Crafting A Role For The Next Generation With Steve Legler

Steve was a guest of Family Business United in the UK.

Join us for a conversation with Steve Legler, a leading family business consultant with plenty of experience on all things ‘family business.’

Steve was born into a family business, and as the only son of an immigrant entrepreneur, it became clear very early on, that he was expected to follow in his Dad’s footsteps. So every summer of his teens and the first three years of his working life after university were spent learning everything he could about the business. He returned again after getting his MBA, more ready than ever for the challenges that awaited him.

But then, unexpectedly, within six months, the business was sold to a competitor, and went from 250 people to only four. And two of them went by the name Steve Legler!

Steve learned a lot about business from his Dad, furthered his formal education along the way and also married into a business family. He has seen some of the communications challenges that they have faced over the years and now realises more than ever how important good communication is for families who want their legacy to continue, as it is transferred to future generations.

There are plenty of people advising family businesses about their business issues, but the area that causes so much concern, in so many family businesses is not the business, but the family.

Steve has some very unique qualifications to help people take control of those important issues and will share some of his learnings with us as we discuss all things related to the next generation.

are expensive than the sport we have here,

but good afternoon and welcome to the next session on the family business insights webinar as part of the global family business summit. This afternoon we’re going to be talking about the role of the next generation and crafting the role of the next generation with a leading expert from Canada, Steve Legler. who I’ve known for the best part, probably seven or eight years actually met in person at one of the FFI caucuses in London. So say let’s just start by introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the start of your journey because I know you have a family business background and I know, I think that will put some context around the conversation for us all.

Yeah, I think the context is key to to a lot of things especially someone like getting to know someone like me who’s had a not exactly a linear route to where I am. And so yeah, we did meet at FFI. I think it was 2015. I was a lot newer at this because I really I had my calling to do this work in 2013. So I haven’t been out that long, but I feel like I’ve been at it forever. Because when I jumped into the deep end, I never got out and I stayed in the deep end. So let me rewind back to the mid 60s. In Montreal. My parents had arrived here as immigrants from Eastern Europe. And they met here and married and I have two older sisters. And so I was the first boy. And so my dad had started as many immigrants do. small company and it was a manufacturing company were steel fabricators. And so I was finally he had an heir to whom he could plan to leave this dirty business, because it was in the 60s and my sisters were never seen as potential people that would work in the business other than maybe, you know, in a secretarial role. And we did use the word Secretary back then too. And so I was from my earliest memory, I was designated as the person who was going to take over my dad’s business and I grew up with that. And it was kind of a path of least resistance. I sort of decided I was going to be the dutiful son that’s with a D not with a be dutiful son, and do what was expected of me. And so every summer in high school, I would go there and work there. And then I went to University of the street here at McGill. And what did I study? Well, of course, I studied business because I was told you’re taking over business so this is what you study. And then I went straight into the business, despite the fact that my dad had joined a local family business association here where he had gone to presentations where people who were experts in this field which fast forward now I am and they would tell him or they would say, you know, don’t hire your kids straight out of school, make them go and get a job somewhere else first. And I still remember my dad telling me that I guess it was probably about a year left in my bachelor’s degree. And he says, You know, I go to these meetings and they tell us you know, you shouldn’t hire your kids straight out. of school. And I remember looking up with Adam with like, hopeful eyes and like, yeah, and that he patted me on the shoulder patronizingly As he was like to do and said, but don’t worry, we’re not going to do that. And now when I look back at my life, and I think of some potential inflection points, had I, you know, had the cojones to do something different and say, Well, wait a sec, why not? I wonder how my life might have been different because I went straight in there, worked there for three years. And then it was okay. I had sort of peaked at where I was and it was time to go do my MBA. So I went about seven hours down the road to a lovely town called London, London, Ontario, which was the home of the University of Western Ontario and what is now called the ivy Business School and probably the top or one of the top three business schools in Canada. And again, there I was to learn about you know, taking over this business, we’re talking now, about a company it’s that now it’s the late 80s. The company has 250 300 employees, it’s a reasonable size business, and I’m now taking courses like industrial relations to be able to deal with the union and all this kind of stuff. And I get back in May 1991. And on my first day back in the office, I walked by my dad’s office I’m going at this point I had been hired to be

