Podcast

Episode: 342 |
Robert Lachenauer:
The Family-Owned Business:
Episode
342

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Robert Lachenauer

The Family-Owned Business

Show Notes

Rob Lachenaur is the co-author of The Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful, Enduring Enterprise (Amazon)

Rob is a former BCG Partner and the CEO of Banyan Global, a consulting firm focused on serving family-owned businesses. Learn more about Banyan Global at: https://banyan.global/

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Will Bachman 00:01
Hello and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional Unleashed is produced by Umbrex. And I’m your host Will Bachman. I’m here today with Rob Lachlan, our who is the co author of the family business handbook published by Harvard Business Review. I guess the full title would be the Harvard Business Review, family business Handbook, how to build and sustain a successful, enduring enterprise. Rob’s a former BCG partner, and I’m so excited to speak with him. Rob, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Well, I look forward to the conversation. All right. So I am really excited to hear all about this world of family businesses. And I know a lot of members, a lot of listeners of the show may from time to time be serving a family owned business. And, you know, it’s not something that we necessarily, you know, got trained at, at, you know, McKinsey or Bain or BCG or Booz or, or wherever else, folks, you know, got their training before. So, and, you know, when we, you know, I were chatting before the show, it’s not just necessarily the local lawn and garden store or the pizza franchise in your area, which which are fine businesses, right? We can be talking about, you know, 100 million billion dollar businesses can be family on businesses. Tell me about a first a little bit about your background, you run a consulting firm, Banyan, global, and tell me a little about your firm and your background and kind of the the research that lies behind this book that you wrote.

Robert Lachenauer 01:40
Yes, well, I’ll do that. So a little bit of my background first, and then I’ll go into Banyan and then family business. So I was, if I look back on my career, I was kind of raised, groomed to the steely eyed capitalist. I worked for PepsiCo really aggressive place, I went to Harvard Business School, West Point of capitalism, went to BCG, which I think is the leader in corporate strategy and like winning in the marketplace at hardball. Are you playing to play or playing to win seven strategies to trounce your competition? I was about 40. And everything was just going great. But then we had our third daughter. And I was like, Oh my god, can I be a great BCG partner? And a great dad at the same time? And the answer to me, not to everybody, for the answer to me was no. And I needed to get onto a different track. So I left BCG started a couple companies actually in the material science space, which was super fun, left the second one and then found, eventually founded Banyan, I found that I really like advising and consulting, and I missed it. And co author of hardball introduced me to this market of family businesses. So about 10 years ago, Josh Baron and a few other people and I started this company, we called bang and global family business advisors. And our business is to advise some of the world’s leading family businesses. And what’s different about advising family businesses versus corporations is the owners and family businesses are people. And it’s not like, you know, fidelity Magellan fund owns the company. And they’ll sell it if the total shareholder return isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Its way, these are owners who are thinking about not only the business today, this quarter, but what their benefit will be for their next generation, the challenges that you’ll have, if you’re advising these firms will be very different. You have to think about the individual. So that there’s a lot in there, we can unpack it however you would like to.

Will Bachman 03:48
Great. So you have served, I think you told me, you know, over 200 different family owned businesses. one phrase that you mentioned before was we often think about what’s the business model for a firm. But you told me that you also think about what’s the owner model when you’re talking to family and businesses? unpack that term? For me a bit?

