Podcast 963: The Quest for Legitimacy: How Children of Prominent Families Discover Their Unique Place in the World with Dr. Jamie Weiner

My guest for this podcast is the co-founder of Inheriting Wisdom and the author The Quest for Legitimacy: How Children of Prominent Families Discover Their Unique Place in the World – Dr. Jamie Weiner.

Jamie co-founded Inheriting Wisdom with his wife Dr. Carolyn Friend. Inheriting Wisdom is a specialty consulting firm focused on the human issues and concerns that impact high-net-worth families, their businesses and family offices.

Jamie’s training and professional experience as a clinical psychologist lend him a unique insight to understanding the complex dynamics that exist in families, businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Hence, throughout his career, he has designed structured programs and systems to address the broad range of challenges families and individuals face.

He also came up with several books which one of those is The Quest for Legitimacy: How Children of Prominent Families Discover Their Unique Place in the World. This book is an essential read for anyone navigating the complex dynamics of accomplished families and is perfect for members of wealthy and accomplished families, as well as the people who advise them.

If you want to know more about Dr. Jamie and his works, you may click here to visit their company website. You may also learn more about our featured book The Quest for Legitimacy by visiting their website linked here.

I hope you enjoy this engaging interview with Dr. Jamie Weiner. Thanks and happy listening!

THE BOOK

Dr. Jamie uses the findings from his global qualitative research, conducted with the Rising Generation of prominent families from across the World, to explore topics like:

  • Developing your own sense of legitimacy.
  • Identifying your own path whilst recognizing the common phases of The Quest.
  • Understanding the impact that “breaking moments / transition points” will have on your life.

THE AUTHOR

Dr. Jamie Weiner is a clinical psychologist with over 40 years experience. In addition to his work with individuals and families, he successfully designed structured programs and systems to address the broad range of challenges people face, and is credited to delivering over 100 lectures and workshops. He also has a Certificate in Family Business Advising and Family Wealth Advising from the Family Firm Institute and is the co-author of The Legacy Conversation: the missing gem in wealth planning.

 

You may also refer to the transcripts below for the full transciption (not edited) of the interview.

Greg Voisen
Welcome back to Inside Personal Growth. This is Greg Voisen and host of Inside Personal Growth. And, Jamie, for all of my listeners, I've been doing this so long I keep saying that same thing. I think they're like, oh my god voice and saying welcome back again. We're gonna be speaking about the quest for legitimacy. The subtitle is how children of prominent families discover their unique place in the world. And welcome to the show. Dr. Jamie Weiner. Jamie, how are you?

Dr. Jamie Weiner
I'm terrific. Greg, it's great to be here with you.

Greg Voisen
Well, it's great to speak with you because this is an issue, which I think goes under the radar and a lot of cases and you know, these places like family firm Institute, which brings CPAs together and attorneys together and financial planners together and psychologists together to try and solve these issues, which it's a big issue. You're one of the only guys who's done some pretty deep research in this area that I'm aware of. And I that's what's inside this book, plus lots of stories from my listeners, but I'm going to tell the listeners a little bit about you before we get started with a multifaceted background and speaking and coaching and counseling environments ranging from Cook County jail to exclusive global VIP forums, Dr. Jamie Weiner’s expertise in strategic approach to guiding people helping them to develop inheriting wisdoms ability to discern, to transcend any complication within a family dynamic. And that's the key here. Dr. Weiner is a clinical psychologist with over 40 years of experience, in addition has worked with individuals and family. He successfully designed structured programs and systems to address the broad range of challenges people face and is credited to delivering over 100 lectures and workshops. He also has a certificate in the family business advising and family wealth advising from the family firm Institute, and is the co-founder of the legacy conversation, the missing gem and wealth planning. He's a global board member, director of the family firm Institute, you can learn more about Dr. Jamie Weiner, at inheriting wisdom, that's inheriting wisdom.com. And you can learn more about him at the book website, which is quest for legitimacy.com. And we'll have links to both of those. So that you can take a look at that, and a link to Amazon where you can get a copy of the book. So Jamie, after doing the review of the book, I see all these great stories. And I don't know if you change the name to protect the innocent, but you had a lot of people's names use first names inside of there. And they're great stories because they kind of exemplify what goes on. It also kind of tells what's happening inside. Maybe this generations head about what's going on psychologically. And you know, the book is exclusively focused on helping children, children of high powered families, navigate through the maze and find purpose and meaning in their lives. What in your estimation are some of the psychological factors associated with them having issues navigating to a place of happiness, self-worth and fulfillment in their lives?

