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How to Hire Your Kids

Posted by: Diane Brady on October 12, 2007

Many successful entrepreneurs face a dilemma when it comes to hiring their kids. Donald Trump has long talked about the value of having his kids work for what they want (son Donny became a dock attendant at the Trump Castle marina almost as soon as he hit his teens). All three are now in their father’s business. Moreover, a visit to Ivanka’s office last year evoked all the trappings of a real job: post-it notes on the bulletin board, files piled up on the desk, phone calls about pending deals and even annoying interruptions from co-workers (in this case, her brothers). Imagine Paris and Nicky Hilton in such a setting.

Then there’s Kenneth Feld (who recently came in for a Video View). He’s the head of Feld Entertainment, the world’s largest producer of live-action entertainment with shows like Disney on Ice, Doodlebops Live and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. His dad Irwin started the company in the 1950s (dying in 1984) and Feld has hired two of his three daughters to work at the company. On Oct. 2, Nicole and Alana were both named Executive Vice Presidents of the company.

Feld was firm about how he wanted to bring his kids into the business. Each of them had to first work at other companies for a few years(Nicole, the eldest, was at People magazine while Alana worked at advertising and marketing agencies). Each of them had to write an essay on why they wanted to work at the company and what they intended to bring. And, Feld admits, “I probably paid them a bit below the market rate.”

Now, Alana is the force behind bringing the first North American tour of Doodlebops Live! to U.S. kids while Nicole became the first woman in Ringling Bros. history to produce the famous circus. And what of the youngest daughter, Juliette? She works for a public relations firm in Chicago and has yet to ask dad for a chance to join the family business. And if she does? “She’ll have to write an essay, too,” says Feld.

Reader Comments

Jane Chin

October 13, 2007 10:04 AM

Good for Feld. His decision not to mollycoddle his children will instill self-reliance and independence in them that will remain a valuable legacy long after he's gone.

As for a "Tale of Two Blonds"... I can see Ivanka Trump building upon her father's business and succeeding on her own merit.

Paris Hilton had only built up her image as a shallow dumb blond, regardless of her claims of being otherwise to Barbara Walters, and succeeding in filling the coffers of tabloid magazines eager to document her escapades.


October 13, 2007 9:31 PM

I agree. My oldest is only six but I already wonder about ways to make him self sufficient.

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