Forbes April 2024 

Stuart R. Levine

In a recent CNN interview, former associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, Stephen Breyer, who retired in June of 2022, shared an essential answer to a question about legacy. A president once told him that the applause dies rapidly, leaving you with the job. He further explained that his role gave him a chance to do his best, which he defined as continuing to try. On the surface, this may not sound profound, but it is – and it truly has applications for everything we put our minds to. All we can do is try and continue trying without letting up because your legacy is what remains, not the lingering admiration, which Justice Breyer wisely explains is fleeting. 

In our consulting practice, we guide CEOs in increasing their focus and intent, resulting in more effective implementation. Deeper insights come from studying what they want to achieve based on values, strategies, and their vision for the future. Clarifying where you want to go, your objectives, and how you will get there can then correctly establish and address actions and priorities. 

CEOs, like any human being, appreciate recognition, but their primary role is to deliver results. As one of the most successful CEOs, Jamie Dimon, emphasizes, maintaining a proactive stance is crucial, even with a proven track record. This constant drive keeps you in control, allowing for meticulous planning based on client needs and accountability. Avoiding complacency is key, as it hampers personal growth and prevents exposure to new learning. Stepping out of your comfort zone, sharing experiences, and building relationships with brilliant minds can lead to the creation of successful strategies. 

Our firm participated in the Livelong Summit in Palm Beach, a health, happiness, and longevity conference. Over 1,000 people attended, seeking insights from over fifty science, nutrition, research, policy, and wellness experts. Spending two days out of our comfort zone led to the awareness of worlds we did not understand, like nanotechnology. We learned about studies on how cells interact on a surface at exceedingly small dimensions, creating learning and inventions for altering consumer products, revolutionizing medicines for treating major diseases, and tackling environmental issues. We learned about how social interactions impact the brain and how continuing to learn throughout retirement is better than relaxation mode for staying healthy. 

Longevity is a significant factor influencing demographic trends, presenting both opportunities and risks for commerce. In Larry Fink’s 2024 Annual Chairman’s Letter to Investors, he highlights the complexity of retirement planning in the coming years. His question, ‘How do we financially afford longer lives?’ is a critical one. Newer drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are extending the lives of people with cardiovascular disease for more than two years by preventing heart attacks from obesity. He emphasizes the need for retirement investing to ensure financial security for the rest of your life. This understanding of demographic trends and their implications will empower business leaders to make informed decisions and prepare for the future. 

With so much anger, division, fear, and lack of trust in our institutions, this lack of confidence and hope will be detrimental to the financial futures of the next generations. Blackrock claims its 36 years of growth have been from listening to clients to helping them achieve long-term outcomes. They have focused on assessing their growth strategies, anticipating client needs, and evolving their operating structure, investment capabilities, and service models to lead the industry. 

A continuing theme in today’s writing is the rising stresses and complexity for businesses and individuals. Boards of directors now deal with increasing responsibilities for strategic decisions based on the accelerated speed of change; CEOs managing organizations, directors, senior executives, and individuals must prioritize what they focus on to achieve desired results. 

As Larry Fink aptly describes, boards need to foster ‘rich discussions and debates,’ which can drive tactical and transformational moves to enhance their company. Engaging in dialogues with senior leadership teams about long-term strategies, priorities, and risks is crucial, especially in the face of shifting economic and demographic trends. This proactive approach to studying data will define your organization’s success in the future, instilling confidence and security in your investors. 

Ensuring the integrity of communication with your customers is critical to leveraging risk and creating additional value for the people you serve. Challenging yourself to think about future opportunities for your clients by anticipating their needs will impact the successful evolution of your organization.