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Serving Rich Kids: The Fortunate Few
February 21, 2017
We are all the same. We are born. We grow up. We are shaped some by our genes and a whole bunch by our circumstances and environment. I grew up poor, and would have done anything legal to prove myself and live in a big house. No problem with work ethic. But, plenty more to figure out about myself. That has only taken about 40 years, so far…
Over those decades, I have worked with many very wealthy families. Including the adult children destined to have many millions of dollars. Is wealth a blessing or a curse? It depends.
I had coffee this morning with a friend and mentioned I am heavily focused on children of wealthy families. He asked: “What do you do for them?” Being fresh on my mind, I thought I would share my answer.
“Why are you busting your chops? You are just going to work for your dad anyway.”
Most importantly, understand them. A lot of people feel misunderstood, and "the kid", whether he or she is 20, 30, or 40, may be at the top of that list. It is important to understand the individual and his or her particular world, as best we possibly can.
I remember a son in a $500 million family who told me about studying for a test in college. One of his fraternity brothers said: “Why are you busting your chops? You are just going to work for your dad anyway.” A simple little story that says a lot. Imagine growing up in a world where you were not expected to do anything much. A least not on one hand. Things are being provided to you and the message that is constantly vibrating in the air is: “You can do what you want. You will have plenty of money no matter what.” And, the conflicting end message that is disappointment. After all, everybody knows the kid can’t live up to what mom and dad have accomplished.
So, the kid’s screwed. He grows up with all of the advantages, and demonstrated low expectations. Only to find himself a failure when ultimately measured against the “higher” expectations his dad holds.
Those that want to create can. They may not know that or know how. I help people find what they want that they don’t have. And, what they have that they don’t want. Then, I help them create. What is it that she wants her life to be? What is it supposed to look like? What is going to give her purpose and joy? Financial resources are an advantage. A lot of people really need to make money, pay the bills, etc. That need has presumably already been met here. What a blessing! What an opportunity!
I am talking about the difference between watching the game, and being in the game. And winning at it!
The problem is lack of clarity. Without clarity, there cannot be commitment. Without commitment, there cannot be creation. I am talking about the difference between watching the game, and being in the game. And winning at it! Only watching the game gets old after a while, whether you’re doing it from a yacht or a double-wide mobile home.
Your clients need to get unstuck. For someone of modest means, trying to make his or her mark, it is probably not hard to get moving. At least not in the beginning. Someone who “has everything”, often starts off stuck. The solution is process and work. I can tell you at least one thing, having seen this happen more than once or twice! Getting unstuck is the very definition of life changing! Going from “I want to do something, but don’t have much idea what, how, or if I can” to clarity and forward movement.
My Three Recommendations for You, The Advisor
Recommendation #1: Understand him or her. Take stock of their reality. Without any judgment, second guessing, or criticism. The kid no doubt lives with plenty of that already. Consider the forces that brought him or her to this point in time, and those that are in play now.
Recommendation #2: Don't be afraid to poke around in unfamiliar territory. Ask your client: “What do you want in your life that you don’t have now? What do you have that you want less of?” Easy questions to understand. If you can persuade your client to take time with these, and get to a place of peace and honesty inside, he or she may find powerful answers.
Recommendation #3: Next, try to find out what stands in the way. What has the kid stuck? Consider helping your client examine if he is stuck and, if so, what has gotten him there. He can't get rid of those barriers until he can get a bead on what they are.
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