Personal Story : How Did You Get Here?

The World of Inherited Wealth and Philanthropy

People often ask me, “How did you get here?” and “Why did you chose this line of work?” I answer that it was not a direct route. Yet, the choices I made … from the nature, clientele and location of my work … led me here, almost like a calling … and provided a solid foundation and understanding for the work I do today.

I first moved to Aspen, Colorado in the mid­-1980s, a unique community made up of ski bums, workers, nature lovers, the rich and possibly famous. In the early days, we treated each other alike, as class distinctions were not important. Over the years, a growing number of billionaires began to call Aspen “home.” What happens when a community’s millionaire population suddenly finds themselves (in their words) “middle class?”

I first entered the world of inherited wealth and philanthropy when I began working with a gentleman who sat on the Board of his family’s foundation, as well as several other nationally known foundations. It was my introduction to the emotional challenges around money that many families of wealth experience. Over time, I found myself having discussions with privileged family members about the concerns they had for their heirs. With my coaching and consulting background, they found me a receptive ear with whom they felt safe to confide, process, and explore some of their deeper, more intimate issues (often broached for the first time).

People asked me, “How much is enough? How much should I give to whom … and when? They talked about the joy they felt at being able to say, “yes,” the guilt they felt saying, “no,” and the disappointment and frustration they felt if they caved in under pressure.

They worried that people liked them for their money, as opposed to who they were as individuals. They wondered how to raise independent and productive children. The confusion and impotence they felt around the family’s business. The guilt, shame and resentment they felt about the labels put upon them (trustfunder, 1%, rich boy, spoiled, etc.). The helplessness and discouragement about the condescending relationships they had with their trustees. I felt the fear in their hearts about the impact of money on themselves, as well as their children.

And I remember the embarrassment, shame and trepidation they felt talking to me about one of the most taboo of subjects: money. After all, “nice people don’t talk about money.”

After the hundredth+ conversation and hearing that people were benefiting and finding solutions from the perspective, knowledge and tools I shared with them as a coach and consultant, I realized that this was my calling … an area to which I wanted to dedicate my professional life.

I stand for the importance of a deep knowing, understanding and empowerment of oneself first and foremost. I believe in exploring the profound questions and engaging in bold conversations that lead to life­-changing actions.

I believe in the importance of community, and that with community and conversation, we catalyze ourselves into becoming free, independent, and productive forces for good.

The deeper exploration into the meaning of wealth is my philosophy and my business. It is a platform from which to share my passion and expertise in mutual discovery and dialogue, which enables people to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and come out of the proverbial “green closet.”