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Social Media

Is Kim Kardashian Mentoring Your Kids?





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Note from the Editor Who Are You Becoming?


Getting to Know My Grandmotherin-Law Through Her Diaries Lynette M. Smith Reveals the Diary Entries and Photos That Most Impacted Her


The Top 5 Reasons You Should Never Hold a Family Meeting

Tom Deans Reveals the Thinking That Prevents Families from Conducting Productive Meetings

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Writing the Book of Legacy Chris Gibbons Introduces 4 Steps to Deeper Self-Reflection

A New View of Wealth and the Importance of Intentional Travel to Create “Wellthy” Experiences Ella Chase Hyland and Michelle Langdon Share How Their Life Experiences Led Them to Create Wellthy Experience for Others


Kim Kardashian Is Mentoring Your Kids

Laura A. Roser Explains Why Those With the Biggest Followings Are Not the Best Mentors for Your Kids

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Life, Love, and Legacy


The Difference Maker


Phil Cubeta Helps Others Cross Home Plate With A Fully Developed Approach To Family Legacy

C. Michelle Bryan Explains Why You Are a Difference Maker

Henry Johnson

Ferris Coin Honors the Legacy of a Long-Overlooked American Hero

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Alexander Hamilton

Randy Petersen Reviews the Autobiography of Hamilton That Helped Launch the Famous Musical

The Essentialist

Greg McKeown Helps Readers Know The Benefits Of An Essentialist Approach To Life

Timeless Wisdom: Unhappy in Its Own Way

Laura A. Roser Explains the Anna Karenina Principle for Your Family

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Issue 17 | January 2019

Paragon Road PUBLISHER Laura A. Roser EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Marko Nedeljkovic DESIGN William Jenkins CONTENT DIRECTOR

C. Michelle Bryan Ferris Coin Phil Cubeta Tom Deans Chris Gibbons Ella Chase Hyland Michelle Langdon Greg McKeown

Charity Navigator Paragon Road Your Meaning Legacy by Laura A. Roser

Share your product or service with thousands of financial professionals around the world through our digital magazine and main website. Email:

Randy Petersen Laura A. Roser Lynette M. Smith

Have a good idea for an article, feedback or suggestions for our magazine? Email the editor directly:

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 17

Note from the Editor

Who Are You Becoming?


s I reflect on the happenings of last year and plan for the year ahead, one theme keeps coming up: What kind of person am I becoming? We all continually make decisions which lead us closer to or further away from the kind of people we want to become. It is easy to slowly drift away from your family one missed opportunity at a time. It is easy to slowly increase in weight month after month (pizza slice after pizza slice). Step by step, it is easy to veer away from the kind of person you want to become without even realizing it. I blame it on that pesky law of thermodynamics that states everything moves toward disorder. In this issue of Legacy Arts, we hit on some important advice for battling entropy and focusing on what matters. A few years ago, I read Essentialism, a book written by Greg McKeown. It helped me to understand how to prune out the unimportant parts of my life and avoid dreaded overwhelm (which seems to come naturally to me). I was delighted when he said he’d be happy to contribute some excerpts from his book for this issue.

government and how it has affected family life. Ferris Coin writes about the legacy of WWI hero Henry Johnson. In Timeless Wisdom, I brush up on the Anna Karenina Principle and why Tolstoy remarks that all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. Randy Petersen reviews the We also have several inspirational articles autobiography of Hamilton that helped launch a from well-known strategists in the philanthropic famous musical. and family dynamics space. Make sure to read As always, thank you, thank you, thank you to Tom Dean’s thoughts about why to never hold a our wonderful contributors, Head Designer Marko, family meeting, Ella Chase Hyland’s and Michelle Langdon’s ideas about how to make family travel and Content Director William. Without your help more meaningful, and Phil Cubeta’s approach and support, none of this would be possible. And to family legacy. In my main article, I discuss the thank you to our readers. We are all on this life dangers of letting social media mentor your kids journey together; may we step carefully (but not (did you know Kim Kardashian has over 100 million too carefully) and support each other when we are followers on Instagram?) and how to introduce down. deeper topics in a way that resonates. All the best, Chris Gibbons and Lynette M. Smith each have Laura A. Roser their own take about how to capture stories Editor-in-Chief of Legacy Arts and CEO of Paragon and important life moments through writing. C. Road Michelle Bryan talks about her work with the

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Getting to Know My Grandmother-in-Law Through Her Diaries

By Lynette M. Smith

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. —Dakota proverb.


fter a food-poisoning incident made it clear that my then–95-year-old father-in-law could no longer live alone, my husband and I helped him move in with us. Over the next year, in Dad’s various day trips to his home, he would bring back boxes and stacks of a variety of things, filling his large bedroom here to capacity. A year later, due to his need for increased caregiving due to memory problems, we moved him, along with selected belongings, to a nearby memorycare residence. We steeled ourselves for the task of deciding what was worth saving from his bedroom in our home, and began to plow through a mountain of photos, albums, and personal papers that only a hoarder could amass. For two months we persevered and were happily rewarded by the discovery of a treasure trove of memories. We know that attention to genealogy, DNA findings, and exchanging stories with living relatives draws families together. But I was surprised and delighted to discover that getting acquainted through written memories with relatives I’d never met was heartwarming and powerful as well. Two old diaries written early in the 20th century by Brant Lowell (Kent) Smith, the mother of my 97-year-old fatherin-law, were the cream of the crop. But also among these stacks, aside from over a thousand old photos, we found several treasures from Dad’s mom: three captioned photo albums spanning the years 1913–1940; an autograph book belonging to Brant’s mother, Leila (Bressler) Kent, containing friends’ and relatives’ signatures dated between 1884 and 1888; and those two precious diaries Brant had written (1913–1920 and 1938–1939). Until we showed Dad these diaries and autograph book, he had not even been aware they existed—even though he’s the one who had stored them all these years.

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Those two diaries represented key times in Brant’s life. The earlier diary related her experiences in her junior year of high school in the small town of Waverly, Iowa, and in her senior year living with her aunt in Cedar Rapids to complete her high school education after her parents had left for White River, South Dakota, to establish a homestead adjacent to the one belonging to Brant’s grandparents. That diary mentioned her social life, her participation in high school orchestra and a girls’ sorority, and her hobbies of china painting, sewing, and tatting. After high school, she joined her parents at their desolate South Dakota homestead. There she embarked on new and sometimes dangerous adventures in and near the Badlands. She also joined a community orchestra that performed for dances both near and far. She played second violin, and the instrumentalist who played the cornet and managed the orchestra was the man she soon began dating and eventually married.

Lynette M. Smith is a professional copyeditor ( and author of the comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special, available at all major online retailers and from her publishing website, GoodWaysToWrite. com. Lynette says, “It was unexpectedly rewarding to get to know my grandmotherin-law through her diaries and photos. You, too, can enjoy a rewarding experience, not only by exploring your own hidden family treasures—letters, photos, diaries, and even autobiographies—but also by documenting your own stories for future generations.”

