Do you ever think about the legacy you want to leave?
Most of us don’t give this topic too much thought when we’re early in our careers. It feels like a “far off” concept, and we’re usually too focused on our own careers and on the many other day-to-day activities that fill our lives. But as we advance further into our careers, and start contemplating retirement (whatever that word means to each of us) and maybe even our own mortality, it’s natural to be thinking about the legacy we’re going to leave behind.
In terms of our professional legacies, we create these in several ways:
- Through the organizations that we build (or build upon)
- Through the people whose careers and lives we touch
- Through the ways in which we advance our industries, professions, or perhaps even the broader world
- Through the social good we do
In our initial “Career Sessions, Career Lessons” podcast episodes, we’ve already encountered leaders who are leaving a legacy in each of these areas:
- Michael Alter, who co-founded SurePayroll 20 years ago, ultimately becoming CEO and growing it to a size and scale where it was acquired by Paychex. He’s currently teaching entrepreneurship to graduate-level business students at the University of Chicago, adding an additional element to his legacy.
- Kim Crider, Major General US Air Force (Retired), who did some of the foundational work that created the US Cyber Command and the US Space Force. She helped advance the state of the US’s military defenses while also leading thousands of military members over the course of her 35-year Air Force career.
- Jason Krantz, CEO of Definitive Healthcare, who has built not one but two health care data and analytics companies from the ground up. His current company is advancing the state of the health care industry and employing over 700 people.
- John Judge, who has committed his career to the non-profit sector, starting with The Boy Scouts and moving onto Habitat for Humanity, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Trustees of the Reservations, the most recent two roles as CEO. Along the way, he has consistently built relationships in underserved communities and has become a powerful lobbying voice for protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
- Rohini Dey, who seized on the idea of helping women restaurateurs manage through the pandemic. The resulting effort, Let’s Talk Womxn, now boasts chapters in 13 cities with over 650 members. She previously spearheaded the founding of the Women’s Leadership Program as a board member for the restaurant industry’s James Beard Foundation. In that capacity, she and others mentored hundreds of women toward executive chef roles. In her spare time, Rohini writes passionately about global inequity and the impact it has around the world. She could have just started and run her restaurant Vermilion in Chicago, but she has stepped up in a much bigger and broader way.
- Bill Boor, CEO of homebuilder Cavco Industries, who talked explicitly about the fact that his company builds not just homes but also build jobs. He is palpably aware of the importance of the legacy that he is building upon as Cavco’s most recent CEO and the importance of preserving the ethos of the Great Lakes Brewing Company in his prior CEO role.
- Danny Warshay, who has scaled his own entrepreneurial knowledge to help dozens, if not hundreds, of start-ups over the years. He has additionally taught on the entrepreneurial process to thousands of Brown University students over the years, a number of whom have left Brown to form their own start-up ventures. The impact that Danny has had on his students has been visibly evident as they note his just-published book, See, Solve, Scale, and talk about the impact he has had on their lives.
Very different leaders. Very different legacies. But a consistent theme of impact. Check out our podcast to hear their inspiring stories more fully.
What will be your legacy?