Legacy is a term we often hear used to describe someone’s jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring accomplishments and contributions, or to identify something that has endured through the ages. But, what does it truly mean to have a legacy? How do you determine whether you have one? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines legacy as “a gift by will, especially of money or other personal property” or as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past,” such as from ancient Rome.
This definition prompted me to analyze my own family’s legacy. My search landed me on opportunity. My family, originally from Jamaica, began to migrate to the United States in the mid- to late ‘70s. They came with literally nothing, and today, many of them own businesses, have gained education that was considered unattainable back home, have become skilled and trained craftsmen and -women, and, most importantly, have given my generation opportunities that did not exist before they made their bold move. The impact of the steps they took into the unknown will be felt by my daughter and subsequent generations in my family.
Great businesses — the ones that stand out above the rest — have traits that are similar to those of my ancestors. These businesses make audacious and daring moves despite uncertainty. They do things that have never been done before; they reshape or modify products in ways we would have never imagined; they make wild ideas our reality; they turn potential losses into breathtaking wins; they change the courses of their industries; and they move the market in a new direction. These are companies that redefine history, led by the masterminds who guide them.
I used to think history and time went hand in hand. To me, history was about events that happened ages ago and helped to set the present day on its current course. That was a mindset that I have abandoned. Yes, history is made up of past events or occurrences, but there is no perfect formula for measuring how much time has to pass before an event is considered historic or is thought to have provided us with a legacy. As a matter of fact, I truly believe that legacy is history in the making — things that are happening right now before our very eyes.
You see, it is less about how long you have been in business and more about whether the world around you can recognize that the very thing they are watching a business do is something to always be remembered. If the people of the world, in that moment, can see their lives as they knew them changing right before their eyes, then a legacy is being created. In light of this, what is your company doing right now to make history? What is that treasure your business plans to leave for the next generation? How will the world change because your company exists?
I firmly believe these questions take precedence over questions dealing with the bottom line. If there is a clear understanding of what an organization will be passing on to today’s market that will transcend time, there should be a direct positive impact on revenue.
Every company has a mission and vision (or should), and great companies know that these are more than just statements. The mission and vision are reasons for existing, which give meaning to the business. There is a greater comprehension of the destiny of the organization. This “reason for living,” or purpose, should then impact the company’s promise or what it vows to deliver to the audience and customers it serves. This promise, coupled with the mission and vision of the organization, should become fuel for creating its legacy. That unforgettable element will never die and is the glue that connects all the dots. It allows strategies to be formulated and tactics to take shape, provides motivation for employees to keep pressing forward, and is the outlet that recharges the batteries when energy and ideas run low. Legacy is not only seen, but felt.
In addition to these great internal impacts, the company is given the ability to reach its audience and mesmerize them. Unable to articulate in words the love they have for the brand, the audience is moved to loyalty, realizing the enormous impact the organization is having on their lives and the lives of those around them. Take Apple for example. Year after year, Apple introduces products in the market that literally transform how we live, access content, and stay connected in our world. Their dedicated followers flock to their stores just to be the first to take part in what they know to be “legacy.” We have included &pizza in this issue as a great company doing the same, but in the food service industry.
As a business owner and leader, I am a cheerleader for creating my company’s legacy. My team go to sleep repeatedly hearing my voice reciting what it is we want to be remembered for. We sleep, drink, and eat our company’s aspiring legacy. Greater than mission and vision, it helps all who have a stake in the business to see what impact can be made and remain long after them. I have a hard time believing that this isn’t motivation for all.
Leaving footprints on the world is something that remains beyond our own lifetime. What we are remembered for has an impact on those around us. Changing the face of our industry and reinventing the marketplace in a manner that is engraved in our minds forever: Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
It is an honor and pleasure to showcase companies, individuals, and teams that are doing this very thing in this issue of TRUSTED. We get to watch in amazement while they create history in the here and now. The best part about their work is that we don’t have to wait for it to be passed down through the generations to reap the benefits of their labor. We get to enjoy it today, right in the moment!
TRUSTED a magazine that THuS Marketing created, project manages, and oversees for the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Find this article and more like it at bbbtrusted.org.