ISSUE 11 | PARAGONROAD.COM
Are Kittens Dangerous FOR YOUR LEGACY?
+ LAURA A. ROSER EXPLAINS WHY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE SHOULD FLOW FROM YOUR CALLING & MUST TRIUMPH OVER THE TEMPTATION TO TRY LIKEABLE GIMMICKS
WRITING YOUR LEGACY + MEMOIR EXPERT MARION ROACH SMITH ENCOURAGES FAMILY TO “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW” TO COMMUNICATE YOUR LEGACY
The Benefits of the Partially Examined Life + MARK LINSENMAYER CHALLENGES LISTENERS TO THINK DEEPLY ABOUT LIFE
LEGACY ARTS Febuary 2016 www.paragonroad.com 3
Note from the Editor Storytime with Legacy Arts
The Value of Priceless
The Remarkable Story of Fred Rivera and Herman Johnson
Writing Your Legacy Bestselling Author Marion Roach Smith Says, “Write What You Know!”
Portrait of a Timely Artist
A Moment in Time with Alberto Aguilar
Doing the Right Thing: Inside the Heart and Mind of Key Coker
Building Character While Teaching Kids Financial Literacy
The Benefits of the Partially Examined Life
Raising Children to Be Healthy, Wealthy & Wise
Empowering Women Through Story
Mark Linsenmayer Brings Philosophy Back to the Mainstream”
Coventry Edwards-Pitt Helps Parents Raise Their Children to Reflect Family Values
SheStories Founder Anasa Troutman Helps Women to Flourish
Are Kittens Dangerous for Your Legacy? Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Didnâ€™t Need Gimmicks
Transforming Estate Planning into Legacy Planning Michael Stuartâ€™s Focuses on Issues Far More Meaningful Than Wills, Trusts, and Taxes
Finding Purpose Through Disaster
Creating a Legacy of Healthy Decisions
The Real-Life Inspirational Adventures of Michele Averill
An Interview with Emily Oster
The Power of Giving Together
Why Valeri Bocage Believes that Borders Do Not Confine Women
Meeting the Greatest Need in Philanthropy
Michael Moody Builds the Foundational Philanthropy Reader
A Wealth of Values
Monroe Diefendorf Wants to Redefine the Meaning of Inheritance
Timeless Wisdom: Classical vs. Romantic Understanding Zen and the Art of Car Shopping
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ISSUE 11 | 2017
Paragon Road PUBLISHER Laura Roser EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Brian C. Hailes ART DIRECTOR Marko Nedeljkovic DESIGN William Jenkins CONTENT DIRECTOR
Alberto Aguilar Professor, Harold Washington College Michele Averill CEO of the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross Valeri Bocage President & CEO, Powerful Women International Connections Key Coker CEO of BBVA Compass of Dallas, TX Monroe Diefendorf CEO, 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory Coventry Edwards-Pitt Partner and Chief Wealth Advisory Officer, Ballentine Partners, LLC Mark Linsenmayer The Partially Examined Life Blog
Faith Coates Timothy Hutchinson Amanda Kelly Mark Linsenmayer Michael Moody Meg Oldman
Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University Emily Oster Professor of Economics, Brown University Marion Roach Smith Author, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text on Writing & Life Michael Stuart Founder The Stuart Legacy Alliance, LLC, The Family Legacy Alliance, LLC (FLA) Anasa Troutman CEO, Eloveate and SheStories
JB Pravda Laura A. Roser Daniel Slone
Honor Those You Love
Share your product or service with thousands of financial professionals around the world through our digital magazine and main website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good idea for an article, feedback or suggestions for our magazine? Email the editor directly: email@example.com
What is Legacy Arts Magazine?
Legacy Arts is dedicated to the journey of developing a great legacy and passing on non-financial assets (such as beliefs, values & wisdom). It is produced by Paragon Road, the leader in meaning legacy planning. 6 LEGACY ARTS Issue 11 www.paragonroad.com
Note from the Editor Storytime with Legacy Arts
n this issue of Legacy Arts, we focus on the concept of storytelling with your legacy in mind. Memoir expert and bestselling author Marion Roach Smith talks about how to construct a story of significance in writing. Publisher Thornton Sully relays his experience with how one man’s story led to a whole series of remarkable events when he found out his friend — who he thought had been dead for over 30 years — turned out to be alive. We learn from Mark Linsenmayer how philosophical thinking leads to deeper meaning. And how kittens — and other fame-seeking gimmicks — can be the downfall of handful of stories about everyday heroes. If you’ve had someone who has inspired you, we’d love for an authentic online legacy. you to submit a short story about them. For more We have a variety of other articles from details, visit www.HonorThoseYouLove.com. absolutely incredible people — it’s too much for Thank you to our readers, writers, creative team, me to mention one by one, but I know you’ll love diving in. As always, we have some great advice and the superb people we feature in each issue. about estate planning with purpose and how to All the best, pass on values as well as money. Laura A. Roser Honor Someone Extraordinary in Your Life Has someone changed your life? We want to hear Editor-in-Chief of Legacy Arts about them. In our next issue, we will feature a and CEO of Paragon Road
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The Value of Priceless
The Remarkable Story of Fred Rivera and Herman Johnson by Thornton Sully, Editor-in-Chief, A Word with You Press
red Rivera had an urgent need to write his story. That urgency was the motivation to strap himself in an office chair and fire a fusillade of words upon the blank field before him until the task was done. Raw Man, his award-winning novel of Vietnam, was, among other things, a tribute to his fallen comrade, Herman Johnson, who died in Fred’s arms in combat in 1969. When Fred at last stood from his desk, the story was told; the story was over … Or, was it? Fred presented the very first signed copy of Raw Man to Sgt. John Marek at the book launch held the summer before last at the hacienda of our mutual friend, best-selling author Victor Villaseñor. For 30 years, Fred has dedicated his life to helping combat vets suffering from PTSD to get on with their lives, and John was among those whom Fred was able to counsel and help to heal. In appreciation of the honor of receiving the first signed copy, Sgt. Marek had an inspiration: he would get a pencil etching of Herman Johnson’s name from the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington. But there was a problem: he couldn’t find Herman Johnson’s name or even a reference that he had died. He investigated. Details of the battle had been obscured, intentionally so, for the combatants were in Cambodia, not Vietnam, in violation of the law and the official line the White House disseminated in 1969. The
Freedom of Information Act allowed fresh access to the facts. And yet, there was still no confirmation of Herman Johnson’s death. Fred remembered that horrific event very well. Fred was blown off the military vehicle he navigated. Herman sat above him, manning the guns and firing into the jungle at an unseen enemy. An explosion, then chaos. Fred was hurled 15-feet into the air, knocked unconscious by the fall, and woke up with his dearest friend, Herman Johnson, strewn across him, bleeding out, having taken shrapnel to the carotid artery. Fred cradled him, heard his final words, watched helplessly as the medics undid Herman’s boots, and elevated and massaged Herman’s feet, all in a vain attempt to keep blood flowing to his brain. There was, or course, no time to mourn or even grieve. The battle raged on for 12 hours. A few days later, at an impromptu memorial, Fred was presented a bracelet, woven by Herman’s friends, from the blood-spattered leather laces of Herman Johnson’s boots. Fred has worn the bracelet every day without fail since that sad morning. “You are not taking this off,” Fred admonished the surgeons who performed the eight surgeries required to mitigate the damage done by battle in Vietnam. Fred Rivera bravely relived all of this as he wrote Raw Man: “Twenty-seven years after I got the flight home, I saw that
LEGACY ARTS Issue 11 www.paragonroad.com
’Nam war was just raw man, spelled backwards. I’m pretty raw today.” For Rivera’s effort and sacrifice, he won the Isabelle Allende Best New Fiction Award for 2015. Having read the book and, failing to find confirmation of Herman Johnson’s death, John Marek had an epiphany: What if Herman Johnson did not die? He re-directed his inquiries. He found someone matching Herman’s description living in Dearborn, Michigan. He recruited volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars to fan out and search the neighborhood where the trail led. “Fred, are you sure you want us to follow through with this?” Having survived combat himself, John understood the trauma it could create for both Herman and Fred, if the man they had located was the friend and comrade thought to be dead for forty-seven years. Fred, courageous beyond measure in battle, waivered. “Stand down.” An unsent letter pulsed within Fred’s breast pocket for two weeks. Then on a morning in May, unable to contain himself or the letter any longer, Fred posted the letter to the address Sgt. Marek had discovered, unsure of the identity of the recipient and unsure of the response if it truly was Herman Johnson. Two days later … yes, the phone rang. What better place to hold a reunion than at the Wall in Washington? A Word with You Press initiated a Gofundme campaign, and through the generosity of others, we were able to have Herman, Fred, John Marek, and others convene at the Vietnam Memorial last July. A professional film crew was on hand to document the event and to capture a last surprise for Herman Johnson, who never received a Purple Heart for his wounds. Unbeknownst to Herman, Fred worked tirelessly, soliciting the help of Herman’s congressman, Sandy Levin, to decimate the red tape that conspired to deny Herman his due. On the day of the reunion, as the two reunited comrades stood at attention in the presence of three-star General Guy Swan, Herman was only aware that he was going to be given a nondescript service pin acknowledging his military service. After a brief speech, as a crowd began to gather, the general commanded, “Sergeant, read the orders.” None other than John Marek stepped adroitly forward in his dress blues and announced:
Thornton Sully is an awardwinning publisher, writer, and editor-in-chief of A Word with You Press, Editors and Advocates of Fine Stories in the Digital Age. He can be reached at thorn@ awordwithyoupress.com
By order of the President of the United States
For Wounds Sustained in Combat in Vietnam in 1969 The Purple Heart is Hereby Awarded to Private First Class Herman Johnson General Swan wrapped his arms around Herman. “Welcome home, son. It took us 47 years to right this wrong, but at last, justice has been done.” - What if Fred had never written Raw Man? I can spare you a few paragraphs, because, as a reader, you have enough information to fill in the blanks yourself. A broader question: Why write at all, if the chances of being a best-seller are so very slim, based on factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing or intrigue or importance of the story? Conventionally, a book’s success is measured by number of copies sold. But how do you measure the value catharsis? How many people need to be moved by what you have to say before you, as a writer, will consider yourself and your book a success? Because you are reading this in Legacy Arts, clearly you believe in imparting the wisdom you have acquired in your lifetime to those of your blood who will follow. Conveying your story is your ultimate gesture of love. Be not intimidated by a blank page. Write your story as if you are telling it to a single person sitting across the kitchen table. A book is successful if it adequately and accurately conveys what you think and feel, and this is not at all linked to the number of copies sold. Your own book, your own story, may be a pebble in a pond. Who knows whose lives will be changed by the ripples? Maybe, your own. n
