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.

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.

HOW YOUR BUSINESS CAN BEST NAVIGATE THE WORKOUT PROCESS WITH YOUR BANK If your business loan falls out of compliance with the bank covenants, you may find yourself speaking to the Special Assets department about a workout. While you may hope this means the bank will help you work out your problem, it could be that the bank is trying to work your loan out of its portfolio. Last December we heard Kevin Kervick discuss how this happened to him, when Bassette Printers faced a perfect storm. Kevin has since done a lot of research on how various banks approach workout, and will be discussing it with GARY DANIS, First Vice President of FIRST NIAGARA BANK, who is their Regional Team Leader of Special Assets. What they have to say to you and to each other will help you if ever you face that terrible situation, and learn, in time, what many people learn too late.

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. Several Western Mass business leaders will each take 10 minutes to describe their methods and perspectives. By hearing numerous vantage points, you may realize how you could take charge in a healthier way, and instill your company with what it needs to grow a vibrant crop of powerful participants.

These Western Mass business leaders will each describe how they think of authority:

Be the kind of leader people will follow by their own choice, regardless of title or authority. – Jennifer Shimmel, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity

Hire people smarter than you. - Stanley Kowalski , FloDesign Sonics

We inspire people to experience sustainable outdoor adventures that build strong communities! - Karen Blom, Zoar Outdoor

Leadership starts with a passion for what you do. - Bill Grinnell, Webber & Grinnell

Be a constant mentor to your staff and offer them frequent leadership opportunities, pushing them to constantly raise their own bar. - Katie Stebbins, Asst. Secretary of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Commonwealth of Massachusetts, EOHED

My leadership style is to hold people to a high standard, clearly define my expectations, and then give them the tools, resources and autonomy they need to achieve great results. – Delcie Bean, Paragus IT

also: DIVORCE, WHEN ONE OR BOTH SPOUSES OWN BUSINESS INTERESTS, presented by ELLEN RANDLE of 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

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, 2016 • DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED, 5:00 PM-8:30 PM

exact date, location and topic to be announced shortly



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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