I was fortunate to grow up in an entrepreneurial family. My great grandfather started our family business, my grandfather took it over from him, and eventually my father from his dad. When I came out of the womb, my family had a business plan that I one day would take over the multi-generational business from my father. Our family had two rules: #1 – You work from the bottom up, I started at age 11, doing every job possible in the organization. This would allow you to earn people’s trust and respect because you did not inherit “the throne” you worked for it. #2 – Our business was about taking only enough for your own family, caring for the family that preceding you, and leaving as much in the company as possible for growth, development, and expansion for the next generation to follow. While most kids my age may have rebelled against their life being laid out for them, I embraced it with every part of my being.
Unfortunately, life does not always work out according to the best laid plans. At the age of 43, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died. Neither my family nor our business was prepared for this sudden tragedy. We had life insurance, but not nearly enough. My family, I was the oldest of 3, had a company. Despite having a college education, my mother knew nothing about running a large organization. Caring for herself and her children was her primary focus. In the end, at 17 years old, it was determined that our company had to be sold. Our multi-generational business, with our family pride attached, was over. Not only did I lose my father, I lost what I perceived at the time, to be my destiny along with it.
After the sale concluded, and our business partner the IRS received their tax payments, we had enough money to maintain our lifestyle. My mom, now in possession of the most amount of money she ever had, needed guidance on investing these proceeds. On the recommendation of a family friend, she hired two “advisors”, and I use that term loosely, to invest our money. At first, there were commitments of my mom not having to work, our family home not needing to be sold, and our college education money being preserved for our future. The reality was these “advisors” invested in risky limited partnerships that paid large amount of commissions, and had large amount of losses. At the same time, the stock market went through a major correction and what started out as long term commitments and security, in the end, bordered on dereliction of a fiduciary responsibility to my family and what remained of our future. While we did not lose everything, we lost enough that changes were required in our lifestyle, in order for us to continue.
Having the “rug ripped out from under me” at the death of my father, my hero, my pride and future in selling our family business, and now in a short time, the money that represented our future was a horrendous time in my life. The brazen audacity of “advisors” to put their own best interests and income, over the preservation and growth of our family money not as trusted fiduciaries, but as unethical sales people, shattered my vision of what “helping others” looked like. That which does not kill you, makes and molds you into the “who” you are today.
I tell my personal story, so others may understand where I come from, how my experience is imbedded in the focus of our company, and the tragedies that my family experienced NEVER happens to any of our clients if we can prevent it. Family is important. The visions parents have for their children and grandchildren are important. And the legacy we leave, as my dad did for me, is also very much part of our character. While my vision of my life and what I would be doing took a detour, it has all turned out better. We get the wonderful privilege every day, to ensure the tragic events in my life, can be shared to prevent other families and their closely held multigenerational businesses, are preserved and protected regardless of the situation. We are very fortunate to serve some great people, with wonderful families, and phenomenal businesses. We take a stand to doing everything we can to make sure they all survive intact for the future.