LEGACY ARTS Issue 11 www.paragonroad.com
Writing Your Legacy Bestselling Author Marion Roach Smith Says, “Write What You Know!” by Meg Oldman
e capture meaningful moments with our phones, shared celebrations, and committing events to memory. Few of us actually sit down and write about what we know about these moments. Marion Roach Smith has made it her business, literally and figuratively, to lead people through the process of documenting – specifically writing a memoir of what they know about their lives beyond dates and chronological facts. Marion was hired for her first job out of college by The New York Times. She was just 21, with no journalism experience outside of the classroom. Journalism graduates in the early 1970’s had a wide variety of entry-level job possibilities at the many working journalism houses throughout the country. The internet was not part of mainstream usage; newspapers, magazines, and televised news were still the main source of news and daily living. Three years later, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 49 years old. Marion had never heard of Alzheimer’s. Neither had most others. There was no yellow page listing in the New York City phone directory for it, nor had Congress allotted any funds for study and research into the disease. Her mother’s doctor told Marion
that four and a half million people suffered from Alzheimer’s. Marion was shocked by this information and, consequently, brought it to the attention of the NYT Magazine editor. He was as mystified as she by the sheer numbers of people stricken with the disease, and even the medical editor for the magazine was surprised by the information. The editor then assigned Marion the task of writing about Alzheimer’s; thus, the disease was introduced to the wider world. She found from the thousands of letters and faxes she received in response that people felt alone; many were unable to get their patients diagnosed, and there were no support systems in place to which to go to for help. The New York Times did not have much of a place for personal stories in the 1970s. It’s hard to imagine now that the language of news did not fully embrace the personal. At that time, one hardly used the pronoun I. Marion’s story of her mother’s diagnosis was a rare read in the NYT. Marion concludes, “Ever since, I have believed in the power of the personal narrative.” Marion wrote her first book, published by Houghton Mifflin, that expanded her story; three other mass market books followed. Twentytwo years later, she created a class to teach the art of writing memoir. She sat on the board of the local arts center in her home town of Troy, New York. As a journalist, she felt that the writing classes they were offering were less than engaging. She pleaded for better writing courses many times over. Finally the executive director “got sick” of her bringing it up, and he invited her to begin teaching a course about writing memoir. The class was very popular. “Helping other people learn how to get their hands on their stories — I get teared up when I say this — is just as wondrous as it sounds!” She has worked with Vietnam veterans, survivors of domestic abuse, people in recovery, and people who are
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happy gardening. Marion notes, “Showing people the tools to tell their tale is giving them access to what they really know about themselves … it’s a joy to do.” One of her favorite students wrote about her own 50 years of marriage; she published one book and gave it to her husband on their 50th wedding anniversary. Marion felt like a midwife attending the birth of that book; sadly, it turned out to be six months before he died. “It was one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve been privy to,” Marion reflects. In another encounter, an English graduate student wrote her memoir and made copies for her four children; it was about the twelve relatives they had never met, with all the expressions each used in their manners of speech. Marion
Marion Roach Smith went to work for The New York Times three weeks out of college. Four books and countless magazine and radio essays later, the lessons learned at that great newspaper – getting it right and making it short – inform every piece she writes. Most of Marion’s work is now in the form of memoir writing, including her most recent book, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text on Writing & Life, which came out with Grand Central Publishing in 2011. For 15 years Marion has taught Writing What You Know. Much of her work includes a large helping of memoir, including books The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair, and Another Name for Madness, (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) and her commentaries for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. You can reach Marion at marionroach.com. estimates that close to 80% of her students want to be published. Her job is to help each them identify how they want to do so, whether it be in a blog, a podcast, or other platforms such as writing journals or magazines. Her main goal is to communicate the idea of writing with intent: “You identify the form in which you want to publish, master it, and use it.” She, herself, didn’t know how to write a piece for the NYT Magazine. Marion learned on the job; she studied everything from NPR essays, “All Things Considered,” to op-eds. Marion summarizes about what she learned, “Writing with intent has to do with writing for a goal that is very specific to the form in which you want to publish … not wasting your time practicing, but actually writing with intent for a form.” Furthermore, her students are discovering their own legacies; “Memoir is not what you did, but what you did with it … writing about your life informs your life and vice versa.” When asked about the age range of her students, she said, “They are all over the place. Every age has a different size of memoir.” It’s a rich process her writers encounter; she’s interested in their stories and what they have to say about their lives. She believes they actually come through the process of writing their memoirs with an appreciation for their own lives. What they come away with is a legacy to pass down to their children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren; that way those family members who may never meet them can be inspired by the stories of the people who came before them. Memoir is a genre now, in part, because of the rise of blogging online, where many can be touched by the stories that abound on the web. “Writing from one area of expertise at a time, you’ll never run out of things to talk about … I give them writing lives instead of writing assignments.” Her classes are available online, as well; she offers six classes a month. The classes are live, and she says they’re always fascinating: “A legacy is a beautiful thing to leave.” n
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Portrait of a Timely Artist A Moment in Time with Alberto Aguilar by JB Pravda
lberto Aguilar’s website statement should be read, heard, felt, and tasted, redolent as it is of Gertrude Stein’s lyrical repetition, one word organically seeming to prompt the next sentence. And, after this thought-provoking fashion, Aguilar delves deeply into the nature of our collective time or shared moments — something most overlook, never truly observing the people, places, and things within their space; it is an invisible dimension, spoken of by theoretical science. A moment, a happening, an event in time that passes with slow sadness and fades away to nothing more than a memory. But for this artist, it is a thoroughly artful social force.
In taking up his gift of sharing a moment in time with us, we discover the beauty of the now, the uncertainty of each unstructured act, and the meaning assigned to randomness.
Picasso, Alive, & Influences Closer to Home It wasn’t until Aguilar was perhaps 18 that he finally visited the major art museum in Chicago. While he had become aware of his desire to pursue art as a career, he had something of a moment (a key facet of his multi-faceted work) when he beheld a cubist work from 1906. This work—with its interplay of various
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spouse’s passing—that term itself leading back to time’s meaning. “Carla was changing from a lot of antique chairs and things to more modern furnishings ... as part of a project I arranged some of her things into sculpture which lent a sort of double meaning, a kind of accidental or unintended poetry to those things, a kind of therapy, a giving without effort or intent for her to stop that time for the moment.” And in his own home, as a result of the inconvenience of storing many unsold pieces, he aimed to create new work via recombining even ordinary things into sculptures of meaning. “I like playing with social media in a similar way by how much I share, sometimes distilled down to just one image, like a photo album, but this one image carries and encapsulates the whole experience.”
Authoring vs Merely Capturing Moments: Making Them Momentous Alberto grew rather animated when we turned to the business of creating, and shared some quite
planes and facets—seemed alive, organic, and new each moment of its beholding and by each beholder. That in flux sensibility has stayed with him ever since and informs his “re—having of moments” thematic. “My father was always very aware of how music from a certain era marked that time and its passing,” allowing how experience of art informed momentary time, even eras, with meaning. This development, detection, and depiction of signifiers has characterized much of his past work, and that in progress. One instance concerned a widow friend and her transition time since her
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unique monuments to memory he called extreme; we’re betting you’ll find them the very essence of what some call performance art in his sense of “being present” in his art work, especially with his family. In many ways this was his intentional rebuttal of what he’d been taught in art school about how family and art cannot mix. The Pizza Parade is an example notable not simply for its imaginative mixing of family experience with time’s capacity for memorability but also because to Aguilar, “it was during a summer when I wasn’t feeling quite so adventurous. So we stayed home, planning a long walk down our main stretch, Archer Avenue, it’s called. So I needed to give it some meaning, deciding to call it that and mapping out all the pizza parlors along it and stopping at each asking for one free slice, then documenting the parade’s experiences. My daughter made buttons with Pizza Parade written on them, my son wore an old pizza costume which we got at Old Navy, and, well, it is an experience they will remember forever.” Wait till you hear about Spain and Colorado. Invited to teach and speak, respectively, he decided to take the
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whole family, including Archer the family dog named after the street which Pizza Parade took place. “I was asked to teach in Spain for ten days, but I decided to make it a five-week trip, all across Spain ... there was risk, but it took on meaning we couldn’t have fully realized then.” Colorado: Moments, momentous moments, years in retrospect, with meaning’s maturation. “We decided to make it a road trip, across the West, then the West Coast. I’d been asked to speak at a convention, and, then, we went on the road, not knowing where exactly or if we’d make it to such and such a place,” his voice taking on the momentousness of discovery and, in so doing, meaning through memorability.
