Meet Thayer Willis

Internationally acclaimed author, educator, speaker and wealth counselor

Thayer Cheatham Willis is a leading authority in the area of wealth counseling. Born into the founding family of the multinational Georgia-Pacific Corporation, she brings to her field a unique insider’s perspective on contending with family dynamics as they relate to the mental and emotional challenges of wealth.

 

Thayer holds an MA from the University of Oregon and an MSW from Portland State University. While completing her second master’s degree, she designed and conducted research studies that explored the psychological problems associated with wealth. A licensed clinical social worker, LCSW, since 1992, she has authored two books, and her writing has appeared in Worth Magazine, Forbes Magazine and many other publications. As a prominent voice in her field, she has been interviewed for top financial publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Business Journal, and Time Magazine.

 

Since 1990 she has helped a global client base of over 10,000 inheritors—via individual counseling, family meetings, group retreats and presentations—resolve wealth-related family conflicts and live more meaningful lives.

Thayer's Books

Full of inspiration and advice, Thayer’s books offer readers an opportunity for private, self-paced reflection on common challenges associated with wealth and time-tested strategies to meet them well.

Beyond Gold is a paperbound workbook containing practical exercises designed to help readers apply the concepts presented in Thayer’s first book, Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth. Issues about inheritance are woven into each chapter, and the book addresses specific questions that many inheritors face.

A printable PDF of the exercises, activities and figures from Beyond Gold is available for situations when free-standing worksheets would be beneficial.

How to Use This Book

For Individuals and Families:


How to Use Beyond Gold for your Own Family
I wrote Beyond Gold to be an interactive workbook, helping clients identify and clarify their values, thought processes, and priorities. This naturally leads to better action planning. Now, I would like to share with you my suggestions on how best to utilize this workbook to ensure maximum effectiveness, deep thought, and rich dialogue for those participating in the learning experience of the book. I framed the book to be effective without my presence or active involvement. Unlike other workbooks, mine contains a bit more text, with the written and spoken exercises all designed to personalize the concepts and to make them more meaningful to the reader. I recommend taking your nuclear or extended family through the book one chapter at a time. All of the chapters except the first have exercises in them. So, assign a chapter or group of chapters, bring your family together again, and now you are ready to help family members build on what they have learned in the book. One important note: people will self-select into Chapter 8 or 9 depending on whether they are married or not. This will be a straightforward distinction for them to make, of course, but there is no need for anyone to work through both chapters, as the first one addresses dating and the next is “after the honeymoon.” Sometimes the motivation to work through a book like this is a crisis, or pain that has increased to a point that a family member is not willing to live with anymore. For these readers it is workable to just cherry pick what is needed from the book. This is especially useful if a family member has a specific kind of crisis on their hands. Help them go straight to the part of the book that addresses their challenge. For instance, a young adult may have a friendship crisis, which brings up the challenges of unequal wealth. Go straight to Chapter 7, which is about this, and start there. The rest can wait until later. It is a book that a reader can jump into anywhere and work around in, following their interests. The chapters and exercises in the book cover all of the major territory of the psychology of wealth. By mapping this territory out in chapters with exercises to support all of the education in the book, Beyond Gold is a ready-made tool for you to use to add dimension to financial literacy in your own family. For instance, Exercise 4.3 “Financial Values You Caught” is a short worksheet designed to help the reader identify how their financial attitudes and behaviors have developed, and how these are working in their lives now. Once completed, for another step of learning, it is a great springboard for discussion. Another exercise, which appears at the ends of chapters, is a gratitude practice. This exercise helps each reader reflect on the gratitude they have in the area of the chapter content, progressively oneself, one’s parents, siblings, extended family, and more. The real value of this exercise is the repetition of it and the experience of cultivating a gratitude practice. A key bookend exercise is the Wealth Attitude Assessment. It appears at the very beginning of the book and is the first exercise readers will encounter. “Wealth Attitudes” are recognizable to all of us, but hardly anyone ever talks about them. This exercise is a self-assessment, and presents statements such as: “I have not yet taken charge of my life or of my wealth” and “I’m afraid to ask for help for fear of embarrassing my family.” People know the attitudes they have about these subjects, and can use the rating scale to define how true the statements are for them. A scoring chart follows the exercise, so that readers can see how to interpret their “wealth attitude” as they begin their journeys through the book. The same Wealth Attitude Assessment appears at the end of the book. It is the last exercise in the last chapter of the book. After working through the entire book, the reader’s score will inevitably come down (this is positive), and it is an effective means of showing the development of healthier attitudes about wealth. Seeing this tangible evidence of one’s own personal growth encourages everyone. They will associate you with their success, and this is affirming for you too. Group Dialogue and Sharing throughout the Workbook:
On the exercises that call for more private introspection, I often invite participants to discuss their answers in pairs. After which, I bring everyone together for a group discussion and simply ask for anyone to volunteer something they learned. I don’t ever put anyone on the spot or go around the room and have everyone say something. The volunteer response approach is more respectful. Some people learn very well in these kinds of written and spoken exercises. Most people benefit by interacting with others on these topics, which are rarely spoken of in other contexts, and really learn a lot from others’ experiences. Working through this book together as a family adds great depth and dimension to family meetings. It is an opportunity for you to give your family the gift of basic financial literacy, awareness and maturity.




