Dueling Perspectives: Rosanne Longo and Jesse Longo
One challenge for family members who work together is recognizing the difference between family and business roles, and knowing which “hat” to wear when. When everyone gathers around the dinner table or at a family reunion, there should be a balance between “shop talk” and catching up on family news.
Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc., based in Vaughan, Ontario, was founded by brothers Tommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956 with a single location and today is a chain of 32 grocery stores.
Rosanne Longo, the company’s spokesperson, connects with customers; her nephew Jesse Longo crunches numbers in finance. We asked them both: How do you transition between roles as colleagues and family members?
Rosanne Longo, G2, spokesperson and brand ambassador:
“I think working in a family business means that entrepreneurial spirit is in your blood, and sometimes that alone makes it difficult to turn your mind off of work.
“Since it’s constantly on your mind, you are naturally inclined to talk about work when you’re around family who you work with. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but it has its limits. Every family needs to find the right balance. Some families might have a rule where business talk at the table is unacceptable at a family gathering. Some might say a bit of shop talk is OK, but it cannot monopolize the conversation.
“The reality is, you have to make sure you involve everyone sitting around the table (and sometimes not everyone who is sitting around the table works for the business). There’s a lot more to talk about than work. You might be surprised how interesting your family can be outside of work.”
Jesse Longo, G3, senior financial analyst:
“I think for my immediate family, definitely work stuff comes up. Generally, when I’m talking to my dad or something, then it’s more, ‘Hey what are you working on?,’ that kind of stuff. Or if he notices I’m stressed, he’ll say, ‘Oh, what’s going on, and how can I help?’
“But for the most part, in my family, we’ve all got a lot going on in our lives personally, so a lot of time when we chat it’s about what’s going on in life. I coach hockey, so [my parents] ask me a lot of questions about that, and then we all play golf, so we ask about golf and that kind of stuff. So we try not to talk too much shop.
“And we also have my brother and sisters who don’t currently work for the business, so we don’t want to make them feel left out when we’re talking about work stuff. For the most part we try to keep it out, but when it’s just me and my dad, then yeah, we’ll talk about stuff at work. I’d say for the most part we keep it to what’s going on in our lives instead of just what’s going on at work.”
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