- Wealthy families spend much of their time worrying about, planning for, and attending to their finances. They hire and retain teams of experts to help manage their financial wealth. They spend countless days each year attending to money matters, and much time and thought as to how they will pass that wealth on to others.In the hubbub of all that attentiveness to wealth lies the crux of a fundamental problem, and the reason I felt compelled to write this book.Few wealthy families devote the same intensity, energy, and commitment to their human assets-their family members-as they devote to their financial assets. If a family is to flourish for many generations and wealth is to be a useful means for individuals within the family to self-actualize, attain happiness, and achieve their own successes, devotion to human assets is exactly what’s needed most. I use the word “flourish” advisedly to mean something more than personal well- being. In the context of family, an individual flourishes if and when he/she has
- A strong sense of individual identity,
- Well-defined and pursued interests of their own
- The satisfaction of hard work and productivity in life and perhaps most importantly of all, a strong connection to other family members.
- Families who flourish are those who master the art of having difficult conversations. They learn how to communicate about what matters most and become adept at bringing their most productive behaviors to conversations with family members. They learn to identify what kinds of conversations or which family members, are the most challenging for them, and work hard to improve those relationships. Above all, they learn to listen.
- Intentional parenting is a lifetime opportunity. This means imagining and then realizing strong parenting skills, wherever you are on the family tree. It’s never too late to be a better parent, but the earlier we learn the principles of strong parenting the higher the chances our children have of being successful parents themselves. When I cut to the chase, through all of my strategies and counsel, I find one overarching truth: the secret to a thriving, connected family is focused, intentional parenting.
- I have come to believe that openness, clarity, and intentionality about family values for wealthy multigenerational families is a sine qua non for flourishing. Accordingly, this chapter focuses on how such families identify their values, learn to express them, live them, and develop productive ways to make them accessible and appealing to their children and grandchildren.
- The healthiest multigenerational families I’ve known have one thing in common: a family member, or group of family members, devoted deeply to the notion of a healthy, connected, committed, and vibrant family. They don’t believe that their only job, or even their most important job, is managing the family’s financial assets. These leaders acquire training and obtain skills to encourage the robust connectivity of the family in meaningful ways. They imagine a thriving family and then do all in their power to make that dream come true. They apply the same energy and devotion to this dream as entrepreneurs apply to growing financial assets.
- Wealthy people are not immune to the complex and often difficult vagaries of life, nor are they insulated from the consequences of human error, bad luck, or poor decisions. It is of course true that they have more financial resources to devote to solving their problems, but they don’t always possess the skills, emotional intelligence, or psychological resources necessary to fix what is broken in their personal lives.