Robert Lachenauer 04:12
Yeah. an owner model means the decisions you need to make as an owner that will really impact whether you’ll be successful or not. Set. Let me just there are five big ones we talked about in the book, but I’ll just point to three right now. One is we call it how do you design ownership. And what that means is you could be an LLC, an S corp, a C Corp, a lot of different ways. When I started Banyan and some other companies, I really didn’t know what I was doing about ownership type. And you go to a lawyer and he says, Oh, you should be an S Corp. Okay, I’ll be an S Corp. We kind of fill in the forms and go, we don’t think you should do it that way. You should think very carefully about who will have the tool how have the right to be an owner in your firm is going to be just you is going to be you and your partner is going to be you and 12 partners. What does it mean to leave the partnership? If it is, indeed a partnership? Do you have to sell your shares? Or do you just buy out the person, how you set up that design of ownership will have a lot to do with a success, a lot of the conflict you’ll find in family businesses, and non family businesses, which are privately held, because it wasn’t designed the right way. The second thing you have to think about it we call, decide, it’s interesting, but fear that a small company with a few owners, the owners have the right to determine who makes what decisions. As an owner of a firm, you have the right to make every decision, you can decide the color of the carpet, you can decide if you go into the Indian market, yes or no. When you grow, you have a decision about Do you still make all of this decisions? Or do you start delegating some decisions, and then retaining others, it’s really important to be very explicit, especially as you grow, which you’re going to go into which decision you will retain, and which you will give away if you retain too many, you will the state your staff will say I’ve got no latitude, no decision authority and your risk at leaving. The third big thing going on in your owner model is so interesting working at BCG, it was it was a given that the objective company function of the company was total shareholder return, which is stock price, up and down plus dividends. That’s what everyone was really focused on their great measures. And everyone had that in mind. It’s not true in privately held companies, especially family businesses, they’re actually three things that they’re trading off. One is growth, growth of value, similar to CSR. The other is liquidity, meaning you could say, I’m going to keep all the money in the company. So I grow baby grow. Or you could say, I’m going to take it out, because I have other things I want to house in the cake or whatever it’s going to be. And the third thing in this triangle, which is as important is control, do you want to control the whole thing? Do you want to bring debt or other Equity Partners in and if you do that maybe will help you grow it. But if you give up that kind of control than how you run the business, which could be Oh, I really want to have a flat hierarchy or a steep hierarchy, you’d give away a lot of back control. So what’s interesting in an owner model is they’re all these big decisions that you need to make. If you make them explicitly and Well, you’ve got a chance to succeed, if you just don’t make them or make them poorly. We think getting your owner model wrong is as dangerous as getting your business model.

Will Bachman 07:54
You have a section in the book about family employment policy. And there’s a lot of pretty juicy sections in there. Love to use it, you know, attracting talent to the family. How do you plan family career paths? How do you set pay for family members? How do you think about an exit plan if they’re not the greatest? So tell me about a little bit about I mean, and I guess on the one hand, you want to have the best talent possible in the company. But then also eventually you want family members to run the company. You need them to work in the company for a while. So tell me some you’re just talking to me a little bit about, you know, family members working in the business.

Robert Lachenauer 08:36
It’s one of the hardest things to do right in a family business is to employ your own family members. I know because I hired just as an intern, our middle daughter, as she was going into college, and I think of myself as a decent manager. But when Ellie was there, everyone in the firm said, Rob, you’re focusing on your daughter, not on us. I’m like no, I thought they thought everything was going on in my mind. It’s just a microcosm of the problems of having a family member in your business. And what we see in family run firms, there are many good practices. But in this case of pulling your family members into the into your firm, we see many frankly, bad practices going on where they’ll, we’ll bring we have this resilient conglomerate we work with and they brought one of their next generation members into the company. And they said okay, on Wednesday, we’d like you to go to this sugar beet factory. The gentlemen, next generation family member went to the sugar beet factory. Nobody knew he was coming. Here they’re like who are you? There’s a it’s a really tricky thing. A lot of times what will happen is if you have a three brothers that own a family business, they will hire their next generation daughters and son into their function. So if you have one gentleman who runs manufacturing, they’ll all grow up in Manufacturing area, if another one, run sales and marketing, they’ll grow up in sales and marketing, not getting the kind of exposure to all of the parts of the business that you need to actually be a good leader and maybe future owner. So we saw this was going on is about 10 years ago, we’re like, this doesn’t, this doesn’t make sense to us, there must be a better way. And another for BCG partner and I sat down together, we said, you know, BCG is really good at this, like attracting retaining great talent. So what we did and you’ll see in the book, there’s this matrix where we go from New attracting to enter to compensation to evaluate, we said, How does BCG do it? Well, they have this process of these six things that they go through to attract and retain and then eventually get rid of great talent, we set up that same kind of process. And then we said, Here are the options that you have family businesses, or how to do it within a family run business. And there are good ways to do it. And we point to some of those in the book,