“This is a statement in the form of a letter. This is a statement as an artwork. This is a letter as an artwork. This is a letter as a statement. This is an artwork as a letter. This is a voice recording that I am making as I walk but you are now reading it as a statement made up of letters on a screen. This will be transcribed into a letter by the time you are reading it. I have allowed for repetition. I have allowed for repetition. It is a rainy morning in Chicago. In one hand I am holding an umbrella, in the other hand I am holding my phone which is acting as the recording device. I have allowed for error. I have allowed for time lapse. I have allowed for gaps of silence. You will not feel that silence, as you are reading this as one continuous letter. We are sharing a moment if you have stayed with me… until this time you understand that my work is about the sharing of a moment in time. This is our time. This is a statement. This is an artwork. This is a letter. This is a sound recording. This is a transcription of that sound recording. This is a moment in time …” A Letter to You from Alberto Aguilar
One more experience was related that we shouldn’t neglect: Cuba. “I was part of an art exchange. I just got back; it was unlike any place I’d ever been, so I created work there which was in the moment but in retrospect gave my experience meaning.”
Of Impact & Legacy for Others, Known, & Unknown “Of course, for my family it’s important for me to be present, to make that family home experience a part of my work, and my work a part of it, by including them in my strange albums, as you can see on my site.” Alberto Aguilar teaches art at Harold Washington College in downtown Chicago. Please visit albertoaguilar.org for more. n
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Who Inspires You? Submit a short story about an exraordinary person in your life
We want to honor them in our magazine! To learn more, visit
â€œEveryone of us has everyday heroes who inspire, uplift, and comfort. We want to honor their quiet acts of courage, love and compassionâ€? - Laura Roser, Editor-in-Chief, Legacy Arts Magazine
Doing the Right Thing Inside the Heart and Mind of Key Coker by Claudio Vega
ey Coker has an impressive resume as the CEO of BBVA for over 7 years and 38 years in the banking business. But his most impressive feat may be how he holds the attention of the children he teaches about financial literacy. Coker is a graduate of the University of Texas and takes immense pride in being able to deliver financial literacy to the community. Coker’s own business interests dated back to his time at UT. He knew at that point banking would be at the forefront of his interest in life. He also knew that he could effectively give back to his community by sharing his knowledge of financial literacy with the community by always leading with his “servient heart” as he likes to describe it. Coker teaches financial literacy at the local schools in the Dallas area, beginning with children at the kindergarten level and also at the local food bank. This is one of many ways he and his teammates at BBVA Compass give back to the communities they serve.
children. He and his wife, Katherine, and their two teenagers, ages 12 and 14, always have a formal sit-down dinner, beginning their meal with a prayer. It is at this time when they all are able to enjoy each other’s company, without any gadgets or interruptions. Key is quick to point out the value of spending time with each other during their nightly dinners. Key also communicated that his “do the right thing rule” is something he has taught to his children. He taught the children the need to hold up four fingers as a reminder before acting on impulse. The do the right thing rule could symbolically serve as a moral compass when contemplating decisions. At home, work, or in the community, Coker believes in being an integral part of people’s lives and living by his values personally and professionally. Coker embodies professionalism and compassion, and his face lit up with pride when communicating about his clients, regardless of size.
Coker became a bit introspective when talking about Key believes in the value of communication, reading the importance of values he wished to instill upon his body language, and mentorship. His eyes lit up when
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Key Coker is CEO of BBVA Compass of Dallas, has worked with BBVA for more than 12 years, and has a total of 35 years of banking experience. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and serves on boards for the Better Business Bureau Dallas and the Dallas Regional Chamber. Coker formerly served as Dallas City President.
the client built his company, eventually selling it for $22 million ten years later. This is a beautiful indicator of the effect Key Coker has on people’s lives.
telling a story of a “character loan” that was given to a client who had come to him many years earlier looking for a $10,000 loan. Character loans are given to those who may not have the assets to cover the loan but reflect strong moral fortitude to justify receiving the loan. This client of his was seeking the loan to begin a mechanical engineering firm. Key gave the loan to his client, and
Key fondly speaks of his father, who had studied music at Juilliard and worked as a professional musician. “Beautiful music warms his heart,” he describes. The sentiment is evident as the warmth in his voice permeated the room with pride as he spoke of love for music. In spite of not being able to read music, he exposed the beauty of music to his children, who each play musical instruments. He also spoke graciously of taking his wife to a concert with his parents on their first date to see a brilliant Argentine trumpeter. Katherine was amused and thought that a guy who brings his parents on their first date can’t be all that bad. Coker also described how being happy is one of the most important things in life: a value that he has strongly instilled upon his children. “It is better that they have peace in their lives rather than money.” This is the legacy that Coker believes in and lives every day. n
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The Benefits of the Partially Examined Life Mark Linsenmayer Brings Philosophy Back to the Mainstream
by Mark Linsenmayer
o why study philosophy? Studying philosophy sharpens critical thinking skills and enables you to cope with difficult texts and strange viewpoints. If you can read a difficult work of philosophy, you can read anything. For the full experience, you need to then go on and communicate what you’re thinking in reaction to what you’ve read or heard, which will both help you get your thoughts in order and improve your writing and speaking skills.
The Value of Philosophy
So those are reasons why philosophy is not at all the “useless” activity that many practically minded folks think that it is, but really, the biggest value of philosophy is that it should lead you to seriously question your life decisions, large and small: What should I be doing for a living? Should I get married, have kids, go to church, eat meat, give to charity, etc.? How should I vote, and should I vote at all?
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Putting Philosophy to Work
In many of these areas, I’m pretty conventional: I have a family, own a house, watch TV (just not commercials), do eat meat (occasionally), vote democratic, and don’t give nearly as much to charity as I think I should. I have drawn a line in the sand regarding the traditional job thing: I think that your time is the most precious thing you have, and that it’s worth some financial sacrifice to avoid any kind of job that sucks up so much of your energy that you can’t pursue anything you’re really passionate about. So I started with a plan to become an academic, became disillusioned with that prospect during graduate school due to the state of the academic job market, did work for several years in an office doing technical writing. I’m now a consultant in the area of transportation research and largely have the ability to set my own hours and work far less than full time at my discretion, which has enabled me to help build The Partially Examined Life LLC (PEL) slowly over the last several years into a healthy business that I hope to devote all of my energies to eventually.
Mark Linsenmayer has lived in Madison, WI since 2000, has two kids, and works from home writing about transportation research. He’s a musician who’s been cranking out albums since 1992 under the name Mark Lint (Listen to many tracks at marklint.com). When in grad school for philosophy, he mostly studied continental philosophy and philosophy of mind, with interests in phenomenology and explanations of consciousness. Learn more at partiallyexaminedlife.com.
I’ve also consistently been musical, running bands and releasing albums since the early ‘90s, and make time for that without expecting or needing it to be profitable, though it’s of course great if I can use money from shows to pay for studio time and so not lose much money on it. I’ve also been increasingly integrating my musical life and my podcasting life. I included one of my songs at the end of every Partially Examined Life episode for the first 150 episodes or so, and now I’ve expanded my podcast output to produce not only The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast, but also as of early 2016 The Nakedly Examined Music podcast, which gives me a chance to network with and interview musicians.
A Love for Philosophy
Fundamentally, I find philosophy valuable not for the added perspective it gives me on my life choices or the skills it’s enabled me to apply and develop, but just because it’s interesting in and of itself. I don’t find religion with its ready answers and predictable
approaches to problems very rewarding, but I started being interested in philosophy at an early age out of a religious impulse: to understand myself, the world, and my place in it. I tried studying the hard sciences, but find I have limited tolerance for the types of details that I would be investigating in psychology, for instance; what’s intellectually satisfying to me is moving back for a broader view of the issue, and I like, for instance, comparing the approaches to similar phenomena by people coming from very different academic and cultural traditions.
The Partially Examined Life (PEL)
PEL started as a way for me to reconnect with the texts I’d studied and the types of people I’d studied them with in graduate school. Our conception in 2009 when we started was not so much to recreate the graduate seminar as the going-out-for-a-drink with fellow students after the seminar to reveal in an unvarnished way what we really thought. Part of this involved a critique of academia, but that’s softened over the years. As with playing music
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for me, the fundamental urge is to explore and create something. Presenting it to the public is a secondary benefit, though one that becomes increasingly important as more people play attention to what we’re doing.
The Art of Planning a Show
We’ve always felt like the best way to make sure you understand something is to teach it, so even from our first episodes, which have always involved reading a text, we’ve been very concerned with spelling out exactly what in the text we’re commenting on, explaining it in such a way that even though the listener hasn’t read the text, the listener can still hopefully follow what’s going on at every step in our conversation. I think if you don’t proceed this way, then even if you’re not talking for an audience, then you and your conversation partners will inevitably talk past each other. Because we’re engaged in this shared effort to make sense of a text, we find that even if we come at it with different expectations and preferences, we’re able to reach a consensus on most of what we discuss: We do not see what we’re doing as a debate, and I find most instances of debate to be very unrewarding for all involved, with a lot of people who have already made up their minds before they start talking fail to convince each other of much. So we’d like to help demonstrate to a much larger audience this very rewarding way of having a conversation, of being able to put ideas out confidently even if they’re very half-baked, of thinking out loud in the presence of others as a way of gradually improving your own thought, both by learning from texts and conversation partners, but also by gradually, through repeated attempts, figuring out what you really want to say.
Philosophy Helps Us Reflect
I’d like to help people not take our intellectual heritage for granted. I’d like them to realize that not every important
question is one that science is best to answer and so must be left largely to experts to decide. I’m not going to say that a lot of the stuff we read isn’t just plain weird: It is! But that’s what’s fun about it, and I claim it’s still fun to think about, for instance, coherent ways to conceive the nature of God even though I do not in any way believe in God myself, or what would make an ideal society even though Utopian thinking is pretty remote from the decisions actually available to us at the ballot box, or look into ways that people have tried to systematically describe experience (this is called “phenomenology”) even though I think the “scientific” ambitions of the people who tried to do this are pretty silly. There are all sorts of benefits to trying on a different way of thinking about things, and making connections yourself between different thinkers or topics is as gratifying as any creative activity I can think of.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the popularity of PEL (over 19 million downloads!) and the warm reception we’ve received. Of course, it is the Internet, and there are always folks looking for a fight, or treating anything that someone puts out there as a personal challenge that they would love nothing more than to dismiss entirely, but we’ve had many people write to us about how virtually sitting in on our discussions has changed their lives: determined their major, helped them through a difficult time, helped them stay sane at their crappy job, or ultimately switch to a different line of work. Podcasting has helped us reach so many more people for so many more hours than we would have reached by teaching, or publishing books (something which we’d still like to do and have long been in talks to do so), or as far as my music goes, I’d much rather have an audience of selfselected smart people who know me as a podcaster already than to be merely trying to distribute my albums and play at local drinking establishments (though I still do that too).
