The Generational Impact of Business Family Facilitation with Steve Legler

Welcome back to the Colloquium Podcast! In this episode, I welcome Steve Legler! Steve is a Family Legacy Guide from Montreal, Canada. He grew up in a family business and now works with other business families as a resource around all sorts of family matters related to their wealth transition.

In this episode, Steve talks about the generational impact of business family facilitation. He shares how a business family can be more aligned and how the management of wealth and the decision-making processes by the family is smooth and seamless. He also talks about how a family can work together more effectively for future generations. Join us and listen in!

[00:01 – 07:15] Opening Segment

  • Welcoming Steve to the show
  • Steve shares his background
  • Taking over his family’s business
  • Managing a small family office in 1991

[07:16 – 25:46] What Allows a Business Family to Continue Its Legacy

  • Defining a family office
  • Steve talks about family alignment
  • The importance of family engagement
  • ‘Passing the baton’
  • Common threads in families that get it right
  • Openness
  • Having proper relationships with the offsprings
  • The processes for an operating company vs. a purely financial family post-liquidity event

[25:47 – 38:36] Business Family Facilitation in Today’s World

  • The effect of social media and cultural changes
  • Today’s young people’s outlook of the future
  • Steve talks about when you should call a business family advisor
  • Getting started is the hardest part of transactions
  • How Steve is working with business families

[38:37 – 40:48] Closing Segment

  • How you can connect with Steve
  • Closing words

Thank you for joining the conversation on Colloquium. This episode is brought to you by Excelsior capital, an investment platform focused on democratizing private equity by providing individuals access to direct opportunities. To learn more about the firm please visit Excelsior to connect with Brian on LinkedIn.

So welcome to the conversation on colloquium today. I’ve got Steve Legler with me, Steve, how are you today?

Unknown 0:38
I’m fine, Brian, thanks. Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.

It’s great to be here with you. We’ll get this out of the way now. Our Canadians did not pull it out, but it was a heck of a run.

It was a heck of a run and the team went a lot further than anyone expected. I just had lunch with a friend of mine here said hey, they had a good run. I said I’m worried that they’ve set the expectation level too high. And next season. If they aren’t great. People are going to start complaining again. And maybe we’ll bring that back around when we talk about family wealth and transition. people’s expectation level.

Oh, you think Canadian hockey fans would have unrealistic expectations? Really? Well, not the ones in

Toronto suffering since 1967. But

so for the listeners of the show who don’t know I don’t talk about this a lot. But I’m from upstate New York. I grew up in the late 80s. Early 90s was when I was in middle school, high school and the Canadiens were very good at that period of time. My dad would take me to games at the forum back in the day and so I still am a big Habs fan although I’m now a predators guy, but Steve and I when we first connected we talked hockey for a little bit so then it was the plants are still rolling.

Yeah, but Brian, you didn’t get as spoiled as I did because I was born in 64. So I always like in high school during the 76 to 79 like four cups carbonneau and all those was this was like, Oh, yes, the standard there was the old joke was the Stanley Cup parade will take place along it’s usually

kind of spoiled. And was that was still the time where they they had the right to the top players out of Quebec, right or was that around that or

just more than and yeah, there’s a whole big history and all that stuff. Yeah. Well,

well, we’ll we’ll do a hockey segment at one time, but we’re gonna focus on your your day job here maybe to give people context before we get into kind of the nitty gritty of family offices and family businesses, because I think it provides really good context. Could you give them a little bit of background on yourself and how you got into this space? Here to Aaron today?

