We have another incredible guest in Steve Legler. He is a proud FEA designate from Institute of family enterprise advisors and holds an Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising and an Advanced Certificate in family wealth advising from FSI in addition to having a master’s in business administration from Ivy at University of Western Ontario. He’s also a CFA charter holder and the author of two books including shift your family business which was published in 2014. Welcome to the family wealth hour. My name is Chris Delaney. I’m your host today and I’m very happy to have a special guest today my friend and colleague Steve Legler seeds in Montreal where he works as a family legacy advisor and does facilitation work counting work mediation work with his clients, which include a large number of family business clients and leisure noisy for quite a few years. Now. And welcome to the show. Thanks for Thanks for having me. I have known you for a few years, and we’ve had a number of interesting conversations about all kinds of things, but it’s the first time we’re gonna record one. So let’s, let’s look at some of the most interesting we will keep this one simple. Young ones were a little more animated sometimes. So we’ve seen your family legacy advisor can you tell me a little bit about what that what that means? What kind of work you do and how you got into that space? Because our topic today is we were exploring the question about if there’s a family that has tension inside the dynamics of the family, whether it’s a family business, what specifically if there is a family that can occur in any family and there’s planning to be done right into how to do that that tension? How do we manage that tension? I mean, probably a couple suggestions that you will make for us but everyone comes to these these career positions in their life with a story and something that holding in something that called them to this particular space. What brought you into this area? Oh, I love if I could use the word calling because that is one of the words. I’ll use myself to talk about how I got to where I am now, which was calling it happened relatively late in life. I was in my late 40s in the FPA family enterprise advisor program, which I know you follow. I think you were the year before me. But let me rewind to the beginning to tell you that I was born into a family business. And my father was an immigrant entrepreneur and started his own business and I have two older sisters. Now I was born in 1964. So here I was the only son of a third child. And back then, well, you know, the son was really designated as the heir apparent. So my earliest memories are that my job was to follow my dad’s footsteps and to take over his business. And I didn’t know any better and it was actually a male dominated industry. It was steel fabrication. And so all my earliest memories and my first jobs in high school and during summers at university, were a family business, my sisters that work a little bit in the office here, but there they were not like predestined to follow this path. Whereas I was and I went to get my my master’s three be calm and McGill because because my job was to take over a business. This is what I had been told it. So this is what I what I did. Low behold after three years of working in the business, I was finding my MBA went to down the road from where you are actually in your backyard at Westar did my MBA graduate in 1991 was going back to a company with about 250 employees at the time. And I was being groomed to take over top job sometime in the following few years. And lo and behold along the way we ended up selling the company and six months later after I got back my MBA. We were no longer 250 people we were four people and two of us were named Steve Legler. I received like a junior my dad had recently bought a hobby farm is anyone else to run that. So I was in the left to run what we would now call a family office. So we have the ability of that, which I think you were kind of teasing but that sometimes occurs. And so here I was now managing the buildings that we still had some money from the sales of patented products and my dad was offering this foreign and so I was doing that. And I have to admit, I ended up doing that for a lot longer than I would have liked like 20 years or so before I finally sort of get bored with it. So my dad died in a way I reorganized how the investments were being done a little more time on my hands and that’s where I stumbled into that FBA program where I might have met you if I don’t know your earlier I think and in that program were a bunch of people who work with me businesses and they were trying to learn how to deal with business families and family business people. But most of them were working for banks that were working for insurance companies, asset managers, having nothing in common with those people. But the people who were at the front of the room who were talking about the cool things they were doing with families, helping them figure out their values, their vision, their goals, having a family meeting something to plan their succession to their continuity. I was like wow, I didn’t know that that was a thing. Like doing that with families. is an actual career and so I that was my calling and that’s what I’m doing. I think it’s interesting that he stumbled into it because having done that myself, I I stumbled upon it but I think I was looking for it as much as anything else. Specifically the family enterprise advisor program so not only did it become a family to find advisor I clicked on because I was curious as to what else and that was. That was like December in the program started in January. So there I was six weeks later. So in the program, I’m really liking what I stumbled into. And everybody in the room before we started that first morning, we say What are you doing here? And how did you find this? And every single person besides me said, Oh, well God called me Julian, and I didn’t know who God was. So God is gonna tell you I know he started the program. And everyone else was there because they had been sold like you had to complete this program. And I didn’t even know who she was. So that’s why I really honestly need like somebody but I think that there was something that called me there that I had not realized that there is something for me in this space and I’m really glad that I did. So if you think back on that with the wisdom of a retrospective time, what do you think once they called me because the reason I asked that series I think normally what your answer is because we’ve talked about this many times, but I think it’s something that a lot of advisors, whether they’re financial advisors, advisors count, anyone who’s advising the family business. They feel that sometimes they don’t know how spyware they don’t know where to go to look. They don’t know whether they should heed this this call and and what was it that you need? You could have started on first session in the January there and saw could have been not for you. How do you know it was for you?
It was really cool to actually have people that I know the teachers at the front room, taught subjects that I was quite familiar with having lived but had never heard anyone put them into frameworks and models and talk about them. And so that first module and family dynamics that was two or three days, there was one other personality group that actually came from a family business. And it turned out that the two of us were contributing like 80% of the comments from the class. And I just thought it was so cool that we were talking about a subject that I inherently got from a Google having lived as part of my life perspective, but had never seen anything you know, during all my years of school now there are some universities that teach family business still not nearly as many as I wish there would be. But I’m jealous when I get asked to speak in class, one of the schools that teach a family business because that would have been, you know, pretty cool for me to live through back in those days. But this whole field of working with families, and this kind of stuff is really only a few decades old. So I guess we’re part of the like the front wave of what’s going through now and I’m happy to be part you get an MBA, well, you could try to prepare the MBA to the FDA. Not so much the academic experience but the content of the content and direction that it was trying to take. What so I did my MBA at Western what we call an IV, and it was like 100% Taste method. So I really loved about it was there was no you know, study this and come and pass the test. Everything was based on a real life case. And I guess that’s a big struggle. I never thought about it before. But really the MBA program was that we talked about a lot of real family business situations. We didn’t talk a lot about theoretical stuff. So every single one of the teachers in the room had had experience with with dozens of family clients and we were often almost always talking about real family situations. We didn’t necessarily have any vignettes or things like that they were all based on real life. stuff. And so in terms of like a learning environment where you’re talking about real things with a couple of one or two smart people in front of the room to guide the discussion, electrical lessons. They’re very different experiences. And I did one in my 20s and one of my 40s But I’m glad that I did both of them. And each one of them gave me one whole heck of a lock and then of all the letters I have after my name because I’ve managed to do a whole bunch of different reasons. The FDA, the FDA or two that are always on my business. And you mentioned that you did one of your 20s and one of your 40s. Was