The Dream Killer
Twenty-five old Leonardo Rosso, nervously faced a conference room full of Axivision’s experienced and knowledgeable team. At the head of the conference table sat his father, Frank Rosso — the founder of Axivision, who had turned the company to be the biggest photography film company in the world and the highest seller of cameras in all of the United States.
Frank glanced at his wristwatch and turned to Leonardo. “Are you waiting for someone else to get started, Leo?”
Leo shook his head and took a deep breath as he began to present his ideas for the future of Axivision.
“If we want to retain Axivision’s leading edge in the market, we must adopt this new digital technology for our cameras,” Leo said as his eyes wandered around the conference room. “This will turn the company into a pioneer in a rapidly changing world.”
There was a deafening silence in the conference room as everyone looked at Frank for a response to his son’s ideas.
“What do you think, Dad?” Leo asked excitedly.
“Why should we completely transform our existing business model into something that has never been tested in the market?” Frank asked. “Axivision has been successfully operating for over twenty-five years without ever having to make such a massive change that you have proposed.”
“No denial there, Dad. However, I’m trying to lay the foundation for the future of this company,” Leo said with conviction. “We must evolve with changing times, and going digital is clearly the future.”
“Well, why don’t you worry about the present for the time being instead of focusing on the future, Leo,” Frank said as he stood up from his chair and left the conference room.
Leo stood dejected and heartbroken, when Mark, the head of finance walked toward him.
“I think this is a great idea, Leo,” Mark said as he patted on Leo’s shoulder.
“Really?” Leo asked. “Would you help me convince my Dad?”
“You know how it is with your father, Leo,” Mark sighed. “He doesn’t like change.”
Leo felt helpless and although he truly believed in himself and his idea for the company’s future, his father’s lack of support had broken his spirit.
Later that evening, he tried to convince his father again at the dinner table.
“Dad, believe me 一 this idea will revolutionize the industry and take our family business to its greatest height, Dad,” Leo insisted. “You won’t regret it, I assure you.”
Frank scoffed. “You’ve barely been a part of the family business for a couple of years,” he said. “Do you know how hard I’ve worked to build this company?”
Leo rolled his eyes. . “I’m helping you to see the future while you’re stuck with ideas from the past.”
“Don’t roll your eyes at me,” Frank shouted. “Were you the one working night shifts at the age of thirteen in the snowy weather of New York, only to make a few extra dollars? Unlike you, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I’ve sacrificed my whole life to save money and build this company from nothing …”
“For once, why can’t you step aside from the history of the company and focus on the future?” Leo interrupted. “I’m just wanting you to consider my idea with an open mind.”
“Don’t interrupt me,” Frank shot back. “Your generation doesn’t understand the value of hard work or tradition. I’m not going to damage the legacy of my company for your stupid ideas. The least you can do is have some respect for being blessed with such a privileged life.”
Leo felt insulted. “I know you have always been reluctant toward change, Dad,” he said. “However, I’m still going to go ahead with my ideas because I truly believe in them.”
Frank fumed. “So you believe in your ideas, is it?” he asked sarcastically. “Don’t expect any financial support from me on this. You will be on your own, just the way I began this business.”
Leo accepted the challenge and worked hard every day, trying to find investors to raise capital for his new venture. For the first time in his life, he experienced a struggle like never before. He faced several rejections for his new business idea until he met the young, cash-rich investment banker, David Kelly.
David expressed his enthusiasm toward Leo’s ideas and in a short span of a year, Leo had launched his first digital camera, RossDigital, and had revolutionized the photo industry forever. That year, Axivision witnessed its biggest decline in sales and production, despite launching a wide variety of cameras. RossDigital’s innovation and the ability to adapt to changing times had overshadowed Axivision’s long history of success.
Over the next couple of years, Axivision’s losses had quadrupled, but Frank Rosso was too proud to enter the market with a changed approach. The stress had led Frank to suffer a massive heart attack and as he lay on the hospital bed, contemplating his life, Leo entered the room.
“How are you, Dad?” Leo asked as he clutched his father’s hand.
Frank didn’t respond and pulled his hand away.
“Talk to me, Dad,” Leo pleaded.
“What do you need? Are you here to tell me you were right and humiliate me?” Frank asked. “You destroyed everything I had built. I suppose you’ve already got your revenge.”
“Why would I ever seek revenge from you, Dad?” Leo asked with a soft voice. “I’m here because I love you. I’m here not to destroy your dream of Axivision, but to continue and grow that dream.”
Frank looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
“We’re going to merge Axivision and RossDigital,” Leo replied with a smile.
Frank’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?” he asked. “Even after what I did to you?”
“Whatever you did, it helped me grow as a person, Dad,” Leo replied. “I learned how to become an independent man and build a company. Now, I wish to turn our family business into a legacy with this merger, and I don’t think I can do it all by myself. I truly need you.”
A tear rolled down Frank’s eyes. “I’m extremely sorry, son,” he said with a quiver in his voice. “I wish I had been more open to your ideas and wouldn’t have had such a huge ego.”
“Let’s put the past behind us and build a company that is bigger than ever before, Dad,” Leo said. “A company that is built on family values and tradition, but isn’t afraid to face the challenges of changing times with innovation and technology.”
Frank smiled and hugged his son. “You were right, son,” he said. “Change is the only constant.”
Over the years, Axivision completely reinvented and transformed its business model, paving the way for a technological revolution in the business of photography and film making.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
Innovation is a vital part of any business. You can still keep a company’s traditional values that made it what it is today, but a reluctance to change can be extremely damaging.
It’s also important to listen to new ideas and have an open mind — whether they are people who are different from you, or those who think differently, or are from a different place, or have different interests, or are from a different generation. An open mind will prevent you from being like Rosso in a constantly evolving world.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- Are you open to change and the constant need to evolve your family business model or strategy?
- If yes, what strategies have you implemented in the past that have proven to be successful?
- Have any changes backfired?
This parable and short story is a draft from the new book “The Family Business Messenger”, being published in early 2022.
For more information on the final book release and book launch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2021, All Rights Reserved, Reg Athwal, RTS Books
Please get written permission to re-post, re-distribute, use in part or full or to reference this story.