What you’ll learn:
Michael Palumbos 0:00
Welcome everybody to The Family Business Show. I'm your host, Michael Palumbos with family wealth and legacy In Rochester, New York. Appreciate everybody joining us. We have great, some wonderful special guests joining us today. And I've will mute everybody. And matter of fact, I'll do that in a second. Joining us today we have Dan Van Der Vliet. He's the executive director at the Smith Business Initiative at Cornell. Welcome, Dan. Dan has helped us to help to grow a respected program that Cornell includes numerous peer groups, statewide business forums and was the founder of the family enterprise Case Competition. Oh, you know what, I didn't update my thing. It didn't hit there. Dan, I apologize of laughing at myself. Dan sent me an updated piece and it didn't update on my website fast enough. I apologize. Oh, good. Here we go. Dan is the Executive Director, as we said of the John and Diane Smith executive, pro-Family Business Initiative at Cornell. It was founded in 2014. The Smith Family Business Initiative is housed in the Cornell College of Business and provides education, networking and research for family business owners, successors, and students from across the globe. Welcome, Dan, I appreciate you being here. And for those of you in upstate New York, you know, I like to share this with everybody. The fact that Cornell has an incredible program right there. And throughout upstate New York, you know, there's Syracuse has a program, St. John Fisher in Rochester has one, there's two or three in the Buffalo area. So, you know, those of you who are part of a family business, make sure you're getting connected to these, you know, college, you know, programs, university programs, they're phenomenal. And you know, it just like we're bringing in some great guests, you know, there's people that are, you know, out there, they just have incredible programs. So thanks again, Dan. Tim Belber welcome, Tim and I met years ago at the purposeful planning Institute, one of the godfathers of all of this, you know, purposeful planning and family wealth would be Jay Hughes. And I finished reading Jays book years ago. And he said, you’ve got to go meet Johnny Warneke. And Tim Belber. And the people that he's, he's putting together at the purposeful planning Institute. So it didn't take me long to do that. And welcome, you know, glad to have met Tim. Tim and I actually worked at the same company at one point, many, many years apart. And then Tim went in on a different path was pretty interesting. Tim has, you know, talks about the fact that money represents different values for different individuals, depending on one's personal outlook, their financial assets. It may be for freedom or security, respect or self-worth, connection to the future or A Link to the Past. Tim focuses on transformations, the conversation of the conversion of the family's tangible financial assets into the impact and empowerment they hope that those assets have for future generations and society as a whole. Tim is also the author of the book the Middle Way and Tim, I have to make an apology. I don't have the Middle Way sitting on my shelf. It's at my office. I do have that and I did not make the jump back to the office to bring it in. So welcome. I appreciate both of you joining us. Why don't you know, I gave you the brief introduction. If there if there's anything that either of you want to take a minute or two to introduce yourselves further if there's something that you want to share. Tim wanted to remind you anything you want to start with.
Tim Belber 04:54
Well, I one thing I like to do is thank you for putting together a forum like this. I wasn't too many years ago, when there were just a few lone voices in the wilderness talking about, we need to be thinking much as much about the people who are part of our businesses and part of our family as we do our financial assets. So just being able to have platforms like this to have these conversations is, is very meaningful.
Michael Palumbos 05:18
Great. Thanks. Thanks, Dan.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 05:22
Yeah, I mean, I would certainly reiterate that I think, you know, this, it's interesting that this technology has always been there, at least has been here for the last few years. And then suddenly, in the last month, we're all becoming experts and realizing how valuable it is to have these connections, some of them formal, some of them informal, but, you know, I've just, I think anytime you can sort of come together and just, you know, hear what other people are doing. See it? You know, sometimes they're struggling, sometimes it's positive, but I think it's helpful to sort of be in connection with others during this time. So, Dan, thanks.
Michael Palumbos 05:58
So one of the things that I did, as we're talking about learning the technology, I created the polls for the first time. And when I did them, I did them so that they're anonymous. So you know, I'm just gonna pull up the first poll, because I think, you know, Tim, and Dan and myself loved it a little bit of direction, if there's something on anybody else's mind. I know, we have some questions that we're prepared for. But let me just see if this works. Here. I'm going to launch the polling. And here's question tell me if everybody you got a little bit of time to go through this. And what it is, is, you know, what are the top two or three things you're thinking about right now, as it comes to the family business? And you can select more than one? You know, there's a bunch up there, there's 10 different choices. But and this is anonymous, we didn't we turn that up and turn the anonymous off. We're on rather just if there's anything on your mind, can everybody see that? If you give me a thumbs up, if you can see it good? Yeah, go ahead and tell us what's on your mind. What are you thinking about right now? Got a couple of votes coming in dealing with the uncertainty? Yep. Employees? Yeah. Thank you. That's good. What if this continues for another two to three months? Agreed? Yeah. Um, oh, yeah. Somebody jumped into question two. Good. Thank you. Yeah. So we'll pull that back up again. At the end, what am I? How are my customers being affected? Yeah, that's a great one. You know, it's, whereas as we're dealing with these things we need to be gentle with they're going through some things right now as well. We need to pivot and we're struggling for a new direction. Good. I think we've got some great stories and some people that have pivoted today that we're gonna be talking about. All right, I think I'm going to end this for the moment. And then I'll open it back up again, when we end. But thank you for doing that. That helps us as we're doing things. And then I'll minimize this so I can relaunch it. So kind of the first place that I wanted to take this. And I think that we're still in this period of uncertainty. And I think everybody's curious, what are other people thinking? What are they feeling right now? What kind of what's the temperature of the family businesses out there right now? So, Dan, would you mind sharing with us? What do you what are you feeling? What do you know, what's the temperature out there right now?