Yeah, it’s it’s a really, there’s no straight line in my career path. So I was born in Montreal in the mid 60s, the only son of an immigrant entrepreneur, and I have two older sisters and it was a steel fabrication business, my dad had started. So I was designated as his heir apparent, the first boy. And so my whole childhood and teenage years that’s what I was being geared for. I was being groomed to take care of my dad. I didn’t have much say in the matter. And so I just was the dutiful son and did everything that I was told. Long story short, I went straight into the business after my undergrad, which now I don’t recommend people do I recommend that the offspring get a job somewhere else first before coming to the family business. But then after three years, went to do my MBA, came back expecting to get groomed to take over this business that had about 300 employees. And long story short, my first day back, my dad said, Come here, sit down, close the door. We have to talk. Long story short, our markets were disappearing and he said we have to sell or close or merge. And within six months we had gone from 300 employees to four and two of us are named Steve Legler. I had the junior after my name. My dad had just bought a farm he went off to go and have fun breeding cattle and I was left at the time 1991 managing a very small family office. Nobody knew what a family office was back in 1991. Least of all me. Most people still don’t know what it is. But I was managing the affairs of our family. And that’s how I got my start in this and I did that for longer than I like to admit before I stumbled into a program called family enterprise advisor that had come out of the University of British Columbia and they started launching it also in Toronto, which is about five hours down the road from me in Montreal. I ended up in that program and that’s where I had my calling. That’s where I learned that there are people who work with families to help them with the transition of their business and or their wealth from one generation to the next. By helping clarify their values define their vision, prepare the rising generation for increasingly important roles, figure out that some governance of how they’re going to make decisions together as they go from one generation that often has an autocratic decision maker down to typically a sibling group where now the most important thing is how are the siblings going to make decisions together? And so that’s become my specialty over these last seven, eight years since I had

that calling. And we talked about this a little bit before we started the show. There’s a lot of folks in the family office space who are involved in the quantitative side right, the investment management, et cetera, better being into this space, not as long as you have but for probably 15 years. I’m married into a single family office. I’m a non millennial. It seems to me that it’s typically the qualitative issues within the family that end up causing the most distress and it’s not really the investments that end up blowing up families. And that’s really where you spend a lot of your time and efforts right

yeah. Oh, there’s so first of all, I also married into a family business family that was bigger than the one that I had come from. So I learned other things from how their family was structured and how they did and continued to do things. But yes, you’re bringing up the point about, like the tail wagging the dog. Right? There are so many people that surround such families, and worry about all the technical things and the investments, the money, the taxes, the structures and they typically do all these things on a best practices basis. This is what everybody does. And the assumption is that all of this is going to work on the ground in real life at the dining room table with the family. And so often those decisions are made without talking to the family. Asking them any questions, getting them involved in any way and then the advisors and the parents are saying well gee, you know, how come this didn’t work? How come our family isn’t appreciative? And there are a small minority of people but growing like me, who like to work with the families and say, let’s start with figuring out what’s good for the family. Let’s figure out how you want to do things, what makes sense to the people who will be on the receiving end of these assets in a decade or two or more. Let’s structure things for them. And once we figured out how we want to structure it, then we’ll go and see some professionals and say, Okay, this is what we want now draw up the appropriate structure and the legal documents to go with.

So before we really get into it, this is a question again in question that I asked everybody in our in your space when they come on the show. What’s your definition of a family office?

Yeah, that question about a family office is you know, if you’ve seen one family office, you’ve seen one family office. It’s a custom made, structure and set of people and agreements to serve the needs of a family and every family will have different needs and every family’s needs will change along the way. And so the important thing is for the family office to be tailored for what that family needs, what they need now and what they’re going to need in the future. So some for some families, it’s all about you know, on one extreme, organizing all the family jets and making sure that you have the right captain for the right yacht when the family is going to be there on this one trip. And on other ones, it’s who’s gonna walk the dog and pay the maid and for most of them, no, it’s more pedestrian stuff like getting the bills paid, making sure people are paying their taxes, making sure that if you have some trust structure that you’re you know, doing a reporting and making sure that people know what’s going on and clarifying what’s going on for the family and a lot of time and effort is spent around the assets and preparing the assets for the heirs. And what I like to say as well you need to spend some time preparing the heirs for the assets and that’s what’s often missing. And then people realize, oh, well, we’ve set up all this stuff and now we have all this money or all this wealth and our kids. I’m worried that my kids are going to screw up the wealth and I’m worried that the wealth is going to screw up my kids. And so those conversations ideally start early, and they start to prepare both the assets for the offspring and the offspring for the assets

early like that line of the heirs and the assets and not the other way around. Well,

I stole it from someone else. I won’t take credit for originality but it’s definitely a thing.

All the best stuff is stolen. So that’s fine. I just had her before, to segue directly off of that. And I really encourage people we’ll provide contact information in the show notes, etc. But your website and your blog and your materials that you put out are terrific. And I really encourage people to check them out if they’re interested in the subject, but that really leads us directly into family alignment. And in my experience, it’s all about communication or lack thereof. And that really think goes towards the alignment. So can you talk to kind of what it is why families need it and how can you achieve it?

