Let’s Talk Family Enterprise explores global ideas,concepts and models that help family enterprise advisors better serve their family clients brought to you by family enterprise Canada. All views Information and opinions expressed during this podcast are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of family enterprise Canada.
Hello and welcome to another episode of The let’s talk family enterprise podcast. My name is Steve Legler. And it’s great being your host once again. Today we’re going to be talking about the Next Generation members of enterprising families and why it’s so important to understand where they’re coming from, as families plan their upcoming transitions. Our guest is Peter Jaskiewicz who is professor of family enterprise at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. If you attended our symposium in Vancouver earlier this year, you’ll already be familiar with his work as he led a great panel discussion there with some rising generation family members. Peter has been involved with the family business space, his whole life coming from a business family and then dedicating his career to the field. He is the co author of a recent book called enabling next generation legacies which I love and which will be the focus of this episode. We’ve got lots of ground cover. So let’s say hi to our guests and kick things off Peter Jaskiewicz, thanks for joining us today. Welcome to the let’s talk family enterprise podcast.
Thank you Steve, it’s my pleasure to be here.
So I said, you know your name is on a book, but it’s not really that you wrote a book so you didn’t do a traditional I’m going to sit down and write a book. In fact, there’s another name on the book Sabine Rau who was a colleague of yours, and the subtitle of the book is kind of long but it says a lot 35 questions that next generation members in enterprising families ask. So you didn’t really write the book but you organize the book and then you crowdsource the questions Is that am I getting that right?
You used some interesting words. So first of all, Sabine Rau is my long term collaborator. She also comes from a business family and her peers from Germany, and we’ve been collaborating for almost 30 years. And concerning the subtitle of the book The 35 questions. The reality is we worked with over 100 Business families around the globe, asking them for their needs about what’s pressing, and realized that the next generation is asking sometimes the same but sometimes very different questions and their parents want to talk about the next generation. That’s roughly people between the ages of 18 and 45. And we collected these questions that they had and then share them with another group of 70 I think Next Generation members around the globe. And these are the 35 questions that were the most pressing and most prominent and our goal was always from the beginning, not to write any book and talk that it’s relevant and has maybe impact or not, but to work with the community of enterprising families, especially with the Next Generation members and for them, so we not only got input from them on what to do, we also asked them how to do it. And that was what how they wanted it to be delivered. They said we want to short concise answers from the leading academics around the globe. We want enterprising families to be involved and provide also answers. And so I think we had 88 contributors worldwide from from essentially everywhere, who are leading in the space on the academic practitioner side if you want but also from enterprising families, I think enterprise and families in the book 35 or 35 of them. They together employ above a million people and over 1000 billion in sales. per year. So I just mean also an amazing group who all share the same desire to give back and to neighbor the next generation.
So there’s a lot in this like you, you you sourced the questions you and then you found the answers from different places. So let’s let’s just spend a little bit of time going through. So you you cast a wide net for for the questions, and then narrowed down to 35 questions in four categories, correct?
Absolutely. So you’re absolutely right. When we got the question though, that’s a long list and we discussed that with the next generation if you aren’t community, and we realized that they roughly fall into four areas. And that was super exciting for us because it might not be surprising for questions regarding the family. And there were questions regarding ownership. And there were questions regarding business but we also saw there were a lot of questions are of interest concerning wealth. You know, how to give it purpose, what to do with it. And you know how to feel about it when you maybe inherit considerable amounts of it. And so we realize that you know, what started a long time ago as a 230 model evolved into the three circle model that is so widely used, you know, maybe it’s time to move on to a fourth or because what we also realized is that many Next Generation members ask really good questions about how to make sense of all the things happen in parallel things happening in the business and ownership in the family and concerning wealth. And help ensure that they can navigate the different challenges in concerning these different topics.
