About Transitions West Conference and Changed Lives

I just got back from the Transitions West conference at Marina del Rey, which was organized by The Family Business Magazine and Stetson University’s Family Enterprise center. This is a conference “created for family companies by family companies!” and, once again, we enjoyed some great, honest presentations by some outstanding family business members, non-family executives and family business experts.

Among my favorites were the opening keynote by Jim Ethier, Chairman of the Board of the Bush Brothers & Company, during which he described the experiences his family company had as they built their family governance. Also, the panel of non-family executives made up of James B. Wood, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Clemens Family Corporation, Robert J. Underbrink, President/CEO of King Ranch, Inc., David Yale, President, Just Born, Inc. and Ross Born, Co-CEO of Just Born, Inc., where I realized how difficult it is to find the right non-family CEO and the time and effort involved in the process; and the panel about how family councils foster engagement among family members, where Ashley Levi, Board Member at H.G. Hill Company, and Meghan Juday, Family Council Chair and Director at IDEAL INDUSTRIES, shared their experiences about how useful their families council has been for them. And finally the presentation from Mark Peters, CEO of Butterball Farms Inc., who underlined the risks involved in not having succession planning in place. Thanks to all for sharing their experiences and being so inspiring!

This was my second year at the conference and I was happy to see that many families came back and brought along quite a few more family members. I would say that the number of participants doubled from last year. Congratulations to the organizers!

I also meet Peter Begalla, Adjunct Professor and Program Manager at Stetson University’s Family Enterprise program, who I interviewed last year about the unique Family Enterprise program that Stetson University offers (Read interview here http://wp.me/p1tGmG-2n) and Professor Greg McCann, founder and Director of Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center. I was interested in gaining the perspective of one of its students and when I meet Emily Dudley, senior at the Stetson University’s Family Enterprise program and second-generation partial owner of Dudley’s Auction Inc., at the Transitions West conference, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to interview her.

Please check what Emily has to say about how Stetson University’s Family Enterprise program has “changed her life.”

Written by Carmen Lence, Executive Coach at NextGen Consulting & Coaching LLC. Contact Carmen  at carmen@nextgenfamilybusiness.com

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How Coaching Enables you to CHANGE

We all know that change is difficult. In fact, change is so difficult that our brain is actually wired in a way that provokes sensations of physiological discomfort as soon as we face the slightest threat of change. As such, many of us do whatever it takes to avoid it.

Neuroscience (the study of the anatomy and physiology of the brain) has, in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging, provided insights into why change is so difficult. When we want to make a conscious change, we use an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is where our working memory is placed. This area of the brain uses up a lot of energy and its use quickly generates a sense of discomfort, or even anger, because is linked to the amygdale, which controls our fight-or-flight response.

In order to avoid this discomfort and stress, our brains favor the use of the basal ganglia, which is the part of the brain that controls habit-based behavior. Have you ever locked your front door and then completely forgotten that you have done so? Such events are the result of your use of the basal ganglia, which can complete any familiar activity without conscious thought, all the while using much less energy than the prefrontal cortex.

On top of this, many people seriously resist being told what to do because this fires the prefrontal cortex’s connection to the amygdale. This provokes a defensive reaction and an inclination to find as many reasons as possible not to obey the instruction. This is especially true when the emotional aspects of new plans for change have not been explicitly addressed.

Finally, because the brain is programmed by experiences that are unique to each individual, everybody thinks in a different way. As a result of this, solutions provided by others are not as meaningful to us as the solutions that we reached by ourselves, using our own experiences and opinions.

Coaching your way through change

Coaching involves helping clients to think about possibilities, encourages them to arrive at their own answers and solutions, energizes them and motivates them to take action. Coaching is an ideal tool for bypassing the prefrontal cortex’s defenses and driving people to implement changes.

Research has shown that when we find our own answers to problems, our brains undergo high levels of activity as they build new connections. Studies into neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change structurally and functionally) show that if we focus our attention on positive things that is where we are going to be making and reinforcing connections. As an example, a study of brain patterns in Buddhist monks revealed that the part of their brain associated with happiness (left prefrontal cortex) was highly developed. This indicates that, they do possess the capacity to educate themselves to be happy!

