ISSUE 16 | PARAGONROAD.COM
The Wisdom Code
+ HOW DO YOU SHARE WHAT MATTERS MOST WITH YOUR FAMILY? DISCOVER THE TOP 5 OBSTACLES THAT KILL YOUR WISDOM AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM.
Spiritual Capital + MONEY, BY ITSELF, DOESN'T ACCOUNT FOR MUCH. LEARN WHY SPIRITUALITY, INTELLIGENCE, COMMUNICATION, AND CHARACTER ARE THE KEY TO MEANINGFUL WEALTH TRANSFER.
Family Connections + ARIELLE NOBILE HELPS FAMILIES FIND CONNECTIONS THROUGH THE MAKING OF FAMILY DOCUMENTARY FILMS.
Note from the Editor
Your One Wild and Precious Life
Redefining Legacy Arielle Nobile Focuses on Connections in Family Documentary Films
Reinvention, Personal Best, and the Path to Legacy (Part Two)
Dolly Garlo Furthers This Encouraging Help for Those Needing Reinvention
The Support Challenge Matrix
Bringing People to the Beautiful Little Things
Melissa Mitchell-Blitch Provides a Simple Tool to Help Families Thrive
Artist Sean Chao Helps People to Slow Down and Notice the Details in Life
“I’m Not a Writer, But …”
Author Thornton Sully Chronicles Encounters with Those Who Have a Book to Publish
Cracking the Wisdom Code
Laura A. Roser Explains How to Extract Your Most Important Life Lessons
Let Your Life Echo Beyond Your Final Breath
Larry Kesslin Brings Insight from His Own Search for Purpose to Help Others Find Theirs
Todd DeKruyter Helps Others Find Their Purpose
Transitioning Family Wealth Steve Marken Explains How to Create an Estate Plan That Works
Mission Driven Finance
David Lynn and the Team at Mission Driven Finance Encourage Community-Impact Investing
Timeless Wisdom: George and Ben and Me
Author Randy Petersen Gives A New Perspective on Two Influential Leaders in Early America: Ben Franklin and George Whitefield
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Issue 16 | October 2018
Paragon Road PUBLISHER Laura A. Roser EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Marko Nedeljkovic DESIGN
Sean Chao is our featured artist for this issue. Sean is originally from Taipei, Taiwan, and now finds home in Los Angeles. Larry Kesslin is the founder and Chief Connector at 5 Dots.
William Jenkins CONTENT DIRECTOR Charity Navigator Todd DeKruyter Dolly Garlo
Paragon Road Your Meaning Legacy by Laura A. Roser
William Jenkins Steve Marken Mission Driven Finance Melissa Mitchell-Blitch Arielle Nobile Randy Petersen Laura A. Roser Thornton Sully Christopher Zacher
Share your product or service with thousands of financial professionals around the world through our digital magazine and main website. Email: email@example.com
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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 16 www.paragonroad.com
Note from the Editor Your One Wild and Precious Life
n her article, Reinvention, Personal Best, and the Path to Legacy, Dolly Garlo quotes the poet Mary Oliver:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This is a question we should all ask ourselves regularly (at least once a decade!). It is so easy to let day-to-day concerns get in the way of what’s precious. And, before you know it, your life is comprised of stressing about paying bills, eating too much sugar, running errands, unwinding with Netflix, and having the same mundane conversations with your kids. Living by default seems easier in the moment, but when you look Finance’s article, Intentional Impact Investing. In back at your life, it can lead to regret. We’ve all got this issue, you’ll also love the whimsical sculptures of artist Artist Sean Chao and his words about one life to live. How are you spending yours? the creative legacy he’d like to leave behind for In this issue, we have some wonderful advice his family. I’ve always been a fan of Benjamin about how to reinvent yourself from Dolly Garlo Franklin; Randy Peterson, author of The Printer and Larry Kesslin. Arielle Nobile explains her and the Preacher, gives an interesting peak into process for helping her clients learn more about the connection between Franklin and George their lives through film documentaries. Melissa Whitefield. Mitchell-Blitch discusses a simple matrix that can As always, we appreciate our readers, writers, liberate your family, Todd DeKruyter reviews the creative team, and the superb people we feature five capitals, and Steve Marken writes about why successful wealth transfer depends on more than in each issue. money. Thank you for making a difference in your corner of the world. My article is about how to share your wisdom with your family and overcome five obstacles All the best, we’ve discovered to leaving behind an empowering legacy. Laura A. Roser Editor-in-Chief of Legacy Arts and CEO of Paragon If you’ve ever thought of getting serious about impact investing, be sure to read Mission Driven Road
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Focusing on Connections in Family Documentary Films By Arielle Nobile
’m a strange bird in many ways, but one such way is that I started thinking about and imagining my grandchildren when I was 8 years old. (I also had a list of names for the 26 children I would one day have, but that’s a story for another article). I guess you could call me hopeful. I believed that I would one day grow up, have children, they would have children, and I’d pass something down to those kids. And at the age of 8 I was not thinking about passing down money. However, I was definitely thinking about my legacy. When I was 9 I started typing my autobiography on my family’s typewriter. What did this early autobiography detail? My birth, of course, and anything else I felt that had happened to me of consequence in those first 9 years. It was a relatively short story. I nearly died when I was born. An undetected blood incompatibility with my mother and severe jaundice landed me back in the hospital, grey and limp, at just 2 days old. Hooked up to machines that revived me and saved my life, all my blood was taken out of my body, via my ankle, and new blood was placed into my body through my skull. Growing up knowing that I survived, what I now consider to have been a near-death experience, has always given me a sense of purpose. And I believe that purpose and legacy are intrinsically linked. My desire to tell my story at such a young age, and the
fact that I’ve done some kind of writing ever since I was 9 with the idea that one day future generations might read my ideas, goes beyond my ego’s desire that I have to be remembered. I think it is a spiritual longing for connection beyond time and space. One of the questions I love to ask people has to do with the meaning of life, Why are we here? What is it all for? I like to ask this question to everyone, regardless of their age, and in fact the first documentary I ever made in high school was on this very topic. To me, this is the essential question: What are we here for? What is the purpose of it all? I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have devoted my life to asking questions and to helping people reach both forwards and backwards in time. In linking the past to the present to the future, I help people make connections between the important questions that plague us all at various times in our lives. It is this type of legacy that is most interesting to me. It is this legacy that to me has the most impact. Pondering the deep questions is what gives my life purpose. Helping others to do the same gives my life meaning. Google defines legacy as, “Money or property left to a person by someone who has died.” Other definitions on Google are “Something that is a result of events in the past” and “Something that is a part of your history or that remains from an earlier time.”
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Arielle Nobile is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of award-winning Legacy Connections Films, which she founded in 2005. LCF has produced over 100 private documentary films, helping clients reflect on how far they have come and where they are going. Before founding LCF, Arielle taught at Piven Theatre and Second City Chicago. Arielle is currently producing a new documentary series, “Belonging in the USA: Stories from Your Neighbors.” If you’d like to learn more about Arielle, see samples of LCF’s work, or engage LCF in a project for your family, please visit www.LegacyConnectionsFilms.com.
If I could, I would add an entry to the dictionary. I’d define legacy as “That which gives meaning to our lives that gets left behind when we are no more.” Our legacy is what lasts beyond us: the spirit, essence, and experiences that help guide and shape generations of your family. Today there are as many tools for distilling and passing down this type of legacy as there are songbirds. Why do I stick with documentary film as my tool of choice for my own family and for my clients? It is the only one I know of that comes close to the feeling you get when you spend an afternoon drinking iced tea on the patio with your favorite great aunt. You reminisce, share confidences, imagine the future. It’s a timeless moment. This is what it’s like to create a Legacy Film. Documentary film is the only medium I know of that unites multiple generations of a family in a process to create something tangible together out of intangible treasures — stories, a sense of humor, and that twinkle in the eye of the people we love. Taking the few hours necessary to sit back and reflect deeply in a guided conversation, about what really matters to us and why, is a priceless journey at the heart of our true legacy as humans. One of my pet peeves is the way that people (myself included) can get caught up in information. We are, after all, living in the information age when questions can be answered with the press of a button and Grandma can be Facetimed to settle a memory dispute just as swiftly.
