As our 20th Anniversary year comes to a close, Judy Hogel, Executive Director of the CFBC, reflects on the many gifts the FBC/CFBC Past Presidents have contributed to our community.
When I was asked to write a tribute to all of our FBC/CFBC Past Presidents, I started sweating. How in the world could I capture the contributions they have made to others and share the many gifts and lessons they have taught me over the years? Impossible, right? I hope that this communicates the power of the leaders that have guided us through the last 20 years.
Some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others. However, leadership can also be defined as “motivating and organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”.
This definition got me thinking about each of our Past Presidents and all of the lives they’ve touched over the years. Each one has their own style of leadership. They organized and motivated us and they all had a common goal – to leave the CFBC in a better place than when they started their term. They all left their footprint which still impacts us as a community, and me personally.
You may recognize some of their gifts, inspiration, guidance and legacy. Their words and lessons serve as a constant reminder of what it takes to be a leader. Our Past Presidents brought us Strategic Partners, the Marketing Committee, infotainment, hugs, Good to Great, a new home at DePaul University, by-laws, Forum Protocol and so much more.
They’ve also shared words of wisdom throughout the years, such as…
It is important to listen and help bring out the leader in everyone you meet.
Change can be messy. Listening and adapting will help get you through it.
In a family business, make sure you always ask: What ‘hat’ do you want me to wear for this conversation?
Sometimes you just have to stop chopping wood and sharpen the ax.
Sometimes you take arrows, it means you’re going somewhere.
Treat and give to others as you would expect to be treated in return.
Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.
Patience, careful listening and communication skills are essential.
Do what is right, as nice as possible.
You get out of it what you put into it.
We are willing to listen without judgment and share our successes. We are in this together.
As you have been served by others, you must remember to reach out and return that service.
Forum members serve as mirrors, reflecting back what you say in a most helpful way. They demonstrate their caring in words and actions.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
And from our founder, Jim Liautaud: “spread the love!”
Each of these Presidents showed all of us that there are so many different types of leadership styles. I’ve come to believe there is no good or bad style, just a needed type of leadership at that particular time. It was almost as if the fates knew in advance just what kind of leader we needed. From command control, visionary, transformational, servant, quiet and steady, authentic, and consultative – each and every one touched the organization, forums, committees, members, and the public. Regardless of their leadership style, they all knew that it wasn’t about serving themselves, but serving and championing the entire CFBC community. We are forever grateful and appreciative for each of you setting the path and laying down the foundation for the future.
With much appreciation and gratitude for your 20 years of service,
CFBC President 2014-2015
What is it like being CFBC’s President and why should you be interested enough to read about it?
CFBC is a member-run council. Most of you are deeply satisfied with your involvement in your Forum. That’s what I knew of the CFBC and that’s all that I expected from it when I joined. That’s where many of you receive your return on investment, and it’s spectacular. But there is so much more to the value equation and what the CFBC offers.
Consider these questions. How are those Forums created? How did the protocol that fosters your value come to exist? How about those new members that you meet from time-to-time? How do we attract them and bring them into our council? Why is the training for those new members that once was called Forum Protocol Training now being called Community In Forum? How do we help new members know how we relate and serve each other? How do we support them to be well versed in our systems? How do all those things that make CFBC unique come to be? And how are they continually tuned towards fulfilling our current member needs and attitudes?
The answer to each of those questions: A lot of volunteers and an exceptional professional team.
The CFBC has given me a gift of such benefit that it can’t be measured. By allowing me to be a member of our Executive Council for the last three years, I’ve been able to become deeply involved with many more members than we typically meet just within our individual Forums. I was fortunate to meet with and learn what each of our committees was contributing to our strategic plan. Each of you who have given your time and experience through your volunteer involvement within the committees has the appreciation of our entire Council. We absolutely need to hold the past in highest regard, to maintain the current in secure business and financial status, and to design our future in size and strength and intelligence. You have taught me so many great lessons that I can never thank you enough nor can I return to who I was before being honored to serve as CFBC President for 2014-2015.
