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What Colour Should We Paint Our House?

Back in June our family was getting ready to take delivery of our new cottage, and it brought up a number of questions that we needed to work through together. Naturally, this situation also had a side benefit (which was NOT unexpected) which was that it gave me a juicy blog topic.

The actual building was put together in a factory and delivered to our lot in two pieces, where it was then put onto the foundation that had been poured a few weeks prior. All this was part of the plan that was set into motion last fall.

What we had not thought through at the outset was painting the inside of the house. Honestly I half assumed that the walls would be white and that eventually we might add some colour to some of the rooms.

But then a couple of weeks before we were to take delivery of the final product, we got an email from the company who had sold us the house and taken care of everything else.

We were being asked to provide them with our colour choices for each room, and they wanted our answer quickly, since the painter wanted to start our job really soon. No problem, my wife told them, we will give you an answer by Monday. I’m pretty sure it was Friday when she told them that.

Okay, so we had some work to do, but just how were we going to do this quickly, fairly, and nicely? As a family, we had a few days to get this right.

I will get back to how we handled the task a bit later, but the point of this blog has nothing to do with choosing colours, and a lot more to do with working together to make acceptable choices.

Let me tell you a few of the things that we did NOT do, and which we frankly never considered.

  • Just leaving all the walls white. When we learned that painting two coats of colour was included in the price we had already agreed to, it was a no-brainer to say, OK, let’s get some colours in there now.
  • Picking ONE colour for the whole house. The price actually included up to four different colours, but when I asked how many we could have, I was told that it was theoretically unlimited, but that for each one over four, there was a slight additional cost for mixing another can of paint.
  • Asking the people who sold us the house to choose the colours for us. While I am sure that they would have done a fine job since they had helped us choose matching counters and tiles, they would not have to live in the place.
  • Asking our accountant what colours we should go with. I don’t think I need to explain this one.
  • Asking our lawyer what colours we should use.
  • Asking our wealth manager, or our golf buddies, or, God forbid, someone at the bank.

Now if you are wondering what the heck I am getting at, recall that I normally blog about matters relating to family business, and hopefully I don’t need to tell you that every family is different.

We decided to let each of the kids choose the colours for their own rooms. I added my ideas about using an accent wall of a different colour in every room, and Mom spent a number of hours putting together some nice choices for the rest, and we all came to agree upon them.

When it comes to figuring things out for your own family, you may already know lots of experts that you use for your business questions, but does that mean that you should listen to their advice for your family decisions?

Of the options I outlined above, the most reasonable would have been to rely on the interior decorating advice of the company who sold us the house, since that is part of their specialty.

If you were tempted by any of the other choices, don’t be surprised if some family members begin clamouring for a fresh coat of paint real soon.

 

What Is a Family Harmony “Breakthrough”?

Because I like to consider myself somewhat of a communications specialist, I attach a great deal of importance to my choice of words, as I always want to be as clear as possible about everything I say and write.

There is already plenty of miscommunication and misunderstanding going on out there, I certainly don’t want to add to it. I much prefer to help to try to clean things up instead.

At the behest of my business coach, Melissa, who has been working with me for almost a year now, I recently added a simplified service offering on my website, which we dubbed the “Family Harmony Breakthrough Package”. I have to admit that the word “breakthrough” took a while to grow on me, but now I love it.

Let me explain it a bit, in the hopes that its full meaning does not get lost in the “marketing-ness” of the way it may sound to some. I am all about the family harmony part, it was Melissa who came up with the “breakthrough package” part.

I won’t explain what family harmony is, but the other two words are something I would like to clarify. Let’s start with “package”.

In the field of family business advising, the offer the consultant makes to the family can never be easily and clearly defined to everyone’s satisfaction, and this contributes to the hesitancy that many families already have when it comes to bringing in an “outsider” to help them.

So, inspired by some coaches who offer a “six-month package”, or a “nine-month package”, I have now launched what I call the Family Harmony Breakthrough Package, where the term “package” is designed mostly to set out the stages and the boundaries of what is involved.

The package has pre-defined steps, has a clear starting point and end point, and a deliverable. The timeframe can vary due to complexity and logistics, but 2-3 months is about average. When a family signs on, they know in advance what to expect in terms of the process.

http://stevelegler.com/family-harmony-breakthrough-package/

I believe in the adage that it is important to under promise and over deliver, and that is the main reason that I hesitated to use the word “breakthrough” in the name of the package, but as I stated earlier, it grew on me. Let me tell you why.

