An Open Letter to the Next Generation Heir

By Prof. Enrique Soriano 

Dear Son,

We thank you for writing to mama and me. We have prepared this letter in the hope that you will be enlightened about the roles that you play both as our son and as a professional executive working in the family business.

Many of the issues you raised relate to our business relationship. In this letter, we will address most of your concerns as your employer. However, to provide context, we are sharing with you our struggles in the first part of this letter. Mama and I want you to appreciate the core values that put us to where we are today. The insights we have articulated are with the intention of reciprocating the openness you shared with us. We hope you will take the feedback we give from the right perspective. Our goal is only to be honest and fair with the intention of making you appreciate the distinction of being our son and our employee and, more critically, help improve and open our communication lines moving forward.

We write to you as your parents and your employer and acknowledge that it can be difficult to manage relationships in a family business context given the different roles we play and the confusion it at times creates without clear boundaries between these roles. So, for the sake of transparency, we want to make it clear that as your parents, we love you unconditionally and would want nothing but your happiness in your life in whatever aspirations you pursue. We have always supported you and always will.

On the other hand, we are sad to hear you do not feel recognized for your efforts after working in the family business for many years. There is nothing we want more than for you to be successful. As parents, we have done our best to help set you up for success. We enrolled you in the best schools and provided you with valuable management training experience at a young age that ordinary people can only dream of. We have provided you with financial support, including a house immediately after you got married. In short, we were there every step of the way on your life journey. Our hope as parents has been for you to capitalize on all the support we have provided throughout your life and use it as leverage to get ahead. The support we gave you as parents were meant to make your life comfortable. It is an advantage we never had as we struggled for many years to get to where we are now.

Your grandparents never gave us any material support except to instill the value of hard work and protect our family reputation at all costs. Personally, the two values they imparted are more important than anything in this world because when we set up our family business many decades ago with a meager start-up capital, we really worked so hard every single day just to put food on our table. If we didn’t work, we knew there was nothing to expect and we would go hungry the next day. During my teenage years, I still recall your grandfather yelling at me on numerous occasions if he caught me still at the house past 6 a.m. I struggled and resented it for months, but in the end, I realized that he was trying to demonstrate and connect the value of waking up early and hard work.

Son, you are aware that mama and I started with nothing but with God’s grace, we have something now that we can provide for you and your siblings. However, we can only give you the tools; the rest is up to you to set your own goals in life and work towards them, whether to save for the future, invest in growing your wealth, or even set aside for the future of your own children.

To be continued…

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