A legendary chief executive officer and philanthropist shared the essence of a letter he found in a safety deposit box following his father’s death.
As Fred Koch’s health declined, he asked his son Charles to come back and run the company or he would have to sell it.
Charles Koch, chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries, a position he has held since his father’s death in 1967, opened up to share the message his father left in a letter dated January 22, 1936.
Fred Koch outlined the approach Charles and his brothers should take when managing the family fortune and also stated they should always be kind and generous to one another.
He explained that giving his sons a large sum of money at the age of 21 could be either a blessing or a curse as it could be a valuable tool or be squandered.
The letter read in part: “You can choose to let the money destroy your initiative and independence then it will be a curse to you and my action in giving this to you will have been a mistake and I know you are not going to let me down.”
The letter also pointed out that adversity is without doubt the most prominent character builder.
Koch said his parents always made their best effort to teach their children values and he was blessed to have them. He said they needed to learn to work hard by the time they reached 30 or they would never be productive.
According to Koch, he was a bit of a trouble maker growing up and his parents passed along their work ethic to their sons from an early age. Early on his lessons started with digging up dandelions, bailing hay and milking cows.
His father impressed on him that he would learn things from working that he could never learn in school.
Today Koch Industries is one of the largest private companies in the world with an estimated worth of $100 billion.
Koch funds and supports philanthropic activities such as research and educational projects and public policies. In 2015, he also released a book “Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies.”
He has earned three degrees including a Bachelor’s Degree as well as two Master’s Degrees in engineering. Koch and his wife have two children and two grandchildren.
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