UCLA Steinbeck Family Business Seminar 2024

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Board panel with Kyler Gilbert at UCLA conference

This year’s UCLA Steinbeck Family Business Seminar was packed with all kinds of learning, sharing, networking, hard conversations about challenges that families in business face and so much more.  We were honored to share the two-day event with an all star list of presenters that included Mark Kelegian, who bought and is growing the iconic Randy’s Donuts brand, and he brought donuts for all; Alex Canter who shared his journey out of the family deli and his rise and fall in the restaurant tech sector, our own Kyler Gilbert who facilitated a cool conversation about generational challenges with Charles Ekhart,  family therapist, two members of the Gallo Wine family and Paul Tyler of John O’Groats Restaurant.  And there were other all-star presenters including; Olav Sorenson, Corinne Bendersky, Ramit Varma, the team from Endeavour, and Ryan Sung of Honolulu Cookie Company.  

Some of the cool facts that we heard during the two-day event include:

Randyʻs Donuts and Mark Kelegian

Mark Kelegian bought Randy’s Donuts after he saw the brand advertised for sale on BizBuySell!  He bought the company to be able to be in business with his daughters.  How cool is that!  The brand can now be found in the Philippines, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Dubai.  Why is it that I suddenly want to eat a Randy’s Donut?  

Gallo Family Internship Program

During Kyler’s session, we learned that the Gallo family have an internship program for all Gallo shareholders to give them exposure to the business and help them learn to be good stewards of the company.  We heard this gem from Dr. Charles Ekhart – “Transparency can be a trap because the older generations want less then the rising gens do.  The key is to know when to be transparent, about what and to what end.”    Charles also reminded us that in family business when values are strong, the “how” stays true, it’s the “what” that will change.  

Active Listening & Cultivating Psychological Safety

We all learned how to create effective teams with Dr. Corinne  Bendersky.  Loved the wake-up call on the importance of cultivating psychological safety and the active listing acronym that we all need to ask ourselves – WAIT – Why am I talking?  

AI & Itʻs Impact On Learning

We heard about AI and it’s impact on learning and education from Ramit Varma, founder and CEO of Breakout Learning.  All I can say is it’s remarkable and we’re all going to be impacted by AI in some way.  

Alex Canter and Managing Challenges

Alex Canter was delightful as always.  Love his candor, honesty and ability to laugh.  His story of managing challenges with the now gen not wanting to change anything (and I mean literally, anything) to the rocket journey of building Order Mark and Next Bite and how much he learned during the rise and fall of that company is amazing.    Follow Alex on all the social platforms, he has a lot more coming!

And finally, we ended day 2 learning from Ryan Sung, the Gen 2 son of Keith and Janet Sung, founders of Honolulu Cookie Company,  yes, Ryan brought cookies!    Ryan’s story illustrated the value of hard work and helping each family member find the role that they can excel in in the business and get out of their way!  Ryan also shared his out of the box thinking to help Honolulu Cookie Company develop new products and new markets that literally allowed the company to survive post Pandemic.  

Many thank to UCLA for embracing us as a sponsor of the Steinbeck Family Business Seminar.  A highlight of this yearly event is spending some time with the one and only Jay Steinbeck, consummate entrepreneur who paid it forward in a big when we he endowed this program over 20 years ago.  Mahalo Jay!  

Family Business conference

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