Dr. Jamie Weiner
So Greg, just a little bit of background, we interviewed 24 Rising Gen family members from around the globe. So Indonesia, Chicago, Costa Rica, we began to find patterns that were similar no matter what was going on culturally, that might have been very different print. And the simplest thing that we found that was fairly use universal, was this feeling of struggling to measure up giving the prominence of the families that they were born into. And it was that struggle that led to a four phase to a path that we discovered that was universal, that involved first going through some self-awareness, finding out who you are, who you're becoming, that a tug of war kind of navigating the outside world of the world's oil do blinded to followed by a period of the exploration we are gaining for the outside world and have something to bring back to taking ownership of your life.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, and you know, you know, all of those issues are covered in the book and we're gonna Get to that, because I'm gonna ask you a question around those as well. And you mentioned that the rising Gen need to be protected against suddenly feeling entitled, you state that this book asks, what is it like for you to grow up in the land of giants, meaning their parents and maybe grandparents and so on? Based on your research? What is it like for the children of families with considerable wealth growing up in that environment? And just, I mean, you profiled many of them, obviously, and many of the issues associated with that. But generally, what, what are, what's it like for them? You know, you talked about feeling of self-worth, you talk about not being enough, you all throughout the book, you're talking about many of these psychological factors, but I'm strictly kind of speaking about the psychological issues.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Yeah, so um, self-confidence is a universal issue. But for people who grow up in wealthy and prominent families, first of all, they don't grow up with an awareness that, oh, my God, my parents have a lot of money, what's gonna happen with that money, that they do grow up with a sense of at some point, first of all, realizing there's something different about them. So for example, one person in the book grew up in a family, where diamonds were the family trade, and then came home with a bag of diamonds. And she learned to count by counting diamonds, and she went to school and all of a sudden realize, not all kids grow up counting diamonds, all right. You in, you know, it was an awareness, that it was also an awareness that there was something different about the way that she was brought up. In over time, everybody that we interviewed realize that their families had made larger successes, large accomplishments, there was some sense of prominence, some sense to the role in the community that was different than those around them. And a wish and somewhat of a struggle to figure out who they were separate from the world that they were born up into, without divorcing themselves from the world that they were brought, brought up into, eventually trying to find a place in it.

Greg Voisen
You know, I have seen a lot of these families, because I work with them as well, that the challenges that the children face, not like many other families is that the parents are at odds, and there's a divorce, you know, and when families of that magnitude get divorced, it's frequently it's not a real divorce, it's a divorce. But if you don't, I mean, because the amount of wealth, you know, maybe and then another marriage happening on top of that, it kind of complicates it psychologically for the kids, not that other kids don't. But there seems to be something different about when you come from extreme wealth, and there's a divorce in the family. Could you talk about that? Because I know, in some of your cases, I'm sure you ran into that.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Yeah, you know, one case immediately popped in my head because mom and dad were separated, had been separated for enough years that they might as well have been divorced. They operated in terms of business decisions and financial decisions, as if they were a couple. And I And if the conversation were about those kinds of decisions, you would have had a hard time discerning that in the background, there was a divorce going on. So you can imagine for the rising gender and then family, there was the world of the business that kind of was the center of the universe, where mom and dad appeared to be one. And then there was the world of the family, where dad had one life, and mom had another life. And where they had a relationship to Dad is dad, and mom is mom. And in that particular family, Mom was the translator, too. So there's a whole thing that goes on in the communication pattern in those kinds of families that has most financial implication, but much more for those growing up what if we're all, we're always sort this out.

