Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY !

My wife and I were clearing out the basement the other day and we found a bin full of old videos that our kids loved and could never seem to get enough of.

There was a wave of nostalgia when we’d find one and say “remember how they loved this one?”.

There were a few winners that we, as parents, could tolerate or even enjoy, like Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2 (In my opinion, one of the few sequels that matter) but also those direct-to-video stinkers that Grandma would buy from the bargain bin at the supermarket like “Little Mermaid II, Return to the Sea” or “The Never Ending Story 3.” Hold on. If the it’s the “never ending story,” why on Earth did they need to make 3 of them?

Oh man! They were like 75 minutes of nails on a chalkboard, but the kids loved them and insisted on watching them over and over … and OVER.

My daughter watched The Wizard of Oz until the tape literally wore out and broke so I’ve seen it probably a hundred times, maybe more when you include the times back in the 70s when it was on broadcast TV once a year…once, and you planned your whole week around it. Don't get me wrong, it's a classic and after 82 years, still holds up.

In 30+ years doing valuations, M&A, venture capital, private equity, and consulting, I’ve long-ago reached the point where I can look at a deal, a company, an industry and have a pretty good sense of what might happen down the road.

But look, I don’t have a crystal ball and I'm no soothsayer. I'm more like Professor Marvel back there in Kansas; quite simply, I’ve seen some things - both good and bad.

Working with middle market companies, most of which are owned by individuals or families, I’ve seen some of the issues that inevitably come up. The confluence of family and business can turn dysfunctional on both fronts, but it doesn’t take a wizard to figure that out – just someone objective who has seen it all before.

I’ve worked on deals where I’ve literally told my client what the other side will say and it happened as if it were scripted – “he’s going to say this” or “he’s going to try to renegotiate that” – and afterward clients ask me “how did you know?”. After a while, you just do. If she's got green skin and rides a broom, she's probably not your friend, just saying.

I like working with early-stage companies where the founders are like Dorothy, all full of energy and ready to take on the world. They’re dancing down the road, they’re off to see the Wizard, and they see the Emerald City in the distance but not always the things that could happen on the way.

So when I get involved, I see potential problems like leapfrogging technologies, supply chain issues, difficulties with scalability, time management, employee scarcity, and some of the other stuff that I’ve seen a million times.

I’m kind of a “human spoiler alert” but it’s better to know what’s ahead so you can get your team moving down the [yellow brick] road and plan for it.

  • I know about the cyclone…
  • I know about the Wicked Witch…
  • and I’ve dealt with the Flying Monkeys.

Now here are some words of wisdom from people who aren’t me:

 "Doubt grows with knowledge." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

" What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?" - Alfred Hitchcock

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes" - Oscar Wilde


Be good and be well.

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