I was having a conversation with one of my coaching clients, let’s call him Alan.
This was one of those highly confidential and deep conversations.
His firm was one of the most profitable of all my CEOs, generating about $35 M cash each year. I asked him about his plans to use those funds.
Understand, he is a very humble CEO. No desire to own his own Lear jet or anything like that.
His response surprised me. He wanted to invest the money to continue growing the cash.
Why the surprise? He generates this cash level each year. How much more does he really need to find true satisfaction?
So, I asked him “To what end?” That question stopped him.
I have been told that often you need to repeat this question 4 or more times until you get to the “core” answer – the answer that speaks to what truly matters.
I already knew about his devotion to Texas A&M. He viewed this school as a critical influence in his life.
He had funded a scholarship there in the Chemical Engineering department for about $500 K.
I asked him about possibly naming a building. He replied, “That would require a HUGE investment! Maybe tens of millions of dollars.
The next month during our coaching conversation, he brought up the topic again.
He suggested that maybe he could name the Chemical Engineering department after himself.
His passion for the school was starting to emerge in his thinking.
He thought this could be done for maybe $5 M. Well, he ended up making that donation. This could be part of his Legacy.
There’s a back story here. For several years he had been struggling with leukemia. And he knew that his future was limited.
Alan was a low key, unassuming, reserved type of leader.
But with this donation, now he hit the radar screen for the top brass at A&M.
Not long after this, the initial donation became the development of the Alan Smith Foundation for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M. Funded by some tens of Millions $.
This became his proud legacy.
And it all started with probing the repeated question of ‘to what end?’
So, what could become your legacy?
As a successful CEO looking to what’s most important to your future, how would you answer “To what end”?
If this approach might be valuable to you, reach out to me. We can explore how it could apply.