Building Empires & Generational Wealth
Updated: Mar 17
The majority of the business worlds social influencers will have you believe that building generational wealth is a goal that every business owner is and should be attaining. I follow a lot of these "titans" of industry and I respect a lot of them, but we always run into an impasse at some point. Patrick Bet-David, for one. I respect very much, I have read his books, listened to his podcast, but he lost me on one of them when he described his relationship with his father. In the podcast he mentioned how he asked his father at one point if he ever regretted not being around when Patrick was growing up due to his constant business obligations. His father told him, "never." Patrick went on to tell his listeners that he instantly respected his father for the answer, his father told him he never regretted it because what he was doing, he was doing for the family. It's fairly obvious, in listening to Patrick, that he has some resentment about the time and attention his father gave. But Patrick is unwilling or unable realize that the path of empire building for the family is not what Patrick wanted as a son. He wanted his fathers attention. I'm taking some liberties on diving into Mr. Bet-David's mind, but this is my take on it.
I believe this is one of the great lies our society has told men. Not only is it accepted to sacrifice your family time for your business, but if you're not doing so, you are somehow less of a man, less of an entrepreneur.
Even if you are able to build this mighty empire, which 98% of us will not, but lets assume you do, so what? What good is it? You gave your children and your children's children the gift of zero motivation. Our joy lies not in our successes, but in our pursuit of those successes. You are having the joy of pursuing an empire, but your children will not. You've stolen that from them the moment you handed it over to them. They can try to expand it or make it better, but whatever they do, they will always know they didn't create it because it was handed to them on a silver platter.
"So fine Brian, I won't hand over my business to my kids, but I do want to create generational wealth for them." I would argue this is even worse. How many millionaire or billionaire sons and daughters have drug addicted, lazy, depressed and suicidal children? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know this: A study on suicide concluded that in terms of economics, the rates of suicide followed a bell curve. The highest levels of the curve were both at the lowest and the highest economic statuses.
My conclusion is this: Your kids just want you. They don't want an empire. They may want generational wealth, but they also want ice cream for breakfast and you don't give that to them. If you are going to go empire building, that is your decision, just don't justify the missed days that turn into months that turn into years with "I'm doing this for them." If you want to do it for you, do it for you, but don't feed yourself a lie you will later regret.
There has never been a person on his death bed that has said "I wish I would have spent more time at the office."
If you like this article, you can find more on my blog: "Deep Thoughts" by Brian Barnes where I probably get much to honest and vulnerable than a local roofer should.