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Let's Talk Family Enterprise

May 12, 2020


Welcome to Let’s Talk Family Enterprise, a podcast that explores the ideas, concepts and models that best serve Family Enterprise Advisors in supporting their clients.



In a time of crisis, as Family Enterprise Advisors (FEAs) we work hard to be the valuable and trusted resource to our client families. In his latest work, Borrowed from your Grandchildren, Dennis Jaffe reports on a research project where he interviewed family members from 100 global business families who had succeeded over more than three generations. The book shares their stories of continual reinvention and renewal, and how they responded to vast changes in their family and business worlds.


Guest host Steve Legler sits down with Dennis to discuss ways that FEAs can use the wisdom gleaned from this research in service of their family enterprise clients as they face the COVID-19 pandemic.


Guest bio

For over 40 years, Dennis T. Jaffe has been one of the leading architects in the field of family enterprise consulting. As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he helps multi-generational families to develop governance practices that build the capability of next-generation leadership and ensure the ongoing capability of financial organizations and family offices to serve their family clients.


He is also a Family Business Scholar at the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University, a faculty advisor at the Ultra High Net Worth Institute, a regular contributor to Forbes Leadership channel, reporting on family cross-generational family business and wealth, and a professional member of the Society for Trust and Estate Planners (STEP).


For 35 years, he was a Professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He received his B.A. in Philosophy, M.A. in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University.


More about Dennis here.


Key Takeaways

[0:16] Steve introduces Dennis Jaffe and asks his guest to explain the origin, nature and goal of his most recent book.

[4:38] Dennis touches on the qualitative and narrative research used to build the theories and common themes covered in the book.

[6:00] From facing a crisis head-on to having the ability to reinvent and redefine who you are as a family and as a business, Dennis shares some tips for family advisors derived from successful multi-generational family businesses.

[10:04] Where does a family’s energy for change come from?

[12:11] Dennis touches on the notion of a Family Bank to invest and foster the next generation’s ideas and creativity both for money-making and social impact ventures.

[14:38] Advisors can be useful in ways that families may not ask or expect, Dennis shares a few examples of how this can manifest in the field.

[19:06] “Which one of my kids is going to be the successor?” Dennis explains how and why, when looking at 100-year family businesses, this is the wrong question. He also explains the need to challenge the very questions people want help with.

[22:40] First things first, coming out of this crisis: managing everyone’s expectations that are no longer true… Dennis offers examples.

[29:19] Everything will change with COVID-19; make sure you adapt and evolve.

[31:21] Dennis shares his last piece of advice from one advisor to another as well as a book recommendation.

[34:00] Steve thanks Dennis for his time and experience and invites listeners to subscribe and tune in for the next episode.


Mentioned in this episode

Let’s Talk Family Enterprise podcast is brought to you by Family Enterprise Xchange.



Borrowed From Your Grandchildren: The Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprises, by Dennis T. Jaffe

Ready or Not: Preparing Our Kids to Thrive in an Uncertain and Rapidly Changing World, by Madeline Levine


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More about our guest

Dennis T. Jaffe’s website