there a benefit to doing FBA later and likely to still appreciate it the same way if you don’t. When I did, I think the average age in the class was probably 14 or so. And as I see the people who are graduating now it feels like they’re getting younger. And part of me is a bit jealous. I like to say that if I had if I had this colleague 10 years earlier, my late 30s, early 40s. I try to imagine where I might be now in terms of you know what I’m doing. So I think it’s cool that younger people are getting it. I hope that they are doing it for the right reasons. I know that that’s you know, a lot of the bigger employers like the big banks. And accounting firms are sending a lot of people into that program. I hope that they aren’t just doing it and sending a young person in they do it and then they come back two years later, they’re doing something else and they really didn’t go that was not good for nothing. But I wish my wish for the program is to get more people that really make this a central part of what they do with them, because I know that there is plenty of me of their families in Canada and everywhere else that really could use like guidance of people who really get the whole family stuff and not just looking at things from one side. And that’s that’s the one thing that that program gave me was access to that whole Hey, you know what this is? This is not the kind of thing that one single person can help a family with. This is the kind of thing that a family needs a multidisciplinary team of advisors to work with them on and I hope that people get to get that and will continue to want to work with a group of professionals to help a family property. So what is it about a family business leave that makes it and we can start to head into that the specific type of work you do. You’re working with dynamic situations and I can’t think of your own family dynamics. If you had with your family would have been, I’m sure quite difficult for someone to manage when you have to make teens and 20s as the youngest child you were having to deal with either what were very real expectations when we perceive the expectations of your father. At same time you’ve got systems that you have a relationship was that something that led him into this field as well? Yes. And really actually, let’s let’s go back to the calling part in the course where I found myself maybe not in the first module of family dynamics, but the next couple where we talked about business family stuff, and then I kept on thinking, Oh my God, our family only would have done a little bit of this. And also I didn’t mention it but I married into a business family. So I met my wife in London at MD school but she’s from Northern Quebec. And she came from my father and also started a business that he had they had their liquidity events in 2001. And she had four siblings. And let me tell you that the way they handled their liquidity event and everything that’s happened in the last one year compared the way my family handled it were completely different, not that they should have been the same but I mean that the point is, every family has to deal with the dynamics that they have. And the more you can kind of get out front of that and have reasonable people trying to convene the sibling group and make sure that they’re all on the same page that and I’ve tried as a in law in my wife’s family to help and my my desire to help has not necessarily been with them, and I need to learn to accept that and I don’t expect That’s an unusual thing. I’m sure there’s people listening to this show right now who are nodding their head and saying I hear you see exactly the same spot. And we’ll come and then we’ll circle back and I think that’s a really interesting perspective that you have. You mentioned that your family have done this and anybody that you were referring to the mindset and the processes associated with what you got to do and your family I suppose if your family had done this, how different it would be. Let’s do this. Oh, that’s
actually that’s a really easy one. So you know about Cafe the Canadian Association of family enterprise which has now merged with IKEA the is to do family enterprise advisors, and they now have resulted in an organization called FX den enterprise exchange. Well, cafe back in the 80s. Actually, it started some kind of news that my dad joined up with a little Montreal chapter. And he had gone to you know, listen to some speakers at the time. And they said you should have a family meeting. You really got to have a family needed. And so I remember the year was 1985. I just finished my I had one year left that Miguel and my dad had said we’re all going up north and when the mold problem and we all went to the family meeting, we spent the weekend there, listen to my gut, tell us some stuff. And then that was it. And then we did not have another family meeting until I think was 2006. And the only reason that one was called was because my dad had just been diagnosed. So the you know, having 20 years before between family meetings that’s a little bit longer than what you would normally recommend. I recommend people have their family meetings every year. Or at least every two years. And so the the conscious and intentional effort to have a place that time and a place for a dialogue among all the family members, even if a lot doesn’t get done. The fact that you are doing it on a regular basis, and it becomes part of the annual family process. That’s what I try to instill in the families I work with is to start to anticipate you know, so much depends on communication. And if you just have communication, when you think you need it, you’re going to be missing many, many opportunities to have kind of communication that you need or that you should be having to make sure that everyone in the family understands what’s going on what’s at stake, who’s gonna do what and all those other important things that need to be discussed as a family. I don’t have more family. And I had that same sort of Epiphany if you will. And I was embarrassed after the fact. So I lost and so 1991 Basically when I did my MBA and the year after, and in retrospect, I was embarrassed that the concept of a family meeting seemed cutting edge and that more people weren’t doing this. Why doesn’t it happen? As much as you think it should? Well, there’s actually two aspects that I like number one is, why did my dad not have another family? And part of that is that it didn’t really accomplish much and nobody really enjoyed it. And nobody said, Oh, this was fun to do again next year. And that’s related to number two, which is, I would rarely recommend to a family to go and do this. family meeting just on their own. Now, it’s not that I want to have to get to go and go away with a family, but we can lead them through two days of activities, but to really have some thought put into it to really have more than one person organizing it to really think through how you’re going to use your time and make it make it partially educational, partially fun, partially business and to really put some thought into all that to make it something that when you get to the last day people aren’t saying oh my god, I can’t wait to go home and actually say, hey, you know what, next year when we do this, we should add this or think about doing it at this place to have a little bit of excitement, because I understand it is not easy to organize an event for a group of people realize that they’re not really enjoying it and then sort of telling them you’re gonna force them to it all over again. But when you’re when you’re The Family Leader, and you’ve made all the decisions, it’s hard to sort of just like give that away for especially for business founders and entrepreneurs and startup business. They’re just not used to doing that. And so it was a foreign concept might my father to do that? And I think maybe he was never thought it would be something that he should hire someone to come and do. But perhaps he could have hired somebody to sort of help schedule it and maybe even bring his secretary along to help organize, think outside, just bringing your family members and then telling them stuff. That’s the other part is that you really need the person calling the media can’t be thinking here is the 95% of the stuff I need to tell these people and only 5% of my brain open for them to tell me something. I mean, it really needs to be a bit more balanced than that. But most of the funders are in too much of a rush to say okay, here’s all of his wisdom, here’s all my desires, and I’m going to download them all onto the next generation. It’s really hard for those people to absorb it all in one shot. And that’s when you need to have a series of meetings and I will tell people don’t try to have the one big family needed to share everything you been thinking about your whole life. Like let it out a little bit and see how it’s received that kind of leave them wanting more and share things. One little bit at a time and see how see how the uptake is from a kid. You’re trying to very intentional processes for getting together and being recognized versus meeting was it was it was changed communication software. Have you had difficulty go from telling to sharing and actually getting people to love family business founders. Like golden rule, as far as munication goes is that say the person that has the gold makes the rules and the communication you’re trying to meet this iterative process, I think and that this is a profound change communication that you are advocating is benefited by a third party facilitator someone like yourself, who can come in and change the communication style and allow the infusion of purpose into the entire process. Is that the way it is right now?
