Annual Letters & Turning the Page



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The Business of Family
Annual Letters & Turning the Page
By Mike Boyd • Issue #28 • View online
As we metaphorically turn the page on a fresh year, we also start a fresh entry into our book of family history.
It’s that time of year where my wife and I write our Year in Reflection Letters & Letters to our Kids. We add them to our Annual Family Meeting book to preserve for history.
2020 has been such a different and disrupted year that it’s particularly important to capture how we’ve felt living through this moment in history.
To inspire your own journal entry, here are some key points which I’ve covered in my annual letters:
A Sense of Place
It’s been an odd year to be an expatriate living far away from family, friends and the support structures we’d typically rely on in times of crisis. As borders started closing we made the difficult decision to stay in Singapore where we were safe from the virus and things were very well managed by the government.
We said goodbye to our long time nanny who repatriated home to her family and we adapted as a nuclear family to our new way of life, without hugs from grandparents, frequent jet-setting or living a global life.
At this time of year we’d usually be chasing the snow in Europe or visiting family in Australia. Instead, we’ve toured the Christmas lights in Singapore at a safe social distance.
A Moment in Time
I feel like 2020 was very busy up until the 14th of March and then all of a sudden it was Christmas. The following 9 months were a blur.
In normal times, I travel a lot (I visited 6 countries in January & February alone) and then… nothing. I’ve realised that my memory is visual and usually bookended by time in different locations around the world. I could describe in detail where I was for the first 10 weeks of the year before everything changed. Despite the year being such a drag, the increased routine and repetition made it fly by for me.
Big Challenges
  1. Two of our biggest holdings are in the travel industry and got hit very hard. In the first week of April we said goodbye to 60% of our global team as we hibernated the businesses, turned our focus inwards to R&D and hunkered down to emerge stronger when restrictions were lifted. We are fortunate to have weathered the storm very well so far and are starting to see some fresh green shoots of recovery, especially in the Australian domestic travel market where we have strong market share in car rental.
  2. One of our children was diagnosed with high functioning autism in March, just as Covid hit and we were plunged into lockdown. It was emotionally and logistically difficult to deal with as we scrambled to react to other concerns in our businesses and personal life. It would take another 6 months before we could emerge from lockdown and start to access the range of specialists and therapies which will aid their development.
Big Wins
  1. As a family, we’ve never been closer and we’re grateful for the crisis in many ways for the blessings it has revealed to us. We’ve developed many new routines, traditions and fun activities which we’ll carry with us once all of this is over. Family, health and happiness have been a big focus this year.
  2. The Business of Family podcast and newsletter has grown beyond my wildest imagination, sparking a following and interest from across the globe. I set out to explore and share my passion for this topic thinking that 10-12 friends might follow along… Now with tens of thousands of downloads and subscribers we’ve got the beginnings of something pretty great. Thank you for your support this year… Watch this space in 2021!
  3. Whilst the businesses have endured their toughest year to date we’ve also found opportunity amid the crisis. We were very fortunate to be well capitalised and prepared for a rainy day, with a strong balance sheet and nose for opportunity. We absorbed a major competitor midway through the year who weren’t as prepared and are continuing discussions with other complimentary businesses in distress. Cash is king!
I’m truly excited for 2021 and what lies ahead. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try your hand at an annual letter or documenting your history in a way that’s most meaningful for you.
The Business of Family will be expanding in a number of ways in the year ahead. I look forward to sharing some of our ideas with you starting later this month. If you want to get involved, I’m always open to ideas or a friendly chat - just hit reply.
Wishing you and your family the very best in 2021.

This Week's Podcast Episode
Interesting Links
Today I will start writing my annual letter to my wife (daughters). It’s a practice that I’ve been doing 5Y (I missed 1Y,). I love the practice, it forces me to evaluate our actions and gives me peace of mind. It’s something that I encourage others to do.
Justin Castelli
This morning I decided I am going to make Roman read The Almanack Of Naval with me.

A new Castelli family right of passage: at age 10, intro to @naval

The sooner I can get the boys thinking along these lines and understand these principles, the better.

cc: @EricJorgenson
Stay in touch
Mike Boyd is the co-owner and CEO of the Vroom Group, Founder of Prosura insurance, Investor at Mudbrick Capital, Host of The Business of Family Podcast and an active member of YPO.
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Mike Boyd

I'm inspired by multi-generational businesses and the families who steward them. Join me as I learn how some of the world's most interesting families share values, knowledge, resources, and wealth with the next generation.

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