is what owners need to become aware of before they engage a professional transaction adviser. Can we spend a little bit of time talking about that?
What they really need to know is to have clarity because they don’t want to start paying for the nuts and bolts of advisors if they don’t know where they’re going to go. So, what they really need to know is what the goals and objectives are that they want to accomplish with the whole businesses transition process, what their attitudes and emotions are about the whole transition process? How do they feel about leaving their companies? So many owners are emotionally attached. It’s their baby. It’s one and the same. And also, how prepared are they intellectually, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually for this major transition?
Josh: And the other thing I think which is probably important to realize is, once you get into the process, the transactional guys really only care about transaction. They don’t care about your purposefulness in life or what you want out of life. They just want to sell your business.
Jack: That’s it exactly. That’s where they make their money. They’re totally transactional. And that’s why the owner needs somebody – that’s the way we train transition planning consultants who’ve been focused on, is that we’re going to find new meaning and purpose when you leave. That’s a key point. Where are you going to get new structure?
Josh: Yeah. We do a lot of work in Transitions. One of the things that we know, when people go through a death, or they go through a divorce, or they go through losing a job – their IQ drops relatively significantly, about 30%, especially with the death of a spouse. I’m willing to bet the same thing happens when people sell their business.
Jack: That’s interesting. Let’s go back, so your listeners will know what’s really involved in a transition, it’s that everything in our daily life has a beginning, middle and an end. It’s linear.
Jack: We get up in the morning. We have breakfast. We’re going to have lunch and we’re going to have dinner and go to bed. It’s linear.
But what happens, in a major transition like this is that there’s an ending. The ending is leaving the professional career, leaving the business and a new beginning. So, the normal life gets flipped. So, it’s an ending and then a beginning. And in between that new beginning and the ending, is what I call a transformation zone.
All of a sudden, now you’re out of the sandbox that you’ve been playing on all the years. In the heart are your values. There’s a real questioning of “Who am I? What’s really meaningful? Where am I going to get sense of purpose?” And a lot of the old psychological issue from childhood arise at this time.
Josh: Interesting. What kind of psychological issues might arise?
Jack: Let me give you an analogy. An owner sells, he has a nice liquidity event. He buys a brand new sailboat, I’m in Boston. And he goes down there. It’s all fully equipped, got some provisions, got fuel. He lets the bow – the front line, the bow line side go and he’s got the throttle down, and the engine’s turning. He’s going with the gas and he’s going nowhere. And the reason why he hasn’t [inaudible 00:12:06] around and noticed that his back lines – his stern lines are still attached to the dock.
And I’ve heard so many owners say, in this type of situation, it’s the old tapes – the old negative condition, the old demons – and that’s their terms, that’s holding them back from moving on.
Josh: Interesting. So, how would you go about fixing those old demons?
Jack: We have programs that deal with the fears. There’s actually 52 fears that can get triggered when people go through a major life transition, 14 of them are specifically owner-orientated. But we honor those. Usually, in our questionnaire, it’ll be about 10 to 12 are the ones that will come out but we have a methodology to deal with them. And really, it’s about four or five fears that hold the owners back. And these four or five fears will feed on into themselves. And the other fears will evaporate in light of awareness or they just become concerns.
Josh: So, what are some of those four or five fears?
Jack: One of the key ones is being afraid of being bored.
Josh: Ah, that would be a good one.
What else would they come up with?
Jack: Fear of doing it wrong. And not so much with the perfectionism that comes in.
Josh: That’s a lack of tolerance for mistakes.
Jack: Exactly. And what I’ve found is, Josh, there’s a lot of professions owners, the best thing for them to do is not even get involved in the process because (1) they can’t deal with the process. Everything’s either 1 or 100.
Jack: And 1 to 99 is forgotten.
Jack: (2) And the other one is if they don’t do anything, they can’t make a mistake, so don’t do it.
Josh: When they can learn to deal with mistakes is learning opportunities too which is–
Jack: Well, that’s what they need to do.
Josh: Which will be my recommendation but that’s just my recommendation so.
Jack: Transition is a process. That’s for sure.
So, in your new book, you talk about something – I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and studying about. I think it’s really interesting, the term called neuroplasticity. Could you explain what neruoplasticity is and how it relates to the transition process and some of these fears that people will be going through?
Jack: It’s actually the most uplifting medical discovery in the past five years from neuroscience. Previously, it was believed that our brains were a fixed entity at an early age, so nothing changed. But with the new technology, neuroscience has found that actually the brain has plasticity. In other words, it can change.