But for me and my clients, our legacy is not about the information. Yes, it’s about storytelling, and yes, it’s about stories, but it’s not about facts, it’s not about dates, it’s not even about history. Not in the traditional sense. It’s about connections. One of my favorite authors and speakers, Brené Brown, writes: “Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” I think she means connection to self, something higher than ourselves, and each other, but I want to add in the connection to our ancestors and to those who will come after us. We come from one another’s bodies. Our families connect us to one another in ways that can be uplifting or oppressive. A family documentary film is a way to honor the legacies of those who are gone and connect those yet to be born to ourselves and the past. I hope all of this makes you wonder. I hope it gets you to ask yourself some of these questions. I hope that you think about the ways in which making a family documentary might just be what your family is missing. Imagine if from kindergarten, we were asked, “How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?” Imagine what kind of people we would become. I believe that if we all spent a lot more time focusing on our legacy, our purpose, and on how we are going to be remembered, the world would be a very different, much better place. It is my mission to help people do just this. n
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Reinvention, Personal Best, and the Path to Legacy (PART TWO)
By Dolly Garlo
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ell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —Mary Oliver, from her poem “The Summer Day”
Most people take more time to plan a vacation than to invest and engage in consciously planning life – the life that will eventually lead to the legacy they leave, both tangibly and intangibly. The process of conscious recognition and planning for how to spend and share one’s precious life energy often results in personal reinvention – to choose a better path for expressing it. In part one of this article, we explored how personal reinvention evolves. Too often reinvention starts with an existential or other form of crisis. There is a better way.
Begin Consciously and Comprehensively
Not so much a chronological age, one’s midto-late career begins the masterful stage of life when ideals combine with experience and resources. A comprehensive planning approach – beyond traditional financial and estate planning – makes what’s next exciting and engaging to inform that process. It also allows more people to develop deliberately the leadership influence and impact that leads to great legacies. And it can prevent potential career burn out, eliminate unnecessary wealth depletion, and especially avoid personal regret. As for legacy, there are some typical misconceptions that cause many people to feel the subject is inapplicable to them: Misconception 1: “Legacy only happens after your death.” To the contrary, some of the greatest legacies get built, grown, and developed during one’s lifetime. Misconception 2: “I’m not wealthy enough to create a legacy.” You might be surprised. Legacy is about a lot more than just money. Misconception 3: “My kids will inherit everything I have, and that’s my legacy.” Maybe re-think that. Inheriting all your wealth and assets may be a disincentive for them to be productive in their own lives, and they may not need it. Choosing how much to give to them or to other projects you care about is important. Children can be involved in the legacy building, too — it is a way to learn about real wealth, business and making a contribution.
Dolly Garlo became known as The Whole Life Wellness and Reinvention Mentor after her own journey from critical care nurse, to attorney and business owner, to board certified business, leadership, and legacy coach, author, environmental advocate, philanthropist and champion of women’s leadership. She is blissfully happy in marriage, the proud guardian of a standard poodle, and spends time in mountain and ocean environments by design. From her own experience changing course, and working with clients to do the same, she “cracked the code” on how to create greater fulfillment in life and career quickly and easily, along with the greatest influence and impact. She is the creator of the MASTERFUL LIFE Redesign and Creating Legacy programs delivered in both individual and group formats and collaborates with other advisors interested in adding that value to their clients. More information and resources can be found at www.DollyGarlo.com. For a free infographic planning resource, visit http://dollygarlo.com/gifts/mlr-roadmap-infographic/.
Traditional legacies are legally defined as the money and property left at the end of life to others – to your heirs (family members or other individuals or institutions), who decide what to do with it after you’re gone. Creating a legacy is a living activity that may involve your money and assets; other individuals or institutions; your time, effort and enthusiasm – and possibly a combination. It may well involve estate, financial and business planning. Fundamentally, it depends on life planning and consciously developing a legacy that lasts while being fully alive to enjoy building it. There are many life-planning issues to consider when you are financially independent or secure enough to pursue early or full retirement. While working for earned income may be less necessary, engaging in purposeful work, a meaningful calling, or pursuits of influence and impact are still important. These efforts can also produce supplemental income, while “working happy and more in control” as one client put it. They are also where legacy level activities can be pursued. While a leisure-oriented life seems attractive, lacking a sense of contribution and involvement can quickly result in boredom, disconnection, and even despair – because leisure is a break from something else. Full-time leisure is no longer leisure, however good it may sound. We need meaning and to be productive, constructive, and creative to feel most fully satisfied.
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Here is a framework for the putting it all together in 5 steps.
Step 1: Develop
Start by putting your life in the context of a bigger picture with an inventory of skills, areas of intelligence, communication styles, your personal qualities, preferences and interests, and your economic and leadership capacities. All these assets are significant and too often under-appreciated even by highly accomplished people.
Step 2: Discover
Moving in a new direction involves not only what to include, but what to release – and how. This may include succession or exit planning and changes to maintain key relationships. Even when financially secure or independent, new involvements based on a clear sense of purpose and values best serves both self and others, and supports the change process. Redefining key relationships – personal and professional – prevents burning important bridges. Traditional retirement planning is primarily a financial construct – one still has to retire to something.
Step 3: Design
Building on that foundation is most effective if it incorporates a “full life” design. Ideally, this includes identifying what’s important to you, and what’s important for you to accomplish at this point. Research tells us there are eight key elements that make up true-life satisfaction, so the ideal design would address the following categories: Health Finances and Estate Family Personal Development Friends Leisure Contribution Vocation
Step 4: Demonstrate
Armed with clarity, it’s time to take steps in a new direction. Having ideas is the easy part of change. If creating the life design of your dreams were easy, everyone would do it. This is a process, not an event – a journey not just a new destination. Having a strategy is key to staying on track. That includes building the right network of new relationships. It also helps to master the creative process – a shift from the problem-solving orientation of business and professional endeavors to creating a new reality, a work of art for your life as it unfolds for you, others, and future generations.
Step 5: Dance
To make these moves a dance into an exceptional new future entails two things:
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Dealing with the resistance, blocks and challenges that create roadblocks, by developing ways to overcome them when, not if, they show up. Keeping yourself energized along the way. Because, this is change we’re talking about, not magic. Inevitable challenges show up in various forms: naysayers, negative or fear-based thinking, confusion, overwhelmed feelings, indecision, and especially self-questioning — and they are good at stopping progress dead in its tracks. This takes energy. Using neuroscience and peak performance empowerment practice regularly will re-energize efforts and create both the mindset and the actual physiology needed to go far beyond where you initially think you can. These 5 simple steps were developed to inspire and guide what’s next. Best to approach them with a clear planning process, and an advisor trained to help you apply them. That can make a big difference in how quickly and easily you get to your new destination … and how much you enjoy the journey. This very personal orientation not only helps define and inform more traditional forms of planning, it helps create a life well lived and legacy that makes a bigger difference for both you and others. n
Key Considerations for Full Life Satisfaction Health New issues arise even among the healthiest adults. Attending to weight, fitness, nutrition, hormonal balance, emotional concerns, and medical and dental issues paves the way for more active living. This is the best place to start. Finances and Estate A good salary is great, but more important is what you keep and how it’s invested. Perhaps it’s time to learn more about your portfolio and future cash flow needs, adjust for any long-term family support, review and update your estate plan, communicate that with maturing children, and focus on aging parents. Perhaps you need to hire or work more closely with the right financial, estate, tax, or life and legacy planner. Family Identify how best to interact with immediate and extended family and those people who are “like family.” Facing an empty nest or trying to successfully launch one? Want more time with grandchildren or elders? Anticipate serving in a caregiving role for aging family members? These all deserve planning consideration. Personal Development Beyond career and family, how do you want to learn and grow? You may want to pursue interests you set aside or explore new ones – learn a language, take a class or teach something. Perhaps it’s time to deepen a spiritual practice or join a mastermind group in a subject area of interest. Friends How about time with friends outside of your professional or business circles? Primary relationships change. Divorce happens. Friends have been important at prior stages of education and career, and may be even more important going forward, especially for women: only one-third of them over 65 have spouses or partners, and they ultimately outlive husbands on average by 15 years. It may be time to meet new people, be more involved with community groups, or enjoy existing friends you see too rarely or have rediscovered on social media. Leisure This is what we do when not working, and is crucial for mental and emotional health. It includes things on your life list — a more optimistic and life-affirming term than “Bucket List.” Making one is a good starting point; then add to it regularly. Maybe this is about pursuing art or music, or a new hobby or sport; maybe it’s time to learn to dance or sail, travel or enjoy nature more. This includes considering how and where you live – maybe moving to a new place, or downsizing to a residence with less maintenance so you can enjoy more of your life. Contribution Your professional work may have originally filled a desire to make a contribution, and now you may have more to give through different involvements using your time, interests, money, or other resources. Places and ways that move you to give back are truly endless. This may include defining your legacy or different forms of charitable giving through your estate plan. I offer my definition of legacy creation: “a conscious and meaningful contribution of your authentic gifts, talents and resources, that adds value in a lasting way.” It is truly a pursuit that is available to anyone of any means who chooses to approach it purposefully. Vocation Work involvement will likely continue in some form for many decades. What would be more interesting and fulfilling now? Something with more responsibility, greater leadership opportunities, or something less formal, more on your own terms? Work fulfills important purposes beyond remuneration: a sense of purpose; a means of time management, structure and organization; a form of socialization; and sense of status, not for ego but for identity and inclusion in community. Many options exist to sort through.
