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When I was a kid, I would lay around dreaming about being rich. But I quickly realized that unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you’d have to get up and get to work to make it happen.

But as hard as I worked and got fired and worked and got fired and finally hit my stride and became the Fly Jock with two number one radio shows at same time in Dallas and Chicago, I still wasn’t what you’d call wealthy. Well, let me put it this way. I wasn’t what rich people would call wealthy.

I was just a hard -working man making a good living to support my family. People assume that I passed wealth down to my sons. But they’re wrong. If I passed anything down to them, it was their big heads and their work ethic. They witnessed me grinding morning, noon and night to make this radio thing happen.

By the time I started to see some really big money after the Tom Joyner Morning Show was syndicated and on the air in several markets, both my boys were in college. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine them not just becoming part of the business, but running it. But that’s exactly what happened.

My son Oscar earned his MBA from Florida A&M. My son Thomas got his International Business degree from Howard University. They brought their corporate knowledge and passion for HBCUs right on time for us to form Reach Media Inc., and the Tom Joyner Foundation.

When the boys came on board, the technology, the industry and everything else was changing. Not only did I not own a computer or a laptop when was created, when I did get one, I couldn’t find the space bar. Oscar helped me grow from Tom Joyner the DJ to Tom Joyner the brand, and Thomas took my vision for giving back to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to another level.

I say all this to point out a new template for generational wealth where the parent benefits from the child who signs his dad’s check. I like it. If you have children, you know there’s nothing like the moment when they know more than you do…and they KNOW they know more than you do. If you’re smart, you’ll get out of their way and let them do their thing.

So many children either experience success long after their parents have passed on or they aren’t allowed to have decision-making roles until their parents are no longer in the picture.

Unlike my mentor, John H. Johnson, who built a great company and then handed down to his daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, the three of us built our company together, and my Oscar signs my check rather than the other way around.

I’d love to say that I sat in my easy chair one day and devised this whole scheme, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Maybe it’s because every generation wants to do better than their predecessors. Or maybe it was because for years my kids saw me go to work in shorts, flip-flops and a baseball cap and they wanted to take the reins and recreate what I had already started.

However it happened, I hope the entrepreneurial spirit sticks around long enough for my grandkids, the Fly Babies, to become their dads’ bosses after they graduate… from an HBCU, of course!

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AHOY! The Star Studded 2015 Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage presented by Ford
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8 thoughts on “All In The Family: Spreading Wealth Across Generations

  1. Kermiath on said:

    Great story!! Definitely, a positive way to begin the morning. I believe as a culture and as a society as an whole could benefit from the lessons shared in this article. The encouragement from a parent(s) is so beneficial and detrimental to a child future endeavors. I commend (Tom Joyner) you on taking the high road of allowing your children to blossom; instead of feeling threaten and putting road blocks in their paths. How can youth grow if no one enable an opportunity to do so? Great Stuff!

  2. seriously on said:

    It is shame that only 4 people posted on this blog…If the topic was reality show, whose light or dark, who screwing who…There would be many posts. When this is the one that is most important, family, education, passing of torch, and making sure each generation is more educated and prosperous than the last…And most who post of this site has nothing to say….Well their lies the real problem that trumps racism…self!

  3. seriously on said:

    Exactly Tom, your children is suppose to out run you in success and education. I was lucky to come from such a familiy of doctors, dentists and business owners background…My family was earning degree in the 1890’s, whereas each generation lifted the next generation up. I come from an lineage of women who knew their wealth and worth was between their ears and we do not backstab one another or others to achieve our success. However, my children will inherit that legacy as an obligation and debt to all of my ancestors that was denied and crucified by whites and blacks for daring to live an educated and successful life…When they learn that, they will inherit my wealth, knowledge and wisdom as well. Because I do not want to hear, what you cannot do…My family was denied, harassed and falsely accused to stop them…and in the end they landed on top with nothing to defend themselves but courage and grit. And we did it without stepping on the backs or back stabbing another black people.

    Something a lot of black folks today do not get. Strong minded people do not need mentors and role models. Gangs are cowards and nothing is more vicious and dangerous than cowards, they usually dispense the worst cruelty. Single mother living in poverty is a bad choice which comes with bad consequences for them and their children. 80% will remain in poverty and we come from a race that cannot make too many bad choices, we cannot afford to be uneducated and ignorant. We are born into racism and we will probably die into racism, but in between in our choice and path we choose we have that. President Obama has been openly attacked mainly for being black, yet he won two elections inspite of racism. So black folks need to know that can talk about you, attack you etc….But they cannot stop you! All your need is courage and grit to make it happen for yourself. That is the example our children need more than anything.

  4. Deborah on said:

    Thank you Tom for saying this. Succession planning is happening between my son and his father right now…what a tremendous blessing ! Thank you Lord !!!

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