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Episode 54: The World Saving Power Of Philanthropy

In this episode of the Family Biz Show, host Michael Palumbos from Family Wealth and Legacy in Rochester, New York, explores the powerful role of philanthropy in business-owning families. The episode features insights from Scott Farnsworth, Yale Levey, and Ryan Ponsford, who are experts in family philanthropy.

Scott Farnsworth, a will and trust attorney and financial advisor, shares his journey of improving family dynamics in the planning process. He highlights the importance of having all family members participate in philanthropy to foster unity and collaboration. Scott's experiences as a national speaker have allowed him to help families navigate not only tax savings but also family preservation through generations.

Ryan Ponsford, coming from a private banking background, discusses the devastating impact he observed when wealth was transferred without adequate preparation for the next generation. He emphasizes the significance of trust, communication, and financial literacy within families. Ryan shares a transformative initiative called Mainstream Philanthropy, which aims to educate youth, including those from challenging backgrounds, about philanthropy, thereby fostering a sense of community and responsibility.

Yale Levey, with a background in wealth management, reflects on his family's business and the emotional and psychological challenges they faced despite financial success. He stresses the potential of philanthropy to create meaningful connections, impact, legacy, and a sense of purpose beyond financial metrics.

The episode delves into the universal applications of philanthropy, illustrating how giving can be a tool for teaching valuable life skills, fostering family unity, and establishing a legacy that transcends financial wealth. The guests share personal anecdotes and practical advice, showing how families at any stage can engage in philanthropic activities to strengthen bonds, develop empathy, and make a positive impact on society.

Episode 54 Transcript


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Michael Palumbos: Welcome everybody to the family business show I am your host Michael Columbus from family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And today, we are going to be talking about how philanthropy can be a tool for business owning families.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And we are joined by some of the brightest and best minds when we talk about family philanthropy actually I just know that we've been talking about family philanthropy and philanthropy.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know, since i've ever met all three of you so i'm i'm really excited we got Scott farnsworth yell lobby and Ryan sponsored with us today, and what I want to do you know, first of all welcome gentlemen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What I want to do is, we have a little bit of a tradition, everybody knows the tradition now on the family biz show it's just kind of.

 

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Michael Palumbos: walk us through your journey and how did philanthropy and family philanthropy become a thing in your you know, in your psyche so Scott, why don't you kick us off if you don't mind.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: During.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I know I know you can talk for four hours but we're going to do the four minute version, or whatever.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: So so i'm a willing trust attorney also financial advisor I came to Orlando in 1998 to.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: tinker with some ideas about how to improve family dynamics in the planning process, you know as an attorney they teach you all the technical stuff but they don't teach you how to deal with real people.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: That resulted in creating a kind of a network of advisors called sun bridge.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Yale and Ryan were part of that organization and, as I became became kind of a national speaker advisors around the country with invited me to come work with their high net worth clients.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: To help them figure out not only the tax savings, but how to how to preserve the family as we move through generations.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And so I found that to get everybody talking, it was important to have all the generations at the table, but sometimes there are subjects that are difficult to talk about.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And philanthropy became the go to tool for helping families start to learn to work together, and I think it was in that mode that Ryan came to me with a brilliant idea.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: about how we could use philanthropy not only to work with wealthy families, but to work with normal kids in schools middle schools and so he and I had a collaborative effort, putting together something called mainstream philanthropy i'll let him pick up the ball here.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Perfect Ryan.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: right on thanks got well so so it's interesting to hear people's journeys and how we all collide I got a whole funny out for that one day we can share.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: But i'm so similar Scott, I was actually in private banking and I was a young guy and sat across from people that 2050 $100 million, and I wanted to know how they got there because for me it'd be interesting to be on that side of the table right.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And I found that they all did it in one of three ways they had built owned and monetized businesses so they had a family owned enterprise.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: A lot of them, and especially in California had done with real estate, or they inherited the money.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And I sat on the trust review committee so where Scott drafted trust documents I had to read them understand them see what the heck people like him were trying to say and how to administer it.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And what I recognized was that that transition of wealth, was often devastating.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: People would transfer money to the kids and most often I saw the kids would not just blow the money which we all know, but they would also end up hating each other in the end.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And I came from a very connected family we weren't a financially wealthy family, but we are a relationship wealthy family and it broke my heart.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And to see these families falling apart and so that's really what I set out to solve initially is how do we create family connection over multiple generations.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: and similar to Scott, I realize, we can look at the characteristics of those that are successful and those that fail.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: One of the biggest ones, you know people think it's the state planning and taxes it's almost never that.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: One of the biggest ones is creating trust and communication in the family and having effective financial literacy and understanding for the kids.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And so, as I had gotten to know Scott in my journey I realized, he was one he was a master of story.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Which is a universal connection for families and, at the time, he was testing this thing that I think he called the philanthropy slush fund.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And the idea was put a few bucks to the table and let a family give it away.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And that was kind of in the back of my head revenue, when I realized, you know what people don't I can't get everybody in the room for multiple generations to sit and write a mission vision purpose statement kids don't want to.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Learn financial literacy, they want to know it, but they don't want to learn it and trust and communication sounds a lot like therapy and nobody wants to go through therapy.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So that will shoot What if we could take this game of giving and your use it as a tool to teach all of those principles.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So I started down that path with families, and doing so, I have a friend of mine, that was a teacher at a school called make fatter and fatter middle school, which is part of San Diego unified district, and these were kids that was part of the juvenile court system.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So kids that have been kicked out or expelled from the traditional system.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And we met up because he had some life insurance and financial questions and wanted to ask him to me so.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: You know we're doing that and we're just kicking around what we're working on he had all these kids that have these just significant challenges almost that 60 some odd percent were foster kids not one from both had both parents.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And we thought wow we're in different worlds i'm doing all this work for these super wealthy families he's got these kids that are struggling and how different it is.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And then we got to talk in a rose, you know what those kids share a lot of the same challenges.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: They don't have core financial understanding to make good financial decisions they have massive trust and communication gaps.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And they have this kind of issue with seeing themselves the future they don't have a vision of purpose and you know within wealthy families it's the same thing, a lot of these kids have identity crisis problems.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And so the question became will shoot What if we could raise some money and have those kids give it away.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: What would that do to put them on the giving side of philanthropy.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So it's a long fascinating round about story to how we got there but ended up raising some money test it out with those kids had a mind blowing outcome that I never thought possible.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: I called Scott back and said hey I just tried this thing I want to hear your thoughts and he was strangely quiet which freaked me out i'm like Okay, he thinks this is terrible.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And a few minutes later he's like that's interesting i'd like to learn more.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And so we talked a little bit he shared it and we went back and forth for probably a good month and then he said something magical back to me, which was.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Ryan, this is not only good this could be amazing this could become mine and other people's life's work.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And that prompted us starting down this path of creating this nonprofit organization called Main Street philanthropy which is volunteer much more, and he then he said hey Ryan there's a guy you need to meet.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: he's part of sun bridge I don't know if you've met him his name is Al levy he's very involved in the philanthropic Community around the country and he's a.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Quick Start a guy that gets things right out of the gate and I think he will love this concept so Scott introduced me to yell yell and I got to talk in and i'll turn the ball over to yell now and let him carry through his version of the story.