Daniel Van Der Vliet 08:33
You know, it really depends on the sector and the type of business. You know, I've been trying to connect with many businesses here and there, I think they are certainly concerned. You know, we're at a point now where this, you know, lockdown has been over a month, and I think we're seeing signs of opening up in certain areas. I'm here in Vermont. And some smaller, less than five, employee businesses are opening up. I think most of them are just looking for a way there, you know, they're just trying to find ways to serve their customers in new ways to reach them where they are, which is generally at home. And so, I think family businesses, in general, tend to be incredibly resilient in this way. You know, I spoke with one owner a few weeks ago, and you know, and this is a company that's been around for over 100 years. And, you know, and, and has been talking to his employees about the fact that, you know, while this particular crisis, you know, came on so suddenly and it is so widespread globally, but yet, you know, you look at even just the last 30 years and most of our lifetimes, you know, we have dealt with, you know, the 2008 recession 911 and 2001. You know, the crash of 1987 And, you know, for business has been around 100 years, there have been numerous recessions and depressions and wars. And so I think it's, you know, the general tenor is, you know, what do we have to do? Where, where can we save money? Where can we, you know, just sort of position ourselves to be, you know, better equipped for the long haul. And really not panic. And, and I think the effective leaders and owners are communicating that to their employees. And they're looking really for whatever they can do to sort of maintain some level of cash flow and just be better positioned. When, when this all turns whenever that might be.
Michael Palumbos 10:43
Thank you, Same Thoughts.
Tim Belber 10:45
You know, I'm just gonna build a little bit on what on what Dan said, I with the business owners, who were my clients that I see out there, a lot of the initial panic of over what is going on, is starting to ease up. And they're starting to think a little bit more strategically, and starting to think about what how they can function in, quote, whatever the new normal will be. One of the things that I found very helpful, as Dan was mentioning, the 100 year old company, is, is getting specific about or getting some perspective about where we are, and what we've seen before and not getting too caught up on. We've been at this a month, when is this ever going to end but start trying to think, a little bit longer term. And it's interesting, I've been doing a lot of work with client families around resilience. In fact, I'm bringing out a program next week that I've partnering with a woman named Kristen McDermott on, which is how to have resilience conversations with your employees and also with your family at home. And she talks about resilience is not this idea of gritting your teeth and getting through it. But it's more resilient says, what do I want to look like when we come out of this? And that's where I see business owners starting to, to lean more towards that type of thinking.
Michael Palumbos 12:15
Perfect. And for those of you who have been on one of our webinars already, you know that I, you know, had been talking about the Stockdale paradox and I think that's really what the two of you are both saying is that, you know, the POWs, Jim Stockdale was a POW he was Ross Perot's running mate. Back when and when they interviewed him after he escaped from the POW camp. They asked him, how you survived. And it was the paradox of being able to hold two opposing thoughts at the same time. And those two opposing thoughts were, no matter what happens, I'm getting out of here. I don't know how it's gonna happen. I don't know what it's gonna look like, I can't predict it. But I'm gonna get out of here. And I know that. And that's holding that one thought. But you know, as you're going through torture, or going through home isolation, or you know what we're doing, we still have to deal with the brutal facts of our current situation. And so if you, if you can hold both thoughts at the same time, and keep that paradox alive, I think that's helpful. As we're doing this, we want to be realistic about what we're doing optimistic about where we're going, and just deal with the facts in front of us day by day. Thank you. So you, we both the three of us, were talking at different times about some of the stories that you're hearing and, you know, people, some people are making different decisions right now. They're flourishing, they're pivoting. They're putting some different, you know, spins on what they've done. Do you mind? You know, Dan, you know, I want to hit real quick. You talked about a photographer with me, I just think that's a great story. Would you mind sharing that and you know, how that went along?
Daniel Van Der Vliet 14:04
Yeah. So I mean, this is just kind of a neat story. From our, from here in Vermont, oh, this, this is somebody who has done work for us through the Smith Family Business Initiative. And when this all sort of started, you know, this is a photographer who primarily works as a solo entrepreneur. I mean, instantly saw three weeks and you know, now more than a month worth of business completely just vaporized, you know, just virtually no work. I mean, he does mostly event and wedding photography. He's very successful at what he does, but, you know, those events are not happening. And I think what was inspiring about this particular story, and I kind of keep coming back to it is, you know, what do you do in that situation, you have nothing to do your cash flow has suddenly hit zero. And what was interesting, he said, you know, I want to be able to at least do something contribute to my community and some way and so he put out through his community listserv, an offer to take family portraits. From a safe social distance, he actually got some pushback from people saying you shouldn't be doing this, but he actually had support of, you know, several kind of local politicians that he was doing to safely. And what was interesting as this sort of evolved, and this was not the direction he thought it would go, he ended up with nearly 150 families responding to this offer, and he would ride around, sometimes on his bike, pull up in the front take, you know, photographs, either on their porch, in their driveway or somewhere in the yard. And he just started posting these to his website and to his social accounts, they became so popular that the state of Vermont caught wind of this and reached out to him. And now he's actually working with the State Historical Society, in an archival project to sort of document life during the pandemic in Vermont, that work has now expanded at the request of the state to include many of these, you know, restaurants and eateries that are doing curbside service. So you know, another area where you can go and take pictures from a safe social distance, it's now including the work that a lot of the schools are doing, because the schools are still providing lunches and meals. And so it's expanded beyond the point of, you know, what he initially thought it has created, you know, great amount of goodwill, I'm sure, ultimately, it will lead to more business for him when this all, you know, begins to open up again. But, you know, one interesting aspect is, you know, the potential for new business, but in a different way. So now he's actually thinking about shifting his operation, possibly publishing a book, as well as maybe being more of a documentary or, you know, historical photographer. And so, you know, I use that example, because it's, you know, I think business owners have a bias for action, you know, when you're faced with, you know, just the way that this hit us almost immediately, what do you do in those situations, in his case, he had a lot of time to think a lot of, you know, room to operate. And he took action in that regard. So, you know, for some business owners, you know, they're hit with much more businesses, businesses, like Stewart's and burns dairy, you know, we're seeing them, you know, a lot of our food companies are in Wegmans. You know, they're going through the roof right now. But other businesses, you know, they just saw a lot of business evaporates. So, you know, what do you do when you suddenly have that amount of whitespace, and time to operate? I think, you know, this is just a great example of having a bias reaction, wanting to do something possibly, leading to a very different part of his business after this alleviates.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 14:48
Love it. It's a great example, Tim.
