Family Business Conference to examine change

Family Business Conference to examine change

Dave Specht (left) will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Family Business Conference on March 1 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
Dave Specht (left) will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Family Business Conference on March 1 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Looking to celebrate and educate those in family-run businesses, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship will host the inaugural Family Business Conference on March 1 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Registration is $20 for students and $49 for professionals through Feb. 22; it is $60 the day of the conference. Register here.

The conference theme is “The Challenge of Change,” and workshops and presentations will address business and leadership topics central to family businesses. Established by a gift from the Abel family, the conference provides information useful for a variety of family businesses — from farms to restaurants.

“Eighty-five percent of all businesses are family businesses,” said Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “They face many challenges, such as succession, and this conference is a resource to share how to confront and deal with issues and learn tools they can utilize. Family businesses are an important part of the economic landscape of the state.”

Dave Specht will deliver the keynote address. Internationally recognized for his experience in the field of family-business management, he currently serves as the national development manager for family dynamics at Wells Fargo Private Bank. Known as “The Family Business Whisperer,” Specht wrote a book of the same name that all attendees will receive with registration.

“Working with family businesses is a passion I’ve had for a long time,” said Specht, who formerly taught entrepreneurship classes at Nebraska. “I emphasize raising a thriving next generation by not just perpetuating family assets, but also their values. Grit is the new big word here at the university, and along with gratitude and goals, those are the three keys I promote to perpetuate family values to the next generation.”

The conference also will include sessions about learning to anticipate and handle transitions in family businesses and utilizing Gallup’s CliftonStrengths in family business. Session presenters will include: Joseph and Matthew Brugger, co-founders of Upstream Farms and Innovations; Holly Hoffman, author and competitor on the reality show “Survivor: Nicaragua”; Samantha Kennelly, assistant director of the Clifton Strengths Institute; and female business leaders who will discuss “The Female Perspective: Issues and Challenges in Family Firms” in a conversation led by students from the Undergraduate Women in Business organization. The day will conclude with a panel discussion on “Passing the Baton from Generation to Generation,” led by Specht.

“The conference provides a significant opportunity for Nebraska family business leaders to network with each other,” Fairclough said. “By sharing their experiences at lunch or between sessions, attendees can learn to become better leaders, managers, owners and entrepreneurs, and continue the conversation afterward.”

Learn more about the conference.