The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
By Dan Ariely (Harper Perennial, 2011)
Reviewed by Danielle Oristian York
Before podcasts were cool, I became a fan of Dan Ariely by listening to him on his podcast Arming the Donkeys. The bio from his site indicates his style, intelligence and humor: I do research in behavioral economics and try to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.
I could not agree more and so wanted to share a review of one my favorite books: The Upside of Irrationality, where he explores the ways and reasons why humans act despite reason and helps us understand why certain decisions, though irrational, are often more likely than those that are logical. Through great story telling, humor and humility, Ariely helps us embrace the irrational side of ourselves that is natural in an effort to help us "figure out how we can get the most good and least bad out of ourselves" when making choices about our money, our relationships and our happiness.
I am enamored with the idea of this notion of getting "the most good and least bad" in my decision making with some experimenting, given my expanded understanding of human nature and my brain.
Archived Editorial Reviews
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life
By Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman (Simon & Schuster, 2015)
A great mentor of mine shared with me that the most valuable thing we can offer our clients in this work is our curiosity. Because of this notion for embracing curiosity, a trait of mine I'd often heard described precocious, I was interested to read movie producer Brian Grazer's take on this idea.
Grazer describes having "curiosity conversations," where he meets with scientists, politicians, writers, athletes and all sorts of other people to get to know them, and how they think. He postures that having an interest in the people and world beyond our experience is worth far more than the 21st century notions of keys to success: innovation and creativity. This book does not make a case for curiosity on any neuroscience or psychological research; instead, the proof of Grazer's hypothesis is his own success.
This book reinforces what I've learned from many smart people in different ways over the years…ask good questions, pay attention and then do something with this new information.
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
By Parker J. Palmer (Jossey-Bass, 1999)
Let your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer explores the evolving intersections of values, vocation and purposes over the lifespan with warmth and wisdom. Palmer calls our attention to the skills of listening as key for exploring purpose, he states "I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live — but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life."
For those of you unfamiliar with the Quaker phrase after which the book is titled or the author, you may read this and find it existential and spiritual. And in many ways it is. These are intimate notions — purpose and identity — and the tone of this books reads as such. This book taught me as it motivated me to continue on this inner journey that informs the externalization of my identity, what I do with my skills and time — my vocation. I hope you'll take a look and consider how the willingness to be vulnerable that enables others to do the same as they work to bring to fruition the change they want to see in the world.
Thinking Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013)
This book by Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman explores his theory of the two systems of the brain. System 1, as he calls it, is our fast, automatic response mechanism and System 2 is our slow, analytical and deliberate mode. He presents multiple experiments and illustrates personal and business decision-making skills in an effort to start a conversation with the reader about the reasoning behind the way we think, and why we act a certain way when faced particular situations. He expands on the benefits of intuition and how sometimes intuition (a part of System 2) should not be trusted. He presents the benefits of slow thinking in our lives and how with awareness of the way your brain thinks and you will not be blindsided by your own impulses.
Kahneman is a renowned physiologist and economist, and the juxtaposition of his two fields make the book a practical and enriching book about how the mind works and what we can do to optimize our thinking.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
By Atul Gawande (Metropolitan Books, 2014)
I follow Atul Gawande’s articles in the New Yorker religiously, and I picked up Being Mortal expecting an insightful, thought-provoking read and I was not disappointed! However, I did not expect a book, which seems to be about death, to have any relevance to my work at 21/64. However, Being Mortal is not focused on death but, instead, an exploration of what we discover when we are confronted with our own mortality – specifically, what we learn about what it means to live a meaningful life. Surprisingly, one of Being Mortal’s principal conclusions, that we find meaning by knowing and living out our values, is also the clarion call of 21/64.
Through research, anecdotes, and interviews Gawande shows us how industrialization, social security, and medical knowledge have shaped how society and the medical community perceive and address mortality. He argues that today, the evolution of these attitudes have reduced the dying, the elderly, and the infirm from people to patients and narrowed the goal of medicine to maintaining bodily function instead of enhancing quality of life.
Gawande details his own transformation from a doctor treating symptoms and curing disease into a more comprehensive care provider who considers how to preserve a person’s ability to continue doing whatever it is that makes her life worth living. Although Gawande is dealing with his patients’ mortality and 21/64 with our donors and clients’ philanthropy, each of us found that to be effective in our work required a candid discussion about values. Moreover, the skills Gawande discusses using are the same that I’ve been developing in my own work: broaching heavy, intensely personal subjects with empathy and without judgment; learning how to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions; figuring out what the right questions are, and; really listening to the answers by not only hearing what someone says but what they mean.
On the surface, Being Mortal only seems relevant for a medical professional or someone currently dealing with death or illness; but its message is universal to anyone who wants to be intentional about her choices and holding important conversations about the future with family. Although this book may seem depressing, it is quite the opposite. I found it inspiring and uplifting, and a great starting point for beginning these discussions with loved ones. I would highly recommend it for the holiday season.
The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life
By George Kinder (Dell, 2000)
In The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, George Kinder addresses head on the important role emotions play in our relationship with money and personal finance. Kinder steps out of the classic “how-to” we have come to expect in personal finance writing.
In this book, Kinder illustrates the seven psychological stages of money maturity: Innocence, Pain, Knowledge, Understanding, Vigor, Vision, and Aloha, through storytelling he illustrates these relationship stages with money. Kinder’s book is not a “how to” personal finance but rather gives readers an insight into their understanding about the meaning of wealth.
As many of our clients come to us, they are wrestling with the intersections between money and wealth in their own identity formation. I find Kinder’s insight an excellent guide to understanding what money is and what role we want it to play in our relationships with ourselves and with others.
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
By Paul Tough (Mariner Books, 2013)
This book challenges the popular parenting paradigm — our children’s success in life is dependent on their cognitive skills, academic performance and intelligence. Instead, Tough postulates, what counts the most are their non-cognitive skills, like character.
He presents research that focuses on characteristics such as: perseverance, curiosity, and conscientiousness. Though Tough is particularly interested in the difficulty of underprivileged children, his book presents a comprehensive analysis of American children across the socio-economic spectrum. Through his extraordinary accounts we can understand the implications of adversity in a child’s character development and how character serves as a better indicator of his or her success.
The insights in this book have inspired many of my conversations with parents who are often able to shield their children from what we now know is character-building adversity. As families are working to support the next generation’s growth and success in many aspects of their development, knowing that character development is key to success is inspiring and enriching.
The XYZ Factor: The DoSomething.org Guide to Creating a Culture of Impact
Edited by Nancy Lublin and Alyssa Ruderman (BenBella Books, 2015)
The XYZ Factor is a great resource for anyone working in a multigenerational environment that wants to foster healthy intergenerational relationships and create what the authors call a “culture of impact”. The book outlines how to construct this XYZ environment, which is “created on the principals of the Millennial generation to foster intergenerational productivity in a new kind of office culture.” They explain that XYZ is a mindset and set of principals from Millennials that, if adopted, will generously increase an organization’s efficiency, both in terms of its tangible and intangible gains.
The book’s credibility comes from its authors’ personal experience living the XYZ life everyday—they practice what they preach. The XYZ Factor is written by various employees at DoSomething.org, America's largest organization for youth volunteering opportunities, and is edited by its CEO, Nancy Lublin, and Campaign Manager, Alyssa Ruderman. On its face, this may seem like just another dry business book, but The XYZ Factor stands apart with its irreverent tone, witty references and personal anecdotes peppered throughout. Each chapter discusses a different workplace topic and the “XYZ way” of how to approach it, from “The Physical Space [of an office]” to “Acquisition and Engagement.”
This book also touches on nonconventional topics, such as how to treat interns and turn them into your company’s greatest asset (as 21/64’s summer intern, this was my favorite chapter). Chapter author Sarah Piper-Goldberg argues that XYZ companies, whether for-profit or non-profit, should pay their interns, not only as a legal or ethical consideration, but because payment is a sign of respect. This is a dominant motif throughout the book: the emphasis that the XYZ methodology puts on cultivating respect and collaboration.
Regardless of whether you feel compelled to convert your company to XYZ-ism by the end of the book, the content provided in The XYZ Factor is a window into how the next generation operates, what they respond to and what organizations with this Millennial culture look like.
I thought this book was a fun and informative read, and I recommend it to all those who (1) work with the Millennial demographic, either in the capacity as colleagues or as their professional advisor; (2) are looking to grow their organization’s ability to empathize with and operate in a multigenerational context, and; (3) enjoy learning and self-improvement by reading “how to” books. Buy or rent a copy of The XYZ Factor. You will thank me later.
Generous Genes: Raising Caring Kids in a Digital Age
Susan Crites Price with Julianna M. Price (Majestic Oak Press, 2015)
If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher or stakeholder in cultivating positive and moral values and traits in children from babyhood to teenaged years, Generous Genes is a great resource for this pursuit.