Tim Belber 17:48
And well as it's funny, as I was listening to Dan talk, one of the things that I've seen business owners doing, it's what I'm trying to do is, quote, meet people where they are today, which means they're stuck at home. They're having to interact with their families probably way more than they have in a long time. And they're looking for outlets, or they're looking for help to do that. And one business owner who she comes from a family of serial entrepreneurs, and she owns several of these indoor cycling studios. And they will obviously all completely shut down. But she liked and had some time to think about what can we do and her clients members, whatever you want to call them, were incredibly dedicated to their workouts because they love the way that the cycle that's called cycle bar way it operates. So she put out an offer where she will rent them bikes to people in their homes, deliver them to their homes. And then she conducts classes over I don't think she uses zoom, but a similar platform. And every single bike she had in the shop except for three, one for her and one for each of the other two instructors are now in people's homes, and she's receiving a monthly rental for the bike plus a very, very small charge for the for participating in the classes. And so that's the only thing that has been able to help keep her semi afloat. But I thought it was brilliant. And like, like Dan was saying about the photographer. She's thinking that when things open up again, she's going to have this as an additional armor for business, doing in home training, as well as having people come right to her cycling studio said, being creative, taking advantage of the whiteboard space that you have in front of you and figuring out what can we do differently?
Michael Palumbos 19:46
Yeah, it's, that's phenomenal. Two great examples. There one of the one of my mentors is a woman named Susan. Sorry, I just did that. Shannon sasco and Shannon does an awful great job she taught us how to map out your current space that you're in, what is the sandbox that you're playing in? And then take a look at what are the 5, 10 things that clients in that space customers are looking for in that space? Mapping out? What your competition is doing? And what did they not? What did they really good at? And then look at that map of what are the things that people want? And then what are the things that your competition is really good at? And what like you said, Tim, look for that. Whitespace? Where's that whitespace? What are the things that they want? And where do we map that out? And then how do we deliver it to them. And, you know, Shannon is a serious entrepreneur and ran a bunch of different companies. But one of them, you know, just surprised her, there was this thing that people really wanted, and in the broker dealer world, just processing of payments, and nobody else was delivering it. So that's all she went after, for really itty bitty tiny broker dealers, when everybody else was going after the whales. Well, after she had hundreds or thousands of these small broker dealers, you know, processing through their system, it opened up the door to all the big ones. And so it's a really good point looking for that whitespace people are still, we still have needs, we still have things that we're looking for. How can we as entrepreneurs deliver that to them? Thank you,
Tim Belber 21:33
Michael Palumbos. Said it goes to what people remember. And two years from now, nobody will remember exactly what you did. But they will remember how you made them feel. Yeah, and I think every there's an opportunity with anybody who has customers to stay in contact with them. I know some folks, colleagues, the silence from them is deafening, they've almost completely withdrawn. And I think they're missing a chance to really prove how much they care about their customers, even though they can't sell them anything right now.
Michael Palumbos 22:12
Daniel Van Der Vliet 22:14
Mike, I mean, finding your customers where they are, I think, you know, another great example of two young guys here in Vermont. And this was a project they had been working on prior to this, but I mean, talk about sometimes it's just luck, or great timing, is a mobile or changing service. And because of that tire changing service, and, you know, they didn't want to invest in, you know, the physical infrastructure of a garage, they had an idea, I'm sure it's nothing revolutionary, new, but at the same time now they can't keep up with the business. And I thought it was interesting, because, you know, they talked about, they charge a slight premium over the typical garage, but you know, how many of us wouldn't pay that five $10 premium to have somebody come to our house, change our tires for us, not be inconvenience with, having to go to the garage, drop off your car, go pick it up? so I think we're gonna see many more of the sort of mobile type businesses be it's either, you know, having the physical ability to take your business, mobile, or the Virtual Ability to take your business mobile. And, and certainly, you know, I think for any business, you know, there's you, there's some possibilities there as well.
Michael Palumbos 23:30
Love it. If anybody, again, if anybody has a question or a comment or a story that you'd like to share, if you know of another business that is having a successful pivot, I would love for you to put your hand up, and we'll unmute you so you can share the story with us. That would be we love hearing the stories of people's ingenuity and creativity as we're going through this.
Tim Belber 23:56
One thing that I experienced just last week that the state of Colorado has recognized that they need to think about things differently. And I'm not sure if other states are doing it but in Colorado, they now allow legal documents to be notarized over a platform like this right, which was huge. The problem is that some of the big law firms professional liability policies don't allow for it so now they're having to make amendments to those things. But for a while they're doing look like you could get anything notarized for but somebody said, Well, we know we, we can connect this way and they have a whole procedure that you go through. But they've they revolutionized that business and there's even talk of it continuing afterwards.
