An End of Life Discussion and Lesson for Family Businesses


In the majority of my work with family business clients, I find one crucial thing to be missing, especially as they begin to look at a succession or transition. I’d like to share a personal experience dear to my heart to illustrate this.

In 2018, one of my heroes, Ken Yonker, passed away at the age of 99 years young. Ken was my grandfather, and I was honored to have known him so well. He was a very important fixture in my life all the way up to the end.

In early 2018- several months before Ken passed on- I was able to spend time with him over the course of a couple of days talking about his life experiences. The highs and lows, moments of gratitude, a few regrets, etc. The precious time we spent chatting reminded me of the work that a hospice nurse did many years ago where she interviewed folks at the end of their lives and documented their regrets. It was a powerful study.

Speaking as a Westerner, I often think we have built a somewhat unhealthy relationship with the natural process of death and dying. In fact, one thing that we all share is that we are all mortal. Let’s enter the discussion from the vantage that we all have a gift called life. 

Imagine that you have a blank book and a pen and you get to construct your life’s masterpiece.  Now comes the “big” question: How would you like to design your life? This is a vital question for family businesses who truly care about the quality of life of each individual member of their family. 

As for my grandfather, one of the lessons I received from our conversations and the experience he had in 2018 was that he no longer wished to live without a good quality of life. The term “quality of life” seems to be used more in the context of end of life; often when talking about folks who lost some type of physical or mental function or faculty. I would like to present, for your consideration, that quality of life could be a 360-degree definition of how you would like your life to look–both personally and professionally and for every single family member involved in the family business. 

As someone who has studied personal development and life mastery for over twenty years now, as well as having worked with family businesses as a Life Coach and Business Consultant, I have thoroughly proven that the more clarity we have in what we want from life, the more probability it has to become a reality and the smoother major business transitions will go. 

Life is about choosing where we put our time and energy. 

When my grandfather and I had the end of life reflection conversation, it completely reinforced the truth that life is constructed of the experiences and memories we make. There is a practice I use with all of my family business clients to up-level awareness and challenge their current thinking and actions.

It’s your model of the world that drives your decision making and behavior. 

In a family business, each individual may be looking at the world from a completely different model. For that reason, it is crucial that you go deep into the heart of the illusions you live in, assess your core values and understand where you truly want to go as an individual, a family, and a business. 

My practice with clients involves going through key departments. These departments complete a holistic picture of all the roles and parts your life has. In addition, each department builds on the next. Each one relies on the one below it. If you don’t have health and wellness, how good are you going to be in your relationships? If you don’t have loving relationships, how good are you going to be in your career?

I encourage you to take the time to think through what you REALLY want. Not what others want from you, or what society thinks. What you TRULY desire for yourself and your family in the years to come. Again, each member of your family being clear on this allows you to navigate transition and succession in your business in a way that takes each family member’s vision for their future to heart. From there you can build a plan that not only includes the ongoing success of your business, but also the fulfillment of your family members. 

Here are all of the departments we work through: 


Spirituality is the base of our process. All the other departments build off of what you believe about life and the understanding that we are all mortal, life will end, and there is something greater than you that you can have a powerful connection with. 


Your wellbeing is related to anything that affects your longevity and ability to maximize your life experience. This includes your health and wellness, sleep, stress management, nutrition, exercise and anything else that aids in you having the greatest amount of ease and energy in your body. 

Mindset and Emotional Mastery

Mindset and emotional mastery is another key component of your overall well-being. It is about the strategies you use to manage your mind and own your  emotions so that you can work WITH what is given to you in an easeful way rather than becoming a victim to your own emotions or circumstances. 

Loving Relationships

Loving relationships speaks to how you create a relationship with a significant other that is highly supportive of both of your goals and aspirations in life and lasts a lifetime. It is about how deep you truly want to go with someone in a way that brings out the highest version of both of you. 

Family and Social Life

Who do you want in your inner circle? And how will you nurture and manage those relationships? Family and social life is about creating meaningful experiences and relationships with the people in your life who are most important to you, and how and how often you want to spend your time together. 

Experience and Environmental

Experience and environment deals with what you want your daily life to look like. Where do you want to travel? Where and what does your home look like? What are your everyday comforts? It’s about clarifying what you want your daily life to look like.

Business Mastery

Mastering your business is identifying how to leverage your strengths and your natural gifts in your career and use them to make a difference in the world. Becoming clear on this and using your talents in an impactful way every day is one of the secrets to true joy and fulfillment. 

Financial Mastery

Financial mastery is taking the next step to business mastery and using your talents and your business to create the income that you want to support your ideal life and experiences. It comes from examining your beliefs and mindset around money and abundance and how they may be keeping you stuck, in order to make the shifts necessary to receive abundance. 


Transcendence is the final tier in the hierarchy of fulfillment. It comes with the detachment from your ego and ability to live in harmony with nature, those around you, and the experiences that come into your life. Ultimate joy comes when you are able to generate outcomes in a way that is not about trying to “win,” gain power or have authority over others.

What next?

This past year has made so many people realize how short life is and re-examine what they want their own lives to look like. For many folks this meant passing on the business sooner than they had originally planned, bringing in next gen in a higher capacity, selling a business, or making drastic changes in the way they run their business. 

If you are one of those people, I encourage you to start with our FREE VISION WORKBOOK and reach out to us to see how our team can help you transition to the best possible version of your business, yourself, and your family. 


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