Relationships are the carrier of all success in life and in business. So why not plan and implement specific systems that will develop the relationships that are important to you?  Why not be as intentional about the practices that develop healthy relationship as we are about the practices that develop healthy bodies or healthy businesses?

Why do we focus on relational systems?  Because relationships are the primary mechanism to carry your family and business legacy to multiple generations.

Children don’t rebel against authority, they rebel against lack of relationship.  How is that teenagers will do everything their favorite coach or favorite teacher tells them to do? But they don’t listen to their parents? Why is that?  Because that relationship is important to them.  How is that teenagers will live under authority of their friends or the gang and yet they will live in rebellion to their parents.  Because the teens don’t rebel against authority they rebel against lack of relationship.  Those relationships with their coach or teacher or friends are often stronger and more important to them. Where family identity and relationship is strong, peer pressure is weaker.

So how do we make sure we are continuing to build relationships within our family so we aren’t driving them outside the family to get their identity and vision for life?   We have found that you do that by implementing a consistent strategy of specific relationship systems.

Following are some of the relational systems our family has practiced over the last 25 years which we mention in this round-table discussion:

  • Family goal setting retreats
  • Family compass review vacations
  • Family council meetings
  • Family nights
  • One-on-one dates
  • Family connection time
  • Monthly “Shield Meeting” with Spouse to review relationship values and standards (Kylon & Te)
  • Intentionally working together
  • The “Listening Game” (An intentional process to listen well)
  • Intentional variety to keep relationships vibrant


  • We do this all together as a family at the Beginning of each new
  • Take 4 hours of solitude and silence where each family member journals on their successes in the last year and writes down goals for the new year
  • After everyone takes time alone to work on their individual goals, Then everyone comes together to share so we celebrate each other’s successes and plan to support each other’s goals

If you’d like more information on this check out the Systems for Success Podcast Episode 2 where we do a round table discussion right after doing our annual goal setting retreat.


We do a fun annual vacation that the whole family enjoys in the middle of the year every summer. Our family loves backpacking in the mountains so that’s usually what we do.

During these annual vacations we Plan intentional time and specific activities to review our family mission, vision and values

  • We Celebrate successes that we see individually and as a family in living out our mission, vision and values.
  • We take time to discuss how to better live it out
  • And most importantly, we make creative memories related to our family vision, mission and values. We’ve done plays and skits about our family mission vision or values.  We’ve built things that represent our mission or vision.  We’ve made up songs and chants about them.  One time we wrote our visions statement with 15-20 foot tall letters on beach that you could see for miles away.


This is the official guidance group of the family especially as our kids have all become adults and most are out of the home.

  • Comprised of family members who are actively engaged in guiding family activities in a way that is informed by and responsive to the family compass and goals.
  • Meets every two to three months in a formal meeting with clear agenda, leadership and minutes.
  • First generation families can start with this as its only regular family assembly.
  • As the family grows larger and to multiple generations, the family council may be an elected subset of the entire family assembly that includes all family members. In this case, compose the family council so that it looks like the family, with representation from all generations, both genders, in-laws, active and passive owners, etc.
    • In larger, multigenerational families, the family council is a representative group of the entire family for more efficient planning, creating policies, and strengthening business-family communication and bonds.

Following are some good questions to ask during Family Council Meetings:

  • What is something you are really proud of that our family or a business or individual in our family has accomplished since our last meeting?
  • What have we done as a family or individually since our last meeting that demonstrates the living out of our family values, mission or vision?
  • What could we do to continue to improve our relationships or communication?
  • Does anyone have a problem they’d like help solving? What can we do? How can we help?
  • How are everyone’s business and entrepreneurial pursuits going? How can we help, support, collaborate or synergize with each other more?
  • Do you have personal needs or challenges that any of us can support you with or at least pray for you about?
  • What do we have planned between now and our next meeting that might benefit from coordination or communication about family schedules or resources?

Following are the responsibilities of our Family Council:

  • Celebrate family and individual successes.
  • Steward of family mission, vision values and constitution.
  • Oversee family Investment Committee and monitor performance of family investments.
  • Managing and drafting legal documents concerning the family estate planning.
  • Managing the family’s philanthropic efforts.
  • Overseeing family property and asset management.
  • Resolving family conflicts if haven’t been resolved informally.
  • Managing the strategic and tactical goals of the family enterprise.
  • Organizing activities that strengthen family bonds.
  • Formulating policies for family members working in family businesses.
  • Define the responsibilities of a family office.
  • Forum where family members can share personal objectives, concerns and ideas with reference to matters affecting family values, family unity and business success.
  • Strategic planning for family businesses, family non-profits/foundations and the family council.
  • Formulating policies including inclusion or exclusion of spouses in council or other family entities.


It’s best if this is the same night every week and we all make it a high priority so nothing else gets in the way of this important night.

  • The primary purpose is to build relationship
  • Do something fun and interactive that builds relationship. Don’t just watch movies or play video games
  • And sometimes take some time to share stories and/or discuss questions or concepts related to your family mission, vision or values


  • First priority is weekly date with spouse (if you’re married)
  • And have typically done a date with each child at least once a month
  • When you’re having this valuable one on one time, Look for opportunities to celebrate ways they are living family mission, vision or values and look for opportunities to celebrate progress on their personal goals
  • Primary purpose of these dates is to build relationship. Have fun and make good memories.


Find a daily time to connect with your wife and kids who are living at home.   It’s amazing how easy it is to get so busy that we don’t even share meals together.  We’ve found it important to prioritize

Finding at least 30-60 minutes a day to turn off all media and just communicate and build relationship

  • This could be during a meal, first thing in the morning or right before bed.
  • Take this opportunity to ask some meaningful questions like:
    • What did you learn today?
    • What was the high and low experience of your day?
    • What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

You’ll be amazed at what these simple relational systems do to build strong relationships in your family!


For more information on the concepts behind “The Listening Game” referenced in this podcast, check out Building Reflective Listening Skills.


Thanks again for listening to the show! If it has helped you in any way, please share it using the social media buttons you see on the page.   We’d also really appreciate any feedback or questions that might guide what we talk about in future episodes.

Additionally, reviews for the podcast on iTunes are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show and we read each and every one of them.


  • Subscribe to the Systems for Success Podcast on IOS or Apple Itunes.
  • Subscribe to the Systems for Success Podcast on Android or Windows OS.
  • Enter your email in one of the email opt-ins on this site for regular emails from Lonnie Gienger or the Gienger Family on additional Systems for Success.
  • Follow Systems for Success on Instagram @systemsforsuccess
  • Follow Lonnie Gienger on Instagram @lonniegienger