Michael Palumbos 24:43
Interesting. We just going to open up for Gail real quick. Gail.
Like, I can somebody speak to the fact of you know, we're a midsize advertising agency, and we're really our team is working really well remotely. And we're actually looking at our business model to say, you know, maybe this is the way that we can operate in the future. Any stories coming out like that, that businesses that can operate remotely? Are they are they taking that seriously?
Michael Palumbos 25:14
Yeah, that's a, that's a great point. So I can share our story real quick. And then I'll go back to we, we had one of our employees that we love. That was moving out to Colorado, and she knew that in June, November of last year, had made the decision that we were going to do that she was going to do that. So her goal was by March 16, to be up and live in Colorado. So we had been working, thankfully to do this stuff, and my team is all Gen Y, they're all millennial. I'm not obviously. And so I was pretty stubborn about it, you know, we're hiring somebody else. If this doesn't work, I'm not you know, I, if it doesn't work for me, if we can't get the stuff done, I'm gonna put my foot down and shoot, and you might not like it, the person who was moving out there being solitary and whatnot, you know, that way. So, the day that all of this stuff went down, we flipped a switch, and we were ready to go. We had been doing fireside chats with all you know, because we're unique, where we're, we do business growth planning, business Exit Planning, we do the you know, the family, the family work, and we're financial advisors. So we're cradle to grave and everything that we do. So but my financial planning clients were like, just keep us posted on the market. What's happening? Where are we at? So every Friday at four, I do the fireside chat. And then through that some of them started talking. And they're like, we should do a happy hour. So we're still doing we're doing a happy hour on Tuesdays with people that don't even know each other we're playing. What is it? Come on. Okay, you know what I'm talking trivia. We're playing trivia online. So that was one of the ways that we've been doing it. I'm positive that my team will be saying, well, I'm taking this week to work from Florida and get my work done. I can easily see that coming. And that'll be okay. KAY'S Sister, just jump on for a second, then I want to turn it back around. Tell us about your sister real quick.
Yeah, so we're seeing a lot of trends is the next workforce that's coming up and a lot of companies, they want the ability to work from home already. So my sister and her husband have lived in an RV, like a traveling RV for the past five years. So if you remember any childhood shows like The Wild Thornberry. That's then do it very successfully? So as a couple they make six figures and they just traveled the country. So
Michael Palumbos 27:59
Yeah, their residences in South Dakota or North Dakota, because and then they just travel you Where are they now? And they just set up as long as they have a good internet connection and good to go. Tim and Dan?
Daniel Van Der Vliet 28:11
Yeah, all um, I'll jump in. And I'll pick up on Kay's point, you know, sort of digital nomads have been around for a while, but I think we'll definitely see an increase of that. My cousin's son is a professional musician. He writes jingles for commercials. He's very good at what he does. And like, I see the pictures of where he goes, that, you know, the guy travels the world. And he can do long as he has an internet connection you can set up shop. So I think there are two gales point I think there's two implications here. One is on, you know, that that workforce, are they prepared to work that way, and especially for this next generation coming in, and in some ways they'll expect it. I know, with our with our own team at the Smith Family Business Initiative, I would argue that our level of communication has increased greatly. And, you know, we all work in an office together, and you just sometimes take for granted that proximity factor, when all of a sudden you're separated, you know, you want to be more clear and more thoughtful about how you're communicating. So I think that's certainly one implication for you, Gail, the other is going to be on real estate. And, you know, revisiting some of those real estate deals, because I think there are going to be a lot of businesses who have discovered that they can do business virtually. I'm in a group of advisors and educators and we get together about once a month and within that group as a married couple, both of them are psychiatrists, and they have both, you know, through the first month, they have found that their business has not suffered at all. They're doing all their meetings virtually and there's and they're wondering, why are we paying 1000s of dollars for a downtown location when we can do this online. And so they are looking at vacating that lease at the first possible opportunity. So, you know, for those that have physical infrastructure, I think many are going to have to take a serious look at is, is it necessary, you might see a rise of co working spaces where, you know, people can work virtually when needed. And, you know, these sorts of, you know, co working spaces can serve the function of you know, your once a week meeting or meeting with clients when needed. So I think there's going to be a radical change in terms of how we interact, do business from afar, certainly, there's always going to be a need for face to face. And but I, you know, I think the threshold is going to grow a little bit higher as to when and where that's unnecessary.
Tim Belber 30:36
At the end, I think you're spot you're spot on with that, because I have an oil and gas. They don't they don't actually do exploration, but they're more oil and gas investment firm. And the son in law, who is the leader of the next generation, was one of these people who would get to work at seven in the morning, and usually wouldn't get home till seven at night. Now, he's been working from home because he was forced to, and I was just call with him like this yesterday. And he said, you know, Tim, I think I'm going to do this three days a week, I really enjoyed being at home, I don't want to go to the office. And I don't see why we need to make people deal with commutes when we don't manufacture anything, it's just a matter of structuring it. And I think I also do some stuff with the Colorado cattlemen association with ranchers. And I think we're going to be starting to shift into the ranch mentality where you work where you live, and live where your work. But you're gonna have to be new balances struck. And I think there'll be even a whole new consulting industry of people who can help companies set up permanent virtual workforce
Michael Palumbos 31:43
perfect, there's, um, I am looking over here, there's a tool that I just was introduced to, that I wanted to share with people and I have not started using it yet. But when you're doing group coaching, a lot of times, you know, when you're working in a group, it's nice to be able to have everybody write down on a post it note and then everybody share their answers and then group them and look, you know, look through all those it's called mural that I just remembered it. And so mural is just another workspace, like zoom is where we can write on the whiteboard and zoom. But mural, you can do even more interactive, you know, hey, everybody writes your notes on the whiteboard, you know, or on the on a three bike a post it note and then just have a discussion around things. So it's the tools that I think that are going to be coming out over the next three to five years are gonna be phenomenal. Um, any other questions? Anybody else have a comment that they want to make or something? Ed? I see Ed's over there. All right. You're unmuted sir.