 

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Yale Levey: And that's the end of the story.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Here we are.

 

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Michael Palumbos: episode is over.

 

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Michael Palumbos: here.

 

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Yale Levey: yeah so well, first of all i'm in this Thank you Michael for putting this together, and you know anytime I can spend time with Ryan and Scott, I am sort of at my best, so I appreciate being included in this.

 

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Yale Levey: Like Ryan I got my start in the wealth management space, not in private bank, but just in more traditional wealth management and my journey is is.

 

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Yale Levey: It connects to this conversation in sort of a real life way and that.

 

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Yale Levey: My grandfather started a family business he passed away young my father inherited his share of the business and my dad and his two uncles my grandfather's brothers were the ones that.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: owned and built up this family business and.

 

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Yale Levey: This family business was omnipresent in my life for the whole first chunk of my life, and they were exceptional at make money they they were all first generation wealth creators.

 

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Yale Levey: And they didn't like being poor they wanted to figure out a way to make money but.

 

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Yale Levey: Along with their successes as it relates to financial success, I would say that the environment than the company was completely socially emotionally psychologically.

 

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Yale Levey: dysfunctional and people didn't like being there, even though they they sort of exists because they wanted to you know get to that financial end but.

 

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Yale Levey: I would say that there was a lot of miserable people there, and my father also unfortunately passed away very young and, as I was leaving college.

 

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Yale Levey: I had a decision to make was I gonna go into the family business and probably have the same existence in my life is every other relative of mine who work there.

 

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Yale Levey: Where I could get by I could punch the clock, I could make money, but you know, did I want that life for myself that I want to be unhappy and i'm really had a sense that if I followed that path, I would end up that way.

 

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Yale Levey: As it turns out, later on, I discovered that all of these relatives of mine in the family business were my best teachers ever because they taught me exactly how not to behave.

 

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Yale Levey: And sometimes you know the best teachers are guiding you in a positive way, but in any event, I had an opportunity to get into the wealth management space right out of college, I actually.

 

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Yale Levey: didn't have that background, I was an art major so i've always sort of been a right brain thinker in the Left brain world.

 

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Yale Levey: But I thought you know I didn't want to be a starving artist I didn't want to go into the family business.

 

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Yale Levey: If I could learn the language of money that would be a skill set that I would have my entire life and I didn't know what path.

 

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Yale Levey: I would wind up you know ending up in but I thought Well, this is a good place to start and.

 

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Yale Levey: I had I was about halfway through my career and I was always fascinated with the idea of giving and philanthropy and the tools and tactics and strategies that can be incorporated into the wealth management process which.

 

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Yale Levey: Most of my clients and certainly even most advisors out there don't even know as possible and I thought to myself, you know as an advisor.

 

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Yale Levey: If I could have a niche in that space, it would allow me to have conversations with my clients and add value in a way, where the dynamic of our relationship.

 

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Yale Levey: wouldn't just be about numbers and percentages and rates of return, it would be about impact legacy and meaning and difference, and you know all the things that when you really stop and think about.

 

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Yale Levey: You know what even matters to you about money it's usually those things you know it's not whether I got seven or 8% in my portfolio so.

 

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Yale Levey: I decided, I was going to specialize in that and that's when I really didn't throw away the first half of my career, I decided to become a student in my business.

 

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Yale Levey: And I immersed myself in a world of other advisors that I had discovered had the same exact idea as me but really made me look like a complete and total neophyte by comparison.

 

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Yale Levey: And I just thought wow I just really want to get into this crowd of people, and you know learn as much as I can, and that's where, at some point down the road, I was introduced to Scott.

 

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Yale Levey: I did sort of try on everybody's process and everybody system, I mean if there's been a company or a process or a system out there i've bought it so i've like blown more money on different things, then you can imagine, but I will say that.

