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Multiplying by Zero

Dec 27, 2023
By Leron Lehman

Categories: Transition & Succession Solutions

Multiplying by Zero

When I was a kid, my grandmother paid me for memorizing the multiplication tables. Even though it took me a few weeks, it was a pretty easy $10. Ever since then, I’ve been pretty good with numbers and fascinated by complex formulas and problems of logic. Math and physics have unlocked the secrets of the universe, but they also reveal some basic and practical concepts that we can apply to daily life. For example, consistent multiplication creates a compounding effect and is a powerful force in investing and in life. Regular improvements in any area create remarkable success. Multiplication is a beautiful thing.

There is, however, a potential pitfall. Even those that struggle with math know that any number multiplied by zero results in zero. It is generally good advice to maximize our strengths and plan for the best, but it is also foolish to neglect preparing for the worst, or “zero” situations. Even the best laid plans are worthless if we are not ready for the unexpected.

We regularly work with families and businesses that are seeking to perpetuate the business into future generations, provide family stability, or create a family legacy of generosity. This is a worthy and multiplicative endeavor that requires thoughtful planning and coordination. Groups especially need to focus on the pesky “zeroes” that could sneak into the equation and negate all their careful work. These are things we generally don’t like to think about, and while they are certainly not everyday occurrences, they are far from rare. They include the dreaded 5 Ds: Death, Disability, Disagreement, Distress, and Divorce.

Identifying and removing zeroes from transition and succession planning provides peace of mind and is relatively straightforward. Families and organizations can establish good contingency plans, like drafting appropriate agreements and documentation, implementing sound structure, and purchasing insurance.

Just one little pig planned ahead and was prepared for the big bad wolf; he was the only one that emerged unscathed from all the huffing and puffing. They say pigs are intelligent beings–I don’t know about that, but it seems they might at least know some basic multiplication.

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