Many families, if not most families, coexist in a state that I like to call “okay”. Everything is “okay”, pretty much. You may know this state by another familiar term, “fine”. Everything is just fine.

Okay and fine are a good place to be, right? Well yes, but…

A typical business family has a large number of moving parts, and an even greater number of relationships. On a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, “okay” and “fine” are much better than “crappy” and “lousy”.

One of the advantages that family businesses have over others is their long-term view, as the business is set up to provide for the needs of the family over future generations. Thinking long term, “okay” and “fine” just won’t cut it.

The key people will grow into new roles, the founders will age and exit, and the people involved will see their relationships change too, and not always for the better.

The breakthrough comes when some time and effort is put into looking at, thinking about, and planning where these relationships are now, and talking about how the people are going to work together in the future. There is a whole heckuva lot of inertia to overcome, and few families will do this on their own, without an independent outside expert to guide them.

The time to act is when things are going well. On my business card, I say that I am a “facilitator, coach, and mediator”. It is much more pleasant to work the first two roles, and less fun to mediate a dispute.

The back of my card has my tagline: Helping business families create the harmony they need, to support the legacy they want. Is your family ready for a breakthrough?

 

Mélanger les cartes d’affaires

Ayant récemment fait traduire mon livre en français, j’ai réalisé que mes cartes d’affaires anglaises seraient probablement mal perçues en compagnie de cette version de mon livre.

Un “business card” peut aller avec un “book”. Mais ça prend une “carte d’affaires” pour aller avec un “livre”. J’avais donc une autre traduction à faire. Et par la suite, ça sera la traduction du site web. En effet, des sites webs, en commençant avec le site spécifique au livre et finalement le site principal.

En traduisant la carte, j’ai fait une réflexion sur les différentes cartes d’affaires que j’ai eu au courant de ma carrière. Wow, de ma première, (Steve Legler Jr., B.Com., Marketing Manager, Tri-Steel Industries Inc.) jusqu’à ma plus récente, (Steve Legler, MBA, CFA, FEA, Conseiller, PME Familiales), j’en ai probablement eu une douzaine, sinon plus.

Il y a plusieurs décisions à prendre quand vient le temps de se faire une carte professionelle, surtout pour les gens qui travaillent à leur compte. Si tu travailles pour une compagnie, tes options seront sûrement limitées aux versions “standards” de la compagnie. Mais pour un “solopreneur”, c’est illimité.

Cette fois-ci, étant donné qu’il s’agisssait d’une simple traduction, il y avait moins de décisions, puisque les choix du logo, du style, des titres, etc. avait déjà été fait quand j’avais fait faire mes “business cards”.

Mais même à ça, il y avait assez de complexité. Comment dire “facilitator” en français? J’ai opté pour “animateur”, mais j’aurais pu aller avec facilitateur aussi.

Même mon titre principal de “Family Business Advisor” n’était pas nécessairement évident. J’ai finalement décidé que Conseiller PME familiales était la meilleure façon de dire ce que je voulais dire.

Les cartes d’affaires sont peut-être moins importantes ces temps-ci, étant donné que nos communications sont surtout électroniques et qu’une fois que j’ai ton numéro de téléphone dans mon iPhone et ton adresse courriel dans mon Outlook, j’ai plus ou moins tout ce qu’il me faut pour te contacter. C’est rendu presque plus important d’avoir une bonne “signature” sur ses courriels.

Dans certains pays, notamment au Japon, le rituel d’échange de cartes d’affaires est pris très au sérieux. Si un japonais vous donne sa carte et tu le mets tout de suite dans ta poche sans l’avoir étudiée comme il faut, il parait que c’est l’équivalent de lui sacrer une claque sur la gueule.

J’ai récemment fait un échange de cartes avec plusieurs personnes en même temps, autour d’une table, et j’avais ramassé les 4-5 cartes et les ai mises dans ma poche sans trop regarder. Plus tard, en les regardant comme il faut, je me suis rendu compte qu’un des monsieurs m’avait donné la carte de son assistante par erreur.

Quand je l’ai rencontré le lendemain, je lui ai signalé ce “mélange des cartes” et il s’est excusé et m’a donné une de ses cartes personnelles. Mais c’est là que je lui ai expliqué que si nous étions au Japon, j’aurais assurément remarqué l’erreur immédiatement. À moins que j’aurais voulu lui donner une bonne claque, bien entendu.