 

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Yale Levey: scott's probably the best professional teacher i've ever had what he's what he did in Sun bridge and the.

 

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Yale Levey: The tools that he gave me in the way that he helped me think as an advisor was really a game changer for me.

 

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Yale Levey: And I had always been using philanthropy or wanting to use philanthropy but it started off on you know, in terms of the financial benefit, but then, but then eventually when I stopped and thought about the fact that most of my clients were first generation wealth creators.

 

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Yale Levey: They care deeply about their family, first of all that, first and foremost, I mean that was what mattered to them.

 

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Yale Levey: And they were concerned about the world that their kids are inheriting and their kids are growing up in.

 

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Yale Levey: And that you know just created the perfect foundation for me to begin to have conversations about philanthropy and the benefits that philanthropy have.

 

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Yale Levey: Not just about you know, giving money away, but all the positive things that can come out of it and so.

 

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Yale Levey: As as my two colleagues mentioned scott's introduced me to Ryan, I had already been in the.

 

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Yale Levey: sort of nonprofit i've been straddling the financial services in the nonprofit space for.

 

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Yale Levey: At least a decade, maybe even longer than that, and when I learned about what Ryan was doing in mainstream philanthropy.

 

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Yale Levey: I just thought to myself wow you know now I know what the last 15 or 20 years of my life was about Now I know what the rest of my life is going to be about and I want it and good that's where we are now so.

 

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Yale Levey: I was seven or eight years ago.

 

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Michael Palumbos: love it love it Thank you um so Scott i'm going to ask you, you know back to you real quick kind of you know, set up this philanthropy idea, a little bit that kind of I guess there's some some universal applications of philanthropy and it's not you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Ryan, you talked about utilizing it in a classroom with underprivileged kids you know, I was I have used it with families that are you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Multi generation family owned businesses and looking to figure out how do we, you know how do we do this with.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Our grandkids who are six and seven and nine years old, and you know, so we all come at it from a different spot.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But I think the three of us, you know the four of us three of us, and looking at the three screens here the four of us can you know agree that there's some universal kind of rules or applications in terms of what's going on there, do you mind set that up for Scott.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Well, we found that the lancer break creates a safe space to talk about money and all sorts of other issues without bringing all the family business and all the family baggage to the table.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Because we don't have to know what the business is worth or any of that to talk about here's a an allocation.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And it really started with this idea of a family philanthropy slush fund here's some extra money and we're going to figure out together how to give it away.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And then the next issue is where are we passionate if you don't start with passion, then you're just you're just going through you know the steps and it's going to be feel like more school for the grandkids.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: So one of the big breakthroughs that we had was establishing kind of a range here are the different types of things where people often give money.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And then, I have a brilliant talented daughter, and I gave her that list of 20 things and to create an pictures that illustrate those 20 topics.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And we put them on to flashcards basically and then we start this family exercise go through the 20 areas.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: can tell us where you're passionate back, we forced them to get down to six and then get a partner and explain here's why I picked these six.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And so everybody's hearing everybody's interest in concerns and passions, then we forced them to go down from six to three.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And that's where their guts start really talking to them when you see a family multiple generations, sharing the things that are in their heart that they're feeling in their gut and then you have a chance to take that and work together as a family that's when the magic starts to happen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: that's Nice and Ryan, I mean that the same work that scott's talking about that same process worked in the classroom right.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: it's it's universal principle I think that's what's so cool about as it applies there you know we've done now works in corporations and families and in the classroom.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And one of the key things, I think, is that we love to share, as you think about the concept of philanthropy itself right it's a scary word it's kind of this Ivy league super elitist sounding word.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And we actually struggled for a long time, do we want that word.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: anything to do with anything we do, and just the whole idea of having a nonprofit with at risk youth called mainstreet philanthropy is almost oxymoronic right.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And if we struggled with it, but we realize there's a real huge importance in redefining the word.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And what the origin of that was we started studying that what does philanthropy mean.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And kind of Neil mentioned becoming a student of our craft we consider ourselves ongoing forever learners and everything we do is we, we thought we coined the phrase philanthropy.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Just a long time ago, but I think somebody using it already, but I thought that was a cool term but so when you break down the word philanthropy it's two Greek words right fellows and anthropologists.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And the problem is people think of philanthropy and they think Bill Gates Warren Buffett giant tax deductions huge checks and i'll do that someday there's this destination mindset, I will become a philanthropist when.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And what you don't realize that you break that word down finalists and post files is a Greek word for love.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Anther post is a Greek word for humankind here think of anthropology so the simplest form of this is.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: love of human kind well there's no money attached to that there's no barrier attached to that we are all equally capable of love and care for each other.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And that became kind of the core premise, to make sure people understood, because it removes a lot of barrier.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Then the second thing we learned, as you go through it we think about philanthropy is something nice for other people.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Right it's nice for other people and they benefit from this in some fashion well.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Anybody that's gone on a mission trip a volunteer trip help somebody out in a meaningful way little different than you know somebody asked you for a donation you wrote a check and they left right that's Nice.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: But when you do some meaningful giving as Scott mentioned you engage emotion, passion and make this you know, a right brain exercise it changes everything.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And that's where we revealed that philanthropy is really more about changing the hearts and minds of those who give even more so than the recipient.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And one thing you realize going through that process we ended up creating that's again applied in school is applied and families played in corporations is very intentional.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And about halfway through it most people start having this Aha moment with wait a second this isn't really about.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: me helping you know homeless kids or foster youth are veterans or what this is actually changing me.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Right, this is about us it's about our family and what we're getting from this and you kind of have this enlightening moment.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: and part of the reason, one of our company is called gateway for good as we used to joke and we're not sure if we should market this or not, but that giving is the gateway drug.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: To happiness right, it is this get you get a dose it's like you want more like give me more of that so once you give like you get this strange addiction and want more.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And so that the beauty of it to your question it's universal principles you can't dispute it and it works in so many environments, one of our challenges.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: You know, we can apply this we've written, you know biblical progress for church we've got corporate things we've got family things like where do we.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: it's almost it's this giant thing to where we've gotten, to the point now and that we think this is the thing to save the world.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: right we actually think giving is the answer, the solution to all the nonsense happening in our world today, and if we can provide people with more giving experiences, it gives them that taste of what it means to care what it means to love for other people in a very unique way.

