How Family Business Centers Support Women and their Businesses | Lanie Jordan | Episode 048

Theme: How Family Business Centers Support Women

Summary: Lanie Jordan, Executive Director of the Family Business Alliance at Wilkes University, describes how college-based family business centers can support women through education, peer groups, events, and research.

Featured Guest: Lanie Jordan: Executive Director of the Family Business Alliance at Wilkes University.

Website: Family Business Alliance – Wilkes University

Key Quotes:

  • “We see amazing opportunities for women…about 24% of family businesses are led by female CEOs or presidents. Women are making great strides in family businesses…it’s such a vast contrast to corporate trends.”
  • ” There are 50 university-based centers that are affordable, that have wonderful speakers…and that provide an opportunity to engage with other families. Knowing that others have tread the waters you’re in can change your outlook.”
  • ” The most important thing that women can do is to find a place where there are other women are in your shoes. Find a safe space where you can share your situation where you can feel unjudged and supported….and also accountable.”

What to Look for in an Advisor | Holly Isdale | Episode 047

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Theme: The Importance of Trusting Your Advisor

Summary: Selecting an advisor who protects your interests is crucial for women in family businesses. Holly Isdale discusses how women in family businesses can learn to protect their information-and themselves.

Featured Guest: Holly Isdale: Founder and Strategist for Wealthaven, a consulting firm which serves very wealthy families and family businesses and helps them implement their goals.

Website: www.wealthaven.com

Key Quotes:

  • “In family businesses, really good estate plans can fall short or get outdated very quickly. They’re designed with one goal in mind: preserve the family business. This creates this awful dilemma…not thinking about the implications for the beneficiaries.”
  • “For younger women, it’s about knowing yourself, how you make decisions, and how you maximize your voice in the process.”
  • “I’m a big believer that you should understand the landscape (of advisors)-meeting with other advisors, lawyers…not your father’s. It’s important for daughters to understand where the conflicts lie and where the allegiances lie.”

Do you really need an MBA?

woman-bis-schoolA good friend of mine recently expressed her frustration because her husband, who decided to make a career change, has been slow to network, circulate his resume, or show the kind of initiative that would help him find a job. My friend has held several great positions throughout her career and currently leads a sales department in a large organization. I wasn’t surprised that she was having trouble understanding her husband’s behavior.

I thought for a moment about how to be helpful. I reminded her that she grew up with a father who was a very successful businessman, who talked about the business all the time, and who encouraged assertiveness and a “sales mentality” in his four daughters. I explained that her dad taught her and her sisters about the business world in the same way that daughters working in a family business learn about it-they grew up with it!

Her husband, on the other hand, grew up with a father who was a science professor at the same college his entire life. Until recently, her husband had followed in his dad’s footsteps, teaching the same subject, in the same college. Like his dad, he has a Ph.D., but little to no experience selling himself–or anything else. He learned how to be a great teacher, but not a businessperson.

This was an “aha moment” for my friend. She hadn’t realized how much her father’s business had helped her develop her business savvy and skills. She realized that her husband was just inexperienced and probably a bit uncertain about what to do-and that she might be more helpful to him once she got over her surprise and annoyance that it was so hard for him.

I thought about my friend when talking with a group of daughters recently who were questioning their expertise in business, “because I never got an MBA”.  I reminded the daughters that they have a lifetime of knowledge based on their history in a family business.  The issues they were talking about-deciding whether to retain a difficult employee, managing changes of all kind, the need for new products-were really about the challenges of handling unexpected situations at work-something every business owner faces on a regular basis. An MBA might help, but the deep knowledge and experience they had developed throughout their lives were equally valuable (and maybe more).

My simple message?  Don’t sell yourself short. I’m confident that you know more than you think you do, and probably, more than most people in business know.  It’s in your DNA!  Of course, if you think an MBA will help–go for it!

“Ambassadors” Fill Downton Abbey Void (and teach about leadership)

Have you become as addicted to British TV as I have?  With the end of Downton Abbey I’ve been in a slump, eager to replace my fascination with its characters (particularly the women) with a suitable and equally engaging British program.

I found it.  It’s called “Ambassador.”  It was filmed in 1998 and it’s just two seasons long.  It doesn’t feature beautiful clothes, or breathtaking settings, or upstairs/downstairs intrigue, but it does portray a smart, compassionate, and strong female leader who navigates a wide range of complicated situations with dignity and grace.  Her name is Harriet Smith, but people refer to her simply as “Ambassador”, because she is the British ambassador to Ireland in the late 1990’s.

Harriet is truly a woman in charge.  She has the capacity to view each challenge she faces with a wide-angle lens, somehow able to take in and tackle the emotional and political complexities of every situation and make things right.  She is unafraid to question, to break a few rules, and to admit mistakes-with her children, world leaders, or ordinary citizens of the two countries she serves.

