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family meetings & retreats


The Keys to Family Business Success
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“Our family has adopted the ceremony of passing the “talking stick” whenever we gather in order to assure that every member has the opportunity to speak and be heard. This has enabled even the youngest members of the family to feel connected.”

Family legacies are punctuated by events that stand out in the collective memory of the family. Some of these memorable events come as a crisis and others are planned to accomplish specific purposes. One of the services we provide is the orchestration of special family meetings that are designed to be remembered as a pivotal event in the history of the family. We often engage families in considering how to utilize ceremony to involve family members in positive aspects of family life and to foster dialogue.

We facilitate meetings that:

  • Foster open dialogue about sensitive subjects
  • Help engage new generations of family members to participate appropriately, safely and actively in the business of the family
  • Help plan the future of the family and its assets
  • Increase the knowledge and skills of family and non-family employees
  • Foster high level team work among participants
  • Develop ceremonies to honor important family traditions and transitions

Our goal is to create events that bring people and ideas together in a way that serves your family’s collective interests.

Examples of these events we have produced are:

  • A fifth generation cattle ranch wanted to have a retreat for the extended family where they would draft a Family Constitution that would clarify the rights and responsibilities of the beneficiaries of the family trust and govern the relationship between the ranch and the family into future generations.

  • A 60-year old business founder and his wife decided they didn’t want their estate plan to be something that was done in secret to their adult children. They wanted to engage their children in a conversation about what their wealth meant to them and what their charitable goals were. They were concerned that one of their children might be holding a grudge against his father that would prevent his full participation in defining the collective charitable goals of the family. We conducted a three-day family retreat to help the family to clear the air and create a long-term plan for the family’s wealth.

  • Five years ago, four siblings suddenly became business partners because their father died very unexpectedly. Their total lack of preparation for this new relationship with one another almost tore the family apart and nearly wrecked the business. With lots of help, they grew into their new roles and have been very successful in business and as a family. In order to prevent something similar from happening to their kids, they wanted to start grooming their children and nieces and nephews (aged 17-25) to eventually be co-owners of their family’s business. To accomplish this, they decided that they would provide annual outings for the kids that would be a combination of adventure and learning about being in business. They asked us to arrange the first adventure. We decided on a 6-day white water rafting trip. We called it “The Leaders Teacher” because we arranged for the river guides to take time to talk every day about the lessons they had learned about leadership on and in the river. Each night we would sit around the fire and debrief the day in the context of what they had learned from the river.

  • Six siblings decided that for the future of the family and its assets, they wanted to recommit to their parents’ vision while also updating it to ensure relevancy within their own lives and the current environment. Our meeting was designed to help all participants share their personal dreams and to determine how to achieve their shared vision while supporting each member in achieving his/her own goals. 

We sometimes refer to ourselves as legacy crafters because the events we create for our clients might help shape their families future for generations. Each of these events was highly customized and designed to facilitate change. We particularly enjoy providing this service because of the creativity required and the potential to create long-term effects. The meetings and retreats are often held in facilities in client hometowns or in a neutral environment that may serve as a source of inspiration, such as on a sailboat, a ranch or in a museum.

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