Susan Crites Price wrote this book with the help and input from her Millennial daughter, Julianna M. Price. Together, they laid out this book in a logical, easy-to-understand progression, which begins with “The Power of Parents” as influencers on their children and continues with how this can be leveraged into raising generous kids. A key component of this book is the way it incorporates the digital world as another tool for raising philanthropic kids. The authors recognize that this can be intimidating to parents or grandparents who aren’t the digital natives that today’s generation is, by seeding the book with applicable and research-based tips as a guide. Moreover, this book doesn’t limit philanthropy to donating money, but suggests a wide range of avenues for cultivating and demonstrating generosity, such as community service, social entrepreneurship, digital activism, crowd-funding and more.
For one example, as 21/64 and The Johnson Center for Philanthropy detail in their 2013 #NextGenDonors Report, Price and Price also highlight the importance of giving Time, Talent, Treasures, and Ties. The next generation want their philanthropy to go beyond check writing and to be hands-on, collaborative and peer-oriented. Price and Price demonstrate how parents can use the Internet as the nexus point of Time, Talent, Treasures, and Ties. It can connect youth with causes and volunteer opportunities, act as a gathering place for a diverse, but like-mined peer community, operate as a fundraising platform and serve as a medium to disseminate these positive values to the world.
If you or someone you know is trying to navigate where to start and how to successfully raise philanthropic children in a digital world, be sure to check out Generous Genes. It has a plethora of creative, actionable ideas and additional suggested resources for readers to pursue.
Letters To My Child’s Guardian
Virginia Antipolo-Utt (Atlas Books, 2015)
This extremely comprehensive 716 page guidebook was created chapter by chapter over the past 18 years by Seattle estate planning attorney Virginia Antipolo-Utt after the birth of her daughter, in response to the unthinkable: what would happen if I died?
What would need to be in place legally to insure that my daughter would be well taken care of? Who should be her guardian? What practical information would the guardian need to know? How can I communicate the personal values my husband and I would like her to be raised with? What information and reflections on living might I leave for my daughter to read when she is older? Lawyers say it's precisely these kinds of questions that paralyze parents and keep them from creating a will.
With spaces to write, the book gives parents room to ponder and if they wish, to record, all that information. In my experience with workbook-style books like this, there can be a lot of contemplative and conversational value in considering all the questions and issues, even if you don’t fill in all the answers – and given the volume of questions in this book, many areas would likely be left blank. Estate planning attorneys looking for strategies to help parents move through mental roadblocks might also find Letters to my Children’s Guardian a useful resource.
The upside of this book is that it equips parents to address all the issues they are confronted with in choosing a guardian, and in a manner that is very personal. The author has lived the journey herself. The downside is that all this comprehension makes for a potentially overwhelming book. A note for Jewish parents: the book has a decidedly Christian slant.
For more information contact Virginia Antipolo-Utt directly: email@example.com.
The Cycle of the Gift: Family Wealth and Wisdom
James E. Hughes, Jr., Susan E. Massenzio, and Keith Whitaker (Bloomberg Press, 2012)
The Cycle of the Gift should be required reading for anyone working with families of wealth. It is a remarkable book focused on the work necessary for mindful decisions about giving within families. The authors put forth the premise that each gift travels a circle from giver to recipient and back forming the spiritual core of individual and family flourishing – what they call the "spirit of the gift."
The authors use several key images to make their point, one of which is the gift as meteor. Flying from the giver to the recipient it appears with no warning and often with negative consequences. On balance to receive the "spirit of the gift" is to learn to adapt to and integrate the gift meteor.
The Cycle of the Gift pays great attention to the importance of mindful giving which "includes understanding yourself as a giver, understanding the recipient of your gift and understanding the quality of your relationship will directly affect your ability to give well, the recipient’s ability to receive well, and your respective abilities to feel freer as a result of the gift." To truly understand that quote the book should be read from cover to cover.
Without a doubt this book will impact my work with families of wealth. Each chapter includes critical questions a family should consider on the journey of mindful family giving. As well the authors provide valuable insight to issues of parenting children raised with wealth and the critical role of grandparents, asking and answering the deepest questions.
Shepherding families through the impact of meteoric gifts and creating a family that flourishes into future generations must be done with a thankful spirit. In their words, "if you think about the cycle of the gift as a cycle of individual development, you can recognize that you begin life with what is given. You begin life as a recipient and you end life as a recipient once more. Again, giving well rests upon receiving well." That’s the "spirit of giving" and the cycle of the gift.
Put this book in your reading stack for 2015. It is well written and highly readable. I plan to share it with several of my clients.
Strangers in Paradise: How Families Adapt to Wealth Across Generations
James Grubman Ph.D. (FamilyWealth Consulting, 2013)
Strangers in Paradise, written by psychologist and wealth advisor, James Grubman, is a captivating look at how families cope with wealth across generations. In his book, Grubman theorizes that, much like immigrants to a new country, families new to wealth need to learn to adapt to unfamiliar cultural norms and responsibilities in order to survive and thrive in their adoptive country - the "Land of Wealth." Grubman aptly points out that "arriving in economic paradise is not the end-point envisioned by wealth’s Immigrants. It actually begins the real work of adjusting to a new culture in all its complexities. The stakes are high and the clock is ticking as newcomers start down their paths of adjustment." As we so often see by the third or fourth generation, the fortune that was once enjoyed by the wealth creator and his/her inheritors is all but gone. Those that are most successful will be able to strike a healthy balance between retaining values from their middle-class or working class backgrounds while embracing the opportunities that prosperity has to offer. Grubman examines the reasons for success and failure through the lens of cross-cultural psychology in the eyes of three families who approach their attainment of wealth very differently.
The strength in this book is that it provides sound first-of-its-kind theories and also offers strategies for practical use. The importance of not just offering examples of what successful assimilation looks like, but a roadmap on how to begin to get there, cannot be understated. Strangers in Paradise provides an additional element of understanding the challenges that these families face and has become "required reading" for those I work with.
Whether you are new to wealth, an inheritor or an advisor working with families, Grubman’s writing is sure to resonate as his examples touch on every one of the experiences in the spectrum of adjustment to affluence.
Jillian Wagenheim is the Director of Family Philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and a certified trainer at 21/64. Jillian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raised Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Successful Inheritors on How They Got That Way
Coventry Edwards-Pitt (BP Books, 2014)
At 21/64, many clients ask us how to think about raising well-adjusted children amid affluence. Raised Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Successful Inheritors on How They Got That Way by Coventry Edwards-Pitt is an insightful look into the key factors for raising children who are born into wealth that ensure that they become thriving, well-adjusted and contributing members of society. What is so unique about this book, is that, for the first time, readers gets an inside perspective from the now grown-up inheritors on how they believe they became the success stories they are today, as well as an outside perspective from Edwards-Pitt, tying everything together, giving parents and professionals in the field the important lessons-learned for them to use.
This book does a great job of acknowledging and outlining the challenges that wealthy parents have child rearing. These parents, along with all the concerns of every parent, have the additional burden of balancing between using their resources to provide their children with opportunities, while teaching them the responsibility that comes with having wealth. Edwards-Pitt taps a variety of child development research, numerous interviews with now adult inheritors and their parents, interesting anecdotes, as well her professional experience in the field to engage the reader and provide him/her with a clear, useable guide on navigating this balance.
Raised Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Successful Inheritors on How They Got That Way covers this topic from a variety of angles, from defining what being a “successful” inheritor means; the central role of parents and some essential “do’s and don’ts”; how parents can transmit positive financial values to children, including being open about financial issues, establishing sound money values, and, most essential, providing a good example by modeling those values; the importance of self-sufficiency, with special emphasis on the value of earning your own money and developing independence; and finally, Edwards-Pitt also outlines key ways that parents can prepare their children for this autonomy through positive encouragement, clear boundaries, and objective guidelines.
These last elements, which 21/64 also emphasizes, helps inheritors become confident, resilient and successful individuals. This book is well worth reading for parents and advisors, as well as inheritors themselves who are interested in this topic.
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
Meg Jay, Ph.D. (Twelve, 2013)
If you are a twentysomething, raising one, or advising one, do not pass go. Go directly to purchase this book. As one Slate reviewer on the cover says, "any recent college grad mired in a quarter-life crisis or merely dazed by the freedom of post-collegiate existence should consider it required reading."
At 21/64, we work with many twentysomethings as well as their parents and advisors, who are "paralyzed by predecessor, prosperity, and possibilities," as coined by a colleague and 21/64 trainer Kristin Keffler. Stymied by options that growing up with wealth or access to philanthropic resources has afforded them, many twentysomethings we work with are in a development stage of identity formation as they search for their adult purpose and direction.
