What Do You Want Your Legacy To Be?

I am sure most of you have not given much thought to this question. In fact, what actually is a legacy? According to wikidot.com, a legacy is a part of a person that lives on long after that person has passed. A legacy also leaves behind the story of a person so they are not forgotten. Legacies are important pathways for the future to follow or to be guided by in order to make better decisions in life.

Legacy is about life and living it. We learn from the past, live in the present and build for the future. It isn’t about how much money we leave behind or how famous we are. A legacy is pieces of ourselves: children, grandchildren, a business, a community. As www.legacyproject.org states, “For children, legacy means learning from the past. For adults, legacy means hoping for the future. It means developing and passing on a timeless part of yourself. We know we have an obligation to help make the future a little bit better than the past.”

So, what kind of legacy do you want to leave? First, it is important to identify what matters to you. What are your values If you were able to do one thing to improve the world, what would it be? What could you do to enhance the well being or your children or grandchildren? As you look back on your life, there are things that stand out – things that have shaped you.

Joan Moran, author, shared 5 ways to leave a great legacy: 

1. Support the people and causes that are important to you 

2. Reflect and decide what is most important in your life 

3. Share your blessing with others

4. Be a mentor to others and 

5. Pursue your passions because they are infectious.

I reached out to several people in the dry cleaning industry and asked them, “What do you want your legacy to be?” Many responded, and below you will be interested to see what they said…

Scott Bell, BRYAN’S CLEANERS, Pasadena.  “I think that when I reflect on my legacy, I see it through three different lenses. There’s a business legacy, family legacy and personal legacy. As far as a business legacy goes, I often reflect on when I was a kid and people would be referring to some establishment and a common expression was, Oh that place has been there a hundred years. I am pretty sure the places hadn’t been there a hundred years. Not in Southern California anyway in the 60’s. That means they would have started in the Civil War. I would like to see Bryan’s make a hundred years. Less than two decades to go.

As far as a family legacy goes, I’m probably in line with many of us as we want to see our children grow up to be good productive members of society. In other words, we have provided them with the skills and tools to take on the everyday challenges of life. It’s not so important WHAT they are as WHO they are. As to my personal legacy, that has been a moving target throughout my life. What one feels is important can really be altered by your life’s experiences and the stage you are in your life. This is true I think of everyone. So, at this stage for me, I’d like to be able to say that I am able to handle whatever life has decided to throw at me and just make the best of it. Your problems are not going away so why not accept them for the growing opportunity that they are and not as an impediment to enjoying life.”

Barry Gershenson, Executive Director, California Cleaners Association. “I would like to be remembered by my family as a person who has lived an honorable, courageous and adventurous life. A person who has set an example to my family by helping them, while instilling good values. A person who my children are proud to call “Father” and leaving them a lifetime of cherished memories. A grandfather who is loved and respected for my wisdom, integrity and the many moments of fun and laughter.

I want my legacy to be a kind, loving husband. I also enjoy making others feel comfortable in my presence, able to reach out to me and trust me with their most personal matters. Also, I want to maintain a relationship by staying interested in their lives and with anything else they might bring up. Lastly, I want to be remembered for working on community service projects, with one that was prominent in my life, the Annual Veteran’s Holiday Celebration. There, I participated on the Board of Directors for over 15 years with this event.”

Ray Rangwala, ESTEEM CLEANERS, Glendale. “Mine is very simple. I want to be remembered as a straight up, honest, trustworthy guy. I want to be remembered for my charitable work. It is important to remember that the people you choose to surround yourself with make a huge difference in your outlook.”

Lynnette Watterson, CRYSTAL CLEANING CENTER, San Mateo. “In a broad industry sense, I would like my legacy to be someone who cared about and supported the industry by belonging to Industry associations and serving in positions on the Boards of those organizations. As a business owner, I would like my legacy to be the attributes of trustworthiness, expertise, respectfulness and helpfulness. As an employer, I would like my legacy to be that of a good leader, generous, compassionate and caring. At this moment in time, I have four employees and they have collectively been with us for 100 years!”

Kelly Kelleher, KELLEHER/CASARES EQUIPMENT INC. “My hope is that my family business and name will have been known for helping small businesses succeed and thrive throughout the immense changes in our industry during my lifetime. I also hope that I will leave my children with a strong sense of the importance of family.”

Jeff Schwarz, A. L. WILSON CHEMICAL CO. “I would want my legacy to be, since getting into this industry in 1991, working with local, state and regional associations and seeing approximately 1,000 drycleaners, every year, I want my legacy to be that I was a disciple of Doris Easley and Kenney Slatten… that I gave back to the industry, more than I took. That I was a welcome and contributing member of the drycleaning family…that if anybody had a question, or a problem, they could call on me and they could count on me…That I didn’t just make people laugh, by telling stories and jokes, but I made their lives, maybe just a little bit better…I can say all the above about Doris and Kenney. They both made my life better, I hope to carry on their legacy, as I do, mine.”

Again, I want to thank Scott, Barry, Ray, Lynnette, Kelly and Jeff for sharing their thoughts. A legacy is very much about life and living as evidenced by the thoughts above. Start thinking about your legacy. It will be the most important thing you leave!

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at jmshb@socal.rr.com.

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