Will Bachman 10:59
what what are some of those practices, because I imagine you want to attract that talent, right? But you probably don’t want everybody to make it feel like the boss’s son or boss’s daughter is gets all this favoritism, but you do not you do need to move them around, you do need to promote them faster than you know other employees if you eventually want them to be, you know, like the C level people. So what are some of the good practices,

Robert Lachenauer 11:21
I think the simplest way to say it is merit with supplement. So let me describe what I mean by that. Sometimes, next generation family member will come in, and they they’re coddled up to the top, they’re not given really direct good feedback by their managers, because they know that manager know someday, that gentleman, he’s going to be my boss than the owner. So they really stopped while feedback. And I believe that strong developmental feedback is the most essential thing to, to getting better, but they don’t get it. What best business practice is usually always with these family businesses is if a family member comes in and this whole discussion whether they should or not both assume that they’re there, you should have a merit based system, which basically means you should rise the top have to do as high as your abilities allow you. Now if you’re not getting as a family member, the support that you mean by feedback and pre 60 reviews, that’s where the supplement comes in, usually great family businesses will have not only the direct supervisor of that family member during their review, they’ll also have either a coach or say a board member, also looking after the development of that person, so that they’re getting some supplemental feedback and supplemental career planning to get to the highest and best use that they can get to

Will Bachman 12:47
do you recommend that? I mean, when you’re advising, you know, owners of these businesses, do you recommend that

Robert Lachenauer 12:54
they have their sons or daughters, first, maybe, after Business School, go work somewhere else, like Oh, go work at, you know, Goldman Sachs or BCG or something for a couple years and then join us or, you know, just lead to we do well, that have the best practices within family businesses, is that you should not come in as a next generation directly into your family business, you need to know what it’s like not to be special, you need to know that you’re just a normal employee and a non family business, you should spend two to five years outside of the family business as one of our clients that getting your butt kicked, just knowing what it is to have a career where you’re not, not a family member that will enable you to perform much better and be frankly, much more empathetic with the non family members in the business.

Will Bachman 13:47
All right. You mentioned earlier you touched on sort of the design aspects of the ownership. What are some different? You know, one thing I’m curious about is let’s say that you have like you said that, you know, three brothers who have a business and then maybe the next generation, maybe, you know, maybe the kids have two of the brothers are going to be active in the business, but one of the brothers doesn’t have any yard. You know, let’s say the kids want to go off and do something else. How typically, what’s the best practice for you know, passing down ownership should you know so? Should the non active members, you know, have as much control over the business as the people who are really in it? Or should they have like non voting shares? Or should or should they be forced to sell or, or what do the best companies do to handle that kind of situation?

Robert Lachenauer 14:43
One, at BCG, we talk a lot to our clients about best practices and I believe there are many good practices stay in for best practices in pricing strategy, things like that. We don’t believe that there is a best Practice for ownership, it is set actually much more by the context of the family, and what the family wants. What’s different here is that the owners are people, right? And you need to know as these owners, or if you’re advising these owners, you need to know what they want. It could be that next generation of people don’t want to be directly involved in the business. They don’t want to work in the business, but they do want to be owners. Now, is that, okay? Yes, there are hundreds of families, probably 1000s of family businesses, where the next generation aren’t the owner operators. They are what we call either governors, meaning they work at the board level, or they’re just investors in the business and less involve them than board members. That’s okay. There are many very successful family businesses that have a rule that no family member can work in the business. But if you do that, there are all these compensating mechanisms, you have to set up in your family business system. So that that next generation is both emotionally tied to the business, and also knows enough to be a really great director or four director. So it’s, it’s tough, it’s the best practice, I would have to say is, knowing what the helping the owners get to know what they want, and showing them the implications of those wants. And then options then to come and get what they want. It’s so interesting. I really think that. So at BCG, we used to say, it’s so different advising management than it is advising owners. With management, you’d go in and you’d say, okay, client used to do ABC because of the FM. And why? Well, BCG knows this stuff. So this is what you should do. owners don’t want that advising owners is very different. There’s no agency at that. It’s all about them, they can’t go blame anyone else that decision is on them. You want them to make the decision. So in advising owners, you want to show them options. They make the choice, rather than a full thing, your recommendation. Does that make sense? Well, it does.

