PDFB Psychodynamics of Family Business


We are looking forward to seeing you at PDFB 21. 

 Friday, May 1 – Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hilton Orrington Hotel
1710 Orrington Avenue

Evanston, IL 60201

T: 847.866-8700

F: 847.866.8724





Lifting the Curtain: How We Understand Our Clients:

We come to understand our clients over time, through conversations and interactions with themes as a group and as individuals. At some point, we develop our own more cohesive understanding of the client’s story: who they are, where they came from, why they are the way they are. And, over time, we see that our narrative about them also deepens, modifies and takes on different hues.  This process, of how we develop our story about our clients, can be a source of lively discussion.


Friday, May 1, 2015


4:00 – 5:00PM

James Room


Welcome Session:  Andrew Hier

Welcome, meeting overview and logistics, introductions and personal updates from members.



5:00 – 7:00PM


























7:00 – 9:00PM

Haven Room



7:00 – 9:00PM

Hinman Foyer


Opening Session: Gerard Donnellan and Patricia Annino:  The Wilting Shamrock: Booze, Blarney and Blame in a Third Generation Business – a case study.    [Introduced by INSERT].


This is the story of a family business as it transitions into the third generation. Once tough and feisty, the now-debilitated elder of the family witnesses the shenanigans and craziness of his children as they attempt to maintain and expand the business. Patricia Annino and Gerry Donnellan both know and have become entangled in the sticky web of this family and its story. Having known the family since childhood, Patricia has influenced and guided this family past the sometimes-volcanic eruptions of its members.  Gerry, the new kid on the block, has worked with the family for almost 4 years, as their family business advisor and ringmaster of the legendary lava-rich gatherings politely referred to as the “Donnellan Meetings”.


Although he is unable to join us in person for the presentation, Dr. P, the family psychiatrist, will weigh in with his thoughts and observations from the seven years he has worked with this family. These three professionals, Patricia, Dr. P. and Gerry all have come within the orbit of this family. We will discuss our differing approaches, roles, tornadic transference countertransference configurations and attempts to chart the course with this family. From assessment, to legal issues, to family therapy, this family weaves a rich and compelling fabric of their lives.


Social hour in the Haven Room on the 9th Floor of the hotel. 

Introductions and updates from members (continued from 4-5PM, if needed).



Dinner Buffet in the Hinman Foyer at the Hotel Orrington. 



Saturday, May 2


8:00 – 8:30AM


8:30 – 9:30AM

James Room

9th Floor



















9:30 – 9:45 AM




9:45 – 10:45AM







10:45- 11:00AM


11:00- 12:15pm




















Cummings Room

9th Floor


1:30 – 2:45PM
























3:00PM –6:45pm










Continental breakfast outside meeting room

Bonnie Brown Hartley and Michael Hartley: Lifting Generational Curtains:  A Decade of Working with an Enterprising Family and Its Advisor Team – a case study  [Introduced by INSERT]


This presentation will highlight lifting the generational curtains of an enterprising family’s commitment to life-long learning and strategic governance created and managed by an integrated family/advisor board.  Currently we work with three generations. We will showcase the behind-the-scenes challenges, opportunities and strengths of this model, including the use of individualized advisor teams who meet quarterly with each family member.  We will also discuss how we have developed miniature Fire Drills with three generations to enhance the family’s desire to maintain loving family relationships and prepare for generational transitions in leadership and managing the responsibilities of its financial, human and social capital. This presentation will give people an in-depth look at the evolution of relationships within the family, within the advisor team, and among three generations of family and their advisors, the evolution of its strategic plan for managing all forms of its capital, and the major challenges the family and its advisor team still face.







Andrew Hier:  The Psychology of Ownership in a Family Business

[Introduced by INSERT]

This session will explore the psychological dimensions of ownership, the impact these dimensions have on the family business system and implications for our practice.   [Introduced by INSERT].





Javier Macias: Next Generation Leading the Consultancy Process – a case study.  [Introduced by INSERT].


This is a case study where the initial demand for assistance was formulated by the Third Generation of a Business Family. With 250 employees, and subsidiaries in more than 7 countries, this Mexican Family Business is facing one of the biggest changes in their life: Board of Directors, Family Council and Shareholders agreements. However this process started unknown by the generation that holds the power. The strategy used by the consultant in alliance with the Next Generation, seemed to be effective since the generation with the power is now showing interest in the proposal their offspring are preparing. After 2 years of undercover work with the Next Generation, now it is time to communicate the plan to the rest of the family. The presenter expects a session with a high degree of discussion and feed-back from the audience in both terms of actions that have been taken and actions to be taken. Consultants can accept consultancy demands from Next Generations without the support of the Previous Generations, something unbelievable in Latin-American culture.