 

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Michael Palumbos: 100% you know it's funny as you're saying that one of the things that there's a a mental peace and emotional piece that when you give it it's this.

 

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Michael Palumbos: This applies this feeling that says, if I can give this away if I can do this, there must be more.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And so it's that that that abundant mindset it starts to train that world of abundance and if we all every one of us lived in a world of abundance.

 

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Michael Palumbos: It we're not worrying about land in oil and all the things that are going on this crazy world right this second and you know who's telling me what to do, and you know yada yada don't get me started, but I like.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I like giving doing good as the gay, you know as the gateway drug for those kinds of things I would call it, you know the gateway for.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Come on, I just said, I just talked about.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That abundance thinking.

 

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Michael Palumbos: generosity that growth mindset, you know that's awesome yeah well, I want to ask you know so we've got these universal principles that just seem to be working.

 

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Michael Palumbos: you've been doing this long enough, and I think you've done it in the classroom setting and you've done it in some other places.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Can you walk us through and talk about what are some of the things what are some of the changes, what are some of the benefits that you see, maybe even side benefits, you know as you're going through and working through a philanthropic project, you know with it with a group.

 

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Yale Levey: that's a great question so.

 

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Yale Levey: Well, for me, I would say that the the key outcome that we're always hoping to achieve, and this I would identify this to what Ryan was talking about about how it changes the hearts and minds of those who give.

 

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Yale Levey: So I define transformational philanthropy as the individual who's going through the process reflecting on themselves, after having gone through the process and so it's a very introspective self reflective type of.

 

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Yale Levey: Review of oneself, if you will, but I feel I have a visceral feeling I feel more deeply connected to myself to the world to those i'm helping where I feel good I feel like i'm a better version of who I used to be, as measured by myself it's not like you know.

 

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Yale Levey: i'm getting a grade for this per se right, and I can tell you that it's a father, the thing that's most important for me is I want my kids to have great self esteem, to have great confidence to have self reliance to have.

 

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Yale Levey: You know the ability to play Nice in the sandbox with other people, you know all kinds of what I would define as critical life skills right.

 

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Yale Levey: To have those that are close to me, be the best version of who they are, so what i've noticed as as a teacher and as a mentor of philanthropy mostly in the classrooms but, having taken now I don't know 25 different classes through you know, through our process is that.

 

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Yale Levey: In almost every instance, there is a large majority of those who go through a philanthropic process that see themselves as better afterwards, then, whoever or however they saw themselves beforehand.

 

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Yale Levey: And I think that that's the secret sauce so between that and and the feeling the visceral feeling that I have.

 

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Yale Levey: that's almost like a you know it's like a narcotic it's like a shot, you know to my system where I feel.

 

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Yale Levey: High on life, because what i'm doing has me high on life right and so.

 

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Yale Levey: we're looking to replicate that feeling wherever we can that's sort of the outcome, want to have people experience the feeling, and we want to have them reflect on themselves.

 

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Yale Levey: As being that better person than, whoever they saw themselves as before.

 

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Yale Levey: And I think that in you know it's we get to see that often in a classroom environment because kids have to go to school, there you know we get integrated into.

 

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Yale Levey: The classes or we're running as a free elective or However, it is that we get integrated into a school, but you know the kids are at school right right.

 

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Yale Levey: So one of the things that we're looking to do with the company gateway for good is to bring that same visceral experience to bring that same kind of.

 

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Yale Levey: Self reflective you know and and and, ultimately, you know, a guest to you know to to see that applied in as many forums as possible.

 

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Yale Levey: it's the thing about giving and Ryan touched on this earlier, I believe, is is that it's really a diagnostic it's you know it's race agnostic it's geography agnostic you could you could have the same powerful outcome with an eight year old that you might have with an 88 year old.

 

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Yale Levey: And that's why it applies in so many different settings as well, so I think I might have strayed a little bit.