Will Bachman 17:22
What do you see as some some families doing maybe as the second or even third generation comes along, of, of making sure that the family kind of continues to know each other and is connected? Do businesses do some kind of family picnic day where they all get together and then get sort of a day long of seminars or briefings on what’s going on or also play games or you know, to kind of keep in touch with each other because you need to know each other better than just an ordinary family that gets together for the holidays or whatever. If you’re going to be acting also as a board of directors, right?

Robert Lachenauer 18:00
You’re exactly right. So that’s in family businesses, as you go across generations. The first generation is the founding generation. And it’s usually one person and a great entrepreneur, the next generation, you have a sibling partnership. So three sisters are owning the business together. The experience of growing up together is formative of their relationships. So they they are close or far apart, given that relationship. The third generation However, if it’s staying in the family, they would be something called a cousin Consortium. And a sibling partnership has certain issues often rivalry, who’s the top dog of the of the siblings, cousins have this issue which you’re talking about, which is they’ve grown up their life experiences are different, maybe this one grow grew up not that wealthy because the wealth is in the other branches. They don’t share the same life experiences. So if you want that family business to stay together, you need to create experiences, especially in the teenage and 20 years, that they get to know each other and they have shared experiences. Many of our families will have maybe a family house that they all the branches will come and come back to, or at least they have what they call a family assembly, which would be a weekend or two across the year where the family would come together both for having fun and having experiences as a family and to learn about the business and make some of the important decisions together. And if you don’t do that, your families will drift apart and either the whole business would be sold or parts of the family some branches of the family would stay together in the business and others would leave, which is not not a problem. If they want to leave the business owners can want what they want. But it’s a decision that if you want a perpetuating family business, all of our clients will do a big family assembly and have something they call a family Council. A family Council is a group of family members who are looking After two things, one is building the unity of the family. And the other is making decisions on how the next generation should be developed to be part of the family.

Will Bachman 20:12
Does your firm help with those family assemblies? I mean, I imagine that’s almost a subspecialty in itself of making those being effective, fun, but educational, powerful weekend,

Robert Lachenauer 20:24
we do. We do that there are many other firms that are there out a lot of wealth managers. So Bessemer, for instance, has a great program for running family, family weekend, and they’re very, very good at it. the expertise of Banyan is first in what we call the owner room, which is how the owners make decisions together because we think that the essence of going becoming a sustainable family business across generations. And to do that work, we often also need to and like to go into the family room and help the family assembly and the family council to

Will Bachman 21:02
explain to me what’s going on.

Robert Lachenauer 21:03
Yeah, one thing about families and family businesses, we believe that, and we, I don’t know about your family well, but I’ve got a crazy family. We only have like I got a brother and a sister and a mom, and then all the all that comes with it, my wife and all of our kids. It’s crazy. You know, there’s a lot of family stuff going on. And that’s true of every business family. what we believe is that a business family doesn’t have to love it, love each other. You don’t have to love your brother all the time to be a good business partner, you do need to make good business decisions together. So if communications breaks down, he just can’t talk and make business decisions that will spell the end the Doom of your family business. But loving each other all the time, that bar is too high. Sometimes our clients set a very high bar for the what they expect their family to be able to do. And it’s actually an unreasonable expectation.

Will Bachman 22:01
You mentioned BCG work a couple times, you know with, I guess with family businesses. Talk to me a little bit about beyond your firm and you have a substantial firm of 30 folks serving family businesses. Talk to me a little bit about the landscape of consulting to family businesses, are there, some firms or some of the like the larger global firms that have practices that specialize in that. Just tell me about the landscape.

