Some expert testimony about Ira Bryck as presenter, coach, facilitator, mediator, change agent, Dutch uncle, honest broker & friend of the court

Ira is one of the most amazing human beings I have met. He has high energy, is ambitious, extremely creative, uncannily innovative and is able to deeply listen and connect to people. I have hosted several community events where Ira has shown up in support and encouragement. Ira has a tremendous ability to bring out the best in people. I have been in community conversations, facilitated events, and forums where Ira has contributed powerful insight and complete transparency. He is someone I admire and am inspired by. I am grateful to the personal and professional connections that Ira has made in my life, which comes from his capacity to be present and deeply listen. Thank you Ira to all you contribute to the world.

Andrea L. Bordenca, Chairperson and Owner, DESCO Service & Chief Executive Officer at The Institute for Generative Leadership US

My current Board Chair, Dave Wells, and I just completed three meaningful sessions with Ira Bryck. I found the sessions immediately useful, and worked to implement suggestions and strategies after each one. At this extraordinary time, Ira helped me to rethink my reactions to provocations and my responses to crises as a Head of School in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Ira also provided Dave and I with renewed structure for our conversations, which we both appreciate. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Melissa Earls, Head of School, Academy Hill

I wanted to say what a delight it is to discover you! I’ve spent the last hour or more going through the richness of your website. I’m absolutely impressed with your background and the great initiatives you have forged – not only in support of family businesses, but also in support of human interaction at the highest level. Thank you!

Dana Garnett, Mindful Strategy

I was first introduced to the amazing power of peer learning through Ira, and, for me, the roundtable he leads is a place to be vulnerable in my challenges and self-doubt, to get fresh perspectives, to sort out what are “impossible puzzles” in my head in a ridiculously short period of time, and also to be validated and encouraged to fight another day.

Ira’s core skills as a roundtable facilitator, in my mind, are the abilities to:

  • ask the question that no one else has the courage or perspective to ask
  • cut to the core of an issue when needed (always with kindness)
  • tell stories and make connections from his broad experience that bring a fresh perspective
  • set rules and boundaries, but not be inflexible about them when needed
  • actively ask for feedback with an open mind, as well as with energy and drive to improve the experience for me and improve his own skills as a facilitator

And if I were Ira, I wouldn’t have responded with bullet points. I would have given you a succinct and interesting story that summed all of those up, and maybe made you laugh.

Meghan Lynch, President, Six Point Creative

I was shocked when Ira told us he had researched my illness prior to the meeting. He then described how he imagined it would feel and when I heard my feelings come out of his mouth, I felt my whole body relax. I felt protected, like for at least the next few hours, I wouldn’t have to do battle alone. I had hope that he might be able to chip away at the brick wall I’d been beating my head against. It was also so comforting to know that the idea I was trying to get across was not incomprehensible. I really did try to come in with an open mind but in the first two minutes of the meeting, Ira was able to bring down my defenses that I hadn’t realized had become permanent fixtures.

Lizzie Feinstein, New England Payroll

Thank you so much for today Ira.  You are a mensch.  We’ve never gotten that far into a conversation so that some good could end up being found.  Our history has been for one or both of us to get too frustrated to continue so the solutions remained elusive.  Thank you for sticking it out with us.  I think we made some significant progress, probably more than either of us expected. (well, me anyway).

Scott Feinstein, New England Payroll

One of the greatest gifts from being Ira’s successor at the Family Business Center is his friendship. While we worked together I learned of his genuine care for helping others find their way. Ira brings brilliant perspective and guidance to complex situations, in a way that allows all involved to be their best selves. From Ira, I learned how to ask good strategic questions to help business owners think through challenges, and this can even be used to parent teenagers! Now, as I launch my first business, Ira has been a crucial thinking partner. He is a masterful coach and a loyal friend, with endless stories to tell filled with nuggets of wisdom! It is a true honor and pleasure to be Ira’s friend and colleague

Jessi Kirley, JK Collective, Dignity in Conversation

I met Ira over ten years ago while working at MBK, one of the Family Business Center’s perennial sponsors.  In my role at MBK, I attended numerous FBC dinners and workshops and was always impressed by the varied and creative content and training that Ira developed and the FBC provided. When the time came for me to commit to my own family business, I was again grateful for Ira’s support in spotlighting Graduate Pest Solutions on his radio show, and then encouraging Glenn and me to join the FBC.  That was the right move, since the FBC has allowed me to develop new, quality business relationships and continue to learn and develop as a business owner.

In the Family Business Center, Ira has created a unique, creative and holistic approach to supporting family and independent business owners. From the dinner meetings designed for the broad membership, to the smaller targeted workshops and then the more intimate peer-advisory roundtables, Ira designed and executed a vibrant pipeline of knowledge, training and relationship-development for small businesses. Throw in Ira’s engaged facilitation style and one-on-one mentoring, and you have a person and organization that you know is thinking about your needs, your obstacles, your solutions.  This model continues with the successful transition from Ira to FBC’s new Executive Director, Jessi Kirley.

When I was at the Family Business Center’s 25th anniversary, also when Ira officially stepped down as its founding Executive Director, I heard many roasting comments about how direct and assertive Ira is known to be, especially with follow-up phone calls. I heard of the perhaps thousands of calls Ira made over his career asking for something, following up on something, confirming something, etc.  There was lots of laughter about this but privately, I was giving Ira the thumbs up.  This is a man who has passion for what he does and is eager to both accomplish his mission and help people along the way.  He has done that with great intellect, the ‘connector spirit,’ and love.  Go Ira!

 Brenda Olesuk, Graduate Pest Solutions

No BS, this is a special guy who speaks with a rare combination of authority, kindness and integrity. It just shines through and you can’t fake it.

