THE COMMENDABLE HABIT OF BUILDING LEGACIES BY WEALTH OWNERS

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“CONVERSATION WITH MY BILLIONAIRE FRIEND”
(SESSION 20)

This is another session of reflective discussion with my Billionaire Friend. This time he centred on what he called the commendable habit of building legacies by wealth owners. His submission was that real wealth is measured not just by what is accumulated by wealth builders/owners when alive but also includes what happens to his wealth after he is long gone.

My Friend guided the conversation this way:

“When a person owns a large supply of a desirable thing, something that brings financial and emotional security and provides value, such a thing represents wealth. Wealth left behind as footprints for future generations is referred to as a legacy. And there are certain habits such wealth-builders have that helped them achieve this feat.”

“Indeed, leaving a legacy behind by wealth owners is part of their pursuit of happiness and meaningful living. It is also in line with the teachings of the school of positive psychology. This is so because positive psychology in itself relates to all activities of man that are aimed at achieving happiness, well-being, good quality of life, contentment and meaningful living. It includes the acts of performing kindness for others and for creating and deriving happiness in the process.”

“Generally, when the art of creating happiness and deriving happiness from human activities is tied to building a legacy, then human life becomes meaningful for living. Building a legacy practically involves creating enduring tangible and intangible things which can be and are passed on to future generations long after the wealth owner is gone. Without mincing words, legacy influences people’s lives and confers tangible benefits to future generations. It involves being driven into creating things greater than for one’s lifetime into the future, to improve one’s society, nation and/or the world in general.”

“Building a legacy is all about living and not about death. It is about how not to live for only now and about living now for the benefit of others, tomorrow. It is about thinking of one’s life and what must be done today for the benefit of others in the future. It is about leaving today’s footprints for tomorrow’s legacy. Legacy building, complemented by building wealth can be very fulfilling and beneficial to the world. It can be fulfilling in ensuring that whatever wealth a wealth builder owns, whatever abundance of valuable possessions or money that a wealth builder owns, he will apply it to building a legacy for future generations. Building a legacy is not necessarily aimed at the benefit of nuclear families but for unrelated members of society at large and one’s nation and the world in general. Wealth builders and wealth owners need to consciously focus on building legacies, take advantage of available opportunities for building legacies and be mindful of their responsibility for advancing the interest of others.”

“The process of building a legacy requires a thorough understanding of the different ways of achieving this goal. It involves ensuring that one discovers one’s passion, talent and strength, to give one the unique advantage of building a legacy for the advancement of the lives of others. It also involves monitoring ways by which one can best create and achieve a beneficial impact on others. In this same vein, it also involves developing one’s skill and interest in serving humanity in general, as separate from one’s nuclear family and self. Building a legacy involves doing what matters to one’s self for the benefit of others and being aware that life ends faster than one consciously realises. This means that the process should start as soon as possible, instead of waiting till the latter part of one’s life. It involves taking advantage of opportunities around oneself and using those opportunities to advance the cause of making impactful contributions to the lives of others.”

“Building a legacy also requires working with those closest to one and spending time to study those around to determine how well wealth builders’ activities impact them. This helps in selecting the impactful activities for achieving the cause of their building of a legacy. It involves bringing one’s best self towards advancing one’s legacy goals.”

“Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it appropriately: ‘The purpose of life is not just to be happy, it is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have made some impactful difference that has made one live well.’ This line is a fitting compass in the choice of legacy goals. In fashioning an appropriate legacy, wealth owners must dare to be joyful and serve in ways that bring joy to them in the process. Indeed, a legacy should be fashioned around issues which give the greatest joy to wealth builders. This is why legacy builders who love providing succour to the sick and those with health challenges end up building a legacy around clinics and hospitals, providing for the needy, old people’s homes and others.”

“In building a legacy, wealth owners must think of service to others and not about their personal successes since issues of personal successes are more of achievements than leaving a legacy. Legacy builders must not run around building a legacy for others, but they must run around making an impactful difference in the lives of others. Wealth builders and owners must elevate their interests to those of others and must remember, as stated by Charles Dickens, that: ‘No one in this world is useless who lightens the burdens of others.’ To build a legacy, wealth-builders must, however, avoid those attitudes that inhibit legacy-building goals. These attitudes include a lack of focus, living the lives of others, anger and fear, and avoidable consumptive and wasteful living. Legacy building requires avoiding the habit of prioritising emergencies above strategic priorities. By leaving a good legacy behind, wealth-builders and owners end up putting a stamp on societies and making contributions to future generations. Legacy building is about putting other people first and self last; putting people in positions to do great things in the future after the lifetime of wealth builders and owners.”

“It is not difficult to identify some individuals that have left globally long-lasting legacies for humanity. One such individual is the founder of the Lions Club International, Melvin Jones. The Lions Club International gives to the needy, the widows. Rotary Club International was founded by Paul Harris. As a foundation, it has left selflessness as a legacy for the benefit of millions on planet earth and continues to make a global impact in providing charity to the world. Another that comes to mind is the founder of the American Legion, by the name Henry Stimson. One other is the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth. These are people that have set up foundations which continue to leave a legacy for the benefit of humanity. Their charity organisations continue to give succour to people and spread happiness around the world. One current legacy institution which comes to mind is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This legacy foundation is owned by an amazing couple (now separated), who have heavily invested in creating a legacy, providing vaccines and medical research for new drugs for the benefit of humanity. Their success includes providing Covid-19 vaccines for the underdeveloped world and research into malaria vaccination for the third world.”

