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.


DECEMBER 9, 2015 •WEDNESDAY, 8:30 AM-1:30 PM

Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House, Holyoke, Mass.


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

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, WHAT WE NEED FROM OUR LEADERS Join Rick and Ross Giombetti as they interview a panel of local employees about how they prefer to be managed, what they look for from company culture, what they need because of their personalities or generational differences, and more. This conversation will help improve your understanding of how others see you, as their boss; and clarify what you need, when dealing with your boss.

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

Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House, Holyoke, Mass.

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.

APRIL 12, 2016 • TUESDAY, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

Delaney House, Holyoke, Mass.

Family ties are complex enough.  Adding a shared and multi-leveled work life really raises the stakes - and the rewards, when all goes well. Increasingly, we know what it takes for business family relationships to thrive – and we know how to teach these skills.  Articulating your family’s legacy story, learning to communicate clearly about both love and work, and customizing your parenting of each individual child - these are the assets which best strengthen business families and it is never too late to learn.  Come share an evening of presentation and discussion on how to hone these skills.   Our presenter, Suzanne Slater will present the essential protections for business family relationships and will show participants how to add them to their particular family’s lives.

Participating in this dinner forum presentation will show you how to:

  • Discover your “family signature” that reflects who you want your family to be.
  • Learn how to strengthen the boundary between work and home – this is a special challenge for families that work together !
  • Create shared family projects that build your family team.
  • Customize your parenting strategies to develop each child’s unique strengths.

SUZANNE SLATER brings 30 years of experience providing psychotherapy to families and individuals, often focusing on the complex family dynamics that high net-worth families experience. She is the founder of the consulting group Gifted Generations, that provides expertise on both family and wealth dynamics and works in collaboration with wealth management advisor teams.  She is an experienced case consultant and frequent speaker at national conferences and annual meetings.  Suzanne is a member of The Family Firm Institute and The Financial Planning Association, and has taught graduate courses at Smith College and has authored both journal articles and a book on couples therapy.

JUNE 21, 2016 • TUESDAY, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

location to be announced

Selling your company doesn't happen often, or to many, so it's hard to predict how it will go, how it will feel, what you wished you knew before. Hear the stories of 4 people who went through it, sharing their lessons, their regrets, what they learned about their company in the process, how they are approaching their next chapter, what happened to their family members and other employees, what the buyer saw in their company that they may not have seen, and much more. There is no one right way to sell your company, but by learning so much from others who've been there, you can do it much more right for you, if and when the time comes.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 • TUESDAY, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

location to be announced


According to studies, only public speaking is a worse fear than eating a live bug, but even worse than public speaking is having to be effective, by convincing others to take action, take the bait, take advice, or take a risk. How can you overcome all that prevents you from doing that, while being clever, coherent, calculated and collected? Tonight's talk will have plenty of practical information, and several people, just like you, giving it a try.

OCTOBER 25, 2016 • TUESDAY, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

location to be announced

Small and medium sized companies often shy away from governance strategies they associate with big business. But the objective advice you'll get from a well built board will compel you to think through such issues as future leadership, facing the risk it takes to grow, building a meritocracy, equip your family business members with a brain trust, and make your company into a learning organization that never stagnates.

DECEMBER 2016 • 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

date, location and topic to be announced


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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