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What is your personal legacy?

We recently had an opportunity to bring together our Account Executives from our Bellevue and Anchorage offices. We invited opens in a new windowTom Flick to give a motivational presentation on the importance of leadership, teamwork, and continuous improvement in business. You may remember Tom as the former quarterback of the Rose Bowl Champion Huskies and as an NFL quarterback for seven years. These days Tom uses his football experience to help companies like ours.

Many aspects of Tom’s message resonated with me, in particular, a challenge he gave us: “what is your personal legacy?” Certainly, we all look to be impactful at work and in our families, to be remembered positively for not just what we accomplished ourselves, but for how we helped others. Another critical aspect of legacy is the work we do improving our community.

This is both a corporate and an individual responsibility. As an organization that has had the privilege of operating for 74 years, PS&F feels a deep social responsibility to give back to the community that has done so much for us. Even during these challenging economic times, we have steadily increased our corporate giving, coming at a time in our country when it was needed most. We know this also serves to better connect our employees with their community and further enrich their experience at PS&F. We encourage our staff to be involved personally and we support their service with non-profit organizations.

Hopefully, what we are building as a company and as individuals is a legacy that speaks to how we improve the lives of others by sharing our good fortune – giving of our money, time and talents. There are lots and lots of good reasons to do that, including what it inevitably does for you as an individual.

As business people, we understand that community service provides the opportunity to connect with current and prospective clients. You get a chance to meet influential people you may not otherwise have an opportunity to interact with and create what is often called social capital. While this is a natural outgrowth of service, it isn’t, or should not be, your sole motivation for getting involved. There are many reasons – that will also benefit you – that are just as important.

  • There is no better way to hone your leadership and general business skills than to volunteer – especially if your work leads to serving on committees or boards.If you can contribute as a volunteer, working with paid staff and other volunteers, you can do almost anything in a for-profit business. Being a volunteer leader means leading by influence. There is no rank, no corporate hierarchy among volunteers. Volunteers serve because they want to, not because they need or have to. Lead a volunteer board at a non-profit and learn what real leadership is.
  • Many non-profit organizations are fascinating businesses in and of themselves. Your current job may not give you the opportunity to work with financial statements, to have first-hand experience as to how social systems and government funding works. You’ll see sides of business that you otherwise would never have been exposed to on the for-profit side and it will make social and political issues far more relevant and understandable.
  • You’ll know more about social and community services and be better equipped to help your family and friends connect to organizations that can help them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been able to help my friends find essential services in times of need and to expedite their access of those services.
  • Want to sharpen your sales skills – go raise money for a non-profit organization. To be effective in fundraising you need to understand sales strategy: creating a value proposition, developing a universe of prospective donors, and making ‘asks’.
  • Perhaps the best reason of all comes from a magazine article my wife, Kelly, shared with me recently. A Stanford University study, begun in 1921, followed 1,500 elementary students through their lives. When the researchers looked for correlations among those people who lead the longest, healthiest lives they found they were giving people, actively involved in helping their families and neighbors.

Good luck to you in creating your personal legacy and know that regardless of what you give to make your community or this world better, you’ll get back far more.

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