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January 9th, 2015

True Wealth Isn’t Just About Money

By Addie K Martin

I want to introduce Addie K. Martin as a new, regular contributor to the Empowered Wealth blog.  Addie is a freelance writer based in New Orleans, LA.
– Ron Nakamoto

While visiting with my father over the Christmas holiday, among other things, we discussed my writing and the projects I’m working on in 2015. Along with several other writing gigs, this year I’ll be contributing monthly to Empowered Wealth’s blog. For the past year, I’ve been quietly involved with Empowered Wealth, and I’ve experienced tremendous growth as a result. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences and perspective with you.

"Me and my father on my wedding day"

“Me and my father on my wedding day”

As I explained to my father what Empowered Wealth is and why it’s important, he nodded emphatically, as if he knew exactly what I was talking about. He commented that he could especially identify with the statistic about how most families lose their wealth by the third generation. He went on to say that he’s seen it happen many times in his own business and dealings with people and families.

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“Where I grew up in southern Louisiana”

 

No, my father isn’t a financial planner or an investment banker. He’s a house painter. Actually, he now works as a painter for the local hospital near my small south Louisiana hometown, but for over 30 years, he owned and operated his own business. While people of all income levels need houses painted, it’s typically the well-to-do who can afford to have their houses worked on often and in-depth. Therefore, my father had mostly wealthy clients, many of whom he worked with for multiple generations.

As I said, my father was able to identify with the importance of passing on not only financial wealth but also family values, experiences, and traditions. He went on to explain to me what he saw happen to these families. Most of his clients were self-made men and women, working mostly in the fisheries and the oil and gas industries, and they started as wealthy families in the first generation. In nearly all cases, the first generation passed its wealth down to their children, as is normally the case. However, it was in the second generation when my father started noticing differences. Some families thrived while others had nothing to pass on to their children, the third generation.

For me, one particular family success story stood above the rest. The Danner family [not actual name] is one that my father and I both have seen grow to the point where their third generation is preparing to take over the leadership and ownership of the family’s commercial seacraft servicing business. To this day, the family continues to thrive and grow. Why? The Danner elders have carefully nurtured and maintained family ties, through multiple generations and even involving extended family members. I’ve known this family through all three generations. I’ve witnessed them share common, meaningful experiences, and of course, their family has exemplified what it looks like to have strong values at a family’s core.

Stories like the Danner family serve as a reminder that we must proactively share and practice our values with our families. It’s not nearly enough to only do estate planning or business education with our family members. If we want to stay successful and thrive in future generations, we must make the time now to engage our family members on a deeper level and pass on the traditions, experiences, values, and stories that fueled the success in the first place. This is how we can make true wealth last.

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