Tribute: What My Dad Taught Me About Brand and Legacy

The shock and sadness settled over the room like a heavy blanket. It had only been three days, and some of them had found out within the last 24 hours. I looked around the circle of family and friends, and their swollen, wet eyes, blotchy skin, and dark circles.

“Thank you all for coming…on such short notice,” my brother started. “We are incredibly grateful for your presence and support.” He took a deep breath, as the reality of this moment hit him, and then he masterfully set the intention and atmosphere for the rest of the evening. “Yesterday, they caught us off-guard at the mortuary when they asked us what Dad’s occupation and industry were. We all looked at each other wide-eyed. Of course, we quickly identified all of the careers he had that he would not want to be remembered for, and then we started joking. ‘How about occupation: shark, industry: pool?’”

The room erupted in laughter. Obviously, many of them had played pool with him (or any other sport, for that matter). When the burst subsided, he continued, “At the end of it, we decided that the one thing he did in every career was MENTOR people. He was always teaching and helping people perform better, whether it was in a sport, academics, or something else. I think all of us would agree that he was a mentor to all of us in some way. But really, how do you define a guy like my dad?” He paused to acknowledge the room full of nodding heads. “I think the best way to define him is through stories. And that’s what we want to do tonight…”

For the next several hours, we all shared our favorite stories.

We laughed. We cried. We remembered.

As I listened to the stories, my dad’s unique
Brand and Legacy as a Messenger emerged…


When you think of a big brand (think Apple, Disney, Starbucks, etc.), what happens?

Do you see an almost-whole apple, a mouse with huge ears, or a beautiful goddess with wavy hair?

Do you hear the hum of your favorite device, the theme music from your favorite childhood movie, or the sounds of blenders and frothing machines making dreams come true?

Can you smell, even taste, the mocha with two shots of espresso, 1.5 pumps of vanilla, and extra whipped cream…and the soft, flaky chocolate croissant? (Mmmmm…)

Do you feel the thrill of cutting-edge technology at your fingertips, the delight of witnessing another ‘happily-ever-after,’ or the heat of the cup of yumminess warming up your fingers and your insides?

That, right there, is the power of a brand.

Really good brands make themselves memorable by tantalizing as many senses as they can… so that every time you see their golden arches or bulls-eye, you experience all the “feels” that they want you to experience. These symbols are crafted to elicit the latent desires…for ease, for health, for growth, for connection and belonging, for meaning, and so much more. (Yes, the real desires under all of the others that get confused with them: status, power, money, etc.)

Now, I’ve given you some good Retail examples, but the same is true when it comes to messengers.

Messengers and their messages MUST be memorable…
to stand out, to make an impact, to attract a tribe,
and to generate an income.

And they can become memorable by taking lessons from these big brands.

One of my favorite Messengers and Brands right now is Jonathan Fields and his Good Life Project. He’s on a mission to help people live a good life, and his brand is something else to witness from the inside out. When I think of him and his team, and the experiences they create, all of my ‘feels’ are engaged. I can see the clever and happy eyes of Jonathan and every team member. I can hear the sound of his voice, calmly dropping wisdom at every turn; and I can hear the sounds of adults laughing and playing. I can smell and taste the delicious food served at every event, and OMG – the delicious chocolate almonds that he puts in every swag bag. But most importantly, I can feel the relief of having found a sense of belonging with a group of people who share the same values; I can feel the high vibrations that elevate everyone at his events; and I can feel the love and intention and care that he and his team put into everything that they do – love and intention that make us feel like they are holding us as well as the event. (p.s. If you want a sneak peek at the most recent event I attended, CLICK HERE. You’ll see the evidence of everything I shared above.)

If you’ve heard me speak, or watched me write for any amount of time, you know that I believe STORY is the most powerful way to engage all of the “feels” in every audience. The more you help them step into the moment with you, the more they’ll feel with you, and the more they’ll take from the experience of walking through all of the moments that led you to where you are now.

Stories communicate your WHY, your values,
and your legacy.

They are what people will remember you for…

My dad’s Brand and Legacy touched all the “feels” for his audience of family, friends, and the others he shared his message with, as we heard the same sentiments from everyone’s lips at his memorial:

“He loved his family so much…”

As his family, we knew that he loved us. He demonstrated that in many ways.
I still look at my bug-ridden windshield and think,
Aw…I remember the days when my windshield was cleaned
every morning before I got in the car.
But apparently, he talked about us all with a lot of love and pride
when we weren’t around too – we were a big part of his WHY.

“He gave generously of his time and resources…”

Every person in the room said this in one way or another.
When there was a need, my dad jumped to meet it.
And often times, he saw it coming and met it before anyone else could.
His brand and legacy was one of caring and generosity,
showing how much he valued the people he held dear in his life.

“He kinda tricked me into _______…”

So many of the stories included his inclination
to ‘pull the string instead of push it,’ as my brother would say.
He was a genius at strategy, planning several steps ahead,
whether it was on a pool table, a golf course,
or at home or work, or while mentoring and
helping someone perform better than they imagined they could.
It’s true…well-intentioned trickery was part of his brand.
In the Means and Ends argument, it was all about the End for him.

“I’ll never forget that laugh…”

How many times in my life did I watch a new friend’s eyes
spring wide in surprise at the sound of my dad’s laugh?
OMG, the laugh. You could find that guy anywhere.
Several of the guys who played golf with him said they could find him
several holes ahead on a golf course by following the laugh.
The laugh was definitely part of his unique brand and legacy.
We’ll all miss hearing it.

As it always does, death has a way of bringing us back
to this core question of brand and legacy.

In 2013, one of my clients changed my life with a conversation about Legacy and Impact. He contacted me to finish his book when his doctors told him he only had 30 days left to live, and the conversations we had along the way changed my life forever. At his memorial/celebration, I witnessed his brand and legacy…and it made me wonder: What will my legacy be? (CLICK HERE to read about that.)

Then in 2015, I was encouraged to ask the people in my life a series of questions about myself and my work. It was absolutely terrifying to ask, but an incredibly enlightening experience. I realized how much of the stuff that makes me ME – my personal brand and legacy – was not a part of my professional brand and legacy. The deliciously sarcastic revolutionary that my intimate circle experienced didn’t have a place in my brand…and I didn’t want to be remembered as someone who took great care of everyone but herself.

So, I went to work…doing the internal work that would allow me to bring my sarcastic revolutionary forward (more to come with her!) and build a life and business with my happiness, vitality, and well-being as the cornerstone.

And now, with my dad’s passing, I’m engaging the question at another level and finding more places where I can bring more of ME to what I am doing in the world.

How about you?

If something were to happen today, how would you be remembered?
What would be the defining stories and characteristics of your Brand and Legacy?

And for you, Messengers, do you have that brand you need to be memorable?
Are there any places where you can add more of YOU to it?

CLICK HERE to the next lesson my dad taught me about being a messenger.