The coaching process reinforces the motivation to implement changes by making the client design their own solutions and actively plan the steps that need to be taken. This entails that they devise their own action plan and retain accountability for its implementation. David Rock and Jeffery Schwazrt in their article “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” point out that those reinforcing moments of insight can make changes in the brain that can lead to new behaviors.

Coaching is a process that releases people’s potential and both accelerates change and keeps it sustainable, long after the coaching engagement is complete.

By Carmen Lence Coach and Consultant at NextGen Consulting & Coaching LLC

If you want to learn more about coaching and coaching for Family Business, I’ll be presenting “Coaching, Next Generation and Sustainable Change in Family Business” together with Christin McClave and Dennis Jaffe at the FFI international congress in Brussels on October 19th. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

 

How Tony Robbins helped me to stop making excuses

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Tony Robbins at Dreamforce in San Francisco

Today, a little dream of mine came true. I had the opportunity to listen to one of the most inspirational speakers and successful coaches of our time: Mr. Tony Robbins. Thanks to the organizers of the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, I found myself jumping up and down in the Moscome center, hugging complete strangers with all my love, shouting YES! YES! YES! while throwing my arms up in the air, clapping like my life depended on it, dancing and jumping even higher… I left with an extra dose of motivation plus a good workout! Great deal!

I have admired Tony Robbins for a long time. He was once a struggling teenager but one day he came across a marvelous book: “Think and grow rich” by Napoleon Hill, which changed his life by starting him out on a path of curiosity that examined the psychology of successful people and helped him to question how he could change his own situation for the better.I also experienced troubles when I was a young adult and I too had come across Hill’s book by pure chance. As with Tony Robbins, the book also changed my life. Like Robbins, I became a self-help junkie, reading any self-help book I could get my hands on. It seemed that those books where the only support I had when nobody else supported me, and after reading so many of them, I came to the conclusion that you are not what you eat, you are what you read! I went from feeling like a victim to feeling empowered and aware that I’m the only one who is responsible for the failures or successes that I encounter in my life; my circumstances were no longer an excuse.

I believe that Tony Robbins’ message is basically a fundamental truth that deep down we all know, but most of the time choose to ignore. That truth is that you can either have what you want, or  excuses not to have it. We all have the potential to achieve our dreams, but quite often we decide that we cannot do so, perhaps due to A, B, or C reason, and many of us look to others to validate our excuses. However, the reality of the situation is that the only thing between you and what you want, is YOU.

During the presentation, Tony explained that our decisions shape our life and that those decisions are controlled by our mental state (how we feel from moment to moment) and our blueprint (our story and expectations). He demonstrated how we are able to change our state by changing our physiology (or moving our body, hence all the jumping) and our focus. You can change your focus by asking yourself questions that launch your thinking in the direction of positivity and possibilities.

For example, instead of focusing on what you don’t have and asking yourself why you are not earning X amount a year? Ask yourself, what is something I can be proud of? What is really important to me? What can I be really grateful for? What excites me? If I were earning X, what would my life be like? What would be the ideal situation? What is an action I can take today to get one step closer to where I want to be tomorrow?

As Buddha said: All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” So, be aware of what your mind is focused on and learn how to change it when this focus is not serving you well.

I know that all this is easier said than done. We all fall back from time to time and return to a state of negativity,  self-defeat or pasivity. That is why the help of a professional coach can make the difference between dreaming and achieving. A professional coach is trained in exercises and questioning techniques that help you to keep your focus on what you want and how you can achieve it. A coach is trained to help you to devise your own solutions that suit your own unique situation and they help you to implement these solutions, keeping you accountable and motivated. A professional coach knows how to inspire you to take the actions you need to take to positively change for the better!

As an example from my own life, I have been putting off writing a new blog post for months and I always seem to find a good excuse to start “tomorrow.”  Today, after all the jumping and hugging, Tony asked the conference attendants to generate one professional goal, I wrote: “have X more clients by the end of the year,” then he asked us to write one specific action that we would take immediately towards achieving this goal. I wrote: “write my blog again.” There you go… done! Coaching works!!!

