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Challenges in Captivating the Next Generations: How to Create Interest Among Teens


One of the great joys of our firm is how we can, and often do, draw on each other’s wisdom and knowledge to inform the work we do with our clients. We learn constantly as professionals with this model of sharing, and our clients benefit from this indirect access to such a broad pool of expertise. Pushing the benefit of this sharing further, I offer the following collected wisdom of the group on how you can better engage the teens and young adults in your own family, in the context of family meetings:

  1. They need to own a piece of the agenda; give them the authority to control some aspect of the meeting or the content being delivered.
     
  2. Promote a culture of attendance and commitment; the elders need to lead by example on this.
     
  3. Give them an opportunity to do things on their own, without parents present.
     
  4. Allow them to have fun; on this sometimes the elders should follow the lead of the younger generation!
     
  5. Create discussion items that are “meaty” enough: What does their future ownership mean? What do senior managers do? What are the biggest issues around family members in the business? Teens and young adults perceive that their lives are very busy and their commitments outside of the family are important to them; make sure that they get enough substantive content at the meetings that they feel it is a good investment of their time.
     
  6. If there is more than one meeting in a year, make one mandatory, others optional: This is another way to acknowledge that family business issues are not necessarily their first priority right now, but it eases them into the notion of an ongoing commitment to the family enterprise.
     
  7. Ask them what they want.
     
  8. Encourage them to take up their own unique philanthropic initiatives.
     
  9. Start the meetings later in the day (10 or 11 a.m.)!
 

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