Time for legacy.

When will you think about your legacy?

Probably too late.

We generally think about the future in the first few weeks of the new year.

You know … resolutions! 

The future is the next few months … maybe the whole year. And we all know what happens to most resolutions … they are resolutely forgotten a few months later … because … you know … life happens and … well … we have a strong tendency to avoid at all costs cultivating guilt.

So here we are, again, at the beginning of a new year.

This year is a bit special for me.

I attended a virtual gathering on January 10, 2024, to discuss several topics related to organizational development. I did not know what to expect but whenever I hesitate to attend those gatherings a little voice tells me…

“Hey, if you hesitate, it probably means you will be surprised. And do you like surprises? Yeah sure … especially those you plan for others … come on big boy … you KNOW if you hesitate it means you REALLY NEEDS this!”

So … here I was, expecting nothing but great intention (I know the organizer!) along with a gathering of amazing and people most probably, almost definitely, wiser than me. So here I was. And I was asked how to define 2024 in a word or two…

Oh boy … I was not expecting this! But my brain and the universe plotted behind my back again. And they probably had been planning something like this for a few weeks…

You see, I recently moved to a new office.

I did not expect this when my landlord wanted to see me on the first day I came back from the summer vacations. Briefly, I was out! I had been at the same location for 6 years. A great place! Great office, lots of room and rooms adjacent to it for large groups convening! An amazing location that I was planning to rent until my retirement in some years.

Et voilà! I was out!

Finding a new office and training rooms was a mild challenge. It took two months and I was planning my new life and then it hit me … for a few years we had been threatened by a high inflation situation and I had not been affected too much, considering that we were still in a COVID and Post-COVID era.  But it hit me here and then! Almost a 50% drop in renewals for my communities of practice, my main source of revenues. And here I was, facing an increase in my rates to alleviate the new office and increased expenses associated with it just in time for a 50% cut in revenues and engagement from my main recurrent clients. Great!

So, my two words for 2024?

Renewal and survival … 

Renewal and survival … closely associated. If I am to survive 2024, I need to renew. Again.

I am therefore forced to think long and hard about the future. My business future.

Weirdly enough this moving process coincided, or rather followed another similar process closely. Last summer, my aging parents moved out of their main house and permanently established their home in their condo, 250km away. They had purchased this almost a decade ago to be able to visit their relative in Quebec City and thought this would be more confortable to spend a few weeks at a time in the home away from home than having to go to hotels or to stay for several days at a time at a relative’s or a friend’s house.

This made sense.

The pandemics forced them to stay in their condo for long months and they slowly and progressively realized that their “home” was now over there. Smaller and easier to maintain than the main home and more practical as most of their living relatives were living in their neighbourhood out there. Their former home, in the town where I was born and where they lived most of their married life together was not as hospitable anymore. Most of their friends and relatives had progressively died or moved closer to their kids.

This made sense indeed.

They therefore sold the big house and, although I tried and tried and tried again to convince them to start the clean-up early and to decide early what they wanted to keep, to give or throw away…well, they did not! We, my brother, my sons and spouse and I, ended up sorting everything in a rush during the last month before the new owner were moving in! 

Yeah … I know, I should have foreseen this. But to my defence, when we discussed it in the 6 months preceding the final day, I had the impression that they had done a little … sorting, cleaning … I don’t know. 




And believe me, 30 years of accumulation is difficult to image until…

We ended up selling a few items online, giving away several more items (personal tastes are very different from one person to the other…I had absolutely no interest in most of the things they offered to hand out to me…) and trashing over 115 boxes of papers, old books, dozen of coffee table book (great picture but heavy!!) 38 dictionaries and grammars, dozens of English courses (my father always had a hard time speaking and understanding English!), several bibles or biblical books (for the life of me I still wonder about those as my parents were not at all religious…), old project files my father worked on 42 years ago, electoral pamphlets from 1992 … a nightmare!

Lots of work not facilitated by  numerous “historical” comments by my parents: 

“Oh, I remember this, in 1961 when we got married…” 

“ You don’t know how I got this! We visited a great place in Spain in 1973 and…

Tedious process when you try to speed things up. Yes, it could have been a deep bonding moment, if only we had more than a month to do all this. Finally the one moment of delight :

“oh well, we realize that we are not attached to anything here anymore. Trash everything!”

Still … Insurance papers had to be sorted, medical files had to be found ( but were lost!), investment reports, 3000 slides, thousands of photos … out??  I kept several boxes of photographs against their will to sort them all later. I was sure they would regret tossing away those souvenirs and remembrances.

