It’s More Art than Science
This blog idea has been simmering in my “future posts” folder for a while now, and it finally stuck its hand up and said “now!”
It’s based on a great book that I read during the winter, called The Art of Gathering, How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker.
The book is a great resource for anyone who is occasionally charge with organizing any kind of get-together involving people, for whatever reason they might have to be in one place together.
Of course most get-togethers do involve people, unless you spend a lot of time at the local dog park. The issue is that many gatherings seem to forget the importance of the people attending.
Now that such gatherings are once again becoming possible, with much of the pandemic hopefully behind us, this is topical again.
Family Gatherings Are a Particular Subset
While the ideas in the book can be applied to all sorts of gatherings, I read it with a particular interest in family gatherings, because I sometimes work with families who are just getting used to having regular family meetings, and some of the details can be pretty important.
The organizing of such events typically falls onto the shoulders of one or two people, and most families can readily point to the “usual suspects” who play that role in their clan.
Such “family champions” or “CEO’s” (Chief Emotional Officers) would do well to pick up the book to get some ideas and tips that they’ll find useful.
Even experienced gatherers will get something out of it, if only for a better understanding of why they’ve already been successful.
Parallels to Other Areas of My “Family” Work
Aside from wanting to plug Parker’s book, there’s a bigger reason why I wanted to write this particular post. Regular readers know my penchant for metaphors and analogies so that’s naturally at play here.
It has to do with the experts whose advice is typically sought when one begins to make important plans, and what those experts focus on.
The best way to set this up is with a direct quote from the book:
“Because so much gathering advice comes from
experts in food and decor rather than from facilitators,
that advice almost invariably focuses on preparing
things instead of preparing people.”
Preparing things instead of people….
Focusing on What, When, and Where
There are plenty of people who can help you find a great place for a gathering, and they all have a calendar on which they can see if your date will work, and they’ve likely held similar events to yours too, so you can count on their advice to make yours great, right?
Likewise, when planning for the future of your business and wealth, and how they will affect your family, there are also plenty of experts who have done similar work for other families, and can tell you exactly how you should set things up legally and financially.
And guess what; if you follow their plan, you’ll save your family lots of money in taxes! Because that’s what’s really most important.
Let’s Think About the WHO (Or Is It Whom?)
You may see me coming from a mile away, but just in case, let me suggest that the people, those members of the rising generation of your family, may be an important factor to consider here.
And, it probably makes sense to actually speak with them, and perhaps even involve them, before, during, and after you make such important decisions and plans.
Here’s another quote from The Art of Gathering:
“This advice makes the pregame window about physical
setup rather than human initiation, about the
gathering space and not what it holds: people.”
What the gathering place holds: People. Hmmm.
Preparing the Heirs for the Assets, Not the Other Way Around
One way to make sure that you’re preparing the people for their future roles in managing and stewarding the family’s wealth is to gather often and discuss these exact subjects, in regular family meetings.
These meetings don’t just happen by themselves, they need to be planned and coordinated, and you need to make sure that you make some progress towards the goal.
That goal is to make sure that everyone understands what will be expected of them, while also figuring out how they’re going to make decisions together when their turn comes.
Yes, the work the experts do to prepare the assets for the heirs is important, but it’s definitely not sufficient.