Douglas Box, Family Dynamics Consultant at Wells Fargo Private Bank

Here’s a reason to still love terrestrial radio: The Western Mass Business Show with Ira Bryck, on WHMP.
For those that haven’t caught him, imagine an erstwhile radio interviewer with the soul of the old school, a touch of Larry King’s stately bravado on the mic, and as it relates to business in Western Massachusetts he leans toward the Ted Lasso school of “be curious not judgmental”.
 Meg Sanders, Erik Williams, Greg “Chemdog” Krzanowski of Canna Provisions

As a longtime member of a Pioneer Valley Family Business Center, I have found that active participation in the roundtable forum to be arguably the most valuable aspect of membership. Ira Bryck’s facilitation and guidance is instrumental in creating an intimate and open trust environment. Within that context, the group shares both challenges and helpful external perspectives. The format is both efficiently facilitated, and allowed to relax when appropriate to explore common themes in a somewhat more open manner.

As a facilitator, Ira is a curious researcher – always open to input and adapting to best suit the specific needs of a group, or even a particular discussion that feels worthy of unconventional exploration. He is respectful of time commitments that we each make as business leaders, and tirelessly works to maximize the value of the roundtables. Ira has the insight and experience to help guide the discussion in a catalytic, but non-scripted way. The value is in both seeking input from the roundtable, as well as being able to better appreciate the common challenges and themes that we all face in our unique businesses.

Todd Harris, 42 Design Fab

I have really enjoyed being a part of Ira’s roundtable. As a business owner without formal training, I have found the group to be incredibly helpful. I have appreciated being surrounded by thoughtful advice, support, and like-minded professionals. I value the time away from my business to reflect on my business and find the roundtable to be a productive session that I look forward to. Ira’s guidance and mentorship sets a welcoming and supportive stage for individuals to participate and gain valuable and actionable insight. I’m very grateful to be a part of the roundtable and to work with Ira—thank you!

Kirsten Modestow, Owner & Executive Creative Director, BRIGADE

It’s hard to believe I’m the “senior” generation now but having been a Family Business Center member nearly from the beginning, I’ve derived a great deal of value from the program.  Now on my second (and third) family business, I’m back as a member once again and deriving value in new and different ways.  We recently tapped into the FBC resource by engaging with Ira to facilitate a multi-company retreat with two company leadership teams with the goal of having two complimentary companies with one shared vision.  Ira assisted us with his tenacity and years of experience both personally from his own family business experience as well as drawing from vast experience with the area’s largest and most influential companies. Ira guided us with tools and conversations that helped us plan, decide and clarify.

Eric Hagopian, Dumont Manufacturing/ Hassay Savage

Our company needed to step back and think critically about what we had become and our future potential. Ira lead our team in a modified SWOT analysis to help us explore our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. As always, he was an excellent facilitator, and asked excellent probing questions that got us thinking differently, and also illuminated areas that needed more specific exploration. Our entire team enjoyed having him with us, and felt that he brought us to a place that we wouldn’t have been able to reach on our own. It was a great kick-off to a longer term process, and we look forward to having him back.
Meghan Lynch, Six-Point Creative Works

Calling Ira Bryck to consult with our family was a valuable business decision.  He gave us a creative way to communicate and identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement that will help us move forward.  He was thoughtful in his approach and his vast experience in family business dynamics made him a valuable resource for us.

John Kokoski, Mapleline Farm LLC

I have known Ira Bryck for more than ten years and it never ceases to amaze me how easily he can establish rapport and communicate with people from totally different cultures and traditions. Over the years, he met with and arranged site visits for dozens of groups of international visitors who visit this country and never turned down my requests. He feels very comfortable talking to a group of complete strangers who do not speak English working with and through an interpreter (and that is a skill in and of itself) and discussing very personal things. And it is always very personal with Ira: he can openly talk about his life and family and any number of things he feels might help future and current business leaders make their business more productive and more successful. Every meeting with Ira brings something new and valuable, because it comes not just from his experience, but also from his heart.

Best regards,

Andrei V. Izurov, Interpretation|Communication|Consulting, Amherst, Massachusetts

We were very pleased with the process and the product that came of Ira Bryck helping us at Westside Finishing create a meaningful mission statement. Ira gathered information (both through a questionnaire and a gathering) from the owners, managers, and front line employees, on the subject of how and why Westside Finishing aims to succeed. He led us in a useful conversation about what would work best for us in a mission statement, got many thoughts and feelings out on the table, and helped us craft a mission statement, using our own words. We are very proud of what it says and how we came to say it.

Jeanne Bell, Westside Finishing

My business partner and I were at a point of deciding whether to dissolve a business of 17 years or move forward with a completely different structure. Ira gave us an opportunity to explore both the business options and our needs and feelings in a safe place. We were given the time and structure that allowed us to put emotions aside and reach an acceptable decision. I am thankful that this process did not destroy our friendship.

Jim Levey, Chambers Advisory Group

This is a letter of recommendation for the use of the mediation services of Ira Bryck. In my business, a partnership, something came up suddenly, and having a third-party be in the room and guiding the discussion seemed like it would be a valuable service. It turned out that it was very valuable. Ira fit us in quickly and within a short time, and because of his considerate guidance and focused questions and statements, we covered a lot of ground in a very efficient and effective manner. I would highly recommend that anyone who has to have hard conversations have Ira in the room with them. I believe that you will be pleased that you did.

Rob Chambers, Chambers Advisory Group

On behalf of my family, I want to thank you for the all the guidance, insight, and assistance provided by the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. It is truly a service to companies like ours going through the generational transition. We’ve become a much more sophisticated and savvy business family. Our enhanced understanding of the unique dynamics of a family business helped us to successfully navigate the rocky waters of transition (both management and ownership). Thanks also for the friendship and support you provided me personally.

