Speaker and author Kevin Brown

‘Leadership isn’t for the weak’

Legacy leaders communicate their vision, inspire others, and create a path for those they lead, says speaker Kevin Brown.

January 1, 2024

Are you living the way you want to be remembered?

Several years ago, Kevin Brown hadn’t been. He was outwardly successful, running a successful business and raising a family.

Trauma from the past, however, plagued his life and led to destructive decisions.

“Inside I was bankrupt,” says Brown, a motivational speaker and author who addressed the 2023 CUNA Lending Council Conference Wednesday in Denver. “I climbed all the way to rock bottom. It was time to confront the demons that were chasing me. Whatever you don’t deal with eventually deals with you.”

During his recovery, Brown found an old journal with insights and guidance from his mentor. It made him think about his legacy.

He realized that his daily actions, even the fleeting moments, shape his ultimate legacy. “Today is your legacy,” he says.

Leaders, Brown says, should consider what they’re building and why, and how they’re creating impact. “How do you take those fleeting moments and create something that lasts forever?

“I’ve worked with a lot of leaders, and there are more broken people in business than I’ve seen before,” he continues. “Legacy leaders are masters at understanding and being tuned in to their people.”

Brown says legacy leaders share certain qualities:

  • They raise their hands and show up in different ways to make life better for members and employees. “People helping people starts on the inside of the organization,” he says.
  • They’re not satisfied with satisfaction. “Nobody notices normal, and nobody notices when the people you serve are satisfied,” Brown says. “’Satisfied’ is code for average. Legacy leaders understand the responsibility that comes with creating an environment that draws people to you.”
  • They see the industry differently.This allows them to innovate and take new approaches to business challenges.
  • They communicate their vision, inspire others, and create a path for those they lead. Brown’s mentor saw something in him—a ninth-grade dropout who experienced occasional homelessness—that he didn’t see.

    “He created a vision for my life I never would have seen,” he says. “He gave me a job, taught me to sell, and showed me how to journal. He always said, ‘a life worth living is worth recording.’”

  • They’re bridge builders. Legacy leaders realize businesses need to embrace younger generations despite their different work styles.
  • “Older generations say that younger generations don’t work the way we do, and that they’re doing it wrong,” Brown says. “The younger generations say, ‘get it together, old man.’

    “Legacy leaders realize they’re both right,” he continues. “They’re bridge builders who know we need the energy, talent, and brilliance of those coming after us. The younger generations need your wisdom, mentorship, leadership, and vision. We need the best of you and the brightest of them.”

  • They lead the way they want to be remembered. “They understand you’re a leader of one or a leader of none,” Brown says. “They ask one question: Will the use of my day outlive my day?
  • “Leadership isn’t for the weak, and it’s not about popularity. It’s about potential. When you help someone find their true potential, you’ll be the most popular leader on the planet.”