By Carmen Lence Coach and Consultant at NextGen Consulting & Coaching LLC

If you want to learn more about coaching and coaching for Family Business, I’ll be presenting “Coaching, Next Generation and Sustainable Change in Family Business” together with Christin McClave and Dennis Jaffe at the FFI international congress in Brussels on October 19th. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

How to Avoid “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves in Three Generations.” James E. Hughes Jr. Provides the Answer at the FFI Northern California Event

James E. Hughes Jr.


The FFI NCAL Chapter Formation Team recently hosted the second event of a series that is aimed at raising awareness of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter for the Family Firm Institute. Thanks to the efforts of Susan Ott and Henry Kaiser, who did a fantastic job of organizing the event, we all enjoyed a great learning and networking experience.

This time we had the opportunity to learn from Mr. James E. Hughes, who has more than forty years of experience working with family businesses. Mr. Hughes is also the author of the well-known family business books: “Family Wealth—Keeping it in the Family” and “Family: The Compact Among Generations.”

Mr. Hughes’ views on the issues related to passing wealth to the next generation and the impact that this can have on their lives did take me by surprise. Usually, the next generation are often perceived as being responsible for taking over a well-run family business and running it into the ground; they are also frequently considered to be entitled, dependant and spoilt. Mr. Hughes’ presentation focused more on the root of the problem and looked, in an entirely different light, at some of the issues that impact next generation family members.

During the presentation, all participants were asked to draw a very simple galaxy where one planet represented the “Donor” and was divided into two main areas: the “Land of Mindful Donor” and the “Land of Thoughtless Transfer.”  From this planet a meteor was ejected towards the “Planet Recipient.”  The question that he encouraged us all to ask as we drew the diagram was: “What is in your meteor?”

Mr. Hughes described how Planet Recipient is happily going about its business until the meteor is launched from Planet Donor, travels into its atmosphere and pretty much changes everything in a blink of an eye. If the meteor comes from the Land of Thoughtless Transfer, which in his opinion happens most of the time as the result of the donor feeling guilty about something and following his or her own agenda, the recipient runs the risk of becoming dependent and entitled.

What can the recipient do when the meteor suddenly lands on his/her planet? They have to adapt as quickly as possible, integrating this new alien body into their lives. Mr. Hughes presented the following simple formula:

Adaptation + Resilience = Integration

Adaptation – Resilience = Disintegration

The main element that the recipient needs to survive and thrive once the meteor hits his/her planet, is resilience and the quality of the recipient’s resilience is all that matters. The recipient has already built this resilience by educating himself/herself on who they really are, knowing what they want in life, developing a purpose for themselves and being their own person.

Mr. Hughes argues that the meteor should always comes from the Land of Mindful Donor, in that it should be launched by a donor who carefully thinks about the impact that the transfer is going to have on the recipient’s life. A Mindful Donor is a donor that considers how to enhance the life of the recipient, thinks about his or her intention and invests time developing the recipient as a human being. According to Mr. Hughes, it is crucial that donors make every effort to help the recipient to learn about his/her learning style, vocation and personality, and truly discover the deepest root of who he/she really is. This will ensure that the recipients are prepared for a fulfilled life, with or without the meteor and its content.

What about you? Do you think that this is the best way to end the “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” cycle?

Written by Carmen Lence, Coach and consultant at www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

Is Women Power Enough to Break the Glass Ceiling?

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I just got off the phone with my friend Michio, back in Japan. She was so fustrated about her job situation that she really needed a friendly ear to vent to. After five years working for the same company she just had enough of waiting for an “opportunity” and she decided to look for it elsewhere. “I’m one of the few women in my office that is not working as an ‘office lady,’ and still they are reluctant to promote me; they believe that sooner or later I’ll leave my job to get married and have kids,” she said. Michio’s profile, a single woman in her early thirties with a university degree, several years’ work experience and frustrated with the difficulties in getting ahead in her career, is not unique to Japanese society, but especially common in Japan, where less than one percent of corporate directors are women.

Family businesses are not an exception.

