University of Massachusetts Amherst

Family Business Center

Attend a dinner forum of the UMass Amherst Family Business Center

Take a test drive

Call Ira Bryck, center director at (413) 545-4545 to get more information, discuss your situation, and commit to an evening that will expand your thinking about growing your business.

APRIL 28, 2015 •TUESDAY, 5:00-8:30 PM


HARNESSING THE POWER OF SYSTEMS THINKING AND MAPPING TO TRANSFORM YOUR COMPANY   There are so many moving parts in your company, so sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. But then how do you know if those are the right parts, moving in the right way? Through systems thinking and mapping, you can gain the ability to see the interdependence of the parts, identify patterns that repeat over time, uncover beliefs that form resistance to change, and respond to feedback that helps you and your organization learn and revise, and discover where the “leverage points” are that you can use to achieve your highest goals and take effective action. This presentation will include 3 cases from FBC member companies, where our presenter, Joe Laur, helped owner/managers map and comprehend the systems in their companies, so that they (and you) have a greater grasp on the loops, patterns, and leverage points so they could take the necessary actions and achieve their desired results.

Tonight’s presenter is JOE LAUR, a founding partner of SEED Systems, an international consulting firm that works with individuals, teams and organizations through teaching and coaching to transform organizations and create a sustainable world. Joe has worked with Harley-Davidson, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Nike, Waste Management, and many more; focusing on organizational learning, personal effectiveness skills and sustainable development.

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON the 401(k) Retirement Plan Industry: Politically, President Obama and even our local Senator, Elizabeth Warren, have been vocal about "Obama-nizing" the private 401(k) Retirement Plan System. Government Regulators have stepped up audits of corporate retirement plans, with the addition of 300 new auditors at the Department of Labor (DOL). They are doing spot audits seeking to determine if you, as a sponsor of a qualified 401(k) retirement plan are fulfilling all of your duties as a plan fiduciary - specifically acting prudently and with a duty of loyalty to your participants and their beneficiaries!

What’s a business owner to do? Fortunately, CHARLIE D. EPSTEIN of Epstein Financial Services, (founder of the UMass Family Business Center and 21 year sponsor) has the answers. His new book, Save America Save, The Secrets of a Successful 401(k) Plan, will provide you with strategies you can implement today to "bullet proof" your plan from a DOL Audit. More importantly, Charlie's book will provide you with successful strategies you can implement today to increase the tax leverage and savings for you, the owner, all while improving the retirement outcomes and success for your employees! Charlie will be sharing his 35 years of experience in the retirement industry. 401k Wire has named him one of the most Influential Individuals in the Retirement Industry and one of the Top 300 Advisors in the Country. Nationally he is known as The 401k Coach, and has trained over 3,000 financial advisors across the country for companies like Fidelity, Mass Mutual, Voya, Nationwide, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha and AXA, to name a few. His first book, Paychecks for Life, How to Turn Your 401(k) Into a Paycheck Manufacturing Company, has helped hundreds of advisors and thousands of 401(k) Plan participants create successful retirement outcomes.( Everyone attending will receive a free copy of his new book Save America Save.

JUNE 16, 2015 • TUESDAY, 5:00-8:30 PM


THE ART OF CONSTRUCTIVE CONFRONTATION: HOW TO ACHIEVE MORE ACCOUNTABILITY WITH LESS CONFLICT Most people assume that confrontation is unpleasant and to be avoided. But it's the conflict and anger that comes from avoiding confrontation that's what you actually fear. Constructive confrontation provides a systematic approach to have members of any team or organization honor their promises, and clearly understand the expectations of what they need to do. By actually planning to have confrontations, not in a spirit of fear, but with commitment to common goals, people will be more accountable and achieve their goals. To build an organization where this all happens well, people are coached to be able to coach, to help each individual do what they do best, that the organization needs most. All of this creates an active dialog that keeps principles above personalities, ensures greater accountability, and a company where people deal with issues sooner, decreasing conflict. You may understand WHY this is good to do, but at tonight's forum you will learn HOW to do it. We will also discuss several specific situations faced by audience members at their workplaces, and walk through the steps to you need to take in response.

