Rami Makhzoumi became President and CEO of Future Pipe Industries in 2003.
You can read that story here.
Over just five years he grew the business five times over, restructuring it worldwide and focusing relentlessly on customers and their needs.
There are many lessons we could share from those years.
‘What’s happening?’ one of us would ask.
‘The only constant is change,’ he said, every time we met. It was a long-standing joke.
But in this story we want to share one of Rami’s final visions.
It was December of 2009. Steven sat in Rami’s office in Dubai, having just toured the Gulf Eternit pipe manufacturing plant.
Rami knew what every machine did, but more importantly, he knew every worker by name, shook their hands warmly as we walked round, shared with them his usual dazzling but relaxed smile.
Change the world
‘Where is this leading?’ Rami asks after they finish discussing the next year ahead.
Puzzled, Steven asks him to explain.
And then the two men talk about the next 30 years ahead.
With his family secure – and in the scheme of things the global recession only temporary – Rami wants, he says, to change the world.
The only question is how?
Most people will not be changed through politics, he suggests.
But everyone the world over is touched by business.
Anyone who makes something for someone else, anyone who buys something, anyone who uses something – all are affected by business.
‘How could business change the world?’ he asks.
It was obvious to Steven.
‘Education,’ he says.
The legacy is education
‘If every man and woman gets trained in their trade or profession and if every man and woman moving through the organisation is trained to manage scarce resources and to lead our people well, doesn’t that touch everyone?’
Steven put it to Rami that our legacy as leaders is education.
‘That’s only true if everyone has access to you,’ says Rami.
‘Does everyone in the world have access to the best education at the best business schools? I think not. We’ve got to take business education away from academia.’
But academia has its place, Steven argues. Without solid research you’d flood the world with half-baked ideas like ‘The Secret’ and the so-called Law of Attraction.
Rami assures Steven that research has a place, yes, but that uppermost in our minds should be making that research relevant to practising managers. Because it is what managers do with the tools at their disposal that is key, he says.
Then he says something that strikes Steven as profound.
‘More than education as a legacy,’ says Rami, ‘it’s your idea of “legacy” as a legacy that really matters.’
What are you known for?
It hits Steven hard.
‘Of course! I’ve been coaching top CEOs and senior executives that your legacy matters,’ he says.
‘So a strategy of constantly crafting and sharing your living legacy makes perfect sense to me.’
He explains it to Jacqueline later as a simple question.
‘Look at it this way, when you’re not in the room to guide the team, your people need to know just one thing: what is your purpose in business? In the world? Why are you doing this?’
In other words, having a clear legacy is the best way to get everyone involved in your vision. To get everyone involved in changing the world.
It’s why now – as part of our process for helping clients to understand their legacy – we always ask the question ‘what are you known for?’
Because we want executives to understand the impact their legacy has on other people.
If actions speak louder than words, then your legacy shouts from the rooftops.
The logic is strong: to reach more people and to have more impact on the world, you must always be crafting a legacy.
You have more than one legacy
Importantly, you must also realise that you have more than one legacy. Aside from your legacy to your family, of course.
You have the legacy you’re building …
… in your current project
… for the business you’re currently working in
… for the industry you serve
… for your corner of the profession you qualified for
… and you have your legacy for the world.
Everything is a legacy.
What’s your legacy?
Everything you do contributes to your living legacy.
Rami helped us to see this.
Every project – everything you do – MUST be carried through using all of your peak potential.
EVERY project must be the best project you were ever involved in.
And when you finish the project?
You start another – and take it to an even higher level.
Over the past five years we’ve put everything we have and everything we are into understanding how and why we need to build a legacy.
If we can help you to see – as Rami did – that you are your legacy, then perhaps we will have done our work.
Because your legacy is not concrete or your name above a university or a hospital.
Your legacy is inextricably intertwined with everything you achieve.
And so everything you achieve becomes your living legacy.
So what’s YOUR legacy?
And, please – don’t leave it to chance to decide for you.