Being a father is the hardest job in the world, and you never really know how you’ve done until your children are grown. Carlos Heredia was a successful businessman, but he felt that, as a father, he had failed miserably.
His oldest son, Camilo, was a quiet, hardworking man, but his youngest, Gerardo, was wasteful, inconsiderate and selfish. Carlos often wondered where he had gone wrong with him and what he could do now to correct it.
As a first step in his campaign to make Gerardo a hardworking, responsible man, Carlos got his 26-year-old son his first job in his company’s mailroom. Gerardo looked around and then looked at his father in amazement.
“What do you want me to do here?” he asked.
“You’ll separate the mail and deliver it to the people it was sent to,” Carlos explained to him. “And you’ll start at 9:00 sharp.”
Gerardo looked confused.
“At 9:00? But that’s impossible! My personal trainer arrives at 10:00 and after lunch I have tennis…” he commented. “This won’t work for me, Dad!”.
“Of course it will work!” said Carlos firmly. “I’m the one paying for the personal trainer and the lunches and the tennis pro, and I won’t pay anymore. You’ll have plenty of free time from now on.”
Gerardo was furious, but his father was very determined. After a week in the mailroom, Gerardo stormed into his office, shoved his secretary and didn’t even knock on the door.
“I’ve had enough!” he shouted, waving his weekly paycheck. “All this week I worked like a slave and this is the miserable pay?”.
Carlos calmly took his paycheck and looked at it.
“That looks good!” he said.
“Why can’t I have a job like Camilo’s?” asked Gerardo. “He makes a fortune!”.
“Camilo has a degree in economics,” the father replied. “What did you major in? Oh, I remember! You dropped out…”
“Well, maybe I haven’t been very applied in my studies, Dad, but I have skills!”.
Carlos asked, “What are your skills, exactly?”
“I’m good with people and I know a lot of celebrities,” Gerardo said. “I know how to handle the press? Maybe public relations?”
Carlos listened to him carefully.
“You’re right, son. There may be something you can do. I agreed to sponsor a fundraiser for UNICEF,” he said. “I want to organize a celebrity auction…”
“It would be a good idea for you to take charge of organizing it, and how successful you are at it will show me whether or not you actually have potential. But keep in mind, Gerardo, that this is your last chance. Don’t fail yourself.”
“You mean I don’t fail you, right?” corrected Gerardo.
“No, I mean your future is at stake, so think carefully about every step you take,” he said and escorted his son out of his office.
Over the next two months, Carlos watched with some interest as Gerardo invested his energy in organizing the fundraiser. Soon items donated by celebrities began to arrive.
It looked like the auction would be a success and Carlos felt a secret relief – maybe all Gerardo really needed was to concentrate on something he was good at and understood!
Gerardo rented a prestigious venue and ordered a lavish buffet and the finest champagne, all of which Carlos’ company would pay for. He also hired a famous singer to perform before the auction.
The truth was that the event was packed with the rich and famous, all vying to acquire the celebrities’ memorabilia. The auction was a huge success and raised far more money than Carlos expected.
However, the event was exorbitantly expensive, at least $170,000 over budget.
“That’s a lot of money…,” Carlos thought. “I’m going to take a closer look at it.”
Carlos instructed his secretary to gather all the receipts from the UNICEF event, and although the numbers added up, something seemed amiss. He looked at the receipt for the singer’s fee that was endorsed to a company called “Talento Incorporado”.
“Diana,” Carlos said to his secretary. “Put me in touch with the girl who sang at the auction and ask her how much she charged.”
An hour later, Diana walked into Carlos’ office and looked very pale.
“Mr. Heredia,” she said. “She didn’t charge anything. It was her contribution to the cause…”.
Carlos felt as if he was being hit with a sledgehammer.
“She didn’t charge anything?” he asked in a whisper.
“No, sir,” Diana said, with tears in her eyes.
Over the next few days, Carlos contacted all the vendors, suppliers and caterers and discovered that Gerardo had demanded 20% of his fees in cash kickbacks. He had really made the most of his second chance!
He didn’t say a word to his son, and when the family gathered that Sunday for lunch he decided to make an announcement. After they finished eating, Carlos stood up with his wine glass in his hand.
He looked at his sons and smiled.
“Camilo, Gerardo, as you know, I am now 62 years old and one of these days I will hand over the baton to you. But retirement is not my only concern. When I die, I want my legacy to be in good hands and I want to make sure my money is distributed fairly among my children.”
Gerardo smiled, but Camilo looked annoyed.
“Come on, Dad, you know I hate that kind of talk!”.
“I know, son,” Carlos said. “But I want you guys to be prepared. Yesterday I had my lawyers draw up a new will. Camilo, you will receive the shares of the company, and as for the money, I mean my personal fortune, you will receive $2.8 million for being the oldest. And you, Gerardo, will receive one dollar.”
Gerardo frowned. “I’m sorry, Dad, what did you say?”
“I said that your inheritance will amount to exactly one dollar.”
“What does that mean?” cried Gerardo.
“Calm down, son,” Carlos said serenely. “If you remember, I warned you when you participated in the charity event that it was your last chance….”.
“I did a great job!” the young man protested. “We raised millions for the kids!”.
“Yes, you did a great job,” said Carlos. “Especially in lining your own pockets. I trusted you and you stole from me. Consider it your inheritance.”
Protests, tears and promises of change were not long in coming from Gerardo, but his father refused to change his decision.