Following are the remarks that Frederick Peters shared with his extended Warburg family at our holiday event last night. Truly words to live by!
“2009 has been an extraordinary year; we began it by closing the 13th Street and Harlem offices and downsizing our staff, we had a difficult market and falling prices, and we experienced a lot of drama both internally and externally. I am delighted to report that we are ending the year comfortably in the black – and as I said in my recent blog entry this success is really due to all of you, your hard work and adaptability in the face of adverse conditions. So from the bottom of my heart I thank you.
The collapse of the financial markets, the Madoff story, and the Marc Dreier story all share a theme: the ascendancy of greed over integrity and of personal gain over the common good. As you are all members of the Warburg family, I just want to say a few words about the family values which were passed on to me and which I in turn hope to emphasize as beacons for everyone who carries the Warburg card.
My grandmother’s grandfather, Jacob Schiff, was not only the leading American Jewish banker in this country at the turn of the century, but also its leading Jewish philanthropist. Among his many works was the construction of the Jewish Theological Seminary on 122nd Street and Broadway, the endowing, along with my great grandfather Felix Warburg, of the 92nd Street YWHA, the funding for the Henry Street Settlement House, and the creation of programs to resettle Jewish immigrants all over this country. My great grandfather Felix and his wife Frieda also gave their house on 92nd and Fifth, where my grandparents were married, to the Seminary to become the Jewish Museum. I am proud to say that their names appear as benefactors in many books about New York and on plaques all over the city. They believed that service to their communities was the pillar of their public lives, an obligation to be embraced. And they believed profoundly in the power of good deeds. I have by my desk the motto which my great grandfather always had on his desk which says : “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” My grandfather Walter Rothschild, for whom Adrienne Caplan worked many years ago when she did the training program at Abraham & Straus, the store founded by HIS grandfather, taught my mother that there was never any excuse for charging any personal expense to the business. It lacked integrity, he told her, and your unblemished reputation for integrity is the most important business asset you will ever possess.
So this is what I believe – that conducting our business with honor will not only make us proud but will also make us successful. I believe that it is less important to coax every dollar out of a situation than to serve the best interests of the client and customer. I believe that within the company and without, the way we conduct ourselves with others defines who we are, and that emotional intelligence counts for more than intellectual intelligence in most business and personal situations. And I ask you all to be my partners in insuring that we do what we say, that we treat our colleagues and co-brokers with respect and appreciation, and that we are always mindful of doing not the easy thing or the thing everybody else is doing, but the right thing. These are the values for which the Warburg name has always stood. You are members of this family, every one of you, through your association with the company, so these are YOUR family values too.”