I first started thinking about my legacy several years ago after a meeting with a financial advisor who initially hooked me with the sentence, “We have a process to help you pass on wisdom and principles to your kids.”
He then placed a sheet of paper in front of me that instructed me to list my values.
“Is there more?” I asked, holding up the paper. “I thought you said you had a process to pass on wisdom.”
Instead of delving deeper into what I’d hoped would be a discussion about passing on meaningful knowledge to my loved ones, he began to pitch a whole life insurance policy that could be set up to align with my values. This is not what I wanted to hear.
Although I didn’t act immediately, this experience planted a seed. At the time, I was running a marketing company and a real estate investment firm and hadn’t prioritized my legacy. But things evolved. I experienced the highs and lows of the real estate market, the ups and downs of marriage, financial successes, and colossal personal and financial disaster.
In 2013, I began thinking deeply about what my life represented, along with the thought of writing a memoir. I’d experienced extreme success and extreme failure. But what was all my striving for? This existential crisis prompted me to delve into a comprehensive examination of legacy. After years of focusing on building up financial assets that had all disappeared in a period of two years—along with my marriage and the dreams my husband and I had shared—I began to consider what was truly important to me.
Then, a stifling realization hit me: If my plans hadn’t been derailed, I very well may have spent my whole life focusing on acquiring more stuff, living to please others, using work as an excuse to avoid introspection—all with little fulfillment for myself.
Thankfully, life had other plans. I rediscovered what I intrinsically knew all those years ago when I sat in front of that whole life insurance salesman. Focusing only on financial assets and pretending that a simple sheet of swell values somehow gives life meaning is silly. That’s not a legacy I’d be proud to pass on. Even though I knew I was missing something, I wasn’t sure how to articulate what I wanted to pass on or how to do it. So I set out to determine what makes a meaningful legacy.
In the spirit of Napoleon Hill—the man who studied over 500 self-made millionaires to learn the secrets of their success—I went on a quest to interview the best and brightest in legacy development. Since then, I’ve talked with many estate planning attorneys, financial planners, personal historians, anthropologists, religious leaders, family counselors, and life coaches. I’ve studied everything I could get my hands on about character development, legacy planning, storytelling, spirituality, philosophy, happiness, effectively giving through charitable contributions, and successful family systems. My team and I have interviewed some of the most accomplished people in the world—business executives, billionaires, celebrities, best-selling authors, philanthropic leaders, artists, and scientists—and we discovered that accomplishing great things doesn’t mean you’ll have a great legacy. Without the proper system and focus, your legacy will be accidental.
Throughout this process, I concluded that no company had exactly what I was after all those years ago. There were bits and pieces of advice, ideas about writing ethical wills, fun tips about collecting family memories, and trust structures to ensure an heir’s compliance, but no fully realized system of creating the kind of personal legacy I wanted to leave behind.
Paragon Road was born. Pulling from my experience as a writer, artist, publisher, advertising agency owner and business woman, I have compiled a specialized legacy creation team and together we have designed a step-by-step process of how to build an effective legacy. And by “effective,” I don’t mean boring. Emotions, creativity and love is what will make your legacy great. Your legacy is part art and part science. It is about the creative evolution of distilling your essence into something your family and community will treasure for generations.
All the best,
Laura A. Roser