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Most of us have heard of the term “mergers and acquisitions,” but what does it actually mean – and how does it factor into the entrepreneurial journey? In this episode, we chat with Kison Patel, the founder, and CEO of M&A Science and a visionary in the field of mergers and acquisitions.

Kison tells us about his extensive professional experience in M&A, and how it inspired him to embark on a mission to redefine the concept of mergers and acquisitions. He describes the necessity of promoting teamwork and shared priorities in the M&A process, as well as the all-too-common misunderstanding that financial analysis should be the primary focus. We also cover what entrepreneurs and their employees alike should know about M&As, including best practices and red flags.

—Kison Patel

Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with Kison Patel

Topics covered in the interview

  • Kison’s first business
  • What to be cautious of in M&A
  • Gen Alpha entrepreneurs
  • Balancing business and family

About Kison Patel

Kison Patel is the CEO and founder of M&A Science, an organization dedicated to improving M&A practices with a scientifically-backed approach. After a decade of working as an M&A advisor, Kison realized that many organizations experienced unnecessary struggles during the M&A process due to their lack of efficient technology and understanding. This led him to develop multiple projects focused on M&A best practices, including DealRoom, the M&A Science podcast, and the M&A Science Academy.

Follow Kison Patel

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:02
Well hey, what's up Raw and Real entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day and out there crushing it going for your goals. So, I have a question for you. Have you thought about raising money or funding an idea? Or even maybe you've been confused? What does M&A even mean? And it's not like an m&m, my friends like, it does have a different meaning. My guest today is an expert. And I admit I kind of you know, stalked him a little bit, because there are different people in the space, but the reality is that he's one of the good ones and he is super cool. So check this out. He is the founder and CEO of M&A science with a passion to drive the M&A industry forward. He was an M&A advisor for 10 years in which he sold larger companies such as commercial banks and hotel chains. In 2012, he noticed teams lacked efficient technology to manage deals, and he created DealRoom, thank God, an M&A lifecycle management platform. In 2016 he started the M&A Science Podcast, devoting his time to create a platform where all the best practitioners could share their best practices and lessons learned from real life deals. Kison then created the M&A Science Academy in 2020 to offer step by step training to those looking to master M&A, featuring courses created by top level practitioners. Through developing technology, Educational Talent and industry training, he aims to bring better practices to the industry with growing market pressures all say, transaction values and competition. So my guest today is the one and only, dad of three, Kison Patel. Kison, thanks for being here.

Kison Patel 01:43
Thanks for having me, Susan, nice to be speaking with you.

Susan Sly 01:46
Well, for those of you listening, Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, Kison and I, we're off to a late start, you all know we chat offline. And I'm in the middle of a real estate acquisition. So I'm trying to navigate where I'm actually going to do my show for the next six weeks. So that's a whole different discussion. But Kison was so gracious and he's professionally set up. So if you're seeing this on YouTube, he looks amazing. And I am, you know, it is what it is. It's Raw and Real, but the show must go on. So Kison, first and foremost, let me ask you, what was the first business you ever started?

Kison Patel 02:24
First business I started was a tobacco shop when I was 13 years old, from my locker in junior high school. I, that time there was a big demand for tobacco products and interesting enough, because of the limitations to access those products, there was a higher markup. So it was, margins were really good.

Susan Sly 02:50
Wow, of all the 300 shows I've done that was the first time I ever, I ever heard that as a startup. So, um, let me ask this question then. So how did you avoid getting caught?

Kison Patel 03:08
I think eventually I did get caught. You know, I just remember, I had immigrant parents. I was a junior high school, around 12th grade, right, you get into the little cliques of junior high. And I didn't have nice clothes. I had two pairs of Wrangler Jeans. And I had three shirts, and one of them which was pink. So, what I wore every Wednesday. And I just wanted nicer clothes to fit in with the cool kids. And the cool kids are out trying to smoke cigarettes and be cool. And then there are kids, the guys that smoke, chain smoke cigarettes and listen to Metallica, they had plenty of supply to sell these cigarette products. And next, you know you got a little business trying to meet the demand with supplies.

Susan Sly 03:51
Hmm, wow. So you learned about supply and demand early on. What what else did you learn from that business that you might still be applying in business today?