Tucked inside that diary was an especially moving entry dated November 11, 1917, seven months after the United States declared war with Germany in World War I. It was heartbreaking to read of Brant’s distress over the early months of America’s involvement, her concern that the war was predicted to last three years, her sorrow at the posting of the first of America’s casualties, and her dread of opening the letter she expected the next day, telling whether her boyfriend (the man she later married), who had enlisted in the army the previous June, would be shipped to France to fight in the trenches.

although hope always persisted. Meanwhile, Brant took in sewing for extra income. Besides her money-earning activities, she still maintained the household, offered her husband moral support, raised two growing boys, cared for her aging parents, cooked meals, and canned large quantities of fresh fruit whenever it was given or available at a bargain. She even found time to visit regularly with a terminally ill friend. It was heartrending to read Brant’s accounts of all these time demands and hardships, and I gained great admiration for how she handled them. She had such a big heart.

In the time span of the latter diary, Dad’s younger brother was eleven and twelve; Dad was sixteen and seventeen. Dad’s brother learned to swim well. Dad got his driver’s license in April 1938 and four months later had a serious automobile accident. This diary contained frequent allusion to the hard times of the Great Depression as well, and how Brant and her family were coping financially. Her husband had been unemployed for a year. She, as a stenographic secretary for a plumbing manufacturing firm, was the family breadwinner, even though her work hours had been cut back by a half day each week. In the back yard of Brant and her husband’s South Gate, California, home, Brant’s parents slept and occasionally cooked in their own two-room house (a small bedroom and kitchenette) that her father had built using the sturdy wood from apple crates he collected from a friend, the produce manager at the local Red Top grocery store. (Building and selling items such as doll houses and carriages made from apple-crate wood had been his moneyearning hobby.)

She finally took time for herself on Valentine’s Day in 1939 to visit the doctor and find out why she had diminished energy and chest pains. The diagnosis was, ironically, an enlarged heart, and she went on digitalis medication.

Brant’s diary entries were engaging to read. In the latter diary, for example, she described how her husband was trying to contribute financially by going into partnership with a couple of other men to mine, at two or three southern California locations, cinnabar ore from which to extract mercury and gold. Unfortunately, no successes were reported during those two years,

Unfortunately, just three years after that diary concluded, Brant died at age 47 of complications from her condition, now called cardiomegaly. Sadly, she died before she ever became a grandmother, so none of her grandchildren ever knew her. Brant’s diaries had faded and the older one had some water damage, so I transcribed their contents, scanning drawings and including their images as I went. The results were saved into two PDF files that I then made accessible to my husband, as well as to Dad’s nephew and nieces (the adult children of Dad’s brother, who passed away in 2017).

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Having not only transcribed the diaries but read them aloud to both Dad and my friend and mentor who loves history, I now feel especially close to Brant. Indeed, if Brant and I had been of the same generation, I would have hoped to consider her my good friend. This past July, my husband and I drove to see his three cousins in California’s Central Valley. We had a great reunion with them, their adult children, and one of their grandchildren. Another important reason for this trip was to deliver to Cousin Susan, the family historian/genealogist, all these photo albums, loose photos, and the two diaries, and to show them to all the cousins. Everyone enjoyed seeing those mementos after our potluck dinner, and we all had a great time. Susan, despite her prior genealogical research, had very little information available regarding Grandmother Brant. What we were able to bring Susan, coupled with the diary transcriptions, has changed all that. She and her siblings, along with Dad, my husband, and I, now know and love Brant as a treasured mother and grandmother. Indeed, Susan’s older sister, Robbi, later wrote to us, “Finally! Our mystery grandmother will have a place in our hearts and will be woven into our family’s tapestry of history.” n

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The Top-5 Reasons You Should Never Hold a Family Meeting Tom Deans Reveals the Thinking That Prevents Families from Conducting Productive Meetings By Tom Deans, Ph.D.

1. Time

Deciding to hold a family meeting to discuss and design a transparent estate plan with close family members could consume an entire morning of your life – that’s three hours of your life that you will never get back. Play a round of golf instead.

2. Expense

Family meetings not only take time, sometimes they cost money when done right. Save your money and keep your family guessing if you even have a legal will. You know your children won’t ask. Talking about aging, dying and the division of assets is deeply awkward. Keep a nice tight lid on that conversation and watch how your family relationships flourish.

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3. Over-rated

Family meetings are over-rated especially when attended by advisors who know how to run a meeting in a productive, respectful, business-like fashion. Why deprive your family of the opportunity to hash things out old-school, like when they were 12 and said things they clearly didn’t mean? Issues relating to your money and health care are best addressed over the phone by estranged family members who are grieving. It’s a great way to be remembered – icing on the cake for a great life lived.

Tom Deans Ph.D. is a full-time professional speaker and the author of Willing Wisdom: 7 Questions Successful Families Ask. He is also the founder of the Willing Wisdom Index a 9-minute diagnostic estate planning tool. Despite his aspiration to put every estate litigation lawyer out of work, he has great plans to re-hire them to write wills for the 137 million U.S. and Canadian adults who are without. To order your copy of Willing Wisdom visit www.WillingWisdom.comÂ

4. Sharing

The worst part of a family meeting is sharing documents like Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives with the people you hope will act in your best interest when you lack capacity. It is better to wait for a crisis to reveal your intentions. People move faster in a crisis. More importantly, everyone knows that if you talk about this stuff, bad things always happen. Let fate play a bigger part of your well-designed estate plan.

5. Feelings

Family meetings always devolve into arguments and tears, especially when parents reveal their desire to leave their estate equally to each of their children. Equality is such a mean-spirited concept and should be avoided at all cost. Even if your plan is to leave more money to one child, or more money to charity than to any of your children, keep this a secret. Secrets are fantastic. Ask your lawyer if you should share a copy of your legal will with your intended beneficiaries. Your lawyer’s response will tell you volumes about his or her love of family meetings and litigation.

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Writing the Book of Legacy

Chris Gibbons Introduces 4 Steps to Deeper Self-Reflection By Chris Gibbons


et’s start with a New Year’s admission: selfreflection is hard.