What Meg Jay does so beautifully in her book, based on a decade of therapy sessions with twentysomethings, is show how these years are a critical stage for all twentysomethings. Rather than romanticizing the twenties as a time for hanging out in urban tribes, extended adolescence, or exclaiming "30 is the new 20," she argues for the importance of building identity capital in the 20s and developing the building blocks for the rest of a life full of meaningful work and meaningful relationships.
At 21/64 we have found that especially in families where wealth is not yet transferred to the next generation, adulthood and independence can be further delayed, undermining the twentysomethings' ability to discover who they are.
I'm tempted to say this book was a page turner for me, despite the fact that it's not a romance novel, because the real life stories of twentysomethings interspersed with theory and practical maxims about work, love, the brain, and the body were so fascinating and relevant even to someone years older.
Pick up a copy, buy one for a twentysomething you know (or their parents or advisor) and let me know what you think.
Sharna Goldseker is the Executive Director of 21/64 and can be reached at email@example.com.
Start Something That Matters
Blake Mycoskie (Spiegel & Grau, 2012)
A few years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Blake Mycoskie, chief shoe giver of TOMS, give an inspirational keynote speech at a conference. His light-hearted storytelling relayed the ups and downs of his journey as he founded TOMS and watched the buy one, give one movement grow. You could feel his enthusiasm and energy spread throughout the room. And so, it was with this experience in mind that I excitedly pre-ordered his book to be one of the first to receive it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Blake delivers that same spirit in his book, Start Something That Matters. It is an easy, fun read that highlights his experience with TOMS along with that of other innovative organizations that are making a difference in the world. One of the key messages that I remember from his keynote became the main premise of the book—we don’t have to wait to do good or to give back. As the book jacket says, “You can find profit, passion, and meaning all at once—right now.”
I think this is an idea many of us struggle with and watch our clients struggle with as well. We ask ourselves, how can I balance these different desires in my life? Or we think we need to wait until retirement to start giving back. Many of us also want to start something that matters—whether it be a foundation, a donor-advised fund, a junior board of our family foundation, a non-profit, a company with a social mission.
Blake’s intention is that his book will “be the catalyst of many more organizations and projects making a positive impact on the world.” To support this desire, Blake shares inspiration throughout the pages and challenges each of us to start something that matters. He outlines six simple keys that will help us do just that:
Find your story
Face your fears
Be resourceful without resources
Keep it simple
Giving is good business
The chapter on giving is especially relevant as he describes the power of building giving into a business model—whether starting a new business or creating a culture of giving in an existing organization. He suggests giving from the core, not as an afterthought, and shares some more tips to do this:
Give more than money
Think about your special skills
Incorporate giving anywhere you can at work
Don’t get overwhelmed
It’s better to give than to receive
Listen to those you give to
A couple of TOMS employees also share their five tips for thoughtful giving in this chapter.
Blake wraps up his book by reminding us that the most important step is the FIRST step. What will be your first step to start something that matters?
Deborah Goldstein is an independent philanthropic advisor and certified 21/64 trainer specializing in guiding the next generation in giving. More about Deborah can be found at enlightenedphilanthropy.com.
Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life
George E. Vaillant, M.D. (Little, Brown, and Company, 2002)
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
Gabriel García Márquez
George Vaillant’s Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life represents the stuff of dreams. How else to understand the vision, passion, and persistence behind the rigorous analysis of three prospective cohort studies of over 800 individuals, followed over the course of seven, and even eight decades to unravel the mysteries of what constitutes successful aging.
The challenge of successful aging is of vital importance to us at 21/64, both from the strategic perspective of how we engage next generations in philanthropy, but also in furtherance of our broader mandate of “philanthropos”, embracing respect and love for all humankind. We are committed to ensuring optimal, meaningful, fulfilled lives for every generation. How does formal philanthropy fit into the schema of Aging Well? Does Vaillant offer us means of better communication amongst generations?
The book represents both science and art as it analyzes the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the largest, longest, and richest prospective study of aging in history. This study combines three cohorts, one of Harvard men begun in the 1920s, one of inner city Boston men, and another of exceptionally high IQ women from California. Participants were enrolled as adolescents, studied prospectively by teams of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social scientists, and anthropologists, who used all manner of interviews (of both study subjects, as well as their teachers and family members), physical and laboratory exams, written questionnaires, and periodic personal open-ended conversations that continued through life spans that extended into grand and great-grandparenthood.
Dr. Vaillant, now 79 himself, joined the Harvard cohort in its 30th year as a 33 year old clinical psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. He writes of the parallel processes of spearheading an extraordinary lifelong commitment to this unique scientific investigation, while moving through stages of adult development himself. He writes candidly of surprise at major unanticipated findings, such as how the impact of early childhood lessens as we age.
The book offers technical analyses of hard data of health, morbidity, mortality, and psychological assessments, and examines relationships amongst all variety of demographics, including education, socioeconomic data, professional status, family background, and an array of psychosocial factors. But it is at its most compelling in story-telling, as Vaillant shares elegant narratives and personal anecdotes, vignettes of all manner of study participants, who are extraordinarily frank and generous with personal details and lessons of living.
The beauty of prospective work is that stories unfold factually without distortions of recall and embellishment related to retrospective memory. Effect and cause are often unraveled in surprising ways (e.g. the devastating impact of chronic excessive alcohol use relates less to “unhappy childhoods” but rather to the malignancy of alcohol’s effects on body, emotional well-being, and family integrity; that is, negative outcome seems related to the effects of alcohol, rather than the more stereotypic view that alcohol use stems from negative early life).
II. Developmental framework
Vaillant provides a theoretical structure for organizing the study findings. He quickly steers us away from earliest understandings of old age as simply a time of senescence and deterioration. While acknowledging inevitable losses and physical challenges of aging, he surprises himself as a scholar in having acquired over his own lifetime a construction of old age as a life period with both continuing developmental mandates and potential to flourish and thrive.
Vaillant incorporates stages of adult development as defined by Erik Erickson: a schema of change and maturation that occur throughout the entire life span. Adult development is viewed as progress, not decline. The tasks of each stage are defined, and although follow sequentially, work overlaps through multiple stages. Young adulthood requires identity creation, development of capacity for intimacy, and career consolidation, As we age, adults have the potential to engage in life from a perspective of widening social radius, a path leading outward, with stages of generativity, “keeping of the flame”, and integrity.
In Vaillant's words, "Generativity reflects the capacity to give the self, finally completed through mastery of the first three tasks of adult development, away." Ultimately, generativity involves our putting into the world more than was there before. Its essence is focal awareness that we are part of a social network in which we must act for the benefit of the group. Understanding our relationship to that broader world, we seek to better it, not just for ourselves, but for others. It turns out to be very rewarding personally: "In all three Study cohorts, mastery of generativity tripled the chances that the decades of the 70s (and beyond) would be a time of joy and not of despair."
Vaillant describes the next phase, "keeper of meaning”, as focus on “conservation and preservation of the collective products of mankind - the culture in which one lives and its institutions. One (concentrates) on responsibility for future generations, but also (cares) for the culture, institutions and environment that allow those future generations to prosper.”
Finally, Vaillant describes the stage of integrity. He states "In old age...(the) many losses...may overwhelm us, if we have not continued to grow beyond ourselves. One looks back on life and creates a story – an integrated and meaningful life that could have been no other way. It is a deep and profound acceptance of life's journey, including the journey into death. ”
Even during this stage of primarily inner reflection, much can be done to make the world a better place, for an individual's actions are understood less personally, but in the context of inevitable responses to life forces.
III. Findings and Conclusions
Although this book was written over ten years ago, its findings stand for themselves:
What goes right in childhood predicts the future far better than what goes wrong.
It is not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people we encounter at any age who facilitate enjoyable aging.
A good marriage/primary relationship at age 50 predicts positive aging at 80; surprisingly, low cholesterol levels at age 50 do not.
Alcohol abuse unrelated to unhappy childhood consistently predicts unsuccessful aging, in part because alcohol damages future social supports.
Learning to play and create in new ways as we age and actively engaging with younger friends as we lose older ones add more to our enjoyment than greater late life income.
Healing relationships are a key component of aging well and are facilitated by a capacity for gratitude and forgiveness.
Objective good physical health is less important to successful aging than subjective good health. “It is all right to be ill, as long as you do not feel sick."
How some of these results might translate into our current era of escalating income inequality and its impact on the elderly is a legitimate concern. But it was never Vaillant’s mandate to predict external sociopolitical global trends, but rather to focus on individual people.
Vaillant observes: “When we are old, our lives become the sum of all whom we have loved. It is important not to waste anyone. One task of living out the last half of life is excavating and recovering all of those whom we loved in the first half."