“Building a legacy is not limited to only the wealthy, even though our conversation here is about building a legacy by wealthy owners. There are indeed many non-wealth builders and owners who have created and left a legacy for the benefit of humanity. Such examples include Albert Einstein, the German physicist, who came up with the theory of relativity. He was not wealthy but created wealth for others in the world long after his death with his theory of relativity. Nelson Mandela was not a wealthy man but he left a legacy by liberating South Africans from the shackles of the South African apartheid regime. Another is the great Martin Luther King of the United States of America. Galileo Galleli was also not wealthy, but he was a great astronomer who discovered the earth’s roundness, the orbiting of the earth and the centrality of the sun within our orbital universe. Marie Curie, the Polish physicist and chemist, who discovered two elements of the periodic table, namely radium and polonium, is another who has left a lasting legacy without being wealthy. This woman who discovered treating tumours with radiation was the first woman to win the Nobel laureate, the first woman to win it twice and also the first person to win the Nobel laureate in two separate sciences.”

“Some Nigerian living wealth owners that have built and are building lasting legacies include, Fola Adeola, with the FATE Foundation for youth development and entrepreneurial training, which is silently impacting positively on millions of Nigerian youths. Another is the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which was founded by Tony Elumelu. This foundation is making an impact in developing young Africans into successful entrepreneurs, intellectual, skilful and talented developed youths. Another one that comes to mind is Prince Yemisi Shyllon, with his art foundation, OYASAF, which focuses on developing and exposing Nigeria’s art, artists and culture to the world. He has solely funded the establishment of a museum of art in a private university complex in Nigeria. Many others such as these can be mentioned who are playing significant roles in leaving lasting a legacy for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

WHY MUST WEALTH BUILDERS THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR WEALTH AFTER THEY ARE GONE?

“Not all wealth builders care about what may happen to their wealth after they have gone. However, reasonable wealth owners and builders with a clear awareness of the emptiness of human lives and the need to live meaningfully and impactfully, think and prepare for what would happen to their wealth after their death. They thus make provisions for ensuring that their wealth continues to make impactful contributions to the lives of others, even after their death.”

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A LEGACY?

“There are a few essentials: the mind, focus, determination with a clear vision and feasible, well, determined goals. The mind ensures that the pleasures and harvests of this world are transferred to others when one must have gone. That the prosperity and wealth of this world are transferred for the benefit of others and for humanity to grow, protect and enjoy after they have departed this world.”

WHY IS IT THAT WHEN WEALTH BUILDERS DIE, THEIR WEALTH SEEMS TO GO INTO EXTINCTION?
Wealth builders that do not make adequate legacy provisions for their wealth when they die would have their wealth go into extinction. The way to avoid this is to either provide a well-executed will for peaceful and cordially related monogamous persons. For polygamous home settings, where there is a strong likelihood of an executed will being contested, a legacy should be conclusively settled while still alive (that is, Inter Vivos) in settled gifts to beneficiaries or via executing irrevocable power of attorneys with consideration. Hence generally, wealth owners who want to live legacies must ensure that they either get the irrevocable power of attorneys or they share their wealth before they die and give out as much as possible to humanity. Wealth owners must realise that doing this is necessary because humans go faster than they think. Youthfulness is not forever.”

WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATIONS FOR BUILDING AN ENDURING LEGACY?

“For emphasis, wealth-builders must ensure that their wealth is sustainable and that whatever legacy they are building must be sustainable. Sustainable in terms of future cash flows for the maintenance of such a legacy. They must have properly executed and good testamentary documents with a good selection of executors. Where wills are not used, then they can use the irrevocable power of attorneys or create Trust Deeds. The execution of Trust Deeds with Corporate Trustees is highly recommended. Corporate Trustees ensure that the legacy of wealth owners is assured. Of course, such Corporate Trustees arrangements should have the provision for external auditors for ensuring that corporate trustees keep to their terms of the trust.”

Building a legacy does not necessarily have to be after wealth has been built. A legacy can be built before significant wealth has been built.

“In essence, leaving a legacy by wealth owners is necessary to help nations to provide for areas of need, about which governments are not measuring up satisfying but about which wealth owners can contribute for the general good of the people of one’s nation and the world. Building a legacy by wealth owners is a way of securing and ensuring some degree of enduring immortality of wealth owners many years after they must have died. A notable example is Obafemi Awolowo. He was not a rich person, but he built a lasting legacy over three decades after his death. Awolowo has left lasting a legacy with companies in G.R.A Ikeja, Apapa, Ilupeju, all in Lagos and Oluyole, in Ibadan, which are still producing wealth for the Nigerian nation in billions of naira and providing employment for millions over the decades. In building lasting a legacy, Obafemi Awolowo not only invited companies to set up factories in Western Nigeria but also left a legacy of building the first stadium, the first high-rise building and the first television station all in Nigeria.

My friend ended on this note:

“Building a legacy is a sure way of ensuring immortality for wealth owners. Legacy building is also not only important for national and global development, but also in leaving a very solid stamp on the global map of the world.”

So far…

Can’t wait to catch up with you next week.

ayo.arowolo@thisdaylive.com

QUOTE 1

When a person owns a large supply of a desirable thing, something that brings financial and emotional security and provides value, such a thing represents wealth. Wealth left behind as footprints for future generations is referred to as a legacy. And there are certain habits such wealth-builders have that helped them achieve this feat.

QUOTE 2

Not all wealth builders care about what may happen to their wealth after they have gone. However, reasonable wealth owners and builders with a clear awareness of the emptiness of human lives and the need to live meaningfully and impactfully, think and prepare for what would happen to their wealth after their death.”

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