Greg Voisen
Well, confusion, I would say confusion, because my sense is if you have very strong father figure prominent, and we'll get into that, you know patriarchal kind of situation, and you have daughters and daughters are connected to their daddies, you know. And then there's a divorce like that. It's challenging. Now, it's not that other families don't have this, they do. But when there's this extreme wealth and a family, it's, as you just said, it's a more of a separation, they came back together and did business together. And they're, they're giving kind of a conflicting message to the rising Gen about that. And then you tell a great story of growing up in your own family where your father was a prominent religious figure and a rabbi in your community. And you mentioned that you struggled to find your own sense of legitimacy. What was it like? And how did you ultimately find yourself? In the shadow of such a prominent father, figure and Rabbi, who was in your community, just extremely well known and respected? And here you are, you have a relationship here. And you maybe that's why you got in this business?

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Yeah, they say that about a psychologist says that we get into this business to figure fix their own problems. And I'm not sure that's the case, you're not the case. But you know, if you grow up with a father, like I did, who was a central figure in a community who was created, a synagogue was created camps, has done things. Work with clergy, from all kinds of disciplines, it's pretty hard to feel that anything you do is big enough. They're timeless, I would sort of go out in the world and look for things that would sort of act like would make me feel like I was big enough. Yeah. You know, I grew up in the 60s and 70s, there were plenty of opportunities to find things to do that were just a little bit out there. And so for me, I struggled with the things I did that are a little out there in a pretty solid core that came from the values that ran through my family. And it really took me getting my doctorate took me a long time. A long time to sort out. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be married with? How to integrate this all? So there's one JB, as opposed to different kinds of JBS depending on the situation that I'm not,

Greg Voisen
you know, is interesting, because I have Jewish heritage as well. And that's where I come from. And I was on an interview with a not a young German middle age, very successful. And he was speaking about a story. And it just kind of blew me away. His grandfather was part of what he called the Jewish mafia. I knew nothing about this Jewish mafia, but evidently, it was a pretty tough group of people. Okay. And as it turned out, his father would overlook this young man's I don't want to call it he, he actually one of the one of the people who was watching him, he had an a knife and they were paying a knife fight. And the babysitter, got his finger cut off as a result of it. But the father didn't react at all because He's his father had been so rough on him, that he through the generations, this father was part of the, what he called the Jewish mafia, who beat up people and all kinds of thing. He would not lay a finger on his hand or reprimand this young man. And the story was so distinctive, you know, I recall in my mind, I'm like, wow, this is really compelling when you think about his father saying, oh, it was okay that you cut the babysitter's finger off real deeply you guys were pointing knives, you know? Well, you know, you speak about the break being the first component of the right when we say break kind of breaking out and that it is different in almost every story you cite Rashi and F When hitting a breaking point, and that frequently they find themselves. And this is one of the stories and a disoriented place and displaced. If you could please speak to the listeners about the break, and what your qualitative study of children of giants revealed about making.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
A break. So again, 24 different stories, interviewed twice, there was not a single story that it didn't involve some account of a breaking moment where there was a disruption between some of the expected life to be going in something that would happen, that kind of, you know, changed everything, in that range from somebody pretty early in her life in his life, who grew up in a family where Costa Rica and tennis was a big game, he broke his arm, no longer could be active with the other family in the game. And from that point on, it decided he wanted to do music and surfing and different friends and changed his life. The big story that I tell in the book is Reishi. And Rishi was in college was already entrepreneurial. So, you know, I mean, no, no, I'm just entitled, I'm gonna sit here there was, I'm gonna do my own thing. He went back and helped his family, build the business that manage the 10 businesses father had bought into or started during the course of his lifetime, went back and got his advanced degree, came back. And there was a business that was in trouble. And the family worked for a year left to go see the World Cup, and on his way home, was in Florida, and got an email from dad, basically firing him by email. And it was more than just getting fired. Yeah. You know, I mean, at that point, it was a break in his in the relationship with his Indian father and Canadian mother and he stopped speaking to them for two years. But that's and what's important in the book about that, in the research, is, we think about breaking moments, particularly as the world of psychology is, oh, my God, and what do we have to do as parents? What do we have to do? We've got to help. This is terrible than it happened. And I don't mean to minimize the pain. But that was the moment for most of the people in the study, where they began to sort out who they really wanted to be in what they wanted to do. So it was a moment of growth, even though it didn't come from, or why this is wonderful. I get to grow. It came from having to sort something out and solve problems.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, I think that what happens in a break, no matter what it is, is there many examples of them. But that was a great story, by the way, you know, get an email when your father fires you. Well, he wasn't firing him psychologically. He was telling his son, he was less than, because he didn't show up to do what he was supposed to do. He went and took a break down, and he was goofing off corn in his dad's mind, he was goofing off. And a lot of these cases, there isn't much tolerance for that. You know, that's just the way it is. There seems to be very little tolerance. And I agree with you, there's an epiphany that occurs and an enlightened spot within that moment, call it almost a spiritual awakening to some degree, to say, I need to take a different path here for my own self. I need to I need to love myself. And that, that is kind of what happens. And you know, you stated on the quest for legitimacy to the simple fact that some if not all people get stuck along the way. What are some of the examples of the young adults or rising Gen being stuck and if you would speak about when fear I just I don't know, there's this relationship between fear and trust and this clear myth you talk about affluence. You know, there was a book written many years ago about affluence, and you kind of don't give that book its legitimacy. How maybe I'll say it that way and being a good