Assistant to the President. My dad had moved himself up to the chairman role and had hired someone else to be president and I was supposed to go and work for this president for a while as a grooming to eventually take over. And so I walked by my dad’s office on the first day and I waved to him, I’m going to my office and he says, Steven, come here, close it or sit out and I’m like, What the hell is this? I mean, I’ve heard this before, but I didn’t expect it like at 830 in the morning on my first day, sit down and clearly he had been waiting to share something with me and it was, you know, you’ve been gone a couple of years. All of our major markets seem to be tailing off and disappearing. And it doesn’t look good for the next few years. So we have to make some decisions. We might have to merge or close or sell or something. And I was like, Oh, okay. And he didn’t really ask me what should I do? He was just telling me this is what I’m dealing with now and it put it on your radar. And get used to it. And long story short, within six months, we had gone from the 250 employees to four and two of us were named Steve Legler. I had the junior after my name. And he was Steve Legler senior although never called him senior because he didn’t like that. Because it made him feel old. He had purchased a hobby farm about an hour away and so he went off to run that and we had chapped. The real estate we had sold to our biggest competitor, which happened to be the company for for which my dad worked he he arrived in Montreal in his How old was he late teens. He was not quite 20 I think he got his first job with this company worked for them for nine years and left and started his own business. 20 years later, he goes back to them and says hey, you know our industry is kind of getting crowded here. They were three owners of the business. He was a sole owner. He said, Why don’t you guys buy me out? You’re gonna have the whole market to yourself. And so here we were now we had some real estate. We had some money from the sale of the operations. We had some patented products. My dad was off running his farm and what was I doing? I was running a small family office. Now it was 1991. I didn’t know what a family office was. 30 years later, most people still don’t know what a family office was. But basically I was managing the assets owned by the family. And now it was well now what this isn’t what I signed on for but on the other hand, it wasn’t as if my dream job had just been taken away. In fact, that was a bit of a relief because while I truly believed I could have taken over that company and done a decent job. I really had no desire or passion for it. So what happened then is I ended up I hate to admit it now but almost two decades of trying a little bit of this and trying a little bit of that and I have a bunch of diplomas on my wall as I tried to figure out what was next for me. That’s where the idea of had I after getting my undergrad, gone to work somewhere else and had a resume with a different company for a few years and had in my head that I can be an employee for another company where the boss who signs the checks does not have the same last name as that was never like there was so so I ended up in a situation where there was too much to walk away from the stuff needed to be managed. But not enough to get really excited about it. So I actually wallowed for a long time. It was interesting because it coincided with you know, raising a family and having time to be there for my kids soccer games and hockey games. This is Canada so there were more hockey games and soccer games, but all kinds of things. I was able to be there for my kids. Whereas when my dad was building his business, you know he’d get tickets to the local hockey game and give them to his dad, my father, my grandfather, I went to a lot of games with my grandfather. My dad was too busy working right so my kids got to benefit from having me around and coaching their teams and doing all that because their grandfather and their other grandfather because I married really well. I also married someone from a business family. And I’ve got to see how they handle that they had a liquidity event about 10 years after we had our liquidity event. And I’ve watched how my wife and her siblings and their family have dealt with the planning or lack thereof, that they continue to be subjected to. And now my father in law is 91 and

doesn’t know where his grandchildren are going to school. He’ll come and say to my son, so where are you going to school? I’m going to school in Chicago, and then five minutes later he’d say so where are you going to school? So he’s got Alzheimer’s that doesn’t know but but without him, there’s no way my kids would have been able to go to school in Chicago and Philadelphia because those US schools are a lot more expensive than the schools we have here. But I married well and ended up in a situation and now based on the benefits of having lived that both in my family and in my wife’s family. I stumbled into this world of advising family. So I’ll I’ll pause and take a sip and allow you to sort of redirect this for the next phase but I do have to get to the calling part.