Nakedly Examined Music
With Nakedly Examined Music, I’d like to really change how people listen to music (see nakedlyexaminedmusic.com). For most people, it’s like tastes in food: they think they just like what they like, and there’s nothing more to say about it. But we’ve probably all had that experience too where we, for instance, see a film like Amadeus or Bird (the show Treme about New Orleans music is another great, recent example) where you end up being introduced to a new kind of music in a very intimate way, with its context explained or rather demonstrated. I think music journalism and entertainer interviews are too often only of interest to someone who is already a fan of someone’s work. My format involves playing a few recordings in full and then talking with the artist about the motivation and techniques involved in them. I think this is not only interesting to people who engage in songwriting and want to see how others approach their craft, but serves to introduce music in this personal way, and shows I think that most music—at least the kind that anyone is really in love with—is something that you can love too, or at least appreciate, if you understand where it’s coming from and put the time into really engaging with it.
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A Lasting Legacy
I’ve got two teenage kids and am doing my best to help them navigate this scary new world where jobs are increasingly being automated away, and I think what we’ve called The American Dream will need to be substantially rethought. I’d like to think I’m helping them to not just think about their future in terms of preparing themselves to be employable but to help them find their own passions and their own ways of balancing their lives. I don’t generally think in terms of legacy and have no idea how well our discussions of philosophical texts will hold up over time, but I would like to get my recorded musical output more in order, nicely and consistently
released on little electronic packages. Though I’ve released many albums over the years, only four have actually made the trip to iTunes/Spotify, some albums badly need remastering, and a few of them have remained not-quite-complete, though mostly released on my website in some form, for several years. I have little hope that the particular LLC I’ve created will outlast me, but have been told that PEL is now seen as a pioneer in a growing movement toward popularizing philosophy. When I was in graduate school, that referred to a not-quite-respectable choice of publication strategy, but as someone now safely outside academia, I think it an extremely worthy goal. n
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Are Kittens Dangerous
FOR YOUR LEGACY? Why Martin Luther King Jr. Didn’t Need Gimmicks by Laura A. Roser
friend of mine called me all excited about a new video he posted on YouTube. It featured scenes of humans helping animals. “I’ve tried all kinds of videos,” he said, “but this one got the most views. It’s up over thirty-thousand! When I posted a serious video about business that took forever to make and cost way more money, I only got like five views …” “But what’s the point of it?” I asked. “Does it give your business any legitimacy?” “No. It’s just what people want to see.” In the book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, I found myself reading through the crazy tactics used by media manipulator Ryan Holiday to get lies reported by big-name publications and learning about how he was able to get no-name brands coverage by using the right gimmicks. The legit side of me
was appalled by the terrible monster the media has become; the conniving side of me wanted to try these strategies to promote my own business. But then it hit me: what is the point? Once we consume all the flashy gimmicks, fake headlines, and throw-away stories, what are we left with? A sick void. It’s that same sick feeling you get after eating a bag of M&M’s instead of a salad. That feeling that you’ve wasted hours online clicking on headlines like “Is Trump a Baboon?” or “Could Housewives Become Extinct in 2019?” – leading you to stories with no valuable content and a dozen more tangents that link to more stories with no valuable content.
Just Add Kittens … It Gets More Views
In a world where everyone has the ability to generate an audience, how do we resist the temptation to let outside opinions dictate who we become? Seriously, do we just tinker with different ideas until we get a million hits on YouTube? Is that what is to drive what we will be publicly known for? Your legacy is your impact on the world and those you love. For your friends and family, they will remember how you treated them. All those small acts add up to a life welllived. But what about the public component of your legacy? You may argue that you don’t have to worry about the public side of your legacy because you aren’t famous and aren’t interested in notoriety. I think you should reconsider. If you have any social media account — Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter — you are sowing the seeds of your public legacy already, and it has a far-reaching impact. When you apply for a job, meet someone new, move to a neighborhood, go on a blind date, or meet with a potential client, guess what happens next? An internet search. People who have never met you before want to know what
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you’re about. They want to know if they can trust you, and they will look for every clue online. They’ll see it all. Those Mardi Gras photos. Your political rant. That video series you posted about going on an all-pizza diet.
The Lure of Fame
Because we all want to be acknowledged by our peers and experience the chemical rush associated with seeing how many people reacted to our posts, it’s easy to get sucked into the fame-seeking vortex. I’m no stranger to it myself. I’ve noticed if I post articles on my personal Facebook page, no one cares, unless the article has a photo of me. And if I post photos of nature (especially mountain and beach scenes), I get a ton of likes. It’s easy to fall into the trap of grooming your online self to be the most-liked version for your audience. This just goes up the chain. Whether you’re presenting yourself to a few close friends on Facebook or have a YouTube channel with a following of several million, it’s all the same. People’s approval matters – a lot. Although I would never insinuate that seeking connection with others is wrong, I would like you to ask a larger question: what is the intention of your interactions?
Being vs. Doing
There are two types of leaders. One wants to be great. The other wants to do something great. The first seeks fame. She wants to be seen as special in some way. She wants her peers to think she’s smart or beautiful or creative or talented or maybe even supremely messed up (defined by problems, like being bipolar or dealing with struggle). Her focus is approval and how others respond either feeds or tears down her self-esteem. The second seeks the pursuit of an idea or a calling. She wants her project to be successful. Her focus is the goal and her actions are dictated by achieving that goal. How others respond is still important, but only to further her cause. Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t remembered because he was handsome, a good speaker, and clever. Sure, he was all those things. But so are a lot of people. He is remembered because he furthered a cause. It was his dream of ending inequality that resonated with so many and became bigger than the man who represented it.
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Your Public Mission
What is your cause? I’m not suggesting you become the next Martin Luther King Jr., but there are ways to make your public interactions align with your values and represent something more meaningful. For example, let’s say your focus is on being a good grandmother and friend. Your cause, in this case, would be to spread love, support, and uplift. Think about how you can do that in both the online and offline world. I have a dear friend who passed away from cancer a couple of years ago. She was a grandmother, and one of the last things she ever said to me was: “I’m so sick of the negativity in this world. I never talk about doom and gloom around my kids or grandkids. How could I do that to them? They need hope for the future.” Her way of showing love and support was by sharing only positivity with her family. And she continued with that theme online – only posting uplifting messages and staying away from stories of lack. My cousin and his wife lost their 2-year-old son a few years ago and, on the week of his passing, their family spends each day doing an act of service and remembering him. On Monday, they go out for his favorite food. On Tuesday, his siblings write notes of remembrance, and they visit his grave. The rest of the week, they tie quilts for kids at a local hospital. All of this is documented on Instagram and Facebook.
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The couple’s public mission is family and giving to those who have struggled through hardships like them. Your public mission doesn’t need to have a service flavor at all. Maybe it’s about having fun and uplifting others by telling crazy jokes or finding weird stuff online. Maybe it’s about
sharing your artwork or involving others in creative thought exercises. It’s easy to default to the norm of posting photos of cool places you traveled and reposting cute quotes or recipes. But what makes these posts meaningful to you? Are there ways to deepen your connection with those you care about?
Posting with Your Legacy in Mind
Sure, silly videos are fun. So are quizzes and games. A news story here and there is great. But what do your posts, as a whole, say about you and your personal mission? Take some time googling yourself. Look through your posts on Facebook or Instagram. Is this the kind of person you want to be perceived as? Who in your life do you care most about? Do your posts connect with these people? Or are your posts mostly spam or junk or trying to impress people you haven’t spoken with in years (if ever)? As with anything, the most important part to your online legacy is intent. What is the intent of your posts? Do you want to look cool for your friends? Do you want to make everyone jealous about the vacation you just went on? Or look like you’re doing awesome things too? Is your intent to get the most likes? (Time to start adding some cute animals to your videos!) When your intent is less about keeping up with your peers and more about making sincere connections, it will change your paradigm. It may lead to less attention on the whole, but it will result in deeper oneon-one connections and a feeling of true engagement.
Laura A. Roser is the founder and CEO of Paragon Road, the #1 authority in meaning legacy planning. For more information about meaning legacy planning services, visit www.paragonroad.com.
Escape the Matrix
Certainly, social media is a tool for connection, but you may want to consider how much impact you want it to have on your life and legacy as a whole. In other words, at the end of your life, do you want people to say, “Gee, Hermit Dan sure posted a lot of great anecdotes online! His pictures of crazy cookies are something I will always treasure”? Or do you want them to remember actually seeing you – in the real world? Perhaps the best use for social media is to invite people to dinner parties, real-world meetups, or even a video chat. These genuine real-life connections are what build friendships. Your online posts are passive billboards that may attract attention, but, when all is said and done, I’d rather have a few close friends who I’d do anything for (and vice versa) than millions giving my video about animals a thumbs up. And if I promote a noble cause that resonates with massive amounts of people, it’ll be the cause that matters. Not the gimmicks I use to obtain fame for myself. At least that’s my hope. The lure of fame is pretty strong, and the temptation to do something solely for the novelty of it – to get more clicks – is a trap I hope to avoid. Only time will tell. n
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Raising Children to be Healthy, Wealthy & Wise Ballentine Partners, LLC Partner and Chief Wealth Advisory Officer, Coventry Edwards-Pitt, hones in on positive outcomes to show parents how they can raise their children to reflect family values in affluent circumstances. by Amanda Kelly
ow to teach our children to be responsible and self-sufficient adults is a thought lurking in the minds of many, if not all, parents. Yet the challenge of raising children is often complicated in unique ways for wealthy families who wish to raise children to be grounded and independent despite the affluent environment in which such children are being raised. Coventry Edwards-Pitt, who goes more simply by Covie, is an industry expert in wealth planning and helping her clients to align their wealth impact with their family values and goals. She champions stories of positive parenting outcomes for wealthy families in her book “Raised Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” “I hope my book shows a path for what works, focusing on how raising children in wealthy families can go right,” Covie says. “I’m a positive person, so I wanted to talk about the exception to what is seemingly typical for wealthy families.”
