On day two of the recent EDANZ conference, the evening guest speaker was Alicia Beverley of IP Wealth in Australia. When being introduced to speak, Alicia was described as “the astoninglishly beautiful Alicia Beverley”. Both her husband and my wife preclude me from commenting on that description but suffice it to say that what she said rung true.
She’s agreed to have the text of the speech reproduced here so without any further ado….
Your Leadership Legacy
By Alicia Beverley
When PT Barnum, the founder of what was known around the world as the Barnum &
Bailey Circus or the “World’s Greatest Show”, died on April 7, 1891 he was surrounded by
his closest loved ones.
Here are a couple of edited paragraphs from the New York Times obituary published the
“The Great Showman Dead
Last Hours of the Life of Phineas T. Barnum
Bridgeport’s Great Benefactor
At 6:22 o’clock tonight the long sickness of P. T. Barnum came to an end. Mr. Barnum
seemed to realize that he could not live much longer, and spoke of his approaching end
When it became certain that the end was but a few hours distant, telegrams to relatives
were sent out, and among the sorrowing group in the sick room this evening when the final
moments came were Mrs. Barnum, his pastor, two daughters, his grandson; his physicians;
a nurse and his faithful valet. All were in tears. Although Mrs. Barnum has stood up
bravely under the strain, the closing moments were too much for her and she gave way at
times. His end was peaceful and apparently perfectly painless.”
116 years after his death, the vast majority of us gathered here today would not only
remember PT Barnum’s name, but would know of his show Barnum & Bailey and of
course the slogan, “The World’s Greatest Show”. From very humble beginnings he became
enormously successful, was an exporter on a huge scale (of entertainment in his case) and
his name was known around the world in a time when news moved much more slowly than
Shortly before his death his estate was valued at $10,000,000. The will named
twenty-seven heirs and included many charitable bequests. The Children’s Aid Society was
specifically named as a beneficiary of a certain percentage of each season’s profits.
About this bequest to the Children’s Aid Society PT Barnum said, “I don’t know anybody
connected with that society but I believe in the society. To me there is no picture so
beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and
ringing laughter. That I have had power to provide innocent amusement for the little ones,
to create such pictures, to evoke such music, is my proudest reflection…[my bequest caters
for] four generations of children. I want children to remember me.”
And they did. And they still do. The circus is still running today.
Along with the bequests he arranged late in his life, during PT Barnum’s prime he also
gave generously to universities and took part in civic life, saying it was his duty to do so.
Clearly we can say that PT Barnum left a legacy. He was a leader of business, a leader in
civic life, a leader in his industry.
Tonight I will encourage you to think of what your own legacy will be. And by legacy my
operating definition comes from Answers.com which defines legacy as “your impact on
others and events remembered past your life by others who live past you”.
Let’s go back to the scene described by the journalist – long since dead himself: “he was
surrounded by loved ones and word was sent out to his family to come immediately as his
death was near. All were in tears.”
None of us are surprised that he was surrounded by grieving loved ones. Of course he was.
And I assume that like me you also hope that you will die in old age after a long, successful
and rich life surrounded by loved ones.
Interestingly none of us imagine that when our time comes we will be surrounded by our
bank manager, employees, business associates, suppliers, consultants, corporate trainers,
employees of the motor vehicle department, web designers, printers, business coaches, and
The people we are surrounded by NOW on a daily basis.
Of course we imagine ourselves surrounded by family in death because ultimately these are
the people who we live for.
Whilst the subject of dying – in particular our own death – is of course a sad topic and not
commonly a dinner topic, if we are honest with ourselves we know that this time will
As they say, death and taxes are the only sure thing.
But what will we leave when we are gone? And by that I mean what impact will our lives
have on our loved ones, and in an ever growing circle of influence on our business, our
employees, our community, our country, our world?
First I must assume that you care about what you leave behind, but even if your views on
this differed from mine – as I care deeply about what I leave behind – then you might think
again if I told you that people who think now about what comes after are more effective,
more powerful, more deliberate in life.
Nevertheless, the prerequisite for leaving a legacy is simply to have an impact and here this
assembly is ideally suited. As leaders of businesses and organizations it is almost a given
that you will leave a legacy of some sort.
As we know from looking at people like PT Barnum and Bill Gates – your background can
be as humble as the family farm or a garage in Albuquerque – and so wealth is not a
prerequisite to leaving a legacy.
Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who authored the best-selling book, “A
Brief History of Time,” is almost completely paralyzed by Lou Gehrig’s disease. Yet his
legacy – to physics, as a father, for the disabled community – is huge.
So if wealth and health are not required to leave a legacy, what is? Luckily the two
essential ingredients rest in everyone here tonight…
Passion and action.
You combine passion and action to be a leader in export and economic development. And
that’s all that I know about this group. Perhaps some of you already combine passion and
action in other areas such as in community service, mentoring and wonderful hobbies that
thrill and move you.
Think of all of the people who have inspired you in the past or now whether you know
them or not and they combine passion and action to get powerful results.
But if you have not stopped to think about the subject of your leadership legacy before it is
There are any number of guides about leadership and being a successful, effective leader.
There are any number books about running and growing a business to be a world class
organization. There are any number of books about religion and spirituality.
But the topic of your legacy and in particular your leadership legacy is about how you
personally combine passion and action to have an impact and a reach that will extend past
The world’s greatest leaders – spiritual, political, religious, in innovation and exploration –
took action that was huge enough to live on long after their lives had ended. And it was
their passion that drove them.
