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Another Round of CAFÉ?

Saturday night, June 8, 2013. The place to be was the Sheraton Conference Center in Toronto. The occasion? CAFÉ’s annual Family Enterprise of the Year Awards (FEYA).

CAFÉ (Canadian Association of Famliy Enterprise) is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013, and I recently joined as an affiliate member, given my renewed interest in the family business area. I had not realized that CAFÉ began in 1983, but found it interesting because my previous involvement with them was in the mid-80s, as they were just getting started.

At that time I was the second-generation (G2) son who was about to enter the family business, and someone got my father interested in CAFÉ. That was where he learned the importance of getting the family more involved, even those who did not work in the business.

He actually set up a family retreat, which I remember mostly because it was the only one we ever had. Not that it went badly, but running the company was more urgent, and nobody stepped up to make sure that the event became a regular part of our calendar.

We learned a few things from CAFÉ, not all of which were applied, of course. I vividly recall Dad telling me about how they recommend that kids work somewhere outside the family business for at least 3 to 5 years before even being allowed to come into the family company. Made sense to me, but Dad felt it did not apply to our situation.

So back to the FEYA event on Saturday.The best part of any CAFÉ gathering is the sharing of stories. Family businesses are all unique, yet there are always things that you can learn from others, especially how they have handled the intersection of the family with the business.

The three finalist families were all in attendance, each with about a dozen or so people there, representing two or three generations. They each had a little speech prepared, as well as a great video that the CAFÉ folks obviously put a great deal of effort into producing.

Not surprisingly, the families were all very thankful that they had become involved in CAFÉ, as the interactions had helped them figure out some things that they would not likely have picked up anywhere else. The stories were all very different, but each was touching in its own way.

A key benefit for families who join is the PAG (Personal Advisory Group) network. My father referred to his as his “CAFÉ Buddy group”. They used to have regular meetings, alternating whose family/company they would discusss. It became an informal board of sorts, where he could share stories, ideas, and problems with others who were undergoing many similar issues.

Even after selling our operations, he continued to meet with his PAG. After he passed away, a couple of his former PAG friends invited me to their annual Christmas gathering, which was really cool, as we spent the time reminiscing and sharing stories about him.

CAFÉ can be very powerful. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as powerful as it could be. That is not meant to be an insult, as I know that the board is working hard at making CAFÉ become an even more important part of the family business scene in Canada. They had just concluded some board meetings and were quite pumped at what they were working on.

There was even a bit of talk about Quebec and its lack of presence in CAFÉ. How could they find ways to get more invloved there? Apparently there was a new member from Quebec who was keen on helping mobilize things.

That would be me. If you are in Quebec and also interested in “another round of CAFÉ”, please reach out to me, and let’s see where we can take this

J’imagine que mon prochain blogue sera en français et devrait toucher sur le même sujet, mais du point de vue québecois. À la semaine prochaine…

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

The Defensive CFA ®?

Over the past few weeks, I have continued to read, to look around, to think, to search, to find people to emulate, to connect, to reach out, and to attempt to redefine the evolution of my current (final) career transition. My feelings have ranged from total confusion one minute, to complete exhiliration the next.

In this age of mass communication and information availability, it is so easy to see what others are doing and to try to find others who seem to be doing the kinds of things we want to do. Sometimes I feel like it took too long for some things to click in my life, but then I slow down and try to be thankful that it finally feels like a fog is lifting. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone…”

Much of this introspection came about in March when I attended the CFA Wealth Management conference in Boston. Attending that 2-day meeting with a whole bunch of other CFA charterholders reminded me why I had signed up for the CFA program in the first place.

It was late 1999 that I decided to do it, and at the time I thought my reasons were sound. I was working in the family holding company. I had been doing quite well with my stock picks in the late 90’s (like every other “bull market genius”, no doubt) and since I was managing family assets I thought that becoming a Chartered Finacial Analyst would help me career-wise.

A former MBA classmate had just published a book, and on the back cover I noticed that he displayed his CFA status. Funny, he knew NOTHING about finance 10 years ago. If he could do it, so could I.

Now I am very glad I completed the program, and it was not easy by any stretch. But in retrospect, I realize that I had done it more for defensive purposes. Yes, the defensive CFA, that’s a new one, isn’t it.

It is when a person completes the CFA program because he knows that in the future, other CFA-types will be pitching ideas at him, because they know he has money, and they will smugly hand over their business cards with those magic three letters. If you can give them your card with the same three letters, the reasoning goes, you can just give each other the secret handshake and avoid all of the BS.