Ed Teller 31:43
Hi, my name is Ed Teller, old friend of Michaels. I'm a 68 to 70 Peace Corps grad at Cornell. And Gala. I met a number of years ago through a good friend of mine, Steven fine. That later picked a surgeon that saved my life. But for esophageal cancer, that nobody would tell me how bad it was. But a year later, I read it was 2% survival. So I got down on the carpet and said, Thank you, God. And so I sell lower middle market businesses have for 38 years. In upstate New York, I'm based out of Portland. So I think of myself as a student of businesses, and a certain of people. I would tell you that I think the things you put into growing mid-August to somewhere in mid-September. I hear all these stories about employees going to stay home. How there's probably five or 10% malcontents in some businesses, the rest of Vonnegut's work want to be with their friends want to do what they do for a living. And it's, it's just that simple. There's others that have systemic problems. Friend of mine is probably the top restaurant broker in the country, operates how to serve her out of Boston, and listened to a couple of his webinars. And he clearly said that the people in the downtown of Boston cannot make it worse six foot, they just can't they can't put enough seats, they can't generate enough money to cover and the landlord's tend to be hurt big operators are unlikely to cut the rent, but that story is yet to be told. They number of years ago, received so many changes over so I've asked people probably a third of my friends from people I know agree with me on this and can be much more draconian. I think people want to go back to work. They don't look at it as a chore. They look at it as what they do, and who they are. What we do with all this money that we're spending to get there, I didn't pay enough attention. International Finance is scroll. So I can't wait on that. But I think we're gonna be fine after Iran.
Michael Palumbos 35:08
Thank you. You're welcome. Thank you. Um, so when we're talking about, you know, family businesses, right now, we always talk about, you know, working in the business versus working on the business is, you know, a conversation we're always having, what would you say are the, you know, the top things that that family should be thinking about? Right now, so that when, you know, this does open up an economy does, you know, we have a vaccine and things are out there doing what they're supposed to be doing? We're hitting the ground running, so to speak. Speak to that for a little bit.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 35:45
Yeah, I'll jump in first, there's an interesting survey coming out of Banyan global based in Boston, it hasn't been fully published yet. But it's essentially taking the pulse of business owners right now, you know, a couple of interesting findings. 90%, and, excuse me for reading some of this 90% said, certainly, there's been a negative impact on the business, but that's split evenly between a minor impact and a major one. So yes, it's affecting everyone, but only about five, 5% feel that they're in danger of failing, how they're responding. 69% are delaying capital investments. 40% are reducing salary or benefits. 28% are reducing dividends. 24% are laying off employees. So relatively small in terms of laying off employees, and very few are bringing in outside capital or selling parts of the business. But one, I think, interesting point is that, and we alluded to this earlier, for a lot of these businesses, communication has increased, in some cases exponentially. And there, you know, for many of these families that, you know, might be, you know, geographically dispersed, you know, again, you know, suddenly all of a sudden, this technology we're using now seems so brand new, but, you know, are realizing that, you know, this can be a very effective tool to connect with family members, near and far. So, to answer your question, Michael, I think, for many business owners, its affected them, we all realize that I think, you know, the big unknown here is, you know, when do we get back to normal? And what does that look like, you know, to Ed's point, you know, I remain optimistic like him, I think, you know, we are a species that that wants human contact and social proximity. And I think there'll be a calculated risk in terms of what that's going to look like, eventually. But, you know, for businesses right now, other than the things we've already talked about, in terms of finding new ways to your customers, I think this is a good time to maybe look at, you know, some of those governance and relationship type things that, you know, might set, you know, a precedent for better practices moving forward, if, if you are in a place where you do have a lot of that, that time to think, either because business has been suspended or is incredibly reduced right now. You know, take advantage of that time, to really lay the groundwork, if you know, if the goal is to continue beyond this generation, this is a great time to involve that generation, using all of the technology and tools that are there right now. And think about, you know, what, what, what can you do to better prepare for, you know, when business springs back are full, Tim?
