What will happen to your business when you die?

As a business family consultant to several businesses in India both large and small for the last 17 years, I was requested to share my knowledge by  MMA to present at all their chapters outside of Chennai in Tamil Nadu recently and had the opportunity to address several groups of businessowners. Out of the presentations and questions, I felt it would be beneificial to compile this into an article and make it available through Dinamalar to a larger audience. 

First question: What will happen to your business when you die?

This is a startling question that I place in front of business owners when I am called to address them. I am always never surprised by seeing over 90% of the audience unprepared in all the talks I give. 

Very few business owners give it some serious thought as to what will happen and usually these are people who have had a brush with death like stroke/heart attack etc with themselves or with someone close by suffering or even passing away. 

Discomfort is necessary and part of my work with business owners. Because without discomfort there is no motivation to change. If things are comfortable then people will never change. And with that unenviable position I have to ask more uncomfortable questions. 

Will your family continue to sustain their lifestyle when you pass away? 

I get worried when people say they haven’t thought of this. If no plans are made, then they are definitely gambling with the future of their family. It may all work out but there was gambling present. 

My next question is have you written a will?

Again on an average only 5-10% of the audience will raise their hands. In the Mahabharat when Yudhishtira is asked what is the truly amazing thing in the world, he replies that even though humans are mortal, they go on with their life as if they are going to be here forever? Even after everyone of us having lost someone dear to us in our family or known family during COVID, how people go about without putting clarity to what should happen to their assets after their death baffles me. 

During one of the talks one gentleman stated that what if people read the will and decide to finish him. Though it was a jovial question, my answer was serious, if you have sons/daughters who are capable of killing you for property it says something about you and they value system you have imbibed in them. 

Are you a businessowner or self employed?

This is an important distinction that many people don’t get, if you are a business owner if the business can run without you for a long period or indefinitely. If you have to go to the shop/business everyday for it to run, then you are only an employee albeit your own company. 

Most people do need to realise that if they want to pass this on to the next generation, they are not passing a business, they are only passing on a livelihood. Hence many youngsters are not keen/passionate particularly if they are smitten by IT/Corporate or International pastures. 

A major part of my work involves getting people to plan and structure their self employment into a business. Then ensuring that a plan is made for the business succession and most importantly ensuring that their personal assets are willed legally and clearly. 

The Business Success Planning has a few models that I am detailing below

1 No Model - overwhelming majority, where people make no plans whatsoever. Destined for trouble in the same generation. 

2 Autocratic - Where the eldest son/daughter in the family controls everything which works when it happens in a patriarchal family. Destined for trouble in the next generation. 

3 Meritocratic - Where out of the successors a meritorious candidate is chosen by work experience/success/competence and made a majority share holder to run the business without any intereference with other family members enjoying the fruits through their shareholding. Fairly successful model provided a trust is made where all the company assets are locked in with a settlement deed signed by all successors to prevent any legal dispute later. 

4 Democratic - Where all the successors are equidistributed or companies separated out to give each one a standing business to run on their own. Highly successful model. Works well if the head of the family does this in their lifetime itself. Falls short if it is left in will instructions. 

5 Professional - The organisation is turned over to professionals and the family members only enjoy the fruits and have no role to play excepting during board meetings with the day to day operations of the company. Works well if the hiring is done well and the professional are given part ownership. 

6 Liquidation - If the successors are incompetent or have the predilection to fight amongst themselves, then sell the business and distribute the proceeds no matter what the hair cut is. Best solution for large families with misunderstanding and rivalry. 

Each of the models above can be implemented in various ways with the support of a good family business consultant along with lawyers and auditors. 

I hope these questions force you to start thinking and take the first step to securing the future of your family.  You can reach me on email

Tamil translation of the above article was published in DinaMalar newspaper on 15th May 2023


As of tday I can immodestly say that I am considered an expert in NLP in India and definitely through my collaboration through generous associates worldwide, consider myself at the cutting edge of NLP. Since it is an ever growing field I am sure there will be others who will surpass me and I look forward to many doing that. But not today and as the country's self proclaimed foremost expert on NLP I want to say certain things freely and I am sure it will contradict my earlier views.

I have always been more excited to learn more about NLP, travel to meet collaborators, train with other trainers, research, work with challenging clients and under unique conditions rather than simply teach NLP. To my credit I have only conducted one NLP Practitioner training program in my entire career which took 8 months and I am in no hurry to repeat that again.