Kison Patel 04:01
Persistence, just persistence. I was always getting things done. When you ran out of product, you got to go run and get more. When prices go up, you got to figure out how to handle it. When competition showed up, there was a competitor that was selling cigarettes and you have to handle that and be competitive.

Susan Sly 04:23
So what was the next business you started? So as you forayed out of the cigarette tobacco business in school, then you you know, go off and you know, start your life, what was the first sort of, I guess, what people would say legitimate business however, I've had 12 year old founders on the show who are producing products. Shaddai has a cosmetics business. I met another one who does reviews on YouTube. He's making multiple six figures. So I don't believe there's an age range for a legitimate business but selling tobacco out of your locker maybe not legitimate, partially illegal, but what you know, what was the first I guess, quote unquote legitimate business you started?

Kison Patel 05:03
There was always something. I remember being 15 years old, I was an early eBay user. 1995, reselling products, which is something I probably should have stuck to, but I would buy used cell phones in bulk and resell them. Buy all these odd products or sometimes find a product wasn't marketed well, purchased it, take better photos, better description, and resell it. So then, if we skip forward to the legit business, I got into real estate as a broker but was terrible at selling houses. And I found my way to an area I was much more interested in which was selling businesses and worked with a little firm that did that to get the experience and know how and started a practice consulting with mostly private investors in the beginning to either buy a business or sell a business they already own. That practice evolved over near a decade to working with corporates that were investing and buying hotel assets, or working with financial institutions, big bank buying little bank, little banks trying to sell.

Susan Sly 06:14
Wow, that's a, that's an interesting journey. And that it sounds to me too, that there was the self actualization piece, Kison. It's like, oh, I might not be so good at this, but I'm really passionate about this particular aspect. And the fact it speaks volumes about who you are as a person that you, you know, said, Hey, you know what, I am going to keep going down this road, but have a different, you know, kind of bent to it. So, do you think that there are people who are meant to be entrepreneurs, and there are people who aren't? Or do you think it's something people can learn?

Kison Patel 06:53
I think is it's a mix of the two. This is almost like with kids like, nature versus nurture. And I'm convinced it's a variable, person to person, right? There's kids that can really influence well, there's kids who can't, zero. And I almost feel like there's a knack with that with being an entrepreneur. There's skills you need to develop along the way, period, that you learn. Some people learn through experience, some people get really booksmart or some people use a combination of the two. And then there's this sort of wired drive that you have to go out and get it and push for it and push for it, push for it, overcome all these pitfalls and stumbles and get back up and move and move and move until you get it. Which I think there's a little bit of of that. I've been asking myself the same question, Susan, is it, can you teach somebody to truly be an entrepreneur? And part of that is this drive that you get in the morning where you fire yourself up, when you can really get yourself on that A game and saying for the moment you wake up, it's time to play the game, and you're objectively out, disciplining yourself, getting comfortable doing these things you're uncomfortable doing so you can achieve the things that you want on a daily basis. You don't see the big progress, but you're committed to it and are going to go to the rigor to make sure you don't ever slow down or stop. So I don't know, I, I'm, I'm curious and want to figure that out. Because I even look at my own kids and I can tell some of them, they're very influenceable. And they they've got that drive. I got an 11 year old daughter, who has her own business, putting a plug in for her but she runs her own business selling jewelry online. It's like fuego but Fueglow. And it she's you know, she's got it. But then I look at the two boys I have and I'm like, I don't know. I refer to her as the heir, and those two is the spare like, they just, video games, that's it. They don't, I don't know. They don't have that kind of—

Susan Sly 08:58
She's the oldest though, isn't she?

Kison Patel 09:00
She is.

Susan Sly 09:01

Susan Sly 09:02
they've got some time, Kison. I want to have her on the show. I love young founders, because for this show, in so many countries, but I get a lot of people writing in saying I listened to you in the car with my kids because we, we never swear on the show or we edited out if someone does, but I, you know that next generation of entrepreneurs, and and thinking about what they're seeing on social media, and they're seeing younger people starting businesses. So to your point, is it nature versus nurture? Or if I go, you know, I've traveled and worked in 33 countries in the world. And if I go whether it's Guatemala, Phnom Penh, or anywhere that, you know, say in the developing world, kids are out there hustling. They're selling flowers, they're selling, you know, and it's not necessarily for the most healthier reasons, but they're out there. They're learning how to sell, they're learning how to close, they're learning how to be persistent. And it's just, it's, it's just a way of life in certain places. And I think, perhaps in, in certain countries and definitely in America, that selling has become, you know, a dirty word, and entrepreneurship, as enticing as it is, we know the statistic. In America, 62% of people want to start businesses, 91% of them never do it.