Yes, well, the infusion of purpose and the part about a perfect are the simplest way to say this not having the leading generation making all the decisions for what’s going to benefit the rising generation. So there’s nothing that turns off the young people faster than being told this is what we’re doing. This is what we’re doing for you without having asked them what you know, how would you like to be involved? So it’s really the more about the democratization of everything. And this is what scares the older people because they kind of figure oh my god, you think I’m gonna have a family meeting and now we’re having everyone vote on everything, of course. The kids are gonna do stuff differently. And I’m not saying democratization means let’s go and put every single thing to a vote. And if you have three kids, and it’s just two parents, three kids are going to vote that’s like, that is not what I’m saying, I think starting to have a process whereby the voices of different people are heard and be allowed to be heard, because Because too often, and I’m sure you’ve seen this in drawing up plans, the parents will go to the professionals and they’ll say this is what we want to do. And then they’ll write it all up and then eventually the kids will find out by the way, this is how mom and dad decided that you know when they got out and the kids are like what why did you do it that way? How can this happen that animals have no knowledge, no input, no chance to discuss things at all. And you know, there’s all the fair versus equal and different needs of different kids that all these are all things that could be and should be argued should be part of the discussion but are so often not discussed, because well let’s just say that brings up some uncomfortable topics. I won’t be right there. There are some statistics of those three three springs ago three April’s ago and it’s different for the anecdotal trophy Jr. and 50% of Canadians don’t have a well, I’ve seen numbers guessing that’s the same in the United States. And I’m always reminded of the scene in The Wall Street where the character is starts off and finishes the movie by having people buy a pen and and somebody sent somebody and as he’s training people to do it, you always say Oh, it’s a nice pants. I could even get that next week. And he goes on until somebody finally says, what do you what do you do with this? What are some of those profound things you’ve done doc Institute for sign? Tell me about that. And it’s all like you might well without are allowed to make a profound emotional, it’s something that stirs you and that when we commit something in writing it’s usually something taxes. I wanted to put it down on paper. It’s very profound. And I have often believed or interested in your experience on this, but one of the reasons that we see very few shareholders actually execute and we see people with a will that should have is because they do not trust the dynamics of the environment that they are dealing with that they will lock in by signing that agree. There’s fear, there’s a fear. You just said that. After the fact everyone’s going to be saying, well, what’s this all about? And there’s a way to deal with that. And he would rather gamble prefer to gamble of doing nothing to doing something unless unfortunately, it’s been true for a long time, and will probably be true for a long time as well. And that’s our internal challenge, I think as advisors to such families is to actually get them to do what they know deep down they need to do, but that they have fears about doing and so maybe part of the solution is is being able to convince them that we can be a resource for them to get them to where it will be doable and it is doable and that they can that they will be so happy that they did so so often the fear of what’s gonna go wrong and having a discussion is blown out of proportion. And that a properly structured and guided discussion with with professionals who are know what they’re doing and understand what’s at stake, that that to make that all the difference in the world. And people will realize and say things like wow, if I had known it was gonna go, you know that well, we would have done this 10 years ago. And those are the kinds of things that we hear and it’s just because they are scared to have that discussion, not realizing that you know, even if things aren’t perfect, even if there is a little blow up even if it does take a few meetings to go over some misunderstanding to make people realize certain things that you can get through all those things and you will get to the point where you will have an agreement that everyone has sort of been a part out and we’ll call you too and so that after you’re gone, everybody knows what’s gonna happen and you’re not saving the big fight for after your funeral. And I think you said you talked about me. I remember Tom telling the story once in one of the few times I’ve seen him before he talks about this the sound that he’s heard from lawyers who have been in the room for like the reading of a wheel after somebody dies, and it’s hard to describe. So the end the podcast is the best place to do it but undefined indicated. It certainly sounds like somebody will move once they hear the lawyer say go both ways. Like it could be somebody who realizes they got nothing and they were expecting millions or it could be someone expecting nothing and realize they’re getting everything and it’s the same kind of sound. And my argument is you don’t want to have surprises at your will read. So make sure you go and you talk to your family about what your wishes are. And make sure that you set things up in such a way that everyone understands that and they won’t be fighting each other. They’ll just they’ll know exactly what you wanted them to do. And they’ll be able to do it and they’ll still be able to get along with their siblings. You would have had to manage that. And you’ve obviously come to this feeling that you’ve set different voices need to be heard. What’s the benefit of hearing different voices?
Oh my god, Family Voices. Yeah. So I have two sisters. I’ve got two kids. Every family I’ve ever met with more than one child. The kids are more like the very similar but also so different. And so if you don’t take it if you if you as a parent, and this can happen often in a business setting, right so that the family has three or four kids, but only one of the works in the business and the others are doing something else. And then the parents sort of really only listen to that one who they’re working with in business and then the others are not listened to. And things get so skewed and out of whack that you’re really if I think every parent says they love all their kids equally. And I think most of them are probably telling the truth, the ability to actually take in the feedback from all of your kids as you’re deciding what’s going to happen with what you’ve accumulated. I think that’s I would think that it’s something that we all want to do but sometimes it doesn’t happen and that’s and that’s when problems come up. And I would I would rather as a parent, neither one died in those discussions among my children while I still can and while I can still make changes than to sort of decide on a few things and say something like this crazy thing. Oh, well, we’ll just make them all equal partners and then they’ll have to get Aloha which has got to be like one of the stupidest things anyone could ever do. I happen it’s happened more often than shaking my head just thinking how anyone could say that, but I don’t want to judge other other people’s parents as well. And I think that’s the it’s the fear part of it. They it’s been a drop in the ball of responsibility to do that as well because you’ll have an opportunity to corral and interpret the various perceptions you’ve already identified. Those different sample perceptions give you better insight. So you’re enhancing your decision making right away, because you are seeking I’m seeking a very well known bias that we’re all exposed to which is confirmation bias if we’re talking to somebody who’s like minded in agrees but we agree, of course we’re going to suddenly on a decision that that makes sense to them and to you, but now they don’t be a very good decision because you’re really limited the circle of people. And to avoid those biases. We really we need to reach out to other family members in the family business, for example, and we’ll come to this other professionals in a multidisciplinary environment because we sometimes can’t see what they’re seeing or we want to see certain things. I think that that’s probably one of the benefits of having a facilitated family meeting so that you can help them see things more clear. Oh, absolutely. I mean, that’s the job of a facilitator in a family meeting is to make sure to draw out all the ideas and all the opinions to put more things on the table and then eventually to help sort out what’s on the table. But But what often happens is like okay, family meeting time and a family leader, let’s call him dad just because that’s what his usual monitor is, that will sort of start the meeting and say, This is what I want. And anyone who even came with a small hope of you know, being able to have some input gets turned off right away. And so this is gonna be just like every other meeting we’ve ever had, and so I don’t wanna participate. And so really, the facilitators job starts before they even walk into the room. And one of the biggest thing that things a facilitator needs to do is to control the input of those who usually lead with discussions and in fact, I have a colleague who, when she says when she needs a family meeting, she always starts with either the youngest or the quietest person and sort of works her way along through all the people through the next oldest or the next players and leaves. The ones usually leave the meeting till the end to force them to listen because if the first person goes and says something, and then like if you you know, petting otters and then they just Yeah, yep, sounds good. Yeah. Okay, because they’re used to that being charged. And then anyone who might have had a dissenting opinion, never gets a chance to properly put it on the table or gets dismissed quickly. And