Alchemia

At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.

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Welcome to our archives and what we’re calling the research library. Here you’ll find a compendium (and general slew) of articles, musings, thoughts, snippets and classics amassed over the years meant to help you and us wrap our heads around new ideas, get re-acquainted with classics, and search out anything relevant to a client’s needs or something we just want to know more about.

This section will constantly be in flow – articles and links will be added at any time. Some of these articles are important reading, others may be funny and good for a laugh, cartoons are not out of the question, still others may be one or two steps removed but pertinent and relevant once one digs a little deeper. The collection spans years and subjects. The goal is that it is helpful, in whatever way it can be. Please feel free to peruse, flop on the couch, read awhile and make yourselves at home. And if you think that there’s something you’d like to see here that isn‘t already here, or if you have something you think we should know about – please feel free, email us, tell us all about it, we’re always on the lookout for a good read and a new thought. Enjoy…..


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I haven’t ‘written’ in some time as I have been posting short videos on various topics. Today something came across my desk that made me pause and decide I had to share it. I’ve written before about Dr. Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders (https://growingleaders.com/blog/) and his thoughts on helping children grow and thrive in the complex world of today. This morning his blog centered on the wa...

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For many years I’ve spoken about the concept of The Four Capitals of Family Wealth, which I learned from my friend Jay Hughes. Over the last 3 to 4 years the idea has expanded to The Five Capitals, again after being in conversation with Jay Hughes. These five look like this: Human Capital - This is all the people who make up our family group. Maintenance of Human Capital is centered being hea...

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I haven’t posted anything in a bit as I’ve been concentrating on creating my “Thoughts for a Fortnight” video blog series. If you are interested they can be found here (https://youtu.be/FZEXNQwbuXg, https://youtu.be/E6FVOAzxhow). Last week I had a conversation with someone about their ‘hopes’ for 2018 which gave me pause. When Pandora opened her box (originally it was a jar) and rel...

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Note: I originally posted this in May of 2014. In view of the news and revived public conversation about the conduct of men, particularly men in positions of power, toward women I think Leo’s words below are very important. Growing up I had heavy exposure to women as I lived with my mother, 4 sisters and grandmother. I learned early on that their experience of life was completely different th...

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Let me start with a question. Assuming very little, if any cost difference, do you prefer custom made or off the rack? This question can apply across a wide range of areas; clothing, homes, art, and, yes, family wealth plans. There is nothing wrong with ‘buying’ something pre-made into which you had very little input. When you need a spoon, you need a spoon. But when you need a plan that will ...

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  This is the third post based on my commencement talk at the Marine Military Academy. I got sidetracked thinking and writing about ‘prized possessions’. I also apologize in advance for all the links I’ve included. I generally avoid them as I believe they disrupt flow. In this case each one is placed to hopefully deepen your look at this topic. The pursuit of your dreams is a comm...

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I don’t think about ’stuff’ too often. Recently the idea of a prized possession presented itself to me on two occasions so I decided to pay attention. First, at the annual Purposeful Planning Institute’s Fusion Conference one of the speakers, David York, shared his Views On Wealth (VOW) Process. One of the questions he asks is: What is your most treasured tangible possession and why? Nex...

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This the second of three posts based on my experience of delivering the 2017 Commencement Address at The Marine Military Academy. As I thought about what I would tell my 17-year-old self I decided to share this story and idea as another lesson: This takes me to lesson two: You can learn something new from everyone. The operative words to think about are You, Learn and Everyone. As it turns ...

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As I wrote about in February (What I would say to My 17-year-old Self) I was asked to give the commencement address at The Marine Military Academy this year.  I gave my talk on May 20th and really enjoyed the three days I got to spend with some remarkable young men. Preparing for it gave me a great opportunity to spend some meaningful reflection time on life lessons and what I have found to be im...

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An often-quoted truism in the wealth planning world is ‘We spend a lot of time preparing our assets to be inherited but very little time preparing our heirs to receive them’. But just what does ‘preparing heirs’ mean? Is it going to wealth programs? Getting an MBA? Possibly, but I think there is a more important element - experiences and experiential learning. This begs another question; ...

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The final takeaway from the Atlanta conference involves the use of games as a way to bring families together and improve their relationship with money and each other. Over the past year or so I’ve been exposed to several very effective ‘games’ for helping families find their shared purpose/values/objectives. My current favorite is attorney David York’s Rivets (see more on it here) Core V...

