family meeting

Important Conversations for Family Gatherings

How you can help your family unlock its ‘soul capital’

Key Takeaways:

  • A legacy conversation is a frank discussion in which the older and younger generations share their views about what really matters to them.

  • Show and tell is a good technique for getting families to reveal their values in action.

  • Combining “soul capital” with financial capital will help families clarify their core values.


Now is the time of year when many extended families get together for some R&R at a family vacation home. While the bonding and elaborate meals can be great, living in close quarters, even for just a few days, can strain relationships among even the closest of families.


Throughout the course of our work with successful families empathy has been central to our practice. Empathy is about “feeling with” another person.

“Walk a mile in my shoes” is the old adage and listening—is one of the most important ways to do that. We spend so much time texting, tweeting and multi-tasking today, that listening has become almost a lost art. But, when someone listens to you, I mean REALLY listens, there is nothing like it. The rapt attention someone pays to you is a blessing and a gift. To be heard, seen and validated is a true gift.

All family members need empathy. Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers called this “unconditional positive regard.” It is the deepest form of acceptance.

When a family needs to address legacy issues, it’s important to be honest with each other about what really matters. For a family to do this there needs to be empathy.

When I was a kid in school, my favorite activity was show and tell. To bring some special personal object in to share with my classmates was a sheer joy. I also loved hearing about my classmates’ objects and the stories that filled my imagination. Each time, I learned something new, unique and often intimate about my classmates. And of course, when it was my turn, I beamed.

Talking about what really matters


What is a legacy conversation? It is a conversation in which the older and younger generations sit together and talk about what really matters. What really matters is each other; the family relationships and the way the family relates to each other and loves each other.

Money and other family assets are important because they sustain the family into the future. These things can be seen as giving stability or causing instability, depending upon how the family is doing with itself. If the family is good, wealth is good. If the family is not good, wealth can make it worse. So the show-and-tell notion related to legacy conversations has to do with honestly sitting together and talking about who we are, how we are and what we have. The family elders tell the stories about how they got here. They inform the “middlers” and the “youngers” what worked for them and what didn’t.

These conversations become sacred conversations because they contain wisdom. I use the phrase “soul capital.” Wisdom is different from knowledge. Knowledge is information and wisdom is deep and painstakingly won insight.

Wisdom is unique and particular to each family since every family dynamic is different. So when these kinds of conversations are held, they become sacred, as spiritual capital represents something bigger than the self and family—something that guides and protects us.

Legacy conversations are “show and tell” events as well. When grandfather and grandmother are sharing at a family gathering, the stories they tell are often gems from their past. Show and tell is a ritual that reveals a family’s values in action. As this sharing continues, the family begins to show and tell together. Over time, this simple sharing turns into what I believe to be sacred conversations. In these conversations lies true wealth.

Successful families that initiate and maintain conversations about legacy, values and related issues discover deep treasure. Why is it that most families don’t hold conversations like this? In a word: intimacy. When we become intimate with each other, we reveal. Vulnerability is uncomfortable.

Discomfort creates anxiety or pain. The paradox is that when a family is courageous enough to delve into these kinds of conversations, the discomfort passes over time, and what a family and its individual members find is unity. With family unity, anything is possible.

The soul capital of a family


Legacy conversations are sacred because they contain stories from the elders, middlers and newers that carry the “soul” capital of a family. Soul capital married with financial capital clarifies and empowers families to live their core values truly. Sacred conversations lead to true family flourishing.

I use the phrase “sacred conversations” because of the depth that lives in the inner world of family. At the core is love. Love is sacred; it is divine. In essence what lies in waiting for prosperous families is a different kind of wealth—soul capital.

Conclusion


When a family engages in family meetings to address legacy questions, it is good to begin with show and tell. Simple storytelling captures the essence of what brought a family to have a legacy to pass on.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Forest for the Trees

To enjoy the holidays, leave the family business at work


Key Takeaways:

  • Talking too much about the business during family celebrations can alienate relatives who are not actively involved in the family business.

  • Your family’s values are often the core culture of your family’s business.

  • Seek innovative ways to celebrate that are inclusive and family-oriented.

 

The music of the holiday season fills our lives. Images of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and family gatherings around the hearth dance through our heads like sugarplum fairies—or at least that is the popular mythology we think about for the holidays.

But for members of family-owned businesses, the holidays can be a very different story.

When families that have a business together gather for the holidays, they sometimes have another place at the table set for discussing their business. This scene shares similarities with one of my favorite holiday films.

For me, preparing for the holidays means viewing some of my favorite movies. At the top of my list is “The Bishop’s Wife,” a 1947 film (remade with Denzel Washington) that originally starred Loretta Young, Cary Grant and David Niven.