Mais une carte d’affaires a le potentiel de laisser une bonne ou une mauvaise impression sur quelqu’un. Et puisque nous donnons souvent notre carte lors d’une des premières rencontres avec quelqu’un, il peut s’agir d’une bonne ou mauvaise première impression.

Si vous êtes comme moi, quand vous recevez une carte “cheap” et mal pensée, vous commencez parfois à avoir des sérieux doutes sur le professionalisme de la personne. Ça fait partie de notre “branding”, quand même.

Quand je vous donne ma carte d’affaires, je le fais avec fierté, parce qu’elle n’est pas “cheap”, et je sais qu’elle est bien pensée. Vous pourrez la mettre immédiatement dans votre poche si vous voulez, et je ne serai pas offusqué pour autant. Et je ne vous donnerai jamais la carte de mon assistante par erreur, parce que je n’ai pas d’assistante!

Solving Problems with Money

Money makes the world go around, they say. And it truly is a very important element in our lives, although sometimes it takes on a much bigger role than it needs to.

Plenty of people believe that having more money would solve all of their problems. Most of them are likely correct that more money would make some things easier, for a time, but they often over-estimate the ability of the money alone to solve everything, forever. Others are reluctant to spend any money when it could help them greatly.

I have dealt with people from all over the wealth spectrum, and I find it interesting how those on the higher end sometimes seem as if they have more money problems than those on the lower end. Could it be that it is not the amount of money you have, but how you use it, and how you think about it?

I came across a video on Twitter last week, where a guy was going around giving $100 to homeless people, and it was incredible to watch their reactions. The guy got plenty of hugs, thanks, and “God bless you’s”, but I could not help thinking that those people were likely not much better off a few days later. I only hope that one or two of them managed to find a way to use their windfall in positive way to improve their long-term situation.

When dealing with families in business, money is often at the root of their issues, and it is not always the lack of money that stands out. Very often, problems arise around the use of money, and perceived fairness surrounding money, rather than not having enough of it.

I recently had one of my occasional brain malfunctions, when I locked the keys inside the cab of a truck that I had just rented, as I parked it in front of my office. The plan was to load up some furniture, go home and load some more stuff, and then head off on the first half of a 10-hour drive to the cottage. The extra hour or so that it would have cost me, to get a lift back to the rental company to get another key, was not in my time budget.

I called my wife and once again she had the solution: she called a cab and sent it to my office, and the cab driver used a tool that he had in his trunk to “break in” to the truck, while my partner Tom and I brought the furniture down using the elevator.

It cost me $25 and I gave him a good tip too, since he saved me from an extra hassle when I could not afford it. That’s when I said to Tom, “When money can solve a problem, then it’s not really a problem. Provided you have the money”.

I wrote down that quote, knowing it would come in handy some day, at least for a blog post.

How many problems do you think you have, that you could afford to pay someone to take care of for you, but you don’t? Instead, you continue to live with the problems, because you don’t want to spend the money?

Some people go through their lives being so frugal that they are miserable, even though they could well afford to spend some money that would actually make some of their problems go away. I have trouble understanding those people. You can’t take it with you when you die.

I do not suggest you spend every last cent, so that you become homeless, and need to depend on the kindness of strangers giving away money, but to spend a reasonable amount, to improve your quality of life, can make a huge difference in your happiness level. Can you think of some areas in your life where this might apply?

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.

La communication a bien meilleur goût

Mon choix de thème cette semaine a été très facile, puisque des lacunes dans la communication apparaissent assez souvent dans ma vie quotidienne. Je remarque aussi des changements dans les habitudes des gens dernièrement, quant à leur façon de communiquer, et ce n’est pas toujours pour le meilleur.

Le premier sujet, c’est le choix de communiquer ou de rester muet. Quand je reçois un morceau d’information qui pourrait avoir un impact sur quelqu’un d’autre, mon instinct me dit que j’ai le devoir de communiquer cet information à l’autre personne, et normalement ça devrait se faire assez vite. Malheureusement, je me sens dans la minorité à cet égard. Combien de fois est-ce que ça vous arrive de penser “ah bien, ayant su d’avance que… j’aurais agi autrement”.

Ça revient peut-être à une question de “style” personnel, mais je trouve que c’est important de partager mes idées avec mes proches et d’être transparent avec mes intentions. Si je garde tout dans ma tête, ça ne m’aidera pas.