Lunch in the Hotel- Private room near the meeting room



David Gage: Two Boys    Growing    Up    Or    Not.       A    Case    of    LongTerm    Mediation    with Two Brothers in a Family Business.    

(Introduced by Insert)

This case of two brothers in a large 4th generation family business highlights the ways relationships and the power of positions in a family business can facilitate… or retard, family member’s personal growth.  In this family business, the younger brother, Roy, served for three decades as the company’s CFO.  He reported to his older brother, Jeff, the CEO, until he retired suddenly in 2012, belatedly telling the co-mediators he resigned because he could no longer tolerate working with (i.e., under) Jeff. 


Although Roy claimed he was not maneuvering to become the Chairman of the Board, the Family Leadership drafted him for the job.  To Jeff’s dismay, that put Roy over him in the family business hierarchy.  We’ll explore the possibility that Roy’s resignation, and then elevation to Chairman of the Board, may have been partially responsible for a personal growth spurt.  We’ll consider the contrary, adverse effect it may have had on Jeff, who was on his own retirement trajectory.  We will also discuss how mediation works… or doesn’t, in a high-conflict, multi-generation family business setting.  The group can discuss how the mediation process is similar or different from a more traditional consulting process.     


Recreational Break


Meet in Lobby.


Dinner at Quince at the Homestead,  1625 Hinman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 / phone 847 570 8400


[Directions: Take a right on Orrington when exiting the hotel. Take a left at the first main street, Church.  Walk past Whole Foods at the intersection of Chicago Ave. and continue on Church until you come to the next intersection, Hinman Ave. Take a right on Hinman Ave and you will see the Homestead on your left.]










Sunday, May 3rd

7:45 – 8:15AM

Continental breakfast outside meeting room


8:15 –  9:30AM


Barry Graff     “The Internal Families We Bring to Our Work”

(Introduced by Insert)

The presenter will lead the group in a role playing exercise to better understand countertransference.  Each participant will bring 2 pictures to the meeting: one from their family of origin, and one from their present day family.  These will be most useful if they are blown up to 12 inches by 12 inches or bigger.  They will be put up on the wall for the weekend.


As they choose and view these pictures, participants can connect them to an experience with a client family.  There will be a presentation of a role play illustrating this kind of countertransferential connection.  If there be time, we will then break into small groups to discuss each person's case example.



9:30– 9:45AM



9:45 – 10:30AM









PDFB Strategic Planning Follow Up: [Facilitator].  


Review of action items from previous strategic planning exercise.

Discussion of ideas for membership evolution, changes in meeting logistics, website development and other planning issues.






PDFB Planning Meeting: Andrew Hier

In this closing business meeting, we will choose dates and location for the next meeting, receive the Treasurer’s report, solicit ideas for theme/speakers, select a Program Committee and Administrative Committee for the next conference, and attend to any other administrative matters. 


Closing Reflections:

Reflection on the meeting, and open discussion on key points of learning and appreciation.


12noon                    Adjourn



Invitations for PDFB 21 have been sent to prior participants, who have priority for the 32 slots. Remaining slots will then be open for registration on a first come first served basis to qualified professionals.

To register, please complete the attached registration form and send it with a check covering the registration fee. The non-refundable fee is $375. If you live in Chicago or suburbs, and will not be staying at the Orrington, the registration fee is $675.  Please make checks payable to PDFB.


Registrations forms and checks can be sent to David Gage, Ph.D, BMC Associates, 3000 Spout Run Parkway  Penthouse,  Arlington, VA 22201. Phone: (703) 465-1262 email: dgage@bmcassociates.com Once your registration is received, you will get an email with information about securing a reservation at the Hotel Orrington.




We do encourage you to invite new participants! Please be sure to inform them about the group’s eligibility criteria, which are posted on our website: www.pdfb.org.  New members should arrange to have a brief conversation with one of the members of the membership committee Ellen Frankenberg (ellen@frankenberggroup.com), David Tate (David@tate-consulting.com) and Gerard Donnellan (gerryd@big-leap.com)


prior to registration. New participants can register after January 1st on a first-come first-served basis, subject to available space. New members can receive the early registration discount if they register before February 15.

Best wishes,