“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
When you get to be 50 years old and become a grandfather in the same year, you start thinking less about production and more about legacy. What type of wake will you leave behind and how the hell will you know? My last two posts touched on two individuals that left tremendous legacies. Judge O’Leary left a family that I get to personally enjoy three generations deep. MLK left a country that permanently changed its view of equality. By these standards, a great legacy should be both life-affirming and durable.
I have the good fortune of working with some of the best brands in the world. One of the best, if not the best, is Texas Roadhouse. TXRH, as we at Lockton refer to them, lost their founder Kent Taylor almost a year ago. Shortly thereafter, their Legendary People Officer, Mark Simpson retired after 21 years. Having just returned from a dinner and 8-hour meeting with our TXRH team, Kent and Mark would be thrilled about the wake these new leaders are surfing in their absence.
We at Lockton are employee benefit consultants. While there are plenty of real challenges we address in our role, we aren’t saving baby seals or cutting albums. If you can spend a dinner and an 8-hour strategy meeting and come out with more energy than you brought to it, you are witnessing a life-affirming culture. The first time I met Kent he was hosting the TXRH vendors at his house, although I’m not sure “house” is the right term. If you’ve seen the movie BIG, it was like this on steroids. A barn with a full-on concert going on. His basement was a legitimate sports/music bar. Neon, beer taps, games, big screens. He talked to me for an hour about one of our favorite bands — the Grateful Dead. Kent only cared about making people happy. Even vendors like us, who by custom do the entertaining. Food and music were his delivery methods, but it was always about people.
If Kent was responsible for making the culture at TXRH life-affirming, Mark had to find and keep the people to make it durable. Roadies (the name TXRH calls employees) deliver daily Kent’s vision of what dining out should be. No drama, great ingredients, hand-cut steaks, clean kitchen, free peanuts, shells on the floor, beer on ice, kitchen spotless. Do you know how hard it is to find, train, maintain and reward a workforce that can deliver on this consistently? During a pandemic? TXRH is having its best year in its 29-year history. They are anti-fragile. They benefit from adversity. Roadies show up. Mark created a durable people strategy that aced the test.
As TXRH evolves from a founder led to a founder inspired organization, they have the perfect platform to build on Kent and Mark’s legacy. As we like to say in our group…..you can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe. The new leaders have the foundation and inspiration to make the next 29 years just as good as the last 29. It was clear from our time together last week this is their sole/soul intent.
Are the people on your team affirmed by your presence? Will your team have their best year the year you leave it to them ….and not because you left? Your legacy will float on these answers.