Most people start thinking about their legacy late in their lives. Thinking of a legacy is unlikely to be a priority when people are young and growing.
And it used to be that people thought their legacy was about financial wealth or fame they establish. In fact, even dictionaries define legacy primarily as “money or property people leave when they die”.
So, it’s not surprising that most business decisions used to be made by the ‘profit-centric’ focus. Smart MBAs learned that maximisation of profits was the key to success.
Then, just after the so-called ‘Global Financial Crisis’ in 2008, Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk became the centre of attention along with his best-selling book, “Start with WHY”. More and more people started to think and talk about their WHY. The search for WHY became central. ‘Why’ had not been the centre of conversations for 60 years since the 1946 publication of Victor Frankl’s magnificent ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ book.
Today, the WHYs of people and businesses encompass so many things. And very often, they talk about the positive change they want to make in and on our world. So many people today are seeking ways to become part of something bigger.
There has never been a time like this. Yet, this ‘desire to belong’ is also very much rooted in our old tradition…
LEGACY, BUSINESS, AND FAMILY
Many people also think of family when they think of their legacy. And in the profit-focused world, people often see leaving enough money to children and grandchildren as the most important part of legacy because it (in their mind) guaranteed security and happiness of their loved ones.
A long time ago, most of the businesses in the world were, in fact, family businesses. And family businesses naturally had long-term thinking at their core. And today, a large percentage of the world’s longest-standing businesses (those that are more than 100 years old, or even more than several hundred years old) are family businesses.
CEOs of those long-lasting companies are not hired and fired merely over short-term financial performances. Leaders of those companies are selected and respected for the trust they cultivate even baring the expense of short-term setbacks.
Subsequently, communities with thriving businesses naturally prospered. And the great legacy of family businesses was sustained.
So, this family-thinking has a potential to create a truly sustainable world as well – if all of us saw that leaving a great world for our grandchildren to thrive in was part of our legacy.
THE POWER OF BUSINESS AND THE SDGS
Today businesses drive progress in every economy. Governments may have some influence over what happens to the lives of people in their respective country; but fundamentally, businesses have far more influence over people’s lives across borders.
And that’s why (AND how) businesses making decisions really dictates what happens everywhere. With the profit-centric decision-making trend earlier, the world faced many consequences. And so it was that sustainability issues became central to so many of us.
So in 2015, when the Sustainable Development Goals were launched at the UN inviting and encouraging businesses to create a sustainable future together, it brought back some of the family-thinking in the business community. Creation of collective long-term sustainability (especially when it required extra effort, honesty, care and patience) would be valued if people saw the importance of collective wellbeing. Just like families cared for each other and their communities. Because without it, our children and grandchildren will have no place to live…
Even leaders of massive corporations like Paul Polman of Unilever and Richard Branson of Virgin embraced (and continue to encourage all of us to embrace) this collective mission. Today, it’s a new movement.
“We cannot choose between growth and sustainability — we must have both.”
– Paul Polman, Unilever
“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.”
– Richard Branson, Virgin
And here’s the really good news — this movement is not just about people at the top of the pyramid nor about large companies with huge wealth.
BETTER BUSINESS, BETTER LIFE, BETTER WORLD
So, when a group of B1G1 Members* decided to co-author a book “Better Business, Better Life, Better World” with the theme as the “advice to give to their grandchildren”, it was so timely. These are business owners that integrate giving in their core operation.
But why do they do that? That’s the key question.
What we discovered in the series of these books are gems of insights coming from very personal stories of entrepreneurs. Why in the world would they start a business in this ever-changing world? What are they trying to achieve?
I hope you’ll find some of the powerful answers in these books.
- Read the first edition “Better Business, Better Life, Better World”
- Read the second edition “The Movement: Better Business, Better Life, Better World”
Following the success of these bestsellers, the third book from B1G1 is in the making right now. And this latest book is called “LEGACY: Better Business, Better Life, Better World”.
This time, the book is not written as “the authors’ advice for their grandchildren”. Instead, it is written as the invitation for YOU to create your LEGACY. The book features 17 chapters where each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are introduced with stories and insights from various entrepreneurs and business leaders.
THE LEGACY OF THE MOVEMENT
If you are a B1G1 Member, you have been part of the collective legacy created by the B1G1 movement. With over 160 million giving impacts, many lives have been transformed already. But there is much more to come. If you are interested in the next book project, you can look at the Legacy Maker initiative right here.
If you stumbled upon this post and are wondering what B1G1 is, you can check it out right here. You might find new ways to create your legacy too.
And imagine if it wasn’t even about leaving a legacy if it was about you living a one. And now you can do just that.
As Richard Branson says, there is nothing greater than following passion while serving the world.
After all, it’s time (before it’s too late) that businesses come together to create a more sustainable, giving world.
And it’s not just time.
* B1G1 is a movement of business owners around the world who are integrating giving right at the heart of their businesses. They do that by linking core business activities to high-impact projects around the world. They’re able to specifically say, “whenever you do business with us, we make sure great things happen in our world because of it.”
You can see more at https://www.b1g1.com