We did it! The 2021 UNI Family Business Conference is in the books. With it being the season of Thanksgiving, I thought I would start out my column with some notes of thanks.
First, a huge thank you to the EFCO Corporation family. Their space at the EFCO Forming & Shoring Institute is amazing, and we were so grateful to have the Jennings/Walters family as our host this year. Another huge thank you to Craig Culver, of Culver’s Restaurants, and Tom Hubler, of Hubler for Business Families, Inc., for their time and willingness to share insights with our members.
Our sponsors were incredible as well and I want to thank all of them, especially our title sponsor BrownWinick Law Firm. I also thank TDT CPAs & Advisors, Vermeer Corporation, Vizalex, Culver’s of Des Moines, and Doll Distributing. We are grateful to all of them and their support of our programming for Iowa family businesses.
I also want to thank our speakers – they are your peers as family business owners and their willingness to share is what makes our program so special. Thanks to Mark Hanawalt, Jonny Bosworth, Megan Green, Jon Sargent, Jamie Daubendiek, Adam Grubb, Heidi Vermeer-Quist, and Drew Larson.
Our conference is truly an organic creation, driven by our members... but it wouldn’t happen without our staff; Jayne and Katie are amazing to work with and put together an amazing event!
On to my takeaways. It was a great day of learning and sharing and maybe even a little venting. It’s great to witness when business families learn that they aren’t alone and, no matter how unique your family might be, that there are so many lessons to learn.
The first big takeaway for me was shared in one of the morning sessions – it was simple yet powerful.
- Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.
This has a ton of implications to how we communicate with our family, how we express our goals and feelings, and how we move to a more intentional approach. Pulling assumptions and intentions out of the family dynamic is critical to long-term harmony. I challenge you to use a kind, yet direct, approach to your next family conversation (but maybe wait until after the holidays are over).
- Express gratitude and appreciation.
This especially applies to the succession planning elements of family business. The next generation needs to make sure the older generation knows how much you appreciate what they have done. Don’t leave that to assumption or a more passive approach. They want to hear that what they have done matters and is respected. The same holds true for the younger generation. They need to be hearing the same message from older generation. It’s so simple yet is often overlooked and assumed, and becomes the small fray that can undo relationships and family business success. Everyone wants to be appreciated. So, this holiday season, maybe take a little extra time to do just that.
- If you’ve talked with one family business, you’ve talked with one family business.
Participating as a member of the UNI Family Business Center is all about interacting with other families. It is within a confidential, trusted peer learning environment where you can get such amazing ideas for your business family. But always remember: Just because you have heard how one family has done it, doesn’t mean that’s going to work for you. Families come in more varieties than Culver’s custard (you had to be there to get this one!) and I encourage you to take the time to network with more of your fellow members and develop additional points of view to take back to your own family.
One last thank-you to our all of our members for their attendance and support as we continue to grow and expand our services. Have a great holiday season with your family!
Director, UNI Family Business Center