PCM Report Part VI – Families

Bring on the Kids

Dave and Sherry Johnson created a Teen2Teen section in the Positive Community Magazine model and had their daughter do it before she was diagnosed with bone cancer.   Their daughter’s hospitalization temporarily brought that part of the business to a halt.

They still plan to we were about to spin Teen2Teen into it’s  own online only magazine.  It’s a way for this community service to to reach and involve that younger generation – and also  a way to start a family business that can be passed onto.

There are so many opportunities for photography, writing, graphic design, etc.  If you have teens who are at all interested, it’s a cool opportunity to do something together and engage that younger reader.

Sherry also added “This is one of the BEST reasons for owning this type of business, the freedom to work from the hospital room on your laptop and be there when your child needs you the most”.

There are enormous benefits for families that work together.


Merri and I headed to work.

Merri and I have always had a family business and I cannot help but think it has drawn us all so much closer together.

Families that learn together stay together and have fewer problems.


Writer’s Camp delegates at Little Horse Creek… and a white dog in a green meadow (Ma II) trying to fly.

Family togetherness is one of nature’s best social tools.  Being together even for meals can have a profound effect on health and balance.

An excerpt from a University of Florida IFAS Extension lesson entitled “Family Nutrition: The Truth About Family Meals” by Larry Forthun explains this when it says:  In a recent book entitled “The Surprising Power of Family Meals”, author Miriam Weinstein asks this question:

What if I told you that there was a magic bullet—something that would improve the quality of your daily life, your children’s chances of success in the world, [and] your family’s health. . .? Something that is inexpensive, simple to produce, and within the reach of pretty much everyone? (Weinstein, 2005, p. 1)

You guessed it, that magic bullet is the family meal. According to research, eating together as a family on a regular basis has some surprising effects. When sharing a meal together family bonds become stronger, children are better adjusted, family members eat more nutritional meals, they are less likely to be overweight, and they are less likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs. Given the positive benefits of eating together, why are more families not doing it?

With this in mind we began encouraging family groups to attend our summer camps in the Blue Ridge.

We were gratified at the great results in this first attempt.  We had a mother-daughter, father-son and a family of four at the camp.

One mother-daughter team reported after the camp: Hello, Merri and Gary,  My daughter and I had a fantastic time at the Writer’s Camp this past weekend.

We both felt we gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on “how to make money with our writing skills”!  Thank you.  Your and Merri’s expertise on transmitting knowledge to others is phenomenal.  The warm, personal feel of being with you both along with the great people in the class was great!  Thank you again for all the added information gained in all areas of life and what I consider gourmet meals served to us all.  Donna/Jeanna


The son, a college student, of the father-son team wrote:  Hi Merri!  I just attended your writers camp with my dad this past weekend.  I didn’t get to express how much I appreciated all that you and Gary did for us this weekend because we were in a hurry to get to the airport. Letting us stay in your cottage and having us for your writers camp was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life! Gary and Merri’s stories of adventure, success, your lessons, and advice are truly priceless!!

This camp has inspired me. Writing has always come naturally for me but I never was able to view it as a business opportunity.

This camp has shown me not only that writing can be profitable, but HOW to make it profitable! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me. In my lifetime, I could only hope to see the success that you and Gary have achieved.

I not have only signed up for your newsletter, but I can’t stop spreading the word to my friends about my experience. Thanks again for your amazing hospitality,  Mitchell


Writers camp delegates deep in study.

Of course the couples and those who attended on their own enjoyed and gained a lot as well.

One single delegate wrote: Good Day Merri, (Queen of Scots)  Have just returned from the writing seminar conducted at your farm in Ashe County, North Carolina, I thought I’d give you my take on what I experienced. To suggest that the location, hosts, seminar content, and accommodations were adequate would be an understatement.. (tell them what you’re going to tell them)

This was my introductory visit to the northwestern corner of North Carolina and it appears, from looking at the map, that this area could be considered the “foothills” of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Remote? You bet! But a beautiful place for retreating when life or weather calls for relocation.

Corresponding as we have for the past two years was simply a forerunner to our one on two meeting and I am so pleased that we found this opportunity.  You are both most personable with dynamic and pleasing personalities. I was extremely comfortable the entire weekend and thank you for making that possible.

