What’s Your Deathbed Advice?

Imagine yourself on your deathbed, perhaps answering your granddaughter’s question about what you did with your life. What would you say? Probably not that you had a 10 percent increase in profit in the third quarter of a particular year. If she asked for your words of advice to help her make her life a success, how would you respond? For many of us, we have to strive so hard to succeed in business that it’s often difficult to balance our business, family and personal lives.

As I have gotten closer to retirement, I have certainly given this more thought. I have a nine-year-old granddaughter and six-year-old grandson, and I suspect I may be faced with answering these kinds of questions in the not too far distant future. Hopefully, it will not be on my deathbed!

I suppose we all hope we have had a positive influence on other people lives, including the people who have worked for and with us, and also our customers. Having a higher calling and purpose than just making money should be important when we ponder our lives and contributions.

My former boss and mentor Bill McIntyre was instrumental in developing a very concise mission statement for our company back in the early 1990’s. It is: To Enhance the Value of the Businesses We Serve. The beauty of this mission statement is that it works for our company as it relates to our franchise members, and it also works for our franchise members to guide them with their customers. To us, it means much more than making money. The value of any business is also tied to the enhancing the quality of the lives it influences.

I hope my answer to the questions posed in the opening will have a lot to do with influencing the lives of others in a positive way, both in my business and my personal life. It would serve us all well to think of our deathbed advice as we go about the high calling of our daily lives, personally and professionally.

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

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  • Mark Henry

    Carl – excellent article. I wish more businesses would adopt that mission statement, as it’s applicable no matter what product/services you offer. Good luck with the grand kids, I’m sure you’ll figure out what to tell them when the questions start flying.