Legacy in the Making: A book review by Bob Morris

Legacy in the Making: Building a Long-Term Brand to Stand Out in a Short-Term World
Mark Miller and Lucas Conley
McGraw-Hill Education (March 2018)

Why and how to build a brand “through the lens of legacy” that can still have immediate impact

The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, offers this advice: “Invent your own game. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of this life, let that enduring ambition guide you, and if the right tools don’t exist to accomplish it, design your own tools. Be the only person who does what you do the way you do it. That way, you will always be the winner.” This is excellent advice, provided within an especially thoughtful and thought-provoking Foreword.

Mark Miller and Lucas Conley wrote this book in order to explain how to build a long-term brand to stand out in a short-term world.” They take a direct approach by illustrating a key insight with a mini-profile of a real-world company. For example: “Contribution Before Extraction” (The Tribeca Film Festival), “Empower Your Believers” (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company”), “Share Your Secrets” (The San Diego Zoo), “Ask Deeper Questions” (Lexus), and “Let the Past Inform the Present” (The Championships, Wimbledon).

Here are five far-reaching transformations to illustrate how these and other enduring brands can be built in in the modern age:

1. From following institutional practices to leading with personal ambitions
2. From attitudinal posturing to behaving your beliefs
3. From commanding and controlling customers to influencing social movements
4. From obeying orthodox boundaries to pioneering unconventional solutions
5. From episodic innovation to perpetual adaptation

“Together these five transformative perspectives on brand building constitute what we call the modern legacy mindset.” What follows suggests the thrust and flavor of the lively and eloquent narrative.

Excerpt from Take Leadership Personally (Girls Who Code): “Seek out the problems no one has been able to fix and don’t let the failures of others prevent your success.”

Excerpt from Behave Your Beliefs (Deeds, Not Words): “Regardless of the financial circumstances, modern legacy builders like [Amy] Kurland speak through action; that is how you build a legacy from the inside out.”

Excerpt from Let Outsiders In (The It Gets Better Project): “In every modern legacy, there’s a time to lead by example and a time to step out of the way. Not long ago, the idea of letting outsiders control a brand’s message would have given corporate executives fits. Today, it’s practically a badge of honor.”

Excerpt from Invent Your Own Game (Grey Goose): “The clichés about how to succeed are innumerable…But this is conventional thinking, and it works only when you’re aim is conventional success. To skip the line, modern legacy builders don’t just aim to do their best, they also ask, ‘How can I be the only one doing what I do?'”

Excerpt from Never Stop Making Legacy (Taylor Guitars): According to cofounder Kurt Listug, “Find something that you’re really passionate about, that you believe in, that you’ll keep at no matter what…No matter what you do, there are going to be really hard times, so make sure you’re working at something you care about more than anything in order to compel you to keep going on you journey.”

This a terrific book, offering an abundance of invaluable information, insights, and counsel in seamless integration with superior layout and illustrations. The material is as entertaining as it is informative. I commend Mark Miller and Lucas Conley on producing a “must read” for business leaders who are determined to build a brand “through the lens of legacy,” one that can still have immediate impact. Bravo!


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