What Will Your Legacy Be?

Guest Blog – Bruce Kidd of Concerts for a Cause

It seems to me that much of life is made up of two items –  one of them we can control and the other one we can not.   Every person can control the choices they make, both personally and professionally, which ultimately define who we are as human beings, employees or employers.   However, the serendipity of life that introduces various people, events, opportunities and challenges  to all of us, while  not controllable, often plays a key role in influencing the life we live and the people we become.   For me, the serendipity of life has had a profound influence on the choices I made during my 35 year career and continue to make today.  Two primary examples of this serendipity are as follows.

None of us can control what family we are born into.   That is just how it works. In 1956, I was blessed to be the first child of Walter and Jackye Kidd.  Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but it would become evident pretty quickly that I had special parents and I would want to be like them when I grew up.  They taught me that life is pretty simple if you live it the right way – give more than you get, treat people kindly and take care of your family, your friends and your community.

Today, the term “Servant Leader” has become well known and used to describe individuals or companies that care about giving back through time, talent and treasure.  My parents were not successful business people by most standards, but they have been incredible “Servant Leaders” their entire lives and very successful at the only metric of success that I believe matters: positively impacting the lives of other people. My mom and dad lived it every day without any desire for personal gain or commendation.   There is a quote that sums up how they lived: “it only matters what you do when no one is watching.” I agree. My dad passed away suddenly on February 20th of a heart attack at 82. And as it should be, he was at the part time job he loved for the past 10 years – managing a building owned by a local engineering firm and helping them and their tenants. Walter Kidd was already busy at 7:30 a.m. that day assisting some tenants with an issue they had when his heart just stopped. My dad’s and my mom’s legacy of doing good for others will last forever. It doesn’t get any better than that.

In my late 20’s, I had the opportunity to work with a gentleman who was in the twilight of his successful 40-year business career and moved to Indianapolis to finish his career.  Over the course of the 5 years we worked together, he would become an invaluable and cherished mentor to me.  I am not sure he realized it. He didn’t tell or teach me how to do my job well.  Far more importantly, he showed me, without knowing it, how to be a “Servant Leader.” He would regularly go out of his way to do nice things for perfect strangers.  Pay for lunch for the person behind us in line at a deli, give his umbrella on a rainy day to an elderly person without one walking downtown, donate countless hours after work and on the weekend counseling would-be entrepreneurs, and donating money to a variety of local not for profits that helped kids and families in need. His personal and professional motto was: “practice random acts of kindness and selfless acts of beauty.” Once again, I am not sure I realized it at the time, but his countless acts of kindness and grace had a profound impact on the kind of person I wanted to be in the future. His life of doing good led to an annual award being created in his name by a local business group and that award is presented each year to the person who embodies his spirit of giving back to others. His legacy is assured too.

Those experiences seeing the incredible good my parents and my mentor did for so many people compelled me to create a not for profit organization four years ago called Concerts for a Cause. Our mission, which I got from an anonymous quote I read 10 years ago and have never forgotten, is to “do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, for as many people as we can, for as long as we can.”

I am very fortunate and blessed to have several individuals who are passionate about being “Servant Leaders” too and they have joined me to make Concerts for a Cause at reality.  We use quarterly live music events as the vehicle to entertain over 1000 people each year and we donate the money from ticket sales at each concert to a different local organization that is helping kids, adults and families in need. To date, we have donated almost $200,000 to 13 different local organizations which they will use to impact the lives of thousands of people.

Any person or company can build a life that includes social responsibility and use their time, talent and treasure to help others.  And in fact, I live in a community that has dozens of compassionate corporations and thousands of individuals doing exactly that today. I believe, like my parents do, that if we all take care of our family, and our friends, and our community, the world will become a much better place for everyone – today and in the future. Legacy matters to me and I hope some day that mine will come close to the legacy of my parents.

What will your legacy be?