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Sink or Swim: How Lessons from the Titanic Can Save Your Family Business Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0313398346 ISBN-10: 0313398348

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (September 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313398348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313398346
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,135,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Cale & Tate's comparison of family business and the sinking of the Titanic is right on in my opinion.... This wonderful book helps to coach families on how to stay focused on the right things to ensure the business's long term success."  
- Cynthia Bigelow; President, R.C. Bigelow, Inc.

"Intriguing, motivational, and innovative , Sink or Swim offers important lessons in family and business management. All family businesses, whether large or small or in manufacturing or service industries, can learn a great deal from this book." - William Waseleski; President, Century Spring Manufacturing Company

"A comprehensive, insightful review of best practices in managing and governing a family business. Should be read by and pored over by all generations of family members who are owners of a family business." - Robert J. Lyons, Jr.; CEO, The Bilco Company

"Sink or Swim provides a fresh, fascinating lens through which to view family enterprise challenges and solutions.  This powerful metaphor will leave a strong impression in the minds of business owners, advisors, consultants, researchers and educators in the field."- Judy Green, PhD; Executive Director, The Family Firm Institute

• Uniquely addresses both the "hard side" (business) and "soft side" (psychology) of family-business dynamics

• Provides and explains current and specific data relevant to the family business audience rather than statistics on general business

• Makes use of the Titanic metaphor/case study to convey both practical ideas and emotional urgency, and to provide readers with a deeper understanding of key concepts

• Written by authors who have firsthand familiarity with the unique dynamics that result when "family" intersects with "business"

• Contributions from leading researchers, advisors, and family business owners, providing personal, professional, and academic insights

• A chronology of events originating from the early periods of the industrial revolution to the modern era

• Diagrams, tables, and charts related to family business

• Photographs of Titanic in various stages of development, as well as of Titanic's owners, builders, passengers, and crew

• Bibliography of sources citing leading researchers, advisors, and family business owners; and of primary and secondary sources relating to Titanic


"Sink or Swim</i> is insightful and provides a fresh, fascinating lens through which to view family enterprise challenges and solutions. This haunting and powerful metaphor will surely leave a strong impression in the minds of business owners, professional advisors and consultants, as well as researchers and educators in the field."


Judy Green, Ph.D., Executive Director, Family Firm Institute


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terry Field on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Extremely well-written, insightful, clearly organized and chock full of essential information, "Sink or Swim" is the navigational chart for keeping family businesses steered away from inherent dangers and running smoothly toward business success.

As an owner/manager dealing with the challenges of a family business (in my case, real estate development) during demanding times, this book strikes right to the heart of the difficulties and gives me clear, potent strategies for overcoming them. I believe the book would be pertinent for any type of family business.

Using the Titanic story as a framework works exceptionally well. The technique highlights the hazards that are built into family business structures and brings them to life in a way that is both entertaining and easy to absorb. The authors adroitly use the design, construction, operation and decision-making apparatus that contributed to the Titanic disaster to show potential pitfalls in family businesses, and then they suggest lucid and pragmatic actions to help deal effectively with the problems.

I found useful information throughout this book and too much to summarize here except to mention the book's identification of "The Five Fatal Flaws": overconfidence, ineffective leadership, lack of planning and preparation, frail architecture and team fragmentation. The book goes into extensive detail on each of these flaws and provides excellent information on how to avoid the intrinsic risks of each.

I read this book quickly the first time as I couldn't have found it at a better time to take advantage of the information it offers. I will reread it carefully, likely several times, as I want to deeply absorb its lessons until they are part of my fiber.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul L. Marciano on January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having grown up in a family business, I know all the pitfalls that we faced. I wish that this had been around 25 years ago -- it would have helped us get through a lot of rough patches. The book is extremely well-written and the content is very accessible and practical. In addition, the story of the Titanic is truly fascinating and, of course, sad. Learn the lessons that will help you not only swim but fly!
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