FOXCast: Mindy Earley Geeks-Out on Learning

Date: May 20 2019

KC Forsythe and Mindy Earley, Family Office Exchange

In this episode, we check in with Mindy Earley, Chief Learning Officer at FOX on creating programs for the rising generation that help them navigate the unique world of enterprise families.

Mindy, who is inspired by helping people discover the way they will make personal and productive contributions, is currently designing the upcoming FOX RisingGen Leadership Program.

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Below is a transcript from the conversation:

KC: Can you start by talking a little bit about your experience and how you got here?

Mindy Earley: Sure. So, I originally came from higher education, which is where I guess I would say I earned my chops for life-long learning and developing programming. I worked with a student leadership population and just loved the entire University setting. It's an amazing place to be, with young individuals that care about bettering themselves and figuring out their path for life.

Leaving higher education, I then went into single family offices and worked within a really large family enterprise that was a family that was keenly focused on education; and cared about being a leading family and cared about educating their rising generation members, so that they were clear on how they wanted to serve and connect to the family system. And I had the unique opportunity to work with the family and create a learning system that was focused on development of the human capital—development of the whole person and also preparing them for leadership roles within the family system. And I have also been in a small family office focusing on very specific shareholder education and family office sophistication.

“It's unfair to put upon someone to just find their passion and just go live their life, and start a business, and make money, and contribute, and be a good steward of the wealth. That is a lot to ask. So, that is where family education comes in.” 

It was really important to work with individuals, for me, in such transformative years and help them get on the right path. And I often say that the one horrible, horrible question that people couldn't help but ask is, “what is your passion?” Because that is really unfair to individuals in their 20s who are still deciding what they want to do for the rest of their lives to just identify a passion. And it's unfair to sometimes connect, or assume, that a passion is also a career. So I just liked helping individuals identify where they wanted to go for the next step in life, based on what their education was, their talents, how they best wanted to serve, and take it from there. Because education is a lifelong process, learning is a lifelong process. And also, careers and the way that we will serve and work are truly iterative. So, we will have different versions of ourselves throughout the rest of our lives and that just goes with personal development—the way that you change and grow.

KC: I totally agree. I think one way that millennials tend to get stuck is that they are expected to pick their passion in their 20s and then find a career that is a match for their passion.

Mindy: Which is unfair and it's a lot of pressure. And I think that something we need to also name and talk about is, for rising generation members in wealthy families, there is a lot of unspoken assumption that they should be prepared more than they are. They should have a basic financial literacy simply because they've been part of a wealthy family. They should be networked and connected and entrepreneurial. And all of these things are unfair assumptions. It's unfair to put upon someone to just find their passion and just go live their life, and start a business, and make money, and contribute, and be a good steward of the wealth. That is a lot to ask. So, that is where family education comes in—to honor where an individual is starting, whatever their educational background—if they’re an art major—and help them with the foundational knowledge that is important to be within a wealthy family and serve in a family system. And I would say in tandem with that, is work with them to kind of have some personal development mission, to get to where their purpose is and how they want to serve, given what their unique talents are. You know, what they envision as an interesting career.

And I would often work with rising generation members of wealthy families to consider and talk about what Jay Hughes now mentions is “the gig economy” or “the 4th economy.” But to think about life differently, and potentially, a project-based life that isn’t, for some individuals, a traditional 9:00 to 5:00 career with 10 vacation days. Rising generation members in families will have a different life, potentially, life path. And they have different expectations. They are asked to serve on family committees and family boards, and it can sometimes be hard to do all of that within a traditional career. So, to be open to the ways that the future can be different, but also focus on family education as the launching-pad to get them on the right path.

KC: Cool, so that's kind of like their home base—come back to the learning. And talking about how you made your transition, then, from the family office world to FOX, where you're working with a whole network of family offices—what has that been like so far?

Mindy: It's been really fun. So, I just kind of geek-out on learning a little bit. My role … I define it kind of as two pieces. The first is being outsourced chief learning officer for families that don't have that function. Most families don't have that function. We would love to see, and are starting to see, more family offices hire for a role like that. But, as education is still becoming more prevalent and of importance within families, they're working with consultants or other advisers. But we think it's key to have a resource at FOX that has education experience, and that piece of my role is to be an outsourced chief learning officer for families that want to have a conversation around learning. And It can look like a number of different things. And I think that's the fun of my role, is that every family needs something different. So, it's just walking alongside them to decide where they should start and where they should go, and where we find we can best serve them within the process. And sometimes that's a finite relationship—consulting project that has a start and an end—and sometimes those finite ones turn into the longer-term relationships, to connect with the family. Because through an initial discussion, you learn there are many other things that a family would like to do together.

