Family Office Insights #1: Giving

David Siegel
6 min readDec 7, 2020

This is the first in a series of short pieces for Family Office Insights. If you are part of a family office that hasn’t joined, I hope you will subscribe to their newsletter.

The lack of money is the root of all evil.

— Mark Twain

My name is David Siegel. I’m a lifetime serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, New York, and Europe. I’ve started more than a dozen companies, written five books, given hundreds of speeches about technology and business, and among other things I was a candidate to be the dean of Stanford business school. I am research and evidence-based. For those interested in a deep dive, I have uploaded my epistemology to

2020 has been an absolute nightmare of a year for almost everyone except wealthy families, who have seen dramatic increases in their net worth. I have written about their Covid Dividend — many families have come into unusually large gains this year they hadn’t planned on before. Now I want to give some concrete examples of how they can think differently about giving this year.

The Platinum Rule

I once visited some WaterAid people in Kampala, Uganda. We toured a neighborhood where they had installed toilets, sinks, a sewer line, and soap. I asked to speak with the residents alone, without the WaterAid people (many people in Kampala speak very good English, as it was a former British colony). The residents told me they don’t need toilets, they need jobs. If they had jobs, they could easily get toilets and much more. Without income, people will just take the soap (and the toilets!) and try to sell them.

Research on gift-giving shows that it’s very difficult to give exactly the right gift, but there is a solution. Tyler and Alex break it down:

I think there are a few versions of the platinum rule, but mine is:

Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

David Siegel

Provocateur, professional heretic, slayer of myths, speaker of truthiness to powerfulness, and defender of the Oxford comma.