A Goal of Hard Work Created The Family’s Estate

Home and money image, estate planningAn Italian immigrant I know came to this country at a very young age with a grade school education and aspirations of a better life for himself and his family. Those aspirations brought him to work with what he knew – real estate. To him, land meant wealth that could never be taken away. He did not need a college education to develop real estate. He knew with good tenants there would be good cash flow. His immediate goal was survival coupled with those America stands for (land of the free, home of the brave and a place where hard work can bring tangible, financial rewards).

He started his family in a traditional marriage and raised hardworking children. (It is interesting to note he never viewed a good college education as a key value for his family; he valued hard work. It was fine if his children were educated, but that was not a goal). His initial goals were a strong family and wealth through hard work and entrepreneurism in real estate.

As time and life went on, his net worth increased and the course became tougher and the goals increased. He instinctively followed the message of IBM founder, Tom Watson who said, “I’m no genius, but I’m smart in spots, and I stay around those spots.” He stuck to his mission and did not enter into new lines of businesses for three decades. As he became successful, he bought more real estate and more real estate and more real estate. He involved his children in the real estate business at very young ages – discussing it with their parents at the dinner table, piling into the car after dinner and driving through the small city looking at what was for sale, how each piece was valued, where the trends were, what was successful, what was not successful. If the father saw a property that he thought was a “catch”, he would call the owner and make an offer – whether or not the property was formally for sale. His now adult son told me that the habit of driving around for a few hours every night is still ingrained in him, and no matter where he and his family travel, they still do an ongoing analysis of the real estate.

The patriarch reached the point where he owned most of the town and employed many of the citizens in construction and real estate management. To him their families were as important as his own. He valued hard work and loyalty, helping his workers out in difficult personal times or illness.

His goal of coming from Italy to America to raise a family and achieve success was surpassed in the first ten years; yet he never stopped raising the bar, achieving new goals and setting new standards. He remained on the cutting edge of real estate development and his goal grew into revitalizing and shaping the city in which he lived. He wanted its people employed, and he wanted the city to be a magnet for those from other towns to come and shop and dine. His business broadened from acquiring apartment houses and office buildings to starting restaurants and stores.

His children and grandchildren (and most of their spouses) are all employed at some level in the family enterprise since, in addition to his entrepreneurial aspirations, a central value was a tight knit family with a sense of safety. His goal became to use the enterprise he’d built as a safety net for his family, his employees and his community – yet to continue to instill hard work. No one individual (including his family members) would ever become independently wealthy from the enterprise. It is held in a dynasty trust and will continue to support his goals long past his time on this earth.

Although he did not set off with a specific end goal in mind, he knew his compass was set to true north. He used that as a guide and kept course through the obstacles life threw him. His business and family were sustained because of his focus and persistence on his chosen direction. His story is one that shows that although it may be important to know what your long-term goals are – write them down and adjust them and you go – the goals that emanate from true north are instinctual. With focus and perseverance they endure. I am confident every member of his family and his extended family understands that his values are what they have accomplished and what matter to them.


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at Amazon.com. To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit, http://www.patriciaannino.com.

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