Dr. Jamie Weiner
way to say, Greg, why? Why did goodwill even say,

Greg Voisen
Yeah, but that book became very popular, very, very popular. And then you cited that story about the young man in the South who basically got off with murder. And that was you were saying that story. But if you would talk about that fear, trust and the clear myth about affluence, especially in the rising Gen.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
So my experience is pretty diverse, is I think there's this two, I spent a four and a half years working in Cook County Jail. And one particular character Cook County Jail really stood out for me, a group came from a family that if you knew I can tell you the last time you were from Chicago, you would go, Yeah, I know that family. And he had really spent a life inside institutions and inside the jail. And in the world of people in Cook County Jail. Most of them really have issues about trusting other people. At 1.1 of the detainees, I did an exercise with a group of them was supposed to be about trust. And he looked up and they said, are you kidding? I'm never going to trust anybody. And then the group chimed in and what? Absolutely, we're not going to trust anybody either. And so you know, most people kind of assume that trust is a is just part of life that you know, you trust some more than others, but you do to in order to have relationships, you have to trust people. And without that sense of basic trust, it's pretty hard to form relationship is pretty hard to find yourself. And a psychologist, like to talk about narcissism and personality disorders, and blah, blah, blah, and all that kind of stuff. But the simple understanding behind all that it's an injury that's strong enough that you come and go through the rest of the world, believing that the world is dangerous.

Greg Voisen
Most certainly, and especially people that are incarcerated, I think it is that exacerbates the issue is well, so and you were dealing with those type of people in Cook County Jail, which is not the easiest jail around. So yeah, no, I get it. And when it comes to this rising gen of affluent families, I think it's also a similar problem, maybe not to the degree of some of the people that have been incarcerated. But it there's certainly a trust issue, right.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Certainly trust issue. And then if you mix it mix this with, you see people are extremely successful in a way that you don't think you're ever going to be able to be successful. Then, you know, doing acts that are not the kindest acts to other people behaving in ways that could get you into Cook County Jail. Yeah. begins to help make some sense. There's some logic to it. Not desirable, but there's certainly logic to it.

Greg Voisen
Yeah. Well, I think that the path that people take from generation to generation here, you know, when family wealth gets passed down, you know, they say, very seldom does a business succeed down to more than the third, third generation, right? First generation, second generation third generation, no, ultimately, a lot of those companies get bought up or merged or taken over by somebody else, or whatever happens. But there are some long standing ones where, you know, it's been many generations and that hierarchy is there. And there are huge trust issues. Now, you talked about in the book, the issue of not being enough, and you actually had some quite cute are pictures of some, you know, like old drawings, you talk about a 14 year old who wrote a suicide note stating that he would never be able to live up, I understand that this is an extreme case, which ended with his suicide. But how deeply rooted are these emotions within families of extreme wealth? And what did your research reveal?

