Do you have FISH in Your Wallet?

No, I am not talking about a Dr. Seuss story.  FISH is an acronym for:

·         Financial

·         Intellectual

·         Social

·         Human

·         [Enterprise]


Photo credit:

Everyone strives for balance in their lives.  Managing family, personal time, work and growing professionally are all part of what makes up the wealth in our “wallet”.  That envelop that we store that which makes us, well, us…

For those who are part of a Family Enterprise (businesses, property, heirlooms, investments and other assets, etc), your Enterprise is also part of this wallet.

The more full these different pockets of your wallet are, the more resilient to the up’s and down’s of life (personal and business) you will be.

Financial seems obvious – it is the wealth that you are generating, managing, growing or perhaps spending down.  The not obvious part are the money messages that you are transmitting around your finances to others in your circles of influence.  These money messages are shaped by how you were raised, what you have encountered over your life and your personal values.  These messages can add to, or deplete the financial pocket of your wallet.


Intellectual – This is your formal and informal education.  For some, formal credentials hold more weight than informal ones.  Within a family business or enterprise there might be policies around the level of education and/or work experience you must have in order to join the family firm or move up the management and ownership ranks.


Social - This is how you are connected to community which includes your close network and your affiliate network.  Early on in your career these ties might be more valuable than the expertise and experience you bring to the table.  As you grow your business, your family connections within community might shift and ideally gain strength.  This is what I call your social capital.  It is the wealth of people you can draw upon when you need that support.


Human - This your inner balance.  What skills and tools do you have to manage stress and express empathy towards others who are in need.  The more at peace you are with yourself, the healthier you will be overall.  Shonda Rhimes, Executive Producer of Grey’s Anatomy in her book The Year of Yes explains it as (and I am paraphrasing), “If I don’t take care of myself then there will be no-one there to lay down the tracks for the Grey’s Anatomy cast and crew to follow.  It is my responsibility to make sure we are all moving down the tracks, and if I am not at my best, then the rest of my cast and crew can’t be at their best and the train will fall off the tracks.”  This is also your physical health - how are you maintaining self-care?  What are you doing to make time to recharge your own personal batteries?


Jay Hughes has put together a Family Balance Sheet that shows the liabilities when your FISH are depleted.  I have attached a PDF of this document to this blog.  

How do you use a FISH Wallet?

  • You treat your FISH like you would any bank accounted EXCEPT that this bank account is not formally chartered and therefore it is not regulated.  

    • In order to manage this, having a family council/board of directors that require attendance.

      • In the Hughes Family everyone who is over 21 has a vote, and everyone who is over 16 must attend the meetings.

      • There is a chairperson for the meetings who has a deciding vote/tie-breaker

    • There is a role for an advisory team

      • Non-family members

      • Experts in different fields

  • Family members can access the FINANCIAL side of the Family Bank through a formal process of applying for funding and/or financing

    • Funds are deposited typically by the founder/matriarch/patriarch

    • There are policies about how others can deposit funds into this account

  • The Social, Intellectual, and Human accounts are all equally contributed to through the different family members

    • The family, as a unit, invests in these accounts and sets the parameters as to how those assets are drawn upon

    • These “soft” accounts, when in balance, make the financial account strong

This spring, as part of your spring cleaning, perhaps you can also use this time to think about what is making up the different pockets of your wallet.