The seminar itself opened a whole new world that I hope to explore in the coming months. I drove away from your farm with a well inflated right rear tire and a wealth of information that could catapult me into a whole new profession should I opt to go that route. I still have a number of professional business ideas that I intend to pursue, however, the concepts and ideas conveyed in your seminar will serve to enhance whatever I undertake going forward.

But if there was one underlying common denominator that I recognized, it was the fact that you are both so well qualified to present in this field of communication. Probably my most prolific observation was how well read and knowledgeable you are. The breadth and depth of knowledge on so many diverse yet associated subjects kept my unswerving attention. It also opened my mind to a variety of fields that, heretofore, I would not have considered relevant to my interests. And as a presenter, Gary is prolific. I drove away knowing that not only did the seminar give me my money’s worth but I was introduced to some very valuable contacts. (Tell them what you experienced)

The bottom line is your seminar was both eye opening and entertaining. I came, I saw, I learned, and I even ate healthy. Thanks for everything. John

Plus a couple who attended emailed this:

Share Points of View

Our forefathers in this land, the migratory Americans, have been credited with the origin of the phrase “walk a mile in another man’s shoes”.  This is an ancient wisdom that suggests that we  cannot really understand someone else unless we live their life.

Yet modern virtual technology that creates broadband virtually assures that everyone has different views.  This makes it harder for families to share common interests.

Good family stickiness is made even stronger with shared purpose and goals.   Many years ago when we had a direct mail business… Merri and I used to sit round the dining room table with the children and fold letters and insert them in envelopes and stick on the address labels and… talk as we worked together.  We shared the feeling of accomplishment when the work was done and made the sure the children accompanied us to the Post Office to send off the mail and pick up letters that arrived… with checks… so they participated in the full circle.  We let them have a commission on sales so they connected giving… to receiving.

Our webmaster David has became  our son-in-law.  Our daughter Cheri runs our administration.  Recently I was tickled pink when we found a way for my sister Sandra to help us with social networking.   Work brings us together. We have great things to talk about every day… common challenges, mutual interests and shared satisfactions.   It’s also really great to end a business email or phone call with “I love you”.

This is why I was so absolutely happy to see one of our Super Spanish teachers bring their children into their business with them.

Shawn and Suzanne Bandick wrote about their last Super Spanish Course in Vernon BC.

Suzanne wrote:  Dear Gary, Merri, Cheri, and David. I write to you sitting on Shawn’s mom’s back deck under the cherry trees, tomorrow our Vernon class begins and we have 29 students! I just signed up the last couple a few minutes ago. Very exciting! Shawn and I wanted to thank you all in this success …together we make a great team.

At the beginning of the week we had 22 students but I had in mind we would have 30 so I arranged to have 30 books printed on Monday. That was my saving grace. I bought 30 name tags, and had 30 questionnaires printed. So instead of stress over last minute sign ups I am simply excited because we can easily accommodate all.

The room we will be teaching in is fantastic – it has a surround sound system that makes our recordings sound really good. Best, we got it in exchange for 2 spots in the course. We shopped for binders and got the same type of hard binder you use for only $2 each – a savings of 2.65 each over other stores. We are making money and saving money everywhere.

We bought some hard candy to have in the room and have arranged for fresh baking at coffee breaks (not mine this time) – just because it adds a little something special.

I am enclosing some pics to show the room and our Spanish pronunciation coaches (our kids) who have gotten many great comments on their enunciation and pronounciation. What a joy to share in this experience with our kids.

super spanish canada

The Bandicks… Riley, Shawn, Suzanne and Brianna.

We moved our kids, Brianna and Riley, to Mexico when they were 8 and 11 so there pronunciation is definitely that of a native Spanish speaker. Brianna called for a job in Mexico to teach English and they did not believe from her voice she was from Canada. When we teach in Canada it is likely one of them will be our coach. The students really seemed to enjoy the different styles, personalities and ages of us.

Super Spanish in Canada

Suzanne Bandick with son and daughter teaching Super Spanish.