Yeah, family alignment is actually one of my favorite expressions. And I’ve learned to tie it in with another important thing, which is family engagement. And so the easiest way to start is like you kind of need a Northstar, you need to know where you’re going if you want to be alive. So as a family prepares the family has some wealth. It’s in one generation that’s controlling it, it’s eventually going to be controlled by the next generation or the rising generation. How do you get everyone to sort of understand and agree on where are we trying to go together with this? And do we actually want to stay together because a lot of families make the assumption that well, let’s keep it all together. It’s better that way. And in many ways, that’s true. But sometimes if the if let’s say you have two kids and you know they don’t get along, to create some structure that is going to force them to get along and some partnership is usually not recommended. If you already know that it’s not going to work. Don’t try to force it. So clarify that in advance and arrange things another way. If you’re lucky enough that you can get some alignment and you get the siblings the offspring together and they can kind of all nod their heads around what you’re trying to accomplish with the wealth, how it’s going to be organized, how it’s going to be managed, how it’s going to be shared. Then if you can get that alignment and have people understand what you’re all trying to do together, then that’s great. And now you have you’re working on this alignment, but you need to engage the people in the family to do that. And oftentimes with these wealthy families, it’s like, I talked to my kids about this, and I don’t really know how to talk to them about it. And when I mentioned it, they don’t want to really hear about it and so I can’t get them to come to a meeting. And so they need to work on their engagement before they can have the alignment. So you need to work on cajoling your kids to come and have some discussions and start them small. And then you work on your alignment. Then as you work on your alignment, you might lose some people along the way you don’t feel aligned, you have to reengage them and so the alignment and the engagement are almost like a wheel that as you do one and it starts to get a little old, you got to tap into the other one. And so it’s really about getting the rising generation to understand what’s ahead for them, getting them prepared, preparing to hand down some decision making from one generation to the next. And having some family meetings around this whole process, which is by the way, not something to say Oh, this weekend, we’re going to do this and it’s going to be done. This is a process that will take years. And if you’re doing quarterly meetings or monthly meetings to just start to have a forum where the family members from both generations can come together and plan and talk about and figure out what they’re going to do together and how it’s going to be done and how they’re going to communicate around it and make decisions for it.

So conversation I’ve been having with a lot of other professional service providers in the space as well as family members. And I think maybe it’s a function of the baby boomers are now getting older and there’s a lot of transition happening within these families. Is that oftentimes the first generation wealth creator, often very often a male patriarch, yep. Started the family office without ever asking if the rest of the family wanted that type of structure, right? And just kind of assumed the Hey, this is my idea. This is a good idea. We should do this. And it’s a little bit cart. Before the horse if you’re trying to build a multigenerational small business, essentially. Yeah. Do you see that a lot yourself. There’s

plenty of cart before the horse all the time. The question is that I always ask is how carved in stone is everything and how flexible is the person who put that structure into place? To be able to engage in discussion with the rising generation for you know that I did this all for you? Well, how about talking to all those for us and saying, This is what I’ve been planning to do or this is what I’ve done this is how I see it. Do you understand it? Do you have better ideas? Do you have things that you think you could suggest? Do you want to be involved? How much do you want to be involved to engage them in this because it’s not so much a I’ve built all this now and then one day overnight? It’s all gonna go for me to you. Like it’s not a transfer. I always when people talk about a wealth transfer, I’ll say no, no, no, no, please don’t talk about a transfer. You want to transfer me some money from your account to mine. One day, it’s in your account the next day, it’s all in my account. This is not what we’re doing here. We are trying to transition. So there is the ownership of the assets there. The there’s the benefit from the assets. There’s the decision making and the management of the assets. These are all things that take years, if not decades to go from one generation of the family to the next and the smarter families are the ones who do it drip by drip or step by step or from one year to the next. You know what, we’re gonna now start to include you in this or we’ll transition part of this from our accounts to accounts that you manage to do it slowly but surely, gradually, incrementally and not okay, I’m doing all this because I’m the smartest and then one day I’m going to die and then the next day well it’s all yours and you figure it out. There’s you know you need to transfer the transition the knowledge of the decision making and the and all the human capital and social capital around one generation to the next generation so they can take advantage of it.

