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Intellectual capital, being the second most important, serves as a method to hand down intangible information to your descendants. It is the collective intellectual resources of your family in the form of knowledge, secrets, skills, and talents.
Before I go on, if you haven’t you should read the mega post on generational wealth. And if you want to know about the most important type of capital, you can read up on Human Capital by clicking that link.
On the knowledge side, there are two types of intelligence. First there’s crystallized intelligence, that is a mental database of known facts and concepts, like understanding how a rainbow is formed. A then there’s fluid intelligence, which is putting known facts and concepts together in new and interesting ways. Like figuring out how to configure a sprinkler to form a rainbow.
Intellectual capital also includes secrets your family may have. This doesn’t mean ‘dark secrets’. The term ‘secrets’ implies concepts about particular things that your family knows that are probably better kept within the ranks. Esoteric knowledge.
For example, imagine your family owns a vending business, and has intimate knowledge of which machines are best suited to what locations. Or better yet, a series of Laundromats and Uncle Jimmy knows how to configure a special valve that reduces water consumption by 20%.
This would give your family’s business a competitive edge in the market. There’s no real reason to let this spill to the greater populace and having your family lose this competitive edge.
To state the obvious, skills are the ability to do something well. Like grandpa being able to repair furniture, or Mom repairing clothes, or Uncle Jimmy being a great fisherman.
There’s too many to list off, but the idea is that these skills, collaboratively, can be shared and taught among members for a collective benefit. Maybe your brother is a builder and can help you, a plumber, refurbish the kitchen in the Family Sanctuary.
This would add tens of thousands of dollars of value to the family assets, without any of the expensive charges that come along with a typical new kitchen.
Mom repairing all of those clothes saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars that would have otherwise been spent on new ones or having them fixed. This money is invested and now provides a greater return for the family over the long term.
Talents include great athletes, talented mathematicians, powerful writers and so on. And these talents can be built upon to form careers and businesses out of, can be used to tutor other members of the family, or just as ambitious pastimes.
Knowledge is Power
So why do you want to build Intellectual capital? It’s been said before: Knowledge is power. The more knowledge, that is to say, intellectual capital you and your family build, the more powerful and resilient you and yours will become.
In the days of old, intellectual capital was the way wealth was handed down from one generation to the next. A commoner that was a blacksmith had a means of generating wealth for himself and his family, and when he taught his son the same, then he was giving his son the same capability.
In a more modern sense, a father who’s an electrician can teach his children to do the same. It’s what my father did for me, and it opened the opportunity to build the modicum of wealth I have today.
The transmission of knowledge is the core component of The Family Business model of generational wealth accumulation.
Cultural Intellectual Capital
Intellectual capital plays a large role in family culture as well. Like the annual fishing trip the family takes each year, going to that special fishing spot on the family boat that the family expert fisherman, Uncle Jimmy found. Or keeping up the decades-old tradition of meeting at a beach camping ground every summer for a week of bonding.
Culture plays one of the most important roles in building generational wealth. It’s the family culture that keeps a family together and working as a whole. Intellectual capital contains the means to keep intact your family culture and the memories and stories that go along with it. Think of cultural intellectual capital as the recipes, the stories, the locations and intimacies that go into forming your culture. While the end result of the actual culture and the connection your family has as fitting under the human capital category.
Don’t Lose It!
It’s important these things aren’t lost, that would mean the first step to the dissolution of a family. Only your descendants will tell the story of the time you and Uncle Jimmy caught that shark that was 10 feet long and Ol’ Jimmy had to wrestle it back into the sea.
A lot of intellectual concepts shared among family can create memories to bond over as well. Grandmas special shortbread recipe everybody eats around Christmas time leaves you with a taste that reminds you of great times both behind you and ahead. Or that homebrewed ginger beer with that distinctive kick that only Uncle Jimmy knows how to do just right…(God I love that guy).
By sharing these, you will ensure that traditions and characteristics distinctive to your family aren’t lost to the passage of time.
There are other sapient creatures in the world. It’s only our ability to compare ourselves to a conceptualized ideal standard that separates us from the beasts.
Intellectual capital opens greater opportunities for the next generation to improve upon the foundation the former generation has laid out for them. Founding Fathers and Mothers that didn’t have a great deal of education, can work hard, study as much about money management as possible, send their children to college or help them start a business and break the poverty cycle or kick their family up a notch in the wealth ladder.
To build intellectual capital obviously takes study, and seeking out teachers to learn concepts from. Not only this but it takes nurturing your human capital to foster a sense of curiosity. Dynasty members tend to be lifelong learners.
An attitude tailored towards learning long term keeps one’s mind sharp and makes your wiser with age. Being accepting of corrections and keeping an open mind is a must.
It all begins with you. You reading this far probably means you intend to build a legacy family in some form or another. That means you are the Founding Father or Mother. You’ll need to work harder than anybody else before you and sharpen your skills in any and every area possible.
One of the top things on this list is becoming a peaceful, philosophical parent so you can raise calibrated kids. That is kids that have been raised in such a way that they have the opportunity to become the best they can possibly be. Understanding child psychology, proper responses, nutrition, epigenetics, and home management is a must in this pursuit.
Don’t parent how you were parented. You need to be intentional, philosophical and learned. We have more access now than ever to research and mentally digestible resources for all stages of parenting. Don’t just learn one concept either. Learn them all.
I have a few affiliate links below for resources you need to check out:
Passing what you learn and know onto your children, and encouraging them to learn everything that is even of passing interest to them will ensure your intellectual capital can only ever grow.
Taking stock of what your family members skills and talents are will also help.
Maybe your daughter has a knack for spotting improvements in real estate, or spotting market trends in products. Perhaps your son shows an affinity for writing? Great!
Your family will be able to capitalize on this over the long term and your daughter and son will be able to form careers and businesses out of their skills and talents. These may even form the fundamentals that will lead to the creation of Family Assets later in life.
Sharing is Caring
On top of all of this, a willingness to share crystallized intelligence with other family members will ensure facts are disseminated among the family. This is doubly true when it comes to the secrets element. Running the family Laundromat business will be a lot harder if Uncle Jimmy takes his valve connection secret to his grave.
So I really hope you learned something here and want to go out there and build your intellectual capital. Just by reading this post, you are a little smarter and a little better than you were a few short minutes ago.
How are you going to be proactive, and not reactive in building your intellectual capital? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, It means to world to me and my family.