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Key Ideas Newsletter . Winter . 2008 

Key Ideas for Family Businesses & Their Advisors
Brought to You by Jane Hilburt-Davis & Key Resources

We welcome you to this issue of Key Ideas. If you have questions about any of the issues or topics, do let us know. We encourage letters, comments, and suggestions.

In this issue…

Feature Article
It’s Not Too Late for Your New Year’s Resolutions:
5 Essential Components in a Successful Family Business

It’s that time again. We all try to make and keep resolutions.  Some of us are better at it than others. Our resolutions usually focus on breaking bad habits (quitting smoking); some on creating good habits (regular exercise). Experts do agree that there are some ways to improve our chances of keeping our resolutions.  Here are some tips for doing just that... 

Read the Full Article >

Book Review
How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life)
by Seidman, Dov (2007) Wiley & Sons

Selected as one of the Best Leadership Books of 2007 by Leadership Now, on the idea that “leadership is everyone’s business.”, this book challenges conventional wisdom with examples, anecdotes and good writing. The author begins his compelling book with the story of Krazy George Henderson, a professional cheerleader, at the third game of the play-off series between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees on October 15, 1981.  On this day, Krazy George began the gesture that swept successively through the crowd in a giant, continuous wave of “connected enthusiasm”. On that day, Krazy George invented the Wave.  From that simple act, Seidman builds on his premise that “companies building lasting success, those that seem to be getting it right in highly competitive markets, have something going on in them, a certain energy, very much like a Wave….To build and sustain long-term success in the new socioeconomic conditions that define our world, you must embrace a new power, the power, in human conduct, the power in how.

Read the Full Review >


How healthy is your family business?

Take the Quiz >

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Choosing a Family Business Consultant:

As family businesses become more sophisticated and aware of best practices, they will and should ask and expect more of their advisors. The following questions should begin any client /advisor relationship:

  • Have you received special training in working with family businesses? If so, where and what?
  • What issues to you see in the family, business and ownership systems?
  • Can you provide us with references?
  • How would you help us deal with them? Where would you start?
  • What is the scope of the work? What will it cost?
  • Do you belong to a professional society or group that delivers continuing education focused on the special challenges of family businesses? Do you participate in these?
  • Do you have a network of professionals who you can call on to help you with the complexities?
  • Are you willing to work with my advisors? How will you prevent the 'team' from becoming dysfunctional?
  • Do you have a Certificate in Family Business Advising? (This seal is awarded to the recipients of the Certificate in Family Business Advising with Fellow Status by the Family Firm Institute.)  It is the ‘gold standard’ in family business advising. You should inquire if your prospective advisors hold the Certificate in Family Business Advising, with or without fellow status.  It is the mark of quality.

    FFI Certificate

If you don't get satisfactory answers to these questions, keep looking and demand expert advice. You can also learn more about family business consulting at FamilyBusinessConsulting.com.

In the News
What's Happening...

  • Comcast to pay founder's salary after his death.  Under the terms of a contract extension with one of its founders, Ralph J. Roberts, Comcast Corp. has agreed to pay Roberts' beneficiary "an amount equal to his 2007 salary for five years after his death," the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. Roberts, 87, is the chairman of the Comcast board's executive and finance committees and the father of Brian J. Roberts, Comcast's chairman, president and CEO. "According to the agreement, Roberts' beneficiary can be one or more individuals, trusts or other entities," the article said. "If it consists of multiple people or entities, his salary will be divided among them." While the company hasn't disclosed Roberts' 2007 salary, his 2006 base salary was $1.85 million, the newspaper reported. His total compensation for 2006 was $24.1 million, the article said.  (Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, Dec. 31, 2007.)  (From Family Business Magazine)
  • New colors at Benetton, economist.com, November 2007   
    Read about new challenges in a successful family business (PDF).
  • This Family’s Hot Stuff   Read about the McIlhenny family company who do many things right!
  • Sad People Spend More! Learn why.

Speaking Engagements

  • Jane spoke at the New England Chapter of FFI on “Genograms: A useful tool for you and your clients
  • Jane was asked to lead a day-long workshop “Real World Family Business Consulting”  PKF North American Network of independently owned accounting and consulting firms http://www.pkfnan.org
  • Jane is on the Faculty, “Essentials for Family Business Consulting“, Chicago April 2008   www.ffi.org  
  • Jane is on the Faculty, “Essentials for Family Business Consulting”, Brussels, June 2008 www.ffi.org      
  • Jane is on the Faculty, “Essentials for Family Business Consulting”  Australia,  August 2008 www.ffi.org
  • Jane is on the Faculty, 360 Workshop, November 2008 www.360practices.com/index.php

Reader's Poll
your Chance to Weigh In

This issue we're asking our valued readers to participate in a quick poll (it's simple and anonymous). Please click on the links below to weigh in. We will share the results in the next issue of Key Ideas.

For members of family businesses: Ask the family members who are in the business and/or have ownership in the company what they see as the family values.  Is there an agreement?
    Answer this Question >

For advisors to family businesses:  What would you recommend families in businesses do first to improve their family-business-system?
    Answer this Question >

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That’s all for this edition of Key Ideas. As always, feel free to contact us with feedback, questions, or comments. Key Resources is here to help you, your family, and your business succeeed!

Jane Hilburt-Davis


Phone: 617-577-0044
Email: contact@familybusinessconsulting.com
Web: www.FamilyBusinessConsulting.com

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