Posted on: December 1st, 2018
As an entrepreneur, you wouldn’t dream of trying to build a company or seek out funding for a big new venture without a detailed business plan. But chances are you’ve never once thought about creating a similar type of plan for your most important asset: your family.
That could be a big mistake, says Bradley Callow—one that could increase the likelihood that your children will struggle with anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues that prompt them to turn to alcohol, drugs and, in the worst-case scenario, suicide.
Callow should know. Despite coming from a privileged background, Callow was a deeply unhappy child who says he was never comfortable in his own skin. Fighting turned into stealing, which by age 11 turned into drinking and using drugs—and eventually into dealing drugs. “My first entrepreneurial pursuit,” he says ruefully. By age 26, he had tried to commit suicide.
That’s why Callow today works with successful families around the world to help them focus on their personal relationships with as much care and thought as they bring to their wealth and businesses. His goal as founder of the organization Rich Legacy is to help families empower their children in a way that moves them away from self-destructive behaviors.
Here’s his take on why it’s so important to create family plans along the lines of highly successful business plans—and his actionable advice for creating these plans in your own life.
The fact is, business plans weren’t always needed. Once upon a time, there was the one cobbler or tailor or blacksmith in town. But as business and trade became increasingly complex, the need to adapt, plan, prioritize and track results in business became paramount to survival in the changing economy.
Likewise, says Callow, family plans weren’t always necessary back when communities were more tightly knit and neighbors looked out more for each other and each other’s kids. But that dynamic has changed over time. There also wasn’t the pervasive influence of social media and the Internet working 24/7 to undermine parental values. As such shifts in the culture emerged, they were accompanied by some frightening trends, as these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show:
The upshot: “Children today seem to be both in pain more than in the past and unsure how to cope with their struggles,” says Callow. “That’s why I see a greater-than-ever need to focus on your family with the close eye that you focus on your business.”
To empower kids with resiliency and life skills and to foster stronger family bonds and communication, a family plan should contain three key elements:
Before deep and impactful conversations can begin, family members have to see where they are—and aren’t—on the same page in some key areas of their relationships:
Vital: As noted, it’s crucial that you and your children answer these questions about your relationship to see how aligned or misaligned you are in these areas.
Knowledge is great, but it won’t mean much if you don’t do something with it. A great family plan will contain big-picture family goals that are being pursued each quarter—much like a business pursues certain objectives each fiscal quarter. Common examples among families Callow has worked with include becoming more mindful, improving communication, building financial awareness in children, making smarter decisions, becoming more fit and exhibiting more kindness.
However, those large-scale goals need to be broken down into smaller, simpler and achievable goals. A family that wants to achieve better overall fitness might set a goal to run three 5Ks per quarter. Or it might enlist each family member to research interesting group exercises that the family can participate in and then build an exercise schedule around those activities.
Important: To be effective, these goals must be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. The goals and strategies also need to have buy-in from your kids. “You can’t create a family plan acting like a king. Collaboration and acceptance of the plan by everybody involved in it is not always easy, but it’s crucial,” says Callow.
Like a business plan, a family plan will accomplish little if you don’t implement it or don’t stick with it long enough to achieve the desired results. Hiring a facilitator to help you with your plan can make a lot of sense—just as hiring a personal trainer can enable you to show up at the gym on those days you’d rather binge-watch Netflix.
That facilitator has to be neutral and objective, and shouldn’t kiss up to the parents just because they’re the ones paying for the service. The facilitator must advocate for everyone while also calling out anybody who isn’t holding up their end.
Any facilitator or coach you select should have a few key characteristics:
Regardless of whether you pay someone to keep you on track, you will want to regularly review your family plan to see how everyone is progressing toward their stated goals. Determine where family members are encountering roadblocks and brainstorm about ways to overcome any hurdles. Quarterly reviews are great, says Callow. Annual reviews, while not ideal, are still very beneficial.
Pro tip: When you check in on your progress as a family, do so in an environment free of the everyday distractions—like technology and bills. Instead, get away to an environment that is out of the ordinary and less stressful. “You can make these progress meetings very special by weaving in a family vacation or unique experience,” says Callow.
Note: This is just one example of how families Callow has worked with have decided to put together their plan within the framework of assessment, action and accountability. Each family can, and should, build a plan that reflects its specific situation.
Your family may not be a business, but clearly it can be a good idea to foster it like you do your company. By taking steps to formally identify your family’s values and goals, as well as to assess the quality of the relationships you have with each other, you can start to strengthen existing bonds—and repair any bridges that are in bad shape. By actively working together toward family goals, you can instill greater resiliency and competency in your children.
The end result: a better family dynamic and better understanding that empower children to feel more fulfilled—and to overcome those moments when they struggle without resorting to dangerous behaviors that could turn them into a statistic.
This report was prepared by, and is reprinted with permission from, VFO Inner Circle. AES Nation, LLC is the creator and publisher of VFO Inner Circle reports.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.
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