Posts

Do Differences Make a Difference in Family Business?

In any Family Business, and in any Business Family, there will always be a lot of agreement and “sameness” but also a great deal of difference. One of the keys to success is to make sure that any difference of opinion does not result in “irreconcilable differences”.

This topic came to me this week as I checked the discussion board of the Governance course that I am currently taking through the Family Firm Institute. There are about a dozen of us enrolled, as part of their Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising (ACFBA) accreditation program.

Our instructor, Dennis Jaffe, asked us to share some thoughts on whatever topics we wanted to discuss, and I found a post from Krishnan Natarajan from India to be quite interesting. Now the fact that I met Krishnan a few months ago might have had something to do with the fact that his post grabbed my attention, but not necessarily.

Here is an edited version of what he posted:

Some of the family challenges that we face are as follows:

Addressing differences at an early stage. (Non-Alignment if not addressed leads to Differences; if not addressed leads to Conflict; if not addressed leads to Incompatibility)

I took the “extra” repeated words out to simplify it into a better visual, and came up with this:

Non-Alignement => Differences => Conflict => Incompatibility

I thought that it was a good representation of a spectrum, showing how things can flow from small issues, into much bigger ones, if they are not addressed early.

Rather than re-writing my thoughts, here is the cut’n’paste of what I wrote back to Krishnan on the discussion board:

“If you can align people, they will have less difference, less conflict and more compatibility.”

“Conversely, if you have incompatibility, it is likely rooted in some conflict, which, in order to sort through, you need to figure out where the differences come from. Once you find the root of the differences, hopefully you can re-align the people.”

“This is clearly a case of “an ounce of prevention” being far better than “a pound of cure”.”

“If you know you have differences, you can explain to the family the importance of resolving these before they become conflict, and where you have conflict, you can explain to the family the importance of figuring out their differences.”

After writing this on the board, it struck me that this model seemed so well thought out, that perhaps Krishnan had seen it or read it somewhere, and since I planned to write a blog about it, I figured I needed to verify this with him.

It seems that it just came to him during a discussion with a client, as he was attempting to convince them of the importance of dealing with their differences early on.

Allow me to add my customary advice here, about the importance of communication. If you are looking to get everyone aligned, and keep them aligned, it is imperative to keep them “in the loop”, so that they at least have the opportunity to hear what is going on, and why.

It helps, of course, if this communication is truly two-way communication, with the opportunity for questions and clarifications. People can become mis-aligned due to lack of communication about what is going on in the family and the business, but it can be just as bad if there is communication but it only flows in one direction.

If you find yourself in a situation where a family is not getting along, I think that this model at least gives the advisor a way of talking about the situation with the family in a way that clarifies just how far along the spectrum they are, and what areas they need to look into to find a resolution.

I know that I expect to refer to it again, and I will have my friend Krishnan to thank for it. Please feel free to use it yourself with your family or your clients.

How May I Sell You Today? #FAIL (2 of 2)

Last week we looked at selling versus helping, from Zig Ziglar’s viewpoint that you should just stop selling and start helping, to getting paid to help in a field where clients are not accustomed to paying for it.

In addition to all that stuff, something that has thrown me for a bit of a loop recently was a twitter post from a business coach.

I have been following Leanne Hoagland-Smith (a.k.a. Coach Lee) for several months and she posts lots of great stuff. But then a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised that she was telling people to stop pushing the fact that they wanted to help.

She was encouraging people to stop saying that they were there to help, since so many clients, when they hear the word “help”, now actually mentally substitute the word “sell”.

What? Was Zig wrong? Or is his messge now out of date?

So I started thinking about it, and I realize that maybe the word “help” does get overused, and maybe it isn’t much “softer on the ears”. Maybe Coach Lee is right. But then where does that leave us?

Maybe we should no longer emphasize that we want to help, maybe we need to say that we want to “work with” people to achieve certain results.

After all, much of what we offer in business family consulting isn’t content (a product) but much more assistance with process issues, the “how” more than the “what”. We don’t really want to do things FOR clients as much as work through things WITH them, to the point where they can do these things on their own, without our “help”.

So perhaps the real answer is that while we should still start helping (à la Zig) we shouldn’t SAY that we want to help (à la Coach Lee). The key might be to show some help, do some helping, just help, but not use the word, talk about it, or ever say out loud that we are helping.

In the process of receiving our help, clients will soon feel like we have become “indespensible”, to the point where we don’t have to sell them anything, because they will be so ready to buy from us.

Maybe what Zig was really getting at was that we should just start to make things easier for people. This reminds me of the word “facilitator”, as in “facile”, which is the closest translation into French that I can think of for the word “easy”.

But if I am actually making things easier, am I not helping? Well yes, but saying you want to help may be about as poorly received as saying that you want to facilitate. Very few people wake up in the morning and decide that they are going to find themselves a facilitator, even if that may be just what they need.
When speaking to classmates and colleagues in this area, I often make the distinction that while there is a great deal of need for our services, there is not necessarily a lot of demand.

Many potential clients do not know that they could use our services. A large part of the reason stems from the fact that they do not know who we are, what we do, and how we can help, without them feeling like we sold them anything.

As we mature as an industry, we need to do a better job of explaining how much of a diffference we can make with family businesses, and more importantly, with business families.

