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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Jan 31, 2022

With Marcy Syms, President of the Syms Foundation, Director of the TPD Group and Succession Planning Expert


Do you have a strategic plan in place for yourself or your family business when you retire? Have you established who will take over the day-to-day operations or make critical decisions in your absence? Or, if you’re the family breadwinner and suddenly become ill and can’t work, how will your family replace your lost income? Over the past few years, we’ve learned how fragile our lives and the world we live in can be, when in the blink of an eye, lives are lost, businesses shuttered, and family finances destroyed. When talking about a backup plan, such as a succession or contingency plan, many people don’t know what it is or the importance of having one. But making these contingency plans now can mean the difference between a smooth and orderly transition from one generation to the next versus years of legal battles that often divide families and cost a lot of money.


My guest today, Marcy Syms, is President of the Sy Syms Foundation. The Foundation is best known for supporting medical research, education, and independent public broadcasting. Marcy’s father Sy founded the retail clothing chain Syms. Its reputation was built on the value of personalized customer service and accountability. Working under her father, Marcy assumed the role of corporate president and in 1983 became one of the youngest female presidents of an NYSE traded company. In 1998, Marcy was promoted to CEO and under her leadership, the Syms Corporation continued its growth and expansion. Today, in addition to heading up the Syms Foundation, Marcy is also Independent Director for the TPD Group, LLC. There she advises others on succession planning and strategic training. Today she shares with us her personal and professional wisdom regarding family businesses and planning.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How did Marcy first start working with her father?
  • What was Marcy’s role in the family as a child?
  • What has Marcy learned about heart health function and disease?
  • What does Marcy do for self-care and health?
  • What was it like going from a family business to a public company?
  • How did Marcy’s father get into the department store business?
  • How did they come up with the company’s slogan?
  • What happened to the Syms retail chain?
  • What will happen to service in the age of online shopping?
  • How did Marcy become passionate about independent public broadcasting?
  • What is the mission of the Sy Syms Foundation?
  • What is the TPD Group?
  • Why is succession planning so important?
  • How does Marcy discuss her succession plan with her family?
  • What advice does Marcy have for succession planning?
  • What does Marcy do for fun?



  • “Once you become a public company and you lose the feeling of family and the control that family has over crisis and distributions and all that, it’s a very, very different experience.” — Marcy
  • “Don’t let your children go into the business…without other experience first.” — Marcy
  • “I always say that you have to communicate, it has to be something that’s not taboo, it has to be a topic.” — Marcy

Today’s Takeaway: There are so many things that we can focus on and learn from my conversation with Marcy Syms. She’s a wonderful role model for women, especially, but all people in business. She inspires us with her passion for allocating family foundation resources to enhance education, science, and the arts; ensuring that future generations will continue to benefit from her generosity. But perhaps most of all, Marcy is to be admired for her commitment to helping others provide a secure future for themselves and their loved ones through careful strategic planning. Even if you don’t own a company, you still want to plan for your loved ones and have a will in place. No one wants to be caught in an emergency situation where tough decisions must be made in the spur of the moment, but in the event that a dire situation occurs at least now the path forward is clearly defined. Making these decisions in advance when we have the time, energy, and health to calmly and carefully consider all available options is vital. It will spare us a great deal of hardship in the future for ourselves, our companies, and our families. Remember that every day is a gift, and planning ahead to provide for your family’s future makes not only sound financial sense, but it just might bring you a better night's sleep and perhaps even a longer, healthier life. It may even bring your family closer than ever before. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”


Brought to You By:

Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode:

Marcy Syms

Sy Syms Foundation