Robert Lachenauer 22:28
The landscape began as professors at top business schools, saw this market, or stalled a family business and tried to figure it out. So you had a Kellogg, gentleman named john Ward at Harvard, john Davis at Yale, Eve on launch Berg. And they started this kind of boutique serving the family businesses. Two things about that they started in the family room, they said, What’s unique about a family business, the family stuff, the stuff we were talking about, set up a family Council have a family assembly, make sure the family doesn’t break the business apart. And they created firms around these people. So that’s one part of the ecosystem serving family businesses. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the big consultancy PwC, Ernst and Young, BCG and McKinsey all have practices that one way or the other, serve family businesses. We’re kind of in the middle, our specialty is really around, as I said, these owners of family businesses in that space, you’ll have some of the legal firms doing some of the work. The issue with legal firms always is the same, of course, which is they have to be very clear who their client is. And they can’t say the family, my clients, usually they need either one person or a small group of people or an entity. And as you have a next generation coming in, that client could be outside the scope of the of the lawyers. So that’s a little bit of the landscape that we see out there.

Will Bachman 24:06
So let’s talk about your firm a little bit. I found it really interesting. When we started were chatting before we started recording. You told me that you have this interesting kind of tripartite combination of talent that talked to me about the the folks that you have in your firm.

Robert Lachenauer 24:23
We have found well over the years that there’s three expertise is three disciplines, I guess, that we need to serve family businesses. Well, one is we really like former management consultants, and I didn’t BCG 17 years I didn’t know if I really learned anything. But in fact I did. And one of the things I learned was how to work with clients, how to run processes that have deliverables. It’s actually great expertise to have and a lot of people who weren’t there don’t have that. We find that works very well with these very complex. They’re hyper political. systems which are called family businesses, to have people who understand how to run complex processes with in a political system at the same time. And our second source of talent that we need are people who know, legal and tax issues very well. As we’ve said, ownership is a legal matter. In many respects, you have to decide what kind of Corporation who’s going to be an owner, what the shareholder agreement is, what the buy sell, if you can’t make that stuff, that’s really important. So on staff, we have, they call themselves recovering lawyers, we can’t practice law, but they know the law very well. So we will do things like a term sheet that we will then work with the legal team, the client has to make it into a shareholder agreement. And the third area is, these are super complex systems, social systems, we have found that organizational behavior and organizational design PhDs are really, almost necessary for us to do our work really well. So these would be one of our founders is Mary Marian mccollom, Hampton. She’s a PhD from Yale in organizational behavior. And she can see systems in ways that I was never trained in. So what we do when we go to market is we always have a team of people, our perfect team is people from at least two of the disciplines, we have small teams, usually two, three people will take a person, say a lawyer next to an organizational design person bring a very different look into these systems. Working together, we want our teams to be both genders, male and female as possible, because oftentimes, too often, the family businesses are, are dominated by the by the men, and part of our work is to give a voice to the women. And having a woman on our team is super important to do that. And the third dimension we try to have in each of our teams is both generations. I’m 59. So I’m pretty good with a 6070 year old, but we can’t hire a you know, 29 year old MIT PhD to work with a patriarchy 72 years old. But nor can I really relate that well to these 22 year old, next gen just coming into the business. So we typically like to have a partner who is you know, 5060, and what we call a principle, which are maybe in their 30s, and 40s. So we can cover both generations in the in the family. So it’s, it’s an interesting mix. And one of the being CEO, it’s been one of the great joyful challenges is figure out how to get lawyers and organizational development people or BCG consultants, and organizational development people to work together. And if we can do it, well, it’s an amazing, amazing thing, the diversity of views we bring to the client can be great.

Will Bachman 28:04
Give me an example of one of the kind of insights or one of the challenges that you’re the organizational behavior team member would be would be looking at, like, paint me as scenario, give me an example.

Robert Lachenauer 28:20
Law, the way I view it, and I’m not an organizational behavior, but the way I view it is that the strength of that practice is the social system. So many times will be in a case team meeting, talking about trying to move to a decision with a client, and we’ll get we’ll get bogged down. And our organizational development person will say, we need to helicopter up and talk about what’s happening in this system, and see if this is a system that we recognize, and maybe we’ll go to that framework of Okay, sibling partnership, going to cousin Consortium, what would happen a system like that? It’s so striking the sameness of family business systems around the world. If you know, you’re going from a sibling partnership to a cousin Consortium, and you’re in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll see very similar system dynamics going on in in London, or in New York, because siblings worldwide behave in a certain way, as do cousin, an organizational behavior person will help us look at the systemic view of what’s going on both the same as that I would actually stress the same method that is what they’re so good at. Yeah,

Will Bachman 29:36
can you maybe think of a an example of a of an actual client example sanitize it, obviously and have some kind of issue that you were able to help unlock with with that behavioral expertise on the team.