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Not having a name for this post actually sums it up pretty neatly! While at a conference I listened to Laura Turner Seydel (Ted Turner’s daughter) and her son, John, talk about their philanthropic activities through the Turner Foundation. The structure is very interesting. The Turner Foundation has a stated goal of ‘Protecting & Restoring the Natural World’ with sub categories of: S...

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I recently spent a week speaking to a variety of groups in a variety of locations. I don’t do much public speaking but these were all interesting opportunities to talk about family, wealth and philanthropy. As usually happens I came away with some awareness about what ideas may be important. I’m going to do a series of blog posts highlighting what seemed to resonate with each audience. Whe...

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I spent most of January wrapping up 2016 so I feel like my 2017 really began on February 1! During January I received a call from the Superintendent of the Marine Military Academy (MMA) where I spent six years. He asked me if I would deliver the commencement address at this year’s graduation. I was (and am) deeply honored. Also, a little intimidated as to what to say that would be meaningful. I ...

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Great photographs are based on seeing something extraordinary in the common place. This can only happen when we take time to develop an awareness and appreciation for the world that is right in front of us. Using a magnifying glass is a fun way to do this, especially when you do it with your family! To begin, pick up a common object, like a dollar bill. Look closely with your magnifying class at t...

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As an amateur photographer I’ve learned that the really great photographers find the interesting in the common aspects of life. (I wrote a post about this which you can find here.) Appreciation is a muscle that needs to be built and maintained. Without appreciation taking things for granted becomes the norm. When we really appreciate what we have and what is all around us we find greater satisf...

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I recently spent time with my friend Johnny Ussery. John is a realtor in South Carolina and a pancreatic cancer survivor. He tells his story with calm and aplomb, even when describing the darkest of moments. He also makes the important point that every day is a gift and that those of us who have a place to live, food to eat and access to quality health care have few if any true problems. He wakes ...

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I talk about rituals all the time. Most tend to be personal, such as writing a letter to a deceased relative or friend. Others are ones that are used to keep a family aware of itself and, in my opinion, even more important aware of each other. Often times these rituals are clothed in other titles. For example, the ritual of meeting (live or video via Skype) to discuss the family’s plan for phila...

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As we move toward the end of 2016 many advisors, as they have done for many years, are recommending clients take advantage of the ability to make tax free gifts to children and grandchildren. In 2016 this is $14,000 per recipient and a couple can give $28,000 to each child and grandchild. If the same gift is made to spouses of children and grandchildren this can add up to a significant amount of w...

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I’m a little late with this! I recently had the great pleasure to visit Liberty Puzzles in Boulder (www.libertypuzzles.com). Their wooden jigsaw puzzles are works of art with very unusual pieces and themes. Besides the 1,200 ‘stock’ templates they can create a custom puzzle based on an image you upload to their site. What does this have to do with families? The owner commented to me that ...

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"The Innkeeper and Host, said to the pilgrims traveling to Canterbury "It's that you each, to shorten the long journey, Shall tell two tales en route to Canterbury…”” Geoffrey Chaucer, General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Pilgrimages have been part of our daily lives (the annual pilgrimage to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving) for many years. Most spiritual traditions have a pilgrimage co...

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Four times in the last three weeks the concept and benefits of tribal behavior has presented itself to me. I decided to pay attention. If you stick with me you’ll see how this matters to families striving for both current and generational ‘healthiness’. I’ve been fascinated by the tribe concept since I first read Seth Godin’s Tribes which outlines the pull of shared interests and valu...

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I recently attended the Purposeful Planning Institute’s Fusion and Rendezvous Conferences. Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis (author of several books including Thanks and Gratitude Works) gave a keynote on Why Gratitude is Counterintuitive. One aspect, which I’m going to delve deeper into in a longer piece, revolves around the economic impact gratitude can have for i...

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How do you start your day? Quick, what is the one thing you do in the morning that signals to you that your day is now underway? It may not be the first or even the eighth thing but there generally is something we all view as the ignition for a meaningful day. This daily ‘cue’ can be very meaningful in having a truly meaningful day. For me, it is a small writing exercise. My friend and coll...

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Ron Lieber, New York Times columnist and author of The Opposite of Spoiled (which I highly recommend!) recently published a story The Money Letter Every Parent Should Write (click HERE to read it along with an actual letter). The idea of a well written money letter is, I think, brilliant! It creates a tangible connection to family values and ideas on dealing with financial assets. It can also...