Dr. Jamie Weiner
So obviously, I put that that story in the book, because it's the extreme. And, you know, I had spent a number of years working in an adolescent psych unit with a nine month long stays. So most of the adolescents of the program were from affluent, successful families. And it was a poignant example of how strong man's feeling could be. Most of the people in the study, it ended up being pretty successful. And we're not that extreme. But it doesn't mean they didn't, in a very intense way, have that feeling that no matter what they did, they wouldn't be able to be to live up. And, you know, one example of that was Henry Kaiser, his family from the Kaiser Permanente family, who really thought he was raised to take over a significant role in one with one of the wealthiest families in the world. And a much longer story that was about to get married and went to set was set with his grandfather, and they could never even have a conversation about whether that role exist. Are you seen as I've seen, families don't have an easy time giving to their conversation, and don't really talk about what it means to pass things on between generations?

Greg Voisen
No, it's true. And I think one of the issues is, is living up to your word. In these families, now, it happens in all families again, so I'm not just going to target this, but if a father or mother relates to it, a rising Gen. Who may who is working in the business, we have a position for you. And if you prove yourself over a certain period of time, you're gonna get this X piece, I'm citing a particular example. And then at the end of your step, they go, no, right? We changed our mind. For whatever reasons, which breaks the trust, that also puts a, almost like shooting an arrow through their heart. Because it's not just a boss, saying to an employee, it's a father saying to a son or a daughter, you're not enough, I still don't believe you're enough to take this position in the company. And I've seen this happen. And I've seen the fallout of that. And that is one of the points. That's a breaking point. And it's a huge breaking point. And it happens a lot. Where, where they just leave, they say I'm gonna go do my own thing. I don't need you, right. And sometimes they're written out of the will or the trust or whatever it might be, because of this dynamic that has shifted. And Jamie, one of the stories is about Anne, and you stayed that only when she left her father did and realize that she had been on a quest of her entire life kind of on her entire life. Can you tell the listeners about the story of Anne and how this worked out for her and the relationship with her father, because it was what I'm talking about is a pretty good example, actually, what I just met,

Dr. Jamie Weiner
it's a great example. Yeah. And grew up with a grandfather who was extremely successful. And Father was kind of trying to live up to grandfather's success. When you grow up, you're not aware of what your parents are struggling Well, if you're only aware of the world they have. She had attempted very hard to kind of avoid having too much of a relationship with her grandfather. And at one point really got recruited literally by a recruiter to work in dad's business. And which was in an unusual business, the added in order to find himself and gotten into racing cars, she did really well and turn the business around. But her dad and her cannot communicate. And she was part of an organization recommended that she presents her father. A proposal that she would report a couple of times a year, and that she should run the day to day. And instead of that, working out, Graham and her father said to her, give me a job description so I can replace you. Well, what happened for her was, and maybe that was the best thing that ever happened to her. But at the moment, it also really made her realize that she had had difficulties in relationships with men for years, and that it was time to sort out, not just who she wanted to be professionally, which was more like her grandfather, but about how she was going to be able to get into a relationship, and feel a sense of wholeness. And when she did that, she began to figure out how that how they have a little bit of a different relationship with her father. Because I think we all want to have ended up with some relationship with our parents.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, the journey she took was quite interesting. And the way it worked out, you know, it finally came back to having some relationship again, with her father. Now, you mentioned that your research revealed patterns, that you discovered four phases common to all of these quests in because the book is the quest for legitimacy. Can you speak to listeners about self-awareness, tug of war, exploration and care and taking center stage phases associated with this journey, because those are the ones that you point out in the book that are you talked about him a few minutes ago, you don't need to go into depth, but just briefly touch on him. And let's talk about him for a minute, because those are the four phases that you see.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
So the first one is self-awareness. And I would think your listeners as well as anybody else, whether they came from a wealthier, prominent family or not, has some moment in their life where they find that there's something that distinguishes them in their family that makes them feel different, when extreme we had with somebody who grew up in a theme park that had his zoo behind him. So it didn't take him a long time to realize there was something different about his family, the families around him. At some point, we began to go out into the world, and we're exposed to a little bit to the outside world, that now we have what we learned in the world, we were born up and in we have, we're learning in the outside world. And we feel pulled in the two directions, the tug of war between the two. At some point, all of us a little bit more different by culture, going through a period where we come a whole what we were born into inside us. We spend most of our time gaining experience in the outside world. And, and was actually a good example of that, because she had risen in a corporation, she had all kinds of experiences from the outside world that made her valuable back in the family, that she did that individually. And that over time as loss of the sorting period, we're going to begin to, you know, take off and take ownership of our lives. And I'm not just saying ownership of a business or not ownership of a business, but some sense that we're in command work and we have agency we're controlling decisions in our lives.

