Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Aging in Idaho: Who You Really Are

The quest for discovering who you are is often left to those who need to make decisions about marriage, family or career. The assumption is that once you overcome an “inevitable” mid-life crisis, you find yourself. I’m not quite sure what the cut off age is in most people’s minds. Do you magically know who you are at age 50? Does the search for “self” stop once you start collecting social security benefits or retire?

Aging in Idaho: Life Lessons for Graduates

In his book, “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans,” Dr. Karl Pillemer compiled advice from more than 1,500 senior citizens on work and relationships. With all the recent graduations, this might be a good time to discuss life lessons with your loved ones. Whether the young people in your life are starting a new job, moving abroad, launching a business or going to college, the following lessons from Dr. Pillemer’s book are worth reviewing.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Boutique Father-Son Investment Firm Thrives By Ignoring Conventional Wisdom

Martin "Marty'' Sass and Ari Sass are a father-son team of an investment management firm in Manhattan. Marty started M.D. Sass in his basement apartment over 40 years ago, and now Marty and affiliates employ more than 80 people and manage $7.5 billion for Fortune 500 companies and wealthy individuals. Marty takes an unconventional approach to investing, pursuing targeted opportunities versus broad diversification of assets. Here are some insights that Marty and Ari shared about their success:

Being a contrarian pays off.

How do you go from zero clients 43 years ago to an investment firm that garners top-tier investment performance? Be yourself, even if it means being a contrarian.

Marty referred to "the herd instinct" that many investment managers follow, which is to invest in index funds, exchange traded funds and government bonds. He believes these investments are the wrong direction if you want to achieve superior results, but that that many investment management companies are satisfied with producing mediocre results. Marty believes that his forensic research experience of companies is what sets him apart.
"I have learned over all these years that focusing on companies that you really know well with strong management, buying them at a significant discount from their intrinsic value, and focusing on only a few companies that meet that stringent criteria, is actually safer and produces superior returns with less risk,'' he said. "It's safer than wide diversification."

Marty did not build the business based on the conventional wisdom and has achieved results well above market benchmarks. It's his secret for going from a start-up with no money and no contacts on Wall Street, to achieving success. Ari is fully on board with his dad's approach to being a contrarian in this industry.
Read more about this family business

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Aging in Idaho: Seniors Are Heroes in Intergenerational Communities

Marginalizing senior citizens seems to be the norm, but it’s the antithesis of the way I grew up. In Liberia, communities are often led by elders. Many immigrants and Americans whose parents and grandparents grew up in different countries share a similar experience. Around the world, becoming an elder elevates your status in community, not the other way around. It’s great to see the various socioeconomic models in this country that are trying to give senior adults opportunities to become positive solutions for pressing social problems. An intergenerational community is one of them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aging: A Plea from Fatherless Sons

One of the most beautiful memories I carry is watching an older white male “adopt” some of my high school classmates. I attended high school in a low income neighborhood, and most of the students were African-American or Latino. I don’t remember his name, but I remember his good works. He lived a few houses down from the school. He would sit on his doorsteps and talk to students when school was out. He did this every single day when the weather was warm enough. The teachers knew and loved him.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Timeless Lessons From a Fourth-Generation Family Business

The Cassim family owns and operates Fashion House based in Johannesburg, South Africa. This family business is celebrating 75 years of supplying textile wholesale to resellers, along with ready made curtains and blankets. Mahmood (father), and sons Abu and Yusuf, shared the following lessons that apply to many family businesses, anywhere.

Planting roots has it's advantages.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Q&A with Cornfields, Inc

1. What is the name of the business?
Cornfields, Inc. (a private label healthy snack manufacturer and producer of the G.H. Cretors and Hi I’m Skinny brands)
Where can we find info about your family business online? What is the city/state?
Waukegan, IL
2. What makes your business a family business? (w/ spouse and/or children, siblings...)
Claire Cretors is the President of the Company and her mom Phyllis is the CEO. Husband J.B. Weiler is Executive V.P. of Sales. Annie Bailey is Claire’s sister and the Midwest Sales Manager, and Annie’s husband Jeff Bailey is the IT Director. The family business’ roots, however, go as far back as Claire’s great-great-grandfather Charles Cretors, who invented the popcorn machine in 1885.
3. How did you come into the business? (transferred, hired by parents? Founder?)
Cornfields, Inc. was founded by Claire’s father, George Henry Cretors in 1991. He was a great-grandson of Charles Cretors, inventor of the popcorn machine. When George Henry passed away in 2004, Phyllis came out of retirement to lead the business and Claire left her job at a DC-based consulting firm to join the Company.  Claire began by learning about all aspects of the business – manufacturing, finance, etc. A few years later, she took over as President and helped spearhead the launch of G.H. Cretors (named after her dad), the Company’s first direct-to-consumer brand.
4. What makes your family business experience unique? How is it different from running a "typical" small business?
Claire Cretors: My entry into the family business was perhaps a bit unconventional. I was not “groomed” for taking over a family business.  In my case, our family was faced with the loss of my father (the Company’s founder) and I didn’t hesitate for a moment to come home and help. I was motived to not only sustain but build upon my father’s legacy. When I arrived, I discovered that the energy within the walls of Cornfields was distinctive and undoubtedly helped drive our growth.
5. What do you love about family business?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Aging: Entrepreneurship or Retirement?