so it really does take courage for the family leaders to agree to have that meeting. I think they’re usually happy that they’ve done once they’ve learned that what’s out there is is really reasonable and interesting and other opinions and new information and creative ways to think about the way things can be structured going forward. But they really need to trust the their family members and the facilitator to be able to sort of keep things under control because I know that when there’s when there’s tension in the family, a lot of there’s always there’s always fear that things will go wrong. And I’ve been in meetings where people have stood up and told everyone to go and ask themselves to walk out the room. I get those and it’s not fun. That’s that’s part of and we didn’t get through that, by the way and then every eight hours on a productive meeting after that person left so it’s not always bad. When When, when the anxiety comes over there is there is a blow up. I mean, it’s I would rather have families that come and do a little bit of you know, and it’s pretty late other than the ones who just nod their heads but secretly deep down inside, you know, they don’t agree and there’s that shareholders reader that never gets signed that you were alluded to earlier. When Should this process be started? When should I as I’m listening to you speak sometimes I can imagine scenarios where I notice like he was riding with your motor precipitates. This desire to have that next family meeting, but I suppose any time is better than no time. But there’s probably some fear there that opportunities and conversations are the timeline for that. So running out, but one of the other times what usually brings a second generation or rising generation, family member to you or even though the founding generation to you NCC need to get going on family needs what’s what’s common going on in there in the back of their mind what’s changed, if they
want to do it. It could be a number of different things, but it’s often something we would describe as some kind of a nodal event. Maybe it’s the first child getting married. Maybe it’s the first grandchild being born. Maybe it’s dad hitting 60 Maybe it’s Uncle Bob that just had a heart attack it oh my god, you know what this could happen to me, I better get started. It could be any number of things. The more people in the family that are ready for it, the better. So if if, if the older generation is not ready and the younger generation are trying to get them started, that could often be a challenge. It’s easier when the leading generation is involved in kind of onboard but but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to get started. If you are the younger generation. What I’ve often said to the rising generation is the parents don’t want to have an eating, start having meetings among siblings, and I’ve heard stories of siblings that have started to have meetings. And then the parents are, you know, interested in and curious and said hey, can we come to these meetings? So there’s been a good start, what makes it start, it really needs at least one person to be the champion of it, to be the family champion to be the person to say, I really think we need to do it. That’s often someone whose name is typically MMA. I mean, I had one family that I started to work with. And the mother told me, I’ve been thinking about this for 10 years, I’ve been talking to my husband about it for five and we’re finally doing something about it. And so it’s, it’s funny, my mom was, you know, just a difficult reality to that, but we had to dissect that. A little bit. Why do you think the the fan champion is often mom? Yeah, it is. It is. Well, more often than not, it’s that you know, dad is the leader in the business, but Mom is the one who’s making sure that all the kids are okay, and that the kids aren’t fighting and that she wants to make sure all the kids are coming for Christmas. And so mom is typically more worried about the dynamics and everyone being happy. And like some people call mom, the CEO, the chief emotional officer. And so oftentimes, the reach out for help to get started on family meetings will come from a mom, if it comes from more than one person, if it can be mom and daughter or or mom and son or dad and daughter. If if two people are already starting to talk and they say no we should have like a bigger discussion with the rest of family. We’re not sure how that’s gonna work. Because, you know, so and so doesn’t like what right and so it’s not like calm. I mean, that’s a good sign for them to want me to reach out to someone to help them with it. And what I always say just since we’re on this, when you have a family meeting, you invite all the people but you don’t force anyone to come. So if there’s a son or a daughter who says I want to have the meeting, you don’t say well, we’re not gonna have a meeting or you have to come you said they were gonna have me, well let you know, if you change your mind. It always comes with like what happened after and then when we have an ExxonMobil invite you again, and hopefully you’ll want to come and you can’t force people to come to a meeting. And you just need to make sure that they feel welcome. And presumably if one child chooses not to come, they will hear from their siblings after and maybe they’ll hear that wasn’t so bad. Or maybe they’ll start off it’s like yeah, your dad did this again. He did. And then maybe someone say Well, no, actually, yeah, we did actually make some progress on something. Hopefully next time you’ll come to because these are things that they don’t always go the way people expect it to. And sometimes it’s because they go much there. It’s probably it’s probably self evident that you don’t want to have the first meeting be the meeting where you’re going to determine who the new leadership team is going to be your final notice my final will and this is telling laying out you’re getting a call if you’re not and things like that because incremental aspects to this that ultimately results in better. But that’s see that’s the whole reason. I always want people to start earlier. So if you start when it seems like everything is going well then you’ll have time to have many many meetings before the medical diagnosis or before something happens or before one of the kids gets divorced. You can start to already have some of these meetings and do things on incremental and that’s one of my favorite words in this whole space is incrementally don’t try to go too fast. Do it a little bit by little bit and and even the you know some some families have so much wealth that they don’t display. And often the next generation is completely surprised when they learn how much wealth there actually is. And those are the ones where you really want to start slow and start opening up. It’s sort of like it’s not a light switch. It’s a dimmer switch. So you have your first meeting and you turn it on and you move the light to like 5% And then the next meeting you move it up to 10% and you do it slowly you don’t come in and say oh, by the way, you know, when we die, there’s like $100 million here and you know, start fighting for I mean, I still remember hearing one of Warren Buffett’s kids give a speech once and he said is Warren Buffett decided one year many many years ago to give his three kids a million dollars to give away to charity. And he watched what they did. And he liked what they did and a couple years later, he didn’t distribute dollars. So it might be a lot for some but for him this was like here’s your weekly allowance. Let’s do it. Yeah, but but it just just to illustrate that, you know, receiving wealth from your parents can be a huge, huge, it will have a huge impact on the people and the impact can be fantastic and it can be horrible. And so doing it right and doing it intentionally and doing it incrementally. And doing it in a way where you’re you’re sharing with your kids, you’re not talking down to them, but you’re not you know, giving them everything either. One of the my favorite ways to capture this was a guy that I heard and now I can’t think of his name. It’ll come to me but it was you want to raise your kids in such a way that you would be prepared to leave that everything that you have and know that they’ll be fine with it or if any be prepared to leave them nothing and know that they would be okay without anything from you. And if you can do that, that I mean that’s I think what everybody wants, but you don’t get there just by saying oh by the way, here’s all the stuff now what like if you don’t have this there’s there’s a parenting and there’s the sharing of the expectation, the sharing of the opportunity, the sharing of the wealth, in the end what you what the stewardship that you’re expecting them to demonstrate with this lesson. You mentioned that the sudden infusion of wealth, particularly if it’s not fully appreciated, what the boundaries of that wealth, financial object, where are these various agreements, and you know, stories?
