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D’autre CAFÉ?

La semaine dernière, j’ai écrit dans ce blog (en anglais) un texte sur le Family Enterprise of the Year Award présenté par CAFÉ, le Canadian Association for Family Enterprise. Dans ce texte, je mentionnais que je trouvais cela décevant que CAFÉ n’a plus vraiment une présence au Québec.

Nous sommes aujourd’hui la fête des pères, et, pour moi, elle est devenue une journée d’émotions mixtes. J’ai deux enfants qui sont trèèèès importants dans ma vie, et qui y prennent beaucoup de place. C’est également la cinquième fête des pères que je vis sans mon père, qui lui, aussi, avait pris beaucoup de place dans ma vie.

Notre compagnie familiale était devenue membre de CAFÉ dans les années 80, et j’ai assisté a quelques-uns de leurs évenements avec mon père. J’ai trouvé ça génial qu’il existait une place où on discutait ouvertement de situations et de questions que nous vivions dans notre famille.

J’ai vu en mon père un esprit de coopération avec les membres de son PAG (Personal Advisory Group) pour essayer de développer des systèmes chez nous pour mieux intégrer “famille” et “business”.

Je suis devenu membre affilié de CAFÉ dernièrement, mais je n’ai aucune position officielle avec eux, donc j’ai la possibilité de parler sans restriction et sans partie pris.

Je sais que les activités d’un groupe comme CAFÉ on beaucoup de potentiel pour aider les familles d’affaires dans le ROC (Rest of Canada) comme au Québec. Je sais qu’il existe, au Québec, des organismes qui oeuvrent dans des domaines connexes.

Je sais qu’au Québec, c’est toujours différent, et j’ose dire que je comprend un peu pourquoi c’est le cas.

Mais ayant discuté dernièrement avec les hauts dirigeants de CAFÉ, incluant le Chairman, le Vice-Chair, le D.G., etc., je peux dire qu’il y a une ouverture à revenir au Québec, et je crois qu’ils sont tous prêts à regarder toutes les options.

Quand je pense aux “autres organismes”, il y a le CIFA à HEC, et il y a aussi le Groupement des Chefs d’Entreprises. Il y en a sûrement d’autres que je ne connais pas encore. Peut-être que CAFÉ devrait explorer des alliances avec de tels groupes?

Mais au Québec la question de langue revient toujours, et pour cause. Mais quand la volonté est présente, la langue n’est plus un obstacle majeur, surtout en sachant que la grande majorité des participants sont bilingues (surtout à Montréal).

J’ai aussi noté de plus en plus des rencontres bilingues dans d’autres organismes. C’est-à-dire, des occasions où le monde s’interchangent entre eux en anglais et/ou en français, sans se sentir obligé de traduire, en sachant que tout le monde (ou presque) a compris.

Je suis certain que je ne suis pas le seul qui change de poste lors des speechs politique pour ne pas être obligé d’entendre un interprète.

Deux dernières idées, et ils pourront peut-être se marier ensemble. Le D-G de CAFÉ m’avait mentionné la possibilité de recommencer au Québec avec un PAG, et voir où on pouvait se rendre.

La deuxième idée est la mienne, et parvient du domaine de l’agriculture. Je n’y connait pas grand chose, mais je sais que l’UPA (Union des Producteurs Agricoles) est présent partout au Québec, et ils ont un comité dans chaque région.

Mais en plus, ils y a un comité “English”. Je le sais puisque mon père était membre pendant des années.

Si CAFÉ revenait avec un ou des PAGS, en anglais, pour débuter. Entretemps, des alliances avec d’autres organismes pourront aussi être explorées?

Peut-être qu’on verra une autre instance de “if you build it, they will come”.

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.

Lost in the Woods, without a Guide

In a strange set of coincidences, this turned out to be “University Week” for me. I am writing this in Lewisburg Pennsylvania, home of Bucknell University.

I am here mostly as chauffeur for my mother, who today witnessed the first University graduation of one of her grandchildren. I also got to watch my niece walk across the stage and pick up that diploma that she worked towards these past four years.

Listening to speeches always gets me thinking, and today a lot of time was spent praising the faculty. I guess that every school thinks that they have great teachers, but they sure did a great job of making a believer out of me here today.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting some important people from the business schools of a few of the Montreal-based Universities.

As a participant in the FEA Program in Toronto this year (given by UBC’s Sauder Business Families Centre) I am interested in helping the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA) expand their reach across Canada, as they look for the right education partners.

I had offered their new President any help I could with the search for Quebec partner(s). This week she was in Montreal, and I met with her and people from HEC, McGill, and Concordia.