That’s really funny. So I was sitting I think if you were on stage now you’d have interrupted three or four times it’s really hard to interrupt on Zoom and if I’m being really honest, I thought you were going to fill a full hour before me asking another question but but there is so much in what you’ve just said. So I want to take you back to the site. It’s incredible that you look at the world of family business now. And family businesses kind of it’s an accounting firms and law firms have teams everything else, but you talked about an association back in the 60s and 70s, which was way before that came across the Atlantic in terms of of where you’re at

the early 80s It was it was the early 80s It was a Canadian Association of family enterprise IT was called Cafe. It is now part of family enterprise Canada with mergers with the business families foundation and a whole bunch of other things. And the Institute for Family enterprise advisors all merged into a much stronger organization. But back then there was something

Yeah, so for me it’s really interesting that the UK and possibly your group, which is why there’s so much research out there from the American and Canadian bodies because they’ve been around for longer. I think it’s also really interesting listening to you talk about your relation with your father and how there was little communication and little conversation you so you said you were told, and you were called in and told him but I guess there’s a next generation that’s quite hard to handle and know how to handle because you’re, you’re doing what you’re told you’re not necessarily following your own purpose and passionate and doing what you want to do.

I don’t recall ever having been asked. It was always this is what you are going to do. And I am your father and you are my son, and I have this great opportunity for you. And you’re coming.

Was there any any any head with your statement? Not following that that but

no, it never. It never crossed my mind as an option. Okay. And I know that that I think today’s young people probably would be less compliant than I was. I don’t know I you know, my dad’s

that times have definitely changed and moved on m&a, and there’s more information around and there’s more opportunity for the next generation I guess. So yes.

And you know, my dad died in oh eight. And so I’ve actually spent my mother’s been in the hospital for the last little less. I’ve been spending more time with her. And I’m starting to realize that for a lot of my adult life. I saw myself as my father’s son, who happened to have this mother. And now the more I spend time with my mother, the more I realize a lot of my qualities come from her and she is very docile and compliant and economists and just goes along with things and so I think I’m starting to realize that a lot of what I got that I’m using now in my role advising families I actually got from her that I that I never really acknowledged before.

And that’s against him. We’ll come back to that Steve and I will come back on stomach later on. How did you then make that jump for that leap of faith from being I guess, uncertain in terms of running a family office and uncertain about the future held to becoming a family business consultant? How did you make the journey?

So here I was, it was December 2012. I was on LinkedIn. And I saw an ad and it said become a family enterprise advisor. Can you see that logo on my banner right over here? FDA? It had just started the family enterprise advisor program. It started probably a couple of years before that with a few cohorts out in Vancouver and British Columbia, which is the far end of the other end. of the country. And a couple of years after it was started. They offered it in Toronto as well, which is a five hour drive down the road or a one hour flight. So I said you know what I this sounds interesting. I didn’t know what it was. And I signed up and there I was in this room in Toronto in January 2013. And I came to realize after the first module, I had very little in common with these, most of the people in the room. So this was a program that was designed for professionals who advise a lot of business families. And so there were people working for banks. There were people who sold life insurance. There were asset managers, there were accountants, and these people were all professionals and experts who dealt with a lot of family business clients. They were there to learn what makes family businesses tick. What what do I need to know to serve this type of clientele? I was this guy who came from a family business and and as as the people at the front of the room were explaining different things that they do. I was the guy with his hand up all the time and say Yeah, what about this and what about that and and I realized after a while, although I have nothing in common with the people in the sitting in the seats, the people at the front of the room who were teaching the course. I was like, wow, these people are doing some really cool stuff with families like they’re, they’re working on their vision and their values and their goals. And they’re having family retreats and they’re preparing the rising generation. And they’re preparing education programs for and they’re running their family meetings. And I was like, Is that a thing? I didn’t know that that was a thing. And that’s what I was like, I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I was about to turn 48 But better late than never. So