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The Support Challenge Matrix
A Simple Tool to Help Families Thrive By Melissa Mitchell-Blitch
was recently asked by our local community foundation to speak at their upcoming meeting for advisors. My talk would follow a tax law update and precede a generous time for Q&A. That would leave 15 minutes for me to talk about family dynamics in wealth. Families are complex. The emotional and relational dynamics of wealth are complex. How do you cover family dynamics of wealth in 15 minutes? While that sounds like the start to a great joke, it was the real scenario. Gratefully, bringing simplicity to complexity is what I do, so I quickly knew how I would meet the challenge of bringing meaningful information about these complex subjects in a short period of time. In this article, I will share that information with you. I would like to introduce you to the Support Challenge Matrix. On the vertical axis, the level of support given rises from low to high. On the horizontal axis, the level of challenge ranges from low to high. The combination of these two variables produces four quadrants that can be used to describe a familyâ€™s culture at a given point in time. Family culture is like the atmosphere of the family. Its health, or lack there-of, will greatly impact the well-being of each family member and the quality of their relationships with each other.
In families where there is high support and low challenge, family members know they are loved and accepted. The family is for them and does not ask or expect much from them. Needs are met, and most wants are granted, with little-to-no expectations in return. Many families of wealth worry about creating a sense of entitlement, and this is it. We call it a Protect Culture. Because the Protect Culture lacks challenge, unmet expectations, disappointments, and hurts are stuffed and build up over time. Once these resentments cannot be contained any longer, they are unleashed in passiveaggressive fashion. The lack of timely feedback and challenge stifles growth and plants seeds of mistrust in relationships. The yellow color represents the poor health of relationships, which struggle in a Protect Culture due to the lack of necessary, honest challenge.
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The lower right quadrant represents the opposite scenario. Families experience a Dominate Culture when support is low, and challenge is high. Expectations and demands are expressed. Family members are challenged to stretch out of their comfort zone, grow, and improve. Compliance may be an outcome, but because of the lack of support, family members fear disappointment, disapproval, and rejection when expectations are not met. I see this dynamic often in entrepreneurial families. The fear of emotional, relational, financial, or opportunity loss creates a low sense of psychological safety. Family members know what is expected of them, but do not get acceptance that failure is a natural part of learning, growing, and succeeding. They also lack the emotional support necessary for relationships and emotional wellbeing to thrive. The red color represents the heat of pressure family members feel in a Dominate Culture.
The Abdicate Culture, in the lower left quadrant, is characterized by both low support and low challenge. Family members check out from meaningful engagement with each other. They may share physical space, but they are just going through the motions. There is no depth to relationships.
Families can easily slip into an Abdicate Culture as a result of distraction and failure to be intentional to create meaningful interactions. Family members may be highly engaged with professional, recreational, social, or civic pursuits, which fill them up but deplete them of time and energy to pour into family relationships. Abdicate is in black, because in an Abdicate Culture, family relationships are dying from neglect.
Our final quadrant, in the upper right, represents a Liberate Culture. A liberator is someone who fights for the highest possible good of others. They do so by calibrating both high support and high challenge. Liberate is in green because a Liberate Culture supports health, growth, and vitality. With both support and challenge, family members and their relationships with each other can thrive. In a Liberate Culture, family members believe in each other. They accept them as they are and challenge them to risk, learn, and grow – without loss of relationship or favor when failure comes. They have reasonable expectations for what it means to be a contributing member of the family. They freely give and freely receive. Circling back to that fear of entitlement, dominating through high challenge is not the antidote. Domination only creates different issues. Liberation is the key – calibrating high support and high challenge.
Melissa Mitchell-Blitch is the founder of Eredita, LLC and a Senior Consultant with GiANT Worldwide. As a former CPA and financial advisor, who left finance for a career in psychology, Melissa is uniquely equipped to help families navigate the complexities of wealth. Melissa is currently writing a book about boundaries in family business. This practical book will help equip families to successfully navigate the inherent challenges of working with family members – the overlap of multiple life roles and financial interdependence. Learn more at MelissaMitchellBlitch.com.
What About Your Family?
So which quadrant best describes your family’s culture today? Are you trending toward Protect, Dominate, Abdicate, or Liberate? What does your family – and its individual members – need more of right now? More support? Greater challenge? A bit more of both? Each of us finds one or the other – support or challenge – relatively easy, with the other being much more difficult. With honest, open communication, families can be intentional to work together to bring what is needed and create a family culture that promotes individual well-being and meaningful relationships. What is one thing you can do today to be a liberator and fight for the highest possible good of your family? n
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Bringing People to the Beautiful Little Things An Interview with Artist Sean Chao By William Jenkins
LA: What influenced you in your career path? SC: Being an artist is a challenging career path, but I’m happiest when I’m creating art. My parents were very encouraging when I was young. Sculpting became natural for me to express myself after years of practice and education. I had different jobs after I graduated from school, but I continued making art and it eventually became my career.
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LA: How does your culture and heritage influence your work? SC: I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. The Chinese culture is my family heritage. However, I was also influenced by Japanese and American pop culture growing up. Taipei is a densely populated city. Life was busy and very fast paced, even for a child. To recuperate and balance my sanity, I learned to pause and find joy and happiness in life, and then spent time to see the little details. Now I create art based on these kinds of experiences.
LA: What immediate reaction do you hear from people who view your art? SC: People usually feel surprised about the scale and details. Many have seen photographs of my works but then are still surprised when they see the work in person.
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LA: How would you like your art to influence others, perhaps students in particular but also the general public? SC: The modern life is busy, confusing, and full of chaos. People forget how to enjoy the simple things in life. A moment of joy sneaks past us so quickly. We often ignore it because we are so distracted. In my work, I capture these little moments, and then translate them into a piece of diorama art. I hope it helps people to go through their hectic life and reminds us to live joyfully.Â
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LA: What legacy do you want to leave for your family and community? SC: There is a message in all my works, to live happily and enjoy the little things. I will keep making art and continue to influence people. Hopefully the positive energy is what I will leave for the world. n
Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Sean Chao now finds home in Los Angeles. In 2007, Chao graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, with a BFA in Illustration. He learned how to create in a variety of mediums, from drawing to painting to sculpture. He found that he liked making art with his hands. Chao creates his miniature sculptures in a small studio with Sculpey (a type of polymer clay), bass wood, balsa wood, paper, wire, and painstaking precision. He creates a delicate balance in his sculptures by showing enough detail to illicit amazement and yet enough imperfection to reveal that they’re lovingly handmade. Nature is a recurring theme in Chao’s work. He often depicts dense forests filled with plants, animals, and insects. He’s also portrayed ocean scenes and even space scenes. He creates a lot of movement in every scene so that each one feels like a moment frozen in time. Watching people view Chao’s artwork, you can’t help but notice their looks of awe as they pore over all the minute details and then their smiles as they walk away. So his intention with his artwork to offer a bit of joy to people seems to be working. Art that tries to change the world — even in a small way — may not be so simplistic after all. Visit seanchao.com for more.
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How Will You Change Th Make The Most Impact With Charity
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Cracking the Wisdom Code How to Extract Your Life Lessons By Laura A. Roser
ne story, told right, could decide the fate of your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Think about it, that one story about how you started your business could be the thing that unifies your family and makes them want to dedicate their lives to your vision. Or your story about how you fought for your marriage, could give your daughter enough strength to fight for hers.
and fail to teach them about how resilient your family is, making it harder for them to cope or connect with you when they face their own struggles. Or you could decide to not talk with your kids about your past at all and regret never having shared the most-important parts of yourself.
Princeton researcher and neuroscientist, Uri Hasson, did several studies in which he found that by simply telling a story, someone could plant ideas, thoughts, and emotions in the listeners’ brains. Brain scans also revealed that when someone tells a story and becomes emotional, they create the exact same emotional reaction in others’ brains. In other words, your stories are the best way to spread your beliefs to your family.
Through our Wisdom Discovery™ process, we’ve identified five main obstacles people face when trying to convey their wisdom to their families.
But not all stories are created equal. In fact, if you don’t watch out, you could also bore your kids to death by detailing the dress you wore to the prom for the eighteenth time. You could try to extract too much “wisdom” from your stories and become preachy and overbearing, causing your kids to rebel. You could try to protect your kids from your unpleasant memories
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My advice: Share your stories. Share your hopes, challenges, and triumphs. But do it intelligently.