Kison Patel 10:24
Yep, it's true.

Susan Sly 10:27
So when someone, Oh go ahead, yeah.

Kison Patel 10:31
Go ahead. It's fine.

Susan Sly 10:33
Yeah. So when someone is, you know, in terms of buying and selling businesses, and there was a, I had the founder of Freshbooks on the show, and you know, that FreshBooks has grown into a unicorn. So it has a billion dollar plus valuation, he started in his basement. And we got into a friendly debate. And if you know, someone's listening, if you haven't heard that show, it's a really intriguing show how he started that company. But, you know, we get into this debate, Kison about, it's a friendly debate. In my opinion, and you can, I want to hear your opinion, I feel when people are starting a business, they need to start with the end in mind. Right? So at Radius we said, you know, the, the founders, it's myself in four guys. So it's like me and four brothers. It's, it's crazy in this AI company. But we said, our goal is to be acquired, and we were all unified around that initial goal. In my opinion, you have to know in the beginning how you want to exit because that changes structure, it changes who you hire, how you hire, how you do certain things. And that's my thought. But you might feel differently. Do you think when someone's starting a business, they should really think about how they want to exit at the very beginning?

Kison Patel 11:45
I didn't. I didn't do that. I, I think it's, what's drives you, right? When you think of an exit, What's driving that? Is it purely to get a big check? Or are you really mission driven in the impact you're trying to make with your business? And for us, we wanted to change the way mergers and acquisitions happen dramatically. Right now, this industry operates on a system designed purely around the financial basis of doing m&a. And we look at the real world, what happens to make m&a successful, it's all about aligning teams to work together and align around priorities to be able to achieve these big lofty goals. And to create that capability of enabling teams to achieve these big lofty goals is completely different than just financial analysis. We wanted to change the emphasis from this finance focus to a real people focused in our industry. And when that happens, and we see that as the majority way of doing deals, we're going to see big financial impacts of the end result. But we're going to see motivated, happy people. A lot of times we see these big headline news, and we follow up with a bunch of layoffs but more as attrition, people actually quitting their jobs, because they're tired of dealing with the change and a lot of headaches and frustrations that come about it when it's not handled in a good way. So that's where when we look at our company goals with this business, there's a big mission that's driving it. When you have that, that's where you're going after. So I, I'm more about having a mission that's really something constrict even the podcast that we started five years ago, we didn't just start a podcast, we wanted to create a platform to enable our industry practitioners to be able to share their lessons learned. Our industry operates in a silo. Everybody's got such a unique way of thinking about m&a. There's no standardizations or best practices anywhere. Every other industry does, we don't. And why not create this platform so we get a voice that practitioners can share their lessons, and then we in turn, document it. We analyze patterns of these lessons learned and really look for those best practices, real proven ways of doing things. And they've created frameworks and things. But that, were able to continue with his high momentum because we have this mission. This is what we want to do. We want to create this impact. We want to show the industry the right way to do these deals.

Susan Sly 14:07
Well in your you know, when by the time someone's in an m&a situation, their business has been going for a while, right? And I know when in all of the pitches I've done in the startups I mentor, investors will often ask, what's your exit plan? Is it IPO? Are you selling? What are you doing? By the time someone comes to you, that person, that business is in such a different state. So I want to, I want you to imagine someone who's listening right now. And they're about to go on this journey of starting a company. And they hope and pray, Kison that someday they get to work with someone like you who has the best intentions for that business and the most benevolent outcome. So let me flip the script for a minute because now you've interviewed all of these people. You know best practices, you also know, worst practices. So what should people be afraid of when it comes to m&a in terms of, by fear, what I'm talking about is someone who doesn't have the best interest for that company at heart. Like what would be some of those indicators that maybe they should run?