Each of us believes we know ourselves, that we have a sense for the nature of our loved ones, and that we’ve identified a firmly formed picture of right and wrong. Perhaps above all else, each of us believes we are rational people and make decisions based on facts and not emotions. If you’re chuckling, that’s good. We like to think we are all of these things and more, but our experiences tell us we’re often not. New Year’s resolutions are a great example of our annual attempt to address how often we find ourselves to be less than perfect. The same is true for our clients, of course, with one big difference. It is our responsibility to give them guidance in spite of their and our imperfect humanity! When that guidance becomes focused on legacy, the level of responsibility goes up. In order to facilitate a conversation about self-reflection, and because this word legacy can often feel too esoteric to grasp sometimes, our team built a process to simplify things. Here is how we go about finding our client’s truths and aiding in their ability to make progress in pursuit of their legacy. Legacy is the book you write every single day. I use this phrase a lot and love the book metaphor for myself and for our clients. The obvious reason is how basic it is and how tangible it is: everyone has at least held a book and understands in some measure how storytelling works. However, the more profound reason is using this metaphor allows our clients to become the

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protagonist in their life stories, to take the pen, turn the page, and write the next chapter themselves. For many, this is the first time they’ve had permission to engage their own lives with so much instrumentality or to engage in anything grander than the context of “this year’s (soon-to-be-failed) resolution.” Not everyone is a gifted writer unfortunately, so we use these four steps to help our clients get over some of their metaphorical writer’s block.


The first step is a conversation about how our clients make decisions. When it comes time to make a financial decision, are their instincts to be fearful, to be joyful, or perhaps to be of service to others? This knowledge is foundational because it speaks to something primal in each of us, a civilized “fight or flight” in a way.


The second step is about how those instincts have shaped our client’s individual and shared values. Every person and family has a set of these, whether written or implied, and they can include traditions, cultures, habits, languages, and codes. Finding out these familial “terms of engagement” goes a long way in the ultimate bookwriting process.


The third step is putting to voice how these values become priorities. For example, a governing principle of a husband and wife might be the pursuit of further education. As they age, as their children age, as their grandchildren age, that priority likely won’t change. Rather, the focus of that energy might move on to different family members and in different forums.


Thus, the final step is putting near term goals to these priorities and deciding the order in which these goals will be met. Minor accomplishments, boxes that can be checked off, are so important in writing a living legacy. Because these accomplishments are founded on a

Chris Gibbons is a Wealth Advisor for EisnerAmper Wealth Management in Philadelphia, PA. Though his formal education is in Philosophy, for more than 11 years he has guided families, small businesses, and unique individuals to financial fulfillment. His professional expertise in estate planning and risk management, in addition to his foundations in financial planning and investment management, help clients match their values to a personalized, ongoing strategy, one for every step of their financial lives. simple and repeatable process, we find that even our most reserved clients suddenly find footing to run with weight of writing their story … one step at a time. At every interval, we remind our clients to seek honesty within themselves instead of outward validation. This is enormously important for couples where one spouse is dominant and almost without fail opens the door for a thought or opinion that has never been voiced before. We also encourage our clients to be deliberative in all parts of their planning. Other advisors, other experts, and other opinions are always valued in the work that we do. We know that if we allow for other perspectives and broader access to information, the end result will be a more thoroughly knowledgeable client and a better decision. (This requires a bit of legacy-writing on our part too, believing in ourselves as trusted advisors enough to not be threatened by other experts!) Lastly, we advise our clients to bring important stakeholders into their legacy conversation as they feel comfortable. Often these are family members, but sometimes include business partners, friends, neighbors, and caretakers. Even if none of these people are required to make a decision for our clients, involving them in the conversation or the messaging of this legacy story gives them agency and makes them feel valued. The most significant outcome of an engagement like this is a life more fulfilled: holding the pen and writing the story starts that process and to know that our client has lived a life of significance and impact, to know that a mother and daughter have deepened their relationship, to know that a business will continue to serve a community long after the founder passes away, to know that we were good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given… To know we’ve allowed our clients room to write a book about their lives the next generation will want to read, that is why we built this process. Our resolution? To keep helping our clients write their own book. n

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A New View of Wealth and the Importance of Intentional Travel to Create “Wellthy” Experiences By Ella Chase Hyland and Michelle Langdon


he wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.” —Dr. Myles Munroe Wealth. The perceived pinnacle of success. But for those who have been on the receiving end of financial abundance (regardless of earned or inherited), know that this is far from true. In fact, in many cases, it muddies the waters of a “successful” life, as the lines have been blurred by which to measure satisfaction. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “There is perhaps nothing worse than reaching the top of the ladder and discovering that you’re on the wrong wall.” We believe that financial gain alone is the wrong wall. We started Wellth Works and redefined the term wealth for ourselves after having climbed the ladder on the wrong wall. We are both asset recipients, Ella from a longstanding multi-generational family and Michelle from a family liquidity event in her lifetime. We each received a level of financial benefit from family situations and leveraged it independently, creating successful lives as historically defined by money, career, and title. And yet, we both still felt dissatisfied, looking around at the top and wondering what was missing. Exposed to a variety of life’s challenge including marriage, divorce, and lost loved ones, we each came to realize that we are guaranteed only a small amount of time in this life and a lot of choices. After meeting in a smoky cafe in Bolivia on a year-long Intentional Travel adventure in 2016, we each set out to define a new way and make intentionally aligned choices. It was during this 30-country voyage that we began to explore a new definition for a fulfilled, abundant life. We

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created and launched our company Wellth Works based on the premise that money is only one ingredient to an abundant life. Wellth Works offers people (families, individuals, and specifically the rising generations) a new framework for meaningful, successful living. Wellth = Financial + Health/Wellbeing + Significance + Contribution


As is the culturally accepted norm, financial wealth is fairly straightforward. While there are many benefits, money can also be correlated with increased loneliness and higher rates of anxiety and depression. Wellth Works’ goal in working with clients is to help them see that financial success is important and not the only endgame.


Health includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. These are often taken for granted until there is a problem and financial abundance is not a guarantee to solve them. We support families and individuals to take a more holistic look at health, providing tools and conversations that help people access a foundation of sound physical, mental, and emotional health. As longtime yoga practitioners and meditators, we enjoy weaving concepts we’ve learned from around the world to broaden out the definition of health and well-being with our client collaborations.


How do you derive your place in this world? What are your values, ethics, morals? The need for individual significance is inherently universal, and yet little time and energy is spent considering this component. For some, it may show up in generative ways, such as pride in parenting and taking on leadership roles in areas that they value.


How are you paying forward and not just giving back? Wellth Works defines contribution broader than philanthropy. How do you give of your time, talent, and treasure? What in your life can you do or give that makes a direct positive impact on another? Contribution doesn’t have to be on a global scale and provides meaning and purpose not just for the person engaging in the activity but also for the intended recipient.