Obstacle 1: Not Realizing How Extraordinary You Are
Many people feel as if they don’t have much wisdom to offer. Sure, they’ve lived life and learned lessons, but they don’t see how that’s helpful to others. This is a complete misconception. Your family loves you and your experiences are much more potent to them
because you are a part of them. Your seeminglymundane stories can be loaded with inspiration. One of my favorite stories about courage comes from my mother and her experience with an elementary school teacher when she was young. He accused her and two other girls of cheating. The other girls started crying, but my mother denied it, defiantly crossed her arms and scowled at him. She was outraged that he would accuse her; her parents had always taught her that cheating was one of the worst things you could do and she knew she did not cheat. Finally, the teacher told my mother she could go because she obviously didn’t cheat. This story has stayed with me whenever I need to stand up for myself or my principles. You have many stories like this that could help your family. Your family will also be intrigued by details about your home life growing up and how you experienced the world during your generation. Things that seem commonplace to you (like loading a video cassette into a VCR) could be fascinating to your grandchild, who
doesn’t know what that is. Your experience of history gives your family members an intimate peek into what it was like through your eyes.
Obstacle 2: Turning Feelings to Words
Another obstacle to transferring wisdom is simply telling a good story. Some people are fantastic storytellers. Others struggle with putting thoughts and feelings into words. You may remember the first time you fell in love, but if you just say, “it was glorious and magical,” you miss crucial elements of the story. Your listeners want to be taken on the journey with you. The key is determining why you are telling the story and then taking your listeners through the twists and turns of your love. This requires bringing in small details – like how the flowers smelled when you walked to your beloved’s home – and showing how much you loved him (not telling us about it). For example, instead of saying, “I loved him so much,” you’d say something like, “I’d write his name over and over again in my notebook. In fact, I got so distracted, my teacher sent me to the principal’s office because I couldn’t pay attention in class.” Think of your stories as art. Read some good memoirs. Observe how the authors write about life events and model their techniques. Begin to think of your life as a novel.
Obstacle 3: Uncovering Hidden Gems
Most people don’t have a catalog of life lessons. This is why we take our clients through a memorypriming process that helps them to uncover important events in their lives. One of the best ways to uncover meaningful experiences is to participate in a guided autobiography group with a skilled moderator. That way, you can
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listen to the stories of others and be reminded of your own. This helps you to understand your life and attached significance to events in your past. Many people experience “ah-hah moments” when they review their life.
story to the behavior of your loved ones. This will repel them faster than nothing else.
You see this all the time. A story like, “My grandmother always told me to work hard and that’s what helped me become the man I am today. Now, son, you need One man I was talking with, for example, told about to buckle down and work hard, otherwise, you’ll be a an experience with his father. As a boy, he went loser and this family doesn’t produce losers. Got that!” camping with his father and several scouts. They were Yuck. This just makes this man’s son feel bad about all sitting around the campfire and someone threw a himself. If you want to tell a story about working hard, can of nuts at the group. He instinctively reached up tell it, but don’t use it as a commentary to complain and caught the can. His father said to him, “I can’t about what someone else is doing wrong. believe you caught that. I would have never even tried.” It was in that moment that he realized he could Stories should spread empowerment and resilience. make different decisions than his father and that he A dose of humility is always needed because the could try to be someone great, rather than sitting back more you introspect and the older you get, the and never taking a chance. more you realize that there’s a lot of unknowns in Before he mentioned the story to me, he had never assigned that much meaning to it. But after he described it, he realized it was a big turning moment in his life. It gave us both chills.
Obstacle 4: Engaging Short Attention Spans
Microsoft did a study in which it determined that the average attention span is 8 seconds (a goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds). Everyone is distracted, and that’s especially true for the younger generation with their smartphones and addictive apps. It’s crucial that you know how to keep your stories engaging. If you entertain and enlighten, your grandkids will listen for hours, but if you go off on tangents and repeat yourself, they’ll roll their eyes and start glancing at their phones. Entertaining your audience is more important than telling every little detail of the story. You want to spark conversation and get your kids and grandkids involved. That’s how you develop engaging conversations and build a library of family wisdom that sticks.
Obstacle 5: Coming Off as Preachy
Think of sharing your stories as something that’s fun and interesting – a way to introspect about your own life and share the journey of growing and learning with others. Don’t come into it with an agenda of trying to change or control your family members. Sometimes people will tell a story as a way to help another “see the light.” So, in telling the story, rather than being humble and introspective, they are forceful and closeminded. It’s especially bad if you compare your
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life. Most experiences donâ€™t make much sense until you look back and assign meaning to them. Thatâ€™s why everything is clearer in hindsight. Your family members need the space to be able to grow, make mistakes, learn, and make sense of their own journey.
Wisdom That Bonds and Enthralls
When you take the time to share your life with your family, something magical happens: You begin to understand their behavior better, you appreciate them more, you have deeper conversations, and you create an open environment for sharing and support. Life can be hard and although no one has a manual, you can give your loved ones a shoulder to lean on and words of encouragement as they transverse experiences of love, joy, struggle, doubt, shame, and triumph. Sharing yourself lets them know they are not alone and gives them permission to do the same. n
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.
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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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“I’m not a writer, but …” The number is now six. I started keeping count after three.
By Thornton Sully
hat is the number of times over the years that the first words from someone, upon discovering I am a publisher and editor, are “I am not a writer, but …” and then the not-a-writer produces or informs me they have 300 pages of manuscript yellow-ing in the bottom drawer of their dresser or lurking behind their computer screen. You do not need the validation of an agent or publisher to assert that you are genuinely a writer, if you write. So, take a deep breath, and answer truthfully. Are you a writer? If you answered as I suspect you did, you’ll keep reading. Because the next question may help you make the transition from being writer to author —one whose words have been offered up in printed form to share with others.
Why do you write?
I have heard quite literally as many different answers as there are writers, ranging from the cliché (“Because I must.”) to something highly personal and profound: “I write because I have a crush on words. Words make me fall in love (with people who send them to me, and with words themselves). It is a passionate, playful affair. Words are my paint box, the way I process beauty. Writing can turn any experience, however hard, into art. We grow emotionally by writing and reading, and often learn to forgive. Writing is redemptive.” —Laura Elizabeth
Or consider this:
“I’ve written for much of my post-second grade life, but now when I try to define the reason I write, I find the answer has been a moving target. […] I would have to admit that I write to remember, or perhaps more honestly, that I write to be remembered.” —Ben Angel As a reader of Legacy Arts magazine, the chances are that you want to make sure your children and grandchildren remember not only who you are, but what is imperative for them to grasp in order to learn from your own experience navigating your life. Do you have questions that you regret never having asked your
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elders? Are they the same questions that someday your children may regret never having asked you? Answer before they ask. Committing yourself to documenting your life in the form of a memoir to them is like providing them with an instruction manual for life, that only you can author. It is the extreme act of love and caring. To get started, if you haven’t already done so, I suggest you pick one small incident that has stayed with you, rather than trying to make a map of all your time on the planet. You memorized dates in the fifth grade, only to discover as you matured that the dates spoke only of chronology, but nothing of history: when you graduated, when you got
Thornton Sully is an award-winning editor, publisher, writer, and founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Word with You Press. He can be contacted through Legacy Arts magazine. innocuous, such as going to the pound and picking out a puppy, or something horrendous, like receiving your draft notice or the discovery of cancer. You will be tempted to create your story as something linear, chronological, but as you begin writing, you’ll quickly discover some episodes in your life carry more weight than others. Focus on these. Your children will want to know not only what you did with and in your life, but what you thought and felt along the way. Recently I bellied up to a bar in Bohemia that smelled of Hemingway. The bartender, a somewhat evasive Honduran, confessed upon hearing I was a publisher that he kept a journal (after the gratuitous I’m not a writer, but …). We bargained: an opinion on his first three pages in exchange for a rum and coke. I prepared myself, given the circumstances, to be under-whelmed. Instead, I discovered the most beautiful prose I had ever encountered. The first of almost 1,000 pages documenting an adventure and a truly impossible love story.
“What is this?”
“It’s about me and Emma. We walked across Africa together.” He told me more, much more. A love story that endured until it didn’t, but he could never forget her. “What do you want to see happen with this?” “I want a book out of it.” “Of course.” Isn’t that what every writer tells me? But he continued. “Just one book.” “Just one?” “Yes. To give to Emma. So she will know I loved her.”
married/divorced, fell in love for the umpteenth time, when you moved to Philly. These are statistics, the listing of numbers in a phone book.
What about you?
