I am up in Maine on vacation. This community is the summer home of famous entrepreneurs such as the Rockefellers and the Fords. Many of the Forbes 400 families of English descent have a presence up here. The clubs are rustic with classy old showers and wood splinters that scrape your feet to make you tough. Successful members greet you and they are friendly and nice. It takes at least ten years to become a member of a prestigious club. The homes are built into the hills overlooking the harbor and they are beautiful with Maine's subtle elegance and simplicity. One of the most beautiful mountains is Acadia and I hike it every year, the last week of August when there is no place in the world as beautiful as Maine.
Families are raised to know the value of a dollar and the value of their lineage. Many come in June and stay until October, then journey down to another exclusive community in Florida, such as Jupiter Island. In both communities, the men are gracious and fit and successful, the children low-key and talented, and the women beautiful and smart. Everyone knows each other and I often think of what secrets are kept with the same people who have been going to the same parties for 60 years! How many books, plays, movies and businesses have been started in these communities? -- thousands, I would think.
What I am struck by is how productive these communities are. Inherited wealth is sometimes lazy and undriven, but most of the time it is the opposite -- productive and driven. Essentially the one core skill each family has is to manage and protect money.
I am a novelty, as I have only been coming for 14 years. It gives everyone something to talk about, especially as I am not in investment banking. There are a lot of cocktail parties. You are either a professional cocktail party person or world class at dinner parties. It is hard to be nationally rated at both and pretty much you must specialize to be competitive. Different skills are required. With cocktails the craft is well documented and standards set; arrive on time and stay the given two hours, especially if you have not been invited to a dinner party. At these parties I have learned the etiquette of moving your eyes quietly around the room while never appearing too anxious or too relaxed.
These Maine cottages have incredible private libraries. Right now I am reading the first edition of Edith Wharton's The Mill on the Floss. Many here are of English descent and know their Victorian and Gothic literature well. You have to be up on Jane Austen and on the ball with the Bronte sisters.
The routine is like this: a hike, two sets of tennis with the heirs of the great robber barons, then hopefully escape for a nap before cocktails and dinner. It seems I am the only one here from Flint, Michigan's, Zimmerman Junior High --- not Groton, Exeter or Lawrenceville.
Unless otherwise told, I assume everyone is in banking or the investment world, and I have never gone wrong by beginning a conversation with: "And what bank are you with?" With a smile, I end every conversation with: " We are going to have a great year in the market!"
It is a go-go-go vacation. Always early to bed so we are ready for the next day of fun in Maine.