Kison Patel 15:23
You know, it's a lot of the don't knows, what it all comes down to. When you go after a deal, and you can be on either the buy or sell side. But if I was selling a business, it's, what do I not know? I don't know anything about this company, what they're trying to do and this and that, the more you can learn, and really find that there's good answers, they actually have a good rationale, a good reason, a good theme, what they're trying to do. It's the stuff that you keep asking, you don't know, and you still don't know, after asking, that's when you really got a feather a bit and reconsider whether it makes sense to move forward. So I think that's the big thing is you got to have clarity. The more clarity you have, the better you'll understand, the better you'll be able to align and have that confidence that things actually come together. The more don't knows you have, that's least things to the hook. And that's why it's so, more productive you are. At the end of the day, it's a big exercise, change management, it's a big learning curve to come with it. You're gonna do that as a pretty big expense. So how do you overcome it? It's by learning as much as you can. The more you learn, the more, and you are, you're going to still make a lot of mistakes. I think that's the biggest challenge of doing m&a, it's very complex in what you need to do to get the deal done. But then to actually realize the value of the transaction is extremely complex, because you're driving this large magnitude of change to an organization that most of the employees working there didn't choose it. This is kind of vote or say in all this change that needs to be driven to really get the value of the company, which is likely going to involve an integration of the business so they can realize cost synergies, and revenue synergies, we'll learn some m&a terms, but cost synergies usually involves reducing costs, headcount reduction, combining systems and so forth. And then your revenue synergies and how you're going to expand the revenues or is both sales teams going to cross sell each other's products, are we bringing their product into our new market, what are we doing to increase revenues? And those things to act on and capture the intended forecasted value on those activities, that's really hard to do, while keeping people happy, motivated.

Susan Sly 17:52
So in that, you know, that's speaking from the company that is going through it, or the, the, the, even from the employees and their perspective, because we've seen a lot of bad M&As where a company has been acquired and then suddenly, to your point, 3000 people are laid off or the, there's so many changes that the core values of that company that existed aren't there in the next iteration. What I want to know is the m&a people themselves, when you are considering an m&a and you're looking for bankers or m&a specialists, what are some of the warning signs that you should run? Because just like there are bad realtors, there are bad, you know, mortgage brokers, there are all sorts of people who are bad actors in a good industry. And let's face it Kison, m&a sometimes gets a bad rap. I bankers get a bad rap, like I you know, in my world, I've dealt with a lot of I bankers, I've dealt with a lot of you know, VCs and different people. So what would be some warning signs that someone, if they're on this journey, they should run away?

Kison Patel 19:05
Yeah, I mean, there's a reason for that. There are a lot of bad bankers out there. So it is important to be able to vet them well. It goes back to even the business, you want to do your diligence. Want to ask a lot of questions and uncover information. I think it's seeing their nature as well. Are they doing the same with you? Are they spending a lot of time to understand what your goals and objectives are? If they're really prodding about their capabilities, that might be a signal right there. You know, they're digging in and really understanding why you're looking to sell a company and the real rationale behind it. Because otherwise, you're just looking at as here's a template process. I'm just trying to maximize the dollars but there might be other things beyond that, that you really have this living, breathing organization with people that are like family to you, and what are your goals for them to really get a sense of what that looks like, because that ties into the bigger picture of the deal. Because it's just more than the financials there. I think that's the real big thing that somebody would focus on. I think there's, you know, it's a testing amount, right? Because every banker is going to say they have this experience in the industry and things like that. And obviously, you want to find the stuff that's correlated, right? Have they sold similar types of companies in the industry, things like that. Get the sense of the track record. But then really figure out like some of the transparency, because a lot of times you want to understand, when you're working with an advisor, you're getting a banker, you're getting access to a pool of potential buyers, and you really want to understand the depth of those relationships that they have with that network that they're marketing to you, as in terms of that's a capability is providing you access to the best breed of buyers out in the market so you can have the best view to transaction that runs well. And you need to be able to test that capability, because they pull up a list from a database, or do they actually know these people? Can you test them on that say, Hey, you know, Jim, over there? Can we let's get a conversation going and really figure that out. If you can also talk to some of the CEOs of companies they've transacted with in the past, you know, are they a little reserved about making some introductions to former clients? Or are they really forthcoming about it, and can let you take your pick of litter? So I, it's the going back to the buying a business, you got to do a lot of diligence. When you're selling your business and working with your vendors, you should do a lot of diligence. Maybe go check out their Glassdoor reviews and things like that.