This year, most of our past presidents wrote their memories for this feature. There is a common message in every episode. I recall it first written here by Chris Lutz, “The more you put in, the more that comes back to you.” It comes back in multiples, I promise.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. CFBC, 20 Years Deep.”
Thank you for letting me serve,
CFBC President 2013-2014
MY CFBC LIFELINE
After practicing law for several decades, I joined the family’s steel, lithography, and container sales mini-conglomerate. I joined my great-uncle and father about 21 years ago without having any business experience.
Then, about 18 years ago, I found myself sitting at my great-uncle’s desk while the executive director of the Family Business Council was recruiting me to join the organization. I was wondering how I would sell this expensive perk to my father and great-uncle.
Upon joining the FBC, I was directed to attend the Forum meetings of two different Forums to get a feel for which one I felt most comfortable in. I remember attending the first meeting. I was an outsider, and self-imposed, I felt it. I wondered why these successful business people were disclosing private business and personal information in my presence. Did I look that trustworthy? I wondered if I had any knowledge or insights that could be valuable to those people.
I remember attending the second meeting and feeling that as much as the members were different sorts of people than I was, they, too, made me feel welcome, trustworthy and overall worthy. I didn’t want nine other people like me. I didn’t want nine “yes men.” I couldn’t pin down a reason, but I felt most comfortable with the Sigma Forum.
I remember when an outsider quipped that by joining FBC, I was buying some new friends. That person simply didn’t understand. I had plenty of satisfying friendships. I joined to pursue self-improvement in various areas of my life. Because my professional experience was in poverty law, criminal law and bankruptcy, I needed unbiased business and life advisers who were not on the clock at my expense. I needed people who had a genuine interest in me. And I needed them pronto. That’s exactly what I got.
I remember the first time I confronted the impact of FBC confidentiality when, during Forum, someone disclosed something so private that I was astounded to learn it. I had been a practicing attorney for a long time, and I understood the necessary confidentiality between attorney and client. This was just as solemn. Perhaps even more so.
I remember making my first presentation. I must have spent a week preparing for it. I knew I could trust my Forum members, so it never occurred to me to hold back. At first, it was uber-broad – I had thrown in the kitchen sink. So, I edited out extra topics that would just confuse. Next, I edited out the extraneous facts that would distract. On draft eleven, I felt I should just hand it out and shut up. I didn’t do that. I was proud of my presentation. The feedback blew me away – no one in my family paid attention to me like my Forum members did, and the insights were just what I needed.
I remember thinking about my first retreat. “God, am I going to have to sit through nine people telling their life stories as they shuffle ever so slowly across their life lines. I am ADHD; I won’t be able to sit through one presentation – let alone nine.” But then, I was spellbound during each presentation, learning more facts and depth about each of my Forum members than I knew about some of my closest friends. I began to see what brought each person to the FBC and to that retreat. This was an unforgettable life experience that deepened my relationship with my Forum members and taught me the concept of profound shared experiences.
I avoided the large group functions for the first couple years. I knew only a few members other than those in my Forum, and I just didn’t feel comfortable attending. An upcoming event seemed relevant to one of my issues. I attended and not only found value in the presentation, but I felt warmly welcomed by members I didn’t know. I wanted to attend more of these.
After attending a number of events, I felt that there should be a higher take home value from those meetings. I wrote a note to the Programming Committee chairperson. Somehow, I found myself on the Programming Committee. I did feel that I could contribute to improved programming.
I remember when all of our Forum meetings were held at the Rosewood restaurant in the room behind the bar. The sliding door interrupted us every time a member of the wait staff entered to refresh our food and drink – a welcome distraction to an ADHD guy sitting in a long meeting. We started with lunch and ended long after dinner (still do). We were (and still are) often together over 7 hours.
I remember attending funerals and weddings of the relatives of my Forum members.