Wellth and Travel

One way to activate this framework is through travel. Wellth Works leverages Intentional Travel, primarily with the rising female family leader. A study by Harris Group found that, “72 percent of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things.”  We have traveled to 90+ countries and know intimately the positive effects of travel on creativity, empathy, and interpersonal relationships. And science backs this up: “We found that when people had experiences traveling to other countries it increased what’s called generalized trust, or their general faith in humanity,” Professor Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School states, “When we engage in other cultures, we start to have experience with different people and recognize that most people treat you in similar ways. That produces an increase in trust.” Intentional Travel is creating an experience wherein families travel with a purpose — they set out with a clear intention to create new memories, build family bonds, or experience and learn something about their heritage or an issue important to them. And infused with these experiences is play, fun, exploration, and bonding in a way that advances alignment for the family system. This is not your all-inclusive resort holiday. We’re not talking about your typical week in Aspen or on Bora Bora, but an experience here or abroad that is immersive, new and purposeful, about experiencing and creating a new conversation. We help families use their typical and traditional vacation time and use it more intentionally. For one family, this looked like planning a trip to the Galapagos because they valued conservation, reversing climate change, and actively looking to better understand our impact on the Earth. For another family, this meant planning a trip for the children to return to the source of the wealth creation in the mining communities of West Virginia to really understand and gain some appreciation

At Wellth Works, we understand the challenges of navigating a complicated family dynamic, wealth transfer, and defining one’s individual identity — especially for the next generation of ambitious, intentional women. We seek to empower the rising generation with the tools and resources they need to communicate and bond with their families through connection and shared experiences, shared and evolving values, and a desire to cultivate a life of purpose, significance, and joy. Michelle Langdon and Ella Chase Hyland established Wellth Works in 2016, after a year of intensive global research and development aimed at bringing global tools and resources to multi-generational families of influence. The Wellth Works team has deep, personal experience in multi-generational wealth, providing a unique vantage point to address challenges across the spectrum. Michelle is a G2 asset recipient and experienced the dynamics of building, growing, and ultimately selling a family business, as well as the consequences of such a decision. Ella is a G6 asset recipient from a hundred-plus-year family and has seen the burdens and blessing of complex, multi-generational preparation and transfer. The team has a collective 25 years of experience in behavioral economics, diplomacy, international conflict resolution, negotiation, and closing multimillion-dollar deals with both Fortune 500 executives and billion-dollar privately held companies. Both founders deeply believe in experience through travel as a great equalizer and game changer for personal and professional enhancement. Collectively Ella and Michelle have traveled to over 90 countries enjoy sharing their insights and lessons learned to families and family offices of all sizes. Find out more at, call 202.780.9107, or email for how their grandparents and parents lived a different life. For us, Intentional Travel can also be close to home and can take place in just a day or an afternoon. A trip to the science museum, the art gallery in the neighborhood, or the park nearby where people gather to play sports. The goal is to create experiences that build shared memories, increase connection, sprinkling in fun and play in a way that supports family bonding and cohesion. And while the wealthiest place on earth is not one specific location, as Dr. Myles Munroe reminds us, we can certainly utilize Intentional Travel as an avenue to see the world and help us fulfill our potential in a life “Wellth” lived. n


Life, Love, and Legacy Hitting Your Legacy Home Run By Phil Cubeta


s we get a little older, certain questions resonate in a new way.

wedding, birth the baby, tend the sick, sit with the dying, worship our God, and mourn our dead. Home is where we sing together, pray, or dance, or cheer, in unison. Home is where we celebrate the circular movement of the seasons, with holidays returning every year, even as some chairs become vacant, and others come along to fill them. Many of us have given faithfully to certain home base charities for decades. Giving when asked. Stepping up when asked. For such donors certain nonprofits, too, are home.

l Where is home for me? l Can I go home again? l As far as I have gone, did I ever leave? l What did I inherit and what must I pass on? l To what traditions was I faithful? l What ideals have animated me? l If life is a school, what lessons were I taught, in success and in misfortune? First base: To hit a home run, we have to tag all the l How will my story end? bases, starting with first. To get to first base with money is not easy. Most people never make it all to first. They strike out, pop out, get thrown out, or stumble on the What lives in me that will not end? path. This is the first base question: “Is there enough for Advisors dare not ask us such personal questions, nor are we necessarily open to discussing such questions with a tax, legal, or financial advisor. It is none of their business! These are questions better suited to solitary reflections at dawn or at the kitchen table with someone we love. Yet, if advisors at the planning table are to create the legacy plans that support our identity, tradition, family, and community, we must go to them with clear intentions. By way of clarifying where you are now and the legacy you hope to leave, let’s use a baseball analogy. It is as American as apple pie or money.

Where is home base for you?

Home is where we start and where we end when we hit a home run. Home is where we live as a family. Extending outward from family is community. The German philosopher of the mid-20th century, Heidegger, said, “We live in society; we dwell in community.” At a certain age we look back and see that we have been true to what we love, as best we could. Home is where we say, not them and us, but we or even I/thou. Home is where we celebrate the

me?” Getting to first base is what financial advisors help us do. They make sure we have enough and are protected against risks that might jeopardize our security. How are you doing on first? Do you know what would be enough? Are you sure you have it? If not, financial advisors can help. If you are sure you have enough, then you are headed for second. Second base: On first we ask if we have enough for ourselves. On second, we ask how much is enough, in what form, and when, for our heirs. For some, maybe 3-5% of this country, even accounting for all expenditures and emergencies to life expectancy, even assuming down markets, net worth rising, etc. Some of you are in that position, for sure. Call it planning for abundance rather than scarcity.

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How much to pass on to heirs is part algebra and part moral dilemma. How much is enough and how much too much? Every study for twenty years has said this is the question that torments parents and grandparents planning for abundance. So it may be best to use a worksheet. Add up what you want heirs to get. Make a list. A house? A down payment only or the full price of the house? Enough so that if invested wisely it could allow heirs to retire at the normal age? Enough so heirs can retire when you die? A car? Two cars? A vacation house? Education fund? Jewelry? Private club memberships? Add it up. Include grandkids. Add it up again. Then subtract what you want them to get from what you have. On second base, some of us find that we have something left over after subtracting what we feel is enough for the heirs. We are rounding second, headed for third. Third base: Once we know what we need for ourselves at first, and after we have decided how much is enough for each heir, we are headed to third. On third we can compute charitable capacity by considering net worth as projected at death, and then subtracting what each heir gets. Some call this “philanthropy by the subtraction method,” or “philanthropy from the leftovers.” It is a bit cold, but it is a necessary exercise to perform with advisors. Along with charitable capacity, on third base we may also consider charitable tools. Some of these, like a Charitable Remainder Trust or Gift Annuity will provide income and, perhaps income tax savings at first, and will also provide estate-planning benefits at second. Others like a Foundation or Donor Advised Fund store up charitable dollars for future uses and may provide tax benefits, as well, at first and second. Timing: If in your planning you are on third, or headed to third with an eye on home plate, you might consider

