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February 13, 2006


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Jean Russell

As always, thanks you for sharing what you see.

I am all for families staying whole and connected. However I worry about success measures as you state "Their criterion of success is that a family remain intact, happy and productive, as a cohesive group, for 4-5 generations, or 100 years." What is it for a family to be happy and productive? Does that mean embracing all members of the family for who they are and seeking out commonalities among them? Or does that mean that the eldest generation gets to define for the younger generations what "happy" and "productive" mean? It is one thing to leave a family legacy whereby future generations "succeed" by your measures (or else). It is quite another to leave a legacy to your family as well as your community and the world we all share.


No kidding. Who decides the disposition of the Kingdom? Lear, Cordelia, or her sisters Goneril and Regan? And, do they decide with the input of wise and loyal counselors, a coterie of machiavels, or with the witty & sad songs of the Fool? The truth is that the patriarch or matriarch generally presides and dictates. The auotractic process can be democtratized, but only with the current decisionp-makers support. This, Jean, is the nexxus of my own interests: To what extent should we as loyal counsellors and "coaches" facilitate the foolish and potentially tragic "intentions" of a Lear or King Midas, and to what extent are we able or allowed to play the role of the Fool who asks the difficult questions you raised? As a busienss person I know the answer. As a former teacher of the liberal arts, I know the answer. But they are not the same answer.

Jean Russell

It is possible that a parent would want what the child wants for himself or herself. There are parents out there who embrace their offspring as wonderful and individual beings. For these families, staying intact for generations flows as the natural course full of love and respect. For those focused on money and wishing to rule and control and limit from the grave, I can't make any guarantees. For those who seek to support and lift up far into the future, for them, I bow low.

We serve the ones who pay the bills. It is how we care for our own children so that they can be their best selves. My children are more important to me than someone else's children!

Good intergenerational planning can be done. It is possible. I hope it becomes more and more possible for more and more families. And I wish the IFF Advisors these loving, healthy families and less of the patriarchs and matriarchs who would restrict and contain their descendants.


You sound like a liberal, Jean. Top down control sorts well with entrepreneurs who have built and rule a business. "My way or the highway" at home and at work. Is it good for the family? For society? For the patriarch or matriarch themselves? Well, it would be Fool to question the person in charge. Wisdom don't come easy, but teaching it is not a profit center at most firms.

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