The film is a metaphor for an entrepreneur and family-owned businesses. The story is about a bishop (David Niven) and his wife (Loretta Young), who are involved in parish life. The bishop is driven to raise money for a new cathedral at the expense of everything else in his parish, including his family. In the midst of the holiday season and beleaguered by his responsibilities, the bishop asks God for relief from the pressure. God sends him an angel (Cary Grant) who, through a series of tricks, helps the bishop realize that his real mission in life is not to build a cathedral, but to serve the needs of his parishioners.

In family businesses, the entrepreneur often becomes so focused on building a cathedral (the business) that family relationships suffer. During holidays, it’s not unusual for business discussions to dominate family gatherings. As a result, family members who are not active in the business may feel left out of the family—as if the business were the family.

In the film, the bishop not only focuses on building the cathedral, but in the process ignores his wife at the expense of their marital relationship. The angel becomes smitten with the bishop’s wife, which creates a competition between the bishop and angel for the wife’s affections.

Just as the fictional bishop realizes his real mission—to serve parishioners—entrepreneurs should realize their mission is not only to serve the business, but to steward family traditions and rituals along with their spouses. These family and holiday rituals are what bind families together and create the richness in families that makes holidays so lasting and special. These rituals also contribute ultimately to the well-being of the business.

Whatever your tradition, the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to set aside the stress and strains of the business and celebrate all the special rituals that bind families together. For me, the family is what makes the holidays special. As our family celebrates the holidays, we build the emotional value of our family. This strengthens our family and continues to inspire, strengthen and infuse family values into the company.

The family’s values are the core culture of the family’s business. However, by talking too much about the business during family celebrations, you could inadvertently alienate family members who are not actively involved in the business. So, keep normal business discussions in the boardroom and out of the holiday gatherings.

During this holiday season, seek new and innovative ways to celebrate that are inclusive and family-oriented. You can form a “family holiday committee” to evaluate whether your family holiday celebration is working. If so, keep doing it; if not, create a new approach. Put the family in charge first and keep it there.

Here are some ways to strengthen your holiday celebration:

1.    Be clear with each other about your expectations for the holidays. Spend time talking with each other before the holidays arrive to make sure you all understand what you want to get out of the holiday season.

2.    Do your best to focus your time and energy on activities that celebrate family traditions and the blessings of the holiday season. In those instances where you’ve outgrown family traditions or the family has become too large to reasonably continue the traditions, create new ones that allow you to experience the joy and love of your family.

3.    Do your best to limit business discussions or save them for the boardroom or for a regularly scheduled family meeting. Sitting around the table on Christmas Eve is not the appropriate forum for airing business activities, successes and problems.

4.    Most of all, go out of your way to have fun.  It’s important to have fun with each other and connect or reconnect with those family members you often don’t see. In the event you see your family regularly at work, go out of your way to renew, rekindle and enjoy a side of your relatives you would otherwise not see. Here are some suggested family icebreakers to be discussed in a group:

  • What’s your favorite holiday memory?

  • What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened this past year?

  • What is your biggest dream for the new year?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Take a multigenerational family photograph.

  • Learn about each other’s kids—your nieces and nephews.

  • Hide a special small toy or prize in the holiday pudding; the winner receives a special gift.

  • Have a holiday cookie “bake off” with your grandsons and granddaughters.

  • Do your best to focus your time and energy on activities that celebrate family traditions and the blessings of the season.

The holiday season provides great opportunities to emphasize those family values that are the bedrock of your family. As you plan family activities, understand that less is more. Consider what you can do to create balance and harmony and to enjoy the family and life you’ve created.

Blessings to you and your family. Have a happy holiday season!

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

The Value of Multigenerational Family Meetings

If you’ve amassed sizable wealth, or are on the right path and getting there, it may be time to consider how to pass on some of that money to children and grandchildren—without creating big problems that could harm their futures and destroy family harmony.

The fact is, family wealth—how it’s managed, transferred and used—can generate major drama among family members. As wealth grows, so does the potential for that money to foment conflicts and bad financial decisions that can reduce a family’s financial position and even ruin intra-family relationships forever.

The good news: We can look to the strategies used by today’s ultra-wealthy families to avoid or mitigate such negative outcomes—and find ways to adopt similar strategies in our own families.

One of the most effective tools harnessed by the ultra-affluent is the family meeting—which is used to educate heirs and potential heirs about sound financial decision-making, to identify shared family financial values and to maintain (and grow) family wealth in a unified manner.

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The Value of Multigenerational Family Meetings

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc.  The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles.  Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.