Ensuring a Legacy

One of the major highpoints for any speaker is being invited back for an encore presentation, so I was thrilled to be asked to return to Eagle Communications recently, having spoken there in 2010.

I remember that first trip very well for a number of reasons.

First, due to a terrible thunderstorm, my plane circled above Kansas City and did not land in time for me to catch my connecting flight to Hays, Kansas, where Eagle Communications is located.

Second, and even more memorable than the storm, was the incredible woman I sat next to on the plane. When I realized that I would not make my flight, Cindy, a logistics broker, said that this would be the first time she’d brokered a human being. When we landed in Kansas City, she called a friend of hers and arranged for that individual to drive me to Hays — through the night as I slept in the car — so I would be able to make my 8 a.m. presentation. I’ll never forget that experience and Cindy’s willingness to assist me, a complete stranger, by making sure I made it to my engagement on time.

Third, was my experience with the incredible people at Eagle Communications, on that first visit, and when I returned to speak this past February. Upon arriving the second time, I learned that the company had become employee owned. Just a few months earlier, founders Bob and Pat Schmidt transferred all shares of the company to the employees giving them full ownership.

The Schmidts started Eagle Communications in 1948. This is a true story of legacy. Bob and Pat realized that none of their three children wanted to go into the broadcasting business and they needed an alternate plan to keep that legacy going.

This raised some significant questions. How does such a legacy continue if you don’t pass it on to your children? How do a family’s name and traditions live on? How would the Schmidts early vision become an infinite legacy for their family?

The simple answer was bestowed to me by Pat Schmidt before I took the stage at their annual awards dinner. He looked me dead square in the eyes and said, “Our decision to transfer this company to the employees was easy, because this was our opportunity to leave our legacy to a group of hardworking individuals. This enables generation after generation to be impacted by the one-time vision of somebody who saw something in the future.” Back in 1948, the Schmidts saw a company that would grow into something significant and special. It has and, now, will continue to do so.

That experience had a great impact on me, and, apparently, I made an impact on them as well. I was honored to speak to those hardworking individuals not once, but twice.

Go Do Great Things!

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