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A More “Hands-Off” Approach It’s not easy for parents to take a step back and allow children to succeed or fail on their own. In fact, this might seem counterintuitive in an era when helicopter parenting is the norm rather than the exception. Parents want their children to be successful. However, part of this success is latent in a child’s exposure to a world beyond their personal experiences. Covie suggests that as much as possible, parents should strive to transfer a sense of accountability and independence to their children. When a child receives the space to make decisions, it cultivates a sense of personal responsibility. What this might look like in terms of day-to-day parenting can begin with something as straightforward as letting kids chose how to spend their own allowance — transferring simple decision-making from the parent to the child.
“All kinds of behavior changes come from giving children ownership in their decisions, including how to earn their own money. A healthy and wise child develops the ability to overcome setbacks on his or her own without relying on parents’ resources.”
Is it Ever Too Little, Too Late? For parents who believe their child has moved beyond reproach, Covie offers an alternative perspective. “Parents who are able to reflect on their own behavior can change any situation,” she says. “For a variety of reasons, behind every child living in some financially dependent way is a parent who is the source of those funds making that situation possible.” So, what can parents of financially dependent adult children do? Covie outlines three stages parents can adopt to change a situation in which an adult child is financially dependent:
Coventry Edwards-Pitt (Covie) is a Partner and the Chief Wealth Advisory Officer at Ballentine Partners, LLC. In 2015 and 2016, Private Asset Management recognized Covie as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Private Wealth.” Covie’s book Raised Healthy, Wealthy & Wise, highlights the positive experiences of inheritors who go on to lead grounded and productive lives. She has been a featured speaker at over 70 events for wealth-owning families and their advisors. Covie has been quoted widely in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Investment News. Covie is also a trained opera singer and pianist. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents’ Organization and the Collaboration for Family Flourishing, a community of professionals and family members devoted to helping families flourish across multiple generations of wealth.
Stage One: Recognition In this stage, parents recognize that they are not satisfied with the skills their child has developed. For example, a parent might accept an adult child cannot stand on his own two feet.
Nurturing an Optimistic Legacy
Stage Two: Ask the question - Why is this happening? Parents of dependent adult children must be willing to look at themselves and determine the root cause of the problem. Covie says at this point most parents need to be willing to accept culpability for their child’s behavior. Ask — what behaviors I am enabling in my child?
Covie has worked in the financial advising industry for 14 years, but looking back on her life, she finds it funny how everything came full circle. It was early in Covie’s career at Goldman Sachs when a colleague’s sudden passing prompted her to question whether or not she had found her true calling.
Stage Three: Commit to Making Changes At this point, parents initiate a conversation with their child and convey the intention to change a situation over a period of time. “It’s challenging, A, to have the conversation,” says Covie, “and B, to stick to the plan you put in place. Weening is the best metaphor. The change should be spread out over a year or so.”
“It was kind of a wakeup call,” she says. “I started consulting and through that process, realized I could still have a meaningful impact on my clients’ lives through a very consultative humanistic objective.” The relationships Covie developed with her clients ultimately inspired her to write her book. “When you write things, your words live on. In writing a book, my positive messages move beyond my clients and can reach people all over. I hope that it will continue to reach as many people as possible.” n
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Empowering Women THROUGH STORY SheStories Founder Anasa Troutman Supports, Encourages, and Trains Women to Flourish
by Timothy Hutchinson Beginnings
As a child, Anasa describes herself as painfully shy. She gravitated to music, books, and movies. Her father loved the Star Trek saga, and they would binge watch the movies during Star Trek marathons. This lit an interest in science fiction. In her reading, she discovered Octavia Butler. Octavia Butler was an award winning black female science fiction writer who created a world where her protagonist was shy and socially awkward. The stories had themes of social justice. This seemed to be an author tailor made for Ms. Troutman. She, as the protagonists in Butlerâ€™s books, overcame their social awkwardness and fought for social justice. With inspiration from Butler, Troutman found her own voice and broke from her shyness.
Ms. Troutman arrived at her current project like a skipping stone across a pond. She was a self-described nerd as the aforementioned avid reader and lover of science fiction. Early in her career, she was on a pre-med course, but her love of the arts sent her stone spinning in a new direction. She started a record label, providing marketing and promotion for artists that signed with her. The harsh realities of the music industry proved incompatible with her more gentle, idealistic disposition. With the coaxing of friends, Anasa pivoted to politics. While she shared viewpoints and hearts and minds of her political friends, but she found that politics lacked the branding and marketing that could make a greater impact. Realizing that she could combine her marketing skills, love of arts, and openhearted values with love at the center
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in a new business, Anasa started Eloveate, where she could produce and distribute content for maximum social and political impact. Her goal is to support those whose message of love is central in their work Reconnecting with her inner nerd, Troutman also started Shelectricity, where she taught girls of color art and technology.
The SheStories Project
Already focused on equipping girls through Shelectricity, the 2016 election frustrated Anasa as blatant sexism seemed to abound. She felt a large number of people were
Anasa Troutman seeks to provide women the training, opportunity, and production assistance for women across the world to tell their own personal stories. Her latest project SheStories is an online platform that allows women to take workshops, go on retreats, train for live performances, and work with filmed productions of their stories. Read more about Anasa Troutman’s projects at shestories.net, anasatroutman.com, and eloveate.net. voting against a woman rather than voting for a candidate. She concluded that women needed a place to tell their stories, so she formed her current project SheStories. a platform for regular women to tell their stories. Troutman comments, “Telling stories is liberating, healing, and empowering. It touches the heart. It makes people aware of and relate to the female perspectives.” But Troutman believes SheStories is for everyone — men and women. Since men rarely hear women’s stories, men gain an insight to the female experience. SheStories currently is a work in progress in the form these stories will take. Podcasts are promised later in 2017. Featured twoday workshops are planned in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles where SheStories staff will teach storytelling techniques, and students will write their stories. SheStories also will offer retreats for a more immersive experience as participants will take part in group and individual exercises as the hone their storytelling skills. The retreat culminates in a video production of the participants’ stories. Aside from these workshops, SheStories will offer video production services to individual, groups, companies, and organizations to produce content aligned with the company or organizational themes for campaigns, marketing, and other digital purposes. Finally, SheStories will offer live events. That will feature women telling their stories on stage in front of a live audience. SheStories Live! events will feature professional storytellers and notable women telling stories around a central theme. SheStories Live! can also be the culminating event of a SheStories Workshop or retreat allowing the participants to perform in front of family, friends, and community. Anasa is excited to announce a fall series of three events at Deepak’s Homebase at NYC’s ABC Carpet & Home.
How SheStories Impacts Her Legacy
Troutman describes love as a core value that governs how we treat each other how we govern, conduct commerce, and how we create. To Troutman, love is the legacy she wishes to impart to future generations. Her goal would be to have millions of women across the world participate in SheStories workshops and tell their story. Anasa reflects, “What greater impact could I hope for than to have women all over the world tell their stories?” n
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Give Today. Your Blood Donation Matters.
Find a Driv
ve in Your Area
TRANSFORMING ESTATE PLANNING into Legacy Planning Michael Stuart’s estate planning practice focuses on issues far more meaningful than wills, trusts, and tax planning. by Daniel Slone
ichael Stuart is an attorney, but he is quick to argue that his profession has trained its clients too well. “They think that lawyers draft documents, financial planners build wealth, and CPAs deal with taxes. The problem is that we’ve convinced them that this is all we do.” Stuart argues that clients are better served when professionals dispense with what he terms “siloed thinking” and instead dig deeper into the motivations that underlie the client’s wishes. “I take a different tack: Rather than just trying to solve whatever problem the client presents, I ask why they want to resolve that particular issue. What’s the impact on their family?” Stuart’s unconventional approach results in questions one doesn’t normally expect to hear from an attorney. Who were the angels and heroes in your life? What was it like growing up? What kind of family life did you have? Are there spirituality practices in your family? What lifetime experiences have you had? What charitable impulses do you have? Answering those foundational questions enables an otherwise dry legal document to express the client’s legacy. It is no secret that, all too often, inherited money tears a family apart. Stuart’s practice is instead about helping the family understand that there is more at stake than just the money. “The ultimate goal is to enhance family relationships to make the transition easier, more affordable, and more beneficial and valuable to the people we serve. If we can help them understand that there is more to this than just the money, we can focus on their hopes and dreams and put that into the documents.” Such divergence from the traditional approach to estate planning begs the question of what led Stuart down this path. “I always
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wanted to be a person who people could turn to — a resource in their time of need, someone who could address their deepest needs — and build a long-term relationship with,” he explains. “But everyone said I couldn’t do that; I needed to do probate court and court calls and all those things that are traditionally part of this job. All I knew was that as I dealt with clients, something was missing — something I couldn’t quite identify.”