I have no doubt that Madam Secretary, the very popular US show featuring Tia Leoni, has its roots in the character of Harriet.  Both women are portrayed as thoughtful, real human beings at home and at work, and both lead a team of people who know that they are supported and who support them in return. It’s leadership at its best.

Take the time to get to know Harriet and Elizabeth, not because they’re women, not just because they’re leaders, and not because they manage work/life balance reasonably well.  They’re worth watching because they’re both thoughtful and committed ambassadors. Their roles require them to manage relationships, negotiate skillfully, intervene in crises, and to be “on stage” wherever they go.

Diplomatic skills may come in handy for daughters in charge, too.

Ask Amy: When You Feel a Little Bit Used

Dear Amy,

I’m working in a large and successful family business in the financial services area.  My last name is the name of the business, and it’s well known in our community.  I’m proud of my name, and just as proud of the many philanthropic contributions and sponsorships our company is known for.  In fact, every employee in our business is encouraged to serve on a board, or to volunteer for a particular cause they find meaningful.

And that’s where my question lies.  I am well trained for my position, but I’m hardly a senior leader.  My focus now is on learning my job, doing it well, and thinking about the role I might take in the future.  But I’m getting too many calls now about influencing my mother and father  (who own the business) to make charitable contributions to a variety to organizations.  I’m finding this very frustrating…and also distracting.  I don’t get calls from the organizations we already support–they know who to call.   The calls to me are from organizations we haven’t sponsored before.  And some of the callers sound around my age-so I think I’m viewed as the millennial who can get them “in the door.”  I guess I’m feeling a bit used.  

Do you have any suggestions about how to handle this?

Celia

Dear Celia,

Your question is similar to one I answered a few weeks ago, when another daughter described getting calls from frustrated customers because of her last name.  It’s wonderful that you are part of a successful business and that you are proud of your family’s contributions to your community.  But I can certainly understand your frustration.

Here are some ideas to consider:

1).  I know you know this, but keep in mind that it’s not easy to ask for money.  Whether you’re a development professional, a staff member, or a board member at a not-for-profit agency or organization, asking for money makes people uncomfortable.  If you serve on a board one day, you’ll probably be in that role yourself.  So as you respond, you can be very gracious and warm and respectful-but also clear and straightforward as you suggest that the caller contact the person responsible for handling donations and sponsorships in your business (you probably have that person’s phone number handy already!).

2) Are you fully aware of your company’s strategic goals and interests in philanthropy?  Many organizations focus on certain issues and make their investments there consistently.  This is a good time to understand the choices that your parents have made thus far-and why-simply as part of deepening your learning about the business and your community.

3) I think it’s highly likely that you will continue to get these calls.  It’s also likely that you will be viewed as someone with “donor potential”.  Perhaps these calls can also be an opportunity for you to develop your own interests in philanthropy and community service.  So (within reason) you may want to take the time to listen to the caller’s request, to ask good questions so you understand their organization or agency, and then to consider whether that organization might be a good fit for your talents and interests.  Perhaps you’d like to be on a task force, or attend an event, or serve on a board there.  I’m suggesting that you “reframe your annoyance”…and view each call as a chance to consider ways you might develop your own skills and interests.

Amy Katz

4) One of my first podcasts was with Penny Friedman, an expert on philanthropy who has considerable experience with family businesses.  You might enjoy listening to her ideas, too.

Good luck!

amy-sig

2016 Book Recommendations

This week I’ve decided to answer a question I hear a lot from my clients, particularly at the beginning of each new year:  “What books do you recommend?”

So, here are few books that I think women (and men) in family businesses will find thought-provoking and inspiring:

Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges:  In a book that builds on the ideas she powerfully expressed in her TED talk, Dr. Amy Cuddy gives practical, theory-based advice on how to develop and convey confidence.  You will be touched (and maybe, comforted) by the many stories she recounts of people who have written to her about their own struggles with confidence.  Dr. Cuddy’s insights are inspiring and the illustrations help you put them into practice almost immediately.

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, by Laszlo Bock, Chief People Officer at Google, describes the practices and policies that have made Google a place where recruiting and developing and retaining talented employees is a top priority.  Don’t assume that because your family business is not a large enterprise or a tech company in Silicon Valley, this book is not worth your time.  Trust me, it is.

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace). This is another book written by someone at Google, but it’s quite different from Work Rules. Written by Chade Meng-Tan, an engineer at Google, this book builds a fun, thoughtful case for the personal and professional benefits of meditation and mindfulness.  You may not achieve world peace after reading it…but you will feel more peaceful after trying some of the exercises.  And, according to Meng-Tan, your inner peace is a step in the direction of creating peace around you.

Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others. I recently interviewed Tacy Byham, CEO of DDI, a global talent management firm. Tacy and her co-author, Rich Wellins, are both industrial/organizational psychologists with a deep knowledge of how leaders develop and succeed.  The book is like a bible for leaders-first timers and experienced leaders as well.

Amy Katz

Whether you listen to audiobooks, use a Kindle, or actually hold a book with real pages, I am confident that these books will make you think differently about your role, your business, and yourself.

What are you planning to read in 2016?

amy-sig

What It Takes to Prepare a CEO | Tacy Byham | Episode 046

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Theme: The Best Preparation for Becoming CEO

Summary: Tacy Byham, an industrial/organizational psychologist like her dad, is now CEO of DDI, a global talent management organization. She describes her thorough preparation for the role of CEO.

Featured Guest: Tacy Byham, CEO of DDI and co-author of “Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 8.36.59 PM

Website: www.ddiworld.com
Key Quotes:

  • “Authenticity as a trait is a behavior that we can display to others. People see that and know whether they can trust you.”
  • “Research tells us that more stress comes from getting promoted. That challenge is absolutely real.”
  • “If you’d like your children to become part of the family business …be careful about what behaviors they’re observing!”

Ask Amy: What’s in a name?

Dear Amy,

My family owns a trucking organization and we cover several regions across the United States. I’m learning the business through my role in logistics in our national office, and I’m enjoying it a great deal and plan to make my career with the company.

So here’s my question: My last name is the name of the company, and while it’s a source of pride for me, it’s also a problem. Customers and vendors call our offices and ask for the directory of employees, and once they hear my last name, they inevitably connect to my extension. So I end up hearing customers’ complaints, and feel obligated to respond to them and direct them to the right person. I also feel that I should let my dad and uncles know what I’m hearing, but some of the complaints are about specific employees. My supervisor is aware of the issue, and thankfully understands it, but I still feel caught in the middle.

Kate

Dear Kate,

I’m not sure that I have a lot to add, since it sounds like you are very much aware of the sensitivities and you handling them quite well. You’re respecting your supervisor, you’re responding to customer concerns appropriately, and you’re trying hard not to let your name get in the way of your learning.

I do think that the issue you’re raising about letting your dad know about the complaints is important. I’ll give you my opinion on that, though I know others may disagree. I believe that when an organization is strong and its employees are committed to excellence, customer complaints or concerns can be handled and resolved quickly. I don’t think CEOs or high-level managers need to be involved in every problem. You’ve involved your supervisor, which is great; let your supervisor decide what needs to be shared more broadly. Actually, I consider your current “front line” experience with customers and vendors a significant part of your learning now; in fact, it may be the most important thing you can learn in addition to the technical information you’re learning about the logistics field.

Amy Katz

Your name is important, but your commitment and competence and “emotional intelligence” will prove to be most important over time, and these qualities are particularly important now as you form relationships with other employees and earn their trust. You wouldn’t want to jeopardize that, and it doesn’t sound like you are. I think you’re handling your role in the best possible way!

Good luck!

amy-sig

How working for your Mom can be a great career move | Sadie Ferguson | Episode 045

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Theme: Deciding to Work for Your Mom

Summary: Sadie Ferguson, a social worker now working in her mother’s successful flower shop, describes how working with her mother is allowing her to develop her interests and passions and nurturing her entrepreneurial spirit as well.

Featured Guest: Sadie Ferguson, Robin Wood Flowers
Contact:  sadie@robinwoodflowers.com
Website: www.robinwoodflowers.com
Key Quotes:

  • “The challenge for me was determining if I was ready to change my work identity, from social work to entrepreneurship.”
  • “My mom and I are good friends; I worried that some of that would be threatened when I joined. It’s interesting getting to know her as a professional, not just as my mom.”
  • “I’m satisfied, and I have an entrepreneurial spirit that is growing…and I didn’t know that that would happen.”

A banker-and an image consultant-discusses how your professional image affects your business-and you | Kristie Sheanshang| Episode 044

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Theme: How your image affects your business

Summary: Kristie Sheanshang, a private banker-and an image consultant-discusses how your professional image can make a difference in how you feel at work, and how others do, too.

Featured Guest: Kristie Sheanshang, stylist, speaker, and private banker
Contact:  www.dare4flair.com
Key Quotes:

  • “You might be tempted to fit in with your team, but as a leader, you might be better off dressing to a higher standard-not business casual.”
  • “Boundaries are a big part of my life. I try to be present when I’m home. I outsource tasks I don’t like.”
  • “So many times in bank meetings, daughters don’t speak up. Prepare some questions, be involved, get on the agenda. Advisors are a resource. They would love to help you-but often don’t know how.”