In the end lots of work. Lots of emotions. 

A few weeks later, I was doing a similar process because my new office is a lot smaller that the old one. 

Did I need to move my thousands of books (yes, thousands…) I read about one book a week (plus magazine, comics etc. per year and have been doing so for decades… and no, I do not have a tendency to discard them once read.

Would I read them all again? 

On top of this, I suffer from a bookworm infection called tsundoku. I have probably 200 books in the “read later” bookshelf.

Would I really read them?


Remaining books..still numerous!

Some books (ok, lots of books!) I have purchased for research purposes. I read a few chapters, find and use what I need and they go in the bookshelves. I had 6 bookshelves full of books. Old and new. To be read or already read. Plus dozens of books I purchased for my clients as part of the learning experiences I design for them every year.



And I had so many accessories for those same learning experiences! Creativity tools, boxes of them. Speakers, monitors, projectors, rolling banners, a full kiosk for marketing, boxes and boxes of my own books…

I started selling or giving away the extra stuff. Boy … that is not as easy as it seems…

And getting rid of these valuable items, books etc. was not easy…hmmm…

I started to feel guilty about my attitude when my parents told me a few months previously that they had not done all this … I then remembered how overwhelmed they looked during the month it took to move out.

I also made me think deep about their legacy.

The house they lived in (I never lived in this house as they built it a few after I had left for the big city) was gone. Thirty years of accumulation of “valuable” items, books, souvenirs and reminiscences … gone. Almost.

Ah, the photos, I had kept the photos … 3000 slides (remember slide projectors and  carousels?) and thousands more photographs in various states of decay.

Oh my god … we might lose the photos!

And then it hit me.

So what?

What if you were to lose the photos?

A friend of mine recently told me he had started to create the slide show for his parents’ funeral…still living parents. His arguments are simple: why wait in the first few days of bereavement to do this. It is now a staple of modern funerals to have a great slide show of important moments in the life of the recently deceased. I have enjoyed those … sometimes. Most of the time the “carefully” selected photos are meaningless to all but a few. It made sense to prepare the slide show well in advance, in a relaxed state of mind, add some meaningful music or, for the technologically inclined, add a narration, some nice fade-in or other special effects … after all we want to remember the loved one …. And my friend even told us that, to extend the process further, he was also preparing his own funeral slide show in order to prevent bothering his kids about this. Nice touch. And logical…

Except that…

Who really cares?

Photographs?  Really? Is that all we are good for? A funeral slide show? OR a nice epitaph on a tomb stone? 

I remember Colin Powell in an interview : My epitaph should be “ A good soldier and a great father”. Wow. Succinct. Powerful…

But most people are expertly summarized by a hyphen between two dates. “Suchnsuch Doe, 1967–2045″

Voilà! It is all there, in the hyphen! But it makes sense in a strange, sad way!!

That got me thinking.  What IS my legacy?

What was my great-father or great-grandmother legacy for that matter? Apart from a few DNA molecules transmitted expertly by their germ cells … not much.

They had no photos in the early 1900 … or before.

Almost nobody could afford to have a statue, a painting or a funeral hieroglyph made of them.

Then what is anyone’s legacy? How do we live on in the mind of our loved ones ?

Remembrances, souvenirs.

Forget about photos in any format, physical of digital.

Forget about compatible formats or storage capacities.

Forget everything but remembrances, souvenirs.

When remembrances and souvenirs of us are forgotten,

we literally cease to exist.


In this new year first few weeks, think about this: what will you do and say this year that will create memorable moments for all of the people you interact with?

Who will you spend your precious time with in order to create those remembrances and souvenirs?

What can you do to create those moments and events for, and with, your loved ones?

How can you deliver powerful messages, memorable messages and insights for your customers, clients, colleagues, co-workers or associates so that they do not need this fancy business card, this useless corporate gift made in China or a magic wand (this one certainly helps but probably not as much I had hoped!).

So this is January. Again.

I have been writing in a family journal twice a year. Between 20 and 40 pages every year for the last 25 years. No photos. Just words, thousands of handwritten words. I am pretty sure nobody will read them when I am gone. Heck, I rarely read them again myself! But I look at photographs even less frequently. But writing helps me remember moments of the past months. I helps me treasure those moments once more. Once I have finished writing I look at the coming year and I wonder…

My two words for 2024 are renewal and survival.

Aw… Scratch this.

My ONE word is Legacy.

It is time for legacy.


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