you find six. So you became a family business consultant. I know you were very good family business consultants. So you’ve carved a career and you’ve got a great network and a community of people that respect the work you do. So let’s drill down into some of the learnings from your journey and how you then engage with the next generation of some of your family business clients. What what is your advice to next gen. I’m going to say considering entry into a family business assuming they haven’t been told that’s their route and they’re going to have to do it but if they’re considering the options, early age, how young Do you think they need to start preparing and educating themselves about the family business and the reasons and the purpose of that business and what it might mean to them going forward?

I like the way you phrase this because I want to make an important distinction. And I remember writing a blog about this a few years ago and it was called something about being forced into the family business. And I think it’s great to force kids in as teenagers to come and work part time or work in the summer or come in work on the weekend and develop the work ethic that stops at the age where now your schooling is finished and now you are going and getting your first full time job. And so that’s a that is a line in the sand for me that you know you’re going to live in my house and I’m going to pay for your schooling. Well I want you to come to work and you may as well come as long as I have a job for you come and work for me and it’s a win. But now to say okay, now you it’s time to start your full time career whether it’s after high school or trade school or undergrad or a master whenever whenever that is and it’s different for different people. Well, at that point. I would seriously advise please consider going and getting a job somewhere else where the person who signs your paycheck has a different last name for at least a couple of years. Because because you don’t want to end up where I was feeling. Oh, I’m stuck here. And I’m 27 years old and yes, I have an MBA, but you know my work experience shows that the only guy who ever sign my paycheck was also the guy called Daddy. Which which isn’t exactly doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Now I’m sure that I could have found a job. I knew that my dad didn’t want me to and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. And so I kind of stayed there and then I became the frog in the boiling water. Right if you were thrown me in, had I worked somewhere else and now I come to work for that and now we sell the business. Well that water is boiling. I’m jumping out but I got cooked in that water and now I was stuck there and the longer you stay there the harder it is to get out.

So in terms of working elsewhere, is that just to gain more skills experience and then would you then come back but we

also know that credibility personal confidence is the biggest one. That and and it’s and then it shows when you walk in. So if you go and instead of working for if you’re Steve Jones and you’re gonna go work for Jones Co but you work first for ABC Corp. And you work there and now you come in you are not seen by all the other employees as okay here comes the kid because he’s got nowhere else to go. It’s Oh hey, we finally got to bring this piece of human capital in to help us. I participated last summer in a in a in a zoom conference with someone from a family business out in British Columbia. And they had gone through a few generations so they had this rule that you needed to work 10 years outside the business before you could come in. Then the pandemic hit. And this this mother who was running the business she was a G three I think and her G force son needed a job and she was like what do I do? I’m not supposed to hire him for an hour. So they brought him in on a temporary basis. It turned out that every department in the company wanted this guy because he was really good. And so they made the exception to that rule. So it’s okay to have exceptions to rules. But But these rules make a lot of sense. Let me let me share another story because it’s so pertinent. I was on another call with a group of people. And the man was telling the story about how he went and he worked outside the business for three years. And then he came in. And then when I asked the question about the rule, and he said, How long had that rule been in place? And he said, Well, actually, my dad went straight into the business and he’s the one who made the rule. And now the guy said I was the first beneficiary of that rule. And I thought, isn’t that interesting that the first guy in the chain from G one to GC, who actually had this rule forced upon him referred to himself as being a beneficiary of the rule. So he knew exactly what I’m talking about. And I know you get it too. And I have a feeling a lot of the people watching, actually get it but then to be able to then say, I’m gonna put my foot down and say, Hey, I think it makes sense for all of us. It’s a win, win win. And if this family business really needs me, now, they’ll they’ll be able to benefit from me much more later on when I come back in three years, and have proved to myself what I can do and have learned from other places which then I will bring back

sentences shame and some of the sounds that someone’s been outside got some experience that’s coming, there’s a role for them. So they’re not just coming back to work. They’re coming back to a role that’s been made available, the best person for that role. How do you talk your plans about inducting someone so they can join the business because they are joining an organization that already exists? So the whole induction process, I think is often not misrepresented but just forgotten about the guy comes in before the girl comes in the front door. inducting into the family business, a family member has to be a special process.