I remember getting a phone call to meet the Chairman and President of the CFBC for a breakfast meeting. As an ADHD kid, that kind of summons meant I was in trouble. As an adult, I still wondered if I had done something wrong. I had. I had demonstrated commitment to the organization beyond my Forum. They wanted to know if I would accept the position of 2nd Vice President, leading to the Presidency. How do you say “no” over pancakes?
During my terms in different officer roles, I worked with some sharp and giving people who had strong interest in improving our organization. I developed some new friendships for which I am grateful.
Originally, I had thought that Strategic Partners (SPs) were just independent service/business providers who simply thought of CFBC as a pool of business potential. After interviewing SP candidates, attending SP’s committee meetings, meeting with individual SPs who served on CFBC committees (they serve too!) and watching them add valuable substance, I was impressed with the high quality of their expertise and professional work, as well as their genuine dedication to improving the CFBC. We have awesome SPs!
I see the CFBC in transition from an older membership to a membership of older entrepreneurs and next-generation entrepreneurs. From a family-focused membership to a mixed membership of family business stakeholders and independent entrepreneurs. From the confines of UIC to the welcome embrace of DePaul University and a connection to Crain’s. I see the CFBC as a dynamic enterprise poised to offer an incredible skill set, cherished advisers, worthy resources and programs with significant take home value.
I have traversed my own family’s deaths, family crises, business shocks, and business changes while a CFBC member. I did it more gracefully and confidently than I would have done it alone, and I emerged stronger each time. I had the support of my Forum.
I recognize that there are few rules or boundaries within the sphere of my old friendships. Meeting once a month and having boundaries and rule sets, my Forum consists of a group of trusted personal advisers, an ersatz board of directors, people who served as mirrors, reflecting back what I have said in a most helpful way, people who demonstrate their caring in words and actions. The byproduct is they have become friends with a special depth. They have become my closest friends. Funny how that happened.
Respectfully submitted in our 20th year,
John A. Friedman
Northern Container/Darco Enterprises, Inc.
CFBC President 2011-2012
My year as President was 2011-12. However, the foundation for a lot of the work we accomplished that year began a year earlier in 2010. That year I began to quietly inquire with other universities about the possibility of moving away from UIC. 2010 also happened to be the bottom of the housing bubble crisis and my family’s business volume had been cut in half. Bottom line is I had a lot of free time on my hands. CFBC truly gave me something to look forward to every day other than the daily news of our declining housing industry. I was fortunate enough to be the last President of FBC and initiated a new heritage as first President of CFBC.
My favorite moment had to be the Board of Directors meeting we held to dissolve the UIC Family Business Council and vote to inaugurate the Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul. We had Jim Liatuad, our founder, and Dean Whittington from DePaul sitting next to Dean Pagano from UIC. Passionate speeches were made by these key dignitaries. Dean Pagano was a true gentleman in a difficult situation and was impressive. We had talked all year about this and were expecting a debate and perhaps a brawl and in the end, there was little debate and a lot of celebration.
My biggest take-away from that experience was studying emotional intelligence. I figured if I was going to lead a group of people who promoted something strongly, I should know more about it. A number of books later with lots of reading and I truly received a paradigm shift. I had a renewed outlook on dealing with the emotions that drive our relationships and daily activities with both family and associates. I got so much more out of this experience than CFBC got from me! I made some lifelong friends and associations that will always remain special and close to my heart. And for all of that, I am convinced I am happier today than I was when I started the journey.
Lastly, my year of leadership was neatly wrapped up in the following poem I wrote as my outgoing speech to the group. It truly summarizes my feelings.
Adding a “C” to my FBC Year
As I began my presidency
It was with a level of fear
As I ventured into my FBC year.
For two years I studied the inner workings of FBC
Supporting the efforts of first Cari and then Art Lukowski
UIC was a model of mind boggling execution and red tape
We struggled with every department, resigned to our fate.