Greg Voisen
Yeah, a very, very good point you make. And in chapter eight or you book you speak about women on the quest, and that these stories are meant to challenge how we view gender roles, and storied families. Again, this is around the patriarchy, especially families, steeped in parent patriarch and many of these wealthy families are just that. And how do women get a seat at the table and become heard and families that are dominated with patriarch as a baby

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Check. So I was born before I wrote the chapter, not to just say that women are the, you know, Chief emotional officer in the family, right? And is that sort of traditionally what we think. So what I did in that chapter is there's three different stories with three different women. The one that always stands out for me was a woman who was raised, knowing that her grandfather said, if anybody is if there's ever a woman in the boardroom, and she's going to be serving tea, and you can imagine, it's her first day on the board room. And she's an asked serving tea, and she's a board member. And she just had a baby two weeks ago, and he has to ask the board, can I take an hour to go breastfeed my baby? One of the people from the family offices, can't you hire somebody to do that?

Greg Voisen
Great moment, not quite work.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
You can see that for women, she ended up being the first one up on the shears in the business to work in the business to take a role in the board. It's for women, it's a very multi dynamic challenge, to be able to figure out, do I have kids don't have kids? What's my role in the world? And I let the stories tell the message?

Greg Voisen
Well, I'm gonna let my listeners know that quest for legitimacy is a great book, if you're a family, dealing with wealth, it might even be a great book for you, even if you're not extremely wealthy, but just a little bit wealthy. And you see these challenges because we have so much affluence in this society today. And you're not the book is filled with great stories we've talked about and Rashi, and all this, and that helped the reader better understand how to navigate the quest for legitimacy. What are a few of the takeaways for the readers that you would like to emphasize and better understand this quest for legitimacy? I mean, we talked about the, you know, kind of stages. But what would you say if you were to sum up this whole thing and put it in a ribbon around it and go, this is why this is something you could take away from this.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
So I got my ribbon out. You know, the one thing that most universally, I'd like to wrap it around? Yeah, everybody we interviewed, they were the only ones going through this.

Greg Voisen
Ah, that's a good point, right? Very

Dr. Jamie Weiner
lonely and isolated. And if you're in a moment where you feel lonely and isolated, this book will remind you that you're not alone. This is kind of a, you know, universal experience. We're in the middle of developing some programs to help rising Gen, kind of really get that and be able to rate relate to each other and go through the quest together. That's kind of the kind of the starting point. And then if you understand there's a path.

Greg Voisen
So you're starting group therapy for wealthy people.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
No, I'm not calling? Yes.

Greg Voisen
Well, I just did that as a pun, because normally, they're not going to be so willing to share their stories with other people. But I commend you for you're building a community around this because that is exactly what they need. And the truth is, they are alone, many times I know, because they don't have this openness, many times are willingness to share the stories. That's why they feel that they are alone. And so and the other thing is, I would say you use the word fear in the book, there's a sense of fear that if they break out and talk to somebody about it, that there could be some repercussions because they're very, I'm just gonna say secretive. And secretive would kind of be the word it's, you know, hush, hush, you don't talk about this. This isn't something we do. But for all of us who are listening now, we're dealing with an issue. Dr. Jamie Weiner is your resource. You can find him at inheriting wisdom.com or the quest for legitimacy.com. That's the book site. We're going to put a link to both of those. And we'll put a link to the book on Amazon, as well. Jamie, it's been an honor having you on and a pleasure speaking about something that's very complicated, has to be navigated carefully and people sometimes wonder, you know, why should I get a navigator psychologists like yourself. And the reason you should, is because it's going to keep peace in the family and save. A lot of people have the pain and suffering that they could go through if they're willing to speak with somebody like yourself and navigate through that. So thank you for all the work that you do. Thanks for being on inside personal growth and sharing the message and the wisdom from your quest for legitimacy.

Dr. Jamie Weiner
Thanks, Greg. It's been a delight.

Greg Voisen
You take care.

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