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Sallie Krawcheck, former CFO of Citi, was on CNBC today speaking about BofA/Merrill Wealth Management.

How she has this job is amazing since during her tenure as CFO at Citi (2004 – 2007) the bank accumulated vast amount of toxic assets.

One wonders what type of information was she feeding her CEO, Chuck Prince, who stated:

“When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will get complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.”

That was July 9, 2007.

Just one month later, the credit crunch forced Citi to borrow from the Fed Discount Window.

Just over one year later, Citi was effectively bankrupt and exists only because of corporate welfare from both Democrats and Republicans.

Interesting and disturbing that the CFO of this firm, Sallie Krawcheck, is now given a job as head of a Wealth Management division and is rumored to be in the running for Ken Lewis’s job as CEO of Bank of America.

While thinking about Wealth Management and rewarding those who make mistakes, I realized that many parents do this inadvertently when bailing out their children.

Parents often think their child is safe and secure with a trust fund and/or large sum of money upon their passing.  Wealth Management firms aggressively push this logic.

In many cases, the child would be better off with a knowledge base, clear mind and sense of responsibility rather than entitlement.

After a certain time, a parent’s failure to parent becomes irrelevant and the child, now an “adult”, needs to rationalize things for himself.

To raise a well-adjusted child, it makes sense to create an environment of self-reflection, awareness and personal responsibility, rather than one of indoctrination.

It is healthful and beneficial to let the child F-E-A-R:  Fail Early And Responsibly.

As a “child”, it is healthy to wean yourself from your parents and challenge yourself.  The rewards are worth it.

Takeaway: If you want to ruin a man, give him everything he wants. Never let him fail, struggle, grow or mature into a man.

I saw a beautiful Model T the other day.  This 90 year-old entry-level vehicle is shown below.  It amazes me that a caring owner can keep something this old in such good working order.

Model T2

Since America is an instant gratification society with an ever-declining attention span, I was delighted to see this piece of human accomplishment so well-maintained and well cared for.  It brought to mind some important facts.

There are many parallels between taking care of a motor vehicle and taking care of your loved ones.  For husbands and fathers, it is important to know that the values that make cars last also make relationships last.

Preventative Maintenance - The Model T obviously required an inordinate amount of maintenance over the years from its owner.  Preventative maintenace is part of being a great husband and great father.  It takes years and years of daily care and attention in any relationship to build up a level of trust.

Patience - A loving relationship requires extraordinary amounts of patience and work.  It is easier to get into flings and shallow relationships/friendships, but the rewards aren’t as great.  The rewards of an honest, patient relationship are worth it.  A high level of trust makes it easier to get through the rough patches.

Pride - The man who owned the Model T took time out of his day to explain to me the nuances of his vehicle.  He showed me the old-fashioned horn, the gears and the antique headlights.  His actions and demeanor spoke for themselves.  Pride in your loved ones comes from patience and mutual respect.  Pride is not buying an expensive ring, it is holding the door; fifty years later.

Takeaway:  There are some cars that are new and flashy that never satisfy an impatient owner for very long.  A luxurious Buick or Cadillac, well-maintained and well-cared for, only gets better with age.

Your family is with you from the time you are an infant until the time you have children or grandchildren of your own.  Treat them them with pride and your investment will last a lifetime.

Model T4

Fortune Magazine’s cover story “The Best Advice I Ever Got” features some great pearls of wisdom for fathers.

The father of Bill Gates, William Gates, has some great wisdom to share about raising his son.  You can read the entire interview here.

As a child, Bill Gates was introduced to a psychologist/psychiatrist who imparted on him the following valuable lesson:

Best advice

There isn’t any benefit to fighting with your parents.  It was all about the issues, the battles were going to be about the real world, and they were really on my side.  And that was fantastic.  It just changed my mindset.  I was only 12 or 13 at the time.  I think it made things a lot smoother from that point on.

Inthon:  Our actions as children and parents should definitely mirror that important concept.  Honestly expressing your love for your child in a way that your child implicitly knows you care about them and that they can trust that you will be on their side in the long run.

Parents can also play a role in articulating that while fights are borne out of a disagreement about what is best for the child, parents should acknowledge that both parties want the exact same outcome

a healthy, successful child.

Obviously… easier said than done.

Bill Gates goes on to mention:

And the thing that people there taught us and emphasized, which is so significant is that you should never demean your child.

Inthon:  We all remember when our parents accidentally or intentionally demean us or put us down.  They can often overshadow great things that they taught us.  As adults, we must be mindful that, no matter what happens, demeaning does not produce positive results.

Lastly, Mohammed El-Erian of PIMCO had good advice on intellectual honesty:

Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close, and you’ll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you’ll never question.

I agree with this principle and I have made it a priority to get my information from radically different and opinionated sources.  It has been invaluable in expanding my worldview.

This issue of Fortune is on the newsstands now and is definitely worth checking out.

Takeaway: Life does not come with an instruction manual.  I have found it beneficial to learn as I go along for roles and duties which I will eventually face… in this case, fatherhood.  Feel free to submit ideas and tips to inthonblog@gmail.com

While watching basketball, I heard a wonderful Gatorade commercial featuring John Wooden reading the poem “The Little Chap Who Follows Me”.  The poem describes the burden a father carries to create a positive impression on his son.

A careful man I must always be;
A little fellow follows me.
I know I dare
not go astray
For fear he’ll go the self same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,
Whate’er he sees me do, he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be;
This little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see;
This little chap who follows me.

I must be careful as I go
Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
Because I am building for the years to be;
This little chap who follows me.

There are countless things my father did to set a positive example.  I can’t count the number of times he could have taken the easy way out, acted carelessly or thoughtlessly.  I can definitely attest that I was the “little chap” who followed him because of his behavior.  He set the bar extremely high, which is why I feel obligated to match it.

Doing the right thing, however small and inconsequential, is not often rewarded or noticed.  It is often the tlittle things  like telling the truth when it’s inconvenient or going above and beyond to increase the comfort of your family that make a big impression on a “little chap”.

To read more about caring for your family, read here.

I often think about raising children and how “I” would do it.

At this stage in my life, I consider myself open-minded and mature enough to form my own reasoned life choices and accept responsibility for them.

While I was thinking of drumming this maturity theme into my future child’s head, it occurred to me that my parents did only some of that, but I still turned out the way I am.

Essentially, if I want my child to turn out exactly like me, should I raise them the exact way my parents raised me?!

Too funny.

I am thankful that this decision on how to raise kids is not weighing on me since I have no plans to start a family anytime soon. In the interim, I find it helpful to volunteer with children (to feel good and improve my communication skills) and remember that instilling a sense of self-ownership is, in my opinion, one of the best things a parent can do.

I’d like to think that a little more self-ownership/discipline from my parents would have helped me mature faster, however, as an adult, I realize they did the best job they could and I’m thankful they got the important stuff right (loving me and openly showing affection).

Thanks again for reading.

To read more about fatherhood, click here.