Though trained as a psychoanalyst, Vaillant frankly concludes: “Freud vastly overestimated the importance of childhood.” Indeed, the personality is not fully formed by age 5, nor even by 50. True, most of the participants with good outcomes at midlife continued to thrive and enjoy a vital old age. The few all-around successes who fell apart almost always did so as a result of disease. Yet many subjects who looked “unimpressive” at 50 had lives that became startlingly better. This seems to be a consequence of continuing maturation - and of “avoiding accidents”.
There are steps one can take to improve one’s odds. One can create favorable conditions for mature coping styles that facilitate richer old age. First, says Vaillant, “Our defenses are always more mature when we are not hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or drunk. Feeling safe, secure, and ‘held’ allows us to use more mature defenses.” Second, although it is not easy to change our defenses by ourselves, chance favors a prepared mind: “We can start by admiring how other skillful people cope. Then ponder, when things go badly for us, how we might have used self-defeating mechanisms.” Lastly, he says: “Don’t try to think less of yourself, but try to think of yourself less.”
Although Vaillant rarely speaks of philanthropy per se, his analysis of later developmental periods offers a context for recognizing the importance of philanthropy in the life cycle for mastery of its final successive stages. This complex and fascinating book offers lessons for readers of every age. The stories make real the longitudinal science in such a manner to engender empathy, the greatest connector and creative force for good, and a powerful intergenerational communications tool.
“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”
Henri Amiel (1874)
George Vaillant offers us an elegant guide.
The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
Bruce Feiler (William Morrow, 2013)
The Secrets of Happy Families rests on an appealing premise: The exasperating, satisfying, tedious, and thrilling work of family life can be improved. We can raise better kids, be better spouses, and function better as families through the application of expert knowledge and proven approaches from a variety of disciplines, some not commonly associated with family life.
In researching The Secrets of Happy Families Feiler sought out an impressive array of experts. He weaves their philosophies, prescriptions, and scholarship together with fun vignettes and how-to advice to create an engaging and useful book.
We get Warren Buffet’s wisdom on allowance. We learn new approaches to family management from Jeff Sutherland, an innovator in Agile – an approach to software development that is collaborative, self-organizing, and non-hierarchical and involves conscious checking-in, reflection, and adaptation. (Certainly sounds like something most families could use.) We are persuaded of the importance of keeping core values and beliefs at the forefront of family life from serial entrepreneur David Kidder. He developed a belief board with his family to ensure core values and goals were articulated and honored -- a characteristic he had identified in successful businesses. We see the fun and importance of sharing family history (ups and downs included) and creating family traditions through a visit to the home of Marshall Duke. The Emory University psychologist’s research charts the impact of these things on resilience in children. We read staggering statistics on the positive impact of family dinners (or any other meal done consistently). And we learn how to get our kids to talk, and let them talk, at these meals. We consider family mission statements, which originated with Stephen Covey, who followed The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. As in business, this exercise creates a shared understanding of values and goals. We learn how to fight better, talk about sex, have more fun, and many others.
Be warned: this book is more “just do it” than “feel good.” It asks us to act because the stakes are high, and we have the capacity to change for the better. I was particularly struck by how adults are encouraged to share authority and make demands. For example, parents should establish rituals (think weekly dinners) and require their children to attend, without apology. Everyone in a household – sons, daughters, fathers, mothers – should be partners in figuring out how the family can function more smoothly, and in the work of achieving that. Members of all ages should contribute to family mission statements, and be reminded when their behavior does not honor it. The list could go on.
Too often we may shy away from asking family members (our own personally, and others professionally) to take up hard topics together. But seeking that partnership is essential if families hope to live or work together with more joy and efficacy. This lesson will impact my professional practice in many ways. At home, we’re getting ready for our first regular meeting on how things went over the past week - our adaptation of Agile. Participants will range from age 3 to 48. It should be an adventure.
Rebecca Lieberman is a philanthropy advisor and strategic consultant with particular expertise in family philanthropy and capacity building for non-profits. She is a 21/64 certified consultant.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, 2013)
"Young people who learn to manage both their human and financial capital are more at peace – and effective – than those kids who have learned to manage only one or the other." –Joline Godfrey
As the title indicates, Gladwell takes the biblical story of David and Goliath, the Israelite shepherd boy who defeated the giant warrior of the Philistines as his central metaphor to present an eclectic set of intriguing possibilities and musings about human behavior all focused on the premise that the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. In his typical style for those familiar, he links big ideas together in fascinating ways to make his case. He connects people who are dyslexic with a hero of the civil rights movement and the citizens of London during the blitz, suggesting they all managed to turn disadvantages into advantages and came out better for it, calling this the "theory of desirable difficulty." Then he takes the flip side where he postures, that those that have qualities that appear to give them strength, are often the sources of great weakness.
With his close reading of each of these intriguing stories about a range of fascinating characters, Gladwell outlines his thesis: that "much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty." More important, "we constantly get these kind of conflicts wrong." That is, we misread and misinterpret: "Giants are not what we think they are."
As I consider the challenges each of us faces and those that exist in the world and so many are passionate about changing, I’m heartened by the sense of hopeful possibility Gladwell’s perspective evokes and intrigued to consider how to be prepared to revisit our apparent advantages.
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change
Adam Braun (Scribner, 2014)
Adam Braun shares his incredibly inspirational journey in a way that will make you feel as though you are right there with him, with each page you turn. You will get to know members of his family, his friends, the love of his life, his mentors and supporters and how each one of them contributed, in various ways to where he is today, leading to the creation of his for-purpose organization, Pencils Of Promise. Adam was in college thinking he would graduate, get a well paying job in finance, save his money while living a good life and then live his dream, which was to build one school, when he could retire in his sixties.
Released today, The Promise of a Pencil; How An Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, tells the story of why and how non of that happened. It is written in a way that feels warm, inviting, and heartfelt. Adam shares his personal story from the very beginning, with immense honesty, through 30 beautiful and powerful mantras, which serve as the chapter titles. You may laugh and cry, but most of all, you will feel inspired to live each day of your life to be a story worth telling, which is Mantra 30. When we live our lives as a story worth telling, among many other benefits, we have an opportunity to serve as an inspiration for those we connect with to do the same in their lives.
These are 12 of the 30 Mantras which offer a sense of what is discussed throughout this book. These Mantras can be applied to all aspects of our lives, our work and certainly our clients as they engage in their philanthropy.
*GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
*KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A PURPOSE
*EMBRACE THE LIGHTNING MOMENTS
*BIG DREAMS START WITH SMALL UNREASONABLE ACTS
*PRACTICE HUMILITY OVER HUBRIS
*HAPPINESS IS FOUND IN CELEBRATING OTHERS
*READ THE SIGNS ALONG THE PATH
*STAY GUIDED BY YOUR VALUES
*SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE WHO MAKE YOU BETTER
*VULNERABILITY IS VITAL
*LISTEN TO YOUR ECHOES
*IF YOUR DREAMS DO NOT SCARE YOU THEY ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH
In sharing his vulnerabilities and shining a light on the importance and value of doing so throughout this book, Adam offers countless useful gems for anyone who yearns to find meaning and purpose in their life. As the title indicates, Adam Braun is an ordinary man who has created extraordinary change and continues to do so. His experiences and wisdom gained along the way will help you bring your passion to life.
Adam is generous with the way in which he chose to tell his story. While this book offers many treasures, the ultimate gift is that it gives you tangible ways to become your dreams and live with meaning, purpose, and passion. It's powerful to come away from a read with not just inspiration, but a clear understanding and a guide for how to make a difference and leave the world a bit better than it is.
Especially relevant and interesting to the world of Philanthropy, Adam not only shares the evolution of his organization, Pencils of Promise, but he also talks about a shift he hopes to see in the language. He makes a valid case for presenting things from the positive, referring to the work as for-purpose rather than non-profit. He also adds great value for anyone hoping to create a for-purpose organization with the intention to solve a problem from an entrepreneurial business perspective.
When asked to contribute a few words about why he thought this book might be fitting to this specific group, here is what he said:
"The book was written to equip people with both the ability and ambition to pursue a far off dream that might seem unattainable. The first third of the book is about igniting that spark, the second part is about explaining how to get things off the ground, and the final part is about creating something that extends far past yourself. The Promise of a Pencil is part narrative, part how-to, and all about helping people lead a life of success and significance."
*100% OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THIS BOOK WILL GO TO PENCILS OF PROMISE.
Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
Martin E.P. Seligman (Atria Books, 2012)
Marty Seligman's book, Flourish, introduces and provides a comprehensive overview of the burgeoning field of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology paired with philanthropy makes for a potentially wise and practical partnership.
