The tragedy of a secretive family business owner
Posted Monday, August 20 2012 at 15:44
- Family business leaders do everything they can to shroud their activities in secret, working in solitude and only revealing the complete work.
- What may appear obvious to the family business leader may be an insoluble mystery to the entire human population. It is selfish to take such vital information to the grave with them.
- Leaders of family business should look more carefully at the people who work for them, resisting the urge to discriminate against anyone for lack of education. They may have talents and abilities that go far beyond the knowledge gained in schools.
- No matter what feats leaders of family business do in their ventures, they should bear in mind that these things have probably been done before.
When Alexander the Great first saw the Egyptian King Khufu’s pyramid in October 332 BC, it looked nothing like the rough hewn structure tourists see today.
It gleamed in the sun, covered by a smooth layer of fine white limestone, a material superior to and more durable than marble. These stones were so brilliant that they could be seen from the mountains of Israel hundreds of miles away.
The tolerance of these monuments were mind boggling. The casing stones were cut within 0.01 inches of perfectly straight and at nearly perfect right angles for all six sides.
All were placed together with an intentional gap of 0.02 inches allowed for the glue used to seal and bind them to be water tight. This cement is still intact today.
The pyramids even in the relatively dilapidated condition they are in today are marvellous for many reasons, one being that while even the best built modern buildings sink an average of two inches every year, the Great Pyramid, weighing more than 5.9 million tonnes, has sunk less than a quarter inch since its construction more than 4,000 years ago.
This is truly a work of genius that humans could not have hoped to explain much less reproduce, until 1923 when a little known man called Edward Leedskalnin started the construction of the Rock Gate Park in Florida, US.
Ed stood just over five feet tall and weighed less than 46kg. Yet with no outside help or use of machinery, he single-handedly built Rock Gate Park, sculpting over 1,100 tonnes of rock from 1923 to 1951.
Ed did all his work alone by lantern light. People saw the large stones being pulled along on trailers but no one ever saw Ed load or unload the stones or sculptures, some weighing more than 58 tonnes.
Rock Gate Park, now known as Coral Castle is a modern wonder of architecture. The large, stone carvings include a stone throne that still rocks to this day and a nine-tonne stone gate that easily opens when pushed with one finger. All this done by a man who had only reached the equivalent of Standard Four.
It would be tempting to dismiss this marvel as incredible were it not standing in Florida, proof of its creator’s fantastic abilities. The construction of Coral Castle baffles scientists and engineers to this day.
When curious visitors asked Ed how he accomplished these amazing feats, his simply said that he understood the laws of weight and leverage well, cryptically adding that “he knew the secrets of the pyramids”.
Sadly, he took these secrets with him to the grave when he died in his sleep in December 1951.
Ed was like many leaders of family business world over. Accomplishing tremendous feats in commerce and entrepreneurship, solving ancient mysteries of architecture, engineering and, in Africa, traditional medicine.
However, these leaders do everything they can to shroud their activities in secret, working in solitude and only revealing the complete work.
Like Ed, their accomplishments leave many, including their potential successors baffled.
While these feats place these entrepreneurs on high pedestals, it leaves heirs no better off than strangers and with little emotional attachment to these monuments of success.