How the F*** Do You Build Your Legacy When You Haven’t Got Time to Schedule a Bubble Bath This Week?Mar 12, 2023
BAM! … AND NOW YOU'RE DEAD
Cue the morbid pipe organ music. You're looking over your funeral.
As Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor plays in your mind, I want you to hit the fast-forward button to your wake. Everyone's had a few drinks, and "loose lips" are in full swing.
The big question here is, "What is everyone saying about you. The Deceased?"
"You can say a lot of things about <insert your name here> but one thing's for sure. She always ______________________"
"Yes, you could always rely on <insert your name> to _____________________."
"I didn't agree with how <insert your name> felt about _______________. But I still respect that she ______________________________"
This is a well-known exercise that a lot of expert branding people (yup, like me) will challenge you on when you ask us to give you some help on coming up with the core values "behind" or that "underpin" why you are who you are as a business of our time.
Your Big Instigator Moment
There is a solid chance that something epiphany-like has happened to you to instigate what got you to where you are today reading this article. Or perhaps instead, there was a seminal moment that happened to push you into taking inspired action and that leap to becoming the Female CEO you are. There is major power in that spark, that catalyst, and it says a whole LOT about who you are deep down in your soul. And then, what motivates you the most on this mortal coil.
Tick, Tick, Tick
As every birthday rolls around and New Year drops, it's normal for us to become more acutely aware of just how rapid the passage of time is. It absolutely speeds up the older I get, that's for sure. With this passage of time and endless exploration for another new wrinkle or grey hair, a woman reflects on her life's work so far.
Here we are, grown women. A product of the era of grown women embracing the illusion of "having it all". Yet, at the same time, I know I'm not the only one who saw her mother battle this new balance of motherhood and housekeeping, ceasing a small chunk of independence with earning her paycheck. I, too, fully subscribed to this illusion throughout childhood. I worked hard at school, busted my ass in my early career, am 10 years into my CEO journey, and I'm still scratching my head and questioning this "art of having it all". Right now, I've decided it's just another social construct to shackle women, like finding the perfect pair of jeans. The sort of garbage we gobble down that ends up making us sick and unhappy with how our lives are going.
Throw This On Yer Plate!
Then to top it off with the daily -no, hourly- juggle that every modern woman has, we begin to ponder what our legacy could be. At first, it feels pretty macho, doesn't it? Especially if you move the whole motherhood aspect to one side and consider your legacy through a professional career-only frame.
Sitting back to consider how you will leave your professional mark on the world feels luxurious, doesn't it? Like the type of thing, a typical man with a whole lunch hour to himself might indulge in, wearing a smoking jacket in an exclusive leatherbound library. Probably just for other men of his stature?
But, if we really are to become half of the CEOs running the world, I'd argue that this is a serious issue and responsibility we ought to get mulling over. Maybe when waiting at the self-checkout queue or sitting still in the salon allowing the foils "to take".
Ideas Into Actions
It's all well and good coming up with how you want that funeral TV show to go when you have considered the impact of your legacy, but how on earth will there ever be any real time to make this happen when you're running a home, a business, a relationship and being a valuable member of your family?
Way back on this episode of #MwahTV, I interviewed fellow branding pal Danny Matthews from Danny & Co. about his ideas around legacy and one aspect of how he sees it has stuck in my mind up to this day.
Danny shared that he refers to the UN world goals when delivering this to his clients. I instantly loved this structure. It's so incredibly logical:
"How can I make the World a Better Place?" to
"Well… What exactly is wrong with the world in a nutshell?" to
"Here's what the collective minds of our world leaders are trying to do about it all".
This then begs the follow-up question:
"How might I be a part of some of that, with my life's work?"
So, I ask you now to take a beat and look at the different areas of the UN world goals. See if you have an emotional response to one or a couple of these areas more than the others. The answer might surprise you.
Live It. But Live It Strategically
So now we have a rough montage of your funeral day TV reel in mind.
Then to this, we have added which part of what's wrong with the world you feel most concerned/emotional about.
The strategic branding part of this equation here is how to bring these ideas together into how you operate your business from here on in daily. What is your brand doing to support the part of our social fabric you want to commit to trying to fix?
Don't panic here. It's 100% normal (and frankly, I'd expect this from you) to fall into a spiral of imposter syndrome here.
"Laura, how is my lil outfit really going to fix <insert huge world issue in here>?"
Or you may have just thought to yourself, "But what I do to make a living from my business has JACK to do with <insert huge world issue in here>! "
Then these ideas may have quickly been followed with the typical multi-tasking female thoughts of "Remember to pick up chicken on the way home. Don't forget bins go out tomorrow. Gotta remind X about Y. Did that client come back to me yet with a decision? What will I do if this sale doesn't happen this week? I wonder if I got any online sales yesterday?" And, on and on and on we go.
You might be the sort of Female CEO who has a significant emotional cause plucking on her heartstrings, and actually, the way you make money with your current brand is so disconnected from this that the only smart way to connect these two worlds up is with you donating helpful chunks of gold to a charity that is working on fixing the problem you care about.
You might be in a situation where there are a couple of tenuous links between how you operate your business and where you want to get to as a legacy builder in this one emotional area.
It's ok; routes to achieve your legacy are yours, and you can make them unique to you. That's a key point of how any great CEO affirms their brand as the only one of its kind among the other players in the same market.
10x Your "No Thank You's."
No matter which of the scenarios I suggested there, one thing is sure. You have got to start being firm about what you will start saying no to. I believe this so strongly that I urge you to challenge yourself to times you firm "nos" tenfold. I added the words thank you here because my people-pleaser self finds it easier to say no by saying it with ultimate British politeness. A great place to begin is the weekly bombardment of "can you just's?"…
"Can you just contribute to this bake sale and run up 2 dozen cookies for the end of the week?" – "No thank you. I'm unable to commit to this" (sub-text because I will be using this time to learn about how I can support <insert huge world issue>)
"Can I just pick you brain for 5 minutes quickly?" – "No thank you. Here is a link to my online diary. If you want to book any of my time, I need you to do it in this way from now on." (sub-text because I will be using my scheduled time to learn about how I can support <insert huge world issue>)
"Ooooo look the new <insert guilty pleasure TV show title in here> just came out" – Consider halving the amount of binge-watching in half to take some time to learn about how you can support <insert huge world issue>).
This is how I think a modern woman of our time builds a legacy, and it's in lots of little manageable micro-moments.
Those micro-moments will cumulate into the right inspired actions.
Those inspired actions will take you on the road to how you will leave your legacy.
I believe in you!
Reference to the UN global goals.
Laura Pearman is a passionate modern feminist and Creative Swiss Army Knife working with female founders to get focused on how they can grow their business with refined creativity to become the most memorable brand in their marketplace.
With degrees in both Marketing & Photography followed by ten years of running her own creative business serving hundreds of clients, you can trust her recommendations and insight.
Flying the flag of equality for women, she strives to do what she can to ensure newer generations of women in the workforce find it easier to build a career without the glass ceilings and systemic restrictions still around us today.
You can read all about Laura here.
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