And so this leads me to the next question. I never heard this term before. And we’re recording this in early August, when the US Men’s relay team had just a horrendous showing again in the Olympics. And so it’s a good analogy. Yeah. What is the sticky baton syndrome? Yeah,

well, okay, so they dropped the baton. You refer a while okay. And we’ve seen and this is a great analogy that I’ve seen other people talk about and it makes a lot of sense. It’s, it’s all in the transitioning from the from one from the baton from one person to another, that’s fumbling the baton but you’re talking about sticky baton syndrome is that patriarch and so I think you might be taking this from a white paper I wrote a number of years ago, and I titled it sticky baton syndrome and the subtitle was asked Prince Charles, because Prince Charles was kind of expecting or hoping to have been handed the baton and Queen Elizabeth, it’s kind of stuck to her hand, and she has not been able to hand it off. And so many people and you were talking about the famous wealth creator types who are typically entrepreneurial, that are risk taking. They’ve been very smart. They’ve been very lucky. And they think that now they know everything, and it becomes our identity and for them now to pass this baton to someone else and relinquish it is very difficult and it gets stuck in their head. So I like a different analogy that I got from someone a few years ago and it’s the torch and if I have a torch that is lit, and you have a torch that is lit, I can light your torch. I still have my torch and now your torch is also lit. And so if if I can encourage one person to start thinking about it that way rather than I have now given you the baton, Oh, guess what? I don’t have the baton anymore. How about just lighting one of your offsprings torches and I say the word offspring because as someone pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago, the term adult children is actually an oxymoron. They’re either adults or their children. But people talk about their children and I’ve dealt with families where, you know, they’re in their 60s and the parents are still calling on the kids. Like Give me a break. At some point. They’re not kids anymore. Okay, so that’s why I prefer the term offspring. And I still have to catch myself often. When I still say it. Oh, the kids and the kids are in their 40s or the kids are in their 30s once they’re out of their 20s I don’t think you should be calling the kids.

I would. I would agree with that. I think that’s fair. So I’m not going to age you but you’ve been doing this a while you talk to a lot of families. What are the common threads that you see in families that get it right?

Okay. Yeah, I love that question because too many people talk about things that go wrong. So there is an openness among the leading generation. I don’t like to call them the senior generation but the leading generation there’s an openness and an understanding that making the pie really big was the first part of what they were trying to do and now they need to stop working on making the pie bigger and start worrying about how that pie is going to be shared and how it’s going to get handed over to someone else for their care custody and control. And that their number one goal has to change and they have to stop working in their business and start working on it. Or as I had said in my first book called shift your family business, the subtitle is, stop working in your family business, start working on your business family. So it’s making the change from the work again to working on and it’s changing the focus from the business to the family. So that’s number one. The second one is when I was talking about offspring as opposed to children. The key to all of this is developing the proper relationships with your offspring between the generations and really to go for an adult to adult relationship. If you keep infantilizing your offspring, they will keep acting like infants. So at some point, and I don’t know what what age that like ideally it starts when they’re teenagers, or maybe in their 20s where you start to treat them more like adults. Some parents never get to that point. And so that’s where you have the parents in their 60s and they’re their offspring in their 40s and they’re still treating them like children. Well, if you’ve been treating them like children for four decades, don’t be surprised if they continue to act like like children, and that transitioning that wealth to them is going to be difficult because they won’t be ready for it because you never did anything to help them get ready for it. So they treat their their offspring as adults. They start early and they allow their offspring a little bit of decision making before giving them a lot so let them make I’d rather have my son make $100,000 mistake than a $10 million mistake. So get them started. Let them make mistakes on their own. When you’re sharing your own history. Yes, Mom and Dad You did great. You made gazillions of dollars. It wasn’t all a straight line going up. Presumably there were some hiccups along the way. How about sharing some of those so that you don’t make your offspring look at you as oh my god, the second coming I could never live up to that. Let them know that things were up and down and that they should expect the same thing. And that life is not all in one. direction. And that you too, had some imperfections and made some mistakes, and that you would accept them making some mistakes as long as they’re learning from them and going in the right direction. So those are some of the things it really comes down to the attitude of the parents and the willingness to start to let go and see their role more as preparing their offspring to receive the assets at some point, which the sooner you get them to be financially literate and understanding things, the more the odds are better or more in your favor, the sooner you start to do that. And the more gradually you try to do this, too many families think oh my god, we have to have this big family meeting. And I’ve kept the kids totally in the dark and they don’t know anything and parents assume that their offspring have no idea how rich they are. And then they they’re going to have this one meeting where they’re going to reveal everything. And it’s like going from the dark to turning on all the floodlights and everyone’s blinded. That’s not the way to do this is to start slowly. It’s like a dimmer switch, not a light switch, and share a little bit share a little bit more, a few months later or a year later, share a little bit more and let their eyes adjust to the light so that they can see that what they’re walking into and start to digest it and prepare for it and start to ask questions around it and start to get educated around and start to know that they’re always going to have another family for them to come back to maybe next year or maybe next quarter, where a certain question that will have come up, they’ll now feel better place to ask that question and just keep moving the ball down the field that way and is there

