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Let's Talk Family Enterprise

May 11, 2021


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 Exchange or its employees.



Guest Host Steve Legler speaks with Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University and author of Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them. Together, they discuss various ways that Family Enterprise Advisors (FEAs) can act as valuable resources to their family clients who have experienced family estrangement, which can occur over money and inheritance or unmet expectations.


Guest bio

Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., is one of America’s leading family sociologists and researchers on aging. Dr. Pillemer is a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College.


Throughout his career, Dr. Pillemer’s research has focused on how family relationships develop and change throughout people’s lives. His research takes place in the real world of families and professionals who work with them.


Karl Pillemer lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, Clare McMillan. He is the father of two daughters, Hannah and Sarah, and the grandfather of (scientifically and objectively speaking) the most adorable grandchildren in the world, Clare and Tommy. When not writing, you may find him running, biking, and playing the guitar (badly).


Book: Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.


You can find out more about Dr. Karl Pillemer here.


Key Takeaways

[0:30] Steve Legler introduces Dr. Pillemer and launches the conversation on how learning to work with fractured families is relevant to family advisors.


[2:47] Karl talks about the silent epidemic that a great number of families struggle with as well as some of the ways professionals can help families tackle this issue.


[5:50] The advisor may well be perfectly suited to serve a preventative function within families; Dr. Pillemer explains how.


[8:32] Karl describes one of the major highways to family estrangement and how advisors can help zero-sum game situations.


[10:40] There are multiple paths to estrangement, and Dr. Pillemer offers that socio-cultural expectations may have a big role to play as well.


[15:12] There is hope, even when there are fractures; Dr. Pillemer shares some of the results he saw in case studies.


[18:00] Should some fractures even be mended? Karl shares what signs to watch for as well as an anecdote from his book.


[22:40] Dr. Pillemer talks about the problem of inertia in the context of family conflicts.


[25:35] Successful reconciliation required one key aspect from the people involved, and Karl shares how he has seen this again and again.


[30:10] Looking forward despite disagreement is hard, but Dr. Pillemer shares how people who mend families have found a way.


[31:12] Steve invites Dr. Pillemer to share a book recommendation as well as his advice to advisors.


[36:40] Steve thanks Dr. Karl Pillemer for sharing so much of his expertise and invites listeners to subscribe to the podcast.


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Mentioned in this episode

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

Book: Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker


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