Steven Neveu, Notch Mechanical Constructors

Thank you for creating a great experience yesterday (where you gathered several business owners and facilitated them through an exercise of redesigning my facility). I feel that you brought a wonderful group of people together who were creative, honest and sincere. The atmosphere generated a bond of trust and the giving was enormous. Ira, the initial ground work that you did set the stage for this group to have structure and focus and accomplished so much in a short period of time. The synergy was fantastic. Thank you very much for stepping outside the box and exceeding all of my expectations.

Dave and Anne Cistoldi, FLN MAR Rubber & Plastics Co.

Our Nashville based family real estate business, H.G. Hill Company, is in its 5th generation, and facing many new and ongoing challenges, even as we succeed as a company and a family. We continuously challenge ourselves to have the right conversations, and use our annual retreats for this purpose. Ira Bryck was the facilitator of our recent 2 day retreat, and brought us to new heights. We were able to safely engage in a robust, paradigm shifting dialog about ownership, diversification, risk, communication, leadership, legacy, stewardship and much more. He got our youngest generation talking about investing themselves in our future, in a way that has never happened before. He helped our elder generation (and all) change their perspective about what it means to be owners. He brought us to agreement on several steps we will now follow, with his guidance, to develop and execute strategy and enhance our legacy. It was widely reported that our retreat was a wild success, largely due to his talent as a facilitator. We proudly recommend him for this role.

David Dingess, H.G. Hill Family Council

Ira Bryck was tremendously helpful with his insights into the strengths and challenges of my business model. He gave me some great ideas not only for ways to connect with new clients but for how to determine best CATEGORIES of clients that would most benefit from my services. He’s also extremely personable and a pleasure to spend time with. I recommend him highly as a consultant and an advisor for any developing business. Thanks, Ira!

Mat Lebowitz, Founder, MLCreative

Dear Ira, Once again, thank you for helping our Ledges Board with some focus for the future. I am truly a fan of your intellect and abilities. You took a three hour period and focused our group onto a process of discussion and commitment. We needed to evolve from a day to day focus to a more long term approach, and you succeeded at giving us a plan. Truly a job well done! Thank you again for your time. I consider you a friend and I want to reassure you that I am always available to you. I look forward to our next event together..

Peter Rosskothen, Owner/President, The Log Cabin & The Delaney House

My organization, the Institute for Training and Development (, specializes in conducting international training and exchange programs for students and professionals from all over the world. Recently we hosted a very successful, week long program titled “Global Entrepreneurship and Marketing Boot Camp” for 20 students from the Monica Herrera Marketing and Communications University in El Salvador. Ira proved to be an essential partner in the planning and implementation of this program. With Ira’s help we were able to put together and intense week that combined lectures and workshops with nationally recognized faculty from UMASS’ Isenberg School of Management, site visits to exemplary businesses in the area and hands-on meetings with highly-regarded area business leaders. One of the highlights was a visit to the Sanderson MacLeod Company organized by Ira. During the visit students were able to engage in a “Lean Manufacturing” exercise known as Ohno Circles. Following the visit students analyzed their observations and developed recommendations that they presented to the appreciative company managers. Professors accompanying the students declared that the program exceeded their expectations because it contained an effective mix of theoretical and practical sessions. In addition, students were very appreciative of Ira’s valuable facilitation skills and genuine warmth whenever he interacted with them. Ira’s deep commitment to educating future business leaders and extensive Western Massachusetts business network made all the difference.

Mark Protti, Executive Director, Institute for Training and Development, Amherst, MA

I’m writing this letter as a testimonial of my appreciation of the fine job that Ira Bryck has done to help resolve an extremely difficult and troubling impasse that myself and family members came to in our family business. After four grueling sessions we achieved the unimaginable: we heard each other’s viewpoints and could respect one another again. Ira’s approach of focusing on the business relationship, but hearing out some of the family pain was just right for us. In spite of some tumultuous moments, he mediated skillfully to keep us focused on our objectives and our points of agreement, while validating our disagreements. I highly recommend Ira to anyone who needs assistance in negotiating the emotionally charged task of reconciling family and business problems.

Gordon Fletcher-Howell, Landscapes by Earthcare, Inc.

Thank you so very much for the meeting forum you created for us this morning. As was noted, we are all on board with our mission and do respect each other but the “business of business” has an influence on our everyday life both individually and collectively. You helped organize a discussion that was focused by our own concerns. I liked the way you took our responses to your questionnaire, categorized salient remarks, gave us individual time to read and think and then facilitated discussion that was meaningful to all of us and will, I know, focus our future actions. We all participated and spoke from the heart. Your summaries, thoughtful comments throughout and in general, your breadth of personal experience with family businesses were all so helpful.

Maryellen Moreau, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.

Working with Ira was one of the best professional experiences my company and I could have had. There are many challenges (as well as rewards) working in a family business; and to that situation, Ira brought clarity, insight and perspective to the meeting he led. I would highly recommend working with Ira and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley! Every moment with him is time well spent.

Brian Scott Welch, Mindwing Concepts, Inc.

Thank you so much for all of your help. You were more informative in that short time than anyone else that I have talked to in the past. The session was interesting and beneficial.

Amy Selvia, New England Promotional Marketing

We’re pretty excited about using some of the tools and tactics you proposed today. As I’d hoped, talking with an objective (not family!) expert was just what we needed. You’re a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience—I appreciate your willingness to share. I’m a big fan!

Kathy Behilo, Treo Communications

Ira provided for our family the opportunity to have fair, balanced discussions relative to family and business issues that would not have been possible without his guidance. He was instrumental in helping us get through various difficult issues in an most effective way. He has a great understanding of the dynamics of business families and dealing with the challenges they face.

Steve Solomon, Solomon Metals

Ira: it has been a pleasure utilizing your talents and real world experience as a consultant. You have kept us moving in a positive direction and helped us to expand our business. You have been the unbiased voice of reason when conflict arose and not burdened us with opinion but fact. I am sure that our business would still be open if we never made the mutual commitment between each other but it would not be prospering. You have definitely seen us with all of our warts exposed and not told us we are ugly !!! Balancing family and business is hard enough when it is not intertwined but once they coexist can become unbearable and it appears together we are making it less unbearable. Thanks for all your direction and wisdom.