Back to the Boston conference. I spent 2 days with other CFA’s, listening to many interesting presentations on all sorts of topics. I was not bored. I had no trouble following along. The stuff was actually very interesting. But I flashed back to my defensive preferences when it comes to how to manage wealth.

I concluded that there are so many smart qualified people in the wealth management space, and in the end, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate them. And I most certainly do not want to even try to play that game. I never did want to. And I certainly don’t want to go “all in” now.

The Family Enterprise Advisor Program in which I am currently enrolled has been eye-opening and enlightening. Most of the others in my classes are accountants, insurance experts, trust specialists, etc. I come at it from the family office side. But even that feels forced.

The course leaders are all family business advisors and seem more like generalists, and I identify so much more with them than my fellow classmates, almost all of whom are in the program to learn how the different specialist disciplines need to learn to work together.

I am already a family business generalist. I get it. And I love it. And I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. These are exciting times. I hope you will stick with me as all this continues to evolve. In the meantime, I would love to hear your family business stories.

Allow me to close this with a dictionary definition:

Catharsis: Purging of emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music

I could modify that to: Relieving of emotiuonal tensions and getting something off one’s chest through blogging.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Québecois, mais aussi canadien, et nord-americain

Je suis né à Montréal en 1964. Mes parents, étants arrivés au Canada durnat les années 1950, ont appris la langue de la majorité du pays, l’anglais. Chez nous, en plus d’un dialecte de l’allemand, c’était en anglais qu’on se parlait.

En septembre 1970, j’ai commencé ma première année à l’école Ste-Odile, à Cartierville, en français. Mes grandes soeurs, elles, étaient à Transfiguration of our Lord, en anglais. J’ai pleuré tout l’été, sachant que je serai forcé à débuter mes études dans une langue que je ne connaissait pas.

Avec une quarantaine d’années de recul, je constate que c’était une bonne décision de la part de mes parents. Mon père était homme d’affaires, et il voyait que pour son fils, ça serait pas seulement un atout, mais une nécessité d’être bilingue au Québec. La crise d’octobre qui est survenu à peine un mois plus tard lui avait confirmé la pertinence de sa décision.

Revenons au présent. La réalité est que le fait d’être bilingue (ou même multilingue) est un plus. Je n’entrerai pas dans le discours de certains, qui craignent la disparition du français au Québec, je n’y crois pas. Je reconnais leur passion, mais je ne suis pas de ceux qui croient que c’est en mettant des restrictions sur les autre langues qu’on fait la promotion de la nôtre.

Aujourd’hui je suis marié avec une francophone aussi bilingue que moi, et nos deux enfants sont encore plus bilingues que nous. Nous bénéficions des cultures des deux côtés, et même encore un peu de celle de mes parents immigrants.

Mais encore plus que la culture, je remarque d’autres différences entre les Québecois et le reste de l’Amérique du Nord. Je parlerai d’un seul secteur, mais je suis certain qu’il existe des parallèles dans plusieurs autres.

Dans le domaine des entreprises familiales, dans les années 1980, notre compagnie s’est joint à CAFÉ, le Canadian Association for Family Enterprise. Cette organisme existe toujours partout au Canada, sauf au Québec.

Au québec depuis quelques années le CIFA (Centre International des Familles en Affaires) existe, mais autant que son but est d’aider les familles en affaires, son rôle ne réunit pas les familles comme membres, qui peuvent ensuite s’entraider, ce que CAFÉ a toujours bien fait.

Sur le côté éducation, je suis présentement inscrit au FEAP (Family Enterprise Advisor Program). Ce programme développé par l’University of British Columbia, est maintenant administré par IFEA (Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors). En plus du UBC, le FEAP sera bientôt offert en Alberta, en Ontario à Western et à Dalhousie à Halifax. Montréal? Pas encore.

Mais agrandissons l’échelle encore une fois. Au États-Unis le FFI (Family Firm Institute) existe depuis 1986. Cet organisme est dédié à tous les professionnels qui font affaires avec les entreprises familiales. Il existe un chapitre au Canada, en Ontario, sans surprise.

Le monde devient de plus en plus petit. Il y a plusieurs bons modèles ailleurs qui pourraient être copiés ici au Québec, mais nous n’avons pas nécessairement l’échelle pour garantir leur survie.
Par contre, pour ceux qui parlent anglais, ce monde est aussi ouvert à eux. J’en profite. J’espère que d’autres feront pareil. Le monde est petit, mais il est aussi grand.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Being a Good “Bad Guy”

I like to think of myself as a good guy. I think most guys do. But don’t nice guys finish last? That’s not true, is it?