Yeah, you know what happens with lottery winners, right? How many of them still have it five years later? It’s not an epic story. And there’s probably an analogy there is, although imperfect, at least somewhat reliable. Why would there be and this leads sort of to where we’re gonna go with our question, which is what if there is tension in my dynamics in my family system? Why would passing on suddenly a huge amount of wealth be a other negative event? In terms of the perception of a child in relation to Aaron, it’s just really not well, but one of the negative things for them. How do they feel about that? Well, I have to start to think through a little scenario where and actually, there are plenty where, you know, the parents have a liquidity event and they distribute just enough to use their capital gains exemption, and then the they sit on the rest and basically tell their kids well, you know, you don’t get anything out but when we’re going to get all this and that’s something that I see far too often and I know I might get I don’t know how I’m gonna, you know, run my affairs, but I’m gonna be damn sure that when I get older, you’re not sitting there and cheering for me to hurry up and die so you can have mine and I see that way too often and I’m sure you’ve seen it too. And so if it’s a case where the big windfall came after a long period of waiting, you can imagine how there could be some bad scenario. If they do it too early. Like there are some people that say, okay, when you turn 25, you’re gonna get half of what’s in this trust for you or whatever. It really depends on the preparation. I don’t know. I don’t think that most 25 year olds would be ready to handle a significant windfall like that. But I mean, I’m sure I’m sure it’s not true success rate is zero. I don’t know how I would put it unless there’s some preparation. And you know, it all comes down to the parents because you know, this I’ve said this many times, that most of the problems that you see in a family business are really not family business problems, their their parenting issues that didn’t get handled at a younger age, and whether it’s the way the kids get along, or the fact that some kids are allowed to get away with whatever because they’re, you know, amongst labor that’s favorite, though those kinds of things can really cause a problem, but the people who do a good job parenting, this stuff is actually not that hard for them because it’s basically that the kids whole life has been preparing them for what what’s coming is the ones that, you know, they didn’t pay enough attention or they didn’t. They know themselves that there were things that they could have done or should have done differently. And now they’re trying to like maybe gloss over them and think that we can just, you know, draw up this wheel in this way and everything will be fine. And I think it’s worth paying some attention to those sibling relationships before everything in the wheel gets cast in stone. Well, I agree. One of the reasons I got into this space was because I had a sense even though I couldn’t really put into it, but I have a sense that I spent more time preparing the assets to distribute from one generation to the next and I ever spent thinking about the efficiencies of other recipients of those assets and I will always be thankful that the FAA training some of the work that I’ve done, and we also share helped lead me to see how limited the planning I was doing actually actually was. I was I was really interested in you mentioned it earlier talking about different voices and perceptions and multidisciplinary advising. How, how does that obviously really work is that an integrated multidisciplinary team so the lawyer, the accountant, everybody working together with someone like yourself, work better for the fanbase owner sports or any family well, well, you preface it beautifully because I don’t know if you realize what you did you set up I didn’t say that that famous saying but you you sort of liked it right there for me. To grab, which is too many families spent all their time and attention on preparing the assets for the heirs and not enough time preparing the heirs to receive the asset. And so yes, use your lawyer and your accountant to figure out all the best ways to prepare those assets for the heirs but do not neglect the heirs and prepare them through the family meetings through facilitated discussions through meetings with the lawyers and the accountants and whoever’s involved in whatever trust you would have created to make sure that you educate these people. Let them make sure they understand how things are structure, what roles and responsibilities, what rights they have, what obligations they have, what what’s coming to them, the people who are going to inherit when they have a bunch of question marks and they have no clue. That’s when you have problems if the families that go and take the time to have the meetings with the parents and the kids and the lawyer and the account and someone to help explain this and make sure that they all understand that’s that’s the work that’s necessary to prepare not only the assets for the heirs but to prepare to hear so the assets and sometimes sometimes they need to have separate meetings with again, sometimes that the family meetings with other professionals with someone to deal with apparently as part is what’s what’s required. I work with a sibling groups for over three years before we even sat down and met with parents where my role was just to help get them used to figuring out how they’re going to work together, how they’re going to make decisions together and how they organized some events with me helping them organize family events. I hadn’t even I only met parents once. And so it is possible to sort of make sure that’s my biggest thing is making sure the sibling group gets along and understands what they’re getting themselves into. Because that sibling group, we’re going to inherit that’s that’s the biggest X factor in whether or not this is going to be a successful transition from one generation to the next because even if one child is ready to take over, if they’re numbered by other siblings that don’t agree or don’t like them or don’t agree with the choice of who’s leading the business, there are potential problems that are that are just never
and for parents they’re moving from more negative connotation a little more a dictatorial form of decision making a more senior form and they never necessarily take the time to prepare a natural restoration for the district is connected with everyone. rather learn to come to share decision making outcomes in a way that the founders of the parents may just want the natural part of process. Well, that’s actually you’ve, you’ve put it in a more a clearer way that I get it so when you go from one person there are a couple that own the vast majority of the wealth or the business or whatever you want to call it. And then when you fast forward to the when that generation is no longer around who’s at home is it the owners usually will be a lot more and so the reality of how how what kind of governance the family is going to have and governance meaning decision making and communication and problem solving. If you don’t start working on that, and you wait until after they’re gone. And now here, here’s the four kids on each 1.5% and now they’re going to start to figure out how they’re gonna manage this together. Well, you should have started that years before while on a dime. We’re still there to guide them and to help create some rules and maybe of course direct if they have decided on certain things that really make sense for the sibling group to be owning certain assets together. And one of the reasons that might not happen is because the person who’s doing this tried to nodal event had an old one and perhaps be significantly another way to try and that might be that they had a look at their own mortality and it’s time to do these, these long delayed planning steps. They finally get around to it, but they can’t push through it because they sense the various tension. They’re worried about conflict and are actually managing it right now fairly well. And they don’t want to introduce something by planning. Most people don’t like flying by planning that will disrupt that and they lose control of that and you’re you’ve done some work and I know you’ve written a book that deals with this topic. both theory and family dynamics theory. Can you tell us a little bit about? Yes. Well, so first of all, just the fact that there’s tension there. I think you’re gonna find that more often than not, you’re gonna find people who say, you know, things are pretty good. I don’t want to start having these meetings. I don’t want the Hornet’s Nest because right now everything’s white. And so not that other Bowen family systems theory is the cure all to any of this. I did publish a book last summer called interdependent wealth. And it has a kind of long subtitle, but it’s how family systems theory illuminate successful intergenerational wealth transitions. I started studying Bowen theory right after I finished doing the MBA program because we had talked in those courses about how the family has a system and I was sort of left a bit wanting as to what that meant that so I started to do a bit more research and I stumbled into this, the old abode family systems theory. Marie Bowen was a psychiatrist in the US back in the 50s, and 60s and 70s. And he came up with this theory or with a number of concepts in talking about how actually family relationships are actually more scientific than most people would imagine. And so that what you see in one family or what you see in a family in this generation, it’s actually a lot of things are predictable from what happened in previous generations. And so by working and analyzing a family through the various previous generations, many of the things that the current generations are dealing with, are not new to the family and they’ve already been through before and whether through the grandparents certain types of behavior, and certain aspects follow through from one generation to the next. I’m not gonna doing this much justice, because it’s a very complex thing that I had studied for four years before writing a book about it. And I freely admit that many of the people with whom I studied have been doing it for decades. And so it’s been a good lens for me to when I walk into a family, the training that I get in this to to help me to picture and analyze and understand where the tension points are, and perhaps what sort of like have led to causing some of them and allows me to interact with all the different family members with a pretty good picture of where they’re coming from. And my coaching and facilitation training is enabled me to sort of maybe ask the right questions a lot of the time, so I can pick up where the stumbling blocks are and help guide the discussions too, in ways to hopefully minimize the amount of anxiety and the tension and that’s we were talking about earlier, the the benefits of having a outside trained, impartial neutral observer can be especially beneficial in cases where they do expect that things might not go as smoothly as they expect is or the liberation feeling a sense of desire. Okay, when someone you take them through and you show them some patterns that have been replicated through their family, they take a sigh of relief and thinks that this was just me. I wasn’t the only one who ever had this happen to me.
