Briefing Notes: The legacy we get to leave behind

Published: September 20, 2020

The 40th | a Relevance Edition


You can’t have missed it. The news of it spread fast and wide, all over social media and the press. It was hard not to see.

A few weeks ago, on August 28th to be exact, actor/director/producer Chadwick Boseman died at home surrounded by loved ones. Hundreds of articles have since been written about him. About his illness. And about his body of work.

This one, from his family’s official announcement, remains for me the most stirring of them all:

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all and bought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and several more — all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.


I have been thinking about legacy since then. About the body of work that we get to leave behind. About the impact and the difference that we can continue to make long after we’re gone.

Of course, just this Friday, we heard the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at 87. She was only the second woman to serve on the US high court and a legal pioneer for gender equality. Yet another human being who leaves behind a tremendous legacy, a powerful body of work that will continue to make an impact for years and decades to come.

Steve Jobs once said, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why would we be here?”

For Jobs, this mantra acted not just as a goal to strive for but also a North Star in turbulent times, helping to guide his decisions. No one can argue his legacy.


Sometimes though, in considering ours, we run the risk of thinking legacy is only for profound achievements. MLK and civil rights. JFK and the space program.

We think, who am I to have a legacy? What could I possibly leave behind?

My most favorite quote about legacy comes from Dr. Maya Angelou. It was from a conversation she had with Oprah Winfrey a long time ago. Oprah shared it during her memorial tribute of Dr. Angelou.

“I remember when I opened my school in South Africa and I said to Maya Angelou, ‘Gee this will be my legacy.’ And Maya in her Maya way said, ‘You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do every day. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy.’”

I like this quote because it makes me think of legacy, not in the context of someday, but about the conscious choices I make today. The present-day dots that I try to create and trusting that someday, those dots will weave together a worthy story.


I don’t think Boseman set out and worked his films for the purpose of leaving a legacy. Instead, I think it’s his work ethic, his devotion to his craft, his love for the work, his attitude around what he could do despite the cards he was dealt with… I think in the end, at least for me, those were his legacy.


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“When I talked to him after his session, I asked, “Bill, how do you describe your purpose in life?” He answered, spontaneously and effortlessly, “To bring respect back to elderhood in America.” In eight words, he captured his entire life’s work. Bill reminded me that the first step in living your purpose is to distill it. This very act sets an accurate compass heading. It shapes your choices, tells you what is important, and helps you separate the merely interesting from the truly crucial.”

From: Make Your Mark, by 99U and Jocelyn K. Glei

Have you got a project (a new podcast, a new website, a new product, service, artwork, what have you) that you would like to get featured here? Hit ‘reply’ and tell me about it. Let’s support each other!


Doctors are preparing to implant the world’s first human bionic eye. A team of researchers in Melbourne, Australia, has built a bionic device that they say can restore vision to the blind through a brain implant. The team is now preparing for what they claim will be the world’s first human clinical trials of a bionic eye. They’re also asking for additional funding to eventually manufacture it on a global scale.


… when we used to strum the pain with our fingers (You old enough to hear the song in your head? 😂) Considered a boomer relic just years ago, the guitar is seeing a revival. A half-year into this pandemic that has threatened to sink entire industries, people are turning to the guitar as a quarantine companion and psychological salve, creating a surge in sales for some of the most recognized brands (Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor). And it’s not just graying baby boomer men looking to live out one last Peter Frampton fantasy. Young adults and teenagers, many of them female, are helping to power this guitar revival. A new generational stamp on an instrument that rocked their parents’ generation for sure.


🎙 We started a conversation around the work of a Virtual Assistant last week about how this may be a career option for people looking for work flexibility and control over one’s time. But the question is whether this really can be a profitable career path. This is the crux of this week’s episode is Kathy Goughenour, trainer extraordinaire for virtual assistants. We talked about where you start, how to position yourself, how do you price, and how to market and sell your services.

Listen to Episode 141. Or read the show notes and highlights.


Briefing Notes is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to produce and requires paid subscriptions to numerous journals, magazines, and books to get the widest and best source of information. If you find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

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I can’t believe September is almost over. And then we’re on the home stretch of this unbelievable year.

I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to some precedented times when things are just, you know, same old same old, and there’s nothing I need to do now more than ever. 😜

Send over any comments, or just tell me how you’re doing, if you’re up for becoming the next bionic man/woman, or if you’re learning any new chords lately.

Stay safe. Stay sane. And yes, keep wearing that mask.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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