A couple of weeks ago my partner Tom came into the office and lamented the fact that he was “too nice” and sometimes felt as if people were taking advantage of him because of it.

I told him that I often felt the same way. But I also said that I didn’t think he could or should ever change. And I am pretty sure that he won’t. It just isn’t in his DNA. Nor is it in mine.

But that doesn’t mean that we just simply let people walk all over us, because that is not the case either. Tom and I have a lot of traits in common, and of course we are different in many ways as well.

One of our common traits is empathy. We are both quite good at looking at things from other people’s perspectives, and then being able to understand how they feel about a situation. This is exactly what Tom was getting at when he talked about being too nice.

Getting back to the conversation we had that morning, I asked him if these feelings occurred more often in his personal life or his work life. I already knew that he would answer “personal” when I posed the question.

I have worked with Tom in many situations and seen him when he is acting for someone other than himself. When he is representing a company, a client, or another person, he is still polite and generally friendly. But when things get hairy, he can quickly lose the “good guy” persona.

I’m not sure why it is, but it is far easier for me to take on the “bad guy” role when I am representing someone else as well. Maybe we just don’t like it when we have to resort to tough tactics for our own good. Do we really want to be thought of as an A–hole? Not really.

The other day I was explaining this blog idea to my daughter, who is 11. I told her that when it comes to representing someone else, I find it easier to be the bad guy and ask the tough questions. Or to raise my voice when that is what is required.

She loves drama class and has taken improv and acting classes, so I told her that when I am in a position where I am representing someone else, I look at it kind of as a role, or, as I put it, a “schtick”.

She has heard me raise my voice more than once, and also remembers her grandfather and how it was better to remain on his good side. “Do you think I can play the role of the bad guy when I have to?” I asked. She nodded and gave me that “oh yeah” look.

We have all seen cop shows where they use the “good cop bad cop” routine to try to get a suspect to confess. What I have been talking about is different, but not completely.

Both my partner and I prefer to be the good cop, and the good cop can usually handle 90% of the situations anyone confronts. But in those situations that require it, sometimes you need to switch into the bad guy schtick.  From our experience, it is always easier to be the bad cop when you are doing it for someone else. Otherwise, you risk being the A—hole.

 

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Coming Out of the Dark

It was about this time last year that Tom and I started to seriously discuss the business venture that has now become TSI Heritage. Quite a few things have changed for me as a result, but I wanted to share one in particular.

You see, as the head of a Single-Family Office, I preferred to keep a very low profile. When people find out that you manage family money, a few things happen.

Typically, many form an instant opinion about you, not unlike the Steve Forbes scenario that I discussed in last week’s post.  But still others instantly see you as the perfect recipient to their great sales pitch, for whatever financial product that they just happen to be peddling.

So for those reasons, and a few others, keeping a low profile was the way to go for me. And I did not mind. Some of the people who know me may think of me as an extrovert, but I honestly feel more like a natural introvert, so laying low also works with my personality.

So what changed? Well, all of a sudden, now that we decided to offer family-office services to other families, not only can I no longer lay low, I actually have to “sell” myself, and the services that Tom and I now provide to other families.

It is as if I had been hiding, and am now forced out of the dark and into the bright light, saying “Look at me, I can help!” Ugh!

I have always preferred the soft sell, whichever side of the table I happen to be on. When people come on too strong with their sales pitch to me, my guard immediately goes way, way up, and I am usually turned off for good. Now that I am the one who needs to be the pitchman, I certainly prefer the soft sell even more.

In fact, when we started, I told Tom that I wanted to be so exclusive with our service offer that we should only accept clients who were prepared to beg us to take them on.

Obviously we are not that stringent in evaluating potential clients, but it is quite clear that in order for a relationship such as this to work long term, it needs to be a good fit for both parties.

With this venture as in all others, I continue to prefer to crawl before walking and then to walk before running.  So, marketing-wise, my preference has been to go slowly as well.

We set up our website in order to explain our thinking and our proposition.  There will be a few changes to the site coming soon as well, and one change will be to highlight the blog section, as it has become the liveliest part of the site.

Tom and I have also become quite active on LinkedIn, which is a very useful networking tool, more so than I had imagined. If you work in any business or professional capacity and you are not yet on LinkedIn, I strongly encourage you to not only sign up, but to really get into it.

There are plenty of other things that continue to evolve in our venture, and we look forward to moving things forward in 2013. As for coming out of the dark, I understand that the first year is the hardest, so you can expect to hear more from me. But I promise to stick with the soft sell.

 

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.