Tutor, after decades in the Dumpster, has been trying to work his way back into a real paying job in Wealth Bondage. The going thing today is called "Family Governance for Flourishing Families." Flourishing Families are not mine or yours. I know you do have a family and it may flourish, for all I know or care, but this is Shop Talk. Flourishing Families means families with net worth north of $100 million, high fee tolerance, and enough dysfunction to support a Long term Engagement with Value Pricing based on Results. It means helping families who govern a disproportionate share of the world's assets to govern themselves, as individuals and as families. Noble Families. Noble Professions. Our noble trade. Tutor having served as what was once called a "parasite," in Ancient Rome, meaning a hanger on and flatterer in wealthy, noble, families, and as Courtier in the time of Castiglione, as well as a World Class Fool, has a pretty good basic understanding of how to emerge as The Most Trusted Advisor, in the court of King or Queen, a Rogue among Knaves, but he has a hard time seeing Audrey, and Tess, her mother, as anything other than human. To think of lovely daft Tess, who grew up on an Army base, with a father away at war, as a Patron or noble client is hard. Audrey is just a kid. He wants to do right by them, while preserving as much wealth in The Bank of Wealth Bondage as possible, so as to do well by doing good, if he can, for himself and his employer.
Today, against his own better judgement, and in imitation of all the best models, he is conducting Values-Exercises, to help Tess and Audrey clarify their values, much as a Corporation must, if it is to succeed over time, and Build the Brand, so the Corporation can have Perpetual Life. It seems only appropriate, in the Old Castle, to use the Crest Exercise. The last time he used that was teaming with Seneca, that time with Nero. The exercise went well enough, but ended badly for Seneca soon after; badly for Rome after that, going up in flames; and finally for Nero, too, driven to suicide by fear of rebellion. Tutor was lucky to escape with his own life and swore he would never prostitute himself again like that, preferring to sell his fanny in back alleys than his learning in the house of Lords and Ladies. So he has been reluctant to go back to the values exercise, but as Lear said to Cordelia, "Nothing will come of nothing." Tutor has not much left to lose. Self respect long gone. No longer young enough to peddle his fanny at a decent per diem, hourly, on retainer, or for a modest percentage of assets under management. We all do what we must to survive. Don't judge my mentor, The Happy Tutor, harshly. Think of all the profane things you have done yourself' and why you did them, even when you knew better. It is the way of the world. It is how things are. You can't change it. You may say that The Happy Tutor is a high class whore, or maybe not so high class. He does not deny it. What makes you any better?
"Tess," Tutor asks, "if you and Audrey had a crest, like a school crest, or an ancient heraldic crest, what would be the central symbol?" He goes to the flip chart to take notes with a magic marker he has borrowed from Audrey. The fumes always make him a little dizzy, so he holds the marker, when not in use, pointed at the floor. Audrey, meanwhile, is tumbling up and down the floor, somewhat distracting to Serious Conversation among Grownups about Ultimate Family Values. Tess, likes brainstorming exercises, as long as they are done quickly and result in action. She suggests a flute, since she is so musical, then maybe mathematical formulas, since she hears numbers as music, then a flute whose notes are dollars, cents, euros, since money seems to come to her call, as the waves, and birds, and fishes might have answered Pan's flute, or as the rats and children followed the sound of the Pied Piper. "Sounds good, Tess. Wonderful! we can work with that," says Tutor, sketching a flute with money blowing out of it.
Tutor is about to wrap up phase one of the values exercise, the emblem, and move on the phase two, the motto, when Audrey the Rabbit, who is bouncing now rather than tumbling, has a better suggestion. "Momma, why not a globe? Why not the whole world?" Somehow that seems so right! "Urbi et Orbi" exclaims Tutor, as would be natural for an ordained Catholic Priest, however worldly, down on his luck, and dissolute. "Hunnnh?," asks Tess, who great gifts do not include Latin. It means City and Planet, as when Rome ruled the world, explains Tutor, sounding like a Tutor in Earnest, or even a Chaplain. "No! We don't want any stupid Latin on our crest!" says Audrey. "We are real life people; not Romans. We have to speak English like a real person!" So, this is the perfect transition to the phase two of the Ultimate Values Exercise, or as Tutor thinks of it, The Guided Discovery of the Summum Bonum, for cultural illiterates with ungodly amounts of cash, who would not know Truth, from Beauty, or Profit from Virtue if they had to pick one out of a police line up.