So you essentially added the wealth circle to the three circle model that we all learn about in the family enterprise advisor program, we learned the three circle model and I know that when I talk to people who work with wealthy families that maybe they don’t have their business anymore, but they certainly have issues and questions and it brings up subjects for which they are looking for help and resources. So I like the way that the wealth is added. On after the business because often the wealthy families that we work with, there was a business that was at the source of the wealth in many of those cases as well.
Well, Steve, I believe it is so important that we don’t talk about family business but family enterprise and I also believe that you know, people like to speak about wealth, but the reality is when you go into these family offices, or what you see what these families do, maybe parallel to running or needing or wanting another business or after maybe exiting. In most cases, they’re starting new businesses. They’re in Portfolio businesses. I talked recently to a family office where family members exit the business and have now invested in 20 startups and you’ve moved the first one to an IPO and it started as nothing and they’ve been involved in mentoring and in supporting and obviously also, co financing. We see like, for example, in France with an example where you have a very large family business and the Malik group, right that has over time, essentially started hundreds of new businesses. They use a core business to enable the next generation to start their own business. And so we see actually a lot of entrepreneurial spirit there. And that’s what families do, right. They are the backbone for society, but they’re also you know, if you want the roots that have a community, and just because one business was being exited, doesn’t know that they don’t see entrepreneurial or make a considerable contribution, very often they are invested in growing and supporting multitude of businesses.
Interesting and the way you then took the 35 questions and you went to 35. Academics to get answers. And so each section or each question starts with a few pages from an academic point of view. And then you have a real life person who’s not an academic but someone from a business family or a practitioner, then commenting on that. How did that play out in terms of did you expect that the commentaries would all agree with the academics or that you expected? Some give and take between them? Or how did you organize that aspect of having two different answers to each question?
Well, having worked in the field now for almost pretty exactly 20 years, but the reality is that you know, we’re the movers and shakers around the world, and when you speak about academics, many of them were powerhouses with being involved working with families, researching families offering sexual education with families. That is not so not a surprise that many of them come from the top institutes from around the globe and when you then look at commentaries their families and in many cases, they very much agree with what the academics if you are an academic nutritionist, as I call them, say, and they complimented or they speak about a particular case what worked for them and didn’t work for them. I would also like to say that in each case, we work both with the family members who have commentary and academic practitioners who wrote the main piece and we had to clear limit because the next generations have to don’t want to anything long. They want it to be roughly around 1000 words and they also made very clear points that it can you know, it can read like a New York Times article wasn’t your last day but not like an academic article. They want additional follow up questions so they can discuss it around the table, kitchen table, maybe at the college, or maybe at a major conference was friends, colleagues, family members, and they also wanted obviously to access space to hear from an actual family that maybe has seen such a challenge or has found a way to answer it. And I think we’re very grateful to the global community that they came together and during the main four associations that kind of endorsed and supported the sport which has been a lovely from family enterprise Canada. Yeah, and the family business network, but also FFI family from Institute and family enterprise foundation.
