Preserving Love, Legacy, and Leadership

A Conversation with Brent Patmos

Brent Patmos is the author of Beyond the Name: Preserving, Love, Legacy and Leadership in Your Family Business, the President of Perpetual Development, Inc. and a TCL faculty member. Brent talks with us about his new book, his passion for working with family businesses, the power of self-awareness, and why purposeful thinking is an undervalued leadership trait. 

How did you get started as an advisor?
I got started both purposefully and accidentally—and through a lot of evolution. That’s the key: Everything is an evolution. I was doing sales training and development. What became apparent was that people wanted to connect on a deeper level. I had a client who asked us to come in and help us professionalize their sales force, and they happened to be a family business. If you pick a moment in time, that was kind of the event.

I have continued to work with family businesses because they are non-bureaucratic, they maintain a long-term view and they have a deep connection and perspective to the values by which they operate. They make decisions in a manner that is best for the people and the business, and that is an environment I enjoy being a part of.

I am a product of family business myself. Growing up, I worked for my mom in her flower shop. When my dad was an administrator, I helped him put supplies together. My grandfather was a doctor who had his own practice. These were the role models I had growing up. Family business has always been a part of my development. 

What is your favorite part of the work you do?
The depth of relationships that I have been able to create with my clients. I have attended the christening of clients’ grandkids; I’ve even had clients call me to announce their engagements personally. We are dealing with the totality of the people and their businesses. It is about preserving love, legacy, and leadership. These dimensions were the inspiration for Beyond the Name and it’s a requirement of the work we do. 

Where have you seen the greatest success with your clients?
Success stories are driven by the clients. We facilitate the process to help them achieve what they are capable of achieving. One of my favorite things is that the outcomes belong to them.

The culture of a company is one of the components of its competitive advantage. You can really screw up a family if you don’t understand the goal is to preserve relationships. It’s about helping people navigate through the complexity. The greatest outcome is when they own it and they achieve it.

What has been your most pivotal leadership moment?
No matter how I define my own standards of excellence, becoming aware that others may define excellence differently has been a very liberating thing for me. I used to define success by how hard I could push and could inspire.

Not everybody is driven by the same things that I am, and I’ve come to realize that. Early in my career I measured my success by how many results I achieved, by how intense I was, how driven I was. I have been able to apply all of that with a dose of awareness and self-understanding, and that is one of my greatest lessons.

What do you think is the most undervalued leadership trait?
There are two factors that I believe are not maximized in people and organizations. 

The first is thinking, because it is usually put on the back burner. We tend to do immediate, reactionary thinking. I’m talking about purposeful thought to maximize performance. We are so deadline driven that we have minimized purposeful thinking. I think as leaders, focusing on purposeful thinking a lot more while also encouraging it in others, creates better results.

The second is the importance of awareness as a whole. Are you aware of yourself, of others, of the situation? Most of us haven’t really considered the depth that is required to be aware of a circumstance. If we aren’t aware, and yet we are achieving great results, are we really healthy? That’s a foundational question to culture and organizational performance.

Brent Patmos is a business advisor, author and speaker. Learn more about his new book at Follow Brent @BrentPatmos.