In 2018, we commissioned the creation of a family mark to represent ourselves, individually and collectively, and our various family enterprises. We wanted to develop a mark that would be associated with the quality we bring to our life’s work.
Conveniently, the plum blossom has five petals which form a five-pointed star, a traditional sign of excellence and an ethos that is important to us as a family. Years before we had read Complete Family Wealth and come to agree with its five forms of family wealth (human, intellectual, social, spiritual and financial) we had articulated a similar multi-faceted understanding of the wealth of our family, contained within the petal rings as health, knowledge, skills, wealth (financial) and wisdom. We believe these approaches are closely aligned in spirit and principle and consider them both as valid interpretations of the meaning of our mark.
When developing our mark we also gave thought to the guiding spirit of our family as an enterprise, both in terms of how we wanted to encourage and motivate our action internally, as well as the values we wanted to live impressionistically in wider society. We settled on the following watch words, which not only provide a standard of internal governance for the family but represent something aspirational we hope to inspire an appreciation of in others:
Per Actio Valorem
Translated literally, “By action, value.” For our purposes, it might be more charitable to read it as “Action demonstrates value.” These words came to our patriarch through the work of social philosopher Ludwig von Mises’s magnum opus, Human Action, in which the genius poured forth an entire treatise on economic theory from the simple observation, “Man acts.”
We consider this motto both a challenge — are we hypocrites, or do our actions remain consistent with our stated values? — and an important observation about how members of society interact with one another with integrity. Whatever a person says is true or false about themselves can always, and only, be tested by what they actually do about these claimed values. Speeches don’t pay rent, but action sometimes does.
We did not study Latin in our youth and admit it’s a dead language as far as the modern world is concerned. But as a cultural foundation its influence lives on and in many ways this ghost of the past haunts us all the more deeply in the present and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.