One Letter Changed Everything
A bundle of his father’s papers, found in his stepsister’s basement, solved the riddle for Stuart. “My dad died when I was 11, so I never truly got to know him,” he explains. “I often thought that if he had written me a letter, telling me his hopes and dreams and wisdom, I would have read that letter a million times.” It turned out that among the papers was a letter that Stuart’s father had written to his own father at the age of 20. “The letter began, ‘Dear Papa, I can no longer live at home; we fight too much. This is the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write. Don’t try to find me.’ I was in tears as I read on, and ultimately it led me to a realization.” Stuart had recognized a new paradigm. “I started asking my clients about that letter that I wished I had from my own father: ‘If you could capture your hopes and dreams and wisdom for your kids, what would you tell them?’ That question changed my relationship with my clients.” An attorney can create a trust that will last for 100, even 500, years, but there also needs to
be some way of passing down guidance. “How else can your descendants know what you intended for the wealth you created and passed down?” Stuart points out. Stuart offers the example of one family who had been clients for 20 years. The parents — both of whom had passed away — had purchased land, and now the question of what to do with it had arisen. “I sat down with their children, all now in their fifties. When I asked what their parents had intended for the land, they explained that they had a vision that the land would remain in the family. Yet there were about 25-30 grandchildren who would one day inherit shares of the land.” It was clear that without a long-term solution, eventually someone would want to sell, at best breaking up the land and at worst tearing the family apart. “I had them draft a legacy statement that explained what they thought their parents would have wanted for the land and then created a family board of directors to make future decisions about the property guided by that intent.” Sometimes the needs are more simple — just to capture a snapshot of a person for descendants who may never know him. “I had a couple who were clients. The husband was just a really nice guy, salt of the earth, but he was suffering from a long-term terminal illness. One day at my office he was reminiscing about his military service, saying how much he had enjoyed it, and he started telling stories. Before long, I noticed that his wife was in tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she said that she had never heard those stories before.” Stuart offered to come to their home and record his story to preserve those memories. “It was moving and emotional and wonderful, all at the same time, to be able to give the family something that they can share forever.”
Obstacles to a Purposeful Financial Legacy
Asked what sorts of obstacles he encounters in his practice, Stuart readily names two: fear and control. “I find that things that happened 35 years ago come up when we start talking about legacy planning. I’ve literally had kids who were in their fifties arguing about things that happened when they were teenagers but were just never resolved. I honestly think that a lot of these family meetings should be held with a psychologist there who can spot these issues and deal with them.” The question of who will have control of the estate
As the founder and visionary of a thriving law firm, The Stuart Legacy Alliance, LLC, Michael Stuart has also co-founded a multi-disciplinary consulting firm, The Family Legacy Alliance, LLC (FLA), which seeks to collaboratively combine varied disciplines from estate planning to psychology to better serve clients’ needs. Mr. Stuart has developed a process that professionals and business owners can use to guide them through the complex issues they face during transition. It is FLA’s goal to help them achieve their personal and financial goals and a gain peace of mind. As a holistic estate planner, Michael works in concert with his clients’ financial advisors, CPAs, insurance advisors, and other financial and legal professionals to ensure that all plans developed truly have the clients’ goals and objectives in mind. often arises and can make for heated disputes — sometimes while one parent is still alive. “I had a family with five kids whose father had passed away. The oldest son was a CPA, and his brother was a financial planner. They sat for 20 minutes arguing about who would control their mother’s finances, in front of me — and their mother.” The fear of “losing out” is unfortunately all too common. Stuart also insists that family meetings regarding estate issues should be just that — a family meeting, meaning no spouses, no children. “The siblings can argue and ultimately decide things, but people from outside the family shouldn’t be involved in those decisions.” Stuart envisions a day when the standard in his profession can be legacy planning, not tax planning or estate planning. “I’d like to see the industry as a whole talk more about legacy. Some lawyers are starting to include it, but adoption has been slow. It’s time to replace How much money do I have? with What good things can my money do? How can it make lives better?” n
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Finding Purpose Through Disaster The Real-Life Inspirational Adventures of Michele Averill by James E. Sullivan
On October 17, 1989, a disaster struck California. The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake killed 63 people and collapsed a section of the upper deck of the Oakland freeway. The earthquake caused millions of dollars in damages, of which the effects are still being felt in the San Francisco Bay Area. On that same day, 19-year-old dental assistant Michele Harris was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The diagnosis felt as earth shaking as the 6.9 magnitude earthquake. Michele felt her life was over. Reeling from the devastating effects of the earthquake centered so close to Michele’s home in Corralitos, her life felt as shattered as the infrastructures around her. Luckily, the strong support of her family, friends, and the vital resources of the UCSF Medical Center, including one of the world’s most prominent brain surgeons, were readily available to provide comfort and healing to her in the midst of chaos.
New Purpose This became a pivotal time in Michele’s life. She not only survived the surgery, but her brain tumor was successfully removed, and she was well on her way to living a normal teenage life. Michele began to take a new look both in and outward toward the next steps of her life. Feeling the sheer joy of living, sparks flew, her spirit barely contained. She left the dental field and pursued a new career in healthcare that would provide a purposeful path forward. Understanding the uncertainty a person and family goes through while waiting for a diagnosis or treatment, she wanted to help patients and their families during those difficult times. Using both the triumph over the earthquake and tumor as metaphors, they gave Michele’s life a new purpose. She let
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neither the Loma Prieta Earthquake nor her brain tumor get the best of her. The most compelling and inspirational sights she witnessed during those tent-city days of post-Prieta were the unflinching works of the Red Cross and other social service organizations that mobilized to feed the hungry, provide shelter and basic needs for families, and countless other silent and selfless acts of generosity and humanity. Simple acts by men and women of all races, creeds, and ages gave a glimmer of hope and belief that maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Seeing the tremendous efforts exerted by volunteers, who gave their all for others, with nothing asked in return, Michele resolved to become the best person she could, no matter the challenges.
Giving Back Michele’s work gave her several opportunities to give back to the community in a way that Michele sees success bringing the right people together to achieve a common goal. “It’s about collaboration and partnerships and those amazing people you surround yourself with. I love connecting people to make great things happen,” Michele says. Michele was attending a Gilroy Rotary Club meeting, listened as the Master Gardeners of Silicon Valley presented their beautiful projects, and heard their need for more space to garden. Michele’s love for gardening naturally made her want to help, and she worked with Saint Louise Regional Hospital in creating the South County Teaching and Demonstration Garden on the Saint Louise campus. Together they worked on fundraising for irrigation and other supplies to make the garden prosper and brought in the community to enjoy it – not only those who donated – but those who seemed to need it most, from the homeless to those who were recovering from illnesses. The food grown in the garden is donated to a local family service center.
The Blessing of Mentoring Seven years into Michele’s new career in healthcare, she was promoted to the CEO of the Foundation at Saint Louise Regional Hospital where she became very familiar with the Board of Directors. Mr. George Chiala Sr., who was the chair of the board, became a pillar of Michele’s life. Chiala and his family were innovators in the ever-growing farming and agrarian industry in the area. Chiala was both a philanthropist and a force for positive change in people’s lives within the community. Ms. Averill and Mr. Chiala became fast friends and, more importantly, Chiala took Averill under his mentorship wings. Michele had survived the earthquake, the brain tumor, and under Mr. Chiala’s tutelage, she would have the strength of character to grow while helping other people. They both shared the same passion for becoming catalysts for positive changes in other people’s lives.
Expanding Opportunities to Serve Michele left healthcare and moved to her current position as CEO of the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. Michele saw the unselfish efforts of the volunteers of all stripes, colors, and ages in her new work. She loves to share how the amazing cadre of volunteers performed selfless acts for others. Michele often wrestled with a question about their volunteers: “What makes the first responders, such as the police, fire, or EMT, run in to burning buildings and put their lives at risk? What makes a person volunteer day in and day out for the sake of giving others hope? The spirit that a better day is coming.” Their reckless abandon was inspirational. In fact, 96% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. Amazing, remarkable, and inspirational people whose dedication and resiliency are contagious. Michele loves hosting events to bring the community together. One of the most successful events is the Farm to Table Dinner. With an amazing group of local chefs donating their time, resources, and talent to the event, Michele organized the Annual Farm to Table Dinner at Carmel Valley Ranch. The goal was to help people learn about their local Red Cross chapter and the variety of services available, all while having a phenomenal meal. The event helps build relationships and connect people together.
Overcoming Adversity to Serve Others The mentorship skills that George Chiala nurtured and grew within Michele gave her the ability not to limit herself, but to constantly improve upon her natural abilities and to prove to herself that the struggles she experienced only made her stronger. The mentorship gave Michele that chance to impart a legacy of her own, about making a difference in other people’s lives.
Michele Averill is chief executive officer (CEO) of the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross. As CEO of the chapter that serves the residents in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties, Averill oversees the work of six employees and almost 800 local volunteers who provide disaster support and other services to a population of approximately 750,000 residents. She and approximately 40 community leaders who serve on the chapter’s two Boards of Directors strive to efficiently and effectively carry out the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. Michele works every day at the Red Cross. That cooperation goes beyond what most people think — of bringing disaster relief and blood supply — and extends to so much more, helping families of the armed forces and restoring family links “It’s an honor and privilege to help the Red Cross provide support to our three counties,” Michele says. “Having the opportunity to do this kind of work with such a tremendous corps of volunteer and paid staff makes it especially rewarding.” Michele adds that the many individuals, businesses, and corporate partners providing support to the Red Cross play an essential role in the organization’s success. “The resources we are able to provide during periods of greatest need only happen because of the generosity of our donors and volunteers. We could not do our work successfully without first building effective partnerships with community members, donors, and local agencies.” When Michele was asked what she wanted her legacy to be, she knew it would not be financial, but rather one that was more of an emotional impact. Michele’s legacy is one where the people in her life and community know that she cared, that they can make a difference, and together they will make a community stronger. Michele found the greatest joy in believing in people and their abilities and helping them believe it for themselves. A legacy is not necessarily about leaving material items behind for people; it’s about instilling a belief that resides within people. Michele’s legacy is one of compassion and caring, a legacy she learned through the values her parents, family, and friends instilled in her, and through surviving her own health battle. It is a legacy of inspiration and heart, of which George would be proud and would want others to be inspired to serve as well. Find out how you can help by visiting redcross.org. James E. Sullivan is a master’s candidate in military history with Norwich University and the editor of At Ease Soldier. n
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CREATING A LEGACY of Healthy Decisions An Interview with Emily Oster by Laura Roser
LR: Tell us about your work and where your passion lies related to your research.
