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The theme of the third annual Resnick-Wynn Family Business Conference on Feb. 29 revolved around navigating a “critical crossroads,” when the leadership baton gets passed from one generation to the next. 

Keynote speaker Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp., and leadoff speaker Elyse Lipman, CEO of Lipman Farms, each said that veering away from their respective family-owned companies helped better prepare them for taking the mantle upon returning. 

Lipman became CEO of Lipman Farms last year. She previously worked as the photo editor for National Geographic. 

“Having experience outside of the company can really strengthen the legs that you bring as long as you come in with that growth mindset,” Lipman said. “There’s so much value to getting the experience outside of the company, even frankly outside of the industry.” 

She said that outside experience molded her as her family company’s leader. 

“Be comfortable having more questions than answers, right?” Lipman said. “When I’m in the room, I’m the CEO. My leadership style is I’m not the expert necessarily in the room. I’m not the one with 50 years of experience, under her belt. But rather I’m there to ask questions and draw connections.” 

Like Lipman, Tisch also worked in journalism. Long before he became the third-generation leader of Loews and a billionaire co-owner of the New York Giants football team, Tisch edited and produced TV newscasts in Boston after graduating from Tufts University. 

“I have a brother and sister and four cousins,” Tisch said. “We were virtually raised as one family. The business was started by my grandparents in the late ’20s and early ’30s. And my father and uncle, my mother and aunt, got involved.” 

Tisch, who has developed 17 of the company’s 27 hotels, began at the bottom of the totem pole. 

“I worked at the front desk when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I needed a little stool to stand on so I could see who the guests were on the other side of the desk. I have worked every single job in our hotel.” 

But it was his early years away from the family business that further shaped him, he said. 

“I was a cinematographer. I was an editor,” Tisch said of his time in television. “I produced kids, sports, public affairs shows. But I just had to go back to Loews Hotels and apply myself to understanding the business and then eventually running it and growing it. 

“The years that I was a TV producer in Boston were really important to learning a trade. Those years of crafting a TV product really helped me. I say to young college kids who are getting ready to graduate, take a job, any job. We don’t know where we’re ending up. You’ll learn from every experience.” 

Lipman and Tisch were just the first and last presenters. 

In between, Dennis Jaffe, senior research fellow at BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, talked about how a family business can reinvent itself for each generation to thrive. 

Timothy Cartwright, co-founder of Fifth Avenue Family Office in Naples, moderated a three-person panel about when there’s not a next generation to lead. In it, Russell Budd talked about how his son showed an interest in taking over Wall Systems, a metal framing and drywall company, but not the other family business, PBS Construction. Joseph Suresky, president of RI Suresky & Sons, and John Macchia, founder of Advance Turning & Manufacturing, also were on that panel. 

FGCU President Aysegul Timur and Resnick Group founder Billie Resnick welcomed the audience of about 200 people. And Michael Wynn, chairman of Sunshine Ace Hardware, bid them farewell. 

John and Billie Resnick and Wynn plan on continuing the conference in 2025 at FGCU. 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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