Lloyd Shefsky
Lloyd Shefsky

Clinical Professor of Family Enterprise
Co-Director of the Center for Family Enterprises

Print Overview

Lloyd Shefsky understands why some dreamers become successful entrepreneurs, while others don’t. He should know. In 1970 at the age of 29, after practicing law with a law firm where he was already a partner, Shefsky quit to become his own boss. He founded Shefsky & Froelich, a Chicago law firm (since merged into Taft Law), specializing in advising entrepreneurs and their companies at every stage of development—from the billion-dollar corporation looking for overseas or new business expansion to the young person with rich dreams and no resources, from the founder to his children, and grandchildren as they entered and even ran the business, guiding succession, innovative governance, employment, compensation, etc. "I started my firm," says Shefsky, "because I saw changes occurring in finance and business and knew that law firms would have to keep pace. My first firm, with older partners, wasn't capable of meeting the new trends I anticipated. And, I didn't want to just meet those trends, I wanted to be ahead of them."

It was not easy at first, however, and Shefsky's story reads like those of many of the famous entrepreneurs he interviewed for his books. He says: "I wasn't oblivious to the risks—the years of payment left on my school loan, a mortgage, a new baby to support, but the risks paled next to the opportunities—not just to earn more but also to be tested every day and to know that my success depended on and would flow from my own talents and efforts. My partner and I had no capital. We borrowed all the money we needed from a local banker. Later, the banker came to me for advice on how to leave his large institutional employer, founded by his grandfather,  and open his own bank—not just legal advice, but also information on how to be a successful entrepreneur. Over the years, many clients have come to me for that reason, because they know I understand what they are about to go through." In his first book, Entrepreneurs are Made Not Born, Shefsky said, "It's important for entrepreneurs to follow two rules. First, do what you know best and love most. Second, know when your baby—your entrepreneurial business—no longer needs an entrepreneur but requires a manager."

Based on these precepts, Shefsky did as he says. After 26 years in the powerful and prestigious position of managing partner of his law firm—one of the fastest growing in the U.S.—Shefsky resigned to follow his true passion, helping and mentoring a few select entrepreneurs to grow their business or move them to the next level, as well as coaching, advising and guiding sizeable family businesses and public companies controlled by families. In addition, he has founded or co-founded a few successful businesses. Shefsky also serves on the Board of Directors of a few companies, including the American Association of Individual Investors.

In 2012, after years of considering why some entrepreneurs and family businesses succeed while others don’t, Shefsky developed a theory that he started validating by interviewing dozens of entrepreneurs and family businesspeople.  Combining the results of those interviews with decades of experience, he wrote a new book, Invent Reinvent Thrive: The Keys to Success for any Start-up, Entrepreneur, or Family Business, also published by McGraw-Hill.  The book has been well received and has gained significant media attention.  (Links to those reviews, endorsements and coverage can be seen at www.inventreinventthrive.com .)
Shefsky's love of competition and success turned his attention to the world of sports. In 1975 he founded the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA). Since then, the SLA has blossomed into an organization of more than 1200 members worldwide who represent professional athletes in almost every major sport, as well as those who represent teams, leagues, players' associations and other sponsors of professional sports. Shefsky served as president of the SLA for 12 years was awarded the titles of “Founder and President Emeritus.” In 2014, Shefsky was invited to address the SLA on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, where over 900 people attended.

Shefsky is a Clinical Professor of Family Enterprises at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management where he has taught the course he developed, "Successful Entrepreneurship," and serves as Co-Director (and founder) of the Kellogg School's Center for Family Enterprises, as well as Co-Founder of the Kellogg School's Center for Executive Women. Shefsky also served on the Kellogg Center for Biotechnology Advisory Board and on the Advisory Board of the Kellogg-Recanati International Executive M.B.A. Program.

Previously, Shefsky served by Gubernatorial Appointment, on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Institute for Entrepreneurial Education, and on the Board of Governors of Economics America (Illinois Council on Economic Education). He co-founded and served as Chairman of The Institute for Entrepreneurship, which had been funded by the Kaufmann and Coleman Foundations. It was this activity combined with his other experience that prompted the question, "What makes Entrepreneurs Successful?"

Shefsky has been retained by numerous companies over the years (ranging from Fortune 500 to start-up and including many involved with new technologies and with broad sectors of the healthcare industry) to help them start and grow new business ventures. His strategic planning, guidance in development and implementation, and early establishment of both unique and innovative exit strategies have proven extremely valuable to clients, some of whom have maintained decades-long relationships with Shefsky. Others, who have "done it again," retain Shefsky to guide their repeat performances.

Shefsky is a consultant, coach, mentor and advisor to large family enterprises, both privately owned and publicly held.

Shefsky has guest lectured at numerous business schools and alumni groups (e.g., Kellogg, University of Chicago, University of Southern California, Harvard, Wharton, Washington University, University of Miami, University of Illinois, De Paul University, Tel Aviv University, SASIN Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand and the Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, India.), was a visiting professor, in 2000, at the Graduate Business School of Keio University in Japan, has taught courses at BIMBA at Peking University in Beijing, China, and is a frequent lecturer appearing before legal, accounting, government (U.S. and foreign), business (Y.P.O., Chambers of Commerce, Venture Capital and Corporate Annual Meetings) and education associations (e.g., International Institute for Entrepreneurship Education), as well as organizations relating to women in business (e.g., NAWBO), and doing business in Israel. He has lectured to several venture capital, professional, and academic groups regarding entrepreneurship in the U.S. and during visits to Japan and Israel. He participated in the Wall Street Journal's roundtable for small business and entrepreneurship. He also has contributed numerous articles to legal and professional publications and served as contributed editor to the Entertainment Law and Finance Journal. Shefsky also is quoted frequently in various business publications including and appears frequently in other media.