Routinely I find myself in the unenviable position of being asked for recommendations about which certification in NLP is better, Bandler's School or Grinder's School or Wil Horton's School or Tad James's School or Pucelik or NLP University(Dilts) or NLP Comprehensive. There are hundreds of licensed trainers from each and every school of NLP now teaching in India and not only that, considering that India has the largest english speaking population in the world and the average Indian's mentality to be subservient to white-skinned trainers, this has attracted a large number of white folks flying in for a tropical vacation combining business with pleasure and having the immense luxury of having their Indian counterparts and wide eyed students wait on them hand and foot.

My personal favourite remains the Dick McHugh school, the gentle Jesuit priest who brought NLP to India at such affordable prices, quality and with his excellent teaching skills in the 1990s. At the time he began teaching he was the only option available!

The prices of these NLP courses range from a few thousand rupees to a few lakhs depending on which school you go to and which country you go to. There is a misleading notion that if you learnt it from one of the co-founders or an early associate of theirs, then you are closer to the purity of what you learn or the certificate carries greater value. Obviously many Indian compatriots think that if you are foreign returned with your diploma then it carries even greater value. Never mind the fact that they were only abroad for a week or two, they make it sound like they spent two years in Harvard!

For one, I always thought that apart from the sentimental value that I attach to my over 50 odd NLP certificates of various courses that I have bothered to collect (there must be another 50 or more that I didn't bother to collect), these certificates are just as valuable as the toilet paper I keep in my guest bathroom for my western visitors and friends. Before you feel offended let me explain, First I cannot get any bank loan with them, I haven't been able to establish that I am a therapist in my visa applications to the various countries with those certificates (those guys want academic certificates), It's not even useful to do other NLP programs with other schools since they want us to carry their school's NLP Practitioner or Master Practitioner certificate. Try taking a Bandler school certificate to a Grinder school or vice versa for an advanced program and see what grief they give you. Eventually they will take your money, clients are hard to come by these days, so they will grudgingly take your money while giving you a mouthful of how your other NLP school's education is woefully inadequate. Even greater woe be unto you if you learnt it from Indian NLP trainer like me.

The only thing that the certificates have served in the past is to 'wow' my fellow colleagues with them or impress some naive clients. I remember trying to impress the other Krish Srikanth, the cricketer with all the people I got trained with and his candid reply was "So What? How is that of use to me? I am only interested in the results." On a humorous note he ended the meeting saying that all those who carry the name 'Krish Srikanth' are destined to come across as loud mouthed! I don't think I can surpass him in that category!!

So it brings me back to the question, So what , if you got trained with Bandler or Grinder or their father or their grandfather. Are you personally any good? Did you practise? Did you hone your skills? Are you the embodiment of what you learnt? Did you apply the stuff that you learnt to develop yourself , improve your relationships, communication and became more customer focused? Did you make mistakes? Many NLP trainers I know are not doing any therapy or coaching out there, except in the demonstrations in their classes, so if you had a practice, then you would know that making mistakes is part of the trade? And do you learn from your mistakes?

Make no mistake in this understanding, finally it doesn't matter who you got the certificate from? The customers care if you are able to solve their problem, they care if you can help them find the solution, they care only if you can support them to meet their goals.

I have seen some college students in the past diligently reading 'Unlimited Power' and applying the techniques with such finesse that would put most Master Practitioners to shame. So where you get your education is not the most important criteria in my opinion. Your willingness to learn and serve will always trump all other factors.

Choosing quality education is useful and necessary and nobody can deride that, however quality education in a training program without follow up, without practise, without supervision, without ongoing education, ongoing updation and consults with peers is then more of a joke. To choose quality education this guide by Steve Andreas remains my all time favourite!

The biggest advantage that Transaction Analysis Body has had inspite of my many reservations against it, is that it has a centralised body and they exercise a certain modicum of quality control, rigorousness in certifying and the fact that they defer to an elected committee. In NLP , it's like the Wild Wild West, free for all with gringos, amigos, rednecks, red indians, eskimos and now our very own east indians running amok all over the world. The absence of a centralised body is the biggest bane and now with so many schools and so many vested interests the dream of a unified body in NLP is as long gone as a unified body in Karate or a unified body in Kung fu.

