Have you ever been in business with someone close to you? Have things ever gotten highly emotional and extremely personal?

Zee and his two siblings worked well together until COVID hit and their company started to go under. Zee wanted to innovate and use this opportunity to create something new, but his siblings were stuck in their old ways. Together, they ran a company that built and maintained cafeterias for large corporations. Zee believed it was time to branch out and create a catering service, but his siblings disagreed, they weren’t willing to take the risk. As COVID went on, the siblings continued to fight, and Zee didn’t know where to turn. He didn’t want to leave his own company, but he didn’t see many other options.

The first thing I would do is ask Zee where his priorities lie. If staying in the company and maintaining a relationship with his siblings is his top priority, Zee needs to be okay with letting go of his idea and work with his siblings to come up with a new idea. If pursuing this idea and making money is his top priority, Zee needs to be okay to let go of this company and find a way to maintain a relationship with his siblings nevertheless.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? Do you have a case you’d like to talk about? Share your story! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to us:



Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast. And today is Fridays with Ferne, where my daughter Ferne comes onto the podcast and gives us a case to work on.  

Ferne, welcome.  

[00:00:21] Ferne Kotlyar:
Hello, thank you so much! Thank you for having me.  

[00:00:24] Kim Ades:
Thank you for being here. What do you have in store for us today?  

[00:00:28] Ferne Kotlyar:
So today we have a case about two brothers named Ben and Z, and essentially they work really well together and they decided to start a business together. This business is selling lunch booths to big companies so that their employees can eat. And so the company does really, really well. It thrives. It's great. And they end up hiring their sister.  

[00:00:51] Kim Ades:
Hold on a second. What does a lunch booth?  

[00:00:55] Ferne Kotlyar:
It's essentially, they sell like a cafeteria type of thing to big companies so that big companies can give food to their employees. So for example, like a big... Yeah, like Microsoft, for example, or a big company like that. 

[00:01:11] Kim Ades:
So they go into the company and set up a cafeteria.  

[00:01:14] Ferne Kotlyar:
Exactly. Yeah. So their employees, you know, work longer, they stay inside, they do what they need to do, but their employees are happier because they have food accessible to them.  

[00:01:25] Kim Ades:
Got it.  

[00:01:26] Ferne Kotlyar:
So they set up this lunch booth, right? The company is thriving, they hired their sister. You know, the company does super well and then COVID hits and their company takes a bit of a hit as well. And they're stressing out a bit and Z comes up with this idea to essentially make a catering service. So instead of having these big cafeterias in a big company, they do this catering service. So the company pays for it and they deliver food to their employees during the day.  

And Ben, so the brother says "no, this is a terrible idea. I don't agree". And the sister tends to agree with everything Ben says,and they end up-- you know, Z feels as though they're teaming up together and they don't like this idea and Z feels undermined and he feels like they don't listen to him and they're not appreciating his really good idea.  

And so Z starts talking to other people in the company about this idea and his siblings get upset because they told him it was a bad idea and, you know, they start bickering and butting heads. And Z feels really upset because he feels like, not lonely, but a bit disconnected from the rest of his family, from the team. And it starts to kind of bleed into their family life, obviously.  

The spouses and the kids get involved. You know, they only hear one side of the story and everyone gets upset and it's just this big mess. And now Z starts to feel like he's kind of being pushed out of the company. And he feels trapped because he's not ready to leave. 

I mean, it was his company, his idea with Ben, of course. And now he feels like he's being pushed out and he doesn't know what to do because, you know, he's not ready to leave, but he's really upset and frustrated and feels like it's really impacting the rest of his life.  

[00:03:18] Kim Ades:
Okay. Good one and not uncommon. I see a lot of clients who are in family businesses, who have conflict, tension in their relationships. And one of them often feels like, you know, they don't belong, they feel like they're getting pushed out. This is not an uncommon situation.  

Okay. So the first question that I would ask Z is, what are your priorities? And more importantly, what are your highest values? Is it super important to keep this family united? Is that the priority? Or is the priority to figure out how to survive during COVID and make sure that you're making a whole bunch of money so that your family's, you know, in a good financial position? What is your priority? 

And I would also ask questions like let's say COVID lasted a while, which as we know it did, could the company survive? And I would really dig in to try to find out what his number one most important priority is, both in the short term and the longterm.  

And so I think that that his course of action or his strategy will differ depending on his number one priority. So if his number one priority is the family, maybe what he does is he says "okay, well, if you don't like this idea, let's come together and brainstorm and come up with another idea. I'm happy to abandon this idea. But if we continue on this path, you know, here's the projection, here's what it's going to look like. We need another alternative. We need to..."

The term that people use in business, I use it differently... "We need to pivot. We need to think differently. We need to think about our goal and we need to think about how to achieve that goal". And so he can't approach it without attachment to his particular idea, but he could come to the family and say "well, we have a problem we need to solve. It's really important that we stay together as a family".  