Excellent. So now, you’re talking about people who read the book and actually use the book like to as a conversation starter at the cottage or, and so my question because this podcast is directed essentially our main audience is all the hundreds of people who have taken the family enterprise advisor program, and so we’re all people who work with families. How can we use this book? And besides just giving a copy to our clients, or our How do you see people using this book to pick a chapter every family meeting and talk about one of them or how can we help our families to make use of the book
so it’s very interesting. I’ve been also involved in running workshops for family, enterprise advisors and other community like the community and I’ve also seen all the reactions of the family business community, the family business networks Global Summit for Next Generation members in spring and now the global summit that was just added in Budapest, every attendee received a book. And we could see right away the interactions interesting left, quite a few members already said they already had a copy beforehand, which was obviously Nice. So we engage in discussions and I think two things happen. The parents actually get the book because they realize that they know they believe they know what their children think about in many cases, they’re like, Wow, these questions make a lot of sense. But I didn’t think the next generation is asking them and it helped us to kind of better bonds across generations. And the second thing that happens I think this is tremendously valuable. For advisors said many next trends of the reading if you want an appetizer for our use, good as you might say, and start asking the right questions because it wants it doesn’t seem like something that’s so far away that that it’s very vague, but they kind of see the first steps ahead and then they wonder who could help us with that, right. How can we get get ahead? Because reading two or three pages on a topic is an appetizer. It’s not the main dish, and I’ve seen people asking questions without looking for support. And I think that’s what I’ve always said there has to be a strong ecosystem for enterprising families in Canada and beyond. And there’s no doubt that family enterprise, advising community base an important role in that and I think the book very often kicks us these discussions on what could be done and how and why and also provides examples of what other families did. Finally, and final point that I found interesting. I’ve met a lot of advisors who are champions on particular topics and areas, but who sometimes realize the clients ask them to go into an area where they might not be experts in and I believe that both he also provides a few hands on Introduction to topics and additional materials that they can follow up because every chapter has follow up resources. People want to know more about it. To kind of get deeper into something entities have a basic overview or an introduction, so it might also be for advisors interested in new topics or topics that come up maybe with slides to basically dive into something new or learn a bit about something they haven’t been familiar with yet.
Actually, I asked the question about how to people use the book, but it lends itself to be used more than something to sit down and read cover to cover. It really is something that I could see myself, you know, pulling off the shelf every once in a while to look at a new way to address something but it also I guess, you were hinting at the fact that somehow it made me normalizes some of these questions. So some rising generation people are thinking of certain things, but they don’t know how to ask and they don’t know if they should ask. But seeing similar questions in a book with a little appetizer of an answer should be useful for them to feel comfortable asking the questions of their parents.
I believe so. But it also if you want, normalizes it in another way to maybe show what might be some best practices on how to answer it because many questions that are more difficult than ever asked because you’re afraid of the reaction that might come. I mean, it’s one of the most prominent questions of the next generation was how can we start the discussion about succession? The parents are in the 70s. Right and I’ve never raised another question was, you know, we are we are very wealthy. Do I deserve that wealth? Right, and how do I cope with that? So they’re also questions about purpose and legacy? And other other questions. Also, maybe more enticing for the next generation ask? Yeah, we’ve always done a lot of things, but we have wealth. We’re looking for purpose. We want to engage in impact investing how we can start from stuff like that. Yeah. So there’s a variety of questions. Maybe I thought of more traditional topics like what could be processes to hire family members in the business to be you know, fair and so focused on on merit, but also how you know, can you graciously exit the family business right without causing trouble around the things Thanksgiving dinner table or the Christmas table or something? Yeah. So I’m not there’s many, many tough questions. And the reality is, you don’t have experience in asking any of these questions. So this is a way to also bring in the community on how some others and already
in fact, yes, there there are some uncomfortable questions in there that that should be asked but don’t get asked because they are uncomfortable. And so the normalizing of some of those questions like the like the one you just talked about, about exiting, and how can one exit and I know lots of people who work in family businesses that, you know, if they really thought they had a choice, they would not be working there, but they feel like they don’t have a choice. So in order to, you know, put some language around it, and create opportunities for families to have the discussions and I think as advisors, that’s kind of one of the things that we’re expected to do. Right. We work with a family and we come in there and we see some things that we can tell aren’t exactly great for everyone. And we can suspect that some of the family members are not comfortable mentioning certain things, and maybe that’s our role that we can put subjects on the table as an independent third party.
