The BIGGER Scandal

If you’ve been paying attention to media of any kind over the past week – social, written, TV, podcasts – you probably heard about the College Admissions scandal that implicates actors, business people, and school professionals alike. But the reality is, I don’t think many people are as rocked by this scandal as the news would have us think. Why? Because we know that coming from wealth gives our children a leg up. And guess what? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that! Parents want the best for their children, and are often willing to do whatever it takes. And THAT is the real scandal. When we move from simply wanting the best, to taking over, we are moving into an area where we’re failing to launch our kids into the real world armed with the ability to take care of their own needs.

 

Failure to launch our children in the world is very real, and frankly more difficult for wealthy families. The instinct is to fix every problem for our kids, whether that’s with money, protection, or both. But in order to raise well rounded children, sometimes, we need to let go. We need to let our children learn their own lessons. First, by modeling the appropriate behavior in ourselves, such as the value of work, financial literacy, and generosity. And second, by letting our kids fail appropriately, and teaching them how to get themselves out of difficult situations without relying on money or power.

 

There is nothing wrong with paying for a good high school, tutors, sports or music lessons, and the like. This allows us to see our children’s natural skills, learn new ones, and hopefully teach values at the same time. But cheating, paying people off, or refusing to see the natural ability of your children is where things get murky. Instead, focus on what you can control within reason, and allow your kids to fail when appropriate. It will pay off in the long term.

 

For more about how to raise grounded kids at any age, feel free to reach out. Whether it’s a one day or ongoing program, or a workshop with your clients, Bryn Mars Consulting is here to help!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hi Readers,

It’s January, and you know what that means - time for New Year’s Resolutions. And often, time to break them within a few weeks. Whether you believe in resetting at the beginning of the new year or not, it’s never a bad time to consider what you can be doing better in your life. And what you can be doing better in your Family Enterprise.

The best kept New Years Resolutions have many things in common, but one of the most important is that it’s simple. That’s why I like the idea of a single word to use as a focus. This can be particularly effective with families. My personal word for the year is connection. Every time I have the opportunity to make a decision, I’m going to consider how it will have an effect on my ability to connect with others. Imagine the impact that can have on a family enterprise. If every decision over the course of the year is based on connection, the long term impact is substantial, and yet it’s a simple change of thought process.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is to consider a word to focus on this year. Whether it’s personal, or for your family enterprise. Let me know your word in the comments. And HAPPY NEW YEAR!

End of Year Musings

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. But it’s the end of the year, and I thought I’d share my top 10 thoughts from 2018.

  1. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I don’t need to lead with my personal life, and should instead lead with what I’ve done professionally. And that may work for a lot of people. But I’m fortunate that my personal life has given me unique thoughts on my line of work. So my first thought of BMC 2018 is: How do you use your life experience to guide you?

  2. Every time I work with a family, I start with the “why.” Why are we even talking about this? What’s the long term objective? Second thought of BMC 2018: Do you know your why?

  3. When families ask me how to prevent their children from being entitled, I always wonder what types of behaviors they are projecting that would make them worried. My third thought of BMC 2018 is: Are you living the values you want those around you to follow?

  4. I think many families are so focused on the business aspects of being an enterprising family, they forget how to be a family. My fourth thought is: What are you doing to maintain the family part of family enterprise?

  5. This year has brought a lot of thoughtfulness around what matters most to me. Triggered some by politics, but also by natural disasters, shootings, and other challenges the world is facing. The fifth thought of BMC 2018 is: How do you want to make an impact on the world?

  6. Businesses have ebbs and flows. And apparently, Millennials are “killing” a lot of major industries. But entrepreneurs are thriving in a digital world. My sixth thought is: How are you promoting new ideas in your family enterprise?

  7. Families are often worried about the future, and plan in advance using trust and estate plans to keep the difficulty of death at bay. But what about non-family members who are important to the family enterprise? My seventh thought is: What are you doing to plan for unexpected non-family member exists?

