What we know from our own experience is that Wisdom Consultants to Family Wealth go through four identifiable stages. I hit bottom with the third. Matt has gone straight to 4, as far as I can see, as the unreliable narator said to blind man in the parable about Wisdom, but that is another story, whose moral continues to baffle some of the best minds in the Wealth Consulting field, even today, after centuries, and millions spent on exegesis, to no purpose. The stages are as follows.
1. The Guiless Innocent: Taking cliches as profound wisdom. Sorting Values Cards. Hiring writers of Moral autobiographies. Making films of Grandma and Grandpa Bigbucks talking about Family Values. This is the level of wisdom appropriate to the Sage whose reading of Socrates is quick. "Know thyself." Check the box. Cross it off, and move on to Virtue. And, of course, "Discernment."
2.The Conscious Rogue or Doxy: What was once, in the better prep schools, called pseudo-intellectual bullshit, or "the golden shovel." At this level, the Wise Counsel to Extreme Wealth discovers, through careful review of the best work of his or her peers, that it is all bullshit, post-modern bullshit, at that. In this heightened state of manic self enlargement, the advisor can quote catchphrases from T.S. Eliott, Buddha, George Washington, Erik Erikson, Murray Bowen, a little Heidegger. The tone changes from owlish credulity to that of the elephant dancing. At the height of this stage the advisor reads Leo Strauss and reckons himself to be writing Esoteric Texts for fellow Illuminati, with coded meanings flattering to concentrated wealth and power. He might write, for example, about selling the public parks to his patron for pennies.
3. Self Disgust, Shame, Physical Symptoms, and Despair: Comes to a few, the best among us, something like shame. Lockjaw. Side conversations in the hallways of meetings, in whispers. Clandestine emails. At this stage of Enlightenment, certain obvious questions dawn upon the Wealth and Wisdom Advisor about the ethics and politics of being a servant to wealth in an era of extreme wealth disparity. Here advisors, who at the Innocent or Self-Deceived stages, felt that they were "relieving human suffering," by helping the Princess with her Pea, look around and notice the maid, the chauffeur, the employees at the family firm, and begin to wonder how, as Wise Counselor to Flourishing Dynasties, we got to be so focused on the Suffering of the Richest .00001% and so little concerned about everyone else. At this stage of Wisdom Consulting, the advisors, the few who reach this stage, consider getting honest work in some other field. They swear their friends to silence. They develop psychosomatic complaints. They write essays they dare not publish. They break out in hives, or get unbearable itching in their most sensitive tissues, while offering Wisdom on an hourly Retainer or Project Fee, or as a Value-added for Assets under Management. I have seen some flee to the ladies or men's room to scratch themselves raw before coming back to take down the Family Values and fashion a Mission Statement for the Three Capitals. ("Not all wealth is financial," they explain, scratching under the table. By the time they get to "social capital," they can hardly keep from bouncing in the chair, it itches so much.)
4. The Adept: The best I ever knew was The Happy Tutor before he drank himself half to death after he was bounced from the Wisdom Scene Room in Wealth Bondage (proud sponsor of Gifthub), for going too far with a client who needed it, but could not take it and threatened to sue for being none the wiser after a sound thrashing. To his credit, I don't see Matt inflicting any real damage on those he serves.