You may recall in the 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve, Superman was orphaned as an infant and only learns about his extraterrestrial background later in life when he creates the Fortress of Solitude. Through the help of glowing crystals preserved from his childhood, holographic images of his parents interact with Superman to answer his questions and share the history and culture of his planet, community, and family.
While there is much to the Fortress of Solitude that is beyond our own reach, we too can benefit from a greater connection to and knowledge from those who have come before us. We all have a desire to feel rooted to something meaningful, and can benefit from the wisdom of previous generations. Whether you are a leader of a company, a parent, or both, you can do a lot for those around you and the next generation by preserving the legacy you are helping to create. Fortunately, preserving that legacy and wisdom has never been easier.
Here are some suggestions about how to do it.
• Take into account the many ways people consume information. Whether you preserve the history and wisdom in writing or video (ideally both and certainly at least the latter), recognize that very few people will want to read a whole book about your company or family cover-to-cover or sit through hours of videos. If time allows, create edited versions that are readily digestible in short segments. Even if you don’t have time for the editing process, the video you record now will soon be easily searchable in the same way you search the Internet today. Record it now and let later generations bring your legacy and wisdom to life in whatever increments and whatever topics are most relevant to them at the time.
• Include times you fell down. Since some of life’s most important lessons come from failure rather than success, make sure that you preserve important instances in which you did not succeed. This will also make your experience more relatable and encourage future generations when they too fall down.
• Include a discussion about your values.Talk about the values that are most important to your company or family. Describe examples of when other people really demonstrated one or more of those values. While much of your company’s or your family’s experience will dramatically change over the years, hopefully the values exhibited now will be a common thread connecting and strengthening generations to come.
• Don’t keep your history a secret. As someone who helps lead a 100-year old family-owned company, I am thankful and proud of what prior generations have done to put us in a position for success. However, even five-year-old companies have meaningful “origin stories" worth sharing. People want to know that story, and it can be an ongoing soruce of strength to you and future generations.
Preserving the legacy of your family business is important through solid succession planning. To find out what we can offer you and your family-owned business, please contact Charles Claver, Vice President, Wealth Advisor, First Bank Wealth Management, by calling (310) 887-0100 or via email at email@example.com.
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