Every once in a while, I get a blog idea that I save for a later date, and then another one comes up, and I repeat the process.

And then, through some serendipitous process, it dawns on me that I can actually combine them into one post and benefit from some interplay between them.

It doesn’t always work out the way I planned, but I’m willing to give it a shot. 

Why Can’t I Be My Own G1?

The first of the ideas I decided to write about concerns the way that people who work with wealthy and enterprising families like to label their generations.

We always start by talking about the first generation, known as G1, and then their offspring are G2, their grandchildren G3, and so on.

The fact that we all do this makes even the family members become unwitting participants in this game, without thinking about how absurd it can seem to some.

The label of G1 typically gets assigned to the person (or couple) who “started the business”, also known as the founder, the wealth creator, or patriarch/matriarch.

Why This Can Be Sub-Optimal

Of course, these people did not simply fall off a turnip truck. They presumably had parents of their own, for whom they would be G2, and grandparents for whom they were G3.

The way we begin the story can overemphasize the input of G1. Yes, in many cases, even most, the role that person plays is, in fact, outsized and shouldn’t be minimized.

There are plenty of examples, though, where the G1 portion of an enterprise’s existence was a modest success, and it was only in G2 or even G3 that things really took off in terms of success.

Couldn’t those responsible for that restart the labeling process and dub themselves “the real G1”?

“We Want to Be Our Own G1”

I had a call recently from a G2 who explained that he and his wife were interested in “starting our own G1”.

Their family had already done a lot of work on family governance, where G1 and G2 set up structures and traditions to preserve that family legacy.

And, now that they’ve seen that success, this couple is interested in recreating a new start as G1, with their own children, who are currently teenagers, as G2.

What About the Sovereignty?

Let’s switch to the other blog idea now, which came from a session at a recent conference, where a couple of dozen of us were working with and learning about an interesting tool to use in our work with families.

During a debrief towards the end, one of the participants, whose work I’ve admired for a while, said something in a way I’d never heard.

Speaking about some of the challenges of those in G2 or G3 of many wealthy families, he stated, “Some of these people don’t have a lot of sovereignty.” (Thanks, Scott)

Hmmm, sovereignty! What an interesting way to phrase that.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Google to the Rescue

I already had my own meaning of sovereignty in mind, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s see if Mr. Google can shed some light on this.


  •      Supreme power or authority
  •      The authority of a state to govern itself
  •      A self-governing state

These definitions don’t automatically lend themselves to individuals, but there are certainly parallels.

Who enjoys being in situations where you’re unable to “govern yourself”?

When G2 Wants to Reclaim Sovereignty

When the couple called me and stated their wish to be their own G1, it was the first time anyone had approached me like this in the decade I’ve been doing this work.

It was exceptional in the true sense of the word.

It was, though, from my viewpoint, a perfectly natural and healthy way to think about the progress this family is hoping to make as they transition from their G1 to G2, towards their own, new G1 to their G2.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be!) an “either/or” question.

It’s actually a wonderful opportunity to create a “both/and” scenario.

This family branch of G2s will continue to be an active part of that family while also co-creating new realities for their rising generation, who, someday, may wish to begin anew as their own G1.

Wouldn’t that be great!

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