Philip Cubeta, CLU®, ChFC®, AEP®, MSFS, CAP® is the Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at The American College. Phil Cubeta is responsible for the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) curriculum. Phil’s original training was in English Literature, Philosophy, and Psychology. He also holds the Masters of Science in Financial Services (MSFS) from The American College. He serves on the board of The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. timing. If you are capable of making the largest gift of a lifetime, when would you like to do it? Would you like to hit a stand up home run or will you slide in feet first? And when would you like the charity to benefit, so they can carry out your intentions and get good things done in the world? Would you like to set up the tool, like a bequest, so the charity gets the money at death? Or might you prefer a direct gift now, or a gift from out of Donor Advised Fund now, to get impact now? Also under the heading of timing is communication. When will you communicate your legacy plans to heirs? And if a home base charity is included, when will the charity be informed? The default as to timing is often death. But to communicate your plans at death can lead to many misunderstandings. A best practice is to communicate with heirs and charity during our lives, so they understand our reasoning and are prepared to carry out our wishes. Home base: Studies show that less than half of us have estate-planning documents in place. Fewer yet are up to date. When the topics are complex, and our emotions are unresolved, we tend to procrastinate. Mortality, the prospect of it, paralyzes us. Yet legacy is not about endings but beginnings, not about leaving, but returning. It is about life and what must live on after we are gone in the family and in the communities we have loved. Whether we cross the plate standing up or feet first, however late the inning, the game is not over. And if we step up to the plate, swing the bat, and run the bases, what is best in us will live on both through our gift and also through the example we set for others.

Next Steps

At you can find a practical book, The Legacy Spectrum, by Mark Weber, JD, AEP, CAP, designed to help you clarify your intentions and communicate them to heirs, advisors, and charities. Also on that site you can find The Legacy Spectrum Workbook, which he and I put together to help you through the process. Once you and your significant other, if appropriate, have discussed the worksheets, and agreed on them, you are ready to engage advisors to hit your legacy home run. Batter up! n

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Kim Kardashian Is Mentoring Your Kids Why Those with the Largest Following Aren’t Always the Wisest By Laura A. Roser


have this nasty habit. It makes me feel a bit weak and hypocritical. You see, I admire people who march to the beat of their own drummers and make their own paths. And that’s who I want to be. Often, that’s who I claim to be. But … I’m afraid I may not be as free-thinking as I like to admit. The problem is I catch myself comparing. A lot. Sometimes I’m watching a show on Netflix and one of the characters does something taboo—like double dipping a carrot stick at a party—and I think, Ha! I’m not so bad. Everyone does that. It’s time to forgive myself for the double-dipping incident of 2002. Or I research my life choices, just to be sure I’ll be socially accepted … is it okay to have a baby in your late thirties or even your early forties? I’ll wonder and then I’ll google the answer. Oh, Janet Jackson had a kid at 50, I’m good! It turns out, I’m not alone. A lot of people compare themselves to and mimic those around them. In fact, in a 2015 study, researchers at Essex and Cambridge Universities found that the younger you are— in your teens, 20s, and 30s—the more likely you are to compare yourself to others. And you know what’s scary? The people with the highest social media profiles may not be who you want your kids to model.

Kardashian Attracts Over 100 Million Followers … Is Your Child One of Them?

Take Kim Kardashian, for example. She has over 120 million followers on Instagram. 120 million! You want to hear last October’s controversy about this beloved reality TV star? She showed

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up to a Halloween party dressed as Pamela Lee Anderson, and no one could figure out her costume, so she called her friends the R word—“Retards” This is a woman who your kids, more likely than not, are following. Unfortunately, people who talk about great literature, stoic philosophies, the power of forgiveness, being good parents, and helping out their neighbors are not all that popular. So, if you don’t watch out, your kids’ life choices will be shaped by those who attract attention based on the size of their derrieres and dramas involving the R word. Ewe. This is why, if you have kids or grandkids or younger people you care about, it’s important to help guide

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

them toward quality role models because they may not find them on their own. Or, better yet, you become a role model and invest time in your kids’ lives to guide them through treacherous territory.

How to Lead Your Kids to the Right Sources

You, no doubt, have certain traits you admire: integrity, gratitude, kindness, and hard work. Think of it as your role to search out those in the media (or otherwise) who have attributes you would like to model, then start telling stories about these people. What made Martin Luther King great? What do you appreciate about Taylor Swift’s charity work? Why do you admire your mother? As much as possible, try to make these stories relevant to your children’s lives and the current time. Why do we gravitate toward silly videos on YouTube and the latest gossip around Kim Kardashian? Because it’s fun. Maybe your kids will roll your eyes when you talk about Plato’s ring of Gyges, but get intrigued when you compare it to “trolls” on the Internet who act like mean, insane people when they feel as if they can attack others anonymously. There’s great depth out there. Unfortunately, it isn’t what the masses are attracted to. Give your kids more than junk food to feast their minds upon. One day they’ll thank you. n

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How Will You Change Th Make The Most Impact With Charity


l Animal Rights, Welfare, and Services l Wildlife Conservation l Zoos and Aquariums


l Early Childhood Programs and Services l Youth Education Programs and Services l Adult Education Programs and Services l Special Education l Education Policy and Reform Scholarship and Financial Support

Community Development l l l l

United Ways Jewish Federations Community Foundations Housing and Neighborhood Development

Arts, Culture, Humanities l Libraries, Historical Societies and Landmark Preservation l Museum l Performing Arts l Public Broadcasting and Media

Resources for Intelligent Giving: www.charitynavigat

he World?



l Development and Relief Services l International Peace, Security, and Affairs l Humanitarian Relief Supplies


l Environmental Protection and Conservation l Botanical Gardens, Parks, and Nature Centers


l Diseases, Disorders, and Disciplines l Patient and Family Support l Treatment and Prevention Services l Medical Research

Research and Public Policy

l Non-Medical Science & Technology Research l Social and Public Policy Research

Human and Civil Rights l Advocacy and Education


l Religious Activities l Religious Media and Broadcasting

Human Services

l Children’s and Family Services l Youth Development, Shelter, and Crisis Services l Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Food Distribution l Multipurpose Human Service Organizations l Homeless Services l Social Services

The Difference Maker By C. Michelle Bryan, Federal Protective Service (FPS) Director for Resource Management


hen we think of leaving a legacy, we are often drawn to thoughts of the tangible, such as homes, precious mementos valued because of the rich history, or money and investments in hopes of ensuring financial stability. While all those things are incredibly important, I believe that it is just as important to leave a legacy of you — a legacy that speaks to your life’s journey and how, in a world of trends and categories, you realized the importance of being different. Whether at work or in social settings, we often find ourselves trying to fit in and align with the world around us, forgetting that we possess something far more powerful than the ability to fit in: an organic ability to be different, a superpower that no one else enjoys. Our ability to exploit our differences affords us the opportunity to elevate the world around us in a way that no one else can. The question we should all be asking ourselves is not why are we different but how can we use our differences to bring about the best outcome. We are distinctly different for a reason, and that is so extraordinarily amazing. I often smile when I enter a room full of executives and no one looks like me — or, better yet, everyone is trying to be like the other — I like to say a room full of testosterone-based thinking (TBT). I think to myself, with a supermodel-like smile, “Wow, there is absolutely no one else in the room like me; yep, they need me.” I have something that no one else has. I am a superhero in my own right, and the success of many elements around me depends on my ability to leverage my differences. It’s not my intent to be better than those around me but to be the best me I can possibly be and uplift those around me. Most of my experiences in realizing that being different is my superpower occurred during conversations with my mom. She would say, “Michelle, when I want someone to just listen to me, I go to your sister. When I want results, a solution, I come to you.” Initially I was offended, but boy do I get it. Other opportunities to realize my superpower materialized during the course of my career; appreciating

