New York, May 17, 2022: Respada, an invitation-only niche platform providing private market opportunities to the ultra-affluent, hosted an exclusive virtual panel on ‘Educating the Rising Generation’ on May 10, 2022. Panelists include Brian Hooks, Chairman and CEO of Stand Together, and President of the Charles Koch Foundation, Prof. Lauren H. Cohen, the L.E. Simmons Professor at Harvard Business School, David Werdiger, Family Advisor and a second-generation family member, and Caleb Tannehill, Managing Partner of Tannehill Capital Partners, Chairman of Joshua Green Corporation Family Council, and a fifth-generation family member. The diverse mix of panelists shared their insights on the significance of education in preserving family legacy and wealth. Panelists also shared unique perspectives on the impact of education on the governance, continuity, and performance of a family office.
How important is education in families? According to David Werdiger who brings diverse perspectives to the topic as a second-generation family member, family advisor, and a technology entrepreneur, “Education is not just important, it is everything. As family members, we are obligated to prepare the rising generation to be good citizens, good custodians of the family wealth, have healthy attitudes, and be productive members of society, and that starts with education.” Werdiger also explained the importance of using the term rising generation instead of next-generation, “Rising generation is an expression that connotes growth and stepping into a role in the future”. Werdiger expressed his passion for education as an essential tool for enabling people to take their place in family governance and ensuring family continuity. “Respada has several initiatives in this space. They are offering a course in June that will feature CIOs and leading academics around the world including Lauren Cohen. Respada’s approach is holistic and focuses on governance, philanthropy, investment, and education, to help people become well-rounded and exposed to everything necessary to take their place in society and make the world a better place,” Werdiger added.
Education is not just important, it is everything. As family members, we are obligated to prepare the rising generation to be good citizens, good custodians of the family wealth, have healthy attitudes, and be productive members of society, and that starts with education.
As a fifth-generation family member of the Joshua Green Corporation, Caleb Tannehill chairs the Joshua Green Family Council. “In 2019 we started to focus on what educational tools can be provided to over 96 family members to stay true to our three pillars - education, philanthropy, and relationship. One of the things we have been trying to address through education is the gap between the fourth and the fifth generation in terms of looking at entrepreneurship,” Tannehill said. “We are putting together education tools and products to help foster the spirit of entrepreneurship, and being mindful of the community,” he added.
A renowned family office professional with a focus on philanthropy, Brian Hooks spoke about the mission of Stand Together, a philanthropic community that works with over 700 business leaders and philanthropists from diverse backgrounds and families. “Partnerships between families and among family members is about taking time to understand values that drive philanthropy. It is also essential to think about how values can be applied to realize the goals of the families, while also helping to solve the problems of society,” Hooks shared.
How important is it to teach the rising generation about family legacy and family offices? From an academic lens, Lauren Cohen suggested, “It is probably the last thing to teach them. What we need to teach the rising generation is a window to the world”. Cohen also noted that families often want to know how to get their children motivated to take up the mantle of wanting to change the world. “Teaching the next-gen about enveloping what the family has stood for, such that they can think about their legacy and broader impact is the most important thing to focus on. Unfortunately, this often gets lost when we start to go down different avenues of family education,” Cohen observed. Hooks agreed, “Working to convey the values that motivate a family or a business is the most important thing to do when it comes to education, especially when we think of sustaining or growing the family’s impact over time.”
Speaking about common challenges faced in educating families, Hooks mentioned that it is particularly challenging to motivate family members about philanthropy at an early stage. “Philanthropy is often thought about after achieving success in a business. If you wait until you are accomplished to start something, chances are you are not going to be as good at it. The opportunity to get people involved in practicing one’s values through philanthropy is really important,” Hooks noted. Further Hooks pointed out another mistake families often make, which is focusing on what one family member is interested in rather than allowing members to discover what they are passionate about and how they can express their values. “This is a good way to engage the next-gen in the value system and begin lifelong education early,” Hooks remarked. “A diverse family can share values and be very passionate about values but have a completely different expression of those values,” Werdiger added. In Cohen’s experience, one of the hardest things to teach family members is to leave the family. “What I mean by that is by giving the understanding and empowerment to the next generation that if the founder had not branched off to begin a new venture, the family would not witness the success it does today. Going off on your own, charting your path, and the family being a springboard for that is a great thing. Inculcating this ethos in the family is hard to do and I have not seen it done often,” Cohen said.
Illustrating how his family approaches education across generations, Tannehill said, “Financial literacy is the first step since we have kids in the family in middle and high school who are exploring education programs to help them become good business people.” To meet the diverse needs of members across different generations, the Tannehill family uses modules as a classic way to learn. “We also developed podcasts for members who prefer to learn auditorily. For people who prefer interactive learning, we bring the family together for zoom calls from different companies we own to learn from the management teams. We also deliver short videos on current topics, family business topics, and family history, for visual learners,” Tannehill explained. He also pointed out how family members can grow together through these educational means, be it through typical education, philanthropic activities, or by having conversations across generations.
Given that businesses are often private by nature and there are not many conferences where family offices can meet and learn from each other, Cohen asked the panel, "What is the biggest mistake families make because they could not learn from other families?” Hooks responded, “The mistake a lot of people make is thinking about the future generation maintaining the family’s wealth and intent as a mechanical challenge, one that can be solved by the best lawyers. Many mega family foundations have wonderful contracts that are intended to preserve legacy but they do not invest in education and a value system to impress upon the rising generation.”
How do you define success for a rising generation family member? From Werdiger’s vantage point, “The best thing we can do for our children is to enable them to be independent. The greatest challenge is to individuate in the family and hence the definition of success is being your own person.” Hooks agreed that more often than not forcing the rising generation into the mold of the previous generation is counterproductive. “The approach of investing in a person based on their gifts, interests, passion and guiding them along the way but allowing the freedom to explore is important. The family members who are given this freedom are often the ones who come back and succeed in carrying the family legacy forward,” Hooks emphasized.
As part of audience interaction, Peter Guy, Partner Member at Respada, asked the panel, “How can advisors customize a strategy to suit a family’s value system?” Werdiger answered, “The expression of a family’s values will vary among its members because of the diversity of the family across generations, but the core values will remain the same. Since this business is about people, advisors need to listen and help families articulate their values and stories in their own way and incorporate these perspectives into the strategy”.
In conclusion, Cohen noted, "This panel is important because every rising generation faces a different problem. The world and the markets are changing constantly and one cannot use the solutions of the past. Since the rising generation faces the world anew, they need to educate themselves for their family’s legacy and impact on the world to continue over generations”.
Respada is an invitation-only, integrated, global platform that frames strategic opportunities in the private markets for affluent family offices and UHNWIs, providing a full suite of resources to complement their organizations.
Respada PR contact:
Sneha Madhuri, [email protected]