Yeah, there’s so I would you call it in ducting, I would call it more onboarding. But but some thought and some intention needs to go into that. I I worked with a family that had three of the offspring working in the business. And let me pause here and explain why I use the word offspring because children is is a good label for them when they’re still in diapers and they’re still living in your house and and people use the word children wait too long well past its expiry date. So I’ve gotten in the habit of calling them offspring because otherwise you end up with the 90 year olds talking about the kids who are in their 60s and 70s, which is, which is somebody pointed out it’s adult children is an oxymoron. They’re either adults or their children so so they have three offspring working for the business and I started working with them. And I started having one on one calls with these three young people in their late 20s and early 30s. Two of them would book The calls during the day, and one of them book the calls and evening and after a while I said Alex, how come your sister and your brother have these calls with me during the day? And you’re like and he’s like, Well, I didn’t realize I was allowed. Like so he considered working with me wasn’t part of his job because I was working more with the family than with the business. So it’s just a tiny thing about Yes, as you hire family members in the business, they need to be treated just like all the other employees. Except once again, there needs to be some exceptions but nobody ever had this conversation with him to say, Okay, you’re working here we want you to act like all their other employees and don’t try to think you get special favors to go work on personal stuff on company time. And he considered that that fell in that category. So it could have been and should have been clarified. But that’s just a small detail of you know, now it’s well the father and mother are going to some award ceremony in the in the in the town and, you know, does does Jr have to ask his boss who’s his immediate supervisor, am I allowed to go with my parents like, come on, he’s not going to say he or she is not going to say no, but just these things need to be talked about. They need to be thought out and and it’s important to have rules. And it’s important to know that there are sometimes exceptions to those rules.

Yeah, boundaries help don’t they have to find a space for everybody and people know where they stand so it stops some of those those conflict points arising

well, then we I mean, you cannot have to look the worst case is where there are no boundaries and JR walks in at 1030 in the morning and everyone else has been there since nine and leaves at three because well you know who’s going to tell me where to go and who’s going to fire me. That’s terrible. And that’s that’s toxic. And when when that happens in companies, what happens with the other employees, they see this? And then what happens? The good employees say, I don’t like where this is going and they find themselves another job because they can and allows the employer to sit there and don’t say a thing and say, well, maybe I can start to get away with some of this. And then everything just goes downhill.

And it’s incredibly destructive. Isn’t it as a false terrible we talk a lot about purpose in family business as well. And purpose is often initially driven by the first generation of the founder. It’s their vision that they set the road and everyone else follows kind of gets on board and starts to follow follow the same journey. How do the next gen How do the next imbibe or how did we purpose and culture embedded into the next generation? So it’s a really badly worded question. But but it’s really important, isn’t it that they understand what’s gone before and where it’s going and their role in that whole mix?