 

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Michael Palumbos: All right, we'll bring it back so let's.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So now, you know, this is the family biz show so i'm you know i've got the three of you here and you've got this wonderful you're talking to them right now, this family business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: i'm in the third generation, and the third generations just getting ready to take over the business they're having kids the kids are you know all the all the grandkids right now are over under the age of 12 let's say, for the most part.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And you've got the the second generation is getting ready to leave and to turn over the reins to these 30 you know 25 to 3540 year olds to take over the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: what's the project look like and what How does, how do you see this thing you know coming to fruition and coming together to make these things happen for a family like this.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And i'm going to go back this way and go Ryan, and then come back to you Scott, so you can hand it off to Scott, after this Ryan.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: yeah so you know i'll say, one of the key things in that family business environment, and you know this from working with a lot of them, this has been least my experience is.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: it's important to create the distinction between the family and the business there's a ton of overlap, needless to say, there always will be.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: One of the things we always challenge business owners to do is at some point you almost have to prioritize the two.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: You get down to second and third generations this business has been the goose in many ways for this family, but there will be a decision where you have to put one in front of the other.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Right at some point, you have to decide, am I, making this decision, on behalf of the business or on behalf of the family.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So you know, there is some unique kind of thinking that has to happen in that process because it's it, that is a delicate environment for people in the right place for conflict.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So one of the beauties of this program this project this experience is it is designed to create connection and around long term vision.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And purpose, so in many ways this could be an exercise prioritized in a family or does it become an exercise prioritizing the business or is it a joint.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: of both of them now, we, the process would actually be very similar between the two, the outcome that we measure is often different.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Right so in a family really focused on connection and trust, and you know, are we staying connected down the road as a family, if you study families are insane businesses, why they stay together.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: right if we have a show this isn't a relationship, if we have a shared vision of the future where you're in my future.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And we have a conflict today we're probably going to be motivated to solve it.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: If we think we're never going to see each other again.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: We probably don't care right if you cut me off on the freeway or I cut you off on the freeway you're never going to see me again you're probably not worried about fixing that relationship probably quite the opposite right.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: In businesses there's some similarities and that this same process can be used to create alignment of vision.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: connection, so we would call that almost a corporate culture of generosity.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Employee engagement around your people are now rallied around a cause bigger than themselves bigger than bottom line, we have a bigger social vision beyond even what we do as a business.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And Plus, you have the opportunity to get involved in the Community.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And there's tons of data and studies out there, just for the benefit of the company of you know, corporate culture employee engagement Community involvement has great impact on bottom line revenue.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And by the way, when you tie that in with a family business you're creating a familial culture where it starts bringing in some of those collective just connections around the family around the business and what we stand for.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So in that environment, you know my thought would be for most people family tends to be the core thing at the at the Center.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: I think you'd want to get the family involved in something around this and then.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: pull in the business and it doesn't have to be an identical mission vision or causes or anything of that they could they're probably going to be a little different.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: But you start creating this it does create a universal culture of generosity and connection, which then I think pulls them together tightly and more cohesively.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah and you know what's really nice about, that is, you may have some family members that are working in the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: and family members that are not working in the business so there's that place where we can bring everybody together and it's you know everybody's on equal footing at that level.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: You got it yep.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Scott, why don't you add to that maybe you know, I guess, one of the things that i'm thinking about is you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Inside of that family, what are you know the what are you teaching what's hand, what is your grandma grandma and grandpa.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know, are now you know have grandkids you know what is this philanthropy project that we're working on what are we hoping that those little kids you know it's a little they could be teenagers, you know right but.

 

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Michael Palumbos: hit on some of that and then anything else that you want to add to that if you don't mind.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Well, to launch off of something that Ryan mentioned any organization, whether it's a family of business, the church a club of whatever.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: has to have two things, or they don't have a future number one they have to have shared stories that they understand about us as a group.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And that's but that's about the past, but we need to understand that, but then we have to have that future vision, this is where we see ourselves somewhere down the road.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: When we have a family and I like I like that you mentioned in every business, there are family members, probably in the business and family members, not in the business.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And if you don't find a way for those people to get together and share stories and share vision, then it's going to appeal itself apart in very short order.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: My experience has been that the key for this approach is probably.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: family business owners who love their grandchildren i've seen a market difference and applying this process, you know wealthy family setting.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Where the grandparents loved or, believe it or not, did not love their grandchildren, in one case we did philanthropy exercises and everybody was excited about it.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: But I have to say that grandmother was a rather i'm going to use a harsh word rather selfish person she had a family foundation, but she could not stomach the idea that her.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Some of that foundation would send money to some of these little penny ante charities that her grandchildren found to be exciting like pet rescue or you know, whatever, that is, and so the whole thing fell apart, it did work.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: On the other hand, i've seen families that were pulled in every direction, it was a yours mine and ours, family and there was a lot of family tension when we came in.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: we've got them to the table around philanthropy we've brought that when we brought the grandchildren them for the philanthropy part.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: We did the exercise with the mad cards and we discovered that the family had shared passions.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And the grandparents were more than happy to put up a significant chunk of money that the grandchildren could spend any way they wanted, as long as we work on that together.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: that's the contrast there's got to be a shared vision Emma in the first case didn't see the vision that she could change her grandchildren, by the way.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: they exercise their family for like philanthropic dollars and in the other case the grandparents really got it we want to teach some of our kids are in the business, most of them are not.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: How do we get everybody at the table talking about the same things so my experience has been that you need a structure around which to.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Teach these tools to family members of every generation, but it has to be free flowing and it has to be going back again to the passion, where does your family, where does your organization feel that there is a shared vision of how we want to affect the world.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: that's that's been what i've learned.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I love it.

 

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Michael Palumbos: um you know, one of the other things that I think this starts to do and yell you know why don't you hit on this a little bit when talking about.

 

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Michael Palumbos: kind of you know we're giving money away we're dealing with money where kids with.

 

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Michael Palumbos: This isn't an inheritance or this isn't you know this isn't our money, this is somebody else's so how, how can this help me or help my kids or grandkids when we're talking about you know wealthy families down the road what is that you know this this experience like.

 

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Yale Levey: So I guess the best way I can answer that is maybe i'll just share what I did with my kids because I didn't use a lot of money, but it wasn't about the money.

