The Nature and Timing of Difficult Questions

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August 2015
Questions within the family business are often trickier to ask than those asked within a non-family business. In August, CFE Professors Justin Craig and Lloyd Shefsky hosted a Lunch and Learn with students from the 1Y and JD/MBA program on campus.

"With a broad theme 'asking tough questions', nothing was off-limits", noted Professor Craig. "Professor Shefsky probed masterfully and everyone responded. No one wanted to leave at the end."

A newly named 1Y Family Enterprise Club Leader reflected, "Much to all the students' surprise, many of our businesses are facing similar issues with succession planning, family dynamics with in-laws joining the business, and how to approach parents with the topic of compensation. I, personally, got a ton out of the lunch and can't wait to meet again. I think everyone felt their family business was unique in what it was experiencing, but it turns out that we are all in a similar position. So comforting!"

Another 1Y student who works in his 4th generation family business, over 90 years old, noticed, "a high level of trust and thus openness to discuss sensitive family/business/ownership topics, with good educational conversation are the result."

According to Professor Shefsky, "I was pleased to see the group's quick comfort level and willingness to share, which enabled us to push the process more rapidly and with good results. Our hope is that students who are interested will follow up by reaching out to the Center for additional guidance, or suggesting additional Lunch and Learn topics."