Alderson Rothwell, the third, decided it was time to write his will. A man of means and getting ready to retire. Greedy family members and so-called friends surrounded him. The heart attack he suffered six months earlier, convinced him he was not immortal.
While recovering, he pondered who was worthy to inherit the fortune he had accumulated.
His father, Alderson Rothwell, the second, had done well for himself. But the Rothwell fortune grew into a noticeable amount under his guidance. He knew his father and grandfather would be proud of him. His grandfather was a timberman. He bought thousands of acres to clear cut. Once the timber was gone, he sold the land for houses and towns. Each generation built upon the hard work of the previous generation.
Alderson and his wife had two children. He tried to decide if either of them was worthy of building on his life's work. Unlike his grandfather's timber business or the coal industry of his father, Alderson was an oilman. He also was heavily invested in real estate, hotels, apartment buildings, and commercial property. The jewel in his portfolio was the house his grandfather had built. Who would live in it when he was gone?
His daughter, Maggie, married a loser guy who only wanted her for the inheritance. Alderson fought hard to keep her from marrying him. She showed up one evening with the loser in tow; they had eloped. He tried to be civil to Gregory Wills for Maggie's sake. He knew she could not have the fortune to oversee.
His son, Lawrence, was a complete mess. Alderson and his wife had been too good to him and ruined him. He was spoiled, entitled, and cocky. He was still single and dated all the daughters of his friends. Lawrence had a degree from Harvard. He was twenty-seven years old and still had no sense of direction.
Ambition to work and grow the fortune was not for Lawrence. His purpose was to live the party life and to spend his trust fund. He argued with his father about his lifestyle. Alderson threatened to cut him off. He told him once the trust fund was gone, he was not giving him a dime. He wanted to motivate him to do something to prove his worthiness to take over the family fortune. Still, Lawrence continued on his path.
Alderson was frustrated with his family. His assistant was more worthy than either of his children. However, his assistant was almost his age. He needed someone young. He thought about all the qualifications to take over his fortune. Alderson knew those closest to him would not be happy.
He didn't want to see his life's work be lost. Alderson wished to preserve the legacy of his father and grandfather. It would take someone special to do that, someone who could appreciate hard work.
For the time being, he would contact his lawyer to draft his will. There were several charitable organizations he wanted to give contributions. Maggie would get her mother’s antiques and paintings that she didn’t leave her a few years earlier. Lawrence would get the antique Rolls Royce that his father bought and passed down to him. Each of his staff would get a designated sum of money. Everything else would go to someone who needed an opportunity to create their legacy.
The lawyer left the name of the assistant blank for the time being. Once Alderson hired someone that worked out, he could fill in the name of the lucky person. The assistant would have no idea what is at stake.
Alderson knew all the nieces and nephews; his sister and their extended family would be angry that he chose a stranger for the Rothwell fortune. His only regret was that he wouldn’t be around to see the look on all their ungrateful faces. Alderson leaned back in his high-backed leather desk chair. He closed his eyes and imagined the look on their faces. He then pictured the shocked look on his assistant face. They will be the only one in the room who will not be expecting anything.
The next day there was a full-page ad in the newspaper. The ad listed the qualifications that Alderson was looking for in his assistant. He offered competitively but a lower pay rate, a one-week vacation after one year, and health insurance. There were over six hundred people applied. It took a long time, but Alderson checked each resume and references. It took weeks to narrow it down to the final fifty.
Alderson wanted to meet and talk with each candidate. He planned a lunch with each of them. They spoke at length to see which one would run his business properly. After two months, he called five candidates to come for a dinner party. Each of them needed to bring their spouses. After all, their spouses would have some influence over them and how they treated the Rothwell fortune.
The party was a success, Alderson was able to narrow it down to two candidates. He hired both of them for a trial period of six months. At the end of six months, the loser would be given severance pay and sent on their way. The winner of the job would get a ten-thousand-dollar sign-on bonus.
Alderson sat back in his desk chair after he explained the terms of employment to the two candidates. They were going to report to him on Monday morning. One young man was a Harvard graduate, Brad Flynn. The other one was a self-made man who didn't finish college; Josh Newman.
Both candidates worked hard for Alderson over the next six months. Brad had the sophistication needed to run a business and do it well. Josh was not discounted either; he lacked in formal education he made up for in hard work and determination. He had a hunger that Alderson recognized; it was a desire to continually improve his situation. Josh did so with honesty and integrity.
