What legacy will you leave when you’re gone? Will what you have done matter in 100 years? These are questions that I’ve been asking myself a lot recently.
For the most part, I never thought much about leaving any kind of mark on the world. The end of the road seemed like a distant never. I imagined that for whatever reason, I’d live long enough to see science create a way for us to cheat death eternally.
But now, as a father, I realize that the role I play on this Earth is a limited one. My job is to help my son Luke have the best shot he has to have a successful and fruitful life of his own. That, in itself, is a worthwhile legacy to leave behind.
Is it enough?
Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and writer of several books related to building businesses, talks frequently about his determination to leave a lasting legacy. He is what I like to refer to as a motivational entrepreneur. He has built a massive business by motivating others to build businesses and do what they love.
One statement he made on Twitter stands out to me. He wrote, “I have no interest in making the most money in the world. I have an interest in having the most people at my funeral.”
My 35th Birthday is a month away, putting me right at that halfway point between birth and being 70. The first 35 years of my life have been an incredible journey, but one not without regrets.
I regret not doing more in high school to give myself an opportunity at a college education. As years go by, I find myself wishing I had pursued my passions in science and gone after a degree that would have put me in the field conducting research, testing hypothesis, and furthering human understanding of the universe.
This put me on a different route, starting off my career at an early age doing radio. I do not regret doing this as broadcasting was and continues to be one of my passions.
After high school, I moved to Austin in hopes of working at Dell. That didn’t work out as planned as the tech bubble burst in 2001. I settled for work in call centers, where I spent nearly a decade listening to complaints and attempting to resolve issues for people I would never meet or build any type of lasting rapport with.
This call center work spanned several types of businesses. I was an appliance troubleshooter at Sears, a representative for the online Apple Store, and even worked for the city’s electric utility taking outage calls and helping people with their bills.
I felt as though, for a decade, my life goals were set back doing customer service. As much as I enjoyed solving problems for people, the impact I had on their lives could be measured in minutes or hours at best.
It took me several years of doing broadcasting work online for free to build up a portfolio that gave me the ability to land a job as a producer and get back into broadcasting.
I worked very hard with the primary motivation of getting out of a job that was minimally rewarding and had no vertical momentum. In broadcasting, you have a lot more control over your success. The job you do either on the air or in the studio makes a difference on your success.
Broadcasting was fun, and the work I did absolutely had an impact on the world, but it isn’t the kind of impact I want to be a part of my lasting legacy. The show I was hired to produce/direct focused on conspiracy theories, politics, and entertainment.
The conspiracy theories ranged from interesting and rooted in facts to far-fetched stretches of the imagination. The politics did not align with my own. The entertainment value, however, was high for anyone watching that took what was said with a skeptical eye.
This show, after I departed, would go on to shift its focus to topics and ideals that sit in direct opposition to my own. It went from a fun entertainment show to a sounding board for a movement that thrives off of creating fear, distrust, and anger against everyday individuals.
Technology and Journalism
I moved on to work in online media focused on the topic of technology. My ability to write and edit together compelling stories in audio and video made it easy for me to play a useful role in a number of online publications.
To date, I’ve written over 2,000 articles on tech news, tutorials, and even editorials. I’ve worked behind the scenes with some of the coolest content creators in the industry and interviewed innovators about technologies that are set to change the world over the next five years.
Over that time, I’ve edited over 1,000 videos, done voiceovers for over a dozen brands, and ghostwritten for some of the most prolific influencers in the game.
In recent years I’ve written documentation for hundreds of individual products, including two large open source projects. This role is one that I’m particularly proud of, knowing that hundreds of developers around the world are utilizing something that I helped create to build their websites and define their brands.
Building Something of My Own
All the while, I have never focused that effort on building something of my own. Something I can point to and say, “I built that for myself.”
I’ve done proof of concepts. I created a website and podcast about gaming to prove that even with a little short-term effort, you can still carve out a niche for yourself and build an audience with little to no outside assistance.
In all that time, I have yet to dedicate the time and effort required to build something and see it to fruition for myself. It’s always been for other companies, individuals, etc.
Luke will have an amazing life. My part in this story ends well before his does. It’s important to me that whatever I create generates some lasting benefit for him. It has to be something to make not only his life better but to empower him to affect the lives of others in a positive way.
Perhaps more than anything, I want to build something that he can carry on and pass on to his children. In order for this to happen, it’s my intention to make Luke a part of this from the beginning.
For some, legacy is built on business building. For others, it’s art or invention, charity or community improvement. My goal is to build something that incorporates all five of these aspects. I have a plan for doing so, and it will take several years of hard work to execute.
I’m looking forward to this next big project and sharing more about it in the coming months.