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my superpower was more of an evolution. Our bios tell of our successes, and all the wonderful accomplishments that we have achieved during our careers, but not so much the journey. I have more than 27 years of experience clearing the path from a seat along the wall to a seat at the table, leading in high-performing organizations. I routinely sit at the table as an influencer and decision-maker with top executives across industry and government. I have worked as an effective and successful chief of staff to several high-ranking military and government officials. I am an accomplished senior executive leader with over a decade of demonstrated success in predominantly male law enforcement organizations. Most importantly, I have personally experienced the challenges with not just working in but also functioning successfully in maledominated organizations where the majority of my peers are twice retired. Sounds great, right? But what’s missing is what’s most important: my story, my journey, which leads to my true legacy: l A legacy that will help to shape the belief that, notwithstanding life’s many obstacles, there are endless possibilities in life. l A legacy that demonstrates that it’s not the what but the how and the why.

l A legacy that demonstrates that it is less about my achievements and more about my journey and my ability to effect change, using all that I am to make a difference. Reality is that I didn’t arrive at this place without some serious sacrifices, challenges, and sometimes pain. But if you think about it, that’s what growth is about. Even as infants, we experienced the pain of teething in order to develop the ability to transition from liquid and pureed foods to a place of indulgence of the finest foods with no remembrance of the teething process. Like others, in my career I have made many sacrifices. For many years I believed that I needed to be like my male counterparts instead of trusting in my own capabilities. It felt less like climbing the corporate ladder and more like navigating through an obstacle course blindfolded while playing a game of chess. Throughout my journey, I have sacrificed family and friends to better position myself at work and to not be perceived as the weakest link among my male colleagues. While it was OK for my peers to leave work to take care of family matters or to take their pets to the vet or to attend social functions, I personally did not feel that I had the same professional flexibilities afforded to most employees, particularly my male counterparts. I felt a sense of distress when I had to leave work or call out for family reasons, so more often than not I chose to stay at work and made other arrangements. Somehow, along this journey, I forgot that I am a mom who happened to be a senior executive in the federal government. I have made many sacrifices, the greatest being my ignoring and not believing and seeing the signs that my daughter was severely depressed and my family was in serious trouble. I still get emotional when I think of what the outcome could have been simply because I didn’t trust in my innate abilities, but instead tried to overcompensate by going above and beyond professionally to be like those around me. Office politics taught me a great deal about myself. What’s the worst thing a woman executive could experience or be accused of in a predominately male organization? If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re right. I learned that when you don’t trust in who you are, accusations and rumors can cripple your ability to be effective and to be your true self. For many years I didn’t believe that I had what it takes to make a difference and was unaware that my leverage was dependent on my ability to deliberately accept and exploit my differences. I am the Difference Maker simply

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because there is no one else like me. There were many times throughout my journey that I would attend meetings, sitting along the wall and remain quiet, paralyzed with fear. I was so uncomfortable with my ability to measure up to those around me that I failed to speak up when my voice was needed. I felt that because my answers were different that they must be wrong. I had to rely on what I call the T.R.U.S.T. factor: my organic superpower of being distinctly different by design. I had to learn to ‌ T: Trust in who I am. R: Be Resilient and Relentless in my pursuit of being the best me. U: Understand and value my differences. S: Stay connected to family and friends, whose own differences feed my soul and make me better. T: Be Tenacious in all that I do. My own experiences have led to my passion in helping women around the world to navigate through this obstacle course. I strive to deliver powerful keynotes that drive and inspire action and change. Helping women to see how distinctly and fascinatingly different they are in any environment and to define and understand their differences, exploit those differences, and be the Difference Maker. In doing so, I help women and men alike value their individual differences and the differences of those around them and leverage those differences to influence decisions and drive change. I am a DIFFERENCE MAKER, there is no one like me, and that, my friend, is my secret weapon, my superpower. The legacy that I choose to leave is one of purpose, choice, and deliberate acceptance of and excitement over what makes me so distinctly different. I hope that my family and friends, when talking about my legacy, will talk about what made me different, like that of a superhero, in a way that inspires them to define their differences, exploit their differences, and be the Difference Maker. Remember as you move forward in your pursuit of greatness — you already have it! Your legacy is in your journey and the execution of the greatness that you already possess. n

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C. Michelle Bryan is the Federal Protective Service (FPS) Director for Resource Management. Since joining FPS in November 1995, Deputy Director Bryan has served in a number of positions at both the headquarters and field levels. In her current role, she is responsible for headquarters level – executive leadership and oversight across 3 zones and 12 regional offices throughout the United States. She has direct oversight for the design, operation, and evaluation of all FPS management functions. She also directs FPS’ planning and strategy efforts, coordinates key initiatives, and fosters partnerships with industry, state and local law enforcement, and private-sector stakeholders. To better position FPS to meet the challenges of an evolving threat landscape, Deputy Director Bryan has spearheaded the agencies efforts to complement FPS’ law enforcement and physical security mission by enhancing the agency’s ability to identify, assess, and mitigate the impact of emerging vulnerabilities associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) to federal physical infrastructure. Establishing FPS as an influential voice on cyber-physical security, law enforcement, and intelligence issues within the Government Facilities Sector and strengthening coordination and collaboration with federal partners. A native of Jesup, Georgia, Michelle Bryan and her family now reside in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

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Henry Johnson Keeping His Legacy Alive By Duncan Crary, Ferris Coin


n June 5, 1917, Albany resident Henry Johnson enlisted in the first African American unit in the U. S. Army to engage in combat in World War I. On May 15, 1918, in the early morning hours, then-Private Johnson heroically fought off a German raid in hand-to-hand combat, saving the life of a fellow soldier. He was wounded 21 times. For his bravery, Johnson received France’s highest award for valor, the Croix de Guerre avec Palme, becoming the first American to receive this distinction. He received no military medals for his valor from his home country during his lifetime. Sgt. Johnson returned to Albany in 1919 and struggled to readjust to civilian life and hold down steady work. He died, destitute, in 1929, in his mid-30s. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Sgt. Henry Johnson was finally recognized by the United States government for his service to his country when he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002. In 2015 he was awarded the National Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military honor — by President Barack Obama. “The story of Sgt. Henry Johnson is both inspiring and devastating,” said Jim Naughter, co-owner of Ferris Coin Co. “He was a highly decorated hero abroad, but he died destitute in his own country without receiving the full honors and support he was due in his lifetime. Some of his misfortune was the result of his speaking out about the poor treatment of his fellow African Americans in the military and at home, which makes him even more heroic in my opinion.”

