June 28, 2016 / 2:11 PM / 3 years ago

Q&A: Royal thoughts and life lessons from the prince next door


Lorenzo Borghese, who can trace his family all the way back to Siena, Italy in the 1100s. REUTERS/Handout

(Reuters) - Among the wealthy, there is new money and old money. Then there is really old money.

Lorenzo Borghese’s noble family traces all the way back to Siena, Italy in the 1100s, where they were wealthy bankers. Among his ancestors: An actual Pope (Paul V).

Borghese grew up a long way from Siena, mainly in Short Hills, New Jersey. Yes, he is a prince, but he is also an entrepreneur who started the Royal Treatment line of pet-care products, and even appeared on one season of the reality TV show “The Bachelor” on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network.

Reuters sat down with Borghese to talk about the life lessons that have been passed down to him from such a storied family.

Q: Coming from such a famous lineage, what family member did you look up to growing up?

A: Probably my grandmother (Princess Marcella Borghese). What is interesting about her is that she was the first person in Italy who had a noble title who started working. When she launched her cosmetics brand back in 1952, people frowned on it, because well-off families weren’t supposed to work. But she loved what she did, so when I saw her so excited about her products and fragrances, it made me excited about business, too.

Q: Once your family moved to America, how did your parents start educating you about money?

A: My siblings and I had allowances and chores like everyone else, everything from taking out the garbage to cleaning rooms to doing the dishes. It taught me two things: One, that I had to work for it, and two, I had to learn how to budget. When I really wanted something, like Pac-Man on the old Atari 2600, I had to wait until I had saved enough money.

Q: Do you remember your first job?

A: It was unpaid internship for Oppenheimer. Remember those old printer sheets that were connected? My job was to separate those sheets. But I still thought it was so cool, because I got to wear a suit and take the train into New York City and work on Wall Street, even thought I was only in eighth grade.

Q: Did you have money role models growing up?

A: My parents, because they taught me to work hard, and that nothing in life is free. I also admire Richard Branson a lot, not just because of the success he has had in so many industries, but because of the lifestyle he enjoys. Even though he seems so stress-free, he has made a huge impact.

Q: As an entrepreneur, have you made money mistakes along the way?

A: It can be extremely challenging, and you have a lot more failures than you do successes. I had one idea for a restaurant called “Deal,” based on the New York Stock Exchange. It was going to be a theme restaurant with fluctuating prices. But this was around the time Planet Hollywood was having troubles. We had a business plan and spent a ton of money, but it didn’t go anywhere.

Q: What kind of an investor are you?

A: I’m pretty conservative. Some people like to look at their gains and losses daily, and it is such a waste of time. I only look at it every six months or so.

Q: How did you decide where you could have a philanthropic impact?

A: Since I’m in the pet industry, I not only want to make money, but to make things better for animals. I started doing research on animals who are killed in shelters every year: You walk down rows and rows of dogs who are going to be put down that day, dogs with feelings and emotions just like us. I wanted to help them, so I co-founded the nonprofit Animal Aid USA. We go down to kill shelters in the south every single month, and so far we have saved 14,000 dogs.

Q: What money lessons should wealthy families pass on to their kids?

A: I don’t think anyone should be given a trust fund until they have earned it, especially if they are younger. If they have never been out in the marketplace or had a job, then they don’t know the value of money at all. It feels a lot better when you make your own money than when you are given it.

Lorenzo Borghese, who can trace his family all the way back to Siena, Italy in the 1100s. REUTERS/Handout

Q: From your appearance on “The Bachelor,” what did you learn about how other people perceive wealth?

A: People assumed I played polo and sipped afternoon tea and just went shopping for clothes. They thought I sat around doing absolutely nothing all day. It is the furthest thing from the truth.

For more Life Lessons, click here

Editing by Lauren Young and Richard Chang

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