Bob and Brian Ambrefe, Faye Omasta and Deb Haraden, Village Pharmacy

Ira was able to help save our volatile family and family business from detonation. It takes a special person that can bridge two different generations and two different personalities.

Allen Cook, J.H. Cook and Sons, Inc.

Ira provided excellent advice and direction for us. Some things we didn’t want to hear, but definitely needed to hear. He helped put us on a path forward instead of spinning our wheels.

Matthew O’Neil, Village Lumber

Ira has facilitated some strategic planning sessions and worked with me and my son on personal and business planning. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience from working with many family businesses, and he’s well read, so he always has recommendations on books to help improve most any family business situation. Ira can handle strong personalities and is great at asking strategic questions. I would highly recommend Ira for facilitation, conflict management and family business issues.

Jeff Glaze, Decorated Products, EpiCenter

I selected Ira Bryck to join our first Entrepreneurial Family Firms Academy (EFFA) for two primary reasons; first, his depth of knowledge of the family business arena, and second, his candor and honesty in dealing with challenging issues related to family enterprise. The students (a group of business students already working in their family businesses in Mexico) all agreed he was the best instructor of the week. His style, while not confrontational, helped students address many difficult issues pertaining to their role in the family firm, attaining lofty goals and asking the right questions. Ira was prepared, flexible and as always a pleasure to work with.

Dann Van Der Vliet, Family Business Initiative, University of Vermont

I am one of the fortunate entrepreneurs who has access to Ira Bryck’s support, intelligence and business acumen. Bryck has an encyclopedic knowledge of business management and I leave every meeting with a new title to read and a new spin on my company. If you are serious about pursuing a successful enterprise, you would be wise to engage Ira Bryck as a trusted advisor and coach.

Deborah E. Kruger, Owner and Founder, PsychBilling, Amherst, MA

Ira has facilitated many roundtables for the clients of our incubator. He has also provided individualized consulting for a variety of business related issues. He is truly an expert in eliciting strategic thinking from business owners who are focused on day to day operations. He is also extremely effective in conflict management related issues. A pleasure to work with, he always delivers as promised.

Deborah King, former Director, Springfield (Mass.) Business Incubator, Scibelli Enterprise Center, Springfield Technical Community College

Ira is a multi-talented, brilliant consultant and impresario. He provides a venue for thought leaders who provoke and inspire leaders to think…and feel…before taking strategic action. He is willing to move people beyond their comfort zones while providing great resources to help them succeed.
Ingrid Bredenberg M.A. , Bredenberg Associates

I am deeply honored and proud both professionally and personally to write a recommendation for Ira Bryck. He is a forward thinking and progressive leader in the area of entrepreneurship with his main focus on family businesses. Ira consistently demonstrates a deep dedication to his family businesses, his colleagues, and his local and world communities. His integrity and sense of entrepreneurship is unquestionable. I salute him. His track record speaks for itself. Under the leadership of Ira, The UMass Family Business Center has soared to new heights evidenced by growth, respect and credibility he has earned from all business members, business advisors, and his local community. He focuses on ideas that motivate, grow and unite. Ira believes in building bridges to create economically vibrant companies and he believes in joining hands with all small businesses and the local community to elevate all through cooperation and common purpose. Strategic planning has long been an important part of Ira’s business career and the development and growth of the UMass Family Business Center. Over the many years, I have worked with Ira on numerous strategic planning sessions and business development sessions. His attention to details, his instantaneous follow up skills and his mind-set of deliberative thinking help with achieving forward thinking and proactive results that are attainable by the companies with flourishing and lasting results. I look forward to working with Ira for many years to come. I would be happy to provide additional comments upon request.
Lyne J. Kendall, (retired) Sr. Financial Business Analyst Massachusetts Small Business Development Center


Laurie Breitner (my business partner) told me her husband happened to catch the interview while he was in the car on Saturday morning. He liked it and mentioned to Laurie that he now understands how we complement each other, which is really good feedback! I want to tell you that you are a terrific interviewer. Both your process and the result far exceeded my expectations. In retrospect. I feel compelled to ask if you have ever thought of doing this for business owners that would like to have a an audio (or even video) interview for a website (or other purpose). Having listened to several of the podcasts you have done, I know the interview with me was not a fluke!

Karen Utgoff, Karen Utgoff Consulting

Just wanted to drop a note and say that you did a real nice job as an interviewer. I felt very comfortable and your questions were clear and the discussion flowed well. We certainly could have discussed much more and as you predicted the 24 minutes flew by! I look forward to our continued collaboration.

Gary Nader, Total Quality Associates

Some Feedback About Ira Bryck as Presenter and Educator

Ira Bryck provided crucial and powerful information on family meetings and councils to our membership. Ira was excellent to work with from the very start, he communicated with our team actively from the moment we reached out to him. Ira’s presentation (“Don’t Let Family Get in the Way: The Hows and Whys of Effective Family Meetings and Councils”) was rated by over 80% of our audience members as an event they would “recommend to a friend, colleague or family member”. The subject matter directly related to the family business members in the audience, who are often looking for better ways to communicate with each other as family members AND as colleges. He delivered meaningful information in a direct manner that one of our attendees praised, saying “Ira did a nice job of tactfully being blunt about the realities of family business and how that spills over into family meetings”. If you are looking for an interactive, engaging, and knowledgeable speaker Ira Bryck is a great choice.

Marci Shafer, Executive Director, Family Business Alliance of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ira Bryck spoke to my Management Consulting class at the Isenberg School, and held my students spellbound for an hour. He has extensive experience working with family businesses, his knowledge and mastery of family business issues is impressive, and his presentation was full of wisdom and useful insights. He led a highly interactive session – his style is extremely engaging — and the time just flew by! I highly recommend him as both a speaker and consultant.