National Design Contest

In March 2018, Ferris Coin Co. announced a nationwide competition to design the obverse and reverse sides of the medal with a $1,000 prize per side. An expert jury composed of esteemed professional artists and a representative of the 369th Veteran’s Association (the regiment Johnson served with) evaluated the contest entries. Artists of all levels from across the country submitted designs, including several artists whose work has been featured on U. S. Mint coins and one world famous medallic sculptor. Though the jury was free to select any combination of designs, it chose both of Chris Costello’s designs for the

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front and backside of the medal. Costello’s artwork has appeared on 23 U. S. coins and medals, including one Congressional Gold Medal. “My desire was to create a portrait of Henry Johnson that would be a little haunting with a living spirit captured in his eyes,” Costello said. “His solemn gaze at the viewer is a constant reminder to never forget the heroism, courage, and sacrifice of America’s military servicemen.” A native of Kingston, N.Y., Costello now lives in Arlington, Mass. “We’re thrilled to be working with an artist of Chris Costello’s talent,” said Mike Dozois, Ferris Coin Co. managing partner. “There were so many excellent designs to choose from, but our panel of judges felt that his artwork best captured the spirit of how our city is trying to inspire people with the story of Sgt. Henry Johnson.”

“Until recently, our business was headquartered just a block up from Henry Johnson Blvd. in Albany,” Demis said. “Commissioning this medal and contributing it to the annual Henry Johnson Award is our way of staying in touch with our roots and giving back to the community.” “There is a national discussion right now about the lack of African Americans on U.S. currency. Harriet Tubman may become the first African American to appear on federally sanctioned currency,” Dozois said. “In the meantime, we are excited to feature an African American hero with ties to our hometown on a commemorative medal.”

The Medal

The obverse presents Sgt. Henry Johnson in the foreground in uniform, wearing the French Adrian helmet, which was the helmet most commonly worn by solders of the 369th U. S. Regiment a.k.a. the “Harlem Hellfighters,” rather than the English or American “doughboy” helmet. In the background is a forest. The text reads: “Argonne Forest 15 May 1918” and “Sgt. Henry Johnson” and “Enlisted 05 June 1917.” The reverse features Albany City Hall and a representation of adjacent State Street with a rising morning sun. The text reads “Sacrifice Today for Our Community’s Tomorrow” and “Honor * Duty * Service.” Each medal is packaged with a serial number, certificate of authenticity, and a brief history of Sgt. Henry Johnson and an historic photograph of the 369th U. S. Regiment. (Costello also designed the packaging.) The medals cost $29.95, with $2 of every sale to benefit the 369th Veterans Association of Albany.

Henry Johnson Day

On June 5, 2018, the City of Albany celebrated its second annual Henry Johnson Day, marked by a ceremony

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that included bestowing of the Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. The date was selected because it is the date upon which Johnson enlisted. The new Henry Johnson coin-shaped medal was granted as part of the award. Through the Distinguished Community Service Award contest, members of the community nominate their peers who have made outstanding contributions to the community in the areas of arts and history, social justice, education, or community organizing. The purpose of the award is to recognize an individual who has gone above and

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Trusted since 1930, Ferris Coin buys and sells gold and silver bullion, rare coins, flatware and paper currency, as well as gold and platinum jewelry for resale, repair or recycle. Four in-house experts offer appraisals for personal and estate collections, including diamonds, and can assist with getting each piece properly insured. In 1930, husband and wife Charlie & Arlene Ferris opened Ferris Stamp in downtown Albany, N.Y. at 402 Broadway. Later they incorporated coins into their business model as Ferris Stamp and Coin. In the 1960s, after her husband died of a heart attack, Mrs. Ferris sold the business to Wendell C. Williams who relocated the shop to Lark Street before relocating again to 114 Central Ave. in 1976. The business re-opened in its fourth location at 199 Wolf Road this August. Ferris Coin is now co-owned by Geoffrey Demis, a long-time employee, Mike Dozois and gemologist James Naughter. The newest Ferris Coin staff member is Brian Bucher, who founded Brittany Jewelers in 1987 and served as president from 1987 until selling the company this June.

beyond the call of duty but has not received formal recognition or public thanks for their actions. Ferris Coin Co. donated 10 silver medals to be presented to the winners of the Henry Johnson Award for the next decade. This year’s winner, the first to receive a medal, was Jahkeen Hoke. Medals are available to the public for $29.95 at Ferris Coin Co. and online at n

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ENDURING There are families of enduring greatness. They have achieved excellence in times past, yet continue to pursue what made them great. They have stories to tell. They embody high character, are celebrated throughout history and loved by all who know them.

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Alexander Hamilton Overlooked No More By Randy Petersen

A I know.

lexander Hamilton was always a second-string founding father, in my view. He got his face on the ten-dollar bill, but he never had the stature of a Washington, Jefferson, or Franklin. Little did

Ron Chernow’s 800-page biography reveals Hamilton as a key player in the first quarter-century of U.S. history. He was Washington’s right-hand man, Jefferson’s bitter rival, and the main writer of the Federalist Papers. He signed the Declaration, helped frame the Constitution, and set up the nation’s economic structure. Not bad for an orphaned immigrant from the Indies. First published in 2004 by Penguin Press, Alexander Hamilton got a more recent publicity boost from "Hamilton," the award-winning Broadway musical by LinManuel Miranda, who was inspired by Chernow’s tome. While Miranda reshaped some of the chronology for his dramatic arc, he grabbed a number of important themes from the book.

Throughout his life, Hamilton was generally the smartest person in the room, and he knew it. Those rooms often included Franklin and Jefferson, who had their own brilliance, but Hamilton was undaunted. He spoke a lot and wrote even more, making friends and enemies along the way. Deeply committed to the unity of the nation, Hamilton emerged as the main voice of federalism, in opposition to the state-centered policies of Jefferson and James Madison. This was the beginning of a two-party system, and Chernow vividly describes the wild accusations thrown back and forth. Modern politicos would feel right at home.

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This biography offers a portrait of a man driven to succeed, meticulous in planning, courageous in conflict, and often self-destructive. All of these factors played into the fateful decision that probably kept him out of the presidency. He had an affair, then paid hush money to the woman’s husband. Political opponents learned of the payments and assumed he was misusing government funds. Alexander used his well-kept records to prove them wrong—and went public by writing a pamphlet that confessed his adultery but assured people the nation’s treasury was secure. “Hamilton’s strategy was simple,” Chernow writes. “He was prepared to sacrifice his private reputation to preserve his public honor.”