We were toiling harder and going nowhere faster
Working with the State of Illinois was simply a disaster.
We had 18 years of heritage and history
That we were successful and of benefit to all was no mystery
There were numerous bonds that kept us in line
But our relationships with UIC for years were on the decline.
Soon a beam of sunshine arrived to save our day.
Dean Whittington from DePaul proved to be our Ray.
And as my press secretary Mr. Friedman would so exquisitely say,
DePaul welcomed us with open arms and a crucifix today!
After 16 months of dialogue Chicago Family Business Council officially got underway
The officers, strategic partners, and members were all giddy and gay!
We were now independent and on mission
There’s no bureaucratic distractions to achieving our vision.
Protocol and training programs will continue to grow
Educational initiatives will make our members crow
Our time schedule for deadlines has been frequently tight
But hopefully we have learned, we have the time to do things right
We have completed a lot in 12 months of time
Caches of brilliance and achievement that will eventually shine!
Our governance and leadership has changed a plenty
We have great officers, strategic partners, and chairs who are guiding the many
Hard work was completed with a dedication to duty
This all would have been impossible if it wasn’t for Judy
However, in the end, this isn’t about Judy or me
It’s about what’s important to the CFBC!
Finally, our goals were accomplished with a lot of help and cheer!
WE ALL owe a lot of you HERE at the very least a beer
Especially to Art, Burt, John, Judy, Bob, Jeff, Diana, Mary, Mike, Lee, Big Jim,
Big Joe, Little Joe, Flano, Steve, Chris, Anton, Bruce, Cathy. . .Thank you.
Thank you for your help, support, and your insight to steer
For in the end, you all made it wonderful!
My CFBC year!
CFBC President 2010 – 2011
The Forum experience has been an important part of my life. The ability to safely share our strengths and weaknesses cannot be overrated. The diversity of members, the wisdom and support from Strategic Partners, and the personal relationships all add value to the Chicago Family Business Council as well.
I have developed wonderful friends through my Forum and at the CFBC functions. When one of my Forum members, Chris Lutz, told me that “you get out of it what you put into it,” this inspired me to do more for the CFBC.
As I moved upward in leadership, Cari Murray-Kremer, the President before me, helped lay groundwork for new opportunities. We had a new office, more staff and a new director, Judy Hogel. Cari mentored me and was a driving force in addition to Brian McIlwee and Burt Klein, the hard working visionaries in leadership behind me. There were many strong leaders around me sharing in the same goals for FBC, which made the change to the Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul University an easier task than I had envisioned.
Despite the changes, the essence of what we do has not changed. Our members are the core. Joining the CFBC and Forum helped me realize solutions to problems I hadn’t yet faced, and in many cases helped me avoid them. Jim Liautaud, our founder, and I once discussed how ego interferes in relationships and that the methods we utilize help put those defenses aside. Our members are willing to listen without judgment and share their successes. We are in this together.
You were right Chris, and thank you. You get out of it what you put into it!
CFBC President 2007 – 2008
I still remember getting a phone call from past FBC president, Mark Gilblair, telling me I was nominated to be second vice president of the Family Business Council. I was traveling for work, alone in a hotel room, and thinking, “Why do they want a next generation member to be a future president of their council?” The feeling it gave me was exhilarating, but also one that came with some curiosity and trepidation. Of course I accepted and shortly thereafter found myself in the center of the FBC universe.
I have always been the type of person to say yes when asked to volunteer for something, almost to a fault. Throughout my tenure in the FBC, I had served as chair on many committees. To me, the Council was a place I could hone my leadership skills and build confidence for my ultimate goal; to buy my own family’s business. For next generation members, the CFBC has so much to offer if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and put in a little extra time and effort.