 

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Yale Levey: I you know again going back to sort of understanding that some of the philanthropic tools out there, I knew I could create a family controlled charitable entity, where I could I could have a fun that the kids in the end the nieces and nephews could give from.

 

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Yale Levey: So I took an appreciated stock that I owned for this much but it grown to that much, and you know I put a relatively small amount of money into the thing.

 

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Yale Levey: And that was the family fun I got a nice tax deduction that was nice.

 

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Yale Levey: And, but really that's not why I did it I did this because i've used this as an investment into my family so at the time, my kids were a little bit too young So this was really just with my niece and nephew at the time.

 

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Yale Levey: But I told them about this family fund I didn't tell them how much they were going to be able to give away, but for them at the time they were One was about 10 or 11 The other was, I think, eight or nine at the time.

 

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Yale Levey: And I said you guys are going to be able to give away a couple of hundred dollars, which for them, you know in their minds, that was a huge amount of money so.

 

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Yale Levey: I talked to them about passion first that's where we started, just like Scott had illustrated, and you know, and I said to my nephew.

 

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Yale Levey: You know i'm not really that smart, so I need you guys to go out and research on the Internet, because I know you're so good, with the computers.

 

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Yale Levey: You go research and find the causes find organizations that match up with.

 

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Yale Levey: You know the things that you care about We talked a little bit about how they could do that and they came back to me with.

 

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Yale Levey: Five or six different organizations and then we had a dialogue about well what What would you want to know what would you want to understand before you felt.

 

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Yale Levey: that one of these organizations ought to get some of the money that you're going to be giving to them remember you're in charge here.

 

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Yale Levey: And so we talked about that a bit and and I said, you know remember i'm not as smart, as you guys, so I need you to write this up in a little business plan.

 

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Yale Levey: So so give me sort of an outline of what it is that you want to advocate for and then you're going to present that to your dad and I when we get together over thanksgiving.

 

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Yale Levey: So that was our way of sort of getting an eight year old to begin to create the base the basics or the foundation of a business plan.

 

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Yale Levey: And then, when we got together over thanksgiving both niece and nephew needed to discuss with us at the table, why this versus that so that was sort of the beginning of public speaking experience.

 

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Yale Levey: And then, then from there, I said, you know even beyond the money, one of the really powerful things that you could really tap into is your story, you know, so if you can kind of craft.

 

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Yale Levey: Why you're so passionate about this, I bet you we could use that story, and you can send that over to that organization and they might benefit from hearing your story because you're so convincing right, and so, so now they've got some some stories from an eight year old or a 10 year old.

 

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Yale Levey: At some point down the road I wound up getting interviewed by a financial services magazine, and I shared this story with.

 

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Yale Levey: With the person writing the article and it made it into the magazine, so I sent the magazine down to my niece and nephew and they carry these magazines around in their pockets to show their friends, how they were famous for giving and it just kept reinforcing so anyway i'm.

 

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Yale Levey: Where i'm going with this is.

 

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Yale Levey: They got some research experience.

 

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Michael Palumbos: They got something right then some critical thinking that they had to put this put to work.

 

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Yale Levey: The whole point was this was an investment on my behalf into my family, I wanted to begin to seed in them.

 

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Yale Levey: What are some of the LIFE skills that will be important for them to have they're going to need to advocate for a cause at some point down down the road.

 

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Yale Levey: they're going to need to be able to research they're going to need to be able to formulate their opinions they're going to need to you know.

 

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Yale Levey: To communicate with adults with people that maybe they're not necessarily comfortable communicating with all the time and that's a big challenge for kids nowadays.

 

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Yale Levey: So you know this was just sort of the backdoor way of getting into that conversation it wasn't about the money, although again getting back to.

 

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Yale Levey: The thing I said a little while ago for them a couple of hundred dollars was was an enormous sum of money at the time, but you know, even when we're when we're teaching our classes in schools.

 

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Yale Levey: The kids care about how much money they're giving away and they want it to be a significant amount, but really the real value isn't isn't the dollars that they're giving away at the end of the day, it's the process that they go through, I think that's the key awesome.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And I mean you hit and all the things.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That you know they hit critical thinking needs, they have to get creative, they have to publicly speak, and these are all the skills and this is why you know, I think that you know, in my opinion i've.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know I know i'm preaching to the choir a little bit, but I I did say I think that you know that family where i'm getting ready to retire.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I need something to retell your to I need to be doing something you know and.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What better thing could you know the the grandparents and aunts and uncles that are all you know the great aunts and uncles that are retiring from the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What better thing could they do, then you know you're not doing it every single day this isn't a full time job, but to kind of like you said yell you you've guided.

 

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Michael Palumbos: These conversations these things, and you help him them create an application, I will share with you one of the families that I shared this basic idea with.

 

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Michael Palumbos: She said here's the application she came up with what you wanted them to answer the questions on said.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But you have to use krahn so that was for grandma you know she wanted to be able to keep that thing, so that you know 10 years from now, you know as they progress through the the this process that it's interesting i'm i'm just you know.

 

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Michael Palumbos: grandparents and grandchildren, I think, is that perfect fit yeah That was the other piece that you said it was your niece and nephew that it started with.

 

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Michael Palumbos: i'm not sure if your kids were the same age, it would have had the same effect, I do think there's something about that outside.

 

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Michael Palumbos: influence and going into a classroom Ryan and Scott, you know you're that outside influence with the families that you've been working with there might be that facilitation piece that's kind of cool yeah.

