Years ago, a group of administrators and senior faculty at the University of North Texas were involved in a team-building exercise. We were there to discuss various topics and issues affecting the campus. Of course, part of such a get-together always included exercises designed to let other people see who you were when you weren’t wearing your big-wig hat.
One of the breaking-the-ice questions was, “What would you do with the money if you won the lotto?” In case you are wondering why the lotto would be a topic of conversation on the campus of a state institution, you need to know two things.
Not long before this meeting, two Denton residents won millions of dollars. One fellow won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, and the other won the Texas Lotto. One used his money and notoriety to become mayor, and the other bought himself a classic Corvette and a condo in Hawaii.
The third thing you should know about this question was my answer. Okay, you don’t need to know the specific answer. Let’s just say it was supposed to generate a chuckle. The next person to answer gave some deep and touching monologue about the “good” he would do with his winnings.
Whether my colleague was attempting to make me look small or was speaking from the heart, it made me think. It also made me pay attention to what happened to people who unexpectedly came into large sums of money. Winning the lotto is not a blessing unless you only win a few thousand, and it helps pay the bills. Suddenly being known as a millionaire, billionaire, or something has ruined more than a few people’s lives.
That is why I have given this matter some thought. If I were that wealthy or became that wealthy, I have a pretty good idea of what I would do with it. I would draft my oldest daughter, a very successful executive involved in charity work, to set up an organization to use the money for good.
Of course, the question then becomes what would be a good use of the money. My good and your good might not be the same, but there might be an overlap. Whatever the differences, however, you better have a plan should you come into or earn large amounts of money.
I do have one final thought about my involvement. I’d keep just enough money to live out my days shuttling between a South Pacific island where I have friends and somewhere in the mountains.
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