Video Transcript

00:13 Nina Vaca: I have a couple of minutes for a couple of questions. I know we went through that really, really fast. Yes sir?

00:21 Audience Member: Good afternoon. Managing family members can be difficult and sometimes I find myself, maybe it's right or wrong, of distancing myself from the family members. And although you try to compliment all your employees for every time they do something well, I see myself hindering not complimenting my family members for some of those certain reasons that you... How do you handle that?

00:40 Vaca: You know what? You hit the nail right on the head. I am much harder... We are much harder on our family than you are on everybody else. The way you talk to them, the conversations you have, you get a little out of control with the family, but you'd never do that with a stranger. You'd never do that with an executive. And you know what? That's something that just comes with the territory. Your family has to know, and understand, and swallow hard, and know that the barometer is much higher on them. And, by the way, let me give you an example. The other thing you have to show is that they're there for their talents. My brother is a Senior Executive in the firm, so is my husband. My sister is not. That's not because she's not talented, she's extremely talented and the most tenured employee in the firm. She was the first that came. But she's got other priorities and is not able to do the things that others can do, and so she hasn't been in a senior level role where other family members have.

01:37 Vaca: So I had to prove to my executives that they're there because they have the talent to be there, not because they're related to me. And our family members just... They just know, they get treated a little bit differently. And by the way, the culture that we've created at Pinnacle is that there's a lot of family in the business, but there's a lot of non-family in the business that we treat as family. And so, I think that's really important and probably why I mentioned the people aspect. How you treat people is extremely important. And I start to treat other people like family, invite them in just like family, and I'll even call each other... We call each other one big happy family. But that's just something that your siblings, your daughters, your relatives have to know, that the barometer is just, it's not much bigger for them. It's a great question. Yes ma'am?

02:25 Audience Member: How do you balance your work life and your family life as a woman in business?

02:29 Vaca: How do I balance my what?

02:30 Audience Member: Your work life and your family life.

02:32 Vaca: My work... Oh my gosh, that's like the biggest question I get! Having four kids in six years and, by the way, I love to swim, bike, and run in the same hour too. That's my sanity. But the first thing I do when talking about work-life balance as a CEO, a mother, and, by the way, I lead one of the largest and most powerful Hispanic business organizations in the country, is you have to forgive yourself. Don't beat yourself up. Somebody else will gladly do that for you. I don't beat myself up. The time I spend with my children, I am laser-focused and I have mastered the ability to compartmentalize.

03:20 Vaca: What does that mean? Does that mean that's when I'm having huge issues at the office when I come home, they go away from 5 o'clock to 9 o'clock. And I compartmentalize, and I am laser-focused on them, and I set barriers. I don't do 7 o'clock meetings when I'm in town. That's my pancake flipping time, that's the time that I spend with my children. Forgive yourself. Outsource as much as you can. I'm happy to outsource the cleaning and the shopping, but I never outsource time with my children. So it's a long way to answer your question, but you've got to forgive yourself first, compartmentalize and spend quality time with your children, and outsource everything you can. Yes sir?

03:59 Audience Member: Hi there. Do you have any advice for newlyweds who work together?

04:08 Vaca: Boy, this is a test for that marriage. Any advice for newlyweds? It's great because you just got married and you started the business together, or you're starting it at the same time, presumably, I'm making that assumption. The best advice I have for any married couple that's working together, is you gotta have that respect. Respect, respect, respect. And you gotta have confidence because I don't know who's the boss, but there'll be times where... Well, we all know who's the boss, come on, who are we kidding here? [laughter] Right? But there will be times where you disagree. So here's the trick that I use in business and in marriage, works both times. Whenever you have an argument, a business argument or even a personal one, I always think, what were their intentions? Don't think of their words, that they used, but think, what were their intentions. 'Cause a lot of times people have good intentions, they just don't know how to express themselves. That happens all the time with my husband. So, you always have to think, what is their intention? And that will help you clear the waters, and start to understand, and come to a good resolution. One more question. I've got two more questions. I know you have a question.

05:33 Audience Member: Okay. So you're very young, so I know you probably haven't even thought about this yet. But, for those of us that have children in the business and think about a succession plan, what do you think you'll be doing in the future? Would you look to exit to family members or possible children in the future, or have you thought about it?

05:52 Vaca: That's an excellent question. By the way, my middle daughter, Katarina, has already laid down the gauntlet. She's informed her brothers and sisters, at the ripe age of 11, that she'll be the CEO of Pinnacle [laughter] You're right I'm young, but I've actually thought about that. In fact this year, if you're not tax planning this year, there are certain things that you've got to do at the end of this particular year, at the end of Bush tax cuts that... I know that's not the topic of this conversation, but you all know that you've got to be doing that, right? You've got to be building your estate and taking care of all the things that a good business owner takes care of this year, by end of this year. So if you haven't done it, please go do it immediately. I've actually thought about that and I actually do have a plan. Provade, the software tool, has a multi-year vision to probably be spun out. We have several billions of dollars under management in the contingent labor space. The contingent labor space today is a trillion dollar industry and there is only a 100 billion under management. So in the last decade, there are all these software tools that are now managing all this crazy thing called contingent labor because CEOs, 10 years ago, used to spend 10 cents on the dollar, now they spend up to 35 cents on the dollar on payroll.

07:06 Vaca: So I think with the software company, I think there is a good possibility that, that organizations will be prepared for sale. Pinnacle, I started as a legacy business. What I didn't mention is that my father always dreamed of the family working together and I started it, again, to build and change the direction of my personal fate. I would like that to be a legacy company. But as the CEO, I can't sit here and tell you that I think one or the other. I always have to be open, always have to be open to what may happen next. But the moral to... The answer to your question is, even at this early age, you've got to start thinking, particularly if you have children, you've got to start thinking about making sure you have all the things that you never think about in line. And that is your estate planning. That is your will. That is your the Second-to-Die insurance. The last thing you want, the last thing I could hope for is to create this incredible company and then in my death the company would have to be sold to pay the tax bill. Most people don't think about that, but it's real and it's important, and do take the time to think about that. Good question. Yes ma'am?

08:16 Audience Member: Okay. I am married into a family business. So, yeah, my father-in-law owns it. We have six family members at work there and he is in the process of succession.

08:29 Vaca: Okay.

08:29 Audience Member: Hasn't really made things whole lot clear as to like what his definite plans are, so do you have any advise for those of us who are kind of in limbo, if you will? I don't really know how to explain it, like, here, but it's a tricky situation.

08:54 Vaca: Family businesses can get very sticky and very tricky in that way especially when you have, not just the immediate family but the in-laws and the brothers-in-law. Now, he is the owner of business and I presume that the six people have helped him grow the business, for the most part. What advise do I have? Again, not knowing and not being able to ask you a lot more questions, the best advise I have in any conflict is communication because the worst thing you can do is assume... Oh, and by the way, don't do it with an email. Nowadays, we text, we email, and we forget the personal touch that goes along. And sometimes emails can be misconstrued. My best advise is, 99% of the times, with good communication, problems can be solved.

09:54 Vaca: I know when we have a conflict, we walk away from it, we come back into the room, but somebody's gotta be the leader. Somebody's gotta be the big boy, the big girl that says, "Okay, come on guys, let's just talk about it. Let's talk about... Lets forget about the argument at hand. Let's have a real conversation about where the future of this company is going and what we're all doing here." So the best advice I have for you is maybe be that leader that kind of talks to him and says, "You know, I'd like to chat with you little bit about my future so that I can do my planning," 99% of each issue is always solved with communication. I have time for no more questions. The clock says 30 seconds. Thank you so much for allowing me the time to share my story.