My Life’s Work: A Three-Circle Chronology

CVs are useful for presenting ourselves as individuals with career progressions independent of environmental factors. Business family members often have two or more CVs in their desk drawers, because they generally wear more hats and carry out multiple role responsibilities throughout their lifetimes. This is elegantly described in The Three Circle Model of Family Business developed by Harvard Professor John Davis and his mentor at HBS, Professor Renato Tagiuri.

Have you ever tried to look at your life’s progression as a chronology that draws on all three circles: Individual/Family, Ownership and Enterprise?

I took stab at this recently:

Strohs are innkeepers in Kirn, Germany.

Johann Stroh registers first brewing formula.

German Revolution: Bernard Stroh emigrates to South America, settling ultimately in Detroit, Michigan where he founds the Lion Brewery.

U.S. breweries number more than 3,000.

Suzanne is adopted, the oldest of four children raised in the Metamora hunt country and in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit where the Strohs are now fourth-generation brewers.

Acquisition of Goebel begins Stroh’s regional expansion.

Journalist Nicholas Stroh disappears while investigating Ugandan atrocities and is later found murdered.

Suzanne publishes her first poem.

First job: sells raw honey from the family farm door-to-door.

Attends University Liggett School.

First mountaineering trip. Suzanne visits the Teton Range on field study trip for ULS’s first outdoor education course for high school credit, designed and built by Suzanne and another student in consultation with their earth science teacher James Schmidt.

Graduates ULS. Suzanne’s father becomes a quadriplegic for life after being thrown from his horse.

The brewing company launches its international expansion by acquiring Schlitz, giving Stroh’s a 13% U.S. market share. Ten U.S. brewers now account for 95% of all beer sold.
Only 40 breweries remain nationwide.

In Barcelona, Stroh’s now owns the controlling interest in CruzCampo, Spain’s leading brewer.

Summer job cataloging Ed Downe’s collection of Contemporary American Art turns into year-round commitment. Suzanne commutes weekly to New York from Boston, where she attends Wellesley College.

Attends Newnham College, Cambridge on junior year abroad program and transfers to Cambridge University, intending to complete her M.A. in history of art. She is among few Americans to sit the tripos.

Her father’s ill health requires Suzanne to return to the States.

B.A. Wellesley College. Publishes exhibition catalog to coincide with U.S. tour of The Downe Collection, inaugurating the capital campaign for the Wellesley Museum.

Curates second art exhibition. Abandons art career. Learns publishing at Clarkson Potter Books, a division of Crown Publishing, and The Wallace Literary Agency, Inc.

First major writing assignment: Suzanne is invited by British author Nigel Nicolson to adapt Portrait of a Marriage for the BBC. When the project is reorganized, Suzanne is replaced by Penelope Mortimer as screenwriter.

Taking advantage of the truce in the war between Morocco and Algeria that ushers in the Grand Magreb era, Suzanne founds America to Africa (ATA) with Michael Kirtley, working with Mano Dayak and the ‘PasDaks’ in France (‘pas d’acord avec le Paris-Dakar’) to replace the environmentally toxic and fiscally corrupt Paris-Dakar Rally with the first eco-rally. All proceeds will go to West African charities and youth sports development. Suzanne trains to become America’s first female rally driver. In Mali Suzanne interviews the dictator Moussa Traoure at home, the first foreigner to do so.

Threat of war in the Persian Gulf destroys the fragile truce in West Africa. Broadcast negotiations for the eco-rally break down in the U.S. The ATA project fails years before anybody has ever heard of the Eco Challenge. Suzanne is recruited by Skadden, Arps and becomes a third shift paralegal. During the day she researches literary biographies for Louise DeSalvo (Conceived with Malice) and Dierdre Bair (Anais Nin, Colette).

Completes Short Course in Brewing at Siebel Institute of Technology.

Spends seven months on the Appalachian Trail.

As the period of global consolidation intensifies in brewing, Stroh’s retreats from Europe, selling its majority share in CruzCampo.

Produces first film about the 2,100-mile AT trek, STICKING TO IT:The Appalachian Trail Odyssey. Joins the family business to work on governance while continuing to write professionally for Morrow/Heus Productions.

Summits Mt. Rainier and adopts her second Flat-Coated Retriever.

After two years in Hollywood, TABOU is Suzanne’s third unproduced screenplay, written for French film producer Gilles de Baillenx.

Attends Harvard Business School’s executive training program in family business.

Suzanne’s father dies after living fourteen years with a C3/C4 spinal cord injury, a feat previously almost unheard of.

Marries filmmaker Amy Gerber in Pasadena. Settles in Virginia.

John Stroh III becomes the fifth-generation CEO of the brewing company. Suzanne continues working in governance while writing professionally.

Suzanne’s software work designing characters for D.C.-based Virtual Experience Corp. earns seven patents pending.

The brewing company sells its assets to national competitors and closes its doors after 150 years in business. The Stroh family concentrates its efforts in biotechnology and in revitalizing Detroit through riverfront conservation and core development.

Suzanne joins Harvard professor and leading family business consultant Dr. John A. Davis (Generation to Generation) as a research associate at HBS and The Owner Managed Business Institute, where she studies and analyzes the world’s most successful family businesses for Davis’s book Growth and Unity.

Daughter, Pippa, born in Pasadena.

Completes first draft of the novel cycle Tabou.

Produces the documentary PUBLIC MEMORY: A Film about American Memorials with Amy Gerber.

Covers business, philanthropy and arts & entertainment for magazines.

Takes Tabou through two more drafts and writes short stories.

Completes Tabou and launches

Co-produces MY GRANDFATHER WAS A NAZI SCIENTIST: Opa. von Braun and Operation Paperclip, a documentary film about lost science in Nazi Germany and postwar America, with Amy Gerber.

Wins the Gold Hermes Award for web site design of

Screenwriter and associate producer of the narrative feature film, OKA!, directed by Lavinia Currier and set in the equatorial forest where native Bayaka play principal roles.

Story and script consultant, LAFAYETTE: Adopted Son, a project by Rob Raffety.

Screenwriter, SCOTCH VERDICT, an 18th century period drama.

Suzanne and Lavinia revise OKA! script; in June, filming begins in Central African Republic.

Obtains WMA certification as a wilderness first responder (WFR).

2011 OKA! released by Dada Films.

2013 SCOTCH VERDICT wins best unproduced screenplay for historical drama at Madrid International FIlm Festival.

Hollywood production designer Robert de Vico and the design team at Eager Sheep launch SCOTCH VERDICT into development at

Translator, Francesco Rapazzini’s Élisabeth de Gramont: avant-gardiste.

Story consultant, romantic comedy projects adapted from the novels of Louise de Vilmorin for James Bruce Productions.

2014 Short story, “Quiet Enjoyment,” is published in Defying Gravity by Paycock Press.

SCOTCH VERDICT selected at the Richmond International Film Festival. Fifteen finalists in all genres compete for best screenplay.

Suzanne’s Bio Click Here