Brad had made a few questionable choices. Alderson even wondered if he was dishonest when it came to his reports of sales and profit. The two candidates were sitting outside of Alderson's office, hoping for the opportunity of a lifetime. He made them wait six hours, the whole time he observed them through a two-way mirror.
Josh was patient; he took the opportunity to work on some projects that may not even be his in a few hours. Brad paced and watched the clock. He seemed more agitated by the hour. He didn’t have any doubt that Alderson would pick him over the uneducated Josh.
Finally, the time came, Alderson’s secretary showed the men to the conference room. Alderson was waiting at the head of the table. He motioned to the two chairs closest to him. One on each side, so they were facing one another.
Looking back and forth for a moment, he could see Brad's jaw tighten. Josh, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber. That bodes well for him that he could keep his cool. Alderson spoke, "Gentlemen, you have both done a great job here, and choosing has been difficult. Is there anything you have to say before I give you my decision?"
Brad said, “You know Alderson, I am the best one to assist you, I, after all, have a college degree. I come from a good family."
Alderson looked at Josh, “Your turn.”
Josh took a deep breath, "Well, sir, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with you. It is a dream come true for someone like me. I may not have a degree, but I feel like I make up for it in hard work. Whatever your decision, thank you for this chance. I am a better person for having had this experience." Brad huffed and would have rolled his eyes, but he didn’t want to disappoint Alderson.
Alderson looked at both of them, “Brad, my decision for you is to let you draw the severance pay and be on your way.” Brad stood and started to yell and make a nuisance of himself. He said some cruel and hateful things to both Alderson and Josh. Security had to escort him from the building.
Josh served by Alderson’s side for fifteen years, learning the business. He also attended college for the degree that would impress people and help get his foot in the door to great deals. Alderson was impressed by him and wished that his son, Lawrence, has shown one-fifth of Josh's interest.
Fifteen years after the drafting of his will, Alderson Rothwell, the third, passed comfortably in his sleep. His daughter Maggie was no better off than when she married Gregory. He was still a gold digger. Lawrence had spent almost all of his trust fund and had made only a couple of wise investments. Alderson was right in his choice to give his fortune to someone who would appreciate it.
After the great scene of overacted sadness on the part of his children, the lawyer asked them to all meet for the reading of the will. The lawyer went through the various charities and the sums of money he wanted to go to them. He went next to the servants in his house and around the grounds—five thousand dollars for each service year.
He read the other various details. Then came the big things. "To my son Lawrence, I leave the family Rolls Royce purchased by my grandfather." Lawrence smiled slightly; it was just the beginning of his good fortune. The lawyer went on, “To my daughter Maggie I leave the art collection that her mother loved and purchased. To each of my three grandchildren, Robert, Eliza, and Sarah, I leave a One Million Dollar trust fund to be given to them on their twenty-fifth birthday. If they decide to attend college, it will be paid for by the estate.
Control of all property, business ventures, and the rest of my estate in its entirety, I leave to my assistant Joshua Newman.
Josh sat with his mouth hanging open in shock. He couldn't believe his boss had been so generous. He thought maybe he would leave him some cash or one of the smaller businesses. But his entire estate was too generous.
The lawyer continued; he also left each of you a letter. These letters explain why he made the decisions he did and that it is incontestable. If you try legal action, you will lose what he has given you already.
Maggie’s letter stated that he loved her and was proud of her. He further explained he knew that Gregory would waste the fortune. He hoped that Gregory didn't hurt her by leaving since there would not be a large inheritance.
Lawrence’s letter was worded more strongly about his hopes and dreams for his son. Lawrence disappointed him by not taking the initiative to learn the family business. He explained that multiple times he tried to get him to give up being a playboy and to take life seriously. That was when he decided to find an assistant. Josh was exactly what he wished Lawrence would be, hardworking, loyal, business savvy, and honest.
Josh also received a letter. It was full of encouragement to stay strong and watch his back. Alderson explained he had been grooming him to take over the family fortune from day one. He had this in mind when he started interviewing people for Josh’s position. He made no secret over the years how much he was disappointed in Lawrence and Maggie.
Josh never ceased to be amazed at his mentor and friend. Alderson lived life on his terms, and even in death, he had his say about the future.