Your life is more than points on a graph. Begin anywhere. Your first efforts amount to pianotuning. Pick something
What finer motive can there be to writing your story than to present it to the ones you love to authenticate what you feel for them? Isn’t your life a novel, really? Not an aimless meandering, but something with purpose and value. You are the central character, and you have been faced with obstacles along the way. Did they beat you down? Did you overcome them? And most importantly, what did you learn that will help those who follow you to live fuller, more creative, productive, and satisfying lives? They can learn so much from you, but only if you tell them. n
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Redefining Success How Larry Kesslin Helps Others Find Their Purpose
By Christopher Zacher
hroughout Larry Kesslin’s life, he’s found himself continually reconsidering his definition of the word success. When he worked at General Electric in the early 90’s, success was a monetary value. After leaving the company to start his own consulting firm, it became more about freedom and mobility. “My definition of success was having the ability to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it,” he says, reflecting on the ideas of his younger self. But even as his business grew and he found himself traveling the world with his family, Larry felt like his work lacked purpose. He knew deep down that life was about more than simply not having a boss to check in with. It was in 2012, nearly 20 years after he left his job at GE, that Larry had the revelation that would alter the course of his career. Interestingly enough, it came at a time when he was at his freest. Sitting in JFK where he’d just arrived after a family trip to Africa, Larry silently contemplated the direction of his life. “I realized that I was no longer chasing my idea of success because I was already successful,” he says, explaining that his moment of clarity led to further evaluation. “I came to the conclusion that I was done with success and it was time to be significant.”
From Success to Significance
Significance, according to Larry, has nothing to do with who you work for or how much money you have. It has much more to do with interpersonal relationships and a desire to connect with and help others. It is significance, and not success, that drives his work today. “My new definition for success is being able to do what I want, when I want to do it, while being a part of something greater than myself,” he says. This outlook has been the catalyst for a number of different creative and entrepreneurial projects. He’s written a book entitled Success Redefined. He’s delivered countless keynote speeches and a TEDx talk at San Diego State University. And he’s founded several socially driven businesses, most notably 5 Dots, a consulting outfit that helps companies to connect with prospects who share a similar sense of purpose.
At the heart of all of his work is a desire to facilitate deep connections between people and the world around them. “We need to stop connecting at the surface level, which I think the majority of our population does,” he says. “We need to start connecting at the purpose level, which I think is missing.”
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Larry Kesslin is the founder and Chief Connector of 5 Dots. At 5 Dots we love helping companies grow. Growth starts with having a clear and structured business development strategy that helps our clients in three key areas: 1. New business development 2. Connecting more deeply with existing clients 3. Recruiting better talent The foundation of business development is developing strong and long-lasting relationships. This sounds simple and straight forward, and it is if you know how to do it well. At 5 Dots we start with helping people deepen relationships, while helping them with clearly identify their target market, tell compelling stories, establish strong strategic alliances and manage all those relationships. At 5 Dots we love to connect the dots … one dot at a time! Find out more by visiting www.5-dots.com.
Toward Purpose-Driven Business
The terms socially conscious and business consulting might not seem compatible to many of us, but Larry believes they can be. “There are more ways to make money without being socially conscious than there are being socially conscious,” he says, “but if you’re a good business person, you can do good things.” He cites the hiring process, one of 5 Dots’ fields of expertise, as something that can be approached in a socially-minded manner. By encouraging his clients to define their non-financial values, he helps them to find candidates that share similar goals and ideals. “If I can find people of shared purpose, I can find any skillset I want,” Larry says. To Larry, facilitating substantial, purpose-driven work relationships is a small way of creating a sense of connectedness among fellow human beings. Ideally, it pushes his clients to start thinking about their business as something other than just a money-making opportunity. “[They] stop looking at people as what they can do for the company and start looking at them as humans, as individuals,” he says. “They start to look at the company as a vehicle to affect the community as much as it is to create wealth for those people involved.” So, while business and activism might not appear to go hand-in-hand, Larry’s work proves otherwise. “You can do things that are right, that are just as beneficial for society as they are for you,” he says, offering advice to business owners seeking their own sense of purpose. “And you can bring along others of the same mindset. You can make just as much money and probably more.” n
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Let Your Life Echo Beyond Your Final Breath Leaving a Full Legacy By Todd DeKruyter
ave you ever heard a good joke on death rates? No? So why is that? Why are most jokes about death and mortality bad? Well, because none of us like thinking about our own mortality. However, we all would like to think that in some way we will live beyond our final breath. We want to impact eternity. What I’m saying is that we all want to have a legacy. When we talk about legacy that’s exactly what we are talking about, your life echoing beyond your last breath. We all want our lives to count. When the dust settles from our career and life, we would like to have an impact on our kids, friends, and family in a way that continues. In order to leave a legacy worth remembering, we need to have intentionality. We need to live our lives by design, and not by default. You won’t just wake up one day and discover you’ve created a legacy by accident. But I think we do need to wake up to the opportunity in front of us—our family legacy. I’d love to see us wake up. I’d love for us to see to the broader picture, or metanarrative of our life. We’re all put on earth to make an impact. As a Jesusloving Bible guy, I might even add God designed us to make an impact. We are designed to make a significant contribution to the world. The question that we face is not if we will be remembered, but how we will we be remembered and by whom.
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Let me say here — this is not easy, right? Most wealthy folks are the first of their family to be wealthy. In fact, according to James Grubman, a full 80% of wealthy are not raised with wealth. This tells us a lot. First, chances are if you’re wealthy, you’ve most likely not faced the dilemmas of having more than enough. Second, your parents aren’t much help in navigating these unchartered waters of wealth. Third, the financial lessons your parents taught you as a child don’t help you navigate these waters with your own kids either. Growing up it was “we can’t afford it.” Now, what does it look like to say, “We won’t afford it”? You need to understand your family story. You need to have purpose and design to your legacy in order to be purposeful think through the end. What story do hope will be told one day? It makes sense to live your life in such a way that it’s a good story to be told. No matter your youth or age, choose now to start living a legacy that echoes on into eternity. Allow me give you four brief tips on how to increase the chance of your family remembering you well.
1. Decide to put some intentionality to your family legacy.
My guess is your business has a vision and mission statement or a culture that’s been identified by some core values. These statements and values have done well to guide and set the course for your business. Most
businesses have some similar sort of vision, because without one it’s unlikely that business will flourish. But what about your family? All good family legacies should start with the same sort of intentionality that a good business does. However, while I’m sure you know your business motto, have you sat down to come up with a family motto? Do you know why your family exists? Have you thought through what the purpose of family is? When we neglect to chart an intentional course for our family, we resign it to struggle and aimlessness, and yet often we find it difficult to understand why. The first step needs to be taken. Do you want to leave a legacy worth remembering? It starts with a choice, in a moment—well, like this one. Are you ready to decide?
2. Leave a full legacy, not just a financial one.
Money is like fire. It has immense ability to be a blessing and a curse; cook your food and burn your socks off. You can pass it to your heirs with both blessing and curse potentially resulting. Money, however, is just one part of a legacy. Leaving a complete legacy and a full inheritance is focusing on the non-financial pieces alongside the financial ones. True wealth is more than money. A families’ true wealth includes five distinct areas or capitals. Others have their own version of these categories, but here is how I see it. The five capitals are financial, intellectual, emotional, character, and spiritual. I’m going to briefly break them down and give a question and currency for each capital.
The question with Financial Capital is: How much treasure do you have to invest? The currency is dollars and cents, pounds and pennies. The question with Intellectual capital is: How much creativity and knowledge do we have to invest? The currency here is concepts and ideas. The question with Emotional Capital is: How much relational equity to invest? The currency is your family, friends, and network. With Character Capital the question is: How much integrity do you have to invest? The currency is work ethic, motivation and attitude. And finally, Spiritual Capital’s question is: How much spiritual impact do we have to invest? The currency is wisdom and influence. It’s common to talk through financial literacy, intellectual quotient, and even in the last 40 years we’ve added emotional intelligence or emotional quotient. These are all good. But why not add character capital? Who wouldn’t want their kids to have a high character quotient? What would it look like to develop their character capital and their spiritual capital? The truth is that financial capital might be the easiest of these five capitals to pass along, as a result the others often suffer neglect. A full inheritance includes passing all five capitals.
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3. Put resources behind that intentionality.
It’s one thing to merely decide this is going to happen. But if you don’t put intentionality, time, and resources behind your legacy, it can only go so far. Think for a second about how much time and energy you put into planning your financial life. How much did you pay your state planning attorney? What do you pay fees to your investment manager? Tax Advisor? Now how much money have you spent to plan legacy? If you’re like most people, family vacations may be the only intentionality on the family side. If you plan on being serious about building into a family story legacy, you need be willing to put some resources towards legacy. Now, it doesn’t have to be crazy. But have you bought any books on the subject? Have you attended any conferences on family legacy? Have you shared any articles on this with your kids? Have you engaged in deep conversations with close friends on what family legacy would look like?