Bruce Lee broke norms with the unified body of Kung Fu in North America and created Jeet Kune Do School which was immensely popular in California because of his dedication, passion, research and finally superior fighting prowess. None of the founding fathers of Kung fu in North America were any match for him, which went on to show that finally the guy who practises with dedication and commitment rules the roost!. If only all NLPers were more open they'd realise what they were missing by being loyal and adherent to only their school trainers and being dismissive of other NLP trainers. I have been guilty of that myself in the past and have benefited immensely by my reformation.

At the time of being an apprentice with John Grinder between 2006-08, John asked me once whether I got 'good' business because of my association with him. I had to painfully explain to him that most people in India are yet to get used to the idea of training, even less with that of NLP and even less people know Grinder. Frequently I was jovially asked if I am referring to the consumer appliance of wet grinder used for making our famous 'idly/dosa' batter when I mention John Grinder. So the answer was 'No'. Many people were impressed, some people didn't believe it at all. Many thought something was wrong with John to work with a lowly nobody from a unheard of city in a third world country. But No business, I repeat No business came because I was a personal associate of Dr. John Grinder, the co-founder of NLP. None of the NLP trainers in India came knocking on my door to learn what I had learnt, ok maybe 1 or 2!

As far as my accomplishments in the world of results go, I have trained 5 members of the Indian Cricket Team, One Olympic athlete, half a dozen MPs(Senators in India) including one Cabinet Minister, half a dozen billionaires and been a visiting faculty in the top management institutions of India including IIM-Bangalore and XLRI, Jamshedpur. I can candidly tell you that none of the business came because of any certificate or association. I either got it because a client who was happy with my work referred me or I took my briefcase and went to sell.

So if you want business to do well, you definitely need to be good at your work and it would definitely help you to sell yourself and your services better.

In the last decade, the one eyed man of NLP was King in the land of the blind(INDIA), today we have over 3000 'one eyed' NLP trainers (maybe more) running around joined by other 30-40 half blind white folks. So only if you do good work and produce results you can sustain yourself in the long run.

If you want to spend lakhs on education, please do so knowing exactly what you are getting. I don't regret the hundred thousand dollars, i spent on my NLP education, I do remember the disappointment of not getting business because I had those certifications &credentials.

Today I know , realise and fully understand what I am going to get for the money I spend/t and am in no delusion of what the certificate will do for me!

Did I forget your birthday?

Thank you all for your wishes for my birthday on the 4th of July.

As I sat today, a friend said you look more relaxed today than yesterday. That was true, yesterday I was busy taking calls, answering them, accepting gifts, requesting others not to send gifts, thanking others for greetings, and checking on WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram for the greetings while today I did what I wanted to do for myself which is precisely nothing apart from catching up with my niece and cook aglio oleo pasta for a dear friend.

Yesterday was more for everybody else, those who wanted to talk to me got to do it, those who wanted to spend time with me got it and those who wanted to dine with me dined. All the while I was feeling guilty for all those who I hadn't wished for in the previous year and wondering if the new acquaintances/friends made this year are going to expect that I remember their birthdays and be disappointed with my forgetting/not bothering.

But worry no more, I definitely will continue to forget more birthdays than ever, I will continue to disregard the 'wish your friend' nudges from FB and LinkedIn and I will stay more quieter than ever. 

It brings smiles to my head that I used to carry a yearly calendar with me years ago when my first employer and now friend Kichu Krishnan shared with me his technique of remembering all the friends/relatives birthdays.  Now I only have 10 days marked in my Google calendar - birthdays(mine, dad, bro, mom, parents wedding, 4 advance tax payment dates, IT filing last date)

If I don't wish you for your birthday it doesn't mean that I value you less or the friendship less because I don't remember your birthday. It certainly doesn't mean I am busy, this year I have been more freer than ever twiddling my thumbs, playing chess, watching netflix and walking in the park. It doesn't mean that we are unequal in my eyes.

It's simply that I don't value remembering birthdays in a friendship. I value being friendly, I value being there when required and being someone you can depend on during the hour of need. I value having heartfelt conversations with the ones I connect with as if today could be the last day for you or me - trust me I've had conversations and lost that friend the next day so I truly do this whenever I can. I value reminding ourselves of the journey we are in which is to reach God and I value supporting each other in the journey of life.

And if you feel you need to be wished on your birthday by me, simply pick the phone call me or WhatsApp me - as we say in Transaction Analysis - a stroke(a unit of recognition/appreciation) is no less when it comes asked for compared to those that come unasked.

Now I hope to sleep late tomorrow and forget another friend's birthday again.