Quant à la fréquence de communiquer, je crois que plus souvent est meilleur que moins souvent. Cela mène parfois à la répétition, mais je préfère ce scénario, surtout quand on regarde le contraste, qui se résume par “Ah, je ne savais pas” ou “Ah, j’ai oublié”.

Comment communiquer? La technologie qui existe nous laisse des choix qui n’existaient pas il y a quelques années. Ça fait longtemps que j’ai posté une lettre (à part une mise-en-demeure récente), ou envoyé une télécopie (un “fax”).

Mais dernièrement j’ai participé à des appels conférences, j’ai envoyé et reçu des textos, j’ai parlé au téléphone, j’ai assisté à plusieurs webinars, j’ai jasé sur Skype, j’ai envoyé des tweets et bien des courriels, j’ai fais des mises-à-jour sur mon profil LinkedIn, et j’ai écrit des blogues. J’ai même eu un souper tête-à-tête hier soir avec ma femme, pour célébrer ses 4_? ans.

Il y a plusieurs mois, j’ai écrit un blogue (en anglais) où je discutais d’avoir des conversations, versus simplement communiquer. Prendre le temps de s’asseoir ensemble pour discuter de choses importantes, c’est toujours aussi bénéfiques qu’avant, même si c’est moins à la mode.

Les vraies conversations sont la façon idéale pour enseigner ses enfants ou ses employés (sans oubliés les enfants-employés!). Quand on prend le temps de discuter, de se faire entendre et d’écouter l’autre personne, on peut découvrir des points de vues révélateurs. On peut confirmer si notre message a été bien reçu et bien compris, et sinon, on peut la clarifier.

Dans le monde émergent de “coaching” personnel et executif, tout est centré sur les conversations entre le coach et le sujet. Le coach sert presque seulement de poseur des questions, et le résultat est de faire réfléchir le sujet sur différentes points de vue, auquel il n’aurait pas eu l’esprit de réfléchir autrement.

Mais ça prend un effort. Ce n’est pas toujours facile à commencer. Mais la bonne nouvelle, c’est que, une fois débuté, c’est plus facile de continuer.

Finalement mon blogue sur la communication ne pourra pas se terminer sans parle de la langue choisie. Quand vous avez le luxe de pouvoir communiquer dans plus qu’une langue, je crois que ça vaut la peine de se pratiquer non seulement dans sa langue plus naturelle, mais parfois aussi dans l’autre(s). Même si cela nécéssite une correction (merci ma fille, avec ses bonnes notes en français du secondaire I).

Mon titre faisait allusion aux annonces sur les spiritueux de la SAQ, mais je vais terminer sur un autre breuvage, le lait. Quand je parle de communication, faire un effort c’est bon, mais deux, c’est mieux!

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.

Help is NOT “On the Way”

Kramer: “I got a lot of things in the hopper, buddy”.

Jerry: “I didn’t know you had a hopper”.

Kramer: “Oh I got a hopper. A big hopper”.

Even if they do not remember this specific scene from Seinfeld, most people will recognize the character names from the TV show. Kramer always had something interesting on the go, backed up by a hopper full of other ideas for future episodes.

For me, the hopper is full of potential blog subjects, and the hopper fills up faster than I can empty it. Today I tackle one that has been in the hopper for a while, but I saw a great TV commercial this week that moved the idea to the top of the list.

Here is a link to the video, along with the caption:
http://www.howrealtorshelp.ca/#video-look-it-up
Web searches, How To Videos, blogs and the rest of the internet have us believing we can do anything by ourselves. But when it comes to something important like buying or selling a home, we’re better off trusting an expert.

The initial blog idea came from a quote I read from novelist Margaret Atwood that I saw many years ago. It seems she was at a cocktail party and came across a doctor who mentioned that after he retired, he was planning on writing a book. She then apparently replied with “When I retire from writing, I plan to become a doctor”.

Now that is a pretty derisive comment no matter how you look at it, but her point is that you don’t just “write a book” any more than you just “become a doctor”.

Other examples of people who can do something versus people who do something for a living are all around us. I can write a blog, therefore I can write a book. You can take a picture, therefore you are as good as a professional photographer. I can drive a car, so I am Dale Earnhart or Sebastian Vettel. You just made dinner, so you are Gordon Ramsay or Rachel Ray.

