Your Family is your business, Mankind is your business
by Enzo Calamo
The other night I was watching Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol movie starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. One of the most impactful moments in the movie is when Scrooge tells Marley’s ghost, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” Upon which Marley’s ghost cries out in anguish:
Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!
With that simple statement, Marley’s ghost teaches Scrooge, and all of us, three very important life lessons:
1) Real assets in the world are people, not possessions;
2) Your family is the first place that you experience true love and care. As a baby, and as a child, whether your memories are good or bad, you were completely dependent on others. In today’s aging world, many of our seniors are also completely dependent on others again. Is it not time that we learn that love is based on our ability of loving and caring for the living, who can love us back, AND keeping alive the memories of our loved ones who left us too soon? Material things will NEVER love us back!
3) Fulfilling your life purpose and helping others, not accumulating profits, should be man’s highest aims.
In an article Nothing Beats Family, posted on www.Inspire21.com, Ridgely Goldsborough addresses the importance of family as follows:
I’m deeply troubled by the number of parents who wake up too late with the realization: “My children grew up too fast. In the hustle-bustle of career and corporate rat race, I missed their childhood.” What they fail to say but too often inwardly think causes me even more pain: “…and I barely even know them.”This applies to couples as well – so in a hurry to get who-knows-where – a destination seldom defined. Relationships turn into co-habitations, romance into convenience. Very disturbing.
A hundred years from now, no one will remember the size of your bank account, the car you drove or the square footage of your house. The world might differ greatly however, based on your impact in the life of a small child. Your life will most certainly improve, if you pay attention to your significant other, make the choice to put her or him first. Your example will benefit the rest of us. Our world cries out for role models and heroes of every day living. What could you do today to let your loved ones know how much they mean to you? What will you do tomorrow? And the next day?
The following inspirational story, by author Jeff Davis at the Brobdingnagian Bards, further highlights the importance of spending time with loved ones:
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind-he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.
I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”
He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.”
And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.” “You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy- five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”
“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”
“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”
“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”
“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”
“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast.
This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”
“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!”
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”
“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”
During this holiday season, it would be wise for us to remember the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:
That Person is a Success
Who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent people
and love of children;
Who has filled his or her niche
and accomplished his or her task;
Who leaves the world better than he or she found it,
whether by improved poppy, a perfect poem,
or a rescued soul;
Who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it.
Who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he or she had.
Happy Holidays to everyone!!!!!!!!!
To build a sustainable and positive family or business legacy, it is very important that the following key principles be incorporated into your dynastic planning process:
1) The entire family must be involved in planning and NOT just the wealth-holder or business owner. The goal for a successful multi-generational family/business legacy is to plan “with” your family and not “at” your family.
2) The agenda for each family or family business meeting must be open to include the needs and concerns of all family members who are affected by the financial, estate, business, or legacy plan.
3) Part of the common mission for each family and business plan should be the indisputable realization that family members are the real assets and NOT the money or business.
4) Communication expectations for everyone must be setup upfront. For example,
- Everyone has wisdom;
- We need everyone’s wisdom for the wisest results;
- All will hear and be heard;
- There are no wrong answers;
- The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
5) The best legacy solution is one that considers the needs of future generations. A legacy plan should focus on the perspective of family wealth and the family business for at least the next seven generations.
6) A Family Constitution should be created to help with the Governance of the Legacy plan. The goal here is not to dictate the future to family members but to establish guidelines for dealing with conflicts, new opportunities, in-laws, extended family member dreams, and the future complexity involved with the growth of family members into the third generation onward.
7) Structures, and committees, must be put in place for dealing with, and implementing, the financial, estate, business, and legacy plans.
Remember that a wealthy family or a profitable business cannot create a strong family but a united family with a common mission can build wealth and a sustainable and profitable family business.
Family Governance Explained
How is family governance relevant to investment professionals and Family Offices? What is a family constitution and how can it help avoid family conflicts? What lessons can we learn from the recent family conflicts that have been in the media in Asia? How should a family start if they want to form a family constitution?”