Now most of the talks were only in their very early stages and it is way too early to say what if anything may develop as a result. But for me it was an opportunity to talk about (okay, I was mostly listening) programs, courses, instructors, designations, etc.

The instructors that we have had in the FEAP course modules that I have had thus far have all been excellent and inspirational. Being involved in the IFEA meeting in Montreal also got me pumped up even more about the program and the ways I expect that it will evolve and help business families in the future.

Coming to the Commencement this weekend at Bucknell was a further catalyst for me personally, as I heard a few professors talk about how inspired they are when they teach. Knowing that my newly-graduated niece is going into teaching (and we all just know that she will be fantastic at it) also has me thinking more and more about this subject.

We have all heard the expression, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. Sometimes it is true. But most of the time it is full of crap. The best teachers have of course already DONE. And now they are teaching others.

I have been married for 20 years. My wife knows me pretty well. She often used to tell me that I should write a book. Well I now write a weekly blog. She also often tells me that I should be a teacher. I have always agreed with her that it would be interesting and I believe I would be pretty good at it.

But until now, I never really had anything for which I had enough passion to teach. If you have followed my recent posts, you will know that I am slowly (or maybe quickly) discovering that family business is my passion.

I have lived it, I understand it, from all the angles. I know that it is complex and that there are many issues that need to be discussed, and that often those issues are not discussed.

Teaching, and family business. Time to figure out how to put it all together. Stay tuned. If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

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.

Spreading the Gospel vs. Cornering the Market

One day not long ago I was speaking to someone who had organized a “maker space”, which is a place where kids and teens can go to play around with stuff and make things. With 3-D printing becoming more mainstream, these spots are starting to pop up in various places.

During our discussion, it became clear that the people who run these types of operations are very cooperative with each other and like to help each other out by sharing what works for them.

I found myself combining a couple of metaphors into my explanation of what was going on. “You’re not trying to corner the market, you’re spreading the gospel”, I summarized. He agreed.

The next day somebody was explaining his current project to me over lunch. He was involved with a group of people that were developing an accreditation process for a particular type of professional, which does not yet exist.

He mentioned that they were collaborating with other organisations in other areas and that that was quite helpful to the cause. I found myself saying to him, “Well yeah, you’re not trying to corner the market, you’re trying to spread the gospel.” He also agreed.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I find myself uttering the same phrase two days in a row in two completely different circumstances, I remember it. I started to think that I might be on to something.

It seems to me that there are more and more people who are working at spreading gospels than cornering markets these days. Is it just my imagination?

Maybe it is because I am now involved in a service business and not selling a product. Maybe it is the social networks that I am plugged into. Maybe it is society with more Gen Y’s entering the workforce who work more collaboratively.

My father used to tell me that his father used to tell him that you can carry more sand in your hands with both your palms open than you can with clenched fists. For me, open and transparent has always been a more comfortable way to do things, so spreading the gospel is a much easier way for me to live my life.

The gospel that is now driving me is all about family business. They are very different from other businesses. There are no two the same. That makes them interesting to me.

But the more of them I see, the more I see missed opportunities. The fact that you have a business and a family interacting can have so many positives, but just as many negatives.

I feel like I can see the negatives so clearly sometimes and that I can help families to take the steps necessary to avoid some of the negatives and even turn some of the negatives into positives.

I will try to spread the gospel of getting business families to recognize that they need to look at their families separately from their businesses. Too many people concentrate so much on the business to the detriment of the family.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe they just need someone to point it out to them. But few people from inside the family are comfortable doing that.

I will not try to “corner the market”, since there seems to be plenty of work to be done. I will try to spread the gospel that stepping back and looking at the family as a family should not be overlooked. Who is with me?

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.

“I don’ trust him. I don’t know why, I just don’t”

Trust is something that can be very difficult to put your finger on. It is hard to define, and sometimes when it isn’t there, you aren’t entirely sure why.

In a family business context, trust is something that can take on an even more important role than elsewhere. Due to the complex nature of the beast, where traditional company relationships are intertwined with personal family history, trust issues can develop in many areas.

This week I came across an interview with Peter Leach, a family business consultant from the UK, in which he talks about respect and trust in the family business realm. I really liked that last couple of minutes of it, where he broke trust down into 3 main elements.

He credits Barbara Misztal, a respected author on the subject, for her work in analyzing how and where trust can fall apart. The three elements, ALL of which MUST be present for trust to exist, are: Sincerity, Reliability, and Competence.

Sincerity is all about doing things for the right reason, and caring about what you do. Reliability is doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it. And competence is doing your job properly and at an acceptable quality level.

