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September 24th, 2015

Family Leadership is more like a relay, not an event – Lee Brower

By Ron Nakamoto

Over a decade ago, Lee Brower had a personal and professional crisis. He learned that world-wide and throughout history – despite the best efforts of the finest estate planners, wealth managers, accountants, trust officers, family counselors, consultants and professionals from all fields AND despite the best intentions of wealth creators and family leaders – the vast majority of family wealth is dissipated by the fourth generation. Emotionally, it was professionally frustrating. And it was disturbing as a family leader. He also felt morally and ethically challenged to do something, to solve this dilemma both for his clients and for his own family.

As we now know, he happened to meet a woman from Jackson Hole, WY, on a flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. She turned out to be an unwitting source of wisdom and insight into the nature of wealth. She helped Lee define what "True Wealth" is for him and many others (see https://youtu.be/5DHBiPZP1CE). She inspired Lee to create a method of integrating planning, financial products, legal structure, and professional services into what has become the Empowered Family Treasury.

But what this woman from Jackson Hole didn't do was tell Lee how to prepare people and support them throughout the process of mastering the "Mindset" necessary to achieve and sustain True Wealth. We've had to learn this through struggles, trial and error, and many starts and stops. We're still learning but, I believe, we're on a good trajectory now.

Recently, a Seattle family consultant Matthew Wesley wrote an article describing the missing element in estate planning. Wesley described it as ongoing preparation, a never-ending process of preparing for the future in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. By analogy, like the Jamaican relay team, each member trains and prepares to be the best that they can be; they perform when called upon; and then pass the baton. But unlike the Jamaican relay team, in estate planning and in life, the race doesn't end when a star performer has completed his or her work. Reversing the analogy, even the greatest sprinter in history Usain Bolt would be challenged to empower those that he would hand off to; knowing that they just might drop the baton before they got around the track again.

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