I couldn’t agree more you are spot on. I give an example without providing details as I talked to a patriarch of a very prominent Canadian family business. And that person who talked about the children that being involved in the business, and asteria Yeah, it was definitely saddened by the fact that let’s say that one child is doing this in Florida and other tribes in California, the third one in Paris, and described it and mentioned how important it is in order to get support. We get them back. We got them involved, right. And as you described it and mentioned at the end of the end of our lunch that, you know, in a way it’s a failure for the family business, right and a failure for the family that they’re not back or at least not some of them back and I said look, I see it very differently now that I listened to you. All your kids have gotten amazing education, have awesome jobs on great partners. You have a lot of grandkids everyone is happy. Nobody ever asked you for money. They’ve done tremendously well. And they all get along very well with you and amongst each other and the wider family. This is a tremendous success. I see that very rarely. You should be entirely proud of what you have achieved. And just because they don’t want to come back and run this business doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be responsible owners or sit on the board one day and so on. And you know, I think they made the choices 30 years ago when they left fried rice, maybe you should get over it. They won’t come back. That ship has sailed and dispersion in the sentence that you don’t want to make a point I look at it maybe a bit differently now have this discussion. I mean, I just summarized that it was a longer discussion, but the truth is, you know that very often it’s difficult to have that conversation and that conversation that family didn’t happen for probably 30 years never happened. But after lunch with that person, essentially addressing this, he realized that you know what, it has been a tremendous success and just because they never talked about it doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be a possibility for them to be involved. But maybe you should give up the idea that one of his kids would become the CEO of back to where they are located.
Right. So you reframed it for this person and he appreciated that and I think that’s something that we as advisors can do and do actually do probably quite often for the benefit of our people who are you know, they’re part of the system so they don’t see it as independently and as with the same perspective that we can give them.
I fully agree and I think that a somebody whether it’s an advisor or mentor, some case also a coach. It is definitely also true that you’re able to keep the emotions out of such a discussion. It might be very different. If that patriarch would have talked to one of his sons or daughters directly about it, they might be following motions. In it and dynamics evolve. But as somebody who’s outside of the system, you can be very useful and also provide examples of other families or other places, show them where the journey might be going or the options they have. And family member members very often don’t have that knowledge. So that’s definitely a place where the pilot community can make a tremendous contribution.
The last word in your book title is legacies and I saw on your LinkedIn that you’re also have something called family, the family enterprise legacy Institute. Can you share a little bit about where legacy and how you see the word legacy and how this all fits in with the book and with the other work that you’re doing? Well,
yes, I know that the CAFA cannot probably talk for much longer than he would like me to talk but let’s put it that way. We started following 21 Actually German Long live family businesses that were on average in 11th generation for 10 years to accompany them through succession processes, and it was a research project. And that’s where I realized that many of them have what we call an entrepreneurial legacy that they are not only transitioning to the next generation, but they actually rejuvenating it and growing it and sometimes also investing in other businesses. And it was amazing to watch and we realized in many discussions that the senior generation is afraid the legacy won’t be maintained or won’t be threatened. But we see the next generation a lot of desire to make a dent in the universe and to innovate and to rejuvenate. And very often there is maybe they’re just not speaking eye to eye. So we see there, sometimes a conflict between the idea of tradition and innovation, but very often also that you know that many of these families have actually a tradition of innovation and change and find ways to rejuvenate to each other. And the topic of legacy came up so often also talking to the next generation, which was for us actually, surprising at first because you didn’t expect it but it is definitely there and we realize that very often we focus on the senior generation in it and charge they have very ownership in leading positions on boards or in the company’s leadership, they pay the bills, but the reality is you need two to tango and the next generation has been neglected for too long. So need to be properly prepared the need to be supported how to behave and the different roles they’ll be assuming. And in many cases, they will be the key for the previous generations legacy to be adapted to what is happening in our world right now. And then the next 1020 30 years and so that’s why the focus is on on legacies because it is bigger than the individual. And it’s bigger than a particular group of owners. And we definitely saw the commitment motivation of many next generation groups to continue to build upon the legacies of the ancestors flat leaf or left for them.