Susan Sly 21:37
That's it. That's great advice. And the you know, the thing I think about too, are sometimes there are clauses that people are not aware of. So as an example, oh, you know, you sign up with an I banker, but you find out that that I banker has put a clause and you didn't read the agreement, that even if they don't bring the acquisition partner, they still get a percentage of the deal. Right? And there are all sorts of things that I think people, it's like buyer beware, that they really want to think about because that, you know, selling your business is like selling your baby in a way, right? You've spent all this time you've curated, you have these people that you love and care about, and whoever handles that transaction, you really need to read the fine print. And to your point, I love what you said, it's like do your homework, do your research and really know because I've seen a lot of people go into deals and they're like, where did those millions and millions and millions go? Well, you sign an agreement, and that I banker took a large chunk of it, were you not aware that that was gonna happen, right? And you hear about these exits, especially like Silicon Valley is like, Oh, they had this exit for a billion dollars, it doesn't mean that founder got a billion dollars. A lot of that pie went to, went to different people. So switching gears, as you know, as a dad, especially as a daughter, who's an entrepreneur, what, you know, in terms of this next, next generation of entrepreneurs, let's call them Gen, Gen Alpha entrepreneurs. What do you think, in your opinion, what are the some of the things that you're seeing in terms of how they do business or their attitude toward business that perhaps our generation doesn't have?

Kison Patel 23:32
It's interesting, because they get exposed to so much information at such an early age. And if they learn to harness it, they can go off on their own and do quite a bit, especially the way technology is evolving. It's more about enabling less sophisticated people basically, to be able to build technology, like the no code theme, right? You don't need to know how to code to build software anymore. You have so many platforms allow you to do that. And that's what's really cool. My daughter uses Shopify, she runs it herself. She's dead backup, I got this, you know, I need your help. And she figures it out on our own. So I think there's a lot of things like that there's so much access to the information and tools that they can actually execute at such an early age. So I see it's just the drive, the motivation, that's becoming a bit rarer, the attention spans becoming a bit rarer. So I think those are the things that needs to overcome. Just to encourage it, put some light on it that hey, these are good things for kids to do is to venture off, try new things and commerce understand how the world operates by the ability to create value, versus just putting, you know, quote, funny videos or disturbing videos online.

Susan Sly 24:54
Yeah, disturbing. That's a whole other thing as a parent. My youngest one doesn't even have a phone, we won't let her have one, when she's 12. And, and at the school, she was out before, the kids were getting $1,200 iPhones when they were literally Kison, you know, seven or eight years old. And you know, she was the only one in her class who doesn't have a phone. She moved, we moved her to a different school and she's not the only one who doesn't have a phone. And she still codes and she does all of this cool stuff. But I'm like, you don't have the emotional maturity for social media yet. And so let's just not go there until you're ready. But I think it's, it's very interesting what they're exposed to. What's something in your business that you do, but maybe it's not your favorite thing to do, but you do it anyway?

Kison Patel 25:45
Something business that I basically don't like to do, but I do it anyways. You know, it's things have changed quite a bit where, when I ran a consulting practice, I liked doing the modeling. Like I really like getting into the finances and building out projections, all that stuff, doing the nitty gritty work. I don't know if it was just a break of not dealing with people. But now I don't like doing any of that stuff at all. But it's something I have to do. And to have this economic sense to make sure that the company's balanced. And we're investing in the right areas and things of that sort. But when the business grows, that really changed quite a bit, I was very challenged with leadership. In the early years of creating this business, I focused a lot on developing those skills, reading books on it, which is wasn't actually the most helpful is more of the organizational psychology books, by focusing on those areas, and then later, presentation skills, communication. So it had shifted, and now I'm very much focused on those components, and helping improve or develop the talent in our organization in those areas. So everybody can improve. And then I still have to do the finances. But yeah.

