Your Leadership Legacy.

August 17, 2021

Your Leadership Legacy.

May 29, 2023

As we age, we begin imagining what we will leave behind. When it comes to families, it may be our kids, extended family, or the way we’ve created memories for loved ones. When it comes to our communities, it may be the cleanliness of a nearby park or the strength of a Girl Scout Troop, two of our favorite volunteer activities.

When it comes to our legacy in the workplace, most of our legacy can be traced to the imprint we’ve had on other people. Your tombstone isn’t carved in marble. It’s carved in the hearts and behaviors of those you’ve touched.

I recently read a Barron’s business interview with one of my mentees, Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. Throughout the interview, Brian emphasizes that Airbnb’s platform was resilient and adaptable, and I could almost hear my words from eight and a half years ago when Brian started coming to my backyard cottage. We discussed that resilience alone just means you survive but designing adaptability into the business plan is a foundational organizational skill for the 21st century. Resilience buys you time. Adaptability builds you a future.

Most of us don’t have the privilege of seeing our leadership legacy in action, writ large. Nor do we hear from those who’ve benefited from that legacy. Sure, your mentees may offer you a eulogy, but unless you’re like Gilligan (who fell out of a coconut tree at his funeral), you don’t get to witness this.

Brian was a design school grad with no business experience who started Airbnb at the same age I started my boutique hotel company, Joie de Vivre: 26. He was 31 when I joined him, and later this month it’s his 40th birthday. Today, this young, smart buck now runs the most valuable travel brand in the world with a market capitalization worth more than Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt combined.

A friend of mine knew Brian was hitting a milestone birthday and reminded me of the Commonwealth Club conversation we had on stage three years ago. He sent me this link which immediately brought back many memories of what I taught Brian and what he taught me.

Don’t wait for your funeral. Reach out to a former mentee (or a current one) and have a meal with them. Ask them about how their wisdom is developing over time. Be a curious observer of how much they’ve grown since you long ago offered them Miracle-Gro for their career.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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