As legend has it, Martin E. P. Seligman coined the term "Positive Psychology," (PP) in 1998, as incoming president of the American Psychological Association. He wanted to challenged the field to consider the positive side of psychology: happiness, joy, well-being, love, awe, etc. Since WWII most psychological research focused on what he consider "pain and human misery." Psychology has primarily addressed depression, anxiety, negative manifestations of the psyche. He invited psychologists to include psychological strengths, as well as psychological weaknesses in their studies. Seligman’s challenge was met with great passion. Since then PP has flourished.
Flourish is both accessible theory and practical practice. PP is not "positive thinking." Its not about changing your mind or thinking. It encompasses thinking, for sure, but it is extremely practical, empirically studied and supported by research. Flourish provides a comprehensive overview of PP’s research on "Post-Traumatic Growth," "Positive Education," and "GRIT," to name a few. And, Flourish provides methods to develop well-being and happiness.
In particular Seligman provides a useful acronym to help the reader develop a practical sense of PP. PERMA: P = Positive Emotion, E = Engagement, R = Positive Relationships / Relating, M = Meaning, and A = Accomplishment / Achievement.
Some time ago I wrote the following for my PP blog (garyshunk.com) to illustrate the "R" in PERMA:
So...Erica arrives home from work and excitedly tells her husband, Jeff, "I got the promotion!" Jeff turns to Erica smiles and says, "WOW, that’s great! Tell me ALL about it." He takes Erica by the hand and leads her to a chair and sits her down. Jeff places himself directly across from her, leans forward, gazes into his wife’s smiling face, and says, "OK, tell me."
In that moment Jeff enters Erica’s world of joy with genuine, intentional and devoted interest. At points in her story, he asks, "What were you feeling when your boss told you?" "Tell me verbatim what you and your boss said to one another." "What was your drive home like?" After an hour of wrapped attention, Jeff says, "Let’s celebrate," and asks Erica where she’d like to go for dinner that evening.
The above is an illustration of Positive Relating, This is a Positive Psychology intervention. Imagine yourself on the receiving end. Erica is happy because of the good thing that happened to her today. When she arrives home, Jeff "actively," and "constructively," responds to Erica’s good news and her happiness. He puts his needs and agenda to the side and is 100% present, and curious about the good thing that happened to his wife. The outcome of Jeff’s investment is a gift for Erica, their marriage, their children and extended family, as well as their community because it magnifies happiness.
This illustration may seem cliche. but, it really takes intention and effort to be present for someone’s joy. When the investment happens, it deepens what is already there, extends the joy and happiness, as well as solidifies the relationship.
Obviously I am a big fan of Marty Seligman. Nevertheless, I believe Flourish is a great introduction to PP. You will discover PP is not "self help," but rather a solid field of psychology with its foundation in empirical study and scientific research. As I like to say: there is nowhere PP is not applicable.
Raising Financially Fit Kids, 2nd Edition
Jolene Godfrey (TenSpeed Press, 2013)
"Young people who learn to manage both their human and financial capital are more at peace – and effective – than those kids who have learned to manage only one or the other." –Joline Godfrey
Talking about money remains one of the most difficult subjects parents can raise with their children. Thanks to Joline Godfrey for her revised edition of Raising Financially Fit Kids! This completely updated version includes financial education guidance for 5-18 year olds and now twenty-somethings as well. And as stated in the 21/64 review of the first edition, the book still "resonates with 21/64's approach in talking openly with family members across generations about values and focusing on preparing the next generation for their imminent responsibilities."
Organized by five developmental stages, Godfrey presents a clearly laid-out framework of Ten Basic Money Skills – from how to save and invest to how to use money to change the world to how to be a citizen of the world – and how these can be taught and reinforced at each stage. Each stage is accompanied by a clear Life/Money Map that highlights the appropriate money skills to master and a handy chart with suggested actions and resources tied to each of the basic money skills. A couple of the stages even have suggested Money Messages to share with kids.
Regardless of your income level or that of your clients, if you’re struggling with how to talk with your kids about money and finances, this is the book for you. And yet, the book is about so much more than money. Godfrey’s sage advice, plentiful examples, and clever ideas will allow you to engage your kids in a financial education that will prepare them to be "self-confident kids who have the tools to realize their dreams."
Even if you don’t have kids, you probably have young people in your life who you could mentor. Godfrey encourages the creation of Money Mentoring Teams and says, "Financial literacy is economic self-defense and we all have responsibilities to function as money mentors, guides, and ‘consultants’ to the next generation."
Although the idea of philanthropy is woven throughout the book, Godfrey even includes a short chapter on raising young philanthropists. As she points out, "Philanthropy provides a tool for galvanizing kids to master the other nine basic money skills….Encouraging philanthropic engagement early plays a critical role in helping kids develop a sense of purpose and meaning. Kids who feel they are part of something greater than themselves become more grounded, self-confident adults."
Pick up a copy of Raising Financially Fit Kids and start your conversation today!
Deborah Goldstein is an independent philanthropic advisor and certified 21/64 trainer specializing in guiding the next generation in giving. More about Deborah can be found at enlightenedphilanthropy.com.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain (Broadway Books, January 2013)
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Gandhi (from Susan Cain's Manifesto)
"Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamp lit desk." - Susan Cain
These two quotes speak to the core of what this book is about. Any book that helps us to further examine ourselves and see others as well as our human connections in a new light is a definite gem.
Susan Cain offers readers (both introverts & extroverts) a valuable reminder that there is deep value and richness in being an introvert, especially in a time where there seems to be an excessive amount of noise in our world. For the extroverts especially, Quiet presents an intelligent and thoughtful window into the human psyche of introverts as Cain highlights the significance of thinking about how we interact with different personalities, as well as how we view and value contributions in ourselves and in others.
Shedding light on the power of the gifts that introverts often possess, which might include a gentle disposition, silence, solitude, reflection and sensitivity, Cain offers validation to the introverts of the world. She also provides insight into the way both introverts and extroverts think, function and interact, in an effort to help us all better understand ourselves and our fellow humans in a more enlightened and authentic way; be it our friends, family, clients or strangers we encounter.
As a self described introvert, Cain celebrates all that introverts contribute to the world. Her passion comes through in this thoughtful read that is backed by thorough & diligent research.
For introverts, extroverts and anyone in between, Quiet will hopefully leave you with a greater awareness and a desire to open your heart and mind in new ways, to make room for those you may not have quite understood before. It will undoubtedly have you pondering how you see yourself and others, as you navigate through all areas of your life. Cain provides invaluable wisdom which we can certainly incorporate into our intimate work with families as well as our colleagues.
Adena Edelstein is an independent philanthropy consultant and a certified 21/64 trainer. She is dedicated to helping others create meaningful change. More about Adena can be found at engageinphilanthropy.squarespace.com.
The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
Madeline Levine (Harper, 2006)
In The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine, PhD, examines the issues high net worth families face. Framed in developmental terms, we see how living in extremely competitive successful communities can permeate and undermine healthy relationships. Parents may invest too much in their child’s performance rather than respecting his/her needs and unique personality. Buying an abundance of possessions, expensive schools and lavish vacations cannot replace the necessity of setting appropriate limits and investing “quality time.”
Interestingly enough, these families face a paradox of affluence and deprivation – the profusion of things and the scarcity of genuine understanding, attention and love. The link depicted between adolescent depression and acting out behavior, particularly drug abuse and other dangerous activities, is frightening and accurate.
With great insight and a clear voice, the author provides concrete guidance for parents as they teach their children responsibility, solid values and unconditional love. This advice emphasizes the role of structure and appropriate consequences for misbehavior in shaping self-esteem and character.
Illustrations taken from the author’s therapy practice in Marin County, California anchor the explanation of the role parents play in their child’s emerging personality. Of particular value, the book examines the ways in which parents are unhappy in their own lives may create enmeshed and intrusive relationships with their children to lessen the parent’s own loneliness and frustration.
The pressures on both parents and children of privilege can drive, either directly or indirectly, the decisions parents and grandparents make – about investments, estate planning, education, philanthropy, and other concerns for which clients seek professional advice. Advisors who understand family dynamics, worries and problems are more effective and trusted than those focused only on the their profession's technical requirements.
In summary, this well-written book should be read and reread by parents, clinicians and other advisors to high net worth clients.
Reviewed by 21/64-trained advisor Barbara Feinberg, LISW-S, IMFT, a life coach and psychotherapist specializing in the emotional impact of wealth on individuals and families.
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to live with Unresolved Grief
Pauline Boss (Harvard University Press, November 2000)
Barbara Feinberg, LISW-S, IMFT is a life coach/psychotherapist and certified 21/64 trainer and consultant with particular expertise in the emotional impact of wealth. Her clients have a wide range of issues, many related to life transitions.
