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Family Business Conference Examines Change

Family Business Conference Examines Change
Dave Specht will be the keynote speaker at the conference.
Looking to celebrate and educate those in family-run businesses, the Nebraska College of Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship will host the inaugural Family Business Conference on Friday, March 1. Held at Nebraska Innovation Campus, the registration fee is $20 for students and $49 for professionals by the deadline and increases to $60 if registering on the day of the conference. Registration closes Monday, February 25 at 11:59 p.m. To register, visit

The conference theme is “The Challenge of Change,” and workshops and presentations address business and leadership topics centric to family business. Established by a gift from the Abel family, the conference provides information useful for a variety of family businesses – from farms to restaurants and anything in between. Dr. Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, noted how the conference benefits family business in a way not being done anywhere else.

“Eighty-five percent of all businesses are family businesses. 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,” said Fairclough. “Family businesses are an important part of the economic landscape of the state.”

Dave Specht brings his expertise to the conference as the keynote speaker. 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 with the same name, which all attendees received 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.”

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

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

To learn more about the conference, visit:
Published: January 30, 2019