  8. I attend a few conferences every year. When I first started, I was in my early 20’s, and I was the only young person there. Now there are more, which is great, but the next gen attendance is still lacking. My eighth thought of 2018 is: Why aren’t you sending your next gens to learn from one another?

  9. I have a rule when it comes to family meetings. 70% fun, 30% business. Why? You retain more knowledge when you’re having fun while learning! Thought number nine: Have more fun!

  10. It’s no surprise that I believe financial education is a cornerstone to preparing your next generation to be successful. After all, it’s what I do best! So my final thought for 2018 is this: WHY HAVEN’T YOU STARTED YET? You know how to find me when you’re ready.

I truly hope you have a wonderful close out to your 2018, and a fantastic start to 2019. Happy Holidays.

~ Bryn Mars Monahan

On Conferences

I started attending Family Office conferences over 15 years ago. In truth, it was closer to 18 years ago. Which ages me, I know. But it also means I'm somewhat of an expert on the conference experience. 

There are two main reasons for attending a conference: learning, and networking. And though I'd argue that both are equally important, they can not both be the focus. Inevitably, if you try to have a conference with excellent learning experiences, you will need to focus less on excellent networking experiences, and vice versa. And that's OK. Embrace that, and know which one you're focusing on, then cater to that direction. 

Let's pull these apart, and start with what makes for a great networking conference. Thoughtful introductions, and time to get in deep with the other conference goers are paramount for meaningful interactions. An excellent example of this is the pre-arranged dutch treat dinner group at the Purposeful Planning Institute. John A Warnick takes time to chat with every single attendee, and thoughtfully places each person in a group of 6 or so for dinner, choosing dinner partners who's businesses and lives intersect. This dinner allows for deep and meaningful conversation. Another example is at Wharton's Private Wealth Management executive program, every single meal has assigned seats with specific questions on the table, in order to foster better connection and knowledge of other attendees. I should note that both of these conferences are on the small side. And that is yet another important thing to keep in mind. A conference of less than 300 can and should focus heavily on networking. There is more opportunity for strong connection when there are less people. Yes, time in between sessions is important, but using that time wisely is more important. 

For conferences focusing on learning, one of the most important aspects is making sure each session ends with something that the audience can take away. Something they can implement, or look into, or even read. Something catchy and new. Having a panel is fantastic, but having a panel where the moderator wraps up and ties in a book on the subject is even better. Or even more engaging, something interactive. I'm reminded of Joline Godfrey, and her use of play-doh. It seems minimal, but allowing people to fidget frees their minds to open and learn. Not to mention, the smell and feel of the play-doh helps with the later recall of the information. 21/64 makes sure every single session they do, whether it's a simple speaker at an event, or a two day conference, has some element of chatting with their neighbor to share experiences, and them bringing it back to the group. This is highly effective, because most participants walk away knowing exactly what they want to do to make provocative changes in their lives. 

In my opinion, a perfect conference can look like many things. But to me, the most important part is not to try and be something you're not. Oh, and make it fun! 

Family History, Part 2

Last week, I wrote about my own Family's annual family retreat, and the Family History project we were going to do together. Sciencemom asked me what my thoughts are now that the meeting is over.

Well- nothing is perfect. That's my first thought. And the family history time line was definitely NOT perfect. But, it was enlightening. I definitely learned more about the personalities of the first and second generation (as a reminder, I'm 4th Gen), as well as a few fun stories. I also learned about some of the major value shifts that have happened overtime. Some, likely because of generational differences, some because of financial changes, and some simply because of time.

So, the real answer to the question Sciencemom asked me, is that I think it's time we really took a look at the values of the family, and if all of them are still serving us. And if not, what can and should we do to alter the direction.

I'm not going to share the direction that I think we should go in, as that's completely personal, but I will tell you that I think it's important to let the NextGen be a huge part of the changes. And I look forward to being a part of those changes for my family, and for any other family that's willing to believe in the power of the young people.