Ambiguous loss is one without closure, leaving the bereft stuck, unable to move on.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are pervasive in our society. These conditions can precipitate sorrow without closure, a response that is different from and considered far more difficult than the reactions commonly seen after a death.
Those who care for and about loved ones diagnosed with these and many other disabling conditions struggle with complex and challenging practical considerations and related decisions.
Often, the responsibility for making such decisions falls to children and grandchildren. The relationships between generations, different values, geographic dispersion and varying degrees of understanding the needs and status of the declining family member may provoke intense conflict in families.
High net worth families may have considerably more choice and flexibility in arranging necessary care. However, the potential disruption of individual and family functioning related to mourning a profound loss before the death of their loved one cannot be resolved with financial resources alone.
Pauline Boss, in her fine book Ambiguous Loss, conceptualizes this little understood variant of grief as a trauma impacting on the whole family.
Ambiguous loss of a family member who is physically present and psychologically absent, includes those who:
Suffer from mental illness and/or addiction
Face a life-threatening illness
Ambiguous loss is also present when families are faced with a psychological presence that is physically absent. These "lost" may include those who:
The military identifies as missing in action
Disappear without a trace
Leave a committed relationship and sever contact
Cut themselves off from family contact
Live far away, arein touch, but not seen (as in the families of immigrants)
In all of these cases, the usual rituals and community support associated with mourning are likely to be missing, "disenfranchising" the grief. In fact, those dealing with such ambiguity may be told to "get over it" despite the lack of closure that can prevent a healing bereavement process.
Responding to change in family dynamics and structure requires a tolerance for not knowing, a different definition of "hope," clarity about who is in and who is out of the family, and a communication process that supports a new definition of family.
Since ambiguous loss is ubiquitous, we can all benefit from understanding the nature of this experience. I encourage professionals in a variety of disciplines and the community at large to read this very valuable book.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Brené Brown (Gotham, 2012)
In a culture and a profession where we like to fix or prevent vulnerability, Brené Brown and her book Daring Greatly reminds me of how our struggles make us who we are. I saw her infamous TED talk on vulnerability in 2011 and was hooked. Since them I’ve been following her on Twitter, reading her blog, and this year Daring Greatly has been my go-to gift.
Based on twelve years of data, social scientific research she conducted first into shame and then into qualities that distinguish lives with a strong sense of worthiness, Brown is frank and so relatable. Self-described as a classic American perfectionist who wore exhaustion as a status symbol, she shares her personal resistance to her own findings and then exquisitely and uncomfortably describes the difference between making our children happy and raising brave, engaged human beings.
Brown opens Daring Greatly with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
Walking into the arena, whatever it may be – a new client/donor relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage, rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice. This is Daring Greatly – showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
This book struck a chord with me personally and professionally, making me rethink the experiences where progress was made or engagement was achieved – each of those experiences were responses to acts of courage and vulnerability by one or more people present.
My thanks to Dr. Brown for sharing her own experience in tandem with the data – inspiring me to show up and embrace my vulnerabilities. Please contact me to share your thoughts and ideas on this topic or book.
Reviewed by Danielle Oristian York
A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy
Ellen Miley Perry (Egremont Press, 2012)
A mentor and founder of the field of family wealth advising, Jay Hughes, recently sent me a copy of Ellen Miley Perry's A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy. Because it arrived from Jay, I moved it to the top of my growing reading pile. I highly recommend this book if you are in the process of figuring out how to raise a grounded, responsible, values-respecting yet independent-minded child within the context of a wealthy family. In particular, check out chapter three, “Pitch a Big Tent,” for tangible suggestions to that end.
I've read a lot of books by colleagues in the field as I've worked on issues of engaging the next generation for more than a decade at 21/64 and close to a decade previously, and this is one of the best – accessible, gentle, yet targeted and encouraging. Perry gives ideas and new ways of looking at the same issue we've heard about forever; I have a number of dog-eared pages to revisit.
So thank you Jay for sending this book. Thank you Ellen Perry for taking the time to write down what you've learned during your distinguished and successful career. I look forward to hearing what other readers take away from it, so please don't hesitate to contact me.
Reviewed by Sharna Goldseker
Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Christine Carter (Ballantine Books, 2010)
In a culture where Wii, Princess dresses, and iPads dominate, children from families of wealth can easily become focused on material gain rather than on creating meaning in their lives. At 21/64, we work with next generation inheritors of wealth and philanthropy who aspire to find their purpose, their passions, and direct their energy toward creating change in the world given their resources – ambitious pursuits for anyone, let alone for people who could easily be distracted by things they can buy rather than fund.
To inform our work, we¹ve benefited from following the books, blogs and online teachings of Christine Carter, Director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and author of Raising Happiness. Carter argues that happiness is neither an innate nor a fixed condition, and that parents are in a unique position to create the environments which will lead to their children being happier not only in childhood, but throughout their adult lives. Her new book outlines, in ten simple steps, how parents can actively engage children, offering methods by which parents can promote values such as gratitude to combat a child's sense of entitlement or forgiveness to undermine anger.
Carter¹s approach is a balance of scientific research and techniques developed from her personal experiences as a mother. While every family could benefit from the various lessons outlined in the book, Carter focuses on teaching children how to be grateful and how to live meaningful lives – lessons that are particularly important for families with significant financial resources. Accessible to parents and advisors to families grappling with how to raise philanthropic children, we commend Raising Happiness by book or blog.
Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
Oran B. Hesterman (PublicAffairs, 2012)
As 21/64 embarks on establishing our new donor education collaborative, “Ripe for Change,” in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Local Economies Project we were looking for a book to help guide our thinking. We believe that just as food is at the center of many of our most pressing problems it can also be the center of the solution. Fair Food by Oran B. Hesterman typifies this thinking. There is a plethora of media about what is wrong with our food system, but this book shows well the movement from problem to practical solutions in a language easily accessible to funders. The book outlines and explains four principles of a redesigned food system more suited to the present than the past: equity, diversity, ecological integrity and economic viability. A chapter is devoted to each, including examples of individuals and groups (perhaps potential grantees) that have begun to integrate the ideas.
Formerly of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where he co-led their Food and Society Programs, Hesterman is now the President and CEO of the Fair Food Network. Hesterman writes in the language of philanthropy, tackling this complex issue from a funding perspective. The explanation of our current system, as well as the roadmap he provides for the creation of a future food system that runs smoothly and fairly, speaks to the population 21/64 works with. We look forward to discussing it in “Ripe for Change,” welcome new funders to join us, and hope that many more enjoy the book.
Reviewed by Jos Thalheimer
Raising Financially Fit Kids
Joline Godfrey (Ten Speed Press, 2003)
At 21/64, we are often asked by parents: How do I raise philanthropic children? How do I raise financially aware kids? How do I raise kids with good values? So recently, we dug out our copy of Joline Godfrey's Raising Financially Fit Kids, and read it again. Though the book was published in 2003, we were reminded just how great a resource it is; it resonates with 21/64's approach in talking openly with family members across generations about values and focusing on preparing the next generation for their imminent responsibilities.
As Godfrey writes, "Often parents withhold information on the premise that it will only make kids feel anxious. This overlooks the quiet anxiety of kids whose fantasies create far more distressing realities than actually exist." For parents who want to pass on a set of values but have difficulty taking the first step in the money conversation, Raising Financially Fit Kids offers practical advice and concrete action steps to help your children make choices around money. "Kids" are divided into four different groups from ages five to eighteen. "Money skills" such as saving, investing, talking about money, and philanthropy are all offered at each stage and in a variety of styles that recognize the power that media, advertising, and peers play in the lives of our children. From experiential learning and "money mentors" who can discuss financial issues with children, to volunteering and starting a small business, this book offers tons of practical suggestions to delve into money in a reasonable way.
Of course, we like the chapter on Raising Young Philanthropists. While parents of wealth report feeling lucky that the next generation may not have to worry about basic needs, research shows that "these kids are more likely to struggle with identity issues, lack of confidence, and questions of worth and spirituality, and may display a significant lack of concern for or awareness of others," reflecting the ups and downs of a financial legacy. A variety of approaches are suggested to help connect values, interests, and passions with other people's needs. For both parents and others who work with young people of wealth, the book offers myriad ways to explore how the next generation will view their gifts and responsibilities.
The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace
Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman (HarperCollins Publishers, 2010)
In their book, Lancaster and Stillman identify seven trends that comprise the M-factor, the defining qualities of the generation born between 1982 and 2000. These include: the role of parents, sense of entitlement, search for meaning, their great expectations, their need for speed, the role of social networking and the significance of collaboration. These themes manifest themselves in the daily lives of the Millennials who can't submit a paper in college without getting mom and dad to proofread it first, expect constant feedback and recognition for their hard work, and yearn for meaning in their jobs. The members of this generation have no problem telling their bosses that there is a better way to accomplish something, can be found constantly multitasking, rely heavily on Facebook and Twitter as survival tools for their buzzing social lives, and work better in teams than previous generations. This cohort, 76 million strong, is reshaping the workforce faster than you can say "tweet."