 

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Yale Levey: I absolutely agree with that, I think you're right if it had been my kids my kids at the time were much younger so.

 

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Yale Levey: They were a little bit too young, I mean I think my son was four maybe at the time but.

 

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Yale Levey: But if they were older I imagine that it might not have gone exactly the same way and, like Scott was saying a little while ago there's there's magic with grandparents who love their grandkids you know there's something special about that maybe that's the market for this, you know.

 

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Yale Levey: yeah station is is is you know people get grandparents, who really love their grandkids and it's you know and to your point, you know if they're looking for the next what's the next chapter in my life going to look like well you know why not fill it up with joy, you know, helping.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah.

 

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Yale Levey: and helping your grandkids to to feel better about themselves and be better human days.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah and if they're watching it, you know it's a family business sometimes that family business there isn't a next generation but that wants to be part of the business so they're selling the business.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And now to your point yell you could utilize some of that work to say you know, there might be some tax savings along the way, as we're doing this stuff to.

 

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Michael Palumbos: there's nothing wrong with good things happening, when you have good intentions, you know, but to do it out of bad intentions, probably not.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Scott, I want to come to you for a second and because one of the things you and I talked about when we got together with the dangers and pitfalls of philanthropy.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And, and one of them, I think you kind of hit on is that if you know if you're not thinking think if you can only have your blinders on and think about yourself if you're selfish isn't going to work.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: I think there's some other days.

 

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Michael Palumbos: That falls, I think we need to be talking about let people know about.

 

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Michael Palumbos: something you want to hit on.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Well, I go back to what Ryan said early if you don't love people if you don't have that true philanthropy spirit.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: In you're just in it for tax savings or some other less than Honorable motive, if you will, you will poison the well for everybody, your nature will show up.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: I think the other thing is there is an advantage of having an outsider facilitate this process, I think sometimes children tend to blow off what they say.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Not so much grandparents they yeah we've been into situations where the parents have tried to do something like this, and maybe not philanthropic but they tried to create the family Council or whatever it just didn't flow because everybody so jaded.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: But there is something again marvelous about putting dollars on the table that are not for us when you think outside yourself, then all of a sudden that changes everything now I would like to sort of add on to what you asked.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: This is a very simple process, but you need to have a process.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: We once had five days, three of my children were at home and one of my son in law is and we invited the family.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: That had been curious about mainstream philanthropy and we created actually a family version of this activity, not a schoolroom version but a little pale and it comes in a little treasure box.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And it has seven steps, instead of 10 but basically we do the, what are we interested in so that's what we did the first night.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And we identified three teams and they went out and did the research like yellow scribe we came back two nights later and the three teams gave their report.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: But there's also a little piece in there, how would you contribute your own money, what would be a fundraising idea, this was the coolest thing about it.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: The other family had a 13 year old boy and actually I said i'm going to put $100 in the pot for us to give away when when the other family left my my wife said, I think you made a mistake.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: That family doesn't have any money to go, so there you're going to make them feel bad well they went home and they figured out, they can go through their cushions and their couches.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: and raise money, and then the little voices I can go ask all the neighbors he created a little flyer dropped it off at a couple of dozen neighbors houses, then they came to the meeting when they got when they came home from the meeting.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: They said, you know what there are zip lock bags full of money on our porch he raised $70 from people digging in their cushions.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: But he also found an organization that took care of homeless families in the homeless world there are places for men places for women and children, but nothing for families.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: He found one of those we sent our second son there to do a site visit when he came out of the visit he called me he was crying he said that.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: This is such a sweet organization, they have three people if they take care of it doesn't families to the help of 20 churches.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: He said, I want to put some of my own money well that, on the next two days later, we went over to that place and we donated.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: We had raised to 50 among ourselves, the coins on the porch my money my son's money my daughter put some in and then her husband had a matching program with his.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: With a place where he worked so we're able to make a $500 gift not big money whatsoever, but did that ever touch everyone's heart.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Everybody when we went to the place to handle over the money we were crying they were crying it was just a life changing adventure and I can tell you, if you just have a little path to follow so that's one of the dangers you strike out that you don't have a path.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: I think that's the joy that Ryan, and I had figured out here is a path that will always work and it will teach your children and grandchildren all the LIFE skills they need to know, but more important than that it will change the way we feel about ourselves, and about the world.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But I love it I love it it's.

 

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Michael Palumbos: super powerful I hope people that are listening I hope you're getting that you know this is such a powerful powerful topic and Ryan, I want to say one more I want to want you to say it one more time pillows and purpose right.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah when we helped me out.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: it's file oh silos and anthropologists.

 

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Michael Palumbos: files and.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: I can tell you the origin of it but everybody gets mad at me when I tell that story because it's long and gruesome.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: yeah.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: It was used right it's but it's great.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But when you when you when you're looking at it it's again it's the love of human beings.

 

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Michael Palumbos: And at the end of the day, you know you know Scott, you know you had said it if you don't love your grandchildren, if you don't have love of people all.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Who didn't you know, very few of us don't love our family we just want to be able to take, and we want, we want our kids to be critical thinkers and leaders and we want them to be you know gracious wow there's another you know another side.

 

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Michael Palumbos: effect of this is, as we build gratitude for what we have to be able to give you know we came from the lucky gene pool that were part of this family business and we've done pretty well and we've had some pretty unique experiences.

 

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Michael Palumbos: But man it's really good to be connected and grounded on some of these other areas and feel that gratitude ah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: I just.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Go ahead.

