I am a snowboarder … Like my father before me.
OK, that’s cheesy but this feels like a Star Wars story so I just went with it.
There were three generations of Cooper’s snowboarding in Colorado a couple weeks ago. My Dad, who is 70, is a snowboarder. He taught me to snowboard when I was a tween and together we taught my son who is 13. Well, really Grandpa did as a dad (me) and son don’t always have patience for each other when learning something new.
There is something awesome about three generations doing something together, especially up in the mountains that are huge and majestic. Outside of the normal world there is space and time to think. There is also 10 minutes on a lift after every run to chat about life, everything, and nothing.
The idea of legacy was a conversation on one ride up. My dad and I started a company with another partner in 2003. We exited that business together in 2012. As we reminisced, it was odd. Did we get everything we wanted out of that company? Did we give everything we had to that company? Did we impact the world? Did we leave a legacy?
Honestly, I don’t think so.
He and my Mom were talking and do you know what my mom’s definition of legacy was?
My sister. My brother. Me. Our families. Our kids. Their legacy on this earth is us. Wow. Humbling, and quite the challenge to live up to. If we’re their legacy, what is mine? Or better put, WHO is my legacy?
You strive to build excellent companies. To grow them. To serve other companies and help them grow. That is a legacy of sorts, building a company that lasts beyond you. But that is small. Your real opportunity at legacy is your first team, your spouse and family. Your next opportunity are the people who work for you.
About 10 years after my partner left his company a woman came up to him and said he changed her life working for him. Legacy.
Another Acumen partner implemented a program that helped a woman get out of debt and buy her first house. Legacy.
Your kids share your values and go out and affect their part of the world. Legacy.
People are legacy. Your company and your leadership are the means to the end.
WHO is your legacy?