Bill Yoh, Family Business Expert and Author of “Our Way”

In Podcast #25, I was able to speak with Bill Yoh, the author of “OUR WAY”.

In the book, Bill tells the story of Spike Yoh, the driving force behind Day & Zimmermann with un-sugarcoated candor. An embattled son becomes a patriarch. An untested employee becomes a CEO. A husband becomes a caregiver. A student becomes a teacher, and ultimately a student. Spike Yoh’s life story paints a vivid picture of the profound and very human forces that shape leadership. From a troubled childhood that would have propelled most into a cycle of broken relationships and self-doubt, he rewrote the rules of his own life, and in the process built his father’s company into a billion-dollar enterprise.

Author, Bill Yoh serves as a speaker, biographer and strategist, helping other family business owners navigate the opportunities and challenges that inevitably arise when personal and professional lives intersect. As a third-generation owner of Day & Zimmermann, his family’s 43,000-employee, century-old family business, Bill has a rare and personal view of the complex and human dynamics behind today’s multi-generational family businesses.



  • Tell us a little bit about your background
  • How did your career evolve?
  • How did writing become a part of it?
  • How did the story and the principles of Spike Yoh become a focus?

Day and Zimmerman

  • Tell us a little about where Day & Zimmermann came from and what they do
  • Recount some of the fulcrum moments of Spike’s leadership
    • Importance of the motto
    • Difficulties that were surmounted
    • Successes celebrated
    • Involvement with the community (and family) and its importance to corporate mission
    • How did Spike first begin to involve the family in the decision-making around the family and the wealth?
      • What worked and what didn’t?
      • What moments in his life may have informed some of the choices made?
  • Process of succession of the business
    • Operational Succession v. Ownership succession
      • How was the future management of the business chosen?
        • Tradition v. Qualification?  Inside v. outside?
        • Tenure v. new blood?
        • Direction- growth v. income?  Focus v. Diversification?
        • Public v. Private?
      • How were family members chosen within that context?
        • Aptitude, Ability, Interest, Capacity, Temperament
        • Stories around successes and issues here
      • How was ownership succession chosen? Every one equal or each according to need, none of the above? Was there structure around the wealth to try to prevent bad habits/encourage good ones?
      • How did you surround yourself with advice around that?  You obviously had formal advice (legal, banking, accounting etc . . .).  But did you have a shadow cabinet or a set of like-minded executives with similar experiences that you could lean on for their advice?  How was the board involved?
      • Was philanthropy part of the equation?
      • How were decisions made within the family?  How was the process of socialization/buy-in?
      • Other shareholders?
      • How were the other stakeholders incorporated in the decision-making? (employees, customers, vendors, community)?


  • What are the issues you see with families with succession issues
  • What are best practices that you have seen with your family and others that can apply?
  • What are the various tools and communication practices that can be useful in helping families on that journey?
  • How does FAMILYTICS work?


  • How can we get a hold of “Our Way”?
  • How do we find out more about Familytics
  • How do we keep track of your whereabouts?


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