So it’s a huge word though legacy and I liked the way you said that. You were a little bit surprised to how much the younger rising Gen. Were interested in the legacy and I agree with you that that they are have been neglected for too long and it’s and it’s nice to see more attempts to bring in the rising generation, because they do actually hold the key to the legacy right. So we think that the older generation are always thinking about the legacy because they’re closer to the exit but really, unless they have someone to turn around and pass that baton down to then their legacy might actually be more parallel. So if they could start to bring in the people behind them, and we can help them with that then I think it’s the legacy has a much better chance of being successful.
And here comes fell into place and you’ve mentioned before, because at the end of the day working at the University working with and for the family enterprise community, it is in our DNA to enable next generation legacies it’s in our DNA to if you want support, mentor, coach and educate the next generation of leaders at their respective family members, students of wells, responsible owners and societal leaders want to make a difference and beyond their communities. And the idea of Institute is actually to focus entirely on the next generation, whereas many many other Institute’s also have tremendous drops or focus very often on the senior generation. And the three core pillars of what we’re doing is obviously research that focuses on thought leadership, but also disseminating these best practices that come out so families know about them to be a training ground for the next generation and to offer a safe space in order so we are not selling anything. We are here to focus on individuals, families and enterprises behind them and help them find a path to have to learn to make better decisions and also live more fulfilling lives. And yes, we develop one of the global leading institutes that we have made some important steps forward. And yeah, thanks for mentioning.
I think it’s an idea whose time has come. And I’m glad that somebody here in Canada is championing this and taking a leadership role in it. And I think that only good things will will come from it.
Well Steve I need to stop you for a second because it’s not one person on leadership there. We actually a pretty substantial group. We actually a number of faculty members we have burials of students for we have various PhD students and other students we have roughly 25 partnerships globally. We have partnerships with various associations including family enterprise, Canada. We also have now a new executive in residence who is joining our team will be very familiar with us, Susan St. Amand and also happens to be chairwoman of Family Enterprise Canada
awesome. So this institute has partnerships and when you said 25 different
we are collaborating roughly with other academics, academic practitioners and 25 institutions around the globe that is constantly changing as one project ends and you want starts we are collaborating and Stanley and request Canada and the family business network and if you want to find out more about our partners what we’re doing, I just invite you to go to to our webpage.
Okay, well, we will put a link to that in the show notes with the with the podcast so that people could find that easily, as well as a link to the Amazon page to buy the book. Question about the feedback you’ve been getting since the book the book came out earlier this year was or was it last year?
So that’s a good point. It was roughly around a new year or end of last year we already started to get in trouble because of supply chain issues. I have a question and the prices were starting to increase dramatically. So yes, I think officially it was printed just before New Year’s Eve, but it came out in late winter or early spring because it had to be distributed globally first and that was not that easy this winter.
Right? Yeah, it’s funny. The world has changed a lot in the last year or so. And mostly for the better which, which is great. So does the feedback different from different geographies or is it pretty standard?
So three things to say we first of all, actually last summer shared it with a number of leaders and family businesses, often the advising community and we reserve to receive something like 50 endorsements, which made us very happy so you’ll see some of them on and in the book from very large global family businesses, for example. But we also have a web page 35 Questions web page. And there we have, I think another 40 or 50 endorsements listed so it’ll be very positive. When you go to national pages on Amazon. You’ll see also a number of endorsements. I didn’t look at the Canadian one. But last time I looked I think they were unanimously five stars, which is nice. So we we did what the next generation asked us to do. And we are glad to hear that it has proved useful. I’m also happy to say become a best seller and corporate in the in the corporate governance category. And Amazon and Canada. I’m not following what is exactly happening everywhere else. But we’ve also shared it globally with some family business network to the chapters and and you know, the proceeds from the book other than covering the costs we will donate all proceeds to sue the emergency fund production lot of students suffer during the pandemic strikes and the hospitality industry and other drugs were eliminated. So it is also for a good cause. And you know, if we can make a small dent in the universe for next chance and the community will get it we have to do it.