Yeah, it’s important that they understand where it’s been and how we got here. And then it’s very important them to have their fingerprints on where it’s going from here. Yeah. And so let me give you an example that that same family I was talking about where that one offspring was doing the calls at night. I went to the family home, and we did a values exercise. And it’s a two part values exercise. It’s the Dennis Jaffe values age or whatever it’s called. And we did the first part, which is the individual values and so it was a Sunday morning at that family house and the four offspring and they all did their values pyramid. And they were all done. And so I went I took pictures of each person’s values pyramid, and then I sat down and I said, Okay, so the second part of this exercise is the group values. And then they were like, Okay, so let’s do the group values. So I said, but we’re not going to do that. I said, I’m gonna do that at the next meeting with the four offspring. Because I don’t want them to sit here and be looking at what our mom and dad putting, and and, you know, succumbing to. Okay, well, Dad wants this. So we’ll all go with that. And I still remember this was actually the first time that I had met the patriarch, and now I’m sitting at his dining room table, and I’m telling him no, no, no, no, I don’t care what you have to say. You hired me to work with your kids. Oops, kids offspring. Well, you call them kids. And, and so I’m going to do the next part with them because what what you hired me for was to make sure that this rising generation of people could learn to work together, could learn to function together could learn to organize together, because eventually if we fast forward enough decades, they will be the ones taking care of all these family assets. And so you want to make sure they are the ones that are forming, putting their values and their purpose and their vision on this, because there’s nothing worse than Well, we’re stuck doing this because that’s what dad or mom and dad wanted and so the perfect opportunity as soon as there is an opening to do something as that rising generation group. That’s the time to say okay, now we start to sort of, we don’t necessarily have to pivot, but we start to sort of change who is creating the future? Because those people have several decades of this as their future, as opposed to the now Gen, for whom hopefully this is their last decade, or a second to last decade of this being a part of the arc of their lives. So let’s start getting those people who have the longer view of where this is going to have a more important seat at the table. I’m not saying make them CEO, but if you’re looking at long term things like vision and values and where we want to go, that’s where those people need to start to buy in and CO create what the future is going to look like. Because otherwise it’s so easy for them to disengage. So

it’s also really important is it in terms of the future longevity, they talk about long term view and here stewards for future generations. But actually, there’s often a disconnect between some of the words that come out of the older generations males work versus some of their actions in terms of what they’re trying to do for longer term. So there’s a again, it’s another conflict potential point in terms of the different generations coming together or not, or going down different roads. So I guess that leads into my next question that for you is as a next generation member and the midterm the next generation now we’re talking probably somebody in their 30s and 40s that wants to come back or late 20s, early 30s Creating legitimacy as a person coming back in as a family member. Staff have been around for many years and many family firms that have seen these kids grow up from for a little age. Become offspring as you as you would call them in Canada. What advice would you have someone that’s tried to create that legitimacy and purpose and individual kind of respect within that business?

I think it’s important. Well, I think those who have gone elsewhere and now come back already have a leg are a couple of steps ahead of anyone who has been trying to work their way up the whole time. I think it’s important to understand and respect all the people who have been there and who have more institutional knowledge about how the company has been operating, and respect them and listen to them and ask them questions. As opposed to coming in and saying, Well, I’m the boss now and I’m going to like yes. Eventually, if there are things that the people who have been there for a while, need to modify how they do them, because you have shown them that you see you have some wisdom and can redirect them. But the worst thing you can do is try to impose any of your thoughts too early, because it will turn people off. And when you turn people against you, you make your life much more difficult than it needs to be. So try to be on good terms with all people and listen and ask more than tell and if you if you walk in there and you are clear that you are there to do the best job you can and that you realize you don’t know everything and that you are asking people to help you as not to try to get you know, one up on them. That that is the worst thing you can do. And so I think people who have the more like the social skills have and the emotional intelligence to walk in there and realize i I’m here, there might be some special reasons why I’m in this position and everyone knows it. And now, I’m not going to learn that over anybody. I’m going to try and grow into this position and have everyone wish me the best. Because I want to bring them along.

Yeah. So basically, essentially what you’re saying I mean, there’s something we talked about a lot isn’t it is just because it’s a family business or you’re one of the family members, you’re the best person to do the job and you go and like walk into a job and another family or another business somewhere else and you do the best you possibly can without the strings of family which you just have to try and switch off but they’re still gonna be there.

Yes, you, you, you have to act. You have to be able to act with your family hat off or on as required and you will never lose that that necessity to be able to flip back and forth will never go away. You will always be perceived as the person who got there for special reasons, even if you are the best damn person to fill that role ever. Some people will always have that. Oh, yeah, but he or she is only there because and you have to be able to live with that. But just don’t be the one that proves everyone else right? Don’t try and be that aihole that acts like well, I am the second coming. And I’m doing this and to hell with you. I’m the boss. You have to listen to me. You will turn your people off and then good luck. Yeah.