Tim Belber 38:38
Yeah, I echo a lot of that, I think, fruit for business that? Well, for example, I'm thinking of a conversation I had with somebody who owns a kitchen and bath, installation company and store, and they're clearly not doing anything right now. They have a lot of backup work. But they just, you know, they don't want to go into someone's home, they don't know and people don't want them in their homes. So he's he they've gotten through, they've gotten their payroll Protection Plan loans, so they haven't had to lay anybody off. They're paying them a reduced salary, but they want to keep them there. But what they're doing is they are focusing on maintaining the best relationships they can with their employees, meaning asking them, what do you need? What do you feel like you need right now to get through this day, or this week, and then trying to help them with that? And then with their customers, stay in touch with them with some interesting things like tips and techniques for keeping your kitchen the cleanest it can possibly be? Those kinds of things to reach out to them to say we know where you are, and we're just going to try to help you the best way we can. And I think doing those two things, and then paying attention to the responses that you get back from your employees and from your car. Summers, and maybe even if you're worried about supply chain, maintain that relationship with your supplier on a basis of that, what the Harbinger Institute calls that outward mindset? What impact can I have on somebody else? Rather than? How are they impacting me? And I think you'll be able to ratchet up, amp up, get back to normal, whatever you want to call it very quickly, because of the human connections that you've strongly maintained during this this time period. Perfect. Yeah,
Daniel Van Der Vliet 40:33
Tim, I would, I would, I would add to that my brother in law actually owns a kitchen and does a kitchen and bath design company. And he's actually seen an increase in business at this time, it's allowing, he has some virtual tools that he can employ, which is allowing him to sort of cast his business further afoot, you know, so he's, you know, rather than doing, you know, calls with people that live two hours away, he can now do them and do more of them in a day. And plus, where he, where he happens to live in rural New Jersey, you know, there's been an influx of, of real estate deals with people again, you know, kind of similar to post 911 people wanting to get out of the major urban areas, and a lot of the real estate in that part of New Jersey is starting to dry up. Plus, you have families that are, who may not be affected as financially by this crisis right now and happen to have a lot of time on their hands. And they're thinking now's the best time to do you know, some home improvement project. So, again, I think it speaks to that, you know, finding your customers where they are and what their needs are, what new tools can you utilize, that that maybe helps sort of bridge that, that physical distance gap.
Tim Belber 41:44
That's interesting, because the other the, my client has partnered doing this the same type of using digital tools, they used to charge for kitchen designs, because they didn't want people coming in getting a design from them, and then going to somewhere and getting it built for less, but they're giving that away when they have it out there. And then you want to design a kitchen, we'll get on the on a dialog like this with you. And we'll design the kitchen for you right now. And he has gotten, again, relationship pickup, but he's sure that it's going to turn into good business for him down the road.
Michael Palumbos 42:23
Love it. Yeah, for us, we have implemented work on the business, Day, you know, once a month, we started that about a year ago. And we just took all the things that are on our work on the business, you know, list, and are starting to knock them off right now. Because we do, you know, typically, if I go to see a client, and Elmira or you know, Courtland, it's a two hour drive. That picks that's four hours out of my day as I'm doing that stuff. So we're picking up a lot more time right now. And our websites getting redone. We've added video capabilities, we're you know, right now, we're recording this, and we'll share it with people. And we're just looking at the work that we're doing and say and, you know, we're almost feel like we're bringing a better product out because of all of this technology in the way that we're thinking through this every conversation that we have, whether it's, you know, family driven, and I've had, I have one family we're doing today, Zoom meetings, because we started working on governance, and we started working on conflict resolution, and some things that they were going through in this transition from G to G three, generation two to generation three. So for those who haven't heard that before, and we're doing them on Zoom. And there, you know, half of the family sitting in their living rooms or their offices, and we're having exactly the same meeting that we were having six months ago. We just try to do more breaks and be thoughtful about, you know, people's attention spans as we're doing things, but we're still being productive. We're teaching people that weren't taking notes before, don't be the note taker of the family and scribing things and the communication is gone way up. So interesting times, it's interesting. Um, we're sitting at 1245. I want to be mindful of, you know, questions, right. The second our guests, you know, you've got, you've got them available. If there's any questions that you know, anybody here, well, all right. We talked about creative things. We've talked about the temperature of the market out there, we've talking about what family firms are doing, to, you know, thrive and, and survive, you know, during these times. What are families doing? You know, both of you are, you know, we have succession plans that might have been in place we have, you know, transitions that are happening, we have plans that are happening, what do you Seeing in that arena in terms of, you know, families working together on the family stuff, not just the business stuff right now.
Tim Belber 45:08
Well, this is this is one of the things where I spend a lot of my time on Zoom, is doing family, I don't want to, I don't want to call on meetings, it's more of a family gathering. And they love being able to see their grandchildren. And that's the, that's the most common theme I've been hearing lately is Timis just work so we can see the grandchildren. And one of the things that I've learned about that is, they have to have an actual purpose for the gathering. And they have to have, even though it's just they're going to talk, they're going to interact with each other, they have to have some questions that they're going to talk about, because I did one for a family. And they said, oh, this is great, we can do this ourselves. And so they set up a thing called the Family zoom, they got on, and nobody said anything. Because they didn't have topics to talk about. And you know, like one of the one of the one of the family zooms we did was we gave all seven of the grandchildren an opportunity to ask their grandparents a question from this list, I call story worthy questions. And it's a question like, what was your first car? And why did you like it so much. And they all talk that they had a whole list of these kinds of questions. And it was great because the grandparents got to see them. And it was now the grandchildren interviewing them, instead of what normally goes on as grandparents interrogating their grandchildren. So they're doing those kinds of things to, to keep their connections going. And they're also really working on making sure the conversations are healthy ones. Because it's so easy when you spend that many hours a day together, that the conversations can devolve into something that's not good, which is why I've become such a fan of helping them to have conversations around resiliency, because that actually adds a perspective of what's life is going to be like once we get through all of this. I have an interesting yesterday I was on a zoom call. I have a client who is building a new home south of Denver, and they're doing a groundbreaking and he wants to groundbreaking to be around if the whole family. And so he and I were on Zoom for about 3040 minutes yesterday, discussing how we can create a ritual for he and his wife and their three young children to all be part of the groundbreaking and knowing that they're moving ahead with this as a family rather than it's just something that mom and dad are doing. And we're gonna live there.