KC: And I know as a family office executive, when you were working as a chief learning officer in a family office, or in any of your other various roles, you where a FOX member. So you used the research then. And now, you’re such an expert in all areas.

Mindy: It feels like a combination of my career. Like, I graduated and I finally arrived into this really unique role that calls upon my talents and expertise, but also is connected to all of the FOX Resources. So all of our research, the consultants, the different offerings for membership—you know, there's nothing like that out there. Now, instead of working with one specific family, I have the ability to have conversations with family office staff, advisors, and family members on so many different topics and issues. And that's life-giving to me, so that's pretty fun.

KC: That's awesome!

Mindy: Yeah. So the second piece of my role is developing a Rising Gen Leadership Program, which is a very focused learning effort that will be a two-day program that we're launching this fall. And it's essentially the important curriculum areas and topics for a rising-generation member of a wealthy family. So, it's this leadership toolkit, its leadership preparation along with  personal development. It's kind of a comprehensive look at what rising-generation members in a family need to know to, one, be comfortable with who they are and where they're going in life—which is, you know, the beginning. And then, the education to serve within their family system or within their family business—from a financial literacy perspective, from boards and governance education … It's all of the things that are basic to, and unique to, a leadership program for rising-generation members in a wealthy family. You know, this isn't part of your University curriculum. It's that, like we talked about, kind of private-conversation stuff that not everyone is dealing with. So we plan to offer that and serve that need in the fall, because we we know it's important for families. But at the same time, this is matching up with what the rising generation is asking for. They want curriculum, they want coaches, they want learning modules. They want all of this in one kind of nice, wrapped-up piece with subject-matter experts and thought leaders. And FOX has been doing that through programs, you know, for many, many years.

KC: What it does is ... like you’re mentioning, it’s not a conference, it’s a program.

Mindy: Right. It has more rigor. The RisingGen Forum is a gathering, which is more peer networking and soft-skills and great learning opportunity and connection opportunity. But, this is the knowledge and the education that will help prepare leaders differently.

“The thing I see people speak with such passion about is connecting with other families—or family offices or other advisors—and learning from each other. There's no need to recreate the wheel and there's no need to feel like you're in isolation with any of your issues, when so many other people are experiencing what you are, and there's a whole community of people to tap into.”

KC: And they need each other. They need find each other and be able to talk openly about what they’re uniquely going through.

Mindy: Right, yes. You know, this isn't the water cooler office talk about, you know, flying away for your family annual meeting. You feel pretty isolated and that you can't necessarily talk about those things. And that is where through FOX offerings—RisingGen Forum, the online RisingGen Network, different opportunities. You can pose those questions. You can say, “has anyone navigated this before?” Or, “this is my current question or struggle,” and you know it's a safe place of people like you that are that have those same questions.

And It's fun to see a peer community come together and help serve each other. That feels really good to them to help, you know, their peers. And it's also just kind of magic to watch FOX members help each other out. And that's the beauty of FOX membership and FOX relationships. In my time with FOX the past couple of months, the thing I see people speak with such passion about is connecting with other families—or family offices or other advisors—and learning from each other. There's no need to recreate the wheel and there's no need to feel like you're in isolation with any of your issues, when so many other people are experiencing what you are, and there's a whole community of people to tap into.

KC: Cool so how could somebody reach you?

Mindy: So, find me in a million different ways. FOX website. My information is on there And yeah, just give me a call if you're interested in talking about the genesis or impetus of learning within your family office or family system—how to get started, best practices. I have all kinds of ideas from years of working with families and ways to infuse learning into family annual meetings. Along with, you know, “who is the ideal participant for RisingGen Leadership Program? I would like to send, you know, my kids or my niece and nephew and how do we get them there? And how do we help them on this path to be fulfilled, personally fulfilled, and also prepared and feel comfortable to contribute within the family?”

KC: Yes, and again, thats Please visit us and Mindy is right there.

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