From a not-for-profit perspective, this book sheds light on the ways in which the Millennials can best be engaged, both within and outside of the workplace. Lancaster and Stillman do an excellent job revealing what the Millennials expect both from their superiors and themselves. Understanding evolving trends among generations, in the context of philanthropic engagement, is particularly critical with regard to Millennials given that this generation ranks 'making a difference' the most important factor in their lives and is willing to sacrifice higher pay in order to do so. The book highlights how this generation seeks to support and be associated with companies that are civically engaged. It is also comfortable adopting new forms of giving, such as 'crowdsourced' philanthropy in which individuals have the ability to directly influence how a corporation spends its charitable dollars.
Ultimately, successful understanding and engagement of the Millennial generation is about finding common ground between it and its predecessors. Millennials, like all upcoming generations, will need to learn to respect past generations in order to benefit from the experiences of their generational forbearers. At the same time, Traditionalists, Boomers, and Xers will gain by appreciating that this up-and-coming generation, despite sometimes seeming attitudinally entitled, excessively dependent, and scattered in focus, is shaped by a set of values and beliefs which empower them in a unique way.
Each generation faces its own challenges. As older generations today are more involved than ever before in their adult children's lives, Millennials are struggling to find a place for Grandma on Facebook. In short, this generation is successfully bringing innovative ideas to the development of social structures in a variety of areas — personal, professional, political and philanthropic. Optimal success for all will be best achieved to the extent that intergenerational differences are bridged.
Reviewed by Stephanie Lerner, Intern, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and proud to be a Millennial
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Clay Shirky (Penguin Press, 2008)
Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody is a thoughtful study of social media and its impact on how we live. Shirky begins with a story about a girl, Ivanna, who loses her cell phone in a New York City taxi. Her friend Evan agrees to help her recover it. Evan tracks down and contacts Sasha, who found and has been using the phone and refuses to return it. In response, Evan builds a website describing these events, sends the link to friends, updates it continuously, and adds a message board. A few days later, the story is picked up by media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and dozens of newspapers, television stations, and websites. Within a couple of weeks, Ivanna's phone is recovered and Sasha is arrested.
Ivanna's tale is hardly newsworthy. Losing a cell phone is a regular occurrence in NYC taxis. According to Shirky, the story is less about the mechanics of the recovery—Evan's website and the message board—and more about the how the story tapped into humanity's visceral sense of injustice. The website and media serve merely as tools to amplify a powerful message that resonates on a deep level and stimulates individual and collective action. Without the message, the tools are irrelevant.
Shirky is a good story teller and uses this ability to build his case. He captures what is possible by illustrating how the power of technology, driven by individuals and groups, can facilitate, amplify, expedite and transform society. Shirky also understands that social media as a whole is a nascent technology and as it evolves, so will our relationship to it and the world. In other words, it's a fluid, not a fixed relationship.
From a not-for-profit perspective, the question is, how does Shirky's book apply? You could also ask the opposite, how doesn't it apply? His book is about how we communicate and interact with each other, society and the world. Most non-for-profits spend a considerable amount of time communicating to its staff, board, donors and those who benefit from its services. The challenge is doing it well.
From this perspective, Here Comes Everybody serves both as a guide to the power of emerging technologies and a cautionary tale. For Shirky, it's about how we use these tools. Organizations with a clear, compelling, and well-articulated mission with a discrete set of action steps will amplify the message, engage a broad audience, and harness collective energy.
The opposite is also true. For organizations that don't know who they are and what they're trying to do, social media will function as a megaphone and let the whole world know it. While social media can highlight your strengths, it can also expose your weaknesses. It's not about just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It's who you are and what you believe in.
Shirky's book is optimistic. It's about the power and potential of technology driven by humanity.
Reviewed by Jason Soloway, Vice President, The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
Scott Belsky (Portfolio Hardcover, April 2010)
Gen Y-er Stephanie Lerner, our summer 2010 intern and member of UPenn's Class of 2011, sat down for a conversation with Gen X's Scott Belsky, CEO and founder of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen.
What inspired you to write Making Ideas Happen?
A great sense of frustration that most ideas never see the light of day. The likelihood of an idea actually transpiring has nothing to do with how great it is; it's because of a series of other forces. So the frustration for me was, gosh, there are so many great ideas out there and people need to become better leaders of their ideas and actually give these ideas a chance to happen. So it was that frustration that most ideas never happen that triggered the interest and then a lot of the research that made me fully convinced that there are other forces at play when ideas actually happen besides the creative side.
Who is the target audience for the book?
Any individual or team, regardless of industry, that is trying to develop ideas to solve problems. And back to my earlier point, individuals and teams that have that frustration about making their ideas happen.
What is an instance in which you couldn't make an idea happen that you really thought was going to work out?
I would say that I don't pursue ideas I know I can't execute. That's where I think people get distracted and get off course. So there isn't one particular idea that I can think of that I tried to pursue and couldn't because often times I decide that it's not the right time. I want to be productive with my energy. Therefore, I try to attack ideas that I'm in the unique position of being able to execute. And that's how we've worked as a team at Behance.
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Having the daily responsibilities of running a company. Every day in an entrepreneurial environment is a challenging day--like a firehouse, there are so many things going on at once—so it's impossible to write during the day. I had to save windows of time every night, or go to a café late at night, spend weekends writing, all difficult because it was a grueling schedule to keep.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
That we all have the ability to develop the capacity to make ideas happen. I don't know where ideas come from and I don't know if creativity is nature versus nurture. What I do know is if you have ideas you can build the capacity to execute them. It's something that is readily available to all of us. It's not easy, but it's there and that I'm sure of.
What book are you reading now?
I'm reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
How do you think the next generation will approach making ideas happen versus past/current generations?
I think that people will start pursuing their ideas earlier. In past generations, you've had to work your way up the ladder before you can make your own ideas happen. With the powers of technology and online communities and the fact that the next generation is most familiar with the newest technology, people will be able to spread their ideas more quickly and perhaps be entrepreneurial at a younger age.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan
Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon (Jossey-Bass, 2010)
What is the new philanthropist? Someone "who looks at her activities with a refreshing frankness and realism. She is less saint than engineer. She has two essential questions that she asks herself and others in the organization every day: What are my goals? How do I define success?" Thus begins an early chapter in The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon, respectively the Chairman and President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. While the latter day philanthropist is savvy, she is also compelled by the 'why' of her gift, what she cares about and the personal feelings it ultimately elicits. Regardless of your financial wealth, how do you do philanthropy in a way that marries your values with your business acumen? What does it mean to be a trustee of a nonprofit board and what are your obligations? How do you intentionally expose your children to your giving? What is the difference between a restricted capital gift and a time-restricted gift? These are just some of the questions explored by Bronfman and Solomon in a book informed by their myriad roles as corporation head, nonprofit director and trustee. It concludes with twenty questions to ask yourself and a host of nonprofit resources to assist you in your investment in changing the world.
Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World
Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, Mark R. Kramer (Jossey-Bass, March 2011)
Leslie Crutchfield believes donors can effect transformational change. Having studied how several nonprofits scaled their impact from nothing to national—and sometimes even to global—Crutchfield gained a pretty good sense of how they achieved success. A key component of ramping up impact, she learned, is effective advocacy. When donors go beyond grantmaking and get their hands dirty engaging in activities that create change, says Crutchfield, the result is "catalytic philanthropy." Thanks to help from 21/64, Dori Kreiger, Managing Director of Family Philanthropy Services at the Council on Foundations, sat down with Crutchfield to discuss her new book, Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, and the sector's latest buzzword.
After the success of Forces for Good, what inspired you to take on this latest work, Do More Than Give?
The essential driving question of Forces for Good was: What makes great nonprofits great? We studied 12 nonprofits that had scaled their impact from nothing to national to sometimes even global. Forces for Good was released in 2007, and in the subsequent three years I was invited to present to diverse groups of nonprofit leaders and donors about our findings and was often asked how to apply the principles in Forces for Good. At the time, I advised them to use of the six practices of high-impact nonprofits as a framework to inform grantmaking.
However, I realized that donors could do more than fund great nonprofits. They could embrace these six practices we discussed in Forces for Good, including advocacy—but I didn't know of a lot of foundation examples. Then I read Mark Kramar's article, "Catalytic Philanthropy," in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I thought, ‘this is it.' Catalytic philanthropy is high-impact donors doing the highly leveraged work that the great nonprofits do in Forces for Good. I was discussing with Mark Kramer and John Kania of FSG various collaboration opportunities, and it was a natural fit to co-author Do More Than Give: The 6 Practices of Donors Who Change the World.