Leaders Tomorrow’s the leaders of today and tomorrow. We’re gonna be very different from the leaders. So your role in business, still your family firm your role compared to your father’s role as a CEO or president? We’re very different. Do you think enough time is being spent at the moment with Next Generation members within the family business context to make sure that the business gets the skills they need from the future leaders?

The biggest so this this is going on and has been going on everywhere. And because of demographics, and the aging out of the baby boomers, it’s really, really got a spotlight on it. And I have a lot of confidence that the rising generation and the people in their 30s and 40s are much better equipped for what’s happening. And when I say what’s happening, I’m talking about the fact that so many family businesses are run as an autocracy with one person at the top. And when you go to a sibling group, now you need more democracy. And I think that two or three decades ago in society, we were not as well prepared for these kinds of shifts than we are today. I also think I love working with businesses that have achieved a certain size and critical mass, so that there are a number of opportunities for leadership and not just one that old Oh, well, dad’s the CEO, which one of the four kids is going to be the next CEO and thinking that that answering that question is 95% of what you have to figure out? Chuck that out the window that is gone. If you want to do that, good luck, because I talk a lot about family alignment and family engagement. And if you want to have those people feeling like they’re part of something you need to find other roles for them and many families have that if you have one corner store and that’s all you got and one person is mining to cash. Yeah, maybe you’re going from one owner to one owner and you got to trim that the the other branches of that family business tree but I see a lot of businesses that that they’re going we’d have a family enterprise of the Year Award here in the province of Quebec coming up in a couple of weeks. I was on the jury we had three finalists. One is going to G five one is going to G four one’s going to G three but all of them it’s the first time they’re going to a multiple it’s it’s always been handed down to one to one. All three of them now are in the same state where they’re this the first time where one of the one of the offspring, bought the business or got the business and the other siblings got paid off or bought out or got the life insurance or whatever. And now they are all in this state and it’s 2021 and here we are, and there’s three and they’re they’re all doing a great job and they’re all faced with the same challenge of how do we find the right and enough leadership roles for all the family members who want some kind of a leadership role. And so there’s Family Foundation, there’s family council, there’s subsidiaries, there’s startups, there’s intrapreneurship. There are all kinds of opportunities, if you know to look for them, and if you actually develop the right mindset to understand how important it is to do that.

I agree with that. And that’s something we talked about a lot. We’ve talked about other sessions during the summit this week already in terms of purpose and understanding that you are and you can be responsible shareholder without having a leadership role, or you can be a leader, but not as having a day to day. But there’s all sorts of different facets as in terms of how the next gen can get involved. To questions and if there are any questions coming into the fraud happening, put them in the chat box for me, but what do you see as the biggest sticking points for the next generation being allowed to enter and then flourish within a family because it’s one of the biggest sticking points that you say

it’s, it’s the now Gen, giving them the opportunity and and feeling like they’re hanging on to that baton and it’s stuck to their hand and they won’t get out of the way or they can’t get out of the way. The easy answer is allow the rising generation to have some opportunities to lead in small ways and to fail small and to fail quickly and to learn. That’s the easy part. To say that to then have the person who’s expected to get off that escalator as it gets to the top to not feel like they want to step backwards on it and bump into the ones who are coming behind. That’s the hard part. And that’s where coaching, Exit Planning. Finding other things that those people enjoy doing. I don’t think you can ever start that too soon. So when when the Now Jen are hitting ages that start with a six they should be encouraged strongly. encouraged to find other activities in their lives where they can feel like they are still adding values, either adding value either in coaching their offspring to assume greater roles or in the community or in politics or in civic leadership or whatever. We’re working for other places besides Oh, I’m going to retire someday and then I’m going to play golf all the time. Because that even that gets old for for most people. So to to know that they don’t want to be pushed out. So you need to help you need to convince them to find things that will pull them out rather than you pushing them out as the rising generation and that can involve the spouse and most often it when it’s done well it does involve the spouse that they say hey, we want to do these other things. So, you know, we need to create more time on our calendars which means less time running the business, which means more time for the rising generation to assume greater leadership roles. And don’t try to do it overnight. Don’t Yes, it’s important to set an exit date. Yes, it’s important to say, Dad, it’s still usually Dad, will you know I’m working here until 2025 And after that, I plan to not like it’s important to put those dates on the calendar. It’s also important not to have that working 60 hour week up until Christmas in 2024 and then say now it’s 2025 and January 2 Say oh okay, hey, I’m not going to work today. You need to phase that out.