Absolutely. It’s almost as if when when you could sort of realize that some of the things that you’ve done or that have happened to you in your life, that you’ve always sort of blamed on yourself where all of a sudden you realize that maybe it wasn’t all your fault, or it wasn’t all your screw up, but it’s one of the things in Bowen theory is that so many of our behaviors are just patterns that we’ve learned, and we don’t necessarily have as much choice in a lot of things as we might think we have. And so a lot of things that have happened in our lives were sort of pre programmed from generations before. And it actually takes a lot to to go against what the patterns are driving you to do. And so if that helps make people realize that certain things aren’t their fault or they weren’t alone, or Jesus has turned out, you know, my grandfather went through some of the same things and, and I might have done things a little bit better than him. So I you know, I believe we’re going in the right direction, and then my kids hopefully will do better than me. There is there can be a lot of aha moments and a lot of signs and a lot of relief. We’re looking at the whole family system diagram. And that’s what people who study both systems there’s been a lot of time looking at a genogram or family diagram and look at everything through the lens of all the other people in their ancestry and see how how they have affected things. It’s really, really interesting that the walk through some of those things with the family members, because they do often have not just a sort of cursory interest in them, but there there could be some deep stuff that comes up. What’s one of the more typical patterns that you would see replicated from one generation to the next door across multiple generations. But they’re not even aware of, I think, particularly with respect to a family business and maybe how they make decisions in a family business or how they interact with one another. One of the ones that I think is the easiest for most people to grasp. It’s also Bowen theory has a concept and I think number six is it’s called sibling position. And he didn’t actually come up with this myself. He came from a German doctor named Walter Toulmin. We’ve written a book about all the different similar positions, and it’s not to be firstborn. Yeah, it’s not prescriptive. It doesn’t say the firstborn will always have the youngest will always but but the patterns that that they talked about, that sort of replicate and sometimes when you when you study a lot of this and you need somebody to go oh, this this person must be a firstborn or this person is allowed is a youngest. And it’s funny I had a couple of months ago, I had three people contact me within like about 10 days with possibilities to work with them. And as it turned out, each one of them was the youngest. And it was like, this is not random. I mean, the kind of people who reach out to someone Hey, can you come and help with my family? That’s kind of a youngest thing to do, but the oldest would have the undertaker this I’m the oldest I’ve always been the oldest. I’ve been in charge of telling my little siblings what to do on a lifetime in a big error, whereas the youngest is typically the kind of person who would more likely reach out and be more of a mediator type and see all the different sides of the other people in their family and then reach out for help. And so whether it’s the firstborn son who takes over the business, or the oldest daughter, who then becomes usually the one who takes over from the mother as the family Deputy Chief emotional officer, there’s a lot of things in that aspect that really if you if you walk into a family thinking along those lines, you’re not gonna get everything right. But there’s there’s a lot of shortcuts you’ve been sort of taken into sort of analyzing what what might be going on and you always need to verify those and not make assumptions. But when you do make efforts to verify them, you’ll often find out that that the sibling position stuff is seems to be more hardwired a lot of you initially were not I think you said you were the youngest. And here you are yesterday doing this work. And I’m the one who in my family is the one who you know, has everyone over to my house for Christmas and for the summer of things and I’m the one who is the organizer of things as much as possible. And that’s okay. I’m good with it. And understanding that dynamic. How does that help you make better decisions as you’re helping your clients make better decisions, but how does that as a client come to you versus trying to deal with tension as the knowledge of simply position for example, lead to a better decision? What does it allow them to do? What one of the things that an outsider coming into a family can can help them with the most is something that I learned in in one of the facilitation training programs like that, that really talks about revealing the system to itself. So walking in there, dealing with the family members, meeting them, talking about interviewing them, and then sharing with them, what you see as an outsider that they don’t see. So pointing out to them that do you realize that you know when these subjects come up, this person always does this and and this person always makes these decisions. And whenever this topic comes up, somebody doesn’t click just pointing out to them things that are going on in their own family system that they don’t see because they are like the fish in the water. They don’t know that they’re in the water when you come in when you’re when and it’s a privilege to be invited into the family situations to come in there and have that trust you enough to deal with them over a series of hours, days, weeks, whatever it is and get to know them and watch them and help them interact and then show them things about their interrelationships that they probably haven’t seen or that maybe only one person has seen. But whenever they tell the rest of family, they don’t show when somebody else comes and tells them this is what’s going on. So helping them see what’s really going on in their family is what allows people that like I can bring things up to mention in front of dad that maybe the kids would never say that. And it’s not always that it could be the brother or the sister could be anyone. So just having someone who is not there who’s not part of the system and therefore is able to extricate yourself from the system and look at it and then show the people in the system. This is what I see. Do you agree that this is and then figure it out? Maybe even get concept right but then have a discussion with the people tend to come to a consensus of what you do see. And then once everyone sees the same thing, it’s much easier to figure out what the next step should be once you’ve figured out where you are and just getting the clarity on where the family is and where the obstacles are. That’s That’s most of the work once you’ve done that part and shown that this is where you are and this is what people agree on and here’s what somebody is now what are we gonna do but just to get to that point takes sometimes a heck of a lot of work that I daresay If a family is trying to do on their own without some external help. I don’t know what the odds are of getting there.
Well, I believe that if you’re if you’re their youngest, our youngest and your older sibling, your older sibling is seen soon as this firstborn controller position. If you’re not self aware enough of your position in the hierarchy as far as work goes, and you’re not able to empathize with their own position. You probably respond to everything they ever say as well. You’re always bossy you always take charge and that can lead to negative dynamics inside the family as well. Just that inability to see the world through that other siblings. I suppose natural percent Absolutely. I mean, that’s that’s a much simpler example of what you asked me that the the answer again, but but even just working with two siblings and being able for me in a one on one with a sister to explain, you know, I don’t see this in your mother. I see it too. And that’s what it is. And then they’ll have a meeting with a brother and say, you know, your sister has this and I see that too. And that’s the way it is and then let’s have a meeting together and figure out where the areas are. We need to clear up so they don’t step on each other’s toes. And you mentioned that that we learned those if we weren’t it. Can we unlearn it? I sure hope so. I think I think the first step to unlearning something is seeing that you’re doing this because often we’re doing things just not pure reaction and without you know even taking the time to notice and there’s nothing like being you know, thrown into a family situation to trigger you to bring you right back to your childhood setups of who does what and who triggers who went who said what, and it’s fine when it’s all in good fun. And it’s you know, you’re all happy to see each other but it can go it could go too far pretty quick. And if you want to have a productive family meeting, yeah, sometimes the reverting to the old habits can be a significant impediment to making progress in family meetings. And that’s part of the facilitators job is to deal with with what’s in front of them, and sort of maybe allow some of that and sort of to get a feel for the room. But then if it becomes something that getting in the way of making progress, that’s the perfect place for a facilitator to call things out and ask does the family want to go down this road or do you want to make some progress on the items on the agenda? Well, I’m one of the reasons I asked it that way. I was trying to be cheeky, but one of my favorite books and I would encourage anyone listening to this podcast to read it at some point is Daniel Kahneman. So Thinking Fast and Slow. In that book, he talks about all the various biases and heuristics that our decision making is subject to an interesting way obviously, one of the things he watched videos, talk style presentations that he’s made, if I understand correctly, he somewhat believes that these biases exist, there’s really not much we can do about them. And they’re the best we can hope for is that our awareness of it allows us to create bumpers around some of the more difficult and unpleasant ways that it affects our decision making. And so when I asked what are you going to learn behavior, if I can reach you can’t unlearn it. I think I’m hearing from you, at least as far as systems theory goes in the old model. You cannot learn this is something you’re not just managing to actually learn a whole new way of doing things. It takes work and that is and so actually glad you brought me back to the lowest level because one of the key things here is out. You can really only control yourself, or hope to try to control yourself. You cannot control your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, you can only try to control yourself and even that isn’t easy. But if you’re able to control yourself and control how you react to the other people in your family, you will change the system. A system is seeking equilibrium or homeostasis and it is the way it is one person who tries to change won’t always be able to change because the system will be trying to force them not to change. But if you can hold out and hold to what’s called your opposition and fight against the general organizational system trying to pull you back to equilibrium. If you can go and make the change, then eventually the system will have to change to adapt