Robert Lachenauer 29:57
So I can’t go to quite a different direction for this one. One of my first clients. And it was, it was so interesting because it was a Latin American textile manufacturer, three brothers who are owners, and it’s what the sibling partnership. One was, effectively the CEO, but they would never call him that, because I would say he was the alpha, who was the head of manufacturing. And then there was the head of Finance. They would buy, like dogs, they would get into these rows where they wouldn’t talk to each other for about a month after these fights. Now they’re running this 100 million dollar business. How the heck do you like from BCG? HBS, like classically trained, you can’t run a company this way. And they’re like, Yes, we can. And we do the company this way. It was interesting, the intercession that the behavioral person on our team gave us. And he went to something that we call appreciations. And this is how it happens. After a meeting, we’re trying to work on some of the structural issues, like organizational structural issues in a company. And he says, okay, at the end of the meeting, we’re going to do something, we’re going to ask each of you to appreciate your brother for something he has brought to the business, Mike, or to you personally, or to the business, just say something nice about the person. And these are people who do a lot of really brotherly fighting. And the, and they go, Okay, we’ll do this. So the Senior Brother always likes to be the first field that his youngest brother, and he said, I’m still proud to be in business with you. In them in the meeting there, these three, you know, six year old clients, there’s too busy for BCG partners, and his organization develops people, all guys all crying. Because what this person was able to do was to go beyond the rational into the emotional system, pull it out in a positive way, and change the whole character of the relationship among these three men, you would never do this. You know, if BCG client meeting you, it would be super dangerous to play there. Because you don’t know where it’s gonna go. This organizational development person knew what he was doing knew how to bring out the right emotion that was not being expressed in the system, and put it at the client himself, put it on the table, it changed the dynamics of the ability for us to work with his client in a fundamental way.

Will Bachman 32:42
Wow, that’s a powerful story. And when you are serving clients, you talked about how you’re often serving the owners. What are you know, give me some of the examples of the types of, you know, projects that you get pulled in on? Is it typically, there’s like long term retainers, or are you brought in on more of a classic management consulting, and we’re doing a Salesforce transformation, we’re doing an operational improvement, we’re launching a product for entering India, whatever. Tell me a little bit about the nature of the kind of projects that you work on.

Robert Lachenauer 33:24
Good question will be our core offering off which there are many things, but our core offering is a generational transition. So it is going from first the second, second third, we had one client, I believe was 21st to 22nd. Generation. Wait, what?

Will Bachman 33:43
Wait, is it? Was it in Japan?

33:46
No, it wasn’t it was. It was elsewhere. It was in Europe, on the 21st. We wait. We say we always say now, Julia 21 times you should be pretty good. Yeah.

Will Bachman 34:01
First, no, I won’t ask for the name of the company. But can you share like even what industry that is like? Was that a hospitality?