Because it seemed to Shefsky that his advice on entrepreneuring was being sought more and more frequently, he decided to investigate the information already available on the subject. He discovered that, although there were many books and courses on how to run a business, none of them explained satisfactorily what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Shefsky realized from his own and his clients' experiences that the attitudes and traits entrepreneurs share are latent in many people. As he thought more about it, Shefsky became convinced that the way to achieve entrepreneurial success was to eliminate the barriers people put in their way. His goal would not be to teach entrepreneurial traits, which in most cases already exist, but to show how the obstacles blocking the effective use of those abilities can be overcome. Shefsky then began the six years of research and writing that went into his first book. To help him explain the attitude that can motivate people to success, he interviewed more than 200 of the country's most accomplished entrepreneurs. The result is, Entrepreneurs are Made Not Born the bestseller published by McGraw-Hill, which was an alternate selection of three major book clubs (the Fortune Book Club, the Newbridge Executive Program, and the Business Week Book Club); has had several printings in hardcover and paperback; has been published in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, and Hungarian; and has been required or recommended reading at several schools. Shefsky's book has received praise from successful people in all areas of entrepreneurship.

Shefsky has received various honors, including the 1995 Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizing his support of entrepreneurship from Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young LLP, and Merrill Lynch, the 1992 Award of Excellence from the Sports Lawyers Association, the 2002 Civil Rights Award from the Anti-Defamation League, and the 1990 Distinguished Alumnus Award from DePaul University.

Shefsky served the government of Israel as legal counsel throughout the Midwest region. A past president and over 30-year member and director of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Shefsky also received the Chamber's Industrialist of the Year Award and was the moving force in establishing several regional and the National America-Israel Chambers of Commerce, where he served as a member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Shefsky was a Committee member of the Associate National Commission, the Outreach and Interfaith Committee and the Regional Executive Board of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and had served as co-chairman of the ADL's Regional Civil Rights Committee. He was actively involved in supporting the Weitzmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He had previously served as a member of the board of the Chicago branches of the American Jewish Congress and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, as well as America-Israel Economic Education Institute of Illinois. Those doing business with Israel have valued his advice on international entrepreneurship for 40 years and continues to  represent many Israeli business people and entrepreneurs, as well as Americans who do business in Israel.  He has served on the Board of Directors of such companies from time to time.

Shefsky received his J.D. in 1965 from the University of Chicago Law School, after graduating with a B.S. degree in 1962 from DePaul University (Major: accounting; Minor: economics). He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1965, the U.S. Tax Court in 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Bar in 1983, and is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Areas of Expertise
Family Business
Small Business Management
Print Vita
JD, 1965, University of Chicago
BS, 1962, DePaul University

Print Research
Shefsky, Lloyd. 2005. Don't Let SarbOx Dampen Get You Down. BusinessWeek.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Analysis: The federal estate tax and family businesses." Family Business Magazine E-Newsletter, December.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Equal Pay for Unequal Work Equals a Lack of Equanimity." Family Business Magazine [Pamphlet on Sibling Compensation], Autumn.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Teaching About Contracts (Grades K-9)." Exercise Created for Schools Law Day & Published by American Bar Association.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Battle Plans for Guerrilla Marketers." BusinessWeek Online, Dec. 14.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Know When To Bring in a Babysitter." BusinessWeek Online, Aug. 11.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "Art+Business= Success for NU.".
Shefsky, Lloyd. "The Prince Company Board of Directors Meeting: A Family Business Case Study video enactment presentation.".
Shefsky, Lloyd and Misty Gruber. "Prospectus Perspective: Private Deliberations About Going Public." Play.
Shefsky, Lloyd. "The Law of Sports." American Bar Association Journal, July.
Shefsky, Lloyd and Edward J. Schwartz. "Disclosures and Reporting under SEC's ASR No. 115." Journal of Accountancy, Sept..
Shefsky, Lloyd. 1994. Entrepreneurs Are Made Not Born: Secrets from 200 Successful Entrepreneurs. McGraw-Hill.
Shefsky, Lloyd. 2010. Gil Mandelzis and Traiana: Value Is in the Eye of the Beholder. Case 5-110-009 (KEL469).
Shefsky, Lloyd, Scott Whitaker and Bob Barnett. 2010. Wild Oats: Sowing vs. Reaping. Case 5-110-007 (KEL466).
Shefsky, Lloyd and Carol Adler Zsolnay. 2010. Abt Electronics: Next Steps in a Parent/Sibling-Managed Family Business. Case 5-210-258.

Print Teaching
Teaching Interests
Entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial leadership; and family enterprise
Full-Time / Part-Time MBA
Successful Entrepreneurship (KIEI-463-0)

This course counts toward the following majors: Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Formerly ENTR-463-0

Of the many new entrepreneurs each year, few will succeed. This course helps Kellogg students a) leverage their business management knowledge and learn to use it successfully in entrepreneurial ventures, and (b) learn entrepreneurial techniques that wouldn't work in most non-entrepreneurial companies. Topics include finding, selecting, gauging and validating your dream; passion-how to get it, how to use it to advantage and how to re-ignite it; making your dream seem larger and better than it is without violating ethical or legal rules; making do with less capital by gathering resources through alternate means; dealing with demands for speed; converting youth to advantage; obtaining financing; attracting and retaining employees, advisers, directors, professionals and mentors; knowing when and how to reinvent the business; and accepting when it's time to turn over control of operations to a professional CEO and manager; understanding how to develop, treat, use and benefit from a great board of directors.