And the phasing works we’ve seen phasing work quite well over here in terms of going for five days or four days, three days because actually it gives the next generation they have to step up but it means they can demonstrate their skills and what they can do because actually they have to and it gives the older generation chance to see them flourish in actually achieving what they are doing and be able to leave with a with a happier, happier mindset in terms of they know the leaving it in good hands, but it’s a win win, isn’t it?

Yes. And Paul, this is not rocket science. No, we didn’t just reinvent sliced bread here. This is it’s all columns. But But what often happens is nobody tells them or nobody suggests to the more or whereas the offspring in their 40s are thinking it there. They’re not bringing it up. And right so it all it comes down to the communication and all these things. We’re talking about require some conversation, some intention, some meetings, some some forum during which all these important topics we’ve been talking about for the last 43 minutes are actually there’s a place to put them on the table and talk about them. And most families left to themselves won’t likely get to all these things as early as they might want to. And that’s where yes I’m selling my own book care but hiring people who can come in and me outside the system and have someone sitting at the table as I like to say someone with a different last name sitting around the table, because even when you were a kid and somebody from outside a neighbor or the priest or whatever would come for dinner, everyone who was much better behaved sitting around that table and it’s the same thing now and I offer that to families. I have someone with my family who has a different last name who was here for all our family meetings and it makes my job a lot easier because he’s facilitating the meeting, not me. And so I practice what I preach and it’s so important. And I know people say it’s, you know, we don’t we’re not big enough. We don’t have it’s not worth it for us. We’ll just do our own. I facilitated a meeting. A couple of summers ago, there was 14 people from four branches in the room and up until then all the meetings had been co facilitated by one G four member who was a coach and who knew how to facilitate. I came in there and she had the biggest smile on her face because for once she could just actually participate in the meeting with everyone else as opposed to having to run the meeting herself because that’s that’s a really tough job to put anyone in and yeah, maybe when you get started, you do it on your own but at some point you know bring someone in there are enough people now who know this, who know how to do this who know what’s at stake. And and if you don’t have the right person after a couple of meetings and you say this isn’t this isn’t the right person, find another person but but don’t but try not to do them yourself.

And you hit the nail on the head for me that is something I talk about all the time. It’s about communication, conversation and having honest conversations. Being honest with yourself in terms of where you want to go what you want to do in terms of role and future, but also being honest with you with your next generation peer group, in terms of who’s the best suited to do different roles and having those honest conversations. That’s a win, win all all the way down the line. As always the you’ve Your journey is inspirational to be honest, it’s an inspirational journey. And it’s fantastic. We’ve come through what potentially started off as being somebody who feels a burden of responsibility to then be able to add value and give back to the community and I know you give back to the family business community pretty much every day. So all it reminds me to do today is just to say thank you for your time. I will plug your book for you on the website. So anyone that wants to see the book and can actually see the link there because because it is a good read. It’s a great read and you’ve put a lot of time effort into creating a book that can make a difference. And I’m going to leave everyone when 10s are the next generation listening to us today is just to be honest with yourself think about where it where it is that you want to go and what your skill sets are, and how best to make a difference each and every day through your ability to inspire other people that work around you. So Steve, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been a pleasure as always, and I look forward to catching up with you again

soon. This is it was a lot of fun, and I hope that people found it useful.

I’m sure they did say as always, it’s been great. Thank you very much. All right.

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