Alan Robinson, Professor, UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management

Thank you so much for speaking to our organization Living Local, on the topic A Few Simple Tools Any Business Can Use to Clarify Your Problems & Discover Your Solutions. Everyone said your talk was wonderful. A member came in today to specifically tell me how helpful your info was for her. Thank you so much. We would love you to come again! My best regards, 

-Joy Leavitt, KiddlyWinks and Living Local

Ira: Well done yesterday, at your presentation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. I too enjoyed listening to your thoughts, suggestions, and comments. You spoke from a position of knowledge, experience, and background. I was impressed with your breadth/depth of current literature and research on the topic(s). It was evident that the group too enjoyed the session by their participation and comments/responses. You scored a hit for yourself, the Center, and CPE. Thanks

Bill McClure, (retired) Director, UMass Amherst Division of Continuing & Professional Education

I am happy to recommend Ira Bryck to you as one of the most knowledgeable people anywhere in the field of family business dynamics, relationships, and challenges. Ira and I began our education in the field of family business sixteen years ago when we became founding directors of the Family Business Centers at the University of Massachusetts and the University of New Haven. During my collaboration with Ira I found him to have an insatiable appetite for all he could learn about families in business. While I have long since left the University of New Haven, his program at UMass has since been recognized as one of the very best in the country. Beside his skill and accomplishment as a Director, Ira has also consulted with families in business for many years. He is knowledgeable, compassionate, attentive, and continuously attends workshops and conferences to improve his consultation skills. While there are many who consult with family businesses as a “sideline” to other careers, Ira has made the study and assistance to family business owners his only career and a real passion for a very long time. Please feel free to contact me if you feel a need to discuss his qualifications in more detail. Michael W. Camerota, J.D., Certified Business Intermediary, Touchstone Advisors, Enfield, CT

Ira Bryck is simply a wonderful presenter. He understood our audience well and tailored his presentation to their needs and interests. Not only that, but he brought with him several other panelists who added much to the program. His sense of humor and conscientiousness were appreciated by the audience, as well as by me – the coordinator of the event. I say if you can get him, GET HIM!

Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, former Director, Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival 

Just wanted to let you know how proud we are of you for doing such a great job with the center. You are an outstanding executive director with world class skills. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and having the opportunity to watch you develop this center and how you’ve grown professionally . Kudos to you!! You should stand proud of what you’ve accomplished in your career with the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. Can’t explain in words the regard we have for you.

Rick and Ross Giombetti, Giombetti Associates

Ira was the featured speaker at the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council’s midwinter meeting and was nothing short of enthralling. He is highly personable, speaks from a position of knowledge without being preachy, and “worked the crowd”, getting everyone involved in his presentation. I don’t usually get positive feedback from a group of attorneys,accountants and financial planners, but I heard good things from them on Ira. Any group would be wise to have him as a speaker. In fact, I am trying to set up a time for him to address some of my family business clients in a similar setting.

Jeffrey Siegel, Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, VP, Financial & Estate Planning at United Wealth Management Group

Ira Bryck’s presentation (about his advice to family business, based on his experiences in his own family’s business, and working with others) to the members and sponsors of the Northeastern University Center for Family Business earned scores that were all in the Very to Extremely Valuable range; and the comments were positive, including: “Ira got us thinking about how to deal with and confront my family with an open mind, respect and compromise” and that the talk dealt with “real tough issues” made “very interesting” by hearing ‘insights from other companies” so they could “take the time to talk and plan as a family and management team.” He was funny yet provocative, direct yet tactful. I confidently recommend Ira and this presentation to any industry group or family business program.”

Ted Clark, Director Northeastern University Center for Family Business

Thank you for contributing to the 2nd Annual “How To” Entrepreneurship Institute. The small business owners and entrepreneurs left energized and excited about the information they received. The “How to Govern, Communicate & Plan in Your Family Company” workshop that you led was especially informaitve, and you did an excellent job in presenting the subject matter in a palpable way.

Aimee Griffin Munnings, Esq., Director, Western New England College Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship

Having grown up in a family business, Ira Bryck has a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in any family business enterprise, making him uniquely qualified to speak authoritatively on this complex—and emotionally charged—subject. For this reason, Mr. Bryck adds value to any educational program focusing on how not only to survive, but thrive in a family business environment.”

Dan Moreland, Publisher, PCT Media Group, Cleveland, OH

We were pleased to have Ira Bryck as our after dinner keynote at the Paperboard Packaging Council’s Fall 2006 conference at Greenbrier Resort. His presentation, “More Crazy Than Busy: Business / Family Life Balance” hit the mark for our audience, many of whom were with spouses, and seeking – and finding- in his talk a strong mixture of entertainment and insight. Ira also facilitated a discussion the next morning, on the topic “How to Pass the Torch Without Getting Burned,” which our members appreciated as a valuable opportunity to discuss a vital subject with a knowledgeable expert.

Jerry Van de Water, President, Paperboard Packaging Council

Thank you very much for making your presentation at our recent annual meeting. Many maple producers are faced with transitioning their agricultural/forestry businesses to the next generation just as they manage their woodlots and maple sugarbushes for long term health. Your workshop was very helpful to many who attended our North American Maple Syrup Council meeting.
Tom McCrumm, past president, NAMSC

I am delighted to have had Ira Bryck as a speaker on a number of occasions for our clients. The comments we receive each time he speaks are always very positive and enthusiastic! The last presentation that he did was so popular we had to limit the number of attendees. Ira engages his audience, is amusing and gets his point across very well. As a result, we have established a close working relationship with the Family Business Center (FBC) and with Ira. We consider Mr. Bryck a valued colleague and consult with him often for guidance and assistance!