There is a difference between being able to do something and being a professional at it. Now I am not saying that you need to have Jacques Villeneuve chauffeur you to work, have your photos taken by Ansel Adams and have Ricardo prepare dinner for you.

Most of the time, doing it yourself is more than sufficient. But sometimes, when things are truly important, it is worth getting someone who knows what they are doing to help you.

Notice that I used the word help there, and not advise.

Last week I tried to make the distinction between getting advice and getting help. The best helpers will combine a number of key elements:

– Listening to what you want to do
– Drawing up a long term plan
– Understanding all the pieces of the puzzle
– Help in keeping you on track
– Guidance at all key stages
– Explanations of pros and cons of alternatives
– Leaving the decision to you
– Getting out of the way after their work is done

My blog title mentioned that help was NOT on the way. Unlike Kramer, who was always just across the hall and whose impending arrival could always be counted upon, the right helpers do not just “show up” when needed.

You have to find them. Which means that sometimes you need to ask for help in finding the right person. Explain what you need help with to those you trust. Do not assume that they are the right person, because they probably are not. But ask them if they know someone else who might be the right person. And don’t stop until you find the right one.

Important transitions and successions should not be left up to what your accountant suggested to save taxes, or something your lawyer had drawn up for someone else last month. Take the time to do it right, you won’t regret it.

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.

Take My Advice: Don’t Take My Advice

I recently read the following quote from an article by Vinod Khosla, tweeted by Vala Afshar: “For entrepreneurs, the toughest thing is knowing whose advice to take and whose not to”. Agreed.

In the family business realm, the head of the company may not consider themselves an entrepreneur anymore, but the question of whose advice to follow is just as difficult.

On my website [fbo7624.com], I recently added a section called “Articles”, where I have begun to post links to some of the more interesting things that I come across. I added a link to the audio of an interview with Tom Deans, author of the best-seller Every Family’s Business, discussing his new book, Willing Wisdom.

Deans mentioned something that I found interesting about the differences between Canadians and our American counterparts, when it comes to whom they consider their “Most Trusted Advisor”.

For Americans, it is most often their lawyer, yet for Canadians it is their accountant. When you think about it, it is not that surprising, what with the relative number of lawyers in each country.

Because family businesses are more complex than others, the advice required often emanates from areas of overlap between “family” matters and “business” matters. Many advisors, both accountants and lawyers, feel more comfortable when they concentrate on their area of specialty, and it isn’t usually the family part.

So what do you do when your lawyer tells you one thing, and your accountant tells you something else? Thankfully, there is a growing field of multi-disciplinary advisors, coming through various programs, like IFEA in Canada, and FFI in the USA.
It is not difficult to understand that when the advisors understand each other and their respective roles, AND they learn how to work together to help their clients, better solutions are almost always developed, compared to each working individually.

But it is not always easy, because there are so many variables in a family business. I believe that most professional advisors are well-meaning and honestly want to provide quality advice to all their clients. I do not, however, believe that they are all successful in achieving that goal.

Too often things are done in a hurry, before everyone has taken the time to understand the situation and ensure that a coherent plan is developed. This could be because the client has serious “fee aversion” and expects to get quality work done at a low price. Or it could be the busy professional making assumptions about the client’s situation and proposing a “cookie-cutter” solution that had worked for others before.

So what is my advice? I wish you wouldn’t ask me that, because I don’t like to think of myself as an “advisor”. In the end, the client must make up his own mind about what advice to follow. You shouldn’t decide until you are confident that you understand your options, having examined the pros and cons of all your alternatives.

Sometimes people need help understanding all the options and all the advice their have received. What I believe they could use at times like those, is not another “advisor”, but more of a “confidant”.

Multi-disciplinary advisors are well positioned to take on the “most trusted advisor” role, because they have the ability to relate to and understand the other key professionals too. If the advisors can’t properly explain their advice in laymen’s terms, they may not be the right ones to use.

Like so many other things, it is not really the advice you get, but what you do with it, that counts. I prefer to offer my help in understanding all the advice, rather than offering more advice, because that would just make things more confusing.

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.

Can You See the REAL Me?

When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, I explained my reasons in the following way: a family will only hire me to help them with their business-family issues once they KNOW me. If they have just met me, or come across something of mine on the web, it would likely take quite a long time before they could feel like they knew me well enough to trust me.

