BUILDING SOMETHING GREAT

December 6, 2021

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Tragedy in the news recently has me thinking about what really matters. Life is short, our time is precious, and I want to make sure I’m living right. How do we know when we’re on the right track? Material success, public acclaim, etc. all lead to very different priorities. My favorite is another classic: Legacy.

Focusing on what I will leave behind when I’m gone helps guide me in the right direction when I’m unsure which way to go. One kind of legacy comes from my direct influence on the people who know me. They will carry my memory, so I need to be conscientious about how I behave in front of them. Another kind of legacy comes from work. This is what most people focus on, and it’s important too. A legacy of great work can positively impact people’s lives far into the future.

Thinking of what people will say about me when I’m gone is a constant reminder that my actions affect other people, whether I see their reactions or not. This is doubly important since I became a parent. How I behave in front of my children will stay with them for the rest of their lives. It will also help shape how they treat other people. I hope my kids still see me as a positive role model after they’re grown and I’m gone. If I can pass good values to them and help them do the same with their children, I’d be happy. That idea gets me through a lot of the frustration that is a natural part of parenting.

My work is also an essential part of the legacy I hope to leave behind. I want my family, business partners, and investors to prosper, so their futures are secure and they are free to choose their own paths. That fuels me to work hard and persevere. But it’s definitely not just about the money. I care deeply about how Alliance succeeds. I believe in honest dealing, treating people well, and cultivating long term relationships. Our way of doing business is a fundamental part of why I started a company. And, Alliance CGC doesn’t bear my name because it isn’t about me. It’s about doing good business where everybody wins.

Too much emphasis on material success can lead to really crummy behavior. With that mindset, other people become tools to be used in pursuit of a hollow goal. When asked why he keeps doggedly pursuing more wealth when he was already fantastically rich, a famous hedge fund manager once answered “it’s how I keep score.” But you can’t take the money with you when you’re dead, and there will always be somebody richer.

Likewise, measuring ourselves by fame or reputation means our value is always relative to that of other people. The logical result is insecurity and anxiety. Many famous actors, musicians, academics, and business leaders are notoriously unhappy, despite their apparent success. At the same time, success can let a total jerk justify his poor treatment of the people around him. That’s not how I want to live.

Too feel good about my life, I want to be able to honestly reflect on my choices and believe that the people who know me will remember me fondly, despite my flaws. I hope they see me as honorable, kind, and diligent. In both my personal life and my work legacy, I want to build a strong brand that signals integrity, long-term thinking, and shrewdness in a competitive world. Ideally, everybody who interacts with me or my business will come out better off, and these values will persist long after I’m gone.

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