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Progress toward and the ultimate achievement of goals don’t happen in one big step. It is an accumulation of the small, often daily, decisions we make. In a blog post Kate Masudaira, the creator of The Spark Notebook (www.thesparknotebook.com), gives a great example: “….And making good decisions is what leads to favorable outcomes. Just think about it - you won’t gain 10 pounds if yo...

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Scenario Planning is a very common and useful way to analyze the impact of a business strategy. It also comes into play in other aspects of life. For example, when you plant a tree you think about how much the tree will grow over time when deciding on a planting location. You may also consider how the roots will grow; deep and narrow or shallow and wide. Scenario planning can also be very helpf...

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One very enlightened family I know has a very unique way of grounding and focusing the relationships they have with professional advisors. The family went through a simple yet very effective values exercise using a ‘deck’ of values cards. They arrived at both core values (e.g. honesty, justice, lifelong learning) and aspirational values (e.g. to be helpful to others). They wanted their values ...

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A friend sent me a LINK to this set of stunning photographs taken from a pilot’s viewpoint.  How we interpret what we see is based on our perspective. The pilot has the opportunity to look at the world from a unique perspective, above it. When the pilot is on the ground she brings the view from the above perspective to seeing the same city at eye level. Good photographers will shoot the sam...

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As part of my year long look at Family Rituals I spoke to my colleague James E. (Jay) Hughes. He described a ritual that has been followed by his family since 1942: I believe I have mentioned to you in the past that my family’s ritual is the entry into a book of the births, deaths, marriages and divorces of our family. The entries are made in the presence of the entire family during one of it...

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On a plane flight last week I had the opportunity to talk with J. T. Thoms, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Growing Leaders (www.growingleaders.com ) , a non-profit organization focused on youth leadership development. They have developed a concept call Habitudes which uses images as reminders and reinforcers of the core values that are central to great leadership in families as well as bu...

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My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life. We had many adventures together. And she taught me some great lessons. One is our ritual for February. She had a red plate that was always on prominent display. The ‘You are Special Today’ plate seen above. Whenever there was birthday, graduation, exceptional report card etc. you got to eat dinner with the ‘Red Plate’ und...

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As 2016 is now three weeks old (and most of 2015 has been cleared away) I’m finding more time to think about the coming eleven months. I’ve had a number of interesting conversations around two questions: What are five things you want to be proud of in the future?; and What will be happening in your life in five (or ten) years? What won’t be happening? Answering these questions can h...

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In the last part of 2015 I had a number of conversations about the benefits of family rituals. In 2016 I’ll be sharing one ritual each month that I have seen a family use to honor or help with a life transition or change. I hope these rituals are both useful and helpful. Saying Goodbye This first ritual is one very personal to me. It is based on helping with the mourning process when someo...

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I try to stay away from technical posts as I believe good advisors will design a technical solution based on the goals you have for your Family Wealth Plan. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve witnessed three potential train wrecks where a promoter who wasn’t an advisor attempted to sell a family on an idea involving life insurance that, even to them, seemed almost ‘too good to be true’. I ...

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“Leave enough so the children can do anything but not so much that don’t have to do something.” This is the general advice given to wealth-owners who question how much inheritance is enough. In an 1891 essay, Andrew Carnegie conveyed a similar sentiment. The parent who leaves his son enormous wealth generally deadens the talents and energies of the son, and tempts him to lead a less us...

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I had a very interesting conversation with Chris Venn, a partner with the Legacy Companies. We talked about the idea that when you create any form of Family Wealth Document, (a will, a letter of intentions, a trust, etc.) you are actually designing and creating the parameters for a relationship that you will not be a party to. In fact, you are designing multiple relationships! For example, when...

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Not really but this does point to the main reasons most families think about their family wealth planning - changes in tax laws or the economy, such as interest rate increases. Right now planners all over the country are encouraging clients to implement strategies that work well in a low interest rate environment. But there is little or no conversation around how these strategies will enhance the...

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About two years ago I took up an old hobby; photography. Got a fancy DSLR which I spent months learning how to use. But, what I learned from a professional was that any camera will work well and what a good photographer has is the eye. The eye not only to create a great photograph with composition and light but to the eye to see. To actually see the world in all its glory. Dewitt Jones, a leadi...

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I had a very unique experience on July 4th. I was asked to drive a 1940s vintage jeep at the head of a 4th of July parade as part of the VFW contingent. Riding with me was a 93 year old World War II veteran. As you might imagine the jeep was old and a little temperamental but it was able to complete the two mile route with no problems. What made this special was the interaction between the veteran...