a difference when handling that process and transition if you still have an operating company versus you’re a purely financial family post liquidity event?

It’s different and it’s the same. So the general principles around preparing them in general are the same. If you have an operating business, it’s trickier in some ways. easier though. So let me let me explain so so if you have an operating business, typically, some of your offspring might end up working in it and some will not your if none of them do or all of them do. Those are also you know particular situations. But you might have the information asymmetry that I talk about a lot is that the people who are in the business, let’s say the son who’s the vice president, who knows what’s going on, and then typically old school wise, it would be the sister who knows nothing and then she feels in the dark and so you have to do a lot to sort of level up that information of what’s actually going on because otherwise the people who are who are in the dark feel like they’re in the dark and often it’s justifiable. And so you have a lot of what roles people are going to play in the business based on their skill set their education, but in many ways that’s easier to deal with. Then what happens often is there’s a family business and it’s worth $50 million. And everyone sees that business and it’s seen it’s like a it’s like an iceberg. It’s one solid block. And you know every year a little bit melts off and we have some dividends, but really, it’s just sitting there as a block and this is the family’s block and it stays there and it’s producing something as soon as that family has the liquidity event and that $50 million business is now an account at some institution with with a five and what is it seven zeros behind? It doesn’t take long for the five offspring to sit there and say, Oh $50 million. There’s five of us divide that Oh 10 Well, you know what, how about you just give me my 10 million and I’ll and I’ll go and do what I want with it. And that is a real issue for some families. It’s because now all of a sudden, it’s well that that iceberg is now a pitcher of water and I happen to have we happen to have five glasses and it looks like if we emptied. We poured a little bit in each of these five glasses. We could all have our own. We can all do what we want and I can handle 10 million bucks rather than sitting here with my siblings trying to you know argue over how much can I get this year? What are we going to do with that picture? Are we going to go and invest in buy a second picture and hope to have two pitchers of water in five years? Or are we just going to drink the water till it’s all gone? Very different. Questions.

And do you think that process and conversation transition is easier now because of the resources and the knowledge base that we have? Or is it harder because of social media, cultural changes, societal shifts? I’m curious where you think we are on the spectrum here.

Brian, you really asked these loaded questions. But but they’re they’re good because yes, indeed, the industry of serving these families has evolved and continues to evolve and is evolving faster than ever before. These last couple of decades. Really, it’s it’s noticeable and more and more advisors to families are starting to get it they’re starting to understand that it’s not just the money and it’s not just the structures, and there’s there’s a lot of, you know, recovering estate lawyers who are saying are you know, oh, wow, I made some great estate plans that looked fantastic on paper. And then I found out what happened in real life after somebody died and it was a disaster for the family. And oh my god, I better get some religion and find out how to do things in a more enlightened way. So yes, the industry has evolved at the same time with social media and the the speed with which the younger generation are able to get up to snuff and connect with other people about what’s going on. That has we can’t deny that either. I like to think though, that much of what we’ve heard over the last decade or so about millennials and all this and caring about more caring more about the planet, and socially responsible investing and things like they really do seem to care a lot more about this and I’m so glad because I think my generation has done enough to screw up the planet that I’m glad when I talk to younger people and I see how they think. And I’m thinking well, you know what, I think we have a chance because a lot of these people are thinking in much more forward looking ways in much more democratic and much more. They’re not they’re not all trying to make the money for themselves. They’re trying to make the planet a better, a better place. So I don’t know how it all plays out. But I liked the view of the future because I see that the younger people have a much more enlightened look. At what the future could be. And I’m hoping that we can just not screw it up too much more and help put the tools in their hands so that they can do a better job.