Fred Andrews, former Director, Springfield Technical Community College Enterprise Center

Thank you for being our workshop presenter. We really appreciate having the chance to let people know about the family business center and to consider the issues that family businesses face. I just heard from two of the quieter participants that they had gotten just what they needed from the seminar, and I heard similar comments from others last night. I hope you’ll consider repeating the program sometime next year.

Kathryn Hayes, UMass Donahue Institute, Pioneer Valley Enterprise Program

Thank you so much for your session with the Connecticut Young Executives Organization. The feedback I received was very positive. I always enjoy the profound learning experience.

Michael Francouer, Joining Technologies

Thank you for participating in Friday’s highly successful cranberry growers’ business seminar, attended by over 140 growers! Your opening presentation on the challenges facing family businesses struck a responsive cord in the audience and set the tone for the rest of the day. Thanks again. You and your Center contribute significantly to our efforts as a land grant university!

Steve Demski, former UMass Vice Provost for University Outreach

Ira’s presentation was one of the highlights of the PCT Mergers & Acquisition Seminar, a two-day conference in which pest control industry professionals heard from a diverse speaker lineup that included PCOs (pest control owner/operators), consultants, brokers, franchisers and others. Ira’s presentation, titled “The Realities of Selling Your Business,” explored both the business aspects, as well as the emotional side, of selling one’s business. Reflecting on both his personal experiences — working for his family’s children’s wear business — and using his business acumen, Ira crafted an informative and thought-provoking presentation that was customized to our audience. Our audience was entertained, informed and felt comfortable exchanging experiences and asking Ira questions.

Brad Harbison, Internet Editor & Managing Editor, PCT Magazine, GIE Media Group, Cleveland, OH


This exercise was very beneficial for me, as it led me into some deeper thought about similar situations I’m facing with some of my clients, and I was able to apply some new ideas and solutions to their situations.

Ed Hart, Center for Family Business, CSUF Mihaylo College of Business and Economics

I thought it was a very useful exercise. It allowed me the opportunity to share a real problem and get instant feedback from 30 of my peers. With the ability to stop and start the exercise, it also allowed me to change the direction based on the input I was receiving. Great exercise and great opportunity to really create change in my behavior.

Peter Johnson, Institute for Family Business, Eberhardt School of Business , University of the Pacific

I think the role play portion itself can be challenging. It worked for me because Judy was my partner and knows my situation very well so she could portray my customer. But the question and discussion portion was tremendously helpful for me. It gave me a lot of different perspectives and options for how to help resolve my challenge. Overall, I think it’s a great exercise. We’ve even incorporated a version of it into one of our programs.

Elizabeth Fidanovski, Chicago Family Business Council at DePaul University

Ira’s amalgam of Strategic Questioning, Playback Theater and Improv proved very effective at getting at issues, some deeply personal, and illuminating them without being prescriptive.  Having been one of the role players, I found it to be personally moving and affective in ways that I had not expected.  Those in the hot seat said they found the experience useful in their journey toward understanding.

Paul Sessions, Director, Center for Family Business, University of New Haven

I recently attended one of my favorite professional development events of the year – Psychodynamics of Family Business – in Chicago. Ira Bryck facilitated a creative and educational experience which was part improv, part fishbowl, part role play and had other parts I can’t think of names for and were great. Members of the group, consultants to family businesses, picked other members to play parts of family clients they work with and processed and worked-through tough situations and challenges. It was deep and powerful and Ira created a safe space for members to take this kind of risk.

Jeff Savlov, family business consultant, Princeton, NJ


here are some comments from several presenters I brought in to the Family Business Center over the years, archived from our original website

Praise from Presenters: Presenting to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is a Win/Win where the speaker gets as much as they give

Ira Bryck is a true impresario. He has made the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley a hotbed for research on and insight into a neglected corner of the economy. And like all impresarios, he puts on a great show. For me, speaking at one of the Center’s dinners was a delight. The audience was forward-looking, good-humored, and public-spirited — all qualities Ira himself demonstrates and all reasons it’s worth the time of anyone with ideas to share to pay a visit.

– Daniel Pink, best selling author and speaker, To Sell is Human, Drive, Free Agent Nation, A Whole New Mind, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

Ira Bryck’s down-to-earth warmth, creativity and sheer smarts has consistently attracted innovation and cutting-edge knowledge to the family business community of Western Massachusetts. If you speak here, bring your best stuff and stay on your toes – Under Ira’s leadership, the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley’s savvy members respond enthusiastically to breakthrough ideas and application to real life, while deploring humdrum and pretense. They’re justifiably picky because they are accustomed to hearing some of the best speakers in the WORLD. This is a culture that has been intentionally led by a master promoter (Ira) who insists on substance over glitz. I found Ira to be welcoming and warm, yet rigorously dedicated to excellence. I know what you’re thinking: warmth and rigor is a hard combo to deliver on, but I’m telling you, this guy brings the real goods while connecting exquisitely with his diverse members. If you doubt this, sit in on one of his packed dinner programs. I have savored and remembered the vitality in the room as one of the finest experiences of audience engagement I’ve had.

– John Engels, President, Leadership Coaching, Inc., Rochester NY

Ira runs a superb array of programs at the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. He possesses a deep understanding of the ways that family-run firms tick — both in terms of what they do uniquely well and in terms of the special challenges that they face. His strategic advice is first-rate. His empathy is unfailing. And he knows exactly when to interject a little bit of levity to help everyone work through the hard stuff. I had the privilege of speaking at two of Ira’s events. He was a gracious and supremely well-organized host during a period when unexpected outside events required us to regroup on short notice. Even hurricanes can’t slow him down.

– George Anders, author of The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else

Ira, you are that most rare of all executives: a persistent, charming nudge who gets what and whom he wants by sheer persistence and figuring out exactly what to offer to lower resistance to fawning compliance. If we could bottle Ira, there would not only be peace in the Middle East, but they’d be his presenters at one of his classy seminars.