Do you believe that you can have the same impact as Captain Cook or Sir Edmund Hilary,
Bill Gates or Henry Ford, Galileo or Einstein, Caesar or Winston Churchill, Darwin or Sir
If not, why not? These and scores of other leaders I could have named, and those leaders
that are yet to be born, are all enormously different people. But what they share is passion
What separates us from the most inspiring amongst us, those whose achievements loom
large even on the world scale?
Is it what we expect of ourselves – our own limitations, our own low expectations, our
fears, our conditioning, our childhoods. Or is it simply a lack of clarity?
As in everything in life where one wishes to succeed one needs a plan, a visualisation of
Some of you may know that I like flying aeroplanes. Only little ones! But when you are
landing it is actually more important to keep your eyes focused on the end of the runway (a
point in the far distance) instead of where your wheels are about to make contact with the
tarmac. Interestingly looking forward to where you will finish up helps you with the
immediate goal of putting your wheels down safely.
And this is a perfect analogy for running a business: We are all familiar with business plans
that clearly elucidate what the business will look like in 3 years, 5 years, etc. And we all
know what key indicators we must watch daily, weekly and monthly to run a healthy
And to leave a legacy one needs a life plan, and the skills and desire to make it happen.
A legacy however is not about scale – stating that when you pass on you will be described
as a loving father and husband, a successful businessman and a keen football fan is sacred
and important in its significance to those who live that life with you.
When my friend’s mother passed away two years ago, he said, “She was the world’s most
perfect mum”. And to that person and his large family that was a precious, deep well of a
So what is essential then is ‘no regrets’ at the end. That the life as described is what you
wanted, what drove you, what inspired you, what made you happy all the days of your life
and you are contented with your legacy.
So I ask you are you doing the things now that will make you fulfilled at the end? Because
it is here that the importance of profit & loss statements, marketing plans and product
development fall away. And yet our every day lives are jammed packed with this.
What do we need to rise above the noise of NOW? This is a particular challenge because
we are shocked by the thought of planning past 5 – 10 years. Its too far in advance,
conditions will be different then, the economy will be…interest rates…
And yet a leadership legacy flies in a quiet graceful arc past the mundane and on into
Today in most countries in the western world life expectancy varies from 77 years to 83
years. Many of course live much longer than this.
What do you want to have achieved by then? What do you want to leave behind? How will
you have affected/influenced/impacted your family, your business, your industry, your
community, your country, the world?
Knowing what you want will attract it to you. Knowing how it feels to have what you want
will attract “it” to you faster.
Tonight I encourage you to define what you want your leadership legacy to look like. To
have that endpoint in mind as you go about your life. As with any huge project one looks at
the end result and works back to determine what will need to be accomplished at various
milestones to make the end result a reality. Small pieces make the whole.
Visualise the impact you want to have on your family. How do you want to be remembered
by each member of your family? Is your current relationship in line with this or does it
need something else, something more?
Visualise your business several decades from now even if you don’t intend to be involved
in it several decades from now.
And visualise what on earth you will do with yourself when you are no longer involved in
whatever you are involved in now. I find that most business leaders’ definition of
themselves is entirely connected to their role in their business. So what comes next? What’s
your version 2.0 of you? Is there something missing in your own life that you need to focus
on now to reap the benefits later on? Is your health up to par, is there a degree you want?
Visualise using your skills to mentor others. I currently mentor quite a few people and this
is not a one way street. As much as I give is as much as I receive.
Visualise how your passion and skills can help a community organisation you are familiar
with or go find one as soon as you can. Community service has fallen off dramatically and
yet your skills and wisdom are needed urgently right now. Simply point yourself in any
direction and you will find a community organisation that is crying out for someone like
you. And once again this is a two way street where huge benefits flow both ways.
Visualise your secret dreams coming true on whatever scale you choose to see them. Some
people write out 100 goals – I hit a wall at 49! And some of my goals are lofty and some
are just fun.
And if I can be so bold, watch your language! And here I don’t mean watch the expletives
– although you can leave that for The Sopranos. I mean a powerful legacy is a positive
thing, and it requires a highly positive person and this relies on positive thinking and
Literally the words you use can help make your plans come true. In fact the title of a book
by Florence Scovell Shinn a metaphysician from the 40s says it all in my view, “Your
Word is Your Wand”.
Because this topic deserves a speech of its own, here’s a handy hint: the two words
“always” and “never” can be diamonds and they can be daggers. Watch what words tumble
out of your mouth with ease after “always” and “never”.
For instance, if you commonly say “I never get that right” or “I always forget that”, well as
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!”
In my own life and in my mentoring of others I rely on positive affirmations to flip a
previously negative or neutral view on a subject to a highly positive view.
Will your leadership legacy change while you journey through life? Of course! Stop and
reflect at times – check if you are on course and re-tack if needs be, or redefine your legacy
This is my current description of my leadership legacy:
“Alicia Beverley lived a life of grace and generosity. She was a loving and devoted wife to
her husband Michael, a strong and caring parent to her three children who she raised with
her husband to become happy, healthy, independent, socially responsible adults. Alicia
changed the intellectual property industry to be responsive to local innovators instead of at
the beck and call of overseas applicants. In so doing she helped to increase the esteem of
innovators and scientists. She gave generously of her time to AB Paterson College and its
students. Alicia helped many to become leaders in their own right. She helped thousands of
people to discover their leadership legacy and thereby find and live a life of passion and
Passion and action. You are already blessed with the two essential ingredients that the
world’s most famous leaders relied on to leave their amazing legacies.
As I stand here tonight I can honestly say that my life is truly wonderful and I expect that to
be the case for many decades to come.
Yet knowing that I am surrounded tonight by all of you – leaders who will live life to the
fullest and thereby leave powerful leadership legacies of your own, fills me with
And so I thank you.