The absence of any one of these elements can lead to trust problems.

In new realtionships, it is often difficult to detect sincerity issues, since they can be concealed for a time. Sometimes that used car salesman can seem a little too smooth. But when it is someone in your family, you usually have a good idea of the sincerity component.

When reliability is absent, you have a person who has their heart in the right place, they are good at what they do, but they just can’t seem to deliver on time with any regularity. It’s easy to be disappointed in these situations, because you know the person cares and can do it, but the follow-through just isn’t there.

When competence is absent, you have a caring person who is trying and getting things done, but the things they do just aren’t good enough.

Segmenting trust into these three components becomes useful in situations like that of my headline, where you have trouble putting your finger on “why” there is a lack of trust.

People who work with family businesses often hear stories about various family business members who have trust issues with others in the family. When you take the time to look at the three areas outlined above, often one of the three elements becomes the clear culprit as the main source of the issue.

Once the source of the mistrust has been identified, it becomes easier to work on that element to improve the situation.

If competence is lacking, maybe more training or mentoring can help, or it could just sort itself out with time and experience.

If reliability is lacking, helping the person get and stay organized could be helpful in overcoming the issue. Or maybe just informing the person that their reliability is severely impacting their trustworthyness can do the trick.

When sincerity is lacking, you probably have a bigger problem. It can be hard to make someone care if they are at the point where they clearly don’t. Or if they are cutting corners and trying to fly under the radar and take the easy way out, those situations are not as easily remedied.

Problems of trust are not easy to overcome, but by taking the time to break things down into these three elements, at least you can figure out where you should start. Good luck.

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.

Blame it on Cinderella

This week I attended the CFA Institute’s Wealth Management conference in Boston. It’s an annual event that will be in L.A. next year, but since this time it was so close to Montreal, I figured it was worth the five-hour drive to hear the great speakers they had lined up.

The conference was really good in so many ways, and I was having trouble deciding which of the 12 presentations I would use as the inspiration for this week’s blog.

As I was driving home through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont, something happened that made me push the conference topics to the back burner.

It wasn’t something that I saw though. It was something that I heard, on the radio.  When I have a long drive I always worry about falling asleep at the wheel, although it is much less of a problem for me lately, since I started sleeping better every night thanks to my CPAP machine.

To make sure that I stay awake while driving, I have a strong preference for talk radio. My wife and kids can’t stand talk radio, but I was alone, so it was a great chance to catch up on what Rush Limbaugh and the like were talking about on the US airwaves.

But when you are driving through the mountains and trying to listen to the radio, staying on any one station for more than 15 minutes is often a challenge. So what ends up happening is that every few minutes, I just hit the search button until something comes in with a strong enough signal.

Now besides talk radio, the other thing that usually keeps me awake is country music. I can’t say that I am a huge fan, but I have very eclectic tastes in music, and with country music the lyrics are usually such that you can sing along to any song even though you have never heard it before.

It’s hard to fall asleep when you are singing. And given the choice between listening to talk radio or listening to me sing in the car, I can tell you that my family would likely learn to LOVE talk radio. But I was alone, so country music it would be, at least for a song or two.

That was when Stealing Cinderella came on. I thought I recognized the singer’s voice, but it turns out that he just sounded like most other country singers, and I couldn’t even tell you his name now without googling it. But the lyrics really got to me.

It’s about a guy going to his girlfriend’s father’s house to ask for permission to marry her. Do guys still do that? I don’t know, but a little over 20 years ago, I did it. So the song brought back instant memories, especially the reaction I got from my father-in-law, who wished me luck but (wrongly) assumed that his daughter was not the marrying type.

But then the song goes on to describe the family photos that are placed all over the living room, including many of the little girl as she was growing up, riding her first bike, jumping on the bed, and of course playing Cinderella.

Now it was the heartstrings of the father of the 11-year-old daughter that were being tugged on. Yikes, where the heck did the time go?
In 30 seconds I went from reliving the experience of asking for the go-ahead to marry one man’s “Cinderella”, to fast-forwarding who knows how many years to some guy coming by and trying to steal MY Cinderella.

I know, she’s only 11, but ten years ago she was 1 and it feels like it was yesterday. And in ten years she will be 21 and who knows what future awaits her.

Too much to think about. Better stay off the Country Music stations and stick to talk radio.

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.

Questioning the Question Instead of Answering It

I have a habit of turning things around and looking at them from a different perspective from most people. So while many are pre-disposed to think in terms of finding the answer to a question, I prefer to step back and question the question before answering it.