So if somebody’s listening, likes what they hear. They’re encouraged by what you’re saying and engaged with this conversation. When is the right time that you get involved? What is the fact pattern that you see or hear and it’s it’s a signal to I should pick up the phone and call Steve?

Yeah, there. There are a number of different so yeah, it’s really interesting that over like the life cycle of a family there are different points where it’s more and more more or less likely that they might think that this is something salient that they should start to be dealing with. And I’d rather have someone reach out to me too soon. And have a talk with them for a while and say you know what, I think you’re doing some things right? You don’t really need me now, but maybe start to do this for the next couple of years and let me know how it goes. And at some point, having an independent outsider come in to help facilitate some of these conversations make sense? I’d rather have someone contact me too soon, and say keep doing this. And I’ll give you some advice. And then maybe if things get sticky, call me again. Then the ones where oh my god, I did all this and now everyone’s pissed off. And my daughter in law isn’t letting grandma see the grandkids because I did something and now what do I do? So I mean, it’s never too early and it’s never too late. But there are times where it makes more sense. I think when when your offspring are, you know, college age, I think that some discussions ideally should have at least started a little bit around the family wealth. So that they’re not that you’re not trying to keep them in the dark. That doesn’t mean you need to hire someone to start running family meetings for you. Maybe by the time they’re all out of college and maybe by the time you’re within five to 10 years of your planned exit. I would think that some of the discussions should be started. Often it’s it’s, you know, somebody’s getting married. So we’re bringing in some inlaws into the family. And we haven’t really had these discussions that we probably should have had before and maybe we need a prenup and we don’t even know how to deal with this to just to start to have the intra family discussion around wealth. Whenever if you feel that it might be time it probably already was time A while ago I had this one interview I did with a family where where the wife said, I’ve been thinking about this for 10 years and I’ve been talking to my husband around about it for five and now finally, we’re doing so so often. It’s the family CEO chief emotional officer whose name is often mom, who is the one who is driving this kind of thing. And and I typically when when the when the mothers, the matriarchs talk to me that and I tell them some of the stuff their heads are usually nodding up and down real fast, like Yeah, I want to do that. Because they’ve often they’re usually in better touch with the sibling relationships and they’re more sensitive to what things might be going on. Typically, it’s dad who was building the business and been kind of blind to all this kind of stuff. So I don’t know that I answered your question at all. I certainly talked a lot about what you said. No, I

think you did. And when you when you engage with a family, what are the hardest topics hardest questions that you typically see that occur around the kitchen table? First meeting,

getting people started is the hardest part because they everything feels like it’s taboo. And so the secret to that is I don’t do a lot in a first group meeting. I typically will meet with the group to introduce myself and say hi, and then it’s off to one on one meetings. And I might do two or three rounds of one on ones to try and establish the relationship, my understanding and the trust with each family member. Because once I have everyone feeling that I’m there for them, and everyone else but for them that I not, Oh, Dad hired this guy to talk to us because we don’t listen to that. So he’s gonna pay this guy to tell us what he wants. I’m not that guy. And believe me, there are people who are looking for guys like that because they want to hire exactly that. And if I sense that that’s what it is. Like, okay, if not find somebody else. Now, I work for families where I am there to help the whole family do better. And I can only do that when they all trust me. If there’s six people in the family, mom, dad and four kids and one of them says I don’t trust this guy than my it does. It’s not going to work. So I have to be able to get everyone to believe in me and trust me, and how do I do that I listened to I listened to them and ask them questions that I’m curious about them. And I try to understand what makes them tick. And once I have that individual picture of each person, now I have in my head a picture of where this can go where it should go. And then we start to have discussions on easier topics at the beginning so we can gain some momentum and have some small wins to get people buying in and get them engaged. Get them aligned, and then slowly but surely work. Towards the questions that people have been avoiding. But once we started to peel back the onion a little bit, some of those things become a little clearer already. And so then the questions are more informed. The discussions are a little more open, and then people start to understand, okay, what we’re doing here is we’re trying to take this monolith that had one decision maker and we’re trying to figure out how to get other people on board so they understand it and can make decisions together. And that’s a very it’s a slow process. But the good news is you can typically start to see progress early on. And then it gets faster because once they start to trust each other because they’re all I’m learning, they’re learning to trust me and I’m trusting them. And then as I begin to share in the group meetings, what I’m sensing from everyone else, we start to feel like all the the lowest common denominator starts to rise. And we start to get to where we’re all understanding things a bit better. And then there’s confidence that hey, you know, we really can do some of this stuff and some of those questions. They’re starting to get answered. And the and the harder parts. Maybe we’re not ready for those answers yet. But let’s just keep talking and maybe those will clarify too. And that’s where I’ve seen wonderful results to where I’ve started to have family council meetings that are led by the rising generation and the parents to show up and the kids were in the meetings. And they’re like, Wow, this is this is what we wanted. We didn’t necessarily know what we want it but now we’re here and we’re doing it and the sibling group has learned to work together and learn to make decisions together and trust each other. And as they work together, the parents see that so they are willing to you know, loosen their grip on that baton we were talking about and so it’s an iterative, long term process, but it’s all about the family talking together and the family will generally not be able to do that alone. So if they need someone from the outside to coach them, to facilitate it to mediate it’s times when it starts to get a little bit, you know, crunchy or scratchy to get them over some a little humps. But families can make progress. If they take on the challenges and too many families think oh, I’m afraid of the conflict. So I’m not going to have the conversation and they sweep it under the rug or they kick the can down the road and things just get worse. If it’s starting to get a little bit antagonistic. It’s probably a time to bring someone in before it before the fire burns out of control and try and you know, nip it in the bud and start to deal with it and then turn that energy into productive energy and get the family moving together. towards some engagement and alignment.