So, the old fears, it’s ingrained. There’s no pixie dust that’s going to make these fears and old negative thoughts go away. They’re there.
But what kind of happens is that they become aware of them, then you can actually start creating a whole new channel in your brain. And the more you reinforce it, the stronger it gets. And the old neuropathway starts to atrophy. So, really, it comes down is that you can really re-program your brain at any age – which is fantastic.
Josh: So, how do you go about doing that?
Jack: The first thing is what are you really afraid of? Deal with that.
Usually, it’s like an onion. “Yeah, well, okay, I’m afraid of being bored.” Then, underneath that, what’s really causing that fear? Say, it’s the fear of being irrelevant. Okay, then the next question is, “How does this fear affect your thinking about leaving your business or you’re transitioning to a new life?” Then, “What would you like to think, feel and do instead of having this fear?” and then creating a new positive statement to counterbalance that fear.
That positive statement is the neuroplasticity that’s an equivalent to the old fear. So, any time that old fear comes up, they can look at this new positive statement they have created and reinforce. They’ll be able to move on.
Josh: So, do they want to write what that new statement is? Or do they want to say it to themselves and how often, how long do they have to do that for?
Jack: Number 1 is to write it down. So, after they do this, they’ll write it down and put it in a conspicuous place for them to look at. I’ve gone back to doing this when I was doing direct client work, say, seven, eight, nine months later and then I’ve seen it on their desk typed up, there are their positive statements. So they know, when that fear comes up – and it will come up, that they can counter balance it. They’ve got an alternative.
Josh: Yeah. That’s really interesting.
Now, does mindfulness or meditation play a role here?
Jack: It does but it doesn’t. Mindfulness is really used so often for reducing stress, living in the present.
What I talk about in the book on authenticity is a centering technique where you’re really starting to center in on who you really are before all the conditioning in childhood because so many of us, again, at that deep level, identified with negative conditioning from our parents, our teachers, et cetera. And it’s very much assumptions of toxic shame. So, by centering on your true self, you can really know “Who am I?” and [inaudible 00:16:58] really discover you’re unique gifts and talents and what, really, your passion, and what your real mission and purpose is in life.
Josh: So, to do this sort of work, it sounds like we’re getting the pretty, heavy psychological stuff. Would it make sense to try to find somebody who is a psychologist, who understands neuroplasticity and can work with it?
Jack: No, it’s too complicated (1) and actually to be honest with you, (2) is that I’m training new psychologists in this methodology. Because what I’ve done is to take these types of issues and dress it up in a business suit.
Jack: So, it’s a step by step methodology that business owners understand and feel comfortable with.
Josh: Interesting, interesting.
So, one of the things you might want—I mean, this is something that I’ve been doing recently is that, in the research I’ve done on neuroplasticity, they’ve said that listening to Mozart’s string pieces will help open pathways in your brain. And I’ve been doing that. I happen to have bad neuropathy with my feet which are always in pain and believe it or not, it works. So, there is a lot of really interesting new things going on in this field that not only fits with your brain waves but also if you combine what’s called behavioral economics with this which is why we do things that we do. My guess is you’re getting some pretty extraordinary results.
Jack: The key thing is that I’m still getting e-mails – in fact, I’ve got one about four weeks ago from – this is an owner I helped ten year ago. And out of the clear blue sky, got an e-mail saying, “Thanks, you know, life is good.” He found his purpose in life.
Josh: Cool. Well, that is such a neat thing.
Hey, I’ve got to tell you folks, this is a book you really should be reading – The Seven Principles with Living with Authenticity. And you also might want to talk to Jack and his organization if you’re in the process where an exit from your business is in your future.
And Jack, we’re out of time. So, I know people are going to want to get in touch with you, how would they go about doing that?
Jack: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s theplatinumyears.com because we don’t believe in traditional retirement. We’re transforming the golden years of traditional retirement to the platinum years – the best years of your life. Or, they can call (800) 414-9405.
Josh: Hey, Jack, thanks so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
And I also have an offer for you, too. It’s our one-hour audio CD. It’s called Successes to Sustainability: The Five Things You Need to do to Make Your Business Personally and Economically Sustainable. It’s a physical audio CD, so it’s really easy to get. All you have to do is take out your smartphone and text the word SUSTAINABLE to 44222. That’s SUSTAINABLE to 44222. You’ll get a link. You give your address. We mail out that audio CD to you.
And you’re at the Sustainable Business. This is Josh Patrick. Thanks so much for spending some time with us. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.