If that's his value and if that's important to him, but we need to come up with an alternative solution because continuing this course of action, which is doing nothing, is going to lead us all to a very bad place. So if you don't like this idea, okay, let's come up with an alternative idea. There are multiple ideas that are possible and available.  

And the idea is that Z has the ability to get his siblings in a room to talk it through, work it out, solve the problem. And if at that point the problem is unsolvable, now Z comes to a point where he has to make a decision about whether to stay or whether to go. Whether to buy them out or whether to be asked to be bought out. Whether to step aside temporarily and go start something else on his own. He has to figure all that out, but I don't think he can figure it out before giving it a fair shot. 

What happens in relationships is, where conflict truly happens, is when one person has an idea that they're not willing to let go of. That they're not willing to abandon, right? So they have the need to be absolutely right. Now, is Z right? We don't know if he's right. You know, he wants to cater to offices when nobody's in an office. So, is his-- Yeah?  

[00:06:43] Ferne Kotlyar:
Well, I think the idea was to cater to people's homes because nobody's in the office.  

[00:06:48] Kim Ades:
Got it. So the question is maybe there's an adaptation of this idea. Maybe there's a miscommunication. Maybe they don't understand his idea. But the thing is that he needs to come to the table without an attachment to the idea, without needing to be right, and with the desire to come up with a mutually acceptable solution.  

And so what happens is people take stances "yes or no", and because of those stances, they're unable to come together and look for alternatives and look at the resources around them and find solutions that work for everybody.  

[00:07:29] Ferne Kotlyar:
So essentially what you're saying is that he's being stubborn, while they both are. 

[00:07:33] Kim Ades:
I'm saying that when two parties are being stubborn or when two people are attached to their point of view or to their vision or to their opinion, it's very hard for us to come and find alternative solutions. And right now it sounds like both of them are very attached to their opinions. 

[00:07:54] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:07:55] Kim Ades:
So, in order for anything to shift, Z has to be willing to give up his opinion and say "okay, fine. You don't like this idea? Let's come up with another idea. But let's come together and try to find an idea". If that's impossible, if that still doesn't work, then he has to consider his options, which could be "I do need to leave the company. I need to buy them out. I need to be purchased". Whatever it is.  

But before that happens, we need to explore alternatives. And right now it's-- I hate situations that are either black or white, and it's either my way or the highway. And that's exactly what Z has created and what Ben and his sister have created. Right? 

It's a yes or no situation. And I find that very, very rarely in businesses are there yes or no situations. There are always alternatives. And what stops us from considering those alternatives is our thinking. We believe that there's only one way and that one way prevents us from looking at a bigger picture and bringing in other ideas. Right? We're very, very narrow minded and that blocks our ability to entertain even other suggestions or ideas. And right now that's what we see with Z and his brother Ben and his sister.  

So what we want to do is say to Z okay, suspend your idea for a moment. It doesn't have to be this idea. There are a million possibilities. Let's explore those million possibilities. And if your family is truly your highest value, let's put that at the forefront.  

Let's say "Hey, we've gone down a bad road. Let's back up a minute. You guys are important to me. It's important we're doing this together here. It was my vision that it was a family business. I still want to be in a family business and let's correct what we've just created and let's come up with a solution that works for everybody, and let's explore all of the options until we find one that makes complete sense".  

And perhaps it's an option that makes complete sense with or without COVID. And you know, perhaps that's a better course of action anyways. Maybe it's a business that they can continue working with even when COVID comes to its conclusion.  

[00:10:22] Ferne Kotlyar:
Yeah. I mean, hopefully it does come to a conclusion soon. But in terms of that idea. And so let's say, you know, Z does that. He talks to his family, he tries to be as open as possible, and at the end of the conversation, he still feels like they don't listen to him and that they're just completely closed off and he decides to leave. How does he maintain a relationship with them afterwards, if he feels kind of resentful?  

[00:10:50] Kim Ades:
Yeah, again, not long ago, I had a podcast with a gentleman who had exactly that situation. Exactly that. And the answer was "do you love your siblings?" And he said "yes, absolutely. I do". And so I said "so, the persistent in building a relationship with them". And all my opinion is sometimes things in the moment appear to be bad, horrible, terrible, awful situations, traumatic even, but all things that happen lead to... is part of a path, is part of a journey and takes you to the next destination.  

And so the problem is we can't always see what that next destination is. We can't always see that that destination could be more exciting, better, more interesting, more opportunities for growth. We can't see it from the vantage point of suffering, the vantage point of struggle.  

So right now he's struggling. And so he still holds resentment, but resentment doesn't serve him. It doesn't do anything good for him. It doesn't help him get to that next destination anymore quickly. Right? It actually slows him down. And so if I were working with Z, I would really, really help him pinpoint what he wants. And what he probably wants is a great relationship with his siblings and a thriving business.  

And so I would help him work towards that. 'Cause what resentment does is it blocks his relationship with his siblings, which he doesn't want, and it also gets in the way and it prevents him from really moving forward quickly towards the new destination. Right? He gets slow, right? It slows him down in the process. We don't want him to get slowed down.  

