Sunday, October 21, 2018
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ALL IN THE FAMILY

Spoiled and entitled? A next gen speaks out

As a teen, Eleanore Lee Teo would join her father during cafe breaks meeting family business taipans.

Her dad Edward is the founder of online stock brokerage COL Financial. She learned not only about business strategies, but also family anxieties especially affecting successors.

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“Most wealthy parents, if not all of them, believe their children are spoiled,” says Eleanore in her book “Raising Heirs.” She adds, “And why wouldn’t they? Being able to impart the very luxuries that they were deprived of as a child is their badge of honor.”

“Spoiled. I absolutely hated being associated with that word when I was younger.”

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Eleanore used to feel that her workplace load was comparable to that of non-family employees, until the day she accompanied Aida, a seasoned executive, on a client visit.

Eleanore was appointed Aida’s boss, but she soon realized the latter knew far more than her. So shouldn’t Aida do the presentation?

Aida told her, “That’s life. Your family owns this company and I work for you. What will complaining do? I have children to feed. What matters is that I love my job and maybe management will let me move up. [But] I’m glad that if they were going to put any COO (child of owner) in charge of our team, it was you.”

Aida’s words motivated Eleanore to do well, but also made her realize that, “I am spoiled. And my life is easy.”

Stories such as this are what make Eleanore’s book refreshing and inspiring. Many in the older generation feel most young people today are entitled, but the fact that Eleanore is herself a millennial (and a happily married mother of two) makes her book required reading for every heir.

Eleanore learned responsibility, endurance and humility from her family. No shortcuts. For instance, “taking your parents’ money to invest in a venture versus borrowing money to do so. When we take something, we feel a sense of immediate closure. But when we borrow something, it becomes a test to take extra care.”

Eleanore’s grandfather Robert sold shirts door to door during the war. Once, someone bullied him and snatched the shirt away from him and threw it down. Reminiscent of Christ’s dictum to turn the other cheek, Robert thanked the man and knelt on the ground to pick the shirt up.

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Every shirt meant food for the family, so “why would he waste his livelihood over his pride?”

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How can parents raise non-entitled heirs? Refrain from spoiling them, even if it’s impossible to replicate the adversities overcome by older generations.

Share stories of struggle, Eleanore suggests. Her book lovingly recounts several from her dad.

“In comparison to my father’s steep uphill climb, our lives were a walk in the park. But he didn’t need to take anything away to make us understand the value of money nor did he ever deprive us of comforts. All he had to use were his words, and all he had to give was his time.

“If you truly want your children to be more like you, be present and lead by example.”

When asked to name his greatest achievement, her father says, “Watching all my kids graduate from college.”

Isn’t that an ordinary feat? Well, Edward tried to finish college for eight years, and his kids succeeded where he had failed.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates dropped out and became billionaires, so shouldn’t his children imitate them?

“I don’t believe that dropping out was their secret to becoming rich,” says Edward. “It was much more than that. I don’t expect my kids to be anything like me. I expect them to be better.”

Get “Raising Heirs” at www.kergymabooks.com.

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TAGS: COL Financial, Eleanore Lee Teo, family business
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