After Day 1 of their course Suzanne wrote: We are still so excited! People are really getting it and they are thrilled. Had a little trouble with the air conditioning not working properly but the students all rolled with it graciously. We just made jokes about the extent we go to to prepare them for Spanish speaking countries. Air should be fixed by tomorrow. Several students commented on how happy they were to have a course offered so close to home rather than going to Florida. 30 students still manageable and very fun. Awesome, just awesome!

Super Spanish in Canada

Suzanne with daughter.

After Day 1:  Another awesome day. Everyone seems really pleased. 

Back to the pictures…. all I can say is people seem to really relax around us ….. oh I gave you a picture of me with a Canadian cow! At the bottom of this email is another student FB posting to my wall. Also, the owners of the Century 21 office bought a portable room air conditioner yesterday because the air was fixed but it couldn’t cool down the room sufficiently with all of us in there so they left it running all night and we it was perfect temperature for today. We were really impressed and so was the class.

Super Spanish in Canada

Shawn Bandick with son.

After Day 3: Wow Wow Wow! Just a quick note to let you know it was an awesome course. We got great reviews and I will share them with you soon.  So many people we had never met before this course were giving us all hugs at the end! It’s such a brilliant course that you created.  In fact because students were so thrilled we may have another class in late August because they know others who want to attend. I will let you know as soon as we get a set date over the next few days in case you want to advertise it as well. Thanks again. Suzanne

Super Spanish in Canada

Shawn Bandick with daughter

A family business can bring financial independence and also have very positive benefits for your kids.

The family structure is changing but the same technology and opportunity that attacks old family values can be used to enhance new family bonds through small family businesses.

Our youngest daughter, Eleanor, was the keen entrepreneur.  She wanted to work in our direct mail business before she could even read and write.  When we told her she had to read before she could affix labels to the envelopes she asked… “don’t the numbers (zip codes) go on the bottom?” She could tell letters from numbers and had proudly figured out how to get the job done.  It’s little wonder that she has an amazing business now as you’ll see below.

Super Spanish in Canada

Ele wrote this note about a recent event in her family business.  She has brought her husband and the families of her clients into her business!  She wrote:  Dad, I had one of my proudest work evenings ever last night at my end of term competition. The kids were outstanding and I was one proud principal. To top it off 10 of my students dads’ surprised the audience to a dance to ‘FAME’ at the end of the night. We had secretly been rehearsing them for 4 weeks and it was amazing! So entertaining and the dads were so ‘in time’… of course one of those dads was our very own Benjamin Marsden! What a long suffering and supportive husband I have-but actually I think he had the time of his life! He said after he felt quite famous and all the mums were asking who he was!!  As you can see from the photo the dads looked every bit the part. Thankfully we got it all filmed so you can look forward to watching as soon as I get the footage from the videographer.

See her family business here

Technology creates enormous opportunity for families.

There is no doubt that technology and rapid change creates pressure on families today.  First and foremost it attacks parental control.  Mass media aimed at capturing and directing children’s attention bombard children every waking hour.

Economic pressures create medical, educational and social norms that channel family decisions towards areas of greater profits for insurance, big pharma and chemical agri businesses rather than better family choices.

The global economy creates family by creating opportunity further and further from home.

The U.S. divorce rate has more than doubled since the 1960s. The number of households headed by single or divorced women has increased by 46 percent since 1980. In 1977 almost 18 million children were living in single-parent homes in the United States. Today that number has experienced a 100 percent increase.

Violent confrontations among family members has grown.  Approximately 2.8 million wives a year are beaten or abused by their husbands. Even more children are abused each year, physically, sexually, or through neglect, and at least 2,000 of them die of their injuries.

These pressures take place amidst growing economic stress.  There was a record decline in family wealth between 2007 and 2010.

The median family’s net worth dropped 38.8 percent during the three-year period.

The family structure is changing but the same technology and opportunity that attack old family values can be used to enhance new family bonds through small family businesses.

American Express’s Open Forum for Small Businesses recently published this report showing benefits in a family business:

7 Advantages of a Family Business

If you’ve ever watched QVC, you probably know about Honora, the company that pioneered marketing high-quality pearls to the masses. The growth of the 64-year-old family business is legend in the gem industry. How did it get there?