And so we want to help him be okay with the decisions he's made and be okay with the decisions that his siblings have made. And help him understand that people make decisions from where they are in terms of their growth, their intellect, their capacity to understand, their fears, their beliefs, that's where they make decisions from. And so be okay with it and move forward.  

[00:13:05] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:13:06] Kim Ades:
And so part of the problem is that when two people have conflict, let's say I were to have conflict with you and that will never happen, right? 

[00:13:16] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:13:16] Kim Ades:
But let's say [laughs] let's say we had conflict and you were upset, I have to decide, and I always do decide. You're my daughter, I love you, it doesn't matter what we fight about, I'm still going to show up the next day. I'm still going to text you. I'm going to email you. I'm still gonna call you. I'm still gonna say "hi, I love you", right?  

[00:13:33] Ferne Kotlyar:
Thanks, mom.  

[00:13:34] Kim Ades:
I'm still gonna... right? So your behavior doesn't interfere with my ability to be clear about my feelings for you and my love for you. And so my behavior is consistently present and I encourage Z to have consistently present behavior and presence in the lives of his siblings as well, even though there's this conflict and tension.  

[00:14:01] Ferne Kotlyar:
And if they hold this resentment and they, you know, aren't as friendly with him as they used to be, then he still should be persistent despite their bad attitude.  

[00:14:12] Kim Ades:
It depends on what he wants, right? So are they harming him? If they're harming him, he needs to walk away. But if they're just being, you know, a little grumpy, if they're being a little mean, if they're being a little, how do I explain it? If they're being... if they're not ready to turn the corner, that's okay, he can wait it out. Right? So it depends on what's actually going on.  

You know, some relationships need to come to an end. But when someone's just in a, you know, in a bad place, we can ride it out with them. Because at the end of the day, that's what family does. We ride the waves of the good, the bad, the hard times, the good times. That's what we do.  

[00:14:59] Ferne Kotlyar:
Yeah, definitely. And so you mentioned at the beginning that if, you know, depending on his priority, I'd recommend different course of action. And so originally you said, you know, "if his priority was his family, then this is what I would recommend". And so what would you recommend if his priority was making money?  

[00:15:17] Kim Ades:
Well, if he was in a situation where he absolutely had to, you know, make money and figure out a way to keep his family alive and eating, then I would suggest to him to take a break from the business and, you know, do something else. Start a new business, get a job, something else. But remove himself temporarily from what he's doing, since that's not really working, and find a temporary other course of action, if that was his priority. Right? So we have to look at those priorities.  

[00:15:52] Ferne Kotlyar:
So it seems like neither of these suggestions would be to hold on to that idea.  

[00:15:59] Kim Ades:
I mean, he can take that idea and go run with it himself, possibly. But I want him to make all decisions from a place of clarity, not from a place of frustration. I want him to make all decisions from a place of peacefulness, being okay with the way other people see the world. 

I don't want him to make decisions that say "fine, I'll show them", right? That's not what we're after. We're after a person who kind of sees the world as it's laid out, is okay with other people's point of views, and can decide differently for himself. But doesn't have to hold a grudge, doesn't have to be resentful, but does what's good for him without needing to hurt anybody else in the process. 

[00:16:43] Ferne Kotlyar:
Makes sense to me.  

[00:16:45] Kim Ades:

[00:16:45] Ferne Kotlyar:
So if you were to give Z one last piece of advice, what would it be?  

[00:16:49] Kim Ades:
It would be to really say, what's the number one priority here? What's your greatest value? What is it that you want to preserve? And then let's move from there. But also the second piece is let go of your attachment to this one idea. There are a million ideas, let's go look for those.  

[00:17:11] Ferne Kotlyar:
Makes sense. Well, thank you.  

[00:17:14] Kim Ades:
Thank you! That was a tough one. Sometimes when people have conflict, we're not always clear about which direction to push them in. And the truth is, from my standpoint, again, not attached to any direction, I'm attached to this particular client coming to a place of peace and making a decision from that vantage point. 

So that the decision he makes is ultimately aligned with his goals, his values, his beliefs, and he feels good about what he's doing, regardless of whether or not other people are making decisions for themselves that may look like conflict and tension. So I want him to make a decision where he feels good about what he's doing, and he feels like he's living up to not only his values, but his priorities as well.  

And for those of you who are listening, I hope you took something away from this conversation. Think about some of the ideas that you strictly hold on to and cause tension in your family, and think about whether or not there are other alternatives out there.  

Ferne, thank you for this case. That was a good one. If you have a case that you want to share with us, please reach out. Ferne, how do they reach you?  

[00:18:24] Ferne Kotlyar:
Please reach me by email. So that's Fernekotlyar@live.com.  

[00:18:32] Kim Ades:
And I can be found at Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.  

Please reach out and please like, please share, please do all the things that you do on a podcast. We will see you next week. Have a great week!

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