EO: My work focuses on health economics and, in particular, on understanding when people make choices that do not seem in their best interest with respect to their health. Much of my earlier work focused on these issues in the developing world. I studied, for example, why there was not much change in sexual behavior in Africa in response to the HIV epidemic. My more recent work takes up similar question in the USA. At the moment, I am engaged in a series of projects which study dietary choices and what types of information or other changes can prompt improvements in diet. The thing that drives me in much of my work is the goal of understanding what data is telling us about how people behave, about what policies are the best, or simply about how the world works. There is no better moment in my research when I realize I have learned something new from data – something no one else knows – and I’ll be able to share it. This goal of understanding data also drives the second arm of my research, which focuses on improving the use of statistical tools to learn from data. Data can be wonderful, but used incorrectly it can also pull us far astray. Developing better, easy to use, tools to improve our understanding of statistical relationships can help us draw the right conclusions – and not the wrong ones – from the data.
LR: What influenced your research toward economics and health?
EO: Prior to becoming an economist I had designs on being a doctor. I think this is still evident in much of my work. I like the tools and the central ideas in economics, but topic-wise my heart is really in the health space. One of the things that is really special about my job is that I can combine these two.
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LR: How should our readers think about health related to the legacy they are leaving?
EO: In the United States, in particular, there is enormous inequality in health outcomes across socioeconomic groups. Several years ago I did a project on infant mortality in the US and Europe. It is well known that the USA has extremely high infant mortality relative to Europe. By some metrics it is twice or three times as high as the most successful European countries. Our paper delved into the reasons for this and one of the most striking findings was that well-off women in the US (those with a college education or more) had infant mortality rates virtually indistinguishable from their counterparts in Europe. The difference was that less well educated mothers in the US has dramatically higher infant mortality than similar cohorts in Europe. This inequality extends to other parts of the life course. Poorer individuals in the US are more likely to die at all ages, are more likely to be overweight and obese, have more heart disease, strokes and cancer. They are also more likely to have conditions like opioid dependence. Knowing how to use a legacy to impact these problems is difficult. We do not have many good evidence-based solutions for these issues. It may be self-serving, but funding research into solutions is an approach which could help in the even slightly longer run. We have little or no idea, for example, how to produce sustained improvements in diet, which would have positive impacts on all kinds of health outcomes. Learning more about what works would be a first step.
Emily Oster is a professor of economics at Brown University. Prior to coming to Brown she was an associate professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research. She earned her BA and her PhD from Harvard, in 2002 and 2006, respectively. She works on health economics, including studies of diabetes, infant mortality, and Huntington Disease. She is the author of a book on pregnancy, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know.
LR: What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind for your family, community, and world?
EO: I hope my best legacy will be my children. But from my work I hope to ultimately deepen our understanding of what works to change behavior and what doesn’t.
LR: What is one principle from your research that our readers could use for practical decision making for future health care decisions?
EO: Take this example. Let’s say there is a disease that affects 1 in 10,000 people. There is a test for the disease. Everyone who has the disease receives a positive test result. Most people who do not have the disease get a negative test result. 2% of healthy people will get a positive test result. These are “false positives.” Still, this is a great test. Now imagine you get a positive test result. What is the chance you have the disease? Most people would say quite high - maybe close to 100%, 98%, maybe 99%. In fact, this is also what many doctors answer when faced with this question. The answer is actually about 0.5% - that is, one half of one percent, or 1 in 200. Once you know this, it is easy to see why it’s true. Since the disease is rare, most people do not have it. 2% of those who do not have it - so 200 of every 10,000 - will be a false positive. But within that 10,000 people there is only ONE true positive. So even if your test result is positive, it is still very likely you are healthy. This rule is important because of the tendency most people have to want to ACT on health information, especially bad news. Over-reacting to a test of this type and this is a common feature for many kinds of tests - can create problems where there are none. Taking a step back, repeating the test if necessary, trying another diagnostic test to be sure - these are all crucially important things in making sure you end up making the right decisions. n
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ENDURING There are families of enduring greatness. They have achieved excellence in times past, yet continue to pursue what made them great. They have stories to tell. They embody high character, are celebrated throughout history and loved by all who know them.
Whatâ€™s your legacy?
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THE POWER OF
Giving Together Why Valeri Bocage Believes that Borders Do Not Confine Women by Faith Coates
aleri believes that when women work together using their natural gifts of empathy, compassion, and altruism, they will shape and change their communities and the world. She believes that borders do not confine women’s philanthropy, either locally or globally, and that when women work together and support each other’s power, they are world changers. This giving allows women to find their true passion, which will light their lives, provide them with a level of personal success, and create a legacy of global philanthropy. Valeri says her vision is to support “compassionate women leaders using their innate gifts and expanding their leadership roles to be catalysts for positive change in society, resulting in a better world, especially for children.”
knew that her drive for helping others needed to become the focus of her life, if her life was to have a deeper purpose.
Powerful Women International Connections (PWIC) began in 2006 as a direct result of Valeri losing everything to Hurricane Katrina. Surviving the hurricane, and her subsequent move to San Francisco, motivated Valeri to work towards her heartfelt passion for helping other women. Valeri
Valeri says, “I believe that everyone has a God-given path and purpose. However, we don’t always fulfill it. Most of us only yearn to do so. This misalignment is usually due to how a person is raised, their circumstances, and the perceived need to
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PWIC was formed after the move and through Valeri’s attempts to find a place where she could develop a collaborative network focused on championing women in communities throughout the world in their goal of community development. PWIC is intended to become the foundation of a global movement of powerful women making change. This foundation is built upon the ethos of mutual support, sharing of resources (both personal and business), and a network of giving.
A Purpose-filled Path
make money just to live. Yet we all have the capacity to impact and inspire. I firmly believe that we all have a desire (and the ability) to do something bigger than ourselves.” The legacy of Valeri and the women involved in PWIC is to ensure that other women continue to understand how that legacy works in their own lives. PWIC’s core belief is that women naturally give of themselves and exchange ideas, resources, information, and support to carry on their community work. “In bringing women together through PWIC, we can each give of our resources to help each other. Making a difference in the world makes us all richer.” Valeri strongly believes in the power of women. “Women need to believe in themselves and their innate gifts and share that legacy with their communities and the world.” Valeri believes that is the gift that women bring to a community. When you are not caught up in the belief that your life is all about making money and getting something, you can concentrate on giving to others and creating a legacy for your children and their future.
The Energy of Giving
When the first group of women began to meet, it was clear to Valeri that the “energy of giving is just so rich. What we were doing was building relationships to further the world. It was easy and organic just simply connecting with each other and nourishing each other’s passions. It allowed us to put things into perspective, make people feel better, connect with each other so we could exchange personal resources on issues like health and wellness, and then connect to each other’s causes and local projects. Women became united by their true passions, and that inspired other women to connect with their true passions.”
Valeri was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. As a result of Hurricane Katrina, she lost everything, except her indomitable spirit and true passion for life. She took the loss as an opportunity to start a whole new life. She moved to San Francisco to fulfill her dream of “empowering women to impact the world.” PWIC has received accolades from Congress, including Barbara Lee, Oakland, CA Congresswoman, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Houston, TX Congresswoman, and the Obama Administration for her work with empowering women. Powerful Women International Connections upcoming conference is Connecting, Educating, and Collaborating with Humanitarian Leaders for Positive Global Change 2nd Annual Global Impact Conference, November 2-3, 2017, San Francisco, CA. Currently PWIC is putting its focus into three main projects. The first focus is to assist with educating, connecting, and collaborating with its members so that they can make a bigger impact in the world. The second focus is supporting and re-building the Holistic Care & Counseling Center School that was founded in 1994 by Grace Gitaka. The third focus is to assist in Reducing Recidivism and enhancing the lives of those incarcerated with support and prison reform. PWIC supports people coming out of prison by providing confidence enhancement and teaching them how to recognize their innate talents and skills. PWIC is hoping to purchase land in Michigan to provide a structured environment where the ex-prisoners can build their own quality homes and, in that process, learn employability, personal, and professional skills, from business management to entrepreneurship, which will enable them to turn their lives around. n
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A Legacy of Learning The Heart of the Man Who Built the Foundational Philanthropy Reader by Michael Moody
grew up all across the country – including a stint in Puerto Rico during kindergarten – but both sides of my family have deep roots in northern Indiana, and that’s where I ended up finishing high school. There were some hard times in my childhood, and we got by at times because of the generosity of others – individuals and institutions, some strangers, some not. Looking back now I can see how this gave me an early appreciation of what I later came to think of, broadly speaking, as philanthropy. I saw how much we all rely on voluntary contributions of support of all kinds, and how our society depends critically on formal and informal giving. Of course, I didn’t have a way of thinking about this systematically at the time.
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Desiring to Do Good
I went off to Indiana University with a vague idea that I wanted to “do good.” While there, I got, heavily involved in organizing student volunteers to work in local nonprofits, but it wasn’t until the two years after I graduated that I found a way to make sense of this work and to see how I best fit into it. Or rather, I should say, I was given a way to make sense. Because like other lucky people, my story includes an influential mentor, someone who helps you see the world in new ways while finding your own path in it, and asks in return only that you carry on the legacy they are passing on to you. For me, that mentor was Robert L. Payton, the creative force behind the founding of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana (now the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy).
I went to work for Mr. Payton (as I always called him) as one of the first employees of the new Center. Over those two years, I took a crash course from him in the theory and practice of philanthropy. His way of thinking about philanthropy as moral action through which all cultures across time have defined and pursued a vision of “the public good” clicked with the 21-year-old me – the nebulously altruistic and philosophically minded kid. It gave me a way of understanding those parts of the world that I knew I wanted to be a part of and promote somehow, the parts where people come together voluntarily for good purposes and where they choose to use their valuable resources to enrich others, not themselves. Mr. Payton’s legacy is to help people, like he helped me, make sense of philanthropy’s essential place in all societies. And that is the legacy I’ve tried to carry on in my career since.