This habit goes back to my days of working in the family business in my early twenties. When we needed to hire someone to fill a position, the task of finding good candidates somehow fell to me.

I suppose that it was because we did not yet have an HR person in those days, so the occasional need to fill a position became a project that went to “Steve Junior”.   So here I was being put in a position where I needed to first figure out a number of things before I could even begin.

The department head’s question would start with “Can you find someone to fill this job in my department?” While there was a brief answer (“Yes, of course”), what became more important was the series of questions that soon followed. What is the job description, what kind of experience are you looking for, what is the salary, etc.

I got into the habit of asking lots of questions, and I still do lots of it today. Like many things, the more you do something, the more comfortable you become doing it.

Sometimes when doing job interviews I would ask candidates “What is more important, knowing the all the answers or knowing the right questions?”  I can tell you that we never hired anyone who did not hit that one out of the park.

Many people spend a lot of their time trying to find answers, even though they may not have taken the time to make sure that they are answering the right questions.

Somehow when we begin looking for the answers we feel like we have started down the road to finding a solution, while thinking through the questions still feels like we are in neutral and not making progress.

Many businesses bring in consultants hoping to find “the answer” to their problem. I believe that anyone who promises you answers without first ascertaining that you are looking at the right questions is someone to be avoided.

I maintain that if you take the time to ask all the right questions, the answers often take care of themselves.

An outsider can often bring a different perspective to your situation, and the simple fact that they must ask a lot of questions can make you think in terms that you might not have thought of, and this can in turn help you with both the questions and the answers.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but try to avoid Yes/No questions. Learn to ask a lot of “why?” questions, as hearing people’s answers to those are usually the most enlightening.

It should go without saying that actually listening to the answers that you get is pretty important too.

Every once in a while, it is good to ask yourself a couple of big picture questions, because the answers you come up with on those will help you put a lot of things in the proper perspective.

I like to start with “Where are we trying to go?” followed by “How do we plan to get there?”

They are very simple and quite general, but I think if more people in more businesses took the time to stop and ask themselves these two simple questions, on a regular basis, they would be more likely to make progress and stay on track.

So, where are you trying to go? And how do you plan to get there?

 

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.

“I didn’t have time”. (What it really means)

Just about everyone I know has too many things going on and not enough time to get everything done. I am not sure if it is worse now than it was in the past, but it sure seems that way.

If everyone were simply a self-contained organism, without any interactions with others, this would not really pose a problem. If you got 8 out of 10 things done on your to-do list today, and I only accomplished 4 of my 7 items, no big deal.

But few if any of us live lives without interactions with others, and the resulting inter-dependencies are at the root of many potential conflicts. When you do not get back to me about something (failing to complete just one of the things you were supposed to do), the result could be that I am unable to take care of a few of the items that I was hoping to get done.

In many ways, life is all about managing our priorities, and it seems that the less we need to rely on others, the simpler life becomes. Unfortunately it just is not possible for most of us to run our lives without having to depend on anyone.

So we try to find people who are dependable. Over time, if you weed out the less dependable ones and bring in some more of the dependable type, things should get simpler for you. But what happens when you have depended on someone for a long time and now they have let you down?

I am currently in a situation where I have worked with someone off and on over many years, and things have always gone well, until recently. You see, this man has had some recent changes in his life that have forced him to reorganize things and re-assess his priorities.
As for the area of his life that impacts mine, I had assumed that despite the changes he has faced, the work he did with me would continue to be a high enough priority for him, so that he would continue to do a great job insofar as I was concerned.

But I am now learning that I was probably wrong. Lately when I send him an email or leave him a voice message, I wait several days or even weeks before getting a response. I often end up following up an email with a call or a text before he gets back to me.

The excuse that invariably comes up in such instances is “I was going to get back to you, but I didn’t have time, because of such and such and I was busy dealing with so-and-so”.  Ugh. Yeah, it is probably true, in some respects. But what does it really mean?

Well it reminds me of a relationship book that became popular a few years ago called, “He’s just not that into you”. It was aimed and women who lament the fact that after what they felt was a great first date with a guy, he often did not follow up.

What it means in your work life when these things happen to you is similar. Yes, give someone the benefit of the doubt. Once. Maybe twice, assuming the relationship was good and has been in place for a long time. (And assuming the explanations are believable and acceptable).

But what it means to you in practice is that this person’s priorities have changed, and you had better realize quickly that you are no longer as close to the top of the list as you were before. So you would probably do well to start to plan your next move without having to rely on that person.

The sooner you start to realize that there is a new reality in place and that you need to make some changes, the sooner you can start to regain control of the situation.

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.