When I think of legacy, I am always reminded of Steve Saint’s quote – “Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.”
Doctor Anthony Gunn (a psychologist by profession) writes “Often we think of legacy as something amazing and special. Yet, a legacy can also be negative. The parent who doesn’t take care of their health or can’t show affection to their kids, the person who blames everyone else for their problems, the person who frequently drinks to excess as a way to unwind are all leaving a legacy. If you have tremendous talent in an area but do nothing with it, then you too are leaving a legacy.”
The above line in bold is super powerful. It’s a line to reflect and also can be framed as questions “Are we utilizing our talents and building real world class skills? Are we leaving a legacy that we will be proud of?”
The mother of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius often reminded him “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
This is so very true for all of us and our profession/industry. We have been given the gift of making a real and happy difference in the lives of people. We have been given so much influence and power over our client’s lives. Thus, a lot is expected from all of us.
In 2019, during the annual Schwab Impact Conference, Northern Trust Asset Management had a lovely visual asking attendees, mostly financial professionals, about what truly inspires them about this industry.
Majority had the following to say:
- Changing Lives for the better
- Taking Care of People’s Future
- Working with Clients to achieve their goals
- Making a difference in someone’s life
- Helping People make good decisions
And so on.
I could nowhere see written or mentioned “building the highest AUM, or the highest revenue”.
The point I am making is that deep down many of us know about the power of the work we do, yet when people around us want something, we want it too.
Andrew Wilkinson wrote some lovely thoughts (in a twitter thread) around wanting and mimetic desire. At face value, mimetic desire barely sounds worth mentioning: When people around you want something, we want it too.
Andrew gives an interesting example “Let’s say your friend raises money for her start-up.
You start comparing. You are happily bootstrapped (your business and cash flows funding the business).
“Why was he able to raise more?”
“How did he get Sequoia on board?”
“Wow that valuation…”
“I should really raise a round.”
You don’t realize that you start assigning value to raising money because of your friend. It pushes you to raise a round. You didn’t even need the money. You now not only want to copy him but do better than him. Suddenly you are locked in a mimetic competition. Especially if all of the peers in your world are raising money. It quickly becomes a game of one-upmanship (the art or practice of outdoing or keeping one jump ahead of a friend or competitor).
If you live in San Francisco, for example, raising money, valuation, who your investors are, number of employees. These are the metrics by which your peer group collectively has defined success.”
If you hang with comedians, you will want a Netflix or Amazon Prime Special for you.
What’s in it for us in our industry and profession?
If you hang out with people like you, what do you think you will aim for?
Everyone else has defined success for us in the form of AUM, Revenue, SIP Book, Net Equity Sales, Gross (this and that) Sales and so on. The new age FinTechs or TechFins have some frivolous ones too such as number of users registered, number of users activated and so on. A fancy one in Crypto is Total Value Locked. While there is nothing wrong in having metrics, it’s super important and critical to remember what your real metrics are in this industry and profession.
For us, they are:
- The Lives We Touched (whether they are distributors, advisors, clients, vendors, and society in general).
- The Families where you made a real difference in.
Running a FinTech Business is no easy feat. Everyone around us is fundraising all the time (The San Francisco culture has caught up not only in our Silicon Valley but all across India too). It’s difficult to not want to do the same if you are not crystal clear about your north star, your vision and your purpose. There is always this pressure to raise capital, but we know the kind of business we are building and the kind of legacy we all want to leave.
Our legacy guides us in everything that we do right from helping a fellow distributor acquire clients to helping them take care of their clients better than anyone else to guiding them in building a world class firm.
We are doing our bit to make this industry and profession the best it can be and building our legacy.
Are you building yours intentionally and thoughtfully?
Are you doing what everyone else around you is doing?