During our conversation, the girls also reminded me that Miss Marie was also their grandmother’s favorite teacher—which that makes her extra special in their eyes. Their grandmother, well, she’s flat out awesome.
As life has a way of doing, today when I happened into Costco in the middle of the day, in search of things I don’t really need but must have, who did I encounter on the way out—you guessed it, Miss Marie. I was so surprised!
I tapped her on the shoulder and told her who I was and told her how my girls had just been speaking of her, that very morning. The smile on her face makes my heart sing just thinking of it all over again.
I asked Miss Marie if I could take her picture so that I could show it to the girls, as I knew they would be so excited by my news. Of course she acquiesced.
We said our goodbyes and walked to our cars, parked somewhat near one another, and began unloading our purchases. Miss Marie came over a few moments later and asked if I had some pictures of the girls, which of course I was thrilled to show her.
I told her again how happy I was to have encountered her and how much it would mean to the girls to know she remembered them. And it’s then that she said to me the words that inspired this post. She said “I have people come up to me all the time who have been my students. Some of them are all grown up and they still remember me. And I still remember them, of course. I tell my husband that it means something when what you do in someone’s life makes such an impact that they remember you for years to come. And I tell him that this life, the life of a teacher, well, it was God’s mission for me, and I’ve always been grateful to be able to do it.”
You love Miss Marie now, too, don’t you? What she said had such a profound impact on me that I’ve had it on my mind all day.
And it made me ponder: What do I want to be remembered for? And so I ask you, what do you want to be remembered for?
Is it that you made a whole bunch of money? Is it that you built successful businesses, or sold them, or took companies public or made others successful? Is it that you’re the best performing salesperson on the team or travel so much that your frequent flyer miles could wallpaper a house? Is it that you live in the biggest house in the neighborhood or belong to the fanciest country club? Or maybe that you’re amazingly successful and witty and popular?
That started me thinking about the concept of what you want to be remembered for in terms of the world I know.
It seems as though everyone is for sale, especially in the online world. People who have Disney stars in their eyes and are so enamored of free trips, swag and fun parties and premieres that they don’t mind overlooking a larger issue. Or maybe it truly doesn’t occur to them—and that Disney leads the charge in sexualizing princesses and teaching girls from the youngest of ages that it’s important to be pretty, reliant on men and have big boobs, small waistlines and long, luxurious hair. But you know what, it’s their lives, their personal brands and endorsements and, certainly, their choice.
There are Walmart groupies, supporting an corporate behemoth that’s hard on vendors, not known for creating great corporate culture and treating employees well and who is pretty much responsible for the destruction of countless numbers of small businesses in small towns all across the country. They’re a company focused on profit. Period. And that? That’s also a choice people make—to align themselves with a particular brand.
These are but a few examples and please don’t misunderstand—this post isn’t about a dislike of Disney or Walmart or the people who work with or for them—that’s not it at all. I think we all make choices. Choices on where we work, how we feed our families and keep them safe and whole, choices on which brands and businesses we patronize and who we align our names, our brands, our reputation and our credibility with.
And there’s Abercrombie only wanting to sell to perfectly skinny people, and Chick-fil-A ownership supporting anti-gay agendas and McDonald’s (and other fast food chains) hoping we’ll believe that the stuff they’re slinging is healthy for us. The list is endless and I’m sure you can think of many brands you’re not crazy about—the list is different for all of us, of course.
Once a very dear friend was interviewing with a terrific agency for a senior level account director position and he was close to getting an offer. He called me and said, “I can’t do it. I’ve thought about this long and hard and I can’t go to work every day knowing that my focus, my career focus, will be on selling vodka. I just can’t do it. I can’t come home and look my little girl in the face and be proud of doing that. No matter how much money they want to pay me.” And he withdrew from consideration for that position. I really like vodka (shocker) and there was a day when I might have loved to work on that particular account, but I understood completely why he felt that position wasn’t right for him. And applauded his ability to walk away from a great job and a lot of money because it didn’t feel right in his heart.
My point in all this rambling is that I wonder whether people think about what they want to be known for and how their actions, their words and their deeds, directly and indirectly impact that. And I want to know what you think about that.
I’m in marketing. As such, my job for the past 20+ years has been helping companies sell more stuff to more people. There were days, back when I worked for someone else, that I didn’t have a choice about the accounts I worked on. But for many years now I have had a choice. I’ve turned down many business opportunities because they just didn’t feel right. And I’m far from perfect. I’ve taken on someone as a client, only to resign the account a few weeks into the engagement because it just didn’t feel right. I’ve got kids to feed and bills to pay just like everyone else, but I’ve also got this ridiculous need to try really hard to do the right thing. For me. And that means not selling out to just anyone. And make no mistake, we all sell a bit of ourselves every single day. Whether it’s to your clients, your boss, your sponsors, your advertisers, you name it, we’re for sale.
But this post isn’t about me. It’s about thinking. It’s about taking a moment to consider your life, as you live it in this moment and as it will be in the years to come. What is it YOU want to be remembered for? And is what you’re doing right now, at this very moment, setting you on the path for the answer you’d like to be able to give when you’re asked that question.
My writer friends–you know how it is. When something happens and it possesses you and you can’t stand it until you can get your thoughts down in writing? Yeah, that’s what happened with this post. And this is a business blog and it might not really belong here, but you know what, it’s as much a part of who I am and who this company is as anything else we do, so I suppose it does belong here.
And Miss Marie. She is truly a delight. She was so confident about her mission in life—to nurture and teach children–and so grateful to have the opportunity to walk that path. And I’m grateful to Miss Marie as well. For giving my children many loving memories of her, for teaching them during those early years and also for giving me reason to stop and reflect on what it is I’d like to be remembered for. I hope it’s infinitely more than that I was good at helping companies sell more stuff to more people. I’m going to endeavor to make that a reality.
What about you? What is it you’re doing today that you hope will be something you’ll be remembered for? I’d really, really love hearing about it. It’s been a week where I need some good stories to take the place of the crappy ones.