Apart from interesting cases like the “ryokans” (Japanese traditional inn) in Japan, where women rule generation after generation, most women in family businesses get leadership positions when there are no men in the family to go around. Still, succeeding dad in the family business is one of the fastest ways for a woman to break into top management.

Women power does make a difference


Global leaders like IBM and P&G are promoting their “gender diversity” programs as they have figured out that having more women in management will help them to better understand the needs of a big percentage of their customers, women.

Also, a study conducted by Catalyst, a research company specializing in gender issues, shows that the leading companies in their sample had women accounting for 20 percent of their top managers, while the bottom companies had less than 2 percent.

If this is not enough proof of women managers positive impact on company performance, look at the UK’s Cranfield School of Management study, which found that 69 firms in the FTSE 100 with at least one women director scored an average return of equity of 13.8 percent compared with 9.9 percent of the other 39 companies with no women directors at all.

Why are there still so few women in top management?


Many go the easy way and blame women themselves, arguing that they are not as ambitious and committed as men to making the hard climb to top management and that they are too eager to leave their careers when they get married or have children. As a woman, I find this argument quite cynical.

I’ve meet many expatriate’s wives throughout the years living in different countries. Most of them have great education and work experience but left their careers and well paid jobs when their husbands were offered job opportunities abroad. Why? Simply because they could not compete with their husbands higher salaries and better career prospects.

This is also a choice that many women are compelled to take when they have children. If the couple doesn’t make money enough to pay baby care, the woman’s job is the first to go, as she  normally earns less than her husband. Statistics show that women in general have fewer offers to managerial positions and generally lower salaries for the same positions.

Society is not so supportive to career women.

Women are blamed for the low birth rate in the industrialized world, picturing working women that remain childless as selfish and self-centred. Needless to say, working mothers don’t get much better press either, making many mothers feel guilty about wanting to have a career.

Interestingly enough, statistics show that the countries that have the lowest levels of fertility are those with relatively low levels of female labour force participation while the countries with higher fertility levels tend to have relatively high female labour force participation rates.  So, it seems that supporting women to have careers actually makes them more willing to be mothers as they feel more confidence in being able to provide a better life for their families.

In my opinion, companies and governments have to make an effort to help women combine family and career. Women will have no incentive to return to work after maternity leave if they are not offered the possibility to rise to management-level positions and the flexibility that a working mother requires. Who wants to go back to a dead-end job that costs you money because you have to pay someone to look after your child?

Women power is not enough to break the glass ceiling; companies should offer true equality of opportunity– equal pay to men and women for the same positions, and flexible hours and child care facilities for working parents. Governments should help with tax incentives and positive discrimination establishing minimum quotas of women in management. Basically, women power needs people power to really make a difference.

Written by Carmen Lence, Executive Coach specialized in working with Family business and women entrepreneur.

For more information about Carmen Lence click on www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

How Educational And Networking Events Can Improve Your Family Business.

Click on the picture above to learn the highlights of last Friday’s presentation by Peter M. Johnson on family business governance at the Institute for Family Business at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

Peter M. Johnson, Director of the Institute for Family Business at University of the Pacific in Stockton,  shares in this interview the value for Family Business to join networking and educational programs, like the ones offered by the Institution he leads, to learn what to do when you don’t know what to do in your family business. Ready to learn and mingle?

How does the Institute for Family Business support family businesses?

With all of our family business, wherever they are we support them through several different ways. First, we offer about five (and as many as ten a year) different programs in different locations. These programs are offered to family members and non-family members who are key employees. With the idea that attending this program with key non-family members or their consultant, everybody is on the same page. They hear the same message and it is easier to start creating a strategy around what a group heard in a program. They will get information for an expert in the field who will speak about challenges as a current or former family business owner, consultant, or a panel.

The other benefit of the program is that it allows family to talk to each other.  One of the biggest challenges that I have seen over the years is that families always think they are alone. They think that they have unique challenges and that they are a messed up family and other family businesses are much more professional than they are. So, it is an opportunity for families to get to know each other and learn from each other.