For Professional Advisors:


How to Use Beyond Gold for your Client Families
I wrote Beyond Gold to be an interactive workbook, helping clients identify and clarify their values, thought processes, and priorities. This naturally leads to better action planning. Now, I would like to share with you my suggestions on how best to utilize this workbook to ensure maximum effectiveness, deep thought, and rich dialogue for those participating in the learning experience of the book. Unlike other workbooks, mine contains a bit more text, with the written and spoken exercises all designed to personalize the concepts and to make them more meaningful to the reader. I recommend taking your family or group through the book one chapter at a time. All of the chapters except the first have exercises in them. So, assign a chapter or group of chapters, bring your family together again, and now you are ready to help family members build on what they have learned in the book. One important note: people will self-select into Chapter 8 or 9 depending on whether they are married or not. This will be a straightforward distinction for them to make, of course, but there is no need for anyone to work through both chapters, as the first one addresses dating and the next is “after the honeymoon.” Sometimes the motivation to work through a book like this is a crisis, or pain that has increased to a point that a family member is not willing to live with anymore. For these readers it is workable to just cherry pick what is needed from the book. This is especially useful if a family member has a specific kind of crisis on their hands. Help them go straight to the part of the book that addresses their challenge. For instance, a young adult may have a friendship crisis, which brings up the challenges of unequal wealth. Go straight to Chapter 7, which is about this, and start there. The rest can wait until later. It is a book that a reader can jump into anywhere and work around in, following their interests. The chapters and exercises in the book cover all of the major territory of the psychology of wealth. By mapping this territory out in chapters with exercises to support all of the education in the book, Beyond Gold is a ready-made tool for the professional to use to add dimension to financial literacy in client families. For instance, Exercise 4.3 “Financial Values You Caught” is a short worksheet designed to help the reader identify how their financial attitudes and behaviors have developed, and how these are working in their lives now. Once completed, for another step of learning, it is a great springboard for discussion. Another exercise, which appears at the ends of chapters, is a gratitude practice. This exercise helps each reader reflect on the gratitude they have in the area of the chapter content, progressively oneself, one’s parents, siblings, extended family, and more. The real value of this exercise is the repetition of it and the experience of cultivating a gratitude practice. A key bookend exercise is the Wealth Attitude Assessment. It appears at the very beginning of the book and is the first exercise readers will encounter. “Wealth Attitudes” are recognizable to all of us, but hardly anyone ever talks about them. This exercise is a self-assessment, and presents statements such as: “I have not yet taken charge of my life or of my wealth” and “I know that just about anyone would say that I have plenty of wealth, but I have trouble achieving a healthy perspective on this.” People know the attitudes they have about these subjects, and can use the rating scale to define how true the statements are for them. A scoring chart follows the exercise, so that readers can see how to interpret their “wealth attitude” as they begin their journeys through the book. The same Wealth Attitude Assessment appears at the end of the book. It is the last exercise in the last chapter of the book. After working through the entire book, the reader’s score will inevitably come down (this is positive), and it is an effective means of showing the development of healthier attitudes about wealth. Seeing this tangible evidence of one’s own personal growth encourages everyone. They will associate you with their success, and this is affirming for you too. Group Dialogue and Sharing throughout the Workbook:
On the exercises that call for more private introspection, I often invite participants to discuss their answers in pairs. After which, I bring everyone together for a large group discussion and simply ask for anyone to volunteer something they learned. I don’t ever put anyone on the spot or go around the room and have everyone say something. The volunteer response approach is more respectful. Some people learn very well in these kinds of written and spoken exercises. Most people benefit by interacting with others on these topics, which are rarely spoken of in other contexts, and really learn a lot from others’ experiences. Working through this book adds great depth and dimension to family meetings. It is an opportunity for you to give your client families the gift of basic financial literacy, awareness and maturity.




Order the Exercise Workbook


A PDF workbook of exercises, activities and figures from Beyond Gold is available for purchase here. These are the same excersises that are included in the book. The only difference is that here each entry is designed to be a free-standing worksheet. Each new exercise, activity and figure begins at the top of its own page, and is printer friendly. You are welcome to print the worksheet(s) you wish and distribute to whomever you wish, as long as you keep the attribution intact. Clicking the link above will take you to a secure site to complete the order process. After completing the order process you will be provided with a link via email to download the PDF file.





Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors

In Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth, Thayer dismantles the popular assumption that money buys happiness. The sobering reality is that financial wealth can be detrimental to one’s mental, moral, and emotional well-being. Thayer offers guidance for inheritors seeking balanced and fulfilling identities and relationships. Wealth can be a tremendous asset: the irony is that making it an asset that enhances your life requires focused, ongoing work.

Connect with Thayer

Email: info@thayerwillis.com

Phone: 503-939-8084

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© 2020 by Thayer Willis