Michael Palumbos 47:46
Love it. Love it, Dan.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 47:49
Yeah, I think it Tim your point about having an agenda or some questions ahead of time, I think is a great point. I mean, just in my own personal family, we've done zoom calls on each side, both my side and my wife side. And you know, the initial sort of seeing all your family members together in one place, kind of wore off really quickly. And then there were those awkward moments of silence where we wish we had something, you know, some question out there to just kind of keep the conversation peppered. So I think if you're doing that in, especially in a family or a business context, the agenda matters, or at least having a reason for the call. And then to just sort of see everybody on the screen. In terms of actual, you know, situations, I don't have much to share only, you know, one, one example of a business that had put in a lot of work ahead of time, in terms of the succession and had planned on succeeding from the, from the second generation to the third generation on June 1, this was very much something that had been in place. And, you know, according to that, President, you know, it could not come at a better time, you know, this, this actually, this was an owner who had said he was going to step down numerous times before, and had sort of always backed out, as you know, sometimes is the case in family business, it's hard to let go. But this was sort of one of those occasions where the owner was like, you know, what, this is a really good time to leave. And, you know, the successor couldn't be happier about it, because it really gives him an opportunity to jump in. And even though there is sort of this, you know, sense of crisis at hand, it's a great moment to sort of, you know, instill your leadership into that business that's really looking for it at that at that moment. So, you know, I haven't seen any many other cases where they've either put off, you know, delaying it or, or it's really caused a crisis. So, I think it just speaks to, you know, having that work done ahead of time when crisis hits, can really be very informative and instructional when needed.
Tim Belber 49:56
I think it ED has a question. Yeah.
Ed Teller 50:00
Go ahead, ready to give you too many stories. Both are accurate. You know, I'm not sure on timing. But, you know, 15, 20 years ago, they tried work at home where the technology wasn't there, you know whether there weren't receptive, but it didn't work. I think this time, one of my best friends is the top, a PC guide. And a VC guide, searchers does a lot of Reynolds has said, you know, you got to up your game, that's even possible, because I think everybody that's got a need is going to have this even on PA and grandma, because there has been see the kids go back to working away from home. And I've got a lot of friends. And unfortunately, too many of them are dead. But I'm a hard style karate guy. And so I would go to train with some of them once in a while, met a guy in Syracuse, and they were introduced by another friend. But I said to her, what do you do for a living? I write code. And I don't live under a box. But you know, I don't know how to write code. Because the child more advanced than I hard style why not? This doesn't make sense. So I said to him, we used to have some lunches on a regular basis before he moved. So what's the code? Well, I mean, I understand you work for somebody in the Midwest in Chicago. So it is my job. I write the code I send him he sends me a check, which is the way you live. It's got to be pretty big track. Now. Well, not that. So he said to me on one of our lunches, I'm going to move to San Diego, because I don't like California because I've been there many times as expensive and send emails. Now I know what I'm going to get paid. Well, what are you going to do? I'm going to be a group leader for GoPro. I knew about the camera. But so what's a group leader? Ah, you know, I suppose I had a petite. Okay. So he goes there. And he's gone. I'm on his email distribution is gone all the time. I said, how are you gone? Any motorcycles? Now? Paraglide. Three years later, he says, I'm moving to San Francisco. Jesus. Do you understand that? If San Diego is expensive, San Francisco's more? Yeah. He says, I gotta work for the queue. I know the cube my karate guy in San Diego. Had that. You know, I understand. I know what that is. Yeah, this is I got to add up a bigger group. Really? Sure. He's gone all the time. He's on his trips. So he was here this summer. And I said, you know, I don't like to pry into another pants business. But how the heck do you get so much time off? Oh, he says it's easy. What do you mean? She's our program is you probably don't understand it. That's an understatement. And why case she's not getting two weeks’ time off from the business to work. But I can work from any location I want to work with to run a team. Yeah. Once my guys aren't in San Francisco, high school. Okay. And a says I get two weeks’ vacation every 90 days. When you get two weeks to be in. Yeah. So he's it all over the world. You just two years ago was learning paraglide he goes east or west of Vietnam, in these giant mountains getting trained by a pro he's hunted South America. So as long as I work, he says in turn in my work and watch my people Alright, that guy is gone now he's totally in his apartment because situation there. But die is gone. Literally all the time. Gets paid big bucks. I don't exactly sure where we're sitting at Century Club. And I had asked him before, you know, your partner's not per your condo. It's not very big. And I told her was expensive. And that's really Christ. So this is, so how big Alex is. I want to walk to work. Okay, so we're sitting in a member's dining room where she has like a ballroom. He says about the same as this room. Is I'm really happy. Really? Can I ask how much it is? Yes, $75,000 a year plus tax and you're gone most the time. So this video is here to stay this normal for people is already here. I mean, it just shocks me. I'm like God says he's getting paid half a million bucks a year. So I asked him the other day. Sorry. He's been caught McLeod's a couple times. I said, how do you get out? He says we hope we get out a lie. What do you mean? He says you can't see where you are when you're in high risk. Right? That's but things are moving.
Michael Palumbos 55:08
Yeah, they are.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 55:09
Hey, Mike. Yep. Can I ask you a question? Of course, I see Nick Matt on the line and hate to put you on the spot, Nick. But I actually just posted a, a little Instagram story about Saranac this morning and talk about perspective of 100 year old business CEO. How are things at Saranac and you want to share some perspective on how Saranac has weathered the storms of the last 100 years or so?
Nick Matt 55:35
it's a long story. First of all, I'm not 100 year old CEO, okay. I'm sorry,
Daniel Van Der Vliet 55:43
100 year old business.