Presented by JOHN HOOVER, PhD, whose work at the NYC firm Partners International is to define and design the company’s theoretical approach to and practical methodology for executive coaching and talent strategy consulting. His executive experience with The Walt Disney Company and McGraw-Hill, his M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy, and PhD in Human & Organization Development uniquely position him to invoke creativity, innovation, and systems theory when coaching key policy makers in making critical organizational decisions that unleash the full talent potential of their organizational populations. An author or co-author of more than a dozen books on leadership and psychology, including How to Work for an Idiot and Leadership When the Heat's On, John is the creator of the Contextual Coaching™ model at Partners International. He developed curriculum and taught in graduate–level certification programs based on Coaching in the Organizational Context at CUNY and Fielding Graduate University.

ALSO, a pre-dinner presentation on a relevant subject, to be revealed later, by MEYERS BROTHERS KALICKA, PC, a strategic partner of the UMass Family Business Center.

SEPT 16, 2015 •WEDNESDAY, 5:00-8:30 PM



How many decisions do you make in the course of each business day? How often are they based on a gut feeling, versus measurable, relevant data? How accurate is your gut, and how well can you really tune into it? And how do you know which data is accurate, not to mention relevant? How can you be sure you're considering all the consequences? Are you reaching for solutions that worked before, not sure they're what is needed for more complex dilemmas? Are you influenced by biases you're not even aware of? This presentation could help you, by exploring the practical aspects of the latest research on Effective Decision Making and how family or closely held businesses are using it to create success.

Come learn to make better decisions, after hearing from DR. VANA NESPOR, Chief Learning Officer and Dean of Online and Adult Studies at Bay Path College and DR. TOM LOPER, Associate Provost and Dean of Bay Path's Graduate Business program.

ALSO, a pre-dinner presentation on a relevant subject, to be revealed later, by FIRST NIAGARA BANK, a strategic partner of the UMass Family Business Center.

OCTOBER 20, 2015 •TUESDAY, 5:00-8:30 PM



There are many ways to use power and authority, aside from the stereotypical command and control autocrat. Hear how several area business leaders found their personal style, sometimes quite different than their predecessor; how they distribute authority throughout their workforce; how the upcoming generation is gaining strength and influence; and how even if the decisions made by leaders are not democratic, they can still be based in fairness and inclusivity. Through panelists, group discussion and an exploration of styles, you might realize what you need to do to to take charge in a healthier way, and instill your company with what it needs to grow a vibrant crop of powerful participants.

ALSO, a pre-dinner presentation on a relevant subject, to be revealed later, by BULKLEY RICHARDSON LLP, a strategic partner of the UMass Family Business Center.

DECEMBER 9, 2015 •WEDNESDAY, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM



A full day training for FBC members and strategic partners, that will help grow your skills as a negotiator at work, at home, and in life.

(This is one of our 6 annual events, though not a dinner forum.)

Each one of us negotiates every single day of our lives -- at work, with loved ones, and in other personal interactions. Whether you're buying a TV, deciding on a vacation spot, getting your children to do their homework, or asking for a raise, your negotiating skills are continually put to the test. Did you ever think it possible to negotiate with your boss? Do you dread planning holidays with your in-laws? Do salary discussions make your stomach turn? Escape second-guessing and selling yourself short by finding the Negotiator in You!