So I started to share my thoughts on a weekly basis on this blog. This way, if anyone was interested in learning more about me, and wanted to get to know me and how I think, how I live, how I express myself, what is important to me, they could just read a few of my blog posts and they would understand a great deal more about me. The goal was to shorten the trust-building cycle.

You see, anyone can bullsh*t their way through a one-time article, or construct a website full of carefully crafted prose. But when you are posting a weekly piece, of about 600 words a crack, there are not that many places to hide, at least not if you write it from your heart.

I headlined this post with a song title, which I have done on more than one occasion. It is from a song by the Who, from their Quadrophenia rock opera album, about a schizophrenic boy with four personalities. I knew the song, and love Roger Daltrey’s lead vocal, but had no idea what it was really about until I Googled it and found the Wikipedia page.

But there is no Wikipedia page about me, at least not yet. Maybe some day there will be, but hopefully not, and probably not. Long ago my wife once said, “I wanna be rich and famous”. I replied that for me, you could hold off on the famous part, and maybe double up on the rich part.

But since I have moved out of the quiet and anonymous family office space, and into the advising and facilitating space, with other families, I had to come out of hiding. I don’t mind it, and my Monday-to-Friday existence is much less lonely than it was when I was spending most of my time alone in my office with my computers, managing stock and option portfolios.

On my @TSI_Heritage twitter feed, I follow lots people who consider themselves social media experts, and I must admit, plenty of them are really knowledgeable. Many of them talk about how important it is to be authentic when you “brand” yourself. I keep seeing it over and over, and I certainly believe in it. I feel like I already knew that, but the reinforcement is very positive.

An article I came across, (http://www.kpmg.com/global/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/social-banker/pages/default.aspx?utm_medium=social‐media&utm_campaign=2013-fs-social-banker&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=gbl+2013+aug+23+the+social+executive) spoke of using social media to “amplify your executive voice”. Nicely put, I think.

To me, being authentic is just being myself. Nobody is perfect, and everybody knows that. And when people seem too polished, I always wonder what they may be hiding. I am comfortable enough with my own shortcomings to recognize many of them, and freely acknowledge them. I know that when I come across other people who don’t try to hide their flaws, I feel much more receptive, and am more inclined to trust them.

The blog format has the beauty of being informal enough for me to express myself as openly as possible, while still hopefully providing some useful insights from time to time, and hopefully being the opposite of boring. So, can you see the real me? I hope so.

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.

Le concierge est un faux ami

Ceux qui sont assez à l’aise en anglais et en français ont sûrement remarqué qu’il existe un certain nombre de traductions qui sont en effet moins évidentes qu’elles semblent à première vue. L’exemple que je cite souvent est “librairie” qui est un magasin qui vend des livres, et “library” où ils prêtent des livres, donc une bibliothèque.

Dans mes jours à McGill, j’avais pris un cours de traduction, et le prof surnommait ces instances des “faux amis”, et j’ai gardé sa terminologie et je le répète souvent, même s’il fait déjà bien des années que j’ai oublié le nom du prof.

Quand j’étais au secondaire dans une école anglophone, on m’a placé dans les cours de français avancé puisque j’avais complété mon primaire en français. Rendu en secondaire 4, ceci me donnait aussi le droit de prendre d’autres cours en français comme options. De loin, le plus mémorable de ceux-ci était le cours de comptabilité donné par Monsieur McGee.

M. McGee était un anglophone avec un sérieux accent quand il parlait français, mais il s’exprimait quand même très bien et l’effort était toujours là aussi de sa part. Il s’amusait à nous souligner plusieurs faux amis aussi, même s’il ne les appellait pas par ce nom.

Loyer, ce n’est past votre “lawyer” (avocat), c’est le rent, il nous disait. Les fournitures, quand à eux, étaient des “supplies” et non pas des meubles.

Je préfère trouver des exemples avec plus qu’un mot, des expressions. Je m’amuse avec la famille quand on voyage en campagne et je vois des pancartes indiquant une “auto-cueillette”. Je me demande souvent s’il y a des anglophones qui regardent dans leur Larousse anglais-français pour apprendre ce que veut dire cueillette, et ensuite présument qu’ils peuvent ceuillir des pommes directement de leur voiture, comme un genre de cueillette-au-volant.

Sur une note plus sérieuse, notez si vous ne le savez pas déjà, la différence entre “il n’est pas question”, et “no question about it”. En français, c’est l’équivalent de “no way”, mais en anglais, c’est plutôt “certainement”.