So I, you know, I mean, you have to adapt to what's going on. And we're certainly doing that, you know, one of the things that I'm very pleased with what we have done, and I haven't, I've been away, because I was down in Florida when this whole thing started and chose not to come back. And I'm still here, but in any case, I am basically working every day. And I'm pretty up to date with what's going on, one of the things they've done is they've taken the opportunity, since they have a little more time to do some really great cleanup things. And I saw some pictures of one of our bathrooms the other day that I mean, you wouldn't believe that it was the same room. And it's in an environment when cleaning up that's really relevant. And so people, the men are really buying into that. And they just they did an unbelievable job, in terms of making this bathroom look almost new. And it's things like that, I think we are now we're pretty much fully employed, there are people who work from home, but since we produce beer, you have to be there to do that. And people, we our employees are all working, we are going to go on New York as a shared work program, we're going to go on to, we have to have done the payroll protection program. So you know, we have things that we're doing, but we're very much trying to keep everybody at work. And actually this shirt work program is it results in unemployment for the day, you're not, you get paid 80% basically, of what you make, but and then then you get an extra I think at $600 a week. So actually, the employees are going to end up with more money than before. So it's not, you know, it's kind of the kind of a good program, and we're going to use that because we've slowed down quite a bit. And so we're probably going to go to three or four day weeks in the in the hurry. And so you know, but you obviously have to adapt, and you have to do what you can to make it all work. And we will, we'll all get through this and alcoholic beverages, I don't know, you probably aren't aware of this, but they still are selling his time. There's some suspicion that people are drinking more at home. And you are seeing some recovery. But of course, all bars and restaurants are closed. And so, you know, for many of us, that's 20 or 30% of our business, it just plain evaporated. And, you know, so you have to make that up. But we're doing our best to do that. And so far, so good.
Michael Palumbos 58:28
Thanks for sharing. I have one last its one o'clock now. So I'll just fit wrap it up. But one of the things that I did with my family and that's, we go from California, all the way to New York here. And I have a sister that's in Brooklyn, all by herself shelter in place, so she's a little bored. We, we took the DISC profile for those, you know, that are familiar with it. It's just a personality profile, you know, tests, and we did it amongst the family, and then just had a discussion on Zoom to talk about, you know, what are the different personalities? How do they come together? And, you know, we're a family that's done, this will be 20 years of Columbus family vacation. And we're a little nervous that we're there won't people on this family vacation this July. But you know, we're gonna utilize that time to start coming up with us your suggestions? What are the questions? What are the things that we're going to talk about? So one we did was, you know, the personality profiles of each person in the family. And it was it was interesting, it was fun to watch and have that conversation for the first time inside of our family of, you know, oh, that's why they do that. And oh, that's its okay that they need some special alone time. So there's, I appreciate both of you coming on. Tim, why don't you give us some parting thoughts, anything that you'd like to share and we'll do the same for you
Tim Belber 1:00:00
And to just a couple of quick things. One, there was a when Ed finished his story he told, I think there's a great metaphor there about getting lost in the cloud, you can't see where you're going if the clouds around you. And if we can help clear clouds worth figure out, are we in the clouds, then we have a better chance of getting head. Second on the succession issue. I see succession plans moving ahead that were well thought out. I don't see anybody new thing I gotta get out now. Because there's nobody that wants to buy if they want to out. But I do it from a technician’s point of view. Now that the initial phase of panic seems to be tamping down a little bit. I'm seeing more interest in let's talk about doing some of those gifting things now. Because our values are depressed. We can do things more efficiently right now. That's it’s kind of a sometimes you might feel like, No, we shouldn't be talking about that. But if when a client starts saying, Should I be thinking about it now, then that opens the door for that conversation. And last, Michael, for your Columbus family vacation, I had a client who same thing happened, they have 10 years of family vacation, they have one really good technologist in their family, who was putting on a slideshow of all 10 years of vacation as a way of remembering what we did during that time. And I've gotten a little peek at it, and it's really good. So that's a fun thing to do.
Michael Palumbos 1:01:37
That's very good. Thank you, Tim. Dan. Yeah.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 1:01:41
Michael, you actually shared this video with me last week from Simon Sinek. And, you know, I thought it was very apropos, where he says, you know, these are not unprecedented times. And so I think perspective does matter. Certainly the, you know, this has been a very sudden, and very dramatic shock. But these are not new. And, and sometimes they hit an industry, sometimes they hit a geographical area, you know, this one really has hit us all. So it does provide opportunity to rethink, you know, the way we're doing business, we're doing that even within the Smith Family Business Initiative. And in finding ways to do more virtual programming, or in the future blended live and virtual programming. I think these forums are helpful, whether they are, you know, more informal or formal, just being able to hear the perspectives of others and see how they are managing. And, you know, just utilize your downtime effectively. Be curious. And don't be afraid of boredom once more.
Michael Palumbos 1:02:39
Always put this out there. We love what we do. And we love working with families and business owners. If somebody has a problem that you're noodling on, feel free to give us a call, we'd love to spend an hour, you know, no strings attached with you. And just help you noodle on that problem a little bit. And if we can bring some value to your situation. We're happy to do that. I know Cornell, I'm sure there's people there that would help to do the same thing. And, Tim, I don't know if that's an offer that you know, that you'd be open to. But we can connect on LinkedIn and happy to happy to help in any way that we can. Tim, Dan, thank you both for your time today, everybody. Thanks for joining us. Next week. We have some really incredible guests to watch the news coming out on that we're well over the hour that we said we would take so thank you all and stay healthy, stay safe and spend some time with your families. Thank you.
Daniel Van Der Vliet 1:03:45
Thank you. Thanks, Mike. Nice to see you.
Michael Palumbos 1:03:51
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