At this special full day workshop, you will learn so much about how to navigate the conversations so you and your "opponents" can come to mutually satisfying terms, and success. JOSHUA WEISS, Ph.D., co-founder and senior fellow of the Global Negotiation Initiative of the Harvard Negotiation Project, will explain all you need to know to negotiate in business and in life. You will discover how to deal with deadlocks, with people you think aren't as trustworthy as you, or simply very different; how to separate the people from the problem, how to focus on interests, not positions, how to invent options for mutual gain, and how to insist on using objective criteria. You will leave more able to maximize your advantage and utilize several strategies and tactics, how to discuss sticky family business issues in a fair and adult way, or grievances with anyone, even if they're above or below you on the org chart, as well as recognize how and when to play hardball, and more.

A few things you’ll learn at this special training:

  • How to tell when a conversation suddenly becomes a negotiation
  • What to do when the other party seems hostile or untrustworthy
  • How to manage your emotions during a negotiation
  • How to consider the gender and generation issues
  • What to do when we’re perceived as the “weak consumer”
  • When to make or hold back the first offer
  • When the other party is a seasoned professional
  • How to maintain integrity throughout every negotiation
  • Recognizing when your opponent is using negotiation tricks
  • How to negotiate price
  • Dealing with forces outside your control
  • How to separate positions from people
  • Creating win/wins between buyers and sellers
  • How to keep family and family business discussions from getting too emotional or critical
  • When, why and how to walk away
  • Keeping it fair when there’s a power imbalance
  • How to say no without killing the relationship
  • How to tell when the other party is bluffing, manipulating or bullying
  • Managing your personal strengths and weaknesses as a negotiator

JOSHUA WEISS, aside from his role in the world famous Harvard Negotiation Project, is also managing director of Abraham's Path Initiative, an international nonprofit dedicated to establishing a cultural tourism route through the Middle East to serve as an intercultural meeting place for people of all religions and nationalities. He is the creator of a series, in conjunction with BBC, called The Negotiator in You, teaching people how to more successfully deal with conflict in all areas or work and life. Lastly, Josh is a local, residing with his wife and children in Longmeadow, Mass.

ALSO, a presentation on a relevant subject, to be revealed later, by GIOMBETTI ASSOCIATES, a strategic partner of the UMass Family Business Center.

MARCH 8, 2016 • TUESDAY, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

location to be announced

THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK: THE SCIENCE AND ART OF RECEIVING FEEDBACK WELL (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood)

Tonight we are proud to present Sheila Heen, co-author (with Doug Stone) of the classic Difficult Conversations and now Thanks for the Feedback, who will show you how to transform the often poorly delivered (and received even worse) evaluations, advice, criticisms, and coaching into productive listening and learning. We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers—but also family, friends, and in-laws—they all have “suggestions” for our performance, parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development—but we dread it and often dismiss it. That’s because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Tonight’s presentation will help you address this tension head on, by offering you a powerful framework to help take on life’s blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited advice with curiosity and grace. The business world spends billions of dollars and millions of hours each year teaching people how to give feedback more effectively. Sheila Heen will convince you that we’ve got it backwards and show us why the smart money is on educating receivers— in the workplace and in personal relationships as well.

SHEILA HEEN is co-author of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, and has spent the last ten years working with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. With humor and clarity, she blends the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. Sheila has been with the Harvard Negotiation Project for twenty years, teaching negotiation and difficult conversations at Harvard Law School and in Harvard's executive education programs. She is also CEO of Triad Consulting in Harvard Square, where she specializes in working with executive teams on issues where there is strong disagreement and emotions run high. She has worked with corporate clients on six continents, with the US White House, the Singapore Supreme Court, and with theologians with disagreements on the nature of truth and God. Sheila's husband, John Richardson, also teaches negotiation -- down the street at MIT. He is the author of "Negotiation Analysis" with Howard Raiffa and of "Getting it Done" with Roger Fisher and Alan Sharpe. They are both schooled in negotiation daily by their three children.


Archive of past UMass Amherst Family Business Center dinner forum


or come as the guest of a member company or corporate partner
For more information, or to register, call Ira Bryck at (413) 545-4545 or email Ira Bryck

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