Q/A: Strengthening the Family Legacy Through Travel
A Q&A with John Morris, Founder of True Latitudes on Family Legacy and Travel
Q: An important element of the lasting success of many affluent families is the regular family meeting. How can combining travel with a family meeting contribute to a more effective meeting, and therefore a more cohesive and lasting family legacy?
Q: I know a number of families that are always looking for ways to give back, and for opportunities to teach their children the importance of philanthropy. what are some ways that families can combine travel with giving back?
Q: When engaging in voluntourism or philanthropy at a distant destination, how does a family insure that its efforts do good and not unintended harm?
Q: Many families’ values are a product of the family’s history and heritage. How can families use travel to bring their history and heritage to life for their children?
Q: This prompts me to ask a broader question. Are there families who use travel to provide their children (and themselves) with a global education?
Q: I accept your point that the world is changing, but some of those changes seem to be creating a more dangerous world. How can families that travel to unfamiliar countries protect themselves from political turmoil and crime?
Q: Finally, I hear from families who are concerned that family members are drifting apart, and who are looking for ways to create shared experiences and greater connectivity within the family. Can travel contribute to keeping a family close?
AJR: An important element of the lasting success of many af uent families is the regular family meeting. How can combining travel with a family meeting contribute to a more effective meeting, and therefore a more cohesive and lasting family legacy?
JM: The rst principle of a successful family meeting is that everyone in the family needs to show up. Holding the family meeting at an appealing destination – a ski resort, a european city, a tropical island – can entice family members who might otherwise look for an excuse not to attend the meeting. The higher the
rate of family member attendance, the higher the likelihood that all of the family’s issues and concerns can be addressed and resolved.
A meeting held at a neutral location can greatly improve the tone and atmosphere of the meeting. Family meetings are often held at the family estate or of ce.
But these locations can often cause family members to revert to patterns of behavior which are not conducive to a productive meeting. A neutral location where no one person appears to have an advantage, and where family members are comfortable, on an equal footing, and less likely to be distracted by things going on in the family home or business, is a more suitable environment for a productive family meeting.
Family members will arrive at a new, appealing destination in the right frame of mind, excited to be in a place they’ve wanted to visit but haven’t previously been able to. They’ll be open to the experience that awaits them at the destination, and open to the new ideas to be presented during the family meeting.
An attractive destination can be used to bring some family members together and keep others apart. For family members who rarely see each other and want to spend time together, they can spend the hours before and after the family meeting doing something they both enjoy and reconnecting through this shared interest. For family members who may see too much of each other and want to see as little of each other as possible, a destination with a variety of activities and distractions will allow them to go their separate ways when the meeting is not in session.
Holding a family meeting at a faraway destination to which all of those attending will have to travel, and once there will need to be housed, fed, and entertained, will entail considerable expense. But using the family’s resources to hold such
a special family meeting sends a message of how important the family and
its legacy are. it’s a demonstration of the family’s commitment to building its governance, leadership, and legacy. All involved will have greater respect for the event, will treat it more seriously, and will approach the meeting with a constructive frame of mind.
Combining travel with a family meeting can turn the event into an important benchmark in the lives of everyone in the family, and create the kind of shared memory that will cement bonds between family members and provide a critical foundation for the future growth of the family.
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