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Over the last year I’ve had literally hundreds of conversations about philanthropy. These have been with families, attorneys, gift officers, educators and philanthropic consultants. The phrases ‘giving it away’ or ‘giving my money away’ almost always come up. I believe we need a new vocabulary. Philanthropy based on ‘giving it away’ is empty philanthropy. In my mind real philanthropy...

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Tim’s Rules of Engagement  Engaging an advisor, whatever discipline, is a skill. Maintaining a successful relationship with your advisors is an even greater skill. I have seen great advisor relationships, others that were not so good and still others that deteriorated and no one really notices. The following rules have come as a result of observing my own client relationships as well as the re...

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Legacy is a word that means different things to different people. The definition I like to start with is simple: What do you want (your children/grandchildren/someone) to feel, think and say when they hear your name? Another definition is attributed to Pericles: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” That leads to ...

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A quick break before the final post on Philanthropy and your family. This morning a colleague emailed this question: “What was the name of that book you ALWAYS talk about? I think it begins with an S.” I knew instantly he was asking about Shibumi by Trevanian. And I admit to being enthralled (maybe obsessed is a better word) with it. I’ve read it over and over again principally for this p...

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When Philanthropy gives back to you  Part III As a reminder let’s start with an important premise. Philanthropy is a tool. It may have tax benefits or not. In the end, it is another avenue for an individual or family to express something that matters to them. Strategic Family Philanthropy begins with WHY you want to give and WHAT you want impact. Then, and only then, it focuses on Who ...

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When Philanthropy gives back to you - Part 2 As a reminder let’s start with two important premises. Philanthropy is a tool. It may have tax benefits or not. In the end, it is another avenue for an individual or family to express something that matters to them. Strategic Family Philanthropy begins with WHY you to want to give and WHAT you want impact. Then, and only then, it focuses on W...

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It’s April 2nd and I’ve been trying to decide what theme I’d like to run through this month’s posts. I landed on philanthropy but not just a ‘Ho-Hum’ here are six strategies etc. I’m going to highlight several benefits that come directly back to your family when you have a strategic plan around philanthropy and what that plan looks like. You’ll also hear about some unusual organiza...

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The word challenge can have so many meanings: I’m going to challenge myself. I challenge you to a duel. Challenges make the person. To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. In challenge we often find inspiration, new awareness and a deeper capacity for life than we imagined possible. The book Wild by Cheryl Strayed (and the recent movie version) tells the stor...

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One area that is a perennial discussion for me involves the 'How and When' of telling your children about the family's money. There is not one short answer as every situation is different and all the conversations need to be age appropriate. What is agreed upon though is the conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later. Mindfully approaching this family practice can be invaluable for your...

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Investing and Investments are not often associated with 'mindful activities' or 'mindfulness'. David Brooks takes a new look at this in his New York Times column 'How to Leave a Mark'. Impact investing brings together the investor and areas he or she would like to see impacted. As David says “Impact investing is not socially responsible investing. Socially responsible investing means avoidin...

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As I finished up work on my book, The Middle Way: Using Balance to Create Successful Generational Family Wealth Transition Plans, I paused to think about what are the root causes of stress and angst when families deal with financial assets and issues. While not trying to oversimplify, I really believe one of the leading causes is lack of mindfulness when it comes to actions. By this I mean really ...

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It happens all the time. The ding/boing/bong/klaxon alert announcing the arrival of a new text or email on your phone/phablet/tablet. The person you are talking looks at their device and says ‘Excuse me just a minute.”. Or you are at home and all four members of your family are looking at their phones doing this, that or the other thing. Or worse, it is going on in the car even by the driver. ...

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My friend and colleague Matt Wesley is a very thoughtful writer and very willing to shine the light in some pretty dark corners. His most recent post (you can find it here) addresses the issue of advisors attempting to force structures (governance, trust, etc.) on families without taking into account the culture of the family. In the best case, the structure will be ignored by the family and slow...

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At the Collaboration for Family Flourishing Gathering a colleague shared her 8 year old (yes, 8 year old) niece’s vision for what a family actually is or does. I have a copy of the actual hand written one and it is both adorable and powerful. Here’s what she wrote: A Family: Feeling proud together. Sharing together. Loving together. Creating new generations together. Shaping the world....

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2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, also known as The Great War and The War to End All Wars. It was the first war fought with modern weapons, such as machine guns, and the last war fought using old tactics like throwing large numbers of men at each other as we saw in the civil war. Battlefield medicine had not caught up with the ability to inflict the increased damage to humans. ...