The Mullins Exercise Let me tease out the five capitals and how you should resource them a little bit more. I call this the Mullins Exercise. It’s named after my friend Frank Mullins who taught it to me. Imagine for second you can only pass one of the five capitals? Which is the most important? Are you going to pass financial, intellectual, emotional, character, and spiritual capital? Which of these is the chief one for your heirs to inherit? Take a moment to determine your answer. If you are like most people I walk through this exercise, you chose character or spiritual. Most do. Those two are deeper than the others. For me, the other capitals are governed by the spiritual capital and informed by your spiritual worldview. My worldview is informed by the Bible. So, for my family the Bible and spiritual capital inform the order and priority for the other capitals. Similar to determining your chief capital, imagine for a moment you could only pass along four capitals but not
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Todd DeKruyter is the President of Family Meridian. After years of managing people’s middle school kids as a youth pastor, Todd decided it couldn’t be any harder to instead manage their money as a financial planner. Perhaps as a contrast to working as an executive in a wealth management firm, Todd’s fun side found rather odd outlets through things such as a backyard chicken farm (he lives in the suburbs), a taste for wearing old school plaid pants (stop by the office and see), and of course his prize collection of crayon art (donated by four small artists who live in his home). Todd is married to his beautiful wife Janelle, and she thinks that Todd finally found the perfect union of his pastor’s heart and his business mind when he became president of Family Meridian. For more information, visit familymeridian.com.
all five capitals. In other words, you have to bankrupt one capital. Which would you leave out? Take another moment to think about it. Again, if you are like most, you would choose to say that financial capital is the least important of the capitals. If financial capital is the fire, then the other capitals are flint and kindling. If you would choose to disinherit the financial piece but still pass on the flint and kindling, your heirs can make their own fire. But if you pass only fire with nothing else — ouch! Bad results happen. So if you, like most people, would choose to bankrupt the financial capital — therefore considering it the least important—then why do you spend most, if not all, of your planning dollars and resources on that particular capital? Now I’m not advocating for equal planning dollars for all capitals. Done well estate, tax, and financial planning are not cheap. But why do we leave out the legacy planning? Why do the non-financial capitals get left behind? Make a decision. Leave a full inheritance. Put resources to your legacy.
4. Put it on your calendar.
I have green grass when the task of fertilizing my lawn actually makes it onto my calendar. Working out happens when it gets into my daily rhythm. Dates with my wife or kids happen when I add them to my schedule. I’ve found I have a higher likelihood of accomplishing tasks when I plan out a time to do them. When I don’t put an item on my Outlook calendar or on my phone, it doesn’t happen. For legacy planning, it needs to make it as a block of time on your calendar. Stop right now and think through your calendar. Put a time to talk to those you need to about this. Send a text or an email and begin the process of thinking and talking this through with your team. Let’s lean into this! Let’s be people whose lives matter in eternity! Let’s also matter where it truly matters. Let’s leave a legacy of values and stories that our grandkids will emulate and be proud to talk about. This is what it truly means for our lives to echo beyond our last breath. n
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Transitioning Family Wealth By Steve Marken
he general story is all too tragically familiar. The last statement and legacy of our loved ones is often found within the context of legal documents, defined largely by legal standards which have little meaning or comprehension to those left behind. The result can be disastrous. A true story ... Father has passed. His intentions are read. His oldest, a materially successful attorney driven by a desire to be recognized and appreciated by her father, receives less than her brother, a respected teacher who was equally successful, just not in a material sense. No further explanation is given. The result ... daughter despises her father due to the disproportionate gift she received. Daughter also wants nothing to do with her brother, not because of anything her brother has done, but out of jealousy over the larger financial gift her brother received. The family is fractured beyond repair. Dad’s legacy is sadly established. Consider instead what could have been. In supplement to his legal documents, father puts some context and adds his personal story to his estate desires and provides what every beneficiary desires, a heartfelt expression of the love and appreciation the deceased had for those he has left behind. As Dad could have explained through what is known as a “Letter of Wishes” (or “Ethical Will” or “Legacy Letter”), Dad explains that his generation was not good at expressing their true feelings. Although he never had the courage or took the initiative to verbally express his pride or love for his children during their lifetime, he was extremely proud of both. He saw the success of his daughter and was very proud of her accomplishments. He was equally proud of his son and the impact he was having in educating our leaders of tomorrow. His estate structure was fueled by his deep love for both and his desire to equalize their care financially. Although his kids may disagree with how his love was ultimately expressed, through the “Legacy Letter” each would have received what all ultimately desired ... an understanding that they were loved and appreciated by their beloved family member who is now gone.
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As a trustee, we have the privileged opportunity to oversee the financial legacies which people put in place for their loved ones. Surprisingly, and certainly disconcerting, is that almost all of the estate plans we oversee generally look the same, yet all of family’s we serve are so different. All too often we are left to search for the context and personal story behind the estate plan. Consider another common scenario regarding multigenerational wealth transfer. Fueled by the necessity to provide shelter and food for his family, Generation 1 (G1) risks all and starts a business. Because financial resources are scarce, Generation 2 (G2) is asked to forego other opportunities and is required to assist with the family business. Growing up in the context of having little, and understanding the necessity and benefits of hard work, G1 and begin to grow the business. Through time, the material success comes. G2 has their own children (G3). G3 begin to receive the benefits of wealth and are afforded opportunities which neither G1 or G2 likely never had. At some point G1 passes and likely leaves behind the material fruit of their business success to subsequent generations. Received in the context of a culture defined
by material comforts, which G1 likely did not experience when growing up, the questions commonly introspectively asked when considering the transfer of meaningful wealth include: “Will the wealth adversely impact the personal ethic, drive and initiative which likely fueled and proved instrumental in the accumulation of the family wealth?” “Will the inherited wealth rob the recipient of selfesteem which is commonly derived from personal accomplishment?” Although questions like these are commonly contemplated by those with meaningful wealth, most all estate plans leave out the context, ethic, and story related to their family wealth. When wealth suddenly appears by way of inheritance, all too often the stories, sacrifice, and values behind its creation are never told or lost. Without the context, story, or values, it is often difficult — if not impossible — for subsequent generations to appreciate the generous gift that has become their inheritance. Without an understanding or appreciation for their gift, a lack of accountability for the continued thoughtful stewardship of the wealth commonly follows. Out-of-control spending, depression fueled by lack of drive, initiative, and personal accomplishment, as well as substance abuse are symptoms, which can manifest in such situations.
Unfortunately, statistics on failed estate transfers reveal this lack of story and context behind the estate plan is a serious and dangerous issue. According to Roy Williams and Vic Presser (authors of Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to Successful Transition of Family Wealth) and recent studies conducted by The Economist and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the lack of successful wealth transfer is not because of the legal documents or structure being in place. Instead, 85% of failed wealth transfers are a direct result of the context, ethic and story behind the transfer not also being conveyed. For many, a successful estate plan is one which encourages the beneficiaries to be all that they can be, to take advantage of the opportunities which the inherited wealth affords without losing their own personal identity, or completely quashing their personal desire make a meaningful difference in the world. As Warren Buffet said, to leave the next generation “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.’’
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So what can be done to help the odds of successful wealth transfer? It starts with the estate design. An intimate focus on the big picture desires of the estate holder and uniqueness of the estate beneficiaries will prove favorable in the construct of a more personalized estate plan. For each beneficiary, the estate holder should answer the following ... What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to guard against? And as addressed above, donâ€™t stop with just the answers to these deep and personally probing questions. Providing the estate holderâ€™s personal background and experience for the answers will provide the invaluable and much needed context for the estate design. For example, commonly estate holders desire to withhold assets from their estate beneficiaries until they reach a certain age. In almost every such instance, the estate plan sets forth the age but no explanation as to why. This can leave the estate beneficiary to surmise that the holding back of the assets was because of a lack of trust or belief in their personal capabilities. An unfortunate negative spin on a generous and thoughtful gift.
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Instead, consider providing some context and explanation for the reason why the assets are being held in trust. For example, as could be explained by the estate creator ... “When I was young, I made a number of foolish mistakes in regard to my finances, mistakes which became clearer through life experience and personal maturity. When in high school and college, peer acceptance was of great importance to me, and was the fuel behind me getting into significant financial debt through my purchase of the coolest car that my limited wealth and questionable credit could afford. For years I was required to labor and pay off the debt, well after the glamour of the car had tarnished. This decision adversely affected my ability to enter into a much better investment, the purchase of my first home. Because of my personal experience, I have decided to protect you from the financial mistakes I made and have decided to hold the assets in trust until you reach the age of _____.“ If your estate plan is already in place, the construct and inclusion of a Letter of Wishes, Ethical Will, or Legacy Letter can prove beneficial. Resources such as Laura Roser’s Your Meaning Legacy can stir the creative juices in this regard and provide some great ideas for practical application, while the “Personalized Estate Design” questionnaire of Stewardship Counsel provides a methodical approach to a more individualized estate plan which is personally reflective of the uniqueness of you and your beloved beneficiaries. (Stewardship Counsel is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 81-4763230) focused upon assisting families, foundations, and the professional advisory community to proactively address the character and relational challenges often encountered with meaningful wealth, while simultaneously helping establish inspired and responsible stewards of the family legacy.) It concludes with putting in place the right people to oversee your legacy as expressed through your estate.