to your change and so really, that’s that’s the key part of the bow and model for the kind of work I like to do now, especially if I’d coach only one person as part of a family rather than working with the whole family system as a facilitator which I can do both. But what I’ve been doing more lately is coaching one person and it’s really fascinating to see how by working with one person to help them maintain the changes that they want to see that he will and it does affect the rest of the system. But it’s not easy to do. Because the because of the forces, the relationship forces in the system are not wanting to change. And so if one person decides I’m going to start doing things differently, because it’s better for me, the rest of the system I cry out and say no, no, don’t do that change back. It’s hard to hold that but if you do hold it then the rest of the system will adapt. It is an industry that was from my entry number one my favorite word so somebody says that if I learned nothing else from that program, and that’s not true, but that was the one I most enjoyed in the concept just for people that are listening that may not know what that is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I often think of it as a house and it is I’m seeing from Southern Ontario here so it’s January and it’s minus 40 Celsius outside and we’re gonna hold the windows and you turn the furnace on the furnace is trying to heat the house to 70 degrees and it is going to burn fuel and burn itself out probably trying to keep that home at 70 degrees. Even though the windows are all open. It’s trying to manage that equilibrium. And it will do it will exert every bit of energy that it has until it torches itself to achieve that. And I think that’s what you were describing. These systems don’t like to change the resistance to the change, and they’re going to exert a fair bit of energy trying to fight that change, but it’s your facilitation work. And as you mentioned, your coaching board which we’ll get to that helps to individually move towards a positive direction and you drive that system along with you. You’re kind of shutting the windows shutting the doors. Yes,
yes, exactly that so I like your analogy, but there are certain things happen and it changes it causes changes. And some people I mean the some some things are set up to only let’s get back to the way it was and the furnace is the perfect example in the furnace will do everything it can to do what it’s programmed to do. And if that if you just leave the windows open that furnace is eventually probably gonna blow itself out trying again to try to fight an uphill battle. And really having someone come and shoot the windows would would be a much simpler solution. And I remember I think we get to talk about this one was interesting things I came away with from doing my own FAA training and I’ve observed it a few times in various scenarios. Is this concept of triangulation in relationships? If you don’t mind, could you share a little bit about what that is? Because I think almost everybody experiences it in some way, shape or form. Yeah, so triangles are one of the concepts of both theory and it’s one of the most fascinating ones because what they say is that three people is actually the essential building block it’s the molecule of relationships is because a two person relationship is inherently unstable and it will eventually bring in another person. So So what Bowen encourages you to always do is to look at any group of people and subgroups of three. So if you have four or five people, those are now that interlocking triangles. And you can learn a lot just by looking at every three person groups. And you’ll see it a lot if you get called in as an advisor, let’s say with a husband and wife, and now there’s three people and so what’s gonna happen is like one of them’s going to be trying to pull you in to your side and then the other one’s going to be trying to pull you into their side. And there it’s constantly that the gold a lot of people have, you know, three person organizations to get one of the person to agree without the help to convince that other one because it’s lonely to be on the outside and the other two against one. So one of the tricks, or one of the problems that advisors get into is that if you’re not aware of this, it’s very easy to sort of get pulled into each person’s personal view of things. And now what do you stand for at the end, and then people are constantly trying to play one person off against another. So it’s just just to be aware of it. It takes extra hard work, to not get sort of sucked into to other people who are trying to get you to come to their side. And so if two people are in conflict, and they’re each trying to pull you into their side sometimes the safest places to not get pulled into either side, and then force them to learn to deal with each other. And to sort of say, I’m not going to play I’m not playing this game of picking sides, you will need to learn to work it out amongst yourselves. And that is I position myself to be able to to be able to say I’m not getting involved. And it’s not it’s not easy, especially if you’re the advisor because you feel like what they’re paying you to help them but sometimes the most important thing you can do is to sort of force them to work things out between themselves and not be the one to take sides. And if you’re a parent, you probably know already how your kids start playing mom against that. I’ve been in meetings with advisors, I’m sure you have I know there’s advisors listening to this later and doesn’t advisor, advisors insurance. We’ve seen that happen. You have someone say the lawyer starting a conversation and talking to a business owner, for example, takes the wife and the husband ignored completely through the course that conversation and often felt if I didn’t have any I don’t have much understand. It was almost like so interesting to talk to you. I often felt that that was kind of a sales technique. It was a way to just curry favor with someone on the money, I’m going to communicate with them alone, and the other party’s never really engaged. And as a result, they may not that’s a female because when you’re talking to Japanese divers, the next next place that surviving substitute goes to another advisor because they felt neglected and I think what you’re telling me is that there’s scientific knowledge around the fact that we do do this. And if we’re aware of the fact that we do this, we can manage it better so that those negative outcomes don’t have and it happens in families, family members, but it also happens in with family members, enrolled advisors and advisors probably amongst advisors as well. It’s a human condition. Absolutely. And I think you you you know you put your finger on it when you talk about if you recognize it. And that’s what I have been learning. The study of bone theory is, is like one part learning about theory and nine parts learning about yourself, and how you can be more aware of yourself and what things you can do and should try to do to increase your own differentiation of self to be able to get less caught in situations of triangles to get less pocket situations where you’re sort of just reacting to things because you’ve been programmed that way, the sort of there’s a lot of self awareness that goes on for most people who study both theory, because it’s one thing to understand what the theory says. But it’s sort of like you can’t really learn to swim by reading a book. And so you could read a book about swimming but then if you don’t do it in my boat, the middle the lane, you’ve never seen before I throw you in, I’m not sure that book is gonna help you. So it’s learning boats area is a process of self discovery. And so it’s not for everyone. But there’s a lot everyone can learn something from it. And I tried to write my book for people who know nothing about it, but who want to learn a little bit. Because when I came to it, it seemed very opaque and I think that one of the things that I do well is to take complex things and express them in ways that are easy to understand. And that’s what I’ve attempted to do in this book to explain some of the areas where family wealth transitions and Bowen theory where those two fields overlap and try to explain things in a useful and entertaining way so people can start to grasp what Bowen theory has to offer for them. Some people will read the book and want to go and do more. It’s almost no this is way too much work for me. And both of those responses are just fine.
Well, I think we’ve touched on either graciously touched on very superficially, but it has helped us understand that on at least two of the eight bone concepts, one being triangles which just talked about the other one being almost intuitive at all make a joke of a middle child. But there’s there’s no there’s there’s a manageable experience that associated with as we talk about sibling position. There are six concepts that are without. And what this highlights I think is that when a family business participant whether an owner or a family member or however they get into the system, it is a system and and when you are sensing tension, there is probably reasons for that tension, but that tension can be good. It can work positively, but it can also be very negative. And that you need help when you want to manage those tensions. You might not be able to as a founder, for example to transition because or Well, you may not be able to get perfect but you might be able to make it better. After sensing that tension. They can reach out to someone like you to to manage that tension a little bit better and do the better planning. So see if you want to listen to them because the question was what if I have tension in my family, the family dynamics in our family? Where can they start or should it start? Well, first thing is don’t ignore it. If you’re sensing the tension, it’s probably there and you shouldn’t let that deter you. There there’s a need to do something a little bit of courage in order to do it. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t start by you know, throwing it out in the open to where exactly where the tension is and then they’ll probably start a conversation. I will start with another person in the family who understands the tension but isn’t necessarily one of the people involved with your spouse or one of the kids and to express the concern to say we really should talk about this as a family. And I think I’m gonna need some help in dealing with it because I’m worried about the search engine. And you might be surprised that with two people on board whether it’s dad, one of the kids or mom and dad to put it out there that this is something you really want to try to get through and try to understand better and involve people go very slowly and sort of validate. Are you really is it really as bad as you think? And if it’s better or worse than you think that you might be probably gonna get some help with it. But I think that oftentimes when the family group realizes that there’s someone in the family who wants to begin having important discussions but that they’re hesitant, I think that they often will be able to sort of sit on their hands and give people some space to start to talk because maybe some of the tension is there just because of the lack of understanding and then the fact that that there’s there’s a lot of ignorance that people don’t know and so they start to make things up and so often just starting to have the discussion slowly but surely, to let it be known that you want to have these important discussions can be very disarming for people. And I hope that it will be and that you’ll be able to get started. And it’s oftentimes like the biggest thing, the biggest the hardest step at first. And so if you can be thoughtful and not have high expectations, try to enlist the help of at least one of the person in the family to start to say I want to have discussions around this. I’m concerned that it might be sensitive, and I hope that everyone will sort of indulge and let’s try to have an adult to adult conversation around this. I think you may be surprised that certainly we have a lawyer or an accountant listening to this right now. They’ve got a family business client, and they’re starting to do some business succession plans intergenerational tradition, they’re talking about that savories that we talked about earlier. What should that professional be listening for? To pick up evidence of tension? So you’re the client, I can imagine scenarios where the client has so much tension in their system at all times. They are keenly aware of potential is the normal, but the advisor when they hear what’s going on, you know, they may be interacting over the years and now getting a little more information as I started getting this more detail and then starting to see what something else something in addition was going on. Is it too late to reach out to someone like yourself when they started into the path like is are there multiple times or wanting to return? I don’t know that there’s a point of no return. I think, you know, when you’re talking about an advisor listening to someone, I think I would worry more about the client who is in denial about the future and is coming to the advisor and saying this is how I structure things and that the advisor be sitting there. Like you want to do this with your kids like my kids, they’re never gonna get along. This isn’t gonna work. I think that is hopefully a more likely scenario where where the professional will clue in on the fact that they’re being asked to produce some documents to support the structure that they don’t feel as much chance of actually been successful over the long term. And I think that might be more of a red flag or an area where an advisor could sort of raise that flag and say, Have you thought about discussing it with them? And then the answer might be no, of course I’ll never discuss with him because I’ll never agree. Well, there’s there’s your red flag right there. But maybe that’s the ideal time to say I think you should bring someone in who can help you talk through this with your with your kid. So much you may be looking for not individual individual names, but you’re my background is in law and you’re sort of traditional estate planning lawyer and picked up on this as you just described, you know, the family Milanese with some of the things they want to do. You’re thinking to yourself, I think we should call somebody to deal with this kind of person are looking for what’s the training, what’s the background, or the experience or other
structures they look for. So I do have a lot of the culture facilitate wealth. So I have some competitors who are psychologists and I think some of them will do a great job. I also know that if someone will come to my dad and say, oh, you should call this guy Dr. Jones. Okay. My dad would say to you, we’re not. So I like to think that someone who has MBA on the business side is someone who will more likely, you know, relate to someone who could build a business. I came at this from a business background and then morphed through the MBA program into what we would call the soft side or more of the Family Circle. stuff. And I’ve done you know, mediation training and post training and facilitation training and certification, third party neutral training, I’ve done pretty well most of the things that I’ve needed to do to not just be another one of those guys who says, Well, I grew up in a family business now I advise them and I haven’t done anything to work on myself. So I would think that experience with other family businesses and some efforts to learn the important skills that are required for the Family Circle specifically so so there are plenty of advisors that work for the business. There are plenty of advisors who work on the ownership circle, family circle, and the three circle model is the one that often is the hardest to find the right kind of advisors for it’s really, really a big thing about chemistry. The person has to recognize that when they walk in there they can’t take sides and they need to be there for the whole family. And it needs to understand that and be clear about that from the word go. Sometimes family leaders will hire someone and basically expect that person to basically take their side and you know, hire they don’t want to hire someone like me to come in and set their kids straight. I’m not interested in the person needs to know that they are serving the entire system and not the person who signs the checks. So they have to trust you and that’s important. A lot of professionals. Their ability to advise that way for the system is limited because of the limitations of their professional autonomy and adaptation accounts and you describe yourself as a facilitator and coach, I think you’ve done a lot more coaching in the last year so in saying that you’re really truly enjoying that. I believe you differentiate between the two a little bit you facilitate with the entire family but you’re talking more one on one with many individual in the family. How do you strike the difference between the two and when someone should reach out or controlling someone to veto so so that’s allowed me to clarify, when I got into this work, the juicy stuff that I wanted to get into was right in the middle of working on that and it was very rewarding. And it brings in mediation skills and facilitation skills, and often also some one on one coaching with individual family members. What I’ve started to realize in the last year or so, is sort of why I was talking about a bit on the bullet stuff is that if one person can change they can change the whole system. And I did my coaching certification that I completed last year and then because of that, I needed to find some more individual clients to do the hours that I needed. And it was while doing that, but I realized that you know what, this is actually gonna be a lot more stimulating and I have a lot more capacity to add a few more individual clients and then adding more families and to see the ability to to work with one person and have that one person up their own personal game and help them improve themselves and then watching and learning from them how those changes that I’m helping them make. I’ve been, you know catapulting into changes within the family has been one of the unexpectedly new rewarding things that I’ve started to notice. And so I want to be more of that and it’s often easier for one person to reach out and hire a coach and for a whole family to reach out to find a facility. So I’m open for both and I love to do both. And you know tricky family business situations are what but they’re my bread and butter and I love to speak to families about the challenges they have and and figure out the best way to help them get through them. Well, I think that’s a very clear way of operating Santa Clara clarity between the two roles that you play. And it’s amazing to me now just in having Hajikko bone work that you were doing, how very consistent coaching work is with general area that that bone work, you’re helping to make individuals make the changes they need, because that’s where change has to start for the system to change. So I think that that I think the universe calls you to where you belong. At the end of the day. I think that’s that’s probably taking you there quite naturally. Steve, people listening to this will be everywhere. In Autozone zip codes, hopefully they’ll be everywhere. If they want to reach out to you. They want to work with you. You’re in Montreal if you’re in Canada. We take clients from wherever they reach out. I do I’ve worked with clients in different countries. That are mostly Canadian and or American, but I don’t think that there’s any obstacle, especially these days with so many people doing work over zoom. I’ve been doing that actually. The easiest way to find me I’m lucky in that I have a name that is not that common. Steve Legler LBG l&r And it’s not that hard to spell so So I usually tell people to Google if you Google Steve Legler and if you had like family business or something, or even if they don’t show up somewhere near the top, you’ll be directed most likely to my website or my YouTube channel and on my LinkedIn page and all those are great places to learn more. The website is called shift your family business calm because that’s the name of my first book, and happy to meet people from business families and talk to them for a while for free just to hear about their stories. I don’t start running them either. It’s all about getting to know people and established chemistry before we figure out if I am the right resource for that person and or that family and if they want to get hold your book seat where they go to that you have to book on Amazon shift your family business and interdependent wealth. Not sure if your family business is still like in front they might be there might be going to get it but interdependent wealth is the more recent one. It’s the one about the moment stuff, there’s more juicy stuff in there for people who are interested in some of the stuff we were touching on this.
Well, Steve, you’ve been a fabulous resource this afternoon. I very much appreciate your gracious time and the sharing of your great wisdom will be something of interest to all the people that are listening because I think it is is rare that you will come across a family disease or a family that doesn’t have some tension either on the surface or down below the surface that is causing them to be reluctant to clamp to deal with it. And I think what I heard from you today is they shouldn’t be afraid of that tension. They should work to manage that tension. And there’s help out there. There’s people like yourself that help them manage that tension and get from small to big particularly like right now to a better spot to them. For example I like the way you put that in, I always try to make sure that I don’t come across as saying to anyone that this is easy stuff. It’s not easy. It’s hard stuff, but it’s important stuff and it needs to be done. So so have the courage to take the steps have the courage to reach out, have the courage to start the discussions because I think deep down you know that these are discussions that you really should have and none of us had been limited by certain habits. And so starting discussions earlier, even if they might be challenging, most people usually glad that they went and they they just pull it and they started those discussions. And if you need help, please reach out. I can’t be a better place to end the conversation. Thank you Steve Legler thanks again to my good friend, Steve Legler for joining us this week and sharing so much of his wisdom his contact information will be available on the show notes for this week’s show next week. The Great Gatsby race continues with financial advisor Cindy David, the new Board Chair for the conference of advanced life underwriting or Kailyn. She will be discussing the question what if I need a financial plan? We look forward to you joining us then have a great week.