Susan Sly 27:13
Yeah, thank you for your honesty on that. Because so, so often entrepreneurs will say, Oh, I like to do everything. And I'm like, No, you don't. There are certain things. I don't like firing people. Yeah, I don't like doing it. Right. You know, there are certain things that social media, I don't like doing it. But I put on my social media hat. And it's like, okay, you know, doing it, right. So, there are certain things that, you know, are an essential parts of business, but we don't always like doing them. And that's why it's Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, because it's, we talk about what's raw and real.

Kison Patel 27:52
It's discipline, like, isn't that fair to teach kids that, hey, this is how the world operates. You're gonna have to do things you don't like to do, and you may get comfortable doing them. I didn't like getting presentations, public speaking. But now I've, I've become comfortable doing it and actually don't mind to enjoy it. So but we don't learn that as a skill that you can transform yourself. That's part of the skill that you want to create that allows you to be successful. Because when you have that discipline, all of a sudden, you got quite a bit of versatility in what you can accomplish in this world. Because it doesn't have to be necessarily stuff you like. You can objectively do these things from the moment you wake up and find that, I don't know if you heighten your own internal burning desire, have what you want to achieve for the day. But to be able to do that and execute on it, that's what it really boils down to. Children let's learn, you know if you can teach that at an early age, that goes back to early question. Can you really teach it? Because if we can, we definitely can refocus a lot of our efforts right there and create a better place in the world.

Susan Sly 28:59
Yeah, that's so true. Like that, that discipline I grew up in. So my family immigrated. They were immigrants to Canada, my dad's family. So I grew up with a very strict father, Kison, and my grandmother, in a Chinese restaurant. So it didn't matter how I was feeling. I was folding napkins. I was taking people to their table. I was making egg rolls in the kitchen. Like it didn't matter how you're feeling. My grandmother was like, no time for feelings. Just do it, just work. And I, I don't think that's healthy either. So I want to ask you the last question is, let's talk about this concept of this pulling this push because so many people get into entrepreneurship because they want freedom. That's actually the number one reason people become entrepreneurs because they want to feel free. However, we know all of the statistics show the average entrepreneur works approximately 15% more hours during the week than an employee, and it's even probably more than that, since the pandemic. So you're a dad, you have three kids, in your opinion, like, how do people maintain some semblance of balance, I guess, while they're growing businesses and have families?

Kison Patel 30:20
it's tough. You know, the funny thing I've been doing recently, Susan is bringing in some of the business elements at home. Like trying to have a State of the Union address in the beginning of the year with the family. I got a friend with one of the guys I'm trying to think of his name, I talked to him last year, and he was telling me about it. And I was like, that's such a good idea, I should do that. And I, it was so fun. Because I said, Hey, let's, let's talk about let's recap the year, talk about what we achieved this past year. And then we, I had each of my kids write out their goals for this coming year. And we like wrote it out and say, All right, we're committed to going after these goals this year. And they got to really collaborate, talk to each other about it, what are some of the bigger family goals that we can do together? You know, we got the Disney World trip and things like that on there. So that, I think, I think there's how you use your time, because you can be in the same room as your kid and be like, Oh, you're, he's watching TV, like, kids in the iPad like, that's, the quality isn't there. I think if you can balance it, or manage it, to be really proactive about it, and something I'm continually working on, to really say, Hey, we're gonna actually do things together. I think we forget that sometimes as parents, where it's like, Hey, I gotta take care of this kid. Well, no, we do have some core responsibilities as a parent to feed the child healthy and educate them, you got to be proactive about that. You got to be spending time to educate them. But education, so different, you know, this was the stages you go through as a kid, the early stages, there's no rationale or compromise. You know, and we forget about that. You can't constantly be don't do this, don't do that, you know, it's actually all about listening and understanding. And so I think that's where being a parent develops you because you knew now shift and emphasize your effort to really listen to understand. And that's actually how you really connect with the, with the child in a really proactive way. And it gives you this opportunity to relive your youth. I think we forget that as parents, that I get to go back and really try to embrace what this experience was like as an adult. You know, from those, those years, and even getting back to like, playing with Legos is pretty fun. Like, we can build all kinds of things and really go back into it. And even the sports, I learned how to ice skate a couple years ago, because the kids want to learn, it's like, Wow, am not gonna be a sideline parent? Oh, no, I'm gonna do it. Now it's an activity the whole family does together. It's the best thing because I don't have to worry about that, throw them on the ice, and everybody takes care of themselves and stay out of trouble. So it works out really well. I think that's the, the thing you got to do to really balance it is make your time quality time together. I remember seeing this family when I was leaving a hotel, and I just could feel the energy of how connected this family was. And I pause to ask the mom, I said, there's something really special about your family, I could just tell you, it's such a tight bond. What is it? And she told me, it's like, well it's because we all play softball together. I was like, Really? It's like, she's like, it's just we have this thing that we do as a whole family. And because of that, it just really keeps us in such tight momentum together. And I was like, wow, that kind of stuck out to me. So. But again, it's something like very proactive, you know, we're not just sitting around, but now we're really connected with each other in such qualitative ways. So I think that's the thing that really allows you to balance it out with the commitment and ease and entrepreneur to have a good balance of your family and make it meaningful.

