Yesterday, I gave a talk and then did two breakout Q&A sessions at EO Alchemy 2015. It was a lot of fun and many of the questions were thought provoking to me, which I enjoy greatly.
One of them caused me to pause and answer extra deliberately. Near the end of the second breakout session, I was asked “What Do You Want Your Legacy To Be?”
I don’t think I’ve answered this question before publicly and I realize I never think about it, so I took a few seconds to roll the question around in my mind and make sure I agreed with what was about to come out of my mouth.
“I don’t care about what my legacy is.”
My original thought was “I don’t give a shit about legacy”, but it came out a little cleaner and crisper. I riffed for a little while on why I didn’t care and gave evidence of me not caring. Two big things are (a) Amy and I don’t have any kids and (b) we plan to give away all of our money while we are alive. But there were some others, especially around intrinsic motivation (which I’m driven by) vs. extrinsic motivation (which I’m not).
When I got home last night, Amy and I talked about our respective day over dinner. I mentioned this question to her and asked her what she thought. Her immediate response was “You and I don’t care about legacy.” She then when on to explain this in detail, which mirrored most of what I had said earlier in the day.
I was clear in my answer that this wasn’t a judgement. Some people care deeply about legacy. That’s great. But others, like me and Amy, don’t. The more interesting thing to me is how one’s view around legacy drives behavior. The question stimulated a lot of thought by me over the last 18 hours – I hope it does with you also.
A few weeks ago at Thinc Iowa I noticed the tradition they had of giving a standing ovation to the speaker when the speaker took the stage. I had never seen that before and thought it was awesome. Speakers also got a standing ovation after their talk. As someone who does a lot of public talks, the first sixty seconds of warming up a room are often awkward (even if well executed) and the standing ovation at the beginning eliminated all of this for me.
I just spent an awesome day at the EO Entrepreneurs Masters Program 20th Anniversary. This program started out as Birthing of Giants 20 years ago and had a profound impact on me when I was 25 years old and running Feld Technologies. We were 12 people at the time and were just at the $1 million annual revenue minimum for applying. It was the first time I had really found my peer group and it helped me understand the value of peers and mentoring at a very young age. It also resulted in me getting involved in Young Entrepreneurs Organization, starting the Boston and Colorado chapters, and serving on the YEO board for several years. As icing on the cake, I met Verne Harnish, who became a good friend, was the only person I knew when Amy and I moved to Boulder, and has continued to have an amazing impact on a huge number of entrepreneurs over the 20 years since I first met him.
I was on a panel with a few of my colleagues from that first Birthing of Giants class that graduated in 1992. The room was full of warmth and there was no awkwardness, plus I was the last person on the panel to talk. Our assignment from Verne was to discuss several profound life moments and try to work the notion of “a billion” into the examples as one of the themes of this year’s class was “a billion.” The audience of 500 was engaged for our entire panel (which is a big deal for anyone who has ever sat on a panel as they can be soul crushing experiences to sit and watch people disconnect in the audience – well – reconnect with their iPhones – while disconnecting from the panel.
We got a standing ovation and the end which caused me to flash back to the Thinc Iowa event and made me wonder why the tradition of giving a standing ovation at the beginning hasn’t taken off. I hope Eric Norlin incorporates it for Defrag and Blur – it so changes the ton of the transition from speaker to speaker in a powerful and positive way.
My long time friend Warren Katz pointed me out to an event on March 3, 2010 called EO Boston Accelerator Shark Bowl 2010. It’s a competition for entrepreneurs under 40 with businesses between $100k / year and $1m / year in revenue. You present to a group of judges including Warren (MAK Technologies), Rich Farrell (Full Armor), Clark Waterfall (Boston Search Group), and Michael Hackel (DiningIN) who are all EO Boston members.
In 1993 I was the founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization Boston Chapter and member #1. My forum group, “Forum Group 1” is apparently still meeting monthly. And while YEO changed its name to EO, my friend Warren who has been a member from the very beginning tells me the group is still going very strong (the stats look like 88 members with total sales of $427m and 2,231 employees across all of the companies.)
If you fit the qualifications, I’d encourage you to participate. It’s free, you’ll get some great practice and advice, and meet a bunch of new entrepreneurial peers. To participate, you must register and to present you must sent your presentation to Caryn Saitz by March 1st.
Go Boston (and Cambridge) – you are making me proud these days!