 

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Yale Levey: I was just going to say Michael just just one last point is that I get the sense that you know it's business owners that might be watching this podcast one day and.

 

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Yale Levey: Most of probably most of the people that will be listening to this have probably been super successful at building their businesses in whatever shape and size and form that's taken but you know the recognition that it's a completely different skill set.

 

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Yale Levey: You know, it takes a completely different skill set to build your business grow your business create a successful business than it does to go to this place, so the fact that.

 

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Yale Levey: I can engage in this other activity that can you know, introduce all these other positive attributes to skill sets attributes, however, you want to define it to myself into my family in the world, you know what a great opportunity.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Agreed agreed agreed i'm going to go around and just you know if you had kind of a parting you know what we.

 

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Michael Palumbos: partings not the right thing, but maybe tips to get started, or just ideas or if you know if people want to reach out to you to make sure that they, you know that they can do that.

 

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Michael Palumbos: What are your recommendations if you're sitting here talking to a family, I know you've poured your hearts out and gave us everything already, but you know what else would you want to say that we haven't talked about.

 

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Michael Palumbos: yeah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Sorry, I was just.

 

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Yale Levey: uh yeah I mean the best way to get started, is to just to you know, decide to start now you know it's it's as Ryan said philanthropy is not about a destination it's about the journey, and you know if you just decide that i'm going to take the first step.

 

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Yale Levey: Then.

 

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Yale Levey: How you do that can certainly be made easier if you have, if you have a process like Scott pointed out, so to that end, I would say, they should reach out to you, they could reach out to any.

 

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Yale Levey: three of us, or if you have your own advisor you know who you think can have these conversations with you, but have a conversation with somebody.

 

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Yale Levey: To help store you down that continuum to keep the conversation going because stuff happens when you have a conversation conversations lead to action, action leads to results one thing for certain is, if you just sit here and think about it nothing's going to happen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Thank you Scott.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: If I were Father grandfather and was a successful business owner, but maybe had not put as much into my family as I wished, I had.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: I would sit down and make a list of what are the skills that my grandchildren will need to survive and thrive in this world.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And I bet you if you brought that list to me or one of us, we can show you how everything is, and I say that everything on that list could be built into your children by having a great philanthropic venture.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: And the connection it would create between you and them, which just tear at your heart in the most wonderful way I promise that make your list compared to what you can get out of doing philanthropy.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Well lover.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Ryan take us home.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: I would say Scott that's some of the best advice i've heard that's brilliant that's why Scott is our sage.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: So i'll say this from a family perspective than maybe a global perspective in your family or people we throw around this word legacy.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: which a lot of people think is you know what we leave to our kids are our family, and I would challenge you to think you know.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: legacy is not what you leave to them it's what you leave in them.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And where this becomes an amazing opportunity is to not give something to them it's to give something and leave something in them, that will change who they are, and yell alluded to that earlier we've kind of we've been talking about and as a grandparent i'm not one yet.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: You know, and every day, you know see a lot of bad stuff in the world, my whole thing is, I just wanted, I want to get there right, because what an amazing experience and what an opportunity to leave something in them than this i'll say from a global perspective.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: One of our missions as a team, we are, I believe in a kind of funky place in the world today there's a lot of division.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: there's not enough listening we're at a kind of a lack of empathy you know you alluded to it even Michael talking about the me first what's in it for me environment we're kind of living in and to me, this is the solution.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: We recently, you know redid everything we have our easy way to reach us, as you mentioned gateway for good is kind of the core umbrella that we all operate under that's easy to find we're all on linkedin you know we're searchable if you look up our names anyways we're not hard to find.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: We just our mission is reuniting a divided world and the way we've learned to do that is through providing giving experiences.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And we've been listening to now for a while, about what that looks like how we've done it the impact it can have on families and businesses and organizations and communities, and I think the world at large.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: And I would encourage people to just wrap your head around that wrap your head around what's possible wrap your head around what it can mean to you, to your family to your kids your grandkids to your community and take a step, you know, take a step make your list.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Right make your list and we'd love to be part of that showing you how that list can become real and can't Thank you enough for having us this is this has been a delightful session with three of us don't get to.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: Do stuff together often enough.

 

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Ryan Ponsford: This is fantastic so yeah.

 

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Michael Palumbos: appreciate it was super to have the three of you here and with me, and this is.

 

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Michael Palumbos: a topic that is near and dear to my heart and i've always danced around and put the pieces together, but I think you know, at the end of the day, what we're just saying just give it a try.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know what I mean you don't know whether you're going to like it or the effects or whatnot until you give it a try and and it's going to be different for every family it's gonna.

 

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Michael Palumbos: You know they're there will be some pitfalls and things that happen as you're doing these things but go out make a mess and have fun doing you know, good for human beings out there.

 

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Michael Palumbos: So thank you for joining us gentlemen.

 

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Michael Palumbos: Thank you, you have been listening to the family biz show i'm Michael Columbus from family wealth and legacy in Rochester New York and don't forget hit that subscribe button because.

 

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Michael Palumbos: This episode was fantastic there's other fantastic ones out there, and you don't coming up next, and you do not want to miss them so thanks everybody have a great week we'll talk to you soon.

 

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Scott Farnsworth: Okay bye.

If you’re a family business or a family business consultant and want to be on the show, share your story and help other family businesses, send us an email to producer@thefamilybizshow.com or fill out a contact form here!

*not affiliated with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.

Michael Palumbos is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Family Wealth & Legacy, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a legal or tax advisor regarding any legal or tax information as it relates to your personal circumstances.

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