Robert Lachenauer 34:09
there’s so few I’d rather not Oh, easily to a first generation. And we said, You’re good at this already? Why do you need and they said, it’s the first time the senior generation has been in the shoes of giving away the company. And it’s the first time the next generation is ready is preparing yourself to receive and, you know, it’s like every 25 years you do a generational transition. Think about how much has changed in 25 years. It has how many spouses and the world has changed. So even if you’ve done it 21 times, it’s not an easy thing to do. So our core offer is around a generational transition. And we do that in three stages. The first stage we just call this a little consultancy, but we call it discovery and What this is, is putting a mirror up to the family business system, so that everyone sees the same family business system. So they understand what I, what it takes to go from a sibling partnership to a cousin Consortium. For instance, here are the classic issues that you’d see, here’s how we see them in your business. Would you agree, the output of this discovery phase, we call a owner decision roadmap, the art of our business is to say, these are the decision we see in front of you. And this is the sequence of those decisions being made. Why this is important is in a family business system, there’s often a lot of conflict comes with the territory, your job, our job, as advisors is this stretch the system like a rubber band, so it’s taught, but never break that rubber band and your back. Because if conflict becomes too big, your setback you can set it back by months, if not years. So we with the client, help them make the decisions as far as what to work on next, we believe the best way to bring family businesses together is to get people who have not worked together working together on solvable problems, to make progress and to build confidence in each other, that they can handle the hard decisions that they clearly have in front of them. I don’t know about your family will but you know, my family like what’s for dinner. That’s a hard and a big decision. These families have decisions which are so big, you know, should we shut down this factory that we’ve owned together for 40 years and Papa started? That’s a hard decision. So helping them work through together these kinds of decisions is what a roadmap does. The next phase is helping them through all those decisions. And that process can take take years, a generational transition, I expect to take depend upon its complexity, three to five years. And the third phase that we call it just wellness care, there will be issues that will come up unexpectedly, like we’d have to fire two board members, or they may call us back in to help them do something like that.

Will Bachman 37:16
To what degree do you kind of rely on your past, you know, roster of clients to maybe occasionally introduce one client to say, Hey, here’s a past client of ours who handled something very similar when he talked to them and get their, you know,

Robert Lachenauer 37:32
oh, oh, more and more. We’re learning that the best Banyan learning the best learning environment for family businesses, or other family businesses who have worked on the same issue that they’re working on. So it’s very common in our practice to say, oh, you’re setting up, we’re doing this with a client. Right now, you’re setting up a board of advisors, it’s your first board of advisors, we we suggest that you talk to four of our clients who over the years has set up a board of advisors, none will be exactly like yours, because their system is different. But you will often find them pulling five or six key insights that aren’t just banyon talking from the outside. But it’s from a peer saying, here’s how we handle this situation, is really fundamental to giving them the knowledge base and the confidence to take the steps they need. And also to know none of them are perfect. Neither they nor the other family businesses they’ve talked to. And we do this with, you know, 100 million dollar family businesses, we also do it with, you know, multi billion dollar family businesses, because everyone has a lot to learn from each other.

Will Bachman 38:44
I’m curious, what other sorts of things you’ve tried or do regularly, like do you do any sort of annual or periodic, you know, event where multiple clients might come together for some sort of, you know, day long set of seminars or, you know, any, any things like that, that your firm,

Robert Lachenauer 39:03
does? We, I wish we did is my quick answer. We’ve talked about it for years, and we get back, pulled back into our day to day client work. And I other firms do some really good sharing among family businesses, I think much of it is good, that they’ll get together with peers. There’s one conference I know in particular, they bring some of the best family businesses in the world together. And they talk about an issue that one of them is having, and they share. Oh, here’s what we did about it. And they have like two or three issues across the weekend that they deeply talk about. And I know the clients who come back from those conferences, really feel energized that we’re not alone. Others are facing similar, similar issues, and they’re solving them.

Will Bachman 39:53
So, Rob, where can people go if they want to find out more about your firm

Robert Lachenauer 40:01
Our website is Banyan dot global. There’s no.com it’s just Banyan die global. And in there, you’ll find kind of some of what we talked about. The other thing we believe is this book that you mentioned, the Harvard Business Review. Family Business Handbook, is the best expression of our practice right now. So, like what we’ve learned from our clients, and from ourselves, but mostly from our clients, we’ve poured into this book, and it’s the practices of some of the world’s best family businesses, as they struggled to kind of stay together, go across generations, deal with conflict, think about how to be responsible with their wealth. All of that a little bit in their

Will Bachman 40:45
Fantasticks. Well, we’ll include that link to your firm in the show notes, as well as a link to the book, which once again is the Harvard Business Review, family business Handbook, how to build and sustain a successful enduring enterprise. Rob, it’s been a lot of fun speaking with you and hearing about serving family owned businesses. Thanks so much for joining.

Robert Lachenauer 41:07
Well, thank you for your questions and your insights. I look forward to listening to more of your podcasts.

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