"Tess, and you too Audrey, if urbi et orbi is too old fashioned, or high-toned, what two words, or three, would hit off your values, the ones you actually live by, or aspire to live by?" The Rabbit has become a Warrior, a Ninja, doing what appears to be T'ai Chi. Short attention span. ADD, big-time. Tutor wonders when they are going to put that girl on chill pills. He hopes never. Meanwhile, Tess is free associating to the image of the Planet floating in Space, which Tutor has drawn on the flip chart. She exclaims, decisively, "Own." That certainly sounds right. The point of all points, the meaning and purpose of life, is to own more and more. And, ideally all. But it looks awkward to have the globe, with only one big word under it, Own, as a family's heraldic crest. "What might be another word that goes with that, Tess?" "How about me or I?," she asks. "Or, 'Forever.'" "OK," he says, making a note of the word 'I,' "but how about one more too?" She says, "I Own it." "Well," Tutor agrees, "that about says it all. But would it sound more noble," he suggests, "in the Royal Plural? 'We Own It.' It is more literal than one might wish, since Tess does own it all, or will soon, but who needs poetry since we live in modern times and speak good English. "What about Forever?, asks Tess, you left that part out. Can we have four words as our Ultimate Values? 'We Own It Forever'? Or how about 'We Own All Forever?'"
Tutor has, as a trained Rhetorician, to explain the Rule of Three. Big concepts are best presented in Three. Not two. Not one. Three. "How about 'We Own Forever.'" Positioned in a little arc, with Word Art, beneath the planet, it is clear that Own means Own all. Tess is impressed. This Tutor is clearly Wise Counsel. He can really cut through the crap. A strange man, with a weird sense of humor, a big pain in the ass, often, but clearly a man of Great Sagacity and Learning, but down to earth, too, a realist. He got the Core Values down to three words in under 15 minutes. She may give him a smoked ham as his Holiday Bonus.
Tutor is folding up the flip chart paper, grateful the preliminary exercise in the touchy-feely stuff is over, and that he has something to feed to the legal, trust, investment and accounting animals in the Wealth Bondage Back Room, so they can build a plan from the Core Values Statement down, to Tools and Techniques, then Tactics, Time Lines and Metrics. He has done his sorry, soul destroying job; he has sold his birthright for a mess of pottage; and is about ready for a drink and, if all goes well, some fun time with Molly Flanders, the new Upstairs Maid, when The Ninja strikes, again. "Rule it! Momma, let's own and rule it too!" Audrey, grins, makes a pointing motion like a politician working the crowd. Then she gives the thumbs up sign. Then she stands erect, fist raised in victory, like an Insolent Olympian getting the gold medal. "Tess? Own and Rule? Does that sound right to you?," asks Tutor. It does of course. Tutor is thinking just how much beer, and whether there will be capon, and if buxom Molly is as good as she looks. He has about had it with values exercises; and the fumes from the magic marker are making him nauseous. He wants to disengaged tactfully.
"Well, then, good job! We have all we need for today. We can reconvene when we have a sound plan that supports our highest level values, 'own and rule.' Excellent. Now, if you Ladies will excuse me....." But no. The Ninja, who just raced out of the room, has morphed into Joan of Arc. She returns with her plastic helmet, grey, the helmet of a Medieval Warrior, or Saint, jammed down on her stiff, bushy red hair; and she is holding her long plastic broadsword, brandishing it. "Momma! Wait! We cannot just own and rule the world. Please, Momma, we must save it too!" It is a very poor idea and complicates the crap out of Dynastic Legacy Planning for the Animals in the Backroom at Wealth Bondage, and Tutor knows it is a big mistake; it is mixing apples with oranges, hard and soft, reality with BS, and he knows the back office Legacy Planning Software does not support it, and the boilerplate won't work for such a multi-dimensional set of goals, and that it will all be custom work, and the back office Animals are going to roll their eyes and snort at "Save the World," but Tess is already nodding lovingly at Audrey, and the only thing between Beer, Capon, and Molly (the three highest level value words now on Tutor's personal escutcheon) is wrapping up the exercise and Ending on a High Note. So, Tutor summarizes, "Under your planet floating in space we now have, 'Own Rule Save. Do we need commas? I think not. Congratulations, Ladies, I think you nailed it. Give yourselves a round of applause. Now if you will excuse me, I must be off to my cold, dark cell for prayers and feasting, I mean fasting...."
"What a Wise and Virtuous man," says Tess. "Do grow up, Audrey, to be good like Tutor." Maybe she will and maybe she won't, but Audrey is turning cartwheels, like a Dallas Cowgirl. "Own it, yeah! Rule it, yeah! Save it, yeah!" Leg kick on own it. Leg kick on rule it. On save it, her hands shoot straight up. Touchdown! Up and down the room, over and over. You would think she would get tired. She should sleep well tonight.