"Catalytic philanthropy" seems to be the latest buzz phrase in the sector. How do you define it?
At a high level, "catalytic philanthropy" is what donors do when they go beyond grantmaking to engage in the activities that create transformational change.
The term "catalytic" comes from chemistry. It is the idea that adding a catalyst to a substance will create a change. If you mix a cup of flour with a cup of baking soda and add some water, you get about two cups of pasty stuff. If you combine a cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar—kaboom! Combining these ingredients with a catalyst produces something that is different--and of much greater volume—than what you started with.
Catalytic donors give money and when combined with the actions they engage, they create more impact than if they were just giving grants. It enables the donors—including those that would consider themselves smaller donors, as profiled in the book—to achieve greater impact. It's how they punch above their weight.
How have you seen multigenerational engagement in family foundations strengthen a family's ability to be catalytic philanthropists?
Multigenerational family foundation leadership can cut both ways. Engaging multiple generations can either increase a family foundation's ability to be catalytic or work against it. It really depends on the family. For example, multigenerational engagement is what tipped the Jacobs Family Foundation into exercising catalytic philanthropy, as they combined first-generation business know-how with second-generation community development experience to revitalize the Diamond District community of San Diego.
In the book, we write about this in "Practice 4: Empower the People." Catalytic donors don't view community members as ‘recipients of charity' or ‘a problem that needs to be solved.' Catalytic donors recruit people from the local community to both create solutions and be part of implementing solutions. The Jacobs Family Foundation has a distinct approach of working directly with local residents to uncover community needs, rather than making top-down grants.
The Jacobs family also worked with the community to exercise another best practice in the book, "Practice #2: Blend Profit with Purpose." The Foundation harnessed market forces to advance social goals. Rather than find nonprofits serving the area and make grants to them, the Foundation instead purchased a piece of land with an abandoned aerospace factory on it, and developed a commercial enterprise zone that today provides a vibrant economic center for the community. Board members listened and helped give local residents what they said they truly wanted: a bank, restaurant, and grocery store.
How could a Next Gen family member influence a shift in his or her family's philanthropy from the traditional linear model of philanthropy to a catalytic philanthropy approach?
Next Gen members can ask questions of themselves and the foundation board such as: How can we leverage the family's network to advance a policy's goals? How are we using the 95 percent of endowment assets that we keep after the 5 percent payout? Is our investment policy working to advance our philanthropic goals? Most importantly, what cause can we get behind with older generations?
As the book's authors, we don't believe that every single one of the foundation dollars must go toward catalytic philanthropy—but we would like to see a greater percentage of resources allocated toward it.
Evaluating and measuring impact are indicators of success in the linear model of philanthropy. How do you know you're succeeding with a catalytic philanthropy approach?
The way we talk about success is that we need to move beyond a retrospective evaluation mindset. Catalytic donors instead embrace a forward-looking, learning mindset, as encapsulated in "Practice 6: Learn to Create Change." We found that catalytic donors measure the impact of grants and nongrantmaking activities in a forward-thinking way. They ask, How can we learn from the last period of activity to inform our strategy going forward?
A great example of this practice comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about its Sound Families program. A decade ago, the Foundation had launched a major initiative to give grants and create transitional housing for homeless families in the state of Washington. At the end of the grant period, after building thousands of housing units of housing, Foundation staff thought they were done. And yet, they weren't done. The Foundation achieved impact against the specific grant objective but had failed at the overall outcome of reducing homelessness, as homelessness had increased in the area. So Gates Foundation staff changed their strategy, gearing it to affect the whole outcome of reducing homelessness, not just the specific issue of transitional housing. Now Gates is taking the catalytic approach by making grants and helping all of the players in the system to work together better in the region to effect change.
Catalytic donors demand that they and their grantees are outcome focused.
What surprised you when writing Do More Than Give?
The hardest thing for catalytic donors turned out not to be any one of the "six practices of donors who change the world," but rather, getting committed to a cause.
Committing to one cause can be particularly difficult for family foundations. As you engage more generations in a family foundation, you naturally increase the complexity of a family foundation's decision-making process. Multiple generations may mean different geography, different politics, different interests, and more. Multiple generations make it harder to be catalytic. Catalytic philanthropy is rare because it's difficult for a combination of generations to be willing to find and commit to one common cause. And yet, it is possible and the book highlights examples of those who we hope can inspire others.
Money Sanity Solutions: Linking Money and Meaning
Nathan Dungan (Share Save Spend, 2010)
Many parents have a difficult time talking with their children about money, either because they don't know how to start, or don't know what to say. Unfortunately, when parents don't want to convey dollar amounts, they neglect to communicate about money-related issues at all and loose the opportunity to teach their children valuable lessons about saving, spending and giving as well. At 21/64, we've seen families who struggle with how to raise charitable children, as they don't want discussions of wealth to corrupt. From our experience, we've learned that discussing money, values around resources, and how you make decisions about how to save, spend and give are critically important.
Because of this, we're recommending Nathan Dungan's Money Sanity Solutions this month and hope you'll find this workbook will provide a platform for family dialogue about pertinent money issues, helping individuals, and youth in particular, create values-oriented plans of action for their money. A self-proclaimed ‘interactive guide,' Money Sanity Solutions comes with a DVD and is organized around important money topics coupled with case studies and exercises that help the reader clarify each topic for themselves. Each chapter has a ‘learning point' and the interactive nature is engaging. The first part of the guide seeks to explore money fundamentals, including understanding one's own ‘money temperament,' distinguishing between needs and wants, and budgeting basics. The second part is organized around different solutions to common money problems, such as peer pressure, consumer conscience, vacations, and saving.
Reviewed by Ben Clark, MPA, 2011 intern at 21/64
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live
Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 2011)
After reading Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do? (HarperBusiness, 2009), we at 21/64 were moved to take a closer look at how technology has impacted our society. We discovered that much of Jarvis’ thinking could be applied to the worlds of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. In our view, Jeff Jarvis’ latest book, Public Parts, furthers the analysis of the evolving relationship between technology and modern day philanthropy.
21/64 recommends Public Parts as a tool for understanding the blurring of definitions between "public" and "private". This shift has already shown its effects on different generations’ approach to philanthropy. Previous generations tend to be private about issues of wealth and philanthropy. They demonstrated an ability to compartmentalize their giving efforts from their work and personal lives. Younger generations operate in public, utilizing the multitude of technology and social media outlets available to them. As a result, the current generation’s philanthropic work is often intertwined with all of other components of their life.
Jeff Jarvis argues that the internet has fundamentally altered our conception of "private" and "public." In Public Parts, Jarvis delves into the history of privacy as we know it and explores the ways technology has affected our ideals and contributes to an emerging generational tension regarding privacy. Jarvis promotes the idea of "radical openness" for companies, governments, and individuals in their online personas and interactions.
Public Parts offers suggestions for organizations (for-profit and non-profit alike) to become more transparent and to utilize the power of open online communication to enhance their services, reputations, and customer relations. Jarvis extols the virtues of virtual forums and cyberspaces; he describes the changes that organizations and individuals can implement to take full advantage of the potential offered by a more open online presence. Why should a company adopt a more open online identity, and what steps can it take to achieve this goal? Jarvis argues that we are poised at a new age of interpersonal relations -- the age of sharing -- where publicness is rewarded, and where the traditionally-defined "private" and "closed" attitude is becoming disadvantageous to success.
Reviewed by David Fleit, MPA, 2012 intern at 21/64
Additional articles, books and resources
Topic: Family PhilanthropyTo which cause to give – and how much
Topic: Generational ChangeYounger Generations' Approach to Investing
Topic: Raising Charitable ChildrenThe One Thing Parents Can Do To Teach Kids About Money
Topic: Strategic PhilanthropyOut of Focus
Topic: Women and PhilanthropyThe New Wealth Paradigm: How Affluent Women are Taking Control of their Futures
"I've been writing all day on family philanthropy for the book and reviewing all of my resources from 21/64 to help jog my brain and inspiring my writing. I just wanted to thank you for all your amazing resources and knowledge... I never cease to be amazed at the quality and amount of support you have shared. It's making such a HUGE difference for me!"
Emily Davis, MNM
"Glenmede, an independent investment and wealth management firm, has had the pleasure of hosting several workshops for our clients during which Sharna spoke about intergenerational issues and values. The audience was engaged for the entire presentation and everyone left with tools to open the discussion with their children and grandchildren about the values that are important to them and the legacy they would like to leave for future generations. We look forward to partnering with 21/64 on future multigenerational event."
Nina Cohen, Glenmede
Philanthropic Advisory Services Group