Through the council, I was making friends who owned recognizable businesses all over Chicagoland. I was also, as a committee chair and future president, making a difference in their lives. The Council gave me some unique opportunities that I could never have dreamed of. I shared the podium with famous Chicago business Icons such as Doris Christopher, Michael Krasny, and even participated in a panel discussion for next gen members with Ivanka Trump. Here I was rubbing elbows with the type of people I strived to emulate, while at the same time beginning to become one. Today I am the sole owner of a thriving family business which I could not have done without my experience in CFBC.
CFBC President 2006-2007
I am an English major (a LONG time ago) and write stuff every day. There is a standing joke in the office that I can bang out 250 words while talking on the phone. And yet, I have been trying to write this overview of my years as President of the FBC for a week and have thrown out every draft so I am going to take a less formal approach . . .
My year as President of the FBC followed three years on the Board that was my graduate education in communications and consensus building. The Family Business Council was transitioning from an organization that was essentially intertwined with the College of Business to a membership driven organization with concise By-Laws and governance structure. We had been charged with defining the role of Executive Director and directing a search for that individual to be hired through the University’s Human Resources wing.
We spent plenty of time meeting to gather information, discuss expectations and goals, and learn the ins and outs of the University hiring protocol. A lot of it required patience and all of it required careful listening and communication skills. But the BEST part of the whole process was the people I met and worked with and got to know well enough that I could pick up the phone today and call any one of them. Jim Flanagan, Chris Lutz, Joe Krusinski and the late Dan Fensin were only a few, but a very special few.
The role of Board Member and President allowed me to get to know smart people with a sincere dedication to the Council who were willing to give their time and energy to make things happen. I learned with them – and from them – and we had a great time doing it. I can honestly say that in the most fundamental way we were able to practice what we were learning in Forum about genuine communication and integrity. And it was fun! I highly recommend it.
CFBC President 2005-2006
One of the greatest honors I have ever experienced was being asked to serve as President of the CFBC.
In the spirit of transparency, I’d like to tell the story of how I was asked to serve as 2nd Vice President that eventually led to my Presidency. I was driving to my office on a Saturday and saw a message from Bruce Dement. The first thing I thought of was he was calling about my unpaid dues. Yes, our company was struggling and we were having trouble paying our bills. I immediately called Bruce back and much to my surprise, he called me to ask me to become President CFBC. Needless to say I was relieved and said yes!
I was honored and humbled that of all people in the CFBC to choose from, they had the confidence in me to serve as President. Of course I had concerns about the time commitment and the responsibility. I soon learned how supportive the current leadership was as they prepped me during the two years prior to my becoming President. When it was time to serve, I was ready, thanks to such great mentors as Bruce DeMent and Joe Krusinski.
Major change was occurring when I became President. We had just lost our first Executive Director and were in the process of hiring a replacement. The interview process assisted in further developing the CFBC philosophy, goal setting and focus. This experience, as well as serving on other committees, enabled me to meet and serve with so many other dedicated CFBC members. Relationships were developed and today I can truly call them my friends.
People who know me well know that I live by the golden rule. Treat and give to others as you would expect to be treated in return. Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate how much I have benefited from my involvement in the CFBC. I think we have all learned our business and personal lives have their ups and downs. The CFBC has always been there for me when I needed the support that only your peers can appreciate and support.
CFBC President 2003 – 2004
I was introduced to the Family Business Council (UIC) 20 years ago by Jim Liautaud (CFBC founder) and Bill Stringfellow (then CFBC President). I can honestly say I have no idea why I joined, except for the unexplainable excitement of an unknown opportunity due to their overwhelming enthusiasm and vision!
When I say “I” joined, sure the membership was in the company’s name and the company paid the dues. Yet “I” was the stand-alone member from my company. It was more of a mystery to everyone else in the organization. Something that, “Joe did for Joe to hang out with other business guys.” The others in our business did not see the value, nor could I fully explain what I felt the future benefits would be or what was in it for them. Back then, the CFBC was a startup, full of excitement and vision yet lacking in structure and definition. It was The Wild West of CFBC’s history, just as it was for my business, my family, and me!