Susan Sly 34:18
So what I'm hearing is, I love that, so learning with them, right? Because we're all learning and especially as entrepreneurs, I mean, we're all learning. Learning with them and bringing business in and, and so a few years ago, I sat down with the kids and I did a cash flow statement with my husband who's a CPA, and we present the cash flow statement for the house with the kids. And they were like, and I was like, this is how much groceries are, this is how much your tuitions are, this is, this is much money comes in, and they're all like, and I had this big flip chart, Kison. And so the other thing I do when I take them to the grocery store, I'll have them guess how much is it gonna ring up to. And they play this guessing game to bring that concept of financial, you know, good financial governance but also understanding. And I've brought them to speaking events when I used to speak events with like Jack Canfield and Tony Robbins and all these different people, I bring them. And you know, so they get that understanding. But the thing that I love that you said, and I'm thinking about this. We used to do, every year on Boxing Day, we used to do Lego day. So we'd bring out all these bins of Lego, and we'd have family building championships. I always lost the family championships. I'm not a gifted Lego builder. But the kids still talk about when are we doing our next Lego day?My kids go from like, 12, all the way up to 27. And they're like, when are we doing our next Lego building day?

Kison Patel 35:54
I like that idea. I appreciate it. I'm gonna do that cash flow expense at home.

Susan Sly 36:00
The kids are gonna write letters. And when I have your daughter on the show, she's gonna be like, my dad did.

Kison Patel 36:08
Oh, we had a, we had to calculate the profit margins on lemonade. That was a good exercise.

Susan Sly 36:16
And will that be, you know, I think I had to—did you have to play an instrument growing up?

Kison Patel 36:23
No, I was a worthless kid, I didn't do anything. No sports, no instrument.

Susan Sly 36:30
Being raised in a very, like, Chinese traditional way, so you have to play an instrument. And there's only really two instruments you're allowed to play—the violin and the piano. And there's only, you can, you can study to be an engineer. If you're Asian and you're listening, you're probably laughing. So you can be an engineer or you can be a doctor, an attorney or an accountant. Okay, so so, but you know, there were all these things that I had to do that taught me discipline, but ask me if I play the piano now,No. I couldn't even read a line of sheet music. And so I have to think, Am I just taking my tiger mom stuff I learned and turning it into business stuff now? So my kids don't have to play piano, but they have to know how to do a cash flow statement. So that's maybe something for me to talk about with a therapist.

Kison Patel 37:26
Yeah. I like it. I'm gonna add it to the playbook here.

Susan Sly 37:32
I like doing the State of the Union like, oh, my gosh, well, you know, what Kison for President like, I think a good state of the union with fiscal responsibility like game on for that, you know, so I love it. Well, Kison, thank you so much for being here. And for everyone, go ahead, go to That's Kison's website. Check out his podcast. I am going to be a new listener because I love everything to do with m&a. And with you know, projects that I have on the horizon, I will be more and more ensconced in that world with my vision to help 1000 Women launch technology companies over the 10 years. So next 10 years. So Kison, thanks so much for being here.

Kison Patel 38:15
That's my pleasure, Susan. Enjoy the conversation.

Susan Sly 38:18
Oh, thank you. All right, Raw and Real entrepreneurs, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. Go out there and have an amazing day and I will see you in the next episode.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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