I love that approach of doing a you know an initial team family meeting but then going one on one household household couple by couple, because that’s that’s what family therapists do. Right? But I’ve been through therapy and that is the professional way to go about doing this because you do need to be able to keep all those lines of communication open individually and also just as a group.

Yeah, it’s the trick. And there’s no recipe for it because it really it takes place in my head but with with the right attitude and some curiosity and knowing what I’m trying to do, and an ability to look at the whole system and get to understand each of the components of the system and then try to figure out how this system progresses together by sharing judiciously, what I’m learning from one person with another person so that they can, you know, empathize with their sibling or their parent and sort of clarify everything and clear up some of the junk that’s in the way that doesn’t allow them to see eye to eye. I can get that information and understand why these two people are not able to communicate together. And they both telling me that they can’t but then as I hear it from each of them, I can slowly start to get them closer together to where they thought they were a mile apart. And really they’re only a quarter of a mile apart. And that one mile was too big of a gap to try to bridge but the quarter of a mile well baby if they eat just move a few 100 yards there all of a sudden within striking distance. So but it takes time. It takes patience and it takes intention. A lot of these things. What’s missing is people are too scared to try and I understand that on your own to try to, you know, bridge a gap with a sibling or another family member can can be daunting. I think that with the right outside third party who understands a little bit about how families work, can can work that I won’t say miracles but Marvels to get family members to understand each other better so that they can start to accept each other better, and start to work together for the common good. Of the whole family.

Well, Steve, I think that’s a good note to finish up on tremendous stuff and just a wealth of knowledge. And again, like I said, you put out some excellent content, you’ve got podcasts and a weekly blog. You’ve written some great books. So if people are interested in learning more about your firm and services, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?

Yeah, I’m blessed with an easy name to spell but that is that is not common. So Steve Legler le je l er I’ve only got one vowel in my name. It’s an E and it shows up twice in my first name and twice and my last name is Steve And if you go to Steve, or if you just Google Steve Legler if you go to LinkedIn and put in Steve Legler if you put anything by family business or family wealth, I will show up everything on my website is free except the book so you’ll go to Amazon and have to order them. There’s a lot of videos and a lot of podcasts. I’ve been blogging once a week I think I’m over 400 Something blogs. I love to do it because it helps me think so when I write about a topic, I actually have to think about it in ways where I can write it in sentences and explain things and then later everything I write serves me at some point later when I’m talking about it because I’ve taken the time to write it to to share with others. Like we said this is an emerging industry that people are starting to, you know, get religion on some of this stuff. I like to think I’m a part of creating the right content for that and I will continue to do that. And I thank you for the opportunity to share with your listeners as well.

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve enjoyed reading your content I think it’s terrific. So thank you for coming on the show and we’ll have to do we’ll do another kind of have a Tom Canadian focus. Show down the road here maybe to kick off hockey season but thank you so much for joining us, Steve. Really appreciate it.

All right. Thanks, Brian. Take care.


This transcript was generated by