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The Family Business Leader Podcast

Jan 10, 2018

In this episode, my guest Daniel Van Der Vliet and I dig into family business from the family business center/academic perspective. Dan is currently The John and Dyan Smith Executive Director of Family Business, part of the Smith Family Business Initiative, at Cornell University. Dan tells us about his role and the family business initiative at Cornell, which is fairly unique. There are less than 100 programs in North America focused on family business—especially staggering considering there are close to 4,000 programs on entrepreneurship.


Together, we discuss family business centers and their role as a resource for family businesses; Dan gives us his version of OMFG (ownership, management, governance and family); and we go deep on the link between family business and entrepreneurship.


Topics discussed in this episode:


  • Meet Dan  (1:52)
  • What is a family business center? (3:10)
  • The importance of peer-to-peer learning (4:48)
  • Dann’s version of OMFG (7:38)
  • Tools for good governance (13:20)
  • Family business and wealth in the spotlight (20:00)
  • Next Gen impact and family business (24:32)
  • Family business and entrepreneurism (30:15)
  • Using entrepreneurism as a teaching ground (35:07)
  • Leveraging networks (38:49)
  • How to find Dann (43:28)
  • Bonus questions! (47:00)


Check out this episode's webpage at


Notable & Quotable:


As society moves ever faster, there’s a feeling that we’re becoming less connected. Family businesses fly in the face of that. They are a constant in our communities. They have the corner market on trust and familiarity. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


When the next generation of a family business initiates or leads the conversation, they demonstrate leadership, show curiosity, and break down barriers. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


The issues from family business to family wealth are the same; your still dealing with family members, planning for the future, change from one generation to the next, and what the expectations are in an ever-changing world.—Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


Family businesses create wealth, and often because of their family values, they create a philanthropic vehicle —Ellie Frey Zagel #successfulgenerations #familybusiness #philanthropy


To be a leader you have to earn credibility and respect first and not just from the family, but also from the other people in the enterprise that make it work. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


Sometimes a simple conversation can save a family (and the family business). —Ellie Frey Zagel


There is a strong connection between family business and entrepreneurship. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


Family businesses are not just corner stores in your neighborhood. They drive innovation globally and tend to be a great place for creating new ideas and nurturing the next generation. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


There’s a strong connection between family business and entrepreneurism. Family often has the resources and the network, be they social intellectual or financial, to help drive and spur innovation.—Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


Rather than think about what would happen if you fail, think about what does it look like when you succeed. —Daniel Van Der Vliet #successfulgenerations #familybusiness


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell

Smith Family Business Initiative Upcoming events

Family Business Blog


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Learn more about Successful Generations:

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Twitter: @EllieFreyZagel



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