Steve Marken, JD, CSPG is the Founding Principal, Professional Trustee, and Consultant of Trustee Services Group. An accomplished attorney and consultant to wealth managers throughout the country, Steve is a nationally recognized expert adept at overseeing estate plans that holistically and multigenerationally integrate a family’s financial (material), human (people) and social (philanthropic) capital. Recognized as a Certified Specialist in charitable tax planning by the American Institute of Philanthropic Studies, Steve intimately understands the role of philanthropy in the wealth equation and how such, when properly and intentionally embraced, can be a powerful antidote to the risk and challenge of “affluenza,” while also serving as a unparalleled means of uniting families around common values and interests in the building of a lasting family legacy. With an accomplished professional background in law, tax, finance, and philanthropy, Steve is privileged to share his diverse background and experience while serving families and their professional advisors across the country. For more information, visit trusteeservicesgroup.com. serve as trustee and/or estate executor should always be considered. If this may be an issue, consider putting the trusted family member in the role of “Trust Protector,” which allows the family member to oversee the work of thirdparty trustee, while alleviating the family member of the onerous and legally important tasks associated with serving as trustee and estate executor, while also preserving their relationship amongst the family member beneficiaries.
Many have longstanding relationships with professional advisors who not only understand your assets and management preferences, but should also intimately understand your personal values and family story. Consider an estate structure which specifically includes the continued involvement of your trusted financial advisor who can help to fill in the personal gaps and provide the rich personal context for the estate plan which otherwise may be missing.
If an independent third-party trustee or estate executor is needed or desired, look for a firm whose primary focus is to understand your intentions and serve your family. For the reasons set forth above, also look for a firm that will collaboratively work with the professional advisory team which knows and understands you and those your deeply care about. This “open architecture” approach to trust and estate fiduciary services will help your family avoid the unintended relational pitfalls which can later arise and undermine the best laid estate plans.
Finally, naming the wrong person to serve as the trustee and estate executor can have a disastrous impact on the family and can ruin what would otherwise be a welldesigned estate plan. Unfortunately, there are all too many stories of families being torn apart because a family member was placed in the middle of the family wealth. The relational impact of naming a family member to
It’s your wealth. It’s your family. You have a lot at stake. The thoughtful design and construct of an estate plan which intimately reflects you, your story and your desires will give you the best chance to ensure the successful transfer of your wealth, while also establishing a transformational personal legacy which can have a positive impact for generations to come. n
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“If you care about your impact on the world and your family, read Your Meaning Legacy. It will teach you how to pass on what’s most important.” —Kevin Cashman, Global Head of CEO & Executive Development, Korn Ferry and Bestselling Author of Leadership from the Inside Out Download FREE Chapter
You Are Worth More Than Your Stuff Leave a Legacy That Matters Estate planning traditionally focuses on your financial assets—your stuff. But what about your other assets? Such as your wisdom, values, beliefs, and experiences. These are essential to pass on as well. In Your Meaning Legacy, legacy planning expert Laura Roser reveals a step-by-step approach to cultivating, capturing and passing on what matters most.
INTENTIONAL Impact Investing
Grow Your Bank Account While Changing the World By Mission Driven Finance
raditional thinking has historically divided money — and how to leave a legacy — into two distinct buckets: either making investments to generate profits, or making grants and donations to create social and environmental change. But people are realizing these buckets don’t need to be separate — and, in fact, never really were. After all, every investment makes some kind of an impact, whether or not you’re aware of what that may be. So, why not be intentional about aligning your financial assets with your social values? Indeed, many charitably-minded individuals are turning to impact investing to generate real social and environmental change in their communities, while simultaneously supporting their financial goals. Impact investing — investing in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return — is on the rise. It began to gain momentum 10 years ago, when people started to examine the disconcerting gap between traditional investing and philanthropy. “There is a growing interest for people today, especially for Millennials and women, who want to connect with wealth managers and financial planners that are tuned into impact investing,” said Lauren Grattan, Co-Founder and Director of Community Engagement at Mission Driven Finance.
Lauren Grattan presenting on impact investing in San Diego
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Grantmakers Reception - Nicole Tempel Assisi (Thrive Public Schools, borrower), Lauren Grattan, Robert Villarreal (CDC Small Business Finance, close community partner), Sierra Visher Kroha (San Diego Social Venture Partners, close community partner)
“Financial planners need to be responsive to the rising wealth of younger individuals who are asking for this,” she said. “If they don’t have these products available or the capacity to have meaningful conversations about personal and family values, prospective clients are going to pick another advisor.”
Grattan and CEO David Lynn launched San Diegobased impact investment firm Mission Driven Finance in 2016 specifically to make it easier to invest in your community. “Most major financial institutions have rolled out impact products, and that’s a great start for investors,” noted Lynn, who has spent two decades in traditional investment management, primarily for a philanthropic family. “But most of those funds are comprised of public equities, not organizations in your own backyard where you most want to leave a lasting legacy.” “Our base premise at Mission Driven Finance is that it’s a very good, exciting thing to invest in your own community,” said Lynn. “Yet it’s really not all that easy to do. Even if you said, ‘I have a million dollars, and I want to invest — not
donate, but invest — in local business in San Diego,’ you would face a lot of barriers on your own.” Mission Driven Finance actively develops local impact investment opportunities that align investors’ personal values and legacy goals with those of nonprofits, social enterprises, and small businesses. The company serves as an intermediary between these powerful investments and investors, while also functioning as case managers that strengthen borrowers’ businesses.
More Than Philanthropy
It is clear that producing positive social change has become an American value. In 2017, Americans gave $410B to charity, for the first time crossing the $400B mark. But investable assets are in the trillions of dollars — orders of magnitude larger than philanthropy — and largely untapped for social change. Impact investing takes philanthropy to the next level.
Heather Marie Burke (Director of Investor Relations) and Lauren Grattan (Co-Founder & Director of Community Engagement) with notes from community members on their values and the legacies they want to create with their investments
“Through impact investing, we can activate so much more money for social change and the things we believe in,” said Grattan. Having spent a decade as a nonprofit fundraiser, she encourages individuals and families to “continue to donate, but also align your invested assets with your values. Donations alone are not enough to make the world we want to see, nor do they need to be the only way to create change.” Co-mingling private investing with social change — rather than philanthropy and traditional investing living in separate worlds — is one of the most effective ways to achieve different, creative solutions. “If we want transformative social change, then we have to pull in more public and private capital, and activating that capital then really becomes the new role of philanthropy,” said Lynn.
David Lynn presenting on impact investing in San Diego
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“People get excited about a 1:1 match with traditional giving,” said Lynn, who serves on multiple San Diego nonprofits’ boards and regularly interacts with donors, foundations, and investors. “With a blended finance approach to impact investing, donors and other impactfirst investors can get at 20:1 or 40:1 match, as they de-risk investments and unlock finance-first capital. That matching effect can be even stronger as the money gets recycled.” Funneling this kind of multiplied impact into one’s own local community is incredibly exciting for recipients and investors alike. As an investor who wishes to leave behind a meaningful legacy, whoNiraj wouldn’t want to see their MDF team - Heather Marie Burke, Kaji, Amanda Goldberger, usedLynn, to solve most troubling issues in their own Lauren money Grattan, David Louiethe Nguyen, Carrie Stokes Holst, Shreya Sasaki backyard? Impact investing can also alleviate some of the common, challenging dynamics of family philanthropy with multiple stakeholders — each of whom often has his or her own philanthropic priorities — and spark new conversations around creating cross-generational impact. “With capital recycling back from successful impact investments, rather than a donation or grant being gone forever, the stakes to get the impact right are lower,” said Grattan. “For example, if Grandma wants to invest in early childhood development, and Grandson wants to help build clean energy infrastructure, they both can. The investments might not be simultaneous, but the possibility of both family members getting to see their priority projects move forward is more accessible than it is with donations.”
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Educating & Inspiring Impact Investors
Fortunately, impact investors aren’t left to figure all this out on their own. Mission Driven Finance specializes in crafting local San Diego impact investments advancing economic opportunity in a number of different areas, including affordable housing, education, and refugee resettlement and integration. They do the difficult legwork of building up dealflow and packaging it together so that they can offer local impact investors fantastic, profitable options, while also attracting national institutional capital to invest in San Diego. In doing so, Mission Driven Finance helps ensure that real, lasting change happens in their backyard. So how does Mission Driven Finance draw in the private capital that’s interested in social solutions? They begin by educating investors on impact investing to get them excited about crafting a legacy that really matters. Mission Driven Finance regularly presents on impact investing to interested parties in the San Diego community, giving a comprehensive overview of what it is and how to get involved, in their “Impact Investing 101” presentation. They also offer custom presentations for individual investors and organizations who want to take impact investing to the next level — providing specific strategies and tools to activate assets and teach investors how to work with complex, high-impact transactions. Beyond formal education sessions, Grattan and Lynn love to chat over coffee with investors who have expressed interest. “We really just want to get to know them, learn what they’re passionate about, and how we can help connect them with the best local investments based on
their values,” said Grattan. “We ask them the important questions: ‘What are the things you care about? What are your goals financially? What is the legacy you’re looking to leave behind?’ and go from there.”
