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Let's Talk Family Enterprise

Apr 12, 2022


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.

All views, information and opinions expressed during this podcast are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Family Enterprise Canada.


Host Steve Legler speaks with Dr. Joshua Nacht, author of Family Champions and Champion Families, about how FEAs can identify and support the champions who are part of many of their client families. These champions often have less obvious roles in the business circle but provide important leadership in the family and ownership circles, and as advisors we can become important resources to them.

Guest bio

Joshua Nacht, Ph.D., is a senior consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group and works with business families to help them become more intentional and organized to achieve their goals. He’s adept at working with multigenerational families to integrate their diverse perspectives and create structured plans for continuity.

Joshua is the author of the book Family Champions and Champion Families: Developing Family Leaders to Sustain the Family Enterprise. The book is a follow-up to his Ph.D. dissertation on the subject, which he did under Dennis Jaffe, who was our guest on Episode 11!

You can find out more about Joshua Nacht on The Family Business Consulting Group and his LinkedIn.


Key Takeaways

[0:26] Steve Legler welcomes Joshua Nacht. The subject for this episode is family champions. Joshua took his Ph.D. dissertation and wrote it into a book.

[2:05] The concept of the family champion came out of research Joshua did for Dennis Jaffe. Many people Joshua interviewed played notable leadership roles in their family enterprises without working in them. They were involved in governance and engaged in helping their family informally.

[3:47] When Joshua dug deeper, he came up with the idea of a book on family champions. He created his dissertation research planning to share it as a book for a wide audience. Joshua found tangible energy around the discussion about family champions. He would like the term family champion to become part of the family enterprise vocabulary.

[6:33] People leading a business don’t have the bandwidth to organize and lead the family. Joshua has met many family champions who informally organize and lead the family ownership group. Their leadership comes from their engagement and actions. The family champion role changes with the growth of the enterprise.

[11:09] The family champion is not an authoritative leader. A family champion emerges as somebody steps up to fill a need. Joshua shares four catalysts of family champions.

[14:02] The family champion is not always an individual. Sometimes a shared role works better. It could be a spouse pair, siblings or cousins.

[15:43] The more the family champion is supported by the business leadership, the more successful they can be. Effective leadership in the family ownership group is as important as effective leadership in the business. Most family businesses run into problems because of the family, not the business.

[19:25] Joshua discusses the governance forum; how the ownership council, the family and the board of directors of the business work together. The family champion supports effective governance by helping the ownership council and family to stay within their boundaries.

[23:28] Governance structure may evolve as conditions change. Family champions can help create the governance structure to meet the needs of the family and the ownership council.

[24:41] Joshua worked to build a family champion definition, characteristics, vocabulary and framework that can be adapted for each unique family.

[26:51] Dennis Jaffe suggested that Joshua should not begin research with preconceived notions, but do research into what people are doing well in common. The things Joshua found emerged as the cornerstones of the book.

[30:17] Joshua shares his book recommendation as well as a piece of advice from an advisor to other advisors.

[34:06] Steve thanks listeners for taking the time to tune in and invites them to subscribe!

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Mentioned in this episode

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

Family Champions and Champion Families: Developing Family Leaders to Sustain the Family Enterprise, by Joshua Nacht

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker


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