Leading with Your Legacy in Mind: Q&A with Dr. Andrew Thorn

By Cori Cagide, Associate Publicist


A client of mine recently inspired me to rethink the concept of legacy. It got me thinking – what will I leave behind when I’m gone? Will I have made a difference? One very important aspect of “legacy” that he helped me to realize is that whether you’re approaching graduation, blossoming at the peak of your career, or gearing up for retirement, legacy is something that can be established at any age. In his book, Leading with Your Legacy in Mind: Building Lasting Value in Business and in Life, business coach and psychologist Dr. Andrew Thorn shows us how to use and manage our time to our advantage so that we’re ultimately working toward our creating our legacy.


To better understand this idea of legacy, I had a Q&A session with Dr. Thorn to learn more about his book, his background, and lessons he can share about creating a lasting legacy.



MEDIA CONNECT: Do you think it’s possible to establish your legacy at any age?

Andrew Thorne: The sooner we begin to think about our legacy, the more powerful it will be. Early investments of time and energy help us to establish a profound legacy and often lead to abundant opportunities for personal growth and development.


MEDIA CONNECT: What advice would you give to recent college grads when it comes to choosing their careers and getting the ball rolling on creating a lasting legacy?

AT: Graduation time is decision time. It is in this moment that we set the tone for the way we will live our lives. Too many of us think about how much money we will make before we think of how much meaning we will make. We all need to make money, but we can do that without sacrificing our biggest hopes, dreams and aspirations. My advice is to engage in the work that you know you are meant to do, even if that means making less in the beginning. Instead of sacrificing your dream for the money, you will be living your dream for the meaning.


MC: What is one of the biggest misconceptions about legacy when it comes to leadership?

AT: Many leaders think that they will be remembered for their results, inventions, and discoveries. These only produce short-term recognition. The big picture of legacy invites us to focus on the people that support our leadership responsibilities and the vision that inspires others to engage. Either way we get results, but the results truly are more impressive when we begin to see them as the natural outcome of the way we treat others.


MC: You often discuss the concept of work/life balance as it relates to hours in a year (117,000 hours of your life is spent doing “x,” while the remainder is spent doing “y,” etc.). Can you go into more detail on that?

AT: A very lucky person, over the course of a 45 year career, will spend about 117,000 hours at work (Average of 50 hours a week working), 131,000 hours sleeping (average of 8 hours a day sleeping), and 65,000 hours (average of 4 hours a day) taking care of personal responsibilities. This scenario would leave the lucky person with a little more than 50,000 hours to use however he or she wants.

Unfortunately, most of us work longer, sleep less, encumber life with unnecessary personal responsibilities and then find ourselves too tired to make our free time matter. Instead of trying to balance the time, we must spend time focusing our efforts into meaningful work.


MC: How do you manage to find and maintain a balance between your career and personal life?

AT: I like to measure the decisions I make at work against the impact those decisions will create at home. Early on in my career, I found myself considering whether or not I would allow myself to work on Sunday. At first this seemed like a religious question, but the more I considered it the more I realized that I wanted and needed time away from my work so I added the idea of working on Saturday to the equation. As I thought about the positive and negative outcomes, I eventually decided that I did not want to work on Saturday or Sunday. I knew I could not live into this value if I decided to be a doctor or a police officer so I ruled those careers and every other career that would require me to work on the weekend. This early decision made it easier to check if the outcomes I wanted were aligned with the values I said I held dear.


MC: You’ve used Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates as an example of why it’s important to serve others in order to create a lasting legacy. Can you elaborate on that?

AT: Both of these industry giants spent a good portion of their lifetimes creating products that significantly influenced our world. At first, everything they did was focused on generating an outcome or a result, and they didn’t really care what the impact would be on others.

Bill Gates woke up one day and said, “Is this all there is to life? I have more money than I can ever spend. What will I do about this?” These questions led to the founding of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is now changing the world. Bill and Melinda will be remembered for these efforts long after they are gone.

Unfortunately, Steve Jobs never got around to working on this part of his legacy. He focused all of his energy on making awesome products that gave us all temporary delight, but they are now quite common and face significant competition each day for market share. As this impact fades away, much like it did with the inventor of the television, so does our memory of Steve Jobs.


MC: Do you feel that the advice and lessons you offer in your book are helping you to establish your legacy (since this is something you will ultimately leave behind)?

Thorn_CoverAT: I see the book as a record of my thinking and of my discoveries. Naturally, this record will be exciting for my future posterity to possess, but I understand the importance of living putting the principles in action. My willingness to live these principles definitely increases the impact I create, but I am very clear about the truth, which is that when these principles stay in the book, they have no power to shape any legacy. They must be acted upon and I am doing my best each day to act upon them.






MC: You take on a fascinating perspective when it comes to being perfect. Why do you think we’re all meant to be perfect?

AT: I don’t just think that we are all meant to be perfect; I think that we all are perfect. Most of us discount or cover up the trials we have experienced and the mistakes we have made because we allow them to bring us shame. I see these experiences more as defining moments. To me, I wouldn’t be perfect without my flaws and blemishes. They define who I am. As soon as I began believing this about myself, it became very easy for me to believe this about others too. There are some who fear that this way of thinking will make it easy to accept and make more poor choices, but the opposite is actually true: The more you see yourself as perfect, the more desire and energy you’ll have to live up to that perfection.


MC: Is there any advice you wish someone had given you early on in your career with regard to creating the foundation for your legacy?

AT: Most people told me all about the things I shouldn’t do. It would have been wonderful to have had somebody who gave me permission to be great and take more risks. Because we deal with all of the “no’s,” they become our focus and life gets organized around those set of rules. I wanted somebody to tell me what to start doing the things that I thought were important. I really wanted to be a teacher and I was told that I would never make enough money doing that. I believed it then, but I don’t believe it now. The best advice – breathe life into your dreams and you will carry with you an amazing legacy.


MC: Can you give 3 tips on how we can learn to maintain a work/life balance and work towards establishing our legacy (for any age)?

AT: Forget about balance. It is a myth. It is something that happens very naturally. You can demonstrate this by getting up and walking right now. Did you think about balancing yourself? Of course not. It is the same with feeling balance in your life. As long as you know where you are going, and you are heading in that direction, you will feel in balance.

Spend some time every day thinking about who you want to be in the future. You must spend time drawing the big picture. The sooner you can define this in the most clearest of terms, the more quickly you can begin to align your daily actions to becoming that person.

Spend some time at the end of each day celebrating the things that went right. If you go to bed with this thought in your mind you will begin to feel greater levels of satisfaction.



Related: Meet Our MC Team: Cori Cagide


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