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Financial stress is an almost universal human condition.  Perhaps it should be added to the list of things in our lives that are certain: Death, taxes and stressing about money.  We live in the most abundant time in human history, so why too is financial stress also so abundant?  Is it because we don’t understand how much is enough?  Is it because financial management has become too complex?...

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Is your family wealth plan centered on the 'numbers'? In my experience successful Family Wealth Plans are built around seven key ideas: 1. The plan promotes important family ideals and principles. The plan should be specific about what the family believes in and wants to see supported by its financial wealth. For example, if a focus on health is important, then the plan should provide for fi...

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I recently had the chance to visit South Africa and several game preserves. I have found it very difficult to describe the impact the experience had for me. Spending time with the guides, game rangers and trackers I had the opportunity to be with people who are really living their passion. Their dedication to preserving a very special and complex eco-system and educating their guests about it was ...

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Among celebrities there is a minor trend towards a 'disinheritance position'. Scott Martin recently posted Why Are So Many Parents Disinheriting Their Kids? Ask Anderson Cooper Who Knows the Brutal Truth of Losing his $200 Million Inheritance on The Trust Advisor. In it he cites Sting, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gloria Vanderbilt (Anderson Cooper's mother), Ted Turner, Warren Buffet, Andrew Lloyd W...

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My very favorite sporting event is happily on the TV again. Despite the drug scandal of the last few years, I still love the Tour de France. I love the travelogue you get as the race winds its way across France. I love the strategic thinking that goes into each stage. But most of all I love the individual stories. And this year my favorite, so far, belongs to American Andrew Talansky. A contend...

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John (Jeff) Scroggins recently posted a long article on the future of the estate planning profession. I try to avoid writing about professional topics but one quote and one section in his piece really resonated with me. It really hits the importance of 'right focus' when it comes to planning. Here's the section and the quote is at the very end. “Third, the purpose of estate planning is being ...

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I recently led a discussion group at a conference for philanthropic advisors. The topic was the philanthropic conversations that occur between families and their advisors. One advisor said he has a hard time getting a second meeting after his initial conversation about 'unleashing the family's philanthropic power'. I commented that philanthropy in all its forms is just another tool. Oh boy did I g...

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Decision making is not something that can be learned in a classroom. While there are no shortage on theories and methods for decision making, the real skill is only learned through practice. Developing the capability in the rising generations to make decisions is a critical element in a successful Family Wealth Transition Plan. For our June experience, think about your own family and decision maki...

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Growing up I had heavy exposure to women as I lived with my mother, 4 sisters and grandmother. I learned early on that their experience of life was completely different than mine. In fact it is one I can’t experience. Now, in the wake of the tragic shootings in Santa Barbara I’m reminded of that again. Leo Babauta author of zen habits (http://zenhabits.net) posted the following about raising y...

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A friend of mine, Tony Rose, has a book coming out later this year. In it he describes a business' Social Capital as the relationships the business maintains with the bigger world. I got to see an example of rich business social capital first hand. I was flying home from a conference on Frontier Airlines. Across the aisle from me was a young Mom and her 3 or 4-year-old daughter. The little girl...

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For the May experience I’m very pleased to share a guest post from my friend and colleague, JohnA Warnick. JohnA is an attorney and the founder of the Purposeful Planning Institute (http://purposefulplanninginstitute.com). JohnA’s story reminds us that dreaming is first step in setting goals and ultimately achieving them. Here is his idea on a practice to try for May: It was a parochial s...

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I recently spoke to a small group of families about Multigenerational wealth. We covered a wide range of topics from welcoming new in-laws (with more than a prenup!) to what makes for a good advisory relationship. We finished up with quite a bit of discussion around the key components of an effective Family Wealth Plan. We landed on these six: 1. The Plan promotes important family ideals and pr...

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I was talking with a friend the other day and he commented 'My children have their education.' I asked what he meant and he replied that both his sons had graduated from college and professional schools and were educated for the work force. This is what prompted me to delve into this topic. Politics aside, in his book 'Breakout' Newt Gingrich makes the point that what the future requires is a work...

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Most families (mine included) have topics or situations that everyone is aware of but no one wants to talk about. Even families with well-crafted and intentioned mission statements etc. can have what Roy Williams calls a 'Culture of Hypocrisy' of not wanting talk about things that might rock the boat. My friend and colleague Tim Volk recently discussed his and his family's journey around his li...