I was quickly drawn into the opportunity to contribute alongside great business leaders – they were everywhere!!! In my Forum, on the Executive Committee, on all the committees and at every event table, it was the “smorgasbord” of experience and wisdom that I was starving for. That was life changing for me — and I knew it had to be good for everything around me, too.
BAM!!! Only 20 years later, what started as “my” CFBC is now “the company’s” CFBC. There is no longer any “I” in the membership. I can’t see a difference in commitment or talent of owner, employee, partner or strategic partner. We are all the same in our CFBC memberships. This transformation is due to “YOU”. It’s all due to your tremendous contributions of time, effort, talent, commitment, and your relentless belief in doing what had to be done for the good of all. “YOU” created this community where all this talent and energy feels best when it’s together. Look at all that time, energy, and resources committed to committees, panels, structure and definition. It is truly YOUR CFBC! And for me, you proved what was possible in my own life from accepting the same contributions to my business, to my family and to me personally.
In July, I opened the package the CFBC membership plaque came in and I was overwhelmed seeing this creation of contribution. The resource, talent and coordination in every single detail was World Class and it was touched and influenced by so many selflessly giving for something we all believe in. What a shining example of what is possible in a living organization like our treasured CFBC. You should all know who “you” are. And I hope like me, you feel as proud to be a part of this as I do. The best thing I have done in my life (OK…besides marrying Judy) was to join you in your CFBC.
Thank “You” for everything!!!
CFBC President 2002-2003
It all started with a letter I received from the Executive Director almost twenty years ago stating that I might have an interest in meeting with him to discuss how the UIC Family Business Council would be beneficial to our family owned General Contracting business. As a graduate of UIC in the College of Architecture, and as an entrepreneur who was used to just running-and-gunning for the prior twenty years, this invitation could not have come at a more appropriate time. My brother had just joined our company and I had committed an ownership opportunity to him. Three of our four children had also begun to work with us in varying roles and responsibilities. I had completed some estate planning, but had not really tackled the legal and financial issues that would now be a critical part of our strategy going forward for growing the business with both family and non-family management. There was a stack of files on my desk that dealt with those issues, but putting out daily fires precluded me from doing the really important work of long-term planning and procedures so very important to a successful business family. I have said this many times about the timing of our involvement with the CFBC…sometimes you just have to stop chopping wood and sharpen the ax.
I recall vividly the first events that both my wife and I attended. There was usually a speaker who gave some much needed insight on the relationship of Ownership, Family, and Management in typical family businesses and how those intersecting circles were supposed to work. Both Kay and I were amazed how the discussions at the cocktail hour and dinners were so candid, and how open and transparent everyone was with their life stories. Often not only sharing what had worked successfully in their past experiences, but more importantly what mistakes they had made and the guidance they shared so we would not fall victim to those same errors in the management of our business. Something that continues to this day in both the meeting and event environments and, of course, in our Forums as well.
I remember the first Family Business Day that we attended. We chose to hear a discussion by Bill Lane and his family about how Atlas Material Testing Technology used a Family Business Meeting twice a year to communicate with his entire family, whether working in the business or not, and included all spouses too. He gave a detailed outline of the agenda, venue and critical features to make it a useful and successful meeting. We copied the concept and have been holding Family Business Meetings twice a year ever since, and they are a critical part of our success as a business family.
I could not help but get more involved, and joined the Sigma Forum which is still an important part of my life. I was honored to serve as President in 2003 and 2004. During that time we worked closely with Jim Liautaud to improve the organization and do a bit of retooling of the governance of the FBC and began the Leadership Forum as part of that effort. The CFBC with the tireless support of its volunteer officers, directors and committee members along with its hard working staff and strategic sponsors continue a process of constant improvement and provides enormous value to each of the members, their families and their businesses.
As Krusinski Construction Company begins our 41st year, I assure you that we would not have had the success as a company or the development as a family had it not been for our participation in the Chicago Family Business Council.