We also have a very large resource library of videos from previous programs, books, articles, consultant information, and a wide variety of family business resources that we can refer our members to.  For example if someone inquiries about non-family employee conversations, succession planning or would like a consultant, we have resources that we can refer them to.  We will also connect them with other members who for example may be thinking of starting an independent board of directors. They have not done it before, are not sure what the structure would look like, and want to know what the pros and cons are. They will want to know if there is another family who they can speak with that has been through this journey and can provide their experiences.

Is the Institute for Family Business at the University of the Pacific the only one of its kind in the Bay Area?

Yes.

Why do you think that there are not more institutions supporting family business in the Bay Area?

That is a great question and I think that there are a couple of reasons for it. First, with some families they don’t realize that they are a family business. Some think of a family business as a mom and pop out of their home or small grocery store on the corner. They don’t really think of big family business like Levi-Strauss, Ford, or Wal-Mart. So a lot of families don’t think of themselves as a family business.

The second problem is that many families don’t want to admit that they need help. Generally, the family has a patriarch in charge and they tend to think they don’t need help and there are no issues. They are blinder to some of the problems and will gloss over the issues.

The third problem is that you have to know where to find family businesses. We know that 80% – 90% of businesses in the United States are family owned or controlled.  But getting people to recognize that they are a family business and promoting the concept to them is difficult. One thing that I hear people say when they come to our programs is that they didn’t realize that this was available. It is kind of tough because until a family is in crisis, like a succession issue, family members tend to gloss over the resources that might be available to them.

Do you think this type of organization is important for next generation family members of family businesses?

Yes and actually what we see is that Next Generation is more likely to call. They recognize that their family is having issues and the senior generation is blind to the challenges and want to know what they can do. The Next Generation largely sees the value in these programs and is more likely to speak up and say that they are a family business. They recognize that the family is a part of the business and that they are having challenges that go beyond the traditional business challenges.  It is critical, especially if the goal is for the Next Generation to take over, for them to develop their leadership skills.

Do you offer leadership development programs for the next generation?

We do. As a matter of fact our programs are not just for one generation, type of business, or industry.  We offer informational programs that go into different topics that can be related to any business.  So the next generation and senior generation both get something out of the programs.

What is your typical member profile?

There is a wide range. For example, we may have a winery that has 4 or 5 family members and 10 full-time employees.  We also have some that have 80 or 100 full-time employees. Almost all of our members are multi-generational and occasionally we will get some from the same generation. They tend to be two –generation with the parents in the business.

Educational and Networking events are a great opportunity not only to learn from the presenter but also from  other participants. What is your experience with this kind of events?

 

Written by Carmen Lence of NextGen Consulting and Coaching LLC. www.nextgenfamilybusiness.com

How to Survive and Thrive Despite the Lack of Succession Planning

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After her father suffered a stroke, Kathleen Thurmond had to jump into managing her family business, without previous experience in the business. In this interview, Kathleen share tips on how to survive and thrive – successfully selling the family business 12 years later, despite having no succession planning, experience, or guidance with running the business. 

If you are in a sink-or-swim situation with your family business, relax it can be done… here is how.

How did you become involved in your family business?

My father had a stroke and it prevented him from being able to do anything with the business. We had an outside person running it day to day. My father was overseeing it and then he had a stroke that created a much bigger problem. At this point, my mother asked me to step in along with one of my brothers.

How was it for you to jump into the family business without warning and running it without guidance from your father?

It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I had just come from being a director of an AIDS hospice program and I had 35 employees. But it was very different from stepping into a uniform supply industrial organization. There were two unions and 50 employees. I had to deal with people who had been there a long time and knew a whole lot more than I did about the business. The fortunate part is when you don’t know very much, you are not as afraid as you might be if you really knew more.

What was your background before joining the company?

I had about 18 years in the fields of non-profit and social work. I have a Master Degree in Social Work, which I got after three years in journalism and I was writing and in to photography prior to that.

With my social work career, I often ended up in management. I was an assistant director in a hospital for 8 years and then went on to run an AIDS program. I was also always politically active in whatever I did because I am an activist at heart. I was on the AIDS commission for LA (Los Angeles) and president of a Long Beach AIDS consortium.