Et là, nous arrivons au mot du jour, concierge. Le premier concierge dont je me souviens était M. Aubry, qui lavait les planchers et les toilettes de mon école primaire. En plus, il habitait un appartement en haut du gymnase avec sa femme. Ils avaient même une corde à linge sur le toît, où une belle journée de printemps j’avais aperçu les sous-vêtement du concierge et je me suis mis à partager mon observation avec tout les autres élèves qui jouaient au ballon-chasseur. “Les culottes de M. Aubry! Les culottes de M. Aubry!”

Mais en anglais, un concierge (prononcé plutôt “KON-si-err-GE”) est une personne qui fait beaucoup plus que nettoyer vos dégâts. Il ou elle vous aide avec toutes sortes de choses. Nous les apercevons plus souvent dans les grands hôtels, mais c’est une profession qui prend beaucoup plus d’ampleur ces jours-ci.

Ce n’est pas tout le monde qui peut se permettre d’engager un “majordome” ou un “butler” en anglais, mais toutes les grandes villes ont un certain nombre de professionels qui se font engager pour règler bien des problèmes pour bien du monde. Ils vendent leurs service en explicant qu’ils peuvent se charger de bien des choses pour ceux qui travaillent de longues heures et qui ensuite sont débordés en arrivant à la maison.

Ceux qui gèrent l’argent des plus fortunés, essayent même parfois de mentioner qu’ils offrent, eux aussi, ce genre de service aux clients avec des gros portefeuilles. Je me demande s’ils ont vraiment des clients qui en bénéficent et qui en sont satisfaits.

Un bon concierge peux vous sauver beaucoup de temps et de misère. Il s’agit d’en trouver un ou une qui prendra le temps de vous connaître et de vous proposer des services qui rentrent dans votre budget.

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.

Simple vs. Easy. How a Facilitator Can Help

Life is full of simple truths. So many things are so simple to explain and so simple to grasp, in theory, that you would think that everyone would live carefree lives.

But many people make the mistake of believing that “simple” is the same thing as “easy”. It is very easy to fall into that trap. So let me attempt to forever dispel that notion from your mind.

Let’s start with an area of my life with which I have struggled virtually my entire life.

From a very young age I can remember going shopping with my mother for clothes and hearing the saleslady inform her that they did not have these clothes in my size, or that we should look for something in the “husky” department.

Today I prefer to shop in stores that specialize in Big & Tall, since I can actually spend time choosing clothes that I like, as opposed to what they have that might fit me.

The point is that losing weight is a simple concept. Eat less, exercise more, and VOILÀ! If only it were so in real life. Yes, it is simple. But that doesn’t make it easy.

When we move over to the field of business, and specifically family business, there are so many simple things that you can do to make you business grow, make more profit, have a balanced life, keep everyone in the family motivated and happy. Yes, there are many simple things that you can do.

Very few of these simple things are also easy to put into practice. So let’s go back to the weight analogy. My last blog dealt with ignorance, so let’s tie that in too. I have learned a lot about nutrition in the last year since my doctor recommended that I see a nutritionist. I now understand a lot more about the subject, and she has taught me many tricks that have actually started to help me move in the right direction.

But one of the keys is that she always makes sure that we schedule a follow-up visit so that I do not forget that I am somehow accountable to her, since I know that I will be seeing her again in a couple of months. In this way, she is kind of my coach, keeping me on track.

My doc has also mentioned that he may recommend a personal fitness trainer to work with me in a similar way with respect to the exercise part of the equation. We are not there yet, but I already clearly understand where most of the benefits would come from, and that is the follow-up and accountability aspect.

So I have already used the term “coach” and “trainer”, and they both work in their respective fields. Now I want to bring in the term “facilitator”, since it actually has some use and acceptance in the field of family business advising.

During a recent course on facilitation we discussed the term and I happened to mention that the root word “facile” is actually the French word for “easy”. I thought it was a no-brainer (it’s good to speak more than one language!) but the reaction from the others illustrated that I was clearly in the minority.

The dictionary app on my phone does not have an entry for facilitator, but for the verb facilitate, we see: to make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, a process, etc.) To assist the progress of (a person).

If you have an “A-Ha” moment here and realise that you could use a facilitator in your life your business, or your family, I felicitate you, but that is another French word for another day.

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.