Did you know that some major corporations, including McDonald’s, were founded by adults over age 50? Individuals age 50 and older are developing new business ideas to supplement their income, explore their passions or to transfer wealth to the next generation. Your idea may be the next great success story.

If you were to ask me to describe myself using one word, it would be” entrepreneur.”
Who is an entrepreneur? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “Entrepreneurs are focused on building and growing an enterprise, whether it’s a brand-new business or transforming an existing company through innovation and making the most of opportunities hidden to others.”

Monday, September 14, 2015

This Family's Business Is Turning Tragedy Into Triumph


Laquita Conway and Aaron Baker, a mother and son team, are co-founders of The Center of Restorative Exercise (C.O.R.E.). This family business was birthed as a result of a catastrophic injury. Aaron was a professional motocross racer who broke his neck during a training accident. That injury rendered him a quadriplegic. Laquita could not find a facility that offered ongoing therapeutic exercise for conditions like Aaron's. She decided to open one that would focus on rehabilitation through restorative exercise for individuals suffering a catastrophic injury or illness.
Laquita shares these insights about building a family business:

Turn tragedy into triumph.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Q&A with founder of Café Prima Pasta

What makes your family business experience unique? Everyone in the family plays some role at the restaurant, whether it is officially, such as my father in the kitchen or unofficially with my brother working on our web site and social media. 

How is it different from running a "typical" small business? With a family business, everyone is deeply invested in the outcome but not for personal gains. In a family business you get to spend time with your loved ones, share an incredible experience and have a lot of fun.

What do you love about family business?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Aging: The Power of Many Cultures

We’re living in a community where there is a mix of cultural identities. There seems to be an intellectual awareness that other groups exist, but in many ways, we are segregated. We have a unique opportunity to learn from each other and solve some of the economic and social problems we face. Many senior adults have the time, social network, resources and compassion to create more unity in the community. The benefits are huge.

Monday, September 7, 2015

This Family Business Sees Opportunity Solving a Big Problem in Education

I'm a huge fan of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. There are STEM education advocates in non-profit organizations and school systems, but what about leveraging business to promote it? Gary and Shaun Tuch own and operate Professor Egghead, a family business and STEM education franchise. They provide real, and sometimes messy, learning experiences as a way to teach science and engineering. Their franchise model is just as creative as the services they offer.

STEM on wheels.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Q&A with Perfecr Bar

What makes your business a family business?

Perfect Bar is family business that’s owned and operated by the king-sized
Keith family. Myself and 8 of my siblings work together across all
departments and facets of the business. We range from 19-32 years of age
to 19 and founded the company in 2005 with the hopes of sharing our family
recipe with the world.

How did you come into the business?

My dad, Dr. Bud Keith created the original Perfect Bar recipe. He was
renowned nutritionist and fitness industry pioneer. In the mid 1990’s, he
was searching for a healthy on-the-go snack for us Keith kids—13 in all. We
hated taking our whole food vitamin supplements, so dad thought he could
hide the taste in a delicious blend of organic peanut butter and honey.
Needless to say it worked, we loved them, and the Perfect Bar recipe was

By 2005, my dad’s health began deteriorating rapidly from skin cancer and
he was no longer able to provide for the family. I was attending College of
the Redwoods and my parents were desperate to make ends meet. As the
oldest, I knew it was going to be up to me to help save the family. I
convinced my mom to sell the only piece of property we owned and used that
money as start-up capital for the family business. The first few years
proved quite challenging, but we persevered, and the rest is history!

What makes your family business experience unique? How is it different from
running a "typical" small business?

I come to work everyday with 8 of my 13 siblings to make and sell the
freshest and healthiest nutrition bars ever created from a recipe bestowed
upon us by our late father. We never in a million years thought we’d ever
be where we are today—an Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in the U.S.
For us, it’s not about a job or simply a career. It’s about growing,
learning and building. It’s about making our own personal impact on the
world, fulfilling our potential each and everyday.

What do you love about family business?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Q&A with Huy and Van Phan

1. The names, relationship (ex: wife or brother), titles of all family members being interviewed. Names of other members who are a part of the business, but not being interviewed. What is your city/state or Country?

o   Huy and Van Phan (Husband and Wife) – Gilbert, AZ

2. What makes your business a family business? (w/ spouse and/or children, siblings...)

Husband and wife

3. How did you come into the business? (transferred, hired by parents? Founder?)

Our business is a franchised location of The Goddard School. The location was transferred to us when we had the opportunity to buy an existing school to make it our own.

4. What makes your family business experience unique? How is it different from running a "typical" small business?

We really think of the children and families who attend our school as an extension of our own family and that is how we run our business.

5. What do you love about family business?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is Refugee Labor the New Fair Trade Issue?

Fair Trade refers to just compensation for farmers and workers who produce the ingredients we enjoy in various products. With a Fair Trade label, consumers can identify which products were produced in an ethical manner. The main goal of Fair Trade certified products is to encourage the economic growth of disadvantaged communities in developing countries and to improve the quality of life for farmers, workers and their families. It's conscious consumerism, because buying Fair Trade products makes you aware of the origins of the products you buy. What if those farmers and workers are brought here?