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Family Ties® E-Letter – December 2005 Issue

Logo: Family Ties®, Pervin Family Business Advisors Inc.

December 2005

Welcome to the Family Ties© e-letter brought to you by Pervin Family Business Advisors Inc.

Family relationships are powerful and complex. Family dynamics provide some of the most intriguing situations that we will ever experience. When they work, our lives are vibrant and exhilarating, and when they fail, we are forlorn and feel worthless. Pity those people who are not in family businesses, as they are limited in this experience, for better or worse.

I have always been a fan of actor, John Cleese. His Basil Fawlty character is an excellent study in unresponsive communication. We all have a bit of 'Basil' in us, but he appears to display a significant misunderstanding to the subtleties and complexities of human interaction.

Perhaps we might learn from Basil by asking ourselves a few questions: How can we experiment with our conversation strategies so there is an outcome that changes the interaction? How can we recognize the difference between professional and personal conversations, and then 'get it right'? How can we make ourselves more responsive to new thinking?

This newsletter continues to provide an eclectic array of articles and information, and, specifically looks at communication choices for family get-togethers.

Places worth visiting...

In upcoming issues, the business family topics will address beneficial aspects of governance, leadership, organization, planning and relationships, to offer a few ideas. If you have a question, a great idea for inclusion in this e-letter, or if you just have some comments you would like to share with us, we want to hear from you!

Best wishes to everyone. Have a safe and peaceful holiday.

Wise and pragmatic habits of successful business families...

Habit #6.
Establish communication as a discipline, ensure family connection and develop a written code of conduct, Shareholder Agreement, method to keep the peace and Shareholder Charter.

For your reading pleasure...

DISCRETIONARY BONUSES: "THE CHRISTMAS TURKEY IN AN ENVELOPE"
"In family businesses, the year-end discretionary bonus is a very popular approach to additional cash compensation," family business adviser Ernest A. Doud Jr. of Doud Hausner & Associates in Glendale, Calif., writes in The Family Business Compensation Handbook. – Read More

HOLIDAY BONUSES DOWN, PAY FOR PERFORMANCE UP
While parties are back, holiday bonuses are not. Fifty-nine per cent of companies will not award them this year, according to a survey of more than 1,000 large companies in the United States by Hewitt Associates, the global human resources services firm. – Read More

THE WAY WE ARE: INSPIRATION – THESE ENTREPRENEURS CAN SHOW US THE WAY
Strenuous self-promotion is what entrepreneurs must do. But the rest of us need to do it, too, in this new career world in which we have all become self-starters regardless of whether we are making our way up in a corporation or striking out on our own. – Read More

MULTIPLE VOTING SHARES AND GOVERNANCE
By Robert Parizeau, Chairman of Gaz Métro Inc. – Reprinted with permission from the October, 2005 edition of the Director newsletter, published by the Institute of Corporate Directors
The relevance of corporate structures with multiple voting shares is regularly called into question. – Read More

WHAT'S YOUR OWNERSHIP PERSPECTIVE?
Everyone looks at ownership differently. Perhaps these four categories are helpful in better understanding your accidental partners. – Read More

In the media...

CHUM NOT FOR SALE, FOUNDER'S SON VOWS
The family behind the CHUM Ltd. broadcasting empire says it has no plans to sell the television and radio network after the death of its legendary founder Allan Waters at the age of 84. – Read More

HE AIN'T VP, HE'S MY BROTHER
Pushing a relative out of the family business isn't fun. But handled well, it can benefit everyone and preserve the loving relationship. – Read More

WHEN EXCHANGING VOWS, WRITE THEM DOWN
Till death do us part? Unlikely -- which is why business partners should head off future strife by signing a written agreement. – Read More | The Shareholders Agreement

POWER FOOD: BOOMERS FUEL ANOTHER MARKETING NICHE
It looks and tastes like a regular egg. But Burnbrae Farms Ltd. bills its latest innovation as a superegg. – Read More

FEMALE TWIST ON FAMILY BUSINESS – MOTHER-DAUGHTER OPERATIONS GROW
There are father and son businesses, Mom and Pop stores, but the fastest growing entrepreneurial business these days-are Mother and Daughter operations. – View the Business Week Video

Thought of the day...

True GRIT1, not HH2

The holidays already have their challenges of travel, organizing and socializing, so here are a few thoughts to consider that may help you enjoy them and your family... or not...

True GRIT HH
Complete all the business year-end discussions and decisions before (or after) the family get-together. It's the only time to address the year-end decisions; we are all together; why spend the money for extra travel. Ask someone to make an important decision with scant information [read: sign here!].
Break from owner and business conversation and focus on the positive characteristics of your family. Inquire why the deal so-and-so was working on went sour or why certain people are getting bonuses, thereby lessening the available funds for the inactive shareholders. Hold a business family meeting at the dining room table and ask the spouses and children to go to the family room until it's over.
Demonstrate your strong commitment to family harmony and collaboration. Discuss ongoing rivalries and how so-and-so is driving you crazy. Perhaps there's an opportunity to ambush someone, or disclose a secret or start a false rumour. Try various divide-and-conquer strategies, revive any existing conflict or just set up opposing cliques.
Send messages that you value each person's contribution and are committed to building stronger family relationships. Ensure that people take notice of your ideas and opinions. Experiment with the Blame Game, hurtful jokes, sarcasm and put-downs under the guise of humour to prove your contribution thereby ensuring other people feel incompetent, unloved and unable to meet expectations.
Tear off the labels. See your family members as they are now, not as they were, and present a "one for all and all for one" family team perspective. Concentrate on offensive personal and physical characteristics and stir up some old feelings in order to prove that situations never change! Misinterpret people's intentions, respond to others with inappropriate levels of intensity, personalize events and generally get angry [and feel 'wronged'].
Focus on family philanthropy and other beneficial monetary choices. Engage in sensitive compensation and estate planning conversations. Use equality as a weapon so everyone feels that he/she is unacknowledged, receiving an allowance and dependent on 'the hand that feeds them'.

1Gradual Reduction in Tension – a way to lessen the stress often associated with family holidays.
2Hostile Holiday – a way to increase the stress often associated with family holidays.

Further Reading...

Did you know...

Our web site has recently been revamped and is chock full of interesting and compelling articles for the family business. You can send our articles to a friend, family member or colleague, quickly and easily.

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Pervin Family Business Advisors Inc.
(416) 360-0177
apervin@pervinfamilybusiness.com


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