A Legacy of Community Systems
But it’s not only prospective investors that will leave behind a legacy — the Mission Driven Finance team will, too. What does that look like to them? For Grattan, it’s a San Diego where everyone feels equally committed to making it an amazing place for all to live. “I want to cultivate a city where those with resources are committed to helping everyone else have an opportunity to thrive by investing in their community, their neighbors, and each other. That’s what makes me really excited, because we’re getting there.” Lynn hopes that by helping to unlock more private money to do more good, Mission Driven Finance’s legacy will be one that permanently alters systemic structures which have traditionally held back so much social impact.
David Lynn, Co-Founder & CEO
“If someone years in the future could say that significant change occurred in San Diego,” said Lynn, “that systems shifted to be sustainable and supportive, and that Mission Driven Finance was one of the architects of that change, then I’d be perfectly happy having that written for my obituary.” n Visit missiondrivenfinance.com and @MDFinanceSD for more information about impact investing and Mission Drive Finance.
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Timeless Wisdom: George and Ben and Me Adventures as a History Writer By Randy Petersen
y agent came to me with a great idea. “Did you know that Ben Franklin and George Whitefield were friends? Somebody should write a book about that.”
If you don’t know the name George Whitefield, you’re not alone. He was the British preacher who captivated the American colonies in the mid-1700s. Historians talk about the Great Awakening, a religious revival that paved the way for the American Revolution. Whitefield (pronounced Whitfield) was its driving force. For a few decades he was probably the most famous person in the colonies, even more notable than Franklin, but the following centuries have not been very attentive to him. One book title calls him “America’s forgotten founding father.” But I knew Whitefield vaguely from some past writing projects, so my agent’s idea perked my interest. Living in the Philadelphia area most of my life, I knew all about Franklin, but I never knew these two men were friends. I agreed that there might be a story to tell.
Gazette, where he often reported on the preacher’s appearances. History has also preserved much of the correspondence of both men, so I was able to find about a dozen letters that passed between them. There are business conversations and personal notes, congratulations, and thanks — as well as Whitefield’s relentless attempts to convert Franklin. So there was some kind of friendship there, with plenty of angles for me to explore. But was I the one to do it?
Crisis of Confidence
With my agent’s help, I put together a book proposal that highlighted my meager historical credentials. To my surprise and delight, the proposal was accepted. And then I had a crisis of confidence. The more I read books by historians about either one of these men, the more I worried. I was not really a historian. How could I hope to compete with these experts?
Might is the important word there. First I had to dig into history to see whether they did in fact know each other, and how well. Then there was the question of significance. How did their friendship affect anything else they did? Why should we care?
My family gave me good advice: Be who you are. What unique thing could I bring to the table? How could my book be different from the others? That inspired me to do a sort of personal inventory.
Finding the Connection
I was an experienced writer with an enjoyable style. Some of the historical books I was reading were stuffy, hard to read. My book could be fun.
I didn’t have to look far to find evidence of the connection. In his autobiography, Franklin devotes several pages to his remembrances of this preacher. This includes a few droll stories about Whitefield’s powerful speaking voice and his ability to raise money. And in that same book, Ben says he once invited George to stay in the Franklin home. Before he was a statesman or a scientist, Ben Franklin made his living as a printer. This was how he first connected with George Whitefield. There was a huge market for the preacher’s journals, sermons, and autobiography. Franklin kept these in print, and he made a good bit of money on them. Franklin also ran a major newspaper, the Pennsylvania
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I was a Philadelphian, with an organic understanding of Franklin, but also a Christian, with an appreciation of Whitefield’s message. Perhaps I could treat both men evenhandedly. Some of the books I read about Whitefield seemed to have a political agenda. I didn’t. I was also a theater guy. A few years earlier, I got a master’s degree in theater at Villanova University. (At that time, I called it my midlife crisis. Hey, some men buy sports cars. I got a degree, and it proved very valuable.) The strength of the Villanova program is dramaturgy — essentially the study
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of the cultural history around the theater. There I learned how to research history — and not just facts or events, but historical forces that shaped societies. This became the key to my approach. Armed with my dramaturgical training, I set about exploring the world around Franklin and Whitefield. I also dug into the background of both men as if I were playing them on stage. What made them tick? This transformed the project for me. Instead of trying to be a historian, I was actually doing work I knew how to do and applying it to these two fascinating men in a way that hadn’t been done before. I got my mojo back.
Lens on History
If you were studying American culture in the twentieth century, you might look at its movies. In its romances and fantasies, comic romps and thrillers, Hollywood has both reflected the values of society and affected them. For the previous 24 centuries, all around the world, theater had that role. So, as I tried to understand the culture that the American colonies inherited from Britain in the 1700s, I looked at the robust theater scene in London at the beginning of that century. Three plays in particular captured my fancy: The Conscious Lovers, a gentle comedy that signaled a return to sexual morals; The Beggar’s Opera, a biting satire that equated the government with common crooks; and The London Merchant, which praised the values of the middle class. As young men, both Franklin and Whitefield stepped into a world that was ready for a revolution in values. Common folks couldn’t trust the high-born to lead the way anymore. In the witticisms of his bestseller, Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin was essentially inventing a middle-class morality of thrift and industry. In his preaching, Whitefield urged all classes of people to claim God’s kingdom for themselves. It was a century of liberation in many forms, and theater had rung the bell. By the way, young Ben Franklin lived in London for several years in the 1720s, and he attended the theater occasionally. Growing up in England, George Whitefield studied acting in school. Throughout his career, he was known for his dramatic style. (Britain’s best actor was quoted as saying he would pay a great sum to be able to say the word “Oh” like George Whitefield.) Franklin found a different kind of performance in print. He often wrote under assumed identities — Mrs. Silence Dogood, Poor Richard, etc. In my attempt to use what I knew — dramaturgy — I had stumbled on a buried treasure of insight into these two men. Not only did theater shape and shout the shifting values of their world, but it also gave them strategies to succeed in that world.
Putting Pieces Together
Once I admitted I was not writing as a trained historian, just a researcher and observer, I enjoyed a greater freedom to suggest, wonder, and conjecture.
Randy Petersen is the author of The Printer and the Preacher (Nelson, 2015), and has written scores of other books, as well as plays and Bible-study curriculum. He’s active in theater in the Philadelphia area and in his Methodist church. For instance, I was fascinated by Franklin’s role in the Hemphill affair. A few years before Whitefield came to America, Samuel Hemphill was an associate pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia that Franklin supported and sometimes attended. Hemphill preached in a dramatic style, and he defied some of the conventions of the Presbyterian establishment. For all that, Franklin loved him, and the church leaders had problems with him. There was a church trial and, despite Franklin’s strong objections, Hemphill was sent packing. Here’s my theory: Franklin saw Whitefield as another Hemphill — another theatrical preacher who challenged the church establishment. This may have given George a head start in winning Ben’s friendship, despite their obvious differences. It was also fun to trace the paths of these two men through 30 years of meetings and correspondence and to make guesses about the ups and downs of their relationship. Though Whitefield was based in England, he made eight trips to America — and most of those trips included Philadelphia. Following up on the invitation Ben mentioned in his autobiography, we can surmise that Whitefield stayed with the Franklins on some of those visits. During these decades, Franklin and Whitefield were arguably the most famous people in America. Whitefield preached in every colony, and people flocked to hear him. Thanks to Poor Richard’s Almanac, Franklin was a renowned author, and thanks to Whitefield-mania, he built a media empire. What would the forces of fame mean to a friendship like this? Perhaps they could understand the pressures on each other as few others could. I imagined what they might have talked about on cold evenings around Franklin’s stove. The loss of children, which both been experienced. The war against the French, which both of them were very involved in. The innovative marketing methods they both were developing. And we can be sure that the preacher kept pushing the printer to consider his eternal destiny.
Putting It to Bed
I finished the book at five in the morning, after a long night of final adjustments. I suppose most authors think about extra things they could have done — one more trip to the library, one more book to read — and I’m no exception. But in general, I’m pleased with what I did. I wasn’t trying to write a scholarly historical tome. I was simply using all that I could offer to tell a story that needed telling. n
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