Economic Extremes

March 12, 2012Family Wealth Consulting

I love working with families to help them realize their full potential. Early in my career I worked with very poor families – many of which were homeless – at a university-based community mental health center. Currently, I work with families of ultra-high net worth in my consulting practice. Odd as it may sound, there are similarities between the two. Families from both of these groups have a similar 800-pound gorilla in their midst: economic circumstance. The state of being Read more »

One Step at a Time…

February 12, 2012Family Wealth Consulting

“Governance” can be a daunting term for enterprising families. It tends to conjure up images of a large group of grey-haired “suits” sitting around a long table, staring at an executive, expecting some fancy graphs with lines shooting up and to the right. The fact is that governance is simply a process for having discussions about how things are done (which are often difficult when family is involved) and then making decisions everyone can stick to. Research shows clearly that Read more »

Strike While the Iron is Cold

January 12, 2012Family Wealth Consulting

Recently I was contacted by three cousins. They were successful being in business together, said they got along really well and wanted to know if I could help them. You might be thinking, “With what? This sounds great – an enterprising family with no major family conflict.” The cousins wanted to avoid the pitfalls that tore their fathers (two brothers) apart. The fathers’ business was ruined and they barely speak to each other now. Fortunately, the cousins managed to stay Read more »

Family Craziness = Family Harmony?

November 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that generally means time for families to gather. This makes me wonder if there is such a thing as a family without some level of family craziness? I say no. The question is whether or not you can get a good laugh from your family craziness, and maintain a sense of perspective. Let me use my own family to demonstrate. I have an older sister and a younger sister. As kids, we competed Read more »

The FFI Mindset: Collaboration is Key

October 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Last week I attended the Family Firm Institute (FFI) 25th Annual Conference in Boston. FFI is the premier organization in the family enterprise field for consultants, educators and researchers around the world. FFI has a great history and my colleagues and I who belong to FFI are highly committed to helping enterprising families. From the small group of interdisciplinary founders 25 years ago, to the growing organization with 450 attendees at this annual conference, FFI’s members strongly embody the values Read more »

Equal or Fair Part II: How Do You Determine What’s “Fair”?

September 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Last issue I wrote about the difference between “equal” and “fair” and shared a current case situation (Family Business Minute – July 2011). A number of colleagues inquired about what guides me in determining what’s fair; here are my thoughts on this interesting question. In a nutshell, I use my knowledge of and insight into the family to help them discover their own fair. The tricky part is getting the Matriarch/Patriarch/Parents/Grandparents to open up a discussion within the family about Read more »

Equal or Fair: Which Is Better?

July 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Splitting a pie into three pieces all the same size and giving a slice to each of your three kids is EQUAL treatment. Slicing the same pie the same way and giving two slices to your very hungry youngest child, one to your moderately hungry middle child, and none to your oldest child (who has told you he/she is not hungry and would be okay giving his/her slice to the youngest) is FAIR treatment. An attorney friend called yesterday to Read more »

“Family-Influenced, Trans-Generational Wealth Creation”, Today’s Question: The Same or Different?

June 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

In their 2002 article*, Habbershon and Pistrui coin the term “family-influenced, trans-generational wealth creation.” They distinguish their concept from the traditional notion of “family business” which usually connotes several generations of a family passing down a single business from generation to generation, within the family, sometimes building it along the way. They argue that for families with trans-generational wealth creation as a goal, an entrepreneurial sense is essential, and that being wedded to one business entity (and the founder’s legacy) Read more »

Paul Cézanne, Esquire???

May 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Last year I went to a Paul Cézanne exhibit in Philadelphia and was surprised to learn that this famous artist struggled to pursue his passion against his father’s wishes. His father, a successful banker, insisted that Paul attend law school rather than pursue painting. Paul did attend law school for a couple of years before abandoning that path and defiantly moving to Paris causing a rift between father and son. Eventually, Paul’s father came to realize the importance of his Read more »

Snow, Sledding, Siblings – and the Family Business

March 12, 2011Family Wealth Consulting

Here in the Northeast, the snow has finally melted enough that I can bear to write about it and I no longer feel the shovel-induced aches in my back. During one of several days when our sons’ school was closed due to snow, I took them sledding. While sitting at the top of the hill I noticed a mom pull up and four kids got out of her minivan. The oldest, a girl who seemed to be about 16, was Read more »