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.

How May I Sell You Today? #FAIL (1 of 2)

Today I want to talk about the debate between selling and helping.

There are some important distinctions that I will look at, mostly to help my own understanding of the subject as I wrestle with some of these questions in my mind.

For years one of my favourite speakers was Zig Ziglar, one of the most popular motivational speakers of his time. Ziglar passed away a few months ago, and a few of his fans started sharing some of their most memorable Zig quotes on Twitter.

The quote that struck me and stayed with me was this one: “Stop selling. Start helping.”

What I take out of this, is that if you forget about what you are trying to sell, and instead just focus on the client and how you can help them, then the selling will take care of itself.

My father used to make a similar point, in making the distinction between marketing and selling. “Marketing is solving the customer’s problem. Selling is reducing your inventory”. Thanks Dad.

But that was from the perspective of someone who spent his life solving customers’ problems by providing them (selling) a product. Can it still apply when you are providing a service?

And what if the service that you are providing is actually your help, i.e. your knowledge, experience, ability, time? Help!

As I was going through my recently completed Family Enterprise Advisor Program, we had a very interesting discussion on this subject.

You see, the program is aimed at professionals from a variety of fields, all of which deal with family business (or, as I preer to say, business families). But the variety, in addition to providing the spice of life, is also a source of confusion, especially as it applies to helping and selling, and getting paid to help.

I will just use my project group as an example. I was working with “Robert”, a CPA with an international firm, “Cathy”, a private banker from one of the big five Canadian banks, and “Gary”, a licensed insurance specialist with his own firm.

We worked together on a pro bono basis, on a project for a real business family. Although framed as an “academic exercise”, we treated it as real because it was real. The fact that we were all educated, experienced professionals, averaging around 50 years of age, also added to the seriousness.

But let’s bring this back to the selling vs helping question. If we had provided the exact same help to the family in a real life situation, how would we have been paid, or how would we be compensated for our help?

Robert, as a CPA with an accounting firm, would get paid for the hours he put in on behalf of the client, and most businesses have professional fees to pay for outside accounting services as a matter of course.

Cathy, working as a private banker, would not charge for her services per se, so the hours she put in are paid by her employer, the bank, who make a cut off the client’s wealth in other ways.

Gary, for his part, would get paid if and when the client purchased an insurance product from him.

So to summarize, every one of us would have been paid in a different fashion. But wait, I forgot someone. Me. Uh-oh. How is this gonna work?

The only this that I am actually selling is my help. And I am also going to need some help selling.

Next week, in part 2, we will get into a couple of other issues, like client resistance to people who are just trying to help.

See you then.

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.

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.

WHERE am I Going to Die?

Years ago, I heard someone mention that unlike most people who wondered WHEN they are going to die, he would prefer to know WHERE he was going to die. That way, he could simply avoid going to that place until he was ready.

I have since repeated this story many times, and for whatever reason, I almost always use Toronto in my example. Maybe it is because as a life-long Montrealer, the natural inter-city rivalry seemed like a good fit.

I recently had reason (and time) to think about this old story as I got to spend more time than planned waiting at the airport in Montreal for a Toronto-bound flight.

I was scheduled to fly into Toronto on airline that I prefer not to name, but let’s just say their name rhymes with “quarter”.

I needed to be at a course on Monday at 8:30 AM, and not wanting to kill my whole weekend with the family, I booked a seat on their Sunday 8:10 PM flight, conveniently into Billy Bishop airport, very close to my downtown hotel.

I arrived at the airport and immediately noticed more people than usual, and many of them were complaining. I soon learned that the airline’s computer had suffered a system shutdowm due to glitch earlier in the day, and they were trying in vain to play catch up.

It was 7:00 PM and they told me my flight would leave at 10:35. Oh well, I will get to bed late but by midnight I should be at my hotel, no big deal.

I could go on about how the departure time kept getting pushed back, but we have all been there. After it got moved to midnight, a plane arrived at our gate at 11:45, and I thought, “Oh cool, it’s here, we’re gonna leave soon”. HA HA HA. This plane is staying here overnight. Our plane just left Halifax.

At this point I started thinking that maybe someone was trying to tell me that I should NOT go to Toronto.

We finally boarded around 1:00, but after we got on the plane, they told us that it was too late to land at Billy Bishop. OK, we all think, we will be going to Pearson, further from downtown, but at this hour, there won’t be any traffic, so it is not that big a deal.

But NO, that would make too much sense. After we boarded, we learned that we would be going to a nearby city, let’s call it Shlamilton. Big groan from everyone.

Okay, not true. There was one happy guy, who happened to live there. But wait, Holy Crap, what if it is really Shlamilton I need to avoid? I can’t even get off this plane now! This could be the end.

No time to think about that, a crying baby takes my mind off it. A few minutes later he stops, but is quickly followed by crying baby number two.

We landed in Shlamilton at 2:30 and boarded a bus (except for the one lucky guy who took a cab home). The bus got us to Billy Bishop just before 4:00 AM.

There were 4 taxis waiting, and over 30 people on the bus. Some more fun awaited…

It was a long travel day, but I made it, finally getting to sleep around 4:30. Maybe I don’t have to avoid Shlamilton? Maybe I should avoid “quarter”? Or maybe I need to make sure my will is up to date.

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.