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I've commented a number of times about Estate Plans and their role in a family's financial world. In a recent article about the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Trust and Estates, Greg Monday and Christine Rew Barden have added some additional thinking. They are speaking to estate planning attorneys but I think the message also applies to anyone who is creating or has an Estate Plan. I...

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"Humanity has all the right ideas somewhere; the problem is making sure they're available and prominent enough. Alain de Botton   Ideas can come from a variety of sources. Unfortunately we often don't hear the idea because of who says it. In fact, we sometimes even recognize a good idea but won't present/use/talk about it because we are afraid of what someone might think if they hear whe...

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This month I’ve asked my friend and colleague Courtney Pullen (http://www.pullenconsulting.com) to share a practice he uses in his work as a Family Wealth Consultant. Here is his idea on a practice to try for March: I have been having a lot of fun over the last few years working with families identifying the nuances of their legacy, for example, what is the emotional legacy of the family?  F...

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Do you enjoy your Advisory Relationships?   Hiring (and firing) Advisors comes with the territory known as wealth. Here’s some food for thought as you consider your own advisory relationships.   Tim’s Rules of Engagement 1.  The Advisor works for You. This sounds straightforward but is often overlooked. You pay good money in the form of fees, commissions and other compensation fo...

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At most meetings I attend information is presented in one way, the way the presenter chooses to present it. In business settings this is, while not the most effective, ‘the standard’ simply because most people don’t realize there are other options available. This lack of understanding or realization, in a family setting, can be destructive. Jakob von Uexkull (1864-1944), a Baltic German b...

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Martin Buber, an Austrian born Israeli philosopher, first described the idea of relating to another person as either an 'object' (it) or as a human being ('you'). When I treat someone as an ‘It’ I’m treating them as an object separate from me. However, when I see the other person as ‘You’ they can now be part of a living relationship. It is these relationships that give life itself meani...

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Last week I did a quick post about the 'Death and Dying' part of planning. Originally, I had described dying as a risk to successful goal accomplishment. It was pointed out to me that maybe it is a factor not a risk. After reflection, I think it is actually both. Let me use an example. Planning is about both personal and financial goals. Let's say you plan on mentoring and creating experiences ...

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Too often I hear 'I don't want to think about estate planning because it is about my death' or ‘I don't want to think about my spouse dying.’ In fact planning is not about death. It is about uncovering what is important to you and your family and then selecting and implementing strategies that bring that vision to life. Death is a factor that has to be addressed but it is not the central theme...

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Not many people know who Captain William (Bill) Gary, USMCR (ret) was. He recently passed away and it gave me pause to think about the impact his vision has had on me. Captain Gary was the driving force in founding The Marine Military Academy (MMA) in 1965. He had a vision of providing young men, including his own son, with an education based on traditions and ideals inspired by the United Stat...

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Too often the terms Legacy Plan and Estate Plan are used interchangeably. Your Estate Plan is part of the way you bring Your Legacy to life. Let's start with defining Your Legacy as what someone (and you define who those someones are) will feel, think and say when they hear your name. Ergo, if you have a well-crafted Estate Plan you will be remembered as thoughtful and organized, making an unpleas...

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Let's make magic in 2014 Much of Legacy, Estate and Financial Planning is based on the fear of loss. Taxes, bad investments, inept family members and the possibility of divorcing spouses drive many of our decisions. Managing and planning against these risks is important but I believe there are other factors that are the ones that lead a meaningful and purposeful family wealth experience. In oth...

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I read a lot (and I mean a lot) of legal documents, principally trusts. Some of these date back to the early 1900s. Similar to when I look at an old building, I always wonder 'What was the world like when this was new? Who was the person who signed the document or built the building?'. Unfortunately, in both cases it is very hard to answer the questions. Most of the trusts I see have impersonal...

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With affluence/wealth comes the uncomfortable moment when a friend or relative approaches you at a social gathering (or elsewhere) with an investment 'opportunity'. In a very thoughtful column Paul Sullivan offers the following ideas in his NYTimes article (attached) from August 2nd. Parry the Pitch Ask "Why do you think I'm right fro this investment?" and "Do you have a business plan I can rev...

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Apple has a new television and print ad campaign that made me pause. I believe they have captured the essence of what ‘work’ should produce, whether it is an iPhone or a Family Wealth Plan. Both wealth owners and advisors should find some inspiration in the words. For a wealth owner, this could describe how you feel about what your advisors ‘build and implement’ for you and your family. As...

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