Long before I became a real estate agent, I was a partner in a food brokerage company. What is a food broker? It is very much like a real estate broker, only this time you are selling cases of food instead of houses. A food broker represents a manufacturer so that the manufacturer doesn’t have to hire their own sales staff. The broker earns a commission on every case they sell. If you don’t sell anything, then no commission is earned…that’s where the manufacturer saves money versus having a staff they must pay regardless of selling anything. Sounds pretty much the same as real estate broker, doesn’t it?
Anyway, I have been here for 37 years, and at the end of the month I will return my stock to the company and be on my way. I hope to be able to sell real estate as long as the good Lord will let me. I earned my real estate license about 12 years ago when I relocated our company office from one suburb of Cleveland to another. It was about a two year process of working with a commercial real estate agent, attorneys, builders, contractors, and landlords. At that end of that period of time, our company safely working out of a more productive and modern facility…I discovered that I was completely bored. I missed the action and excitement of real estate. So in my mid-fifties, I went back to school and obtained my license. With that license, I found a new passion for life.
I find myself reflecting back on my career and wondering what, if any, my legacy will be. We live in such a fast-paced technological world that I don’t think any of the things I helped implement will still be in place 5 years from now. When I started, we had a mainframe computer to handle the placing of orders from our customers to our manufacturers. That was the extent of office equipment besides a bunch of typewriters and phones.
I watched as computers started to spring up on desks here and there. Today, everyone who sits at a desk has a computer, and those who don’t have a desk have a handheld device. The Internet made its way into the business world and now is an inescapable way of communicating instantly with one another. The pace at which new and better ways of doing things seem be accelerating at nearly the speed of light. Obsolete used to be decades…now it is just a year…maybe two.
So while I helped to spearhead these innovations being implemented in our company, someone 5 years from now will regard what we accomplished on the same comical level as watching old Seinfeld reruns and seeing Jerry use his clunky old cell phone.
I have watched enough people come and go over the years to know that at work…for the most part, we are all easily replaced. Apple still goes on without Steve Jobs. Ford still makes cars without Henry Ford.
Sadly, the world has a tendency to measure the worth of a person by what they do rather than who they are. Being a billionaire doesn’t automatically put you at the front of the line for being a good person. I once heard the adage that success is measured by what a person has to give up to get what they want. That’s a pretty good saying right there. Building something at the expense of tearing someone down isn’t much of an accomplishment.
I’ve thought about this long and hard over the past year as my time behind this desk has gone from months to days, and you know what I have discovered? My legacy never once was based on anything I did at work. It is based on what I did at home. In a previous post I noted that I had told a friend of my wife that it isn’t important where you head off in the morning, but where you return at the end of the day. I think I shall listen to my own advice.
My “business” empire is centered around a wife who has stuck by me for close to 50 years. She didn’t give me my walking papers when there was a bad year. There wasn’t a decrease in her love during lean times. No, she was there for me even when I didn’t deserve it. She is the cornerstone of my empire. My company portfolio expanded with the addition of 4 satellite offices named Steven, Michael, Gina, and David. They have paid huge dividends throughout my career. They have become my signature brand. In them I can see that the investment was well worth it!
Looking around at my family, I can see that I have invested my time, and my passion in the right place. My legacy is my family.
I came across this quote the other day, and I fell in love with it. I will end this post with this thought from Pope John Xxiii, “Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage.”