Randy Petersen is the author of The Printer and the Preacher (Nelson, 2015) and has written scores of other books and plays. He’s active in theater in the Philadelphia area and in his Methodist church.

Even if you know little else about Hamilton, you might know that he died in a duel with Aaron Burr. This book instructs the reader on the nature of dueling and provides background on Hamilton’s experience with this archaic custom. Chernow is at his best in the last few chapters, carefully tracing the paths of Hamilton and Burr in the weeks leading up to their fateful encounter— meetings with friends and family, and even a banquet where both were present. Then the duel is presented in rich detail, with Hamilton firing his pistol toward the sky while Burr delivered the fatal shot. Was Alexander depressed during this time? Suicidal? This biography examines the evidence—including the idea that Hamilton believed Burr was trying to mobilize New England Federalists to secede from the young nation. Passionately committed to the unity of the Union, Alexander might have gone through with the duel in order to discredit Burr and thwart that secession attempt. A book of this size will have its dry spots. It’s hard to convey Hamilton’s brilliance in financial statecraft without teaching the reader some basic economics. And Chernow seems to cover all the bases, digging deep into the historical record for reactions from various figures, and into his subject’s own voluminous writings for intention and emotion. He immerses us in Hamilton’s world, and that sometimes requires perseverance on the part of the reader. Yet the rewards of this book are great. Quite simply, Hamilton was connected to virtually every major American event from the Revolutionary War to his death in 1804. Those of us who have previously overlooked the contributions of this founding father are now indebted to Ron Chernow for this thorough presentation. n

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The Essentialist The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. — Lin Yutang

By Greg McKeown


he basic value proposition of Essentialism is only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. What about you? How many times have you reacted to a request by saying yes without really thinking about it? How many times have you resented committing to do something and wondered, “Why did I sign up for this?” How often do you say yes simply to please? Or to avoid trouble? Or because “yes” had just become your default response?

wooden lid or even to incorporate the player into a piece of living room furniture. Instead, he and his team removed the clutter and designed a player with a clear plastic cover on the top and nothing more. It was the first time such a design had been used, and it was so revolutionary people worried it might bankrupt the company because nobody would buy it. It took courage, as it always does, to eliminate the nonessential. By the sixties this aesthetic started to gain traction. In time it became the design every other record player followed.

Now let me ask you this: Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized? Have you ever found yourself majoring in minor activities? Do you ever feel busy but not productive? Like you’re always in motion, but never getting anywhere?

Dieter’s design criteria can be summarized by a characteristically succinct principle, captured in just three German words: Weniger aber besser. The English translation is “Less but better.” A more fitting definition of Essentialism would be hard to come by.

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the way of the Essentialist.

The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better. It doesn’t mean occasionally giving a nod to the principle. It means pursuing it in a disciplined way.

The Way of the Essentialist Dieter Rams was the lead designer at Braun for many years. He is driven by the idea that almost everything is noise. He believes very few things are essential. His job is to filter through that noise until he gets to the essence. For example, as a young twenty-four-year-old at the company he was asked to collaborate on a record player. The norm at the time was to cover the turntable in a solid

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The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning your inbox, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask “Am I investing in the right activities?” There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in. And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the

fact is that most are trivial and few are vital. The way of the Essentialist involves learning to tell the difference— learning to filter through all those options and selecting only those that are truly essential. Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. In many cases we can learn to make one-time decisions that make a thousand future decisions so we don’t exhaust ourselves asking the same questions again and again. The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless. n

Originally from London, England, Greg McKeown is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and the founder of McKeown, Inc, a company with a mission to teach Essentialism to millions of people around the world. Their clients include Adobe, Apple, Airbnb, Cisco, Google, Facebook, Pixar,, Symantec, Twitter, VMware, and Yahoo!. McKeown is an accomplished public speaker and has spoken to hundreds of audiences around the world including in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, and the United States. Highlights include speaking at SXSW, interviewing Al Gore at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland and receiving a personal invitation from Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, to speak to his Annual Innovation Conference. His writing has appeared or been covered by Fast Company, Fortune, HuffPost, Politico, and Inc. Magazine and Harvard Business Review. He has also been interviewed on numerous television and radio shows, including NPR and NBC. In 2012, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Originally from London, England, McKeown now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and their four children. He graduated with an MBA from Stanford University. The Model Nonessentialist ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE Thinks “I have to.” “It’s all important.” “How can I fit it all in?”



THE UNDISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF MORE Reacts to what’s most pressing Says “yes” to people without really thinking Tries to force execution at the last moment LIVES A LIFE THAT DOES NOT SATISFY Takes on too much, and work suffers Feels out of control Is unsure of whether the right things got done Feels overwhelmed and exhausted

Essentialist LESS BUT BETTER “I choose to.” “Only a few things really matter.” “What are the trade-offs?” THE DISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF LESS Pauses to discern what really matters Says “no” to everything except the essential Removes obstacles to make execution easy LIVES A LIFE THAT REALLY MATTERS Chooses carefully in order to do great work Feels in control Gets the right things done Experiences joy in the journey

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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.

Timeless Wisdom: Unhappy in Its Own Way

The Anna Karenina Principle and Your Family By by Laura A. Roser


ll happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” begins Leo Tolstoy’s classic work, Anna Karenina. Put another way, all happy families have mastered all elements that lead to a happy family. These elements include sexual attraction, financial health, parenting, spiritual beliefs, relationships with in-laws, and so on. Failure to master any one of these elements, however, compromises the health of the family.

and, if one attribute is missing, the animal will not make a good pet.

A “good family” is therefore fragile because it must do well in all areas simultaneously. This principle was made popular by Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs and Steel, in which he writes about animal domestication. According to Diamond, only a handful of animals can be domesticated because they must meet a list of attributes

When you observe other families, they may have some things figured out that you don’t, but I’m guessing your family has mastered other items this supposedly-perfect family yearns for. And if there is ever a moment when you think to yourself, “I’ve got the best family in the world,” savor it as much as possible. n

Aristotle brought up a similar sentiment when he said, “For men are but good in one way, but bad in many.” His point was that it is easy to be virtuous in one or two ways, but to be a truly virtuous person, you must be virtuous in all ways—a feat few people have ever accomplished— leaving the world with very few, if any, truly virtuous people.

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Legacy Arts | Issue 17 | January 2019  

Social Media: Is Kim Kardashian Raising Your Kids?; Life, Love, Legacy; Essentialism

Legacy Arts | Issue 17 | January 2019  

Social Media: Is Kim Kardashian Raising Your Kids?; Life, Love, Legacy; Essentialism


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