A business analyst might cite Honora’s early alliance with China to bring freshwater pearls to the West, its 20-year branding campaign, or its total focus on freshwater pearls, even to the point of risking a third of its revenues.

Those are all great aspects of Honora’s story, but ask CEO Joel Schechter, whose father started the business, and he’ll tell you the real competitive advantage: family. Schechter’s sons, sisters and other family members work in the business.

In a recent interview, Schechter shared some benefits to running a family business.

1.     Speed. “In a family business, we can think about something in the morning and begin working on it in the afternoon,” says Schechter. After all, the family is a natural team. And in the pearl business, where new designs must get to market fast, speed is everything.

2.     Solidarity. Competing agendas make for harsh office politics. Fights happen in the family, too, but when the goal is to help the family business win, turf battles diminish. “We’re much faster than companies that have to go through a more politicized process of getting things done.”

3.     Nature plus nurture. Some of us are just born to entrepreneurial risk-taking — so it’s likely our kids are, too. When kids grow up in the business, they absorb the skills it takes to succeed. Schechter began working in the family business as a boy. “I can tell you as a son of the owner, you really get to know the life that your parent leads. You really understand the trials and tribulations, and what it took them to make a living for you.”  Icing on the cake: Kids can see firsthand the work it takes to win at business.

4.     Authenticity. Family is the place where you can let things fly. “We laugh more here,” says Schechter. “And we yell more here. Sometimes family members can get to be more emotional with you than non-family, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.” The ability to be fearlessly and emotionally honest can help a family business thrive.

5.     Trust. Trust is essential in all business, but especially so in a business where trade secrets are make-or-break. “For us, there’s a very high level of trust among family members. And we can talk to each other very freely and openly.”

6.     Control. Family businesses control their fate. “We’ve looked at different scenarios for investors. And it always kind of comes back to the same thing: Do we want to lose control of this family business, of the specialness that we have of working with each other on a day-to-day basis? It’s nice for me as a father to work with my sons.”

7.     Next-gen ingenuity. Companies can lose their competitive edge when leaders lose touch with the youth market. A smart family business keeps its edge naturally when it brings in the next generation. At age 30, Schechter’s son Michael has become the industry guru on social networking. “My son communicates with hundreds of thousands of people at the same time. I’m very lucky to have somebody who’s really at the forefront.”

See the entire American Express report below.

The British government also has a great page on family businesses at their Businesslink.gov UK site that says:

Family-run businesses

Advantages of family businesses

If you start or join a family business you’re likely to benefit from a range of advantages which you often don’t find in other enterprises. These include:

•    Common values – you and your family are likely to share the same ethos and beliefs on how things should be done. This will give you an extra sense of purpose and pride – and a competitive edge for your business.

•    Strong commitment – building a lasting family enterprise means you’re more likely to put in the extra hours and effort needed to make it a success. Your family is more likely to understand that you need to take a more flexible approach to your working hours.

•    Loyalty – strong personal bonds mean you and family members are likely to stick together in hard times and show the determination needed for business success.

•    Stability – knowing you’re building for future generations encourages the long-term thinking needed for growth and success – though it can also produce a potentially damaging inability to react to change.

•    Decreased costs – family members may be more willing to make financial sacrifices for the sake of the business. For example, accepting lower pay than they would get elsewhere to help the business in the longer term, or deferring wages during a cashflow crisis. You may also find you don’t need employers’ liability insurance if you only employ close family members.

See a link to the entire page below.

For every problem there is an opportunity!  This is very true when it comes to technology and the family.  Technology and rapid social economic change create enormous pressures and opportunity for the family.

Click below to continue reading this report

Chapter Two – The Life of a Publisher

Chapter Three – Three Foundations of Success

Chapter Four – Longevity

Chapter Five – Publishing for Couples

Chapter Six – If You Have Children

Chapter Seven – Synchronicity in this Publishing.

Return to Part I of this Report

Further Research

New Yorker Warren’s Way by James Surowiecki

Read Izu Inamori’s Words of the Week here.

How Charlie Munger Saved me a Fortune

Forbes America’s Fastest-Dying Towns