—Dr Joy Browne, Radio Psychologist

see Dr Joy speaking at Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

Dr Joy mentions the FBC on the air!

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to the members of Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. The event was well organized and you and the Family Business Center made it a pleasant trip. Your group was excellent and their interest created a great give and take during the question & answer period. Wish we had more time for questions, I think we could have gone on for at least another ½ hour—perhaps another time we can. It was also a pleasure to speak with many of your members before and after the session. . I would greatly enjoy working with you and the Family Business Center again in the future.

Regards, Bob Wilkening, Wilkening and Company, Chicago, IL

Working with family businesses has several rewards, one of which is most important: if they like what they hear, they can act on it immediately without worrying about what Wall Street might think. Ira Bryck’s program is full of avid listeners and action takers. It wastes no time on idle chatter and seeks useful new ideas. I certainly felt like my messages on innovation and change were received with enthusiasm and interest. And, as an aside, coming to teach in the fall also gives you a chance to see the magnificent colors of Massachusetts. Great organization. Great audience. Great time.

—Joel Barker, futurist, filmmaker, author of Five Regions of the Future

I have been blessed to present worldwide from Saudi Arabia to Barbados. Nowhere have I found a better organized event with a more inquisitive and warm audience than at the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. Ira Bryck, the meeting organizer, is passionate about transferring knowledge. In turn, business leaders who attend are there to learn, laugh, and enjoy camaraderie. Presenting for Ira was a highlight for me. Not only did I learn from the accomplished group of attendees, but my passion for sharing business knowledge was enlivened by their energy and responsiveness.

—Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., author of The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

I speak to about 100 organizations a year and am a teaching fellow at a respected university, so it is my high praise to say that speaking to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley was one of the most rewarding engagements I’ve ever done. We can all learn from Ira Bryck and the program he has built, infusing every component (top notch speakers, newsletter, program content) with a refreshing energy that keeps the program vital and rewarding for the participants and speakers alike. Ira does a first class job in every category, paying attention to every detail and every need of the family business community, keeping it relevant, personal, state of the art and fun.. Please take the time to get to know Ira Bryck and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. You’ll leave a changed person.

—Ross Shafer, author of Nobody Moved Your Cheese, Customer Empathy, and The Customer Shouts Back!

As a speaker to groups both nationally and internationally, I realize how crucial the role of the host is in making the event successful not only for me, but more importantly for the members of the group. In my years as a speaker, I have met no one more prepared, professional, and more of a champion of their group than Ira Bryck. This experience at the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley epitomizes what it is to work with Ira Bryck: low maintenance with high return. Working with Ira Bryck means the process is collaborative and the energy goes towards maximizing the experience for the members.

—Greg McCann, author of When Your Parents Sign the Paychecks

In my two presentations to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley, and in twelve years of working with Ira Bryck and the Center in a different capacity, I’ve seen the Center present an ever-widening agenda of informative and useful programs that go far beyond most Family Business Centers. As a speaker, I have found the audience unusually attentive and perceptive, the logistics appropriate, and the dialogue highly stimulating. I’d recommend that any speaker with relevant topics consider speaking to the FBC.

—Shel Horowitz, award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and six other books, and founder of the Business Ethics Pledge and

Ira: You had a great group that grasped research quickly and had a true interest in preserving what’s best about our country: family, business, free enterprise, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to the betterment of society through personal responsibility.

– Joseph H. Astrachan, Ph.D., Cox Family Enterprise Center, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

Addressing the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley was an honor, a pleasure, and boon for me. The invitation was an honor because there is no other organization in the region that consistently assembles such a high quality audience of business owners committed to the best practices of entrepreneurship. The address was a pleasure because the attendees were eager learners, active participants, and savvy professionals. Lastly, the speaking opportunity was a boon for my consultancy because it resulted in a valuable client engagement with an outstanding company. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

—J. Sheldon Snodgrass, MBA, The Steady Sales Group,
“Helping you get a dollar out of every dime spent on sales & marketing!”

Dear Ira, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and your organization for the “care and feeding” provided as session speaker at your excellent dinner meeting on 12/13/06. From the moment I arrived at the airport until you put me on the train in Amherst, I felt like Martha Washington said, the first time she appeared as the President’s wife in Philadelphia, “they treated me as if I were a great somebody.”

I do over 150 presentations each year and such traveling about the country makes me pretty thin skinned regarding the comfort the client provides the lonely wandering minstrel. You and your staff more than met the standard. The audience was most receptive, the sound system worked without flaw and I ate well throughout my stay.

I hope I may be able to return in the not too distant future.

PS: Perhaps next time I could bring Alexander Hamilton and Thom Jefferson and let them duke it out?

—William A Sommerfield AKA “America’s George Washington,” Creative Director, American Historical Theatre, Philadelphia, PA

Each year I do eighty paid speeches around the world. It’s both heady and humbling that organizations think enough of me and my work that they’re prepared to pay big money to put me in front of their audience. But, I’m also reminded on a daily basis that, to he who much is given much will be asked. For that reason I also do a number of pro bono or low fee speeches for organizations whose mission is noble but who lack the funding to bring in high price authors and thought leaders. Last year, one of those events I did was for the Family Business Center at the University of Massachusetts. It was one of the highlights of my year!

he audience of family business owners genuinely seeking advice and guidance about how to achieve their full economic potential and with an authentic thirst for knowledge validated my work in ways that money alone doesn’t provide.

If you’re lucky enough to be asked respond with a resounding YES!

You really have no choice!

—Jason Jennings, author of Think Big, Act Small, Less Is More, and It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow

The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley has a wonderfully inquisitive and receptive membership. It was a pleasure to address them and to keep in touch with some of the Center’s members for years afterwards.