moving things forward for the next gen which is great because like you said they’ve been overlooked for for far too long. Did you have the 35 questions did didn’t want her to stand out. I don’t want to ask you what your favorite question is, but did did something you know ended up bringing you more feedback or more people talking about and I’ve interacted
with several very prominent families over the last years and when I saw the oneness, the main question that came out was the one where deserves a business and a wealth I will inherit. These are discussions that that I didn’t have so much 15 or 20 years ago, but that come more frequent in the last few years. And I think that was something that that I thought also we have, you know an outstanding chapter very much appreciate the chapter that was written. And I thought it was something that I found interesting, as the times have changed tremendously and the next generation asks for the meaning and purpose and I think that’s the right thing to do. And the next step is then to figure out what role they can have to continue or maybe also changed that. That purpose. And yeah, that was that is one of the questions that stuck out for me and it’s also one of my favorite chapters.
I’m seeing that as well rising Gen members you know, people millennials and the generations that come after them, their attitude towards the world and wealth and and having an impact and having meaning is so encouraging to me. When we look at the state of our world. What us older people are leaving to them. I have a lot of hope in the future because exactly what you said these people are thinking about things much differently. And I think we need to try to support them as much as we can. A sharp
addition to that I couldn’t agree more and I believe it’s two things next generation member asking critical questions. It’s not a threat, but it’s an opportunity to learn and to find a way to move forward. And I think this is important to keep that in mind.
Peter, This has been great. Unfortunately we’re getting to the end of our time together. As usual. I’ve got a couple of final requests before we wrap up. So I need to ask you for one book recommendation besides your own, something you’ve read that you’d like others to know about. And then the last thing will be one piece of advice, which is from one experience advisor who works with families to others who also are working with families. So can we start with a book recommendation?
Well, I talked so much about this book, so I don’t want to recommend it. And probably a lot of the audience has already read it. But we’ve started a research project with one of my PhD students about the mental health of business families and in the pandemic. has become clear that the burden of a very uncertain world and having business and dealing with a family and isolation and so on, but it’s a lot of pressure on people. So mental health is a major topic and we also see it in society that we have there. Two major topics please address and I would like to recommend a book that was written by first one a lot and it’s called Hector and the search for happiness. And it’s one of my favorite books that I also give away as gifts when I meet people that just been a best seller in many countries around the world and it’s just a short book about what makes people happy and why it reads very easily. And I think it’s a book that applies to any generation, whether your next generation or senior generation. It’s just a little very nice coating of knowledge.
Thank you so much for that that is very unexpected. Usually when people recommend the book I will have been least heard of it before. This is a new one for me. And well. We’ll put a link to that that as well. So the last thing that is one piece of advice from someone who advises business families to others who also advise them. So I
would rather say I’m educating next generations and then advising them but that’s okay. But I think one thing that I see when families approached me is that they want to major changes or they want the next generation to do this or that very often what they don’t realize is that what is happening now has been kind of already set up 20 or 30 or 40 years earlier. And so I can just recommend to any family listening out there or to any advisor that whether you talk of the business or whether you take the next generation to clouds to the office to fairs maybe or to meet you know, to go and bite into dinners when you have suppliers or customers over will make a tremendous difference. 1020 30 years down the road because they will know more about the business they will identify with the products they will be passionate about. Where the family has come from and where they’re going to cut if all these ties have been cut from an early age later on. It’s very, very challenging and rare to turn around and change that commitment of the next generation to the family business.
Wonderful. And it’s time flew by quickly as it always does. Peter, thanks again for joining us, and sharing your expertise with our audience and all thanks for all the great work that you’re doing for the community.
Thank you Steve. I think you’re doing a great job with the podcast and it’s been a pleasure to be here with you.
Great listeners. If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so make sure you never miss any of these monthly episodes. Thank you again for joining us. I’m Steve Legler. Until next time
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