Billionaire private equity chief David Rubenstein, the cofounder of Carlyle Group, explained on “Wall Street Week” on Sunday how growing up wealthy can put you at a disadvantage.
Here’s a transcript:
“One of the complicating things of life if you’re successful is — ‘What about your children?’
“My wife and I have three children. They have grown up in what you could call an ‘advantaged’ upbringing. I grew up in what could’ve been called a ‘disadvantaged’ upbringing. But actually, in hindsight, it was extremely advantaged. Because if you have the unconditional love of two parents and they let you try to do whatever you want to do, you don’t need money to be successful.
“When you grow up in a wealthy family, it’s much much harder to feel that what you’ve achieved is on your own. And it’s much much harder for people to think that what you’ve achieved is on your own. So my children have a bit of a disadvantage — yes, they have money and they have a good education and so forth — but they have to achieve things on their own. And it’s a much harder thing for them to do that. And so I try to let them succeed on their own. But it’s very difficult for a parent to want to just say to their child, ‘Do what you can and I’m not going to help you.’ Because you want to help your child, but you want the child to be independent and strong enough so they can achieve on their own.”
Rubeinstein, 65, grew up in what he described as a “blue-collar environment” in Baltimore.
His father was a post office worker and his mum was a house wife. Neither of his parents graduated from high school.
Rubenstein worked hard in school so he could earn a college scholarship. After college, he attended law school.
Before launching Carlyle at age 37, Rubenstein worked in a corporate law office and then for the US government as a domestic policy advisor. Today, he co-runs one of the world’s largest and most successful private equity funds. He now has an estimated net worth of $US2.9 billion.
On the show, he noted that his parents wanted him to do whatever would make him happy.
Rubenstein explained that for most people they only legacy they will leave is their children. As a parent, he explained, you want to make sure your kids are a “great legacy,” meaning you want them to be happy and do something productive in life. Part of that requires giving your children unconditional love. That’s the real key for creating success.
“Warren Buffett said to me once he had the advantage of having two parents who gave him unconditional love, and that is what he thought was the most important thing that made him successful,” Rubenstein said.