—David Gage, Ph.D., BMC Associates, Leaders in Business Mediation and Collaboration,

Members of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley in general, and Ira Bryck in particular, are smart, inquisitive, adventuresome and warm. They are committed to their organizations’ success and their own personal growth…even when painful. Through his high caliber programs and his stringent groundrules, Ira creates a safe environment for members to challenge and adjust their beliefs, assumptions and strategies. Having been invited to speak several times about leadership, creativity and organizational change, I felt well rewarded by the positive response and full engagement of the audiences, as well as opportunities to work with some family businesses. I was also inspired to stretch my own limits in seeking to offer something different and meaningful to this very savvy group of leaders.

—Ingrid Bredenberg, M.A., Bredenberg Associates, Igniting the Power of People!, Producer of Numinescence – Creative Visualizations for Creativity, Connection & Courage

I have presented to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley more than once, and these were perhaps my most memorable presentations ever. From the graciousness of the Director to the responsiveness of the audiences, the entire experience was a pleasure! I guarantee an interesting discussion, and I’m sure you, like I, will find yourself learning at least as much as you teach.

—Alex Hiam, Insights for Training, and author, The Starfish Files

Ira asked me to present at a Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley forum in the spring of 2005. I was on a panel with three other local consultants and we were addressing the question of how organizations face change. We accepted the challenge and so did the audience. Family business members were quick to ask questions and express their opinions. It was a lively evening that allowed the presenters to understand that the business owners had plenty of answers! I would strongly endorse a speaker to participate with Ira and the great group he has assembled!

—Peter Zimmer, Family Business Consultant, Enfield, CT

Please let it be known that the UMass Family Business program ranks in my list of top 10. I have visited over 30 university based programs lecturing on the content of my book “Sustaining the Family Business” and with few exemptions this is one of the best managed program in the country. Ira Bryck is a creative and dynamic leader that pushes the envelope on bringing to his members the latest word on dealing with family business issues. I look forward to reading his emails. If you’re not on his e-mail list you must sign up to read his comments on issues that effect every business leader.

—Marshall Paisner, Scrub-a-Dub Car Wash, author of Sustaining the Family Business: An Insider’s Guide to Managing Across Generations

Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley members are attentive, perceptive and will ask you engaging, thoughtful questions. In presentations to this great group, I’ve found that if I listen deeply, respect their high intellectual and emotional intelligence (e.g. avoid infomercials, glossing over challenges and/or withholding key information/processes you want to sell them later) they will reward you with their trust, their business and their deep insight. You’ll learn as much as they do.

—Paul Lipke, Sustainable Step New England Building the capacity of organizations to thrive while strengthening our shared environment and communities

Just a quick note to tell you how much I have enjoyed my experiences with the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley, both as a presenter, (on coaching issues) and as a part of a panel (on hiring issues). I found the attendees to be an interesting mix of committed professionals, and I was delighted with how welcoming, attentive, and dedicated to their own continuous learning they were. I found their questions in the “Q & A” segment to be well thought out, respectful, and intriguing. Their appreciation for the time and information I offered made it really fun to be there, and I was glad that so many of them approached me after my scheduled time, to give appreciative feedback and express thanks. I also really enjoyed the way you began the question and answer period with your own insightful and intelligent questions. It sets a tone of relaxed, curious inquiry mixed with humor, that sets the participants up to follow suit in a very comfortable way. It’s obvious that this is a group very used to hosting a myriad of presenters within their learning community.
I admit I’m disappointed that your decision to continually find new and different speakers for your group would prevent you from calling on me more frequently. Please let me know if you change your mind, and I’d be back in a heartbeat! Thanks for all the great work that you do, Ira, and congratulations on your track record of success!

—Jan Morton, Illuminating your people matters

I’ve had the honor of presenting to the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley a number of times over the years and have detected a remarkable consistency in both the invitations by Ira Bryck and the responses of the Center’s members: both consistently and vastly broaden my professional concept “space.” Just when I feel that experience is giving me a handle on the difficult interface between hypothesis and practice, Ira suggests a new equation or different variable for a workshop. This forces me to restructure my thinking along more fertile paths, which thinking, in turn is broadened and stropped by the sophisticated Family Business Center members as they question and respond. This is not necessarily a comfortable experience, but it always, always is exhilarating.

—Don Jonovic, Real-world resources for family businesses and farms

The UMass Business Family Center and Ira Bryck could not have been more accommodating and gracious to me both concerning the arrangements and when I spoke there. The audience was an extremely engaged community of family business owners who generously support each other in dealing with their common issues. I recommend them highly to any speaker who has a perspective to share with this uniquely outstanding group!

—Michael S. Broder, Ph.D., Psychologist and Author: Can Your Relationship Be Saved? How To Know Whether To Stay Or Go

I have warm memories of my evening presentation to your enthusiastic membership as well as the special discussion we had with many professional advisors from your surrounding area. Both groups were lively, and ready to share their experiences. I view the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley as one of the best of its kind.

—Kenneth Kaye, Ph.D.,, author of The Dynamics of Family Business and the blog “Family Business Matters,” consisting of fictional stories based on actual family business challenges.

Just a note to let you know that presenting my “How to Gimme-Proof Your Kids” workshop at the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley was a terrific experience. Your members comprise one of the most intelligent and responsive audiences that I’ve had the pleasure of addressing. They were receptive to considering tough issues, such as the challenge of preparing the next generation to be financially savvy and responsible before they inherit the family business — or the wealth it has created. At most workshops, attendees tend to ask the same predictable questions, but your members posed refreshingly thoughtful and provocative questions. Thanks so much for inviting me to offer my workshop to your organization!

Best wishes,

—Jayne Pearl,, Freelance Writer/Editor, Speaker and Author, Kids and Money,

It was a pleasure to present before your Family Business Center. A large multi generational audience of family business members demonstrated its commitment to lifelong learning and stimulated significant interaction among one another. It was a presenter’s dream come true.

—Paul I. Karofsky, Transition Dynamics, Director Emeritus of the Center for Family Business at Northeastern University


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *