Legacy Lab founder Mark Miller and writer Lucas Conley explain five key principles that are transforming today’s business world for brand leaders and legacy-builders.
In an age when it’s more common to think in terms of minutes instead of years, are lasting brands relics of the past? Is legacy—that which endures—becoming a scarce resource?
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The increasing scarcity of long-term ambitions in today’s frenetic marketplace presents a profound competitive opportunity for leaders with what we call “the modern legacy mindset”—a rare perspective on personal and brand leadership that we have identified among a select group brands, including The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Tribeca Film Festival, Grey Goose, The Honest Company, Lexus, Wimbledon, and Patagonia, to name a few. (Notably, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, wrote the foreword to our book). Rather than measuring what is left behind, modern legacy is measured in the wealth of experiences that today’s enduring leaders and brands bring to life each day.
This unique way of looking at the world is based on five core principles that are transforming the business world:
- From Institutional to Personal
Nearsighted brand leaders buy in to management systems and institutional processes with the goal of following market trends. Leaders with the modern legacy mindset invest in individuals who are seeking to make a meaningful contribution, beginning with their own long- term personal ambitions.
- From Attitudinal to Behavioral
Nearsighted brand leaders imagine their brands first from the outside in, believing that attitude—what they say and how they posture—matters most. Leaders with the modern legacy mindset build from the inside out in accordance with beliefs that drive behaviors because actions matter more than words alone.
- From Commanding to Influential
Nearsighted brand leaders hoard information and tell customers what to do, striving for category dominance and sales superiority. Leaders with the modern legacy mindset consider their social influence and invite customers to help tell their story because sales follow saliency.
- From Orthodox to Unconventional
Nearsighted brand leaders focus on mastering rules (e.g., business is about making profits) and take conventional wisdom for granted (e.g., there are no profits in altruism)—all in the interest of maintaining the status quo. Leaders with the modern legacy mindset forge extraordinary and lasting change by breaking rules, including reconciling paradoxes (e.g., business can make money and be a force for good).
- From Episodic to Perpetual
Nearsighted brand leaders tend to grow stale by repeating the past or to lose their identity by renouncing it. Leaders with the modern legacy mindset find a new way, cultivating enduring significance by bringing the past forward and reinvigorating their brands each day.
The modern legacy mindset represents a forward shift in brand-building better suited to the challenges of a fast-paced global economy. In an always-on world that increasingly values overnight success, instant gratification, and short-term thinking, leaders with long-term ambitions are the best equipped to stand out, get ahead, and make their mark.
While traditional legacy thinkers read from history, modern legacy builders make it every day.
Are you ready to build your own modern legacy?
Mark Miller is the founder of The Legacy Lab, a research and consulting practice, and the chief strategy officer at Team One. Named a Trendsetter and an Agency Innovator by The Internationalist, Miller’s work in helping global brands drive change has earned awards and recognitions from the Advertising Research Foundation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and Effie Worldwide.
Lucas Conley is a writer with The Legacy Lab, the author of Obsessive Branding Disorder, and the coauthor of Legacy In The Making and The Method Method. A former researcher for The Atlantic and staff writer for Fast Company, he has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN Magazine, SPIN, and The Wall Street Journal Magazine. Conley has appeared on The Colbert Report, ABC World News, CNN’s BookTV, NPR, and at South by Southwest.