When you joined the family business with your brother, what was your position?

For six months, we shared a Vice President role. Each of us having the same title but he was living in San Francisco at the time. The business was in Long Beach and he never intended to stay. He worked in the business when he was younger in the production area and routing – delivering clothes. He knew the business from that perspective but he was a masseuse and had no desire to either leave San Francisco or to be a part of the business.

When did you start running the business by yourself?

In six months, I was in charge.

What would be your advice for other next gen that do not have a succession plan and all the sudden find themselves in the same situation-?

My first piece of advice would be to do the planning so that the family knows what to do in the event of death or illness of the founder. If you don’t do that then, learn everything you can about the business. Take every industry specific and leadership classes. Immerse yourself in education.

I joined a group of 12 men who were owners of companies like mine. We met every other month and talked about the business. We met at each other’s business so that we could and critique each other. We would give advice and talk about the latest innovations in the industry. That was a big help.

I always attended the trade shows, national conferences, and equipment shows. You learn so much when you talk to other people and see the equipment that someone talks to you about over the phone. In industrial laundry, there are washers, dryers, sort systems, and boilers so it was just like a whole other world for me.

Did you create a team of people to help you?

There were managers when I came in. The difficulty was they were hired primarily by my father. He was more of an authoritative figure, which is usually the case with founders. My management style was more collaborate and inclusive. I think it was important to be that way because in order for them to accept me as a leader, I had to also accept them, their expertise, and knowledge about the industry. I think that made for a much easier transition then if I were to go in and pretend I knew everything and I really didn’t.

Over time some people, I let go of or they let go of me because the style was different. It didn’t sit well with some people who had been there for years. There was also new energy, new people that was coming in who were from the industry and others who were experienced managers from other industries.

After 12 years of running the company, the decision was made to sell it. How did it feel to sell the family business? Why was the decision made to sell it?

When I was about two-thirds of the way through that 12-year process, I got my MBA while running the company. One of things that a professor said to me was what is your exit strategy. Although I didn’t want to hear that at the time, it really planted the seed that I needed to be thinking about it.

I was also very active in my industry and the only woman on my national trade board. I met the big guys Aramark, G & K, Cintas and UniFirst. They began to know me and also began a 5-year project with EPA on environmental management and wastewater treatment. We developed best management practices for the industry. All those things exposed my relatively small company to the larger guys.

They began to call me and at first I didn’t want to talk to them at all. It scared me. I thought I am never going to sell and will be with this company forever. Then, I remembered what my professor said and I began to talk with them. It was then a gradual process and it began to make sense. I sat down one day and really contemplate – did I want to stay here forever? The answer was no.

Selling is all about timing. Of course I am not clairvoyant. I didn’t know the economy was going to crash in a few years but the reality was I sold at the perfect time. It was when the bigger guys were paying a lot for companies my size. More than they paid a couple of years later. Thank goodness I did that because my mother, who is still alive at 93, is comfortable.

Emotionally, what is easy for you to sell it?

I knew deep down that it was the right thing. At the same time, I was letting go of a profession that I thought I would be in for the rest of my life. I was letting go of my dad’s dream. He died shortly after I began to run the company. My mom was helpful and said that if you feel like it is the right time to sell, then let’s do it. It was nice to have her support.

You are the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners-San Francisco. What is the most rewarding aspect of this position?

I wrote an introductory message for our monthly newsletter and a woman called me and said that what you wrote in the newsletter made me feel like you were speaking directly to me. That is what I love. I love mentoring women. I feel like I am here in the world and we as women are to lift each other up. Support each other in our businesses. Champion each other in what we hope to do and really to encourage each other to prosper in the world of business. It is not easy but it is much better for women now. With only 15% of women on corporate boards and 4% of women are Fortune 500 CEO’s, we still have a lot of work to do. It is inspiring to me when I see other women collaborating and working together to boost each other.

Kathleen is a natural leader with a strong “make it happened“ attitude. That is her greatest asset in dealing with having to take charge of the business with no experience or guidance.  What about you? Have you ever dealt with a situation like that? How did you manage it?