Seeing Philanthropy in Our Lives
I went on to graduate at the University of Chicago and Princeton, earning a PhD in sociology, and have pursued a career of teaching, studying, and writing about philanthropy – including co-authoring a book with my mentor called Understanding Philanthropy, publishing in 2008 a few years before he passed. I’ve always focused this teaching and writing on audiences inside and outside the academy, and this continues significantly in my current work as the nation’s first endowed chair in family philanthropy. As the Frey Foundation Chair, I help people appreciate and navigate the rapidly changing, complex world of giving by shining a light on the connections between philanthropy and their lived experience – whether they are a grad student or a major donor, whether they run a family foundation, or advise people looking to be more effective in their giving. I try to straddle the worlds of scholarship and practice.
The Purpose of The Philanthropy Reader
The Philanthropy Reader brings together in one place nearly 100 excerpts of the most seminal and illuminating writing about philanthropy, from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates, from Aristotle to the Dalai Lama. My partner in the project – Dr. Beth Breeze from the University of Kent
Michael P. Moody, PhD is the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can purchase The Philanthropy Reader at https://www.routledge.com/ The-Philanthropy-Reader/MoodyBreeze/p/book/9781138903593. in Canterbury, England – and I had both heard the same question for years, from students as well as from donors and those who advise them. They asked, “What’s the best book for me to start reading about philanthropy?” So we created The Philanthropy Reader to be that book. But we explicitly designed the Reader to be a resource that had broad appeal to people with different sorts of interests and experiences with philanthropy. The readings cover philanthropy as it has been practiced in different ways across time and across the globe. They cover how different intellectual disciplines – from economics to anthropology – understand and explain philanthropy, as well as how donors and professionals in the field talk about their giving. And the readings cover both sides of many “big debates” raging right now about philanthropy – e.g., debates around new “strategic” methods of philanthropy, about how philanthropy should fit alongside government and business, and about what is the right relationship between “those who give” and “those who get.” We created The Reader as more than just a textbook. We hope it can be a handy resource that advisors can give to clients to help them – as Mr. Payton helped me – make sense of and find their way in this often confusing world of philanthropy. And we hope it can help giving families find guidance and inspiration – even if that comes in one turn of phrase they find in the book, from John Wesley or Booker T. Washington or an international scholar of philanthropy they’ve never heard of before.
Stewarding My Legacy
Very simply, I want to steward the legacy I inherited from Mr. Payton, the legacy of helping others see the vital role philanthropy plays in all of our lives, and of helping them use this insight to go out and expand and improve the practice of giving in all its diverse expressions. Like all good stewards, I hope to pass on that legacy even better than I received it, and for me this means bringing this powerful way of understanding philanthropy to ever more diverse audiences – whether that means working with new sorts of family donors in the U.S. or emerging philanthropists in other parts of the world. I can only hope The Philanthropy Reader is a tool for this work of which Mr. Payton would be proud. n
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A Wealth of Values
Monroe Diefendorf Wants to Redefine the Meaning of Inheritance by Christopher Zacher
onroe Diefendorf understands the importance of strong financial planning. Having been born into Diefendorf Capital’s life insurance legacy, founded by his great-grandfather in 1875, Monroe (who goes by Roey) found a place for himself in the family business, working alongside his father. He sold his first life insurance policy before he was even out of high school and worked his way up to the position of CEO. While the company thrived under Roey’s leadership, he has come
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to realize over the last few decades that financial planning extends beyond simple asset allocation. Roey, who holds degrees in Estate Planning, Insurance, and Psychology (alongside numerous certifications) says, “You’ve got to really understand what matters most. It’s more than money.” He adds, “Unless you wrap your values around valuables, you’ve got nothing.” In 2014, Diefendorf transitioned (under Roey’s direction) into 3 Dimensional
Wealth Advisory, a company focused on managing the “total” wealth of the families they work with. “The pitfalls of wealth are well-documented,” says Roey. “The family’s values are the saving grace. You can transfer wealth across generations, but how do you transfer values? This is where we step in.” His own family couldn’t have been prouder of how he re-directed the company’s trajectory. When Roey started 3 Dimensional Wealth, his father said, “I’ve never been more excited than by what you’re doing today.” “Total wealth management should be the overarching scope of one’s planning. By “total,” I’m referring to both tangible and intangible assets. When you start to understand that paradigm, now you can truly make an impact.”
The Importance of Family
Having grown up next door to his grandfather, who also worked as Diefendorf’s chief executive, Roey knows the value of a close-knit family. “He was my best friend,” Roey says. On the day he started work, Roey’s father told him, “If you do the right thing, you’ll never have to worry about money.” As a company that focuses on families instead of individuals, 3 Dimensional Wealth operates with Monroe Sr.’s advice in mind, aiming to help families “establish a healthy root system for their family trees.” To achieve this, Roey holds annual forums in which families are invited to participate in activities helping them strengthen their value structures. Through an assessment of their own personal, financial, and social wealth, families work toward an understanding of how they can best extend that wealth to their relatives and others. Additionally, he encourages connectivity and communication among extended families, staying up-to-date with who is doing what. This facilitates a common awareness that helps families to ask questions of themselves concerning how they can perpetuate their legacy.
Monroe Diefendorf, Jr. is CEO of 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory and is the 4th generation of his family in the business. As an industry leader, Roey has co-authored three books: Wealth: Enhancement & Preservation - 1995 and 21st Century Wealth – 2000 and 3 Dimensional Wealth: A Radically Sane Perspective On Wealth Management - 2005. In December 2013, Roey introduced, A Better Way: Using Purposeful Trusts to Preserve Values & Valuables in Perpetuity. Since then he has written over eight other books in the area of trust and trust administration. Over the years he has been a speaker at several international industry conferences and has made several guest appearances on the Cable TV program, “Dollars & Sense.” On February 7, 2014, Roey launched 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory as a continuation to the 139 years as Diefendorf Capital. As the only remaining Diefendorf family member in the business, he felt this strategic move was his responsibility to take to maintain the sustainability of the firm into the 22nd century. Roey, in conjunction with Shawn Barberis, introduced “MoreThanMoneyVault.com” (a product of Aspida360) which is the digital technology tool to deliver “more than money” wealth management to our clients. This platform is the nuts & bolts that make 3 Dimensional Wealth transformational to families who truly wish to become “legacy” families. “We’re doing values-based trusts,” Roey explains and asks the families he works with, “How do you structure wealth planning to pass on values?” His own family couldn’t have been prouder of how he re-directed the company’s trajectory. When Roey started 3 Dimensional Wealth, his father said, “I’ve never been more excited than by what you’re doing today.”
Breeding Philanthropists of the Future
As part of his mission, Roey’s goal is to help raise a generation of philanthropists. By instilling the quality of gratitude and generosity in children from a young age, he believes that families can start to build a legacy that will live far beyond them. Encouraging acts of selflessness in young people, Roey believes, will help his families to avoid raising children with “deep pockets and short arms.” He says, “I want children and grandchildren to live out the principles of saving and thrift starting from the ages 7 to 14 and build in philanthropy and an outward focus from ages 14 to 21 … that stuff is twenty-second century planning. It’s not the next seven years and ‘How can I buy a bigger boat?” n
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Timeless Wisdom: Classical vs. Romantic UNDERSTANDING Zen and the Art of Car Shopping by Laura A. Roser
y taste in cars drives my engineer father crazy. I rate a car’s attractiveness over its utility every time — which usually means that I end up with a cute, but temperamental foreign car that’s expensive to fix and costs significantly more than a “more reliable” choice. One time my father and I spent three hours trying to figure out how to replace the front headlight in my late New Beetle. We had to take apart the air filter, remove the battery, and flip a stuck plastic switch like a surgeon with a pair of needle nosed pliers in one hand and a screwdriver in the other — all during a snowstorm. To him, the outward appearance of something has very little value. What matters is its components and how well they work. In his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig divides human understanding into two types: classical understanding and romantic understanding. Pirsig writes, “A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic understanding sees it primarily in terms of immediate appearance.”
Romantic thinkers are fueled by inspiration, intuition, creativity and imagination. They value the outer beauty or art and are led by their feelings. Classical thinkers value systems, laws and logic. To them, the inner workings of a thing is much more important than its surface appearance.
Pirsig goes on to write:
“Although surface ugliness is often found in the classic mode of understanding, it is not inherent in it. There is a classic aesthetic which romantics often miss because of its subtlety. The classic style is straightforward, unadorned,
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unemotional, economical, and carefully proportioned. Its purpose is not to inspire emotionally, but to bring order out of chaos and make the unknown known. It is not an aesthetically free and natural style. It is aesthetically restrained. Everything is under control. Its value is measured in terms of the skill with which this control is maintained. “To a romantic this classic mode often appears dull, awkward, and ugly, like mechanical maintenance itself. Everything is in terms of pieces and parts and components and relationships. Nothing is figured out until it’s run through the computer a dozen times. Everything’s got to be measured and proved. Oppressive. Heavy. Endlessly grey. The death force.
“Within the classic mode, however, the romantic has some appearances of his own. Frivolous, irrational, erratic, untrustworthy, interested primarily in pleasure-seeking. Shallow. Of no substance. Often a parasite who cannot or will not carry his own weight. A real drag on society. By now these battle lines should sound a little familiar.” The hypothesis is that people process the world predominantly one way or the other, and they think those who don’t understand the world like they do are insane. Just like my dad shaking his head when I brought home my cute, but impractical car. “Why don’t you like Honda? Or maybe Toyota?” he pleaded, desperately trying to shed light on the obviousness of my flawed thinking. The truth is we need both science and art. We need cars that work and look beautiful. We need logic and intuition. We need instruction manuals and poetry. Without both, the world ceases to make sense. n
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