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Most of us would like to feel we have made a difference.

Working on a client engagement that included the challenges of transitioning planning for partners in their early 60s, I developed a series of “legacy exercises” focused on work legacy. Ideally everyone by age 50 should be thinking about legacy. 

Starting earlier is even better, as it helps to create a career vision of meaningful work. Perhaps sadly, often busy people tend not to think about legacy till later when they must try to make up for lost time. Legacy is about more than end of life and who to leave money to. It is about work, family, friends, causes, mentoring – what one passes on to the next generations and peers in as broad a sense as you would like to think about it. Primarily it is about values and about continual learning for you and others.

Here are some questions you might start thinking about as an individual or a team.

  • What do you want to be remembered for wherever you are working now? By your clients? by your colleagues? In the context or your role or roles in the organization?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in your community?
  • What would you like to pass on to the next generations – people you work with or know in other capacities?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in general as a person?
  • What can you start to do now or change now to be able to achieve that legacy?

Building legacy can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life. And not only that, it outlives you and, in a way, keeps you present when you are no longer there.

Contact me to learn about our Legacy-Makers Mastermind groups and to receive a free list of “Tips for Building a Legacy at Work.”

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


Looking to a new year with thanks!

It’s almost time for the ball to drop for 2014, so don’t drop the ball.

Whether yours was a lucky ’13 or not, I hope you are excited about your future. What new challenge will you take on? What problem are you determined to solve? What new skill or knowledge will you acquire? What knowledge will you pass on to a younger – or older – colleague?

In 2013 I thought big, as I developed the Cross-Generational Conversation Day concept to raise awareness of the implications of inter-generational challenges at work on business success and our lives. I am grateful for the enthusiastic reception to the concept and plans. Now in 2014, it’s time to execute! Stay tuned for our research and more information as to how you and your organization can get involved.

Since I have always been future-oriented, I look optimistically onward – but not before thanking our wonderful past and current clients, the Cross-Generational Conversation Day Planning Committee, The Cross-Generational Conversation LinkedIn Group community, social media followers, my MasterMind Group, great friends and family and YOU – my valued readers.

 I urge you to light up the lives of people around you, especially in person. Start the new year with some great cross-generational conversations, and let us know if and how it changes your perspective and how you want to connect. Keep smiling, doing great work and spreading joy!

Warmly and thankfully, Phyllis

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


Watching the 50th Anniversary of the MLK March on Washington, DC it’s hard not to feel the compelling power of a “movement.”  Witness the power of convening all those people of all ages and demographics in a common mission – to be there as a part of history.

Upon seeing the 1963 footage sprinkled throughout and hearing those who were present that day and the historians comment, I was struck by how important it is to teach and to remind people how things were – in many ways, thankfully, drastically different. No time for complacency, we need to reiterate how much still has to be done and broadened for a changed population.

Back then it was blacks (Negroes) and whites. Now the diversity and the “march” for inclusion and equity encompasses race/ethnicity, gender, LGBT, disability and generational diversity, and perhaps more.  Generational diversity was not mentioned in the speeches, but it was apparent viewing the crowds of marchers eager to participate and as people sought to pass on the knowledge to younger generations.

Dramatic events are necessary to bring focus to challenges that are not recognized sufficiently for their economic, social, political and cultural impact. With our cross-generational conversation we can further understanding and collaborative action on the issues that matter in our lives and at work.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com




Despite the media attention that may lead to the assumption that most successful entrepreneurs are under age 35, Whitney Johnson’s HBR blog post “Entrepreneurs Get Better with Age” presents an impressive amount of research finding that most successful entrepreneurs are several decades older. Giving several examples – many of them women, Johnson concludes:

 “As individuals move into [developmental psychologist} Erikson's seventh developmental stage [around age 40-64] creating something new isn't just a "nice thing to do" — it is a psychological imperative. The urge to create, to generate a life that counts impels people to innovate, even when it's lonely and scary. Data notwithstanding, some of the companies among us will continue to allow these individuals to fall into the arms of independent work, if we don't give them the boot first.”

The statistics and their implications suggest to me that

  • There is good reason for Boomers to relish their continually unfolding career/lives making creative contributions.
  • There is reason to hope for solutions to issues that matter beyond technology as Boomers will want to tackle them and may be best suited to do so.
  • The desire and ability to leave a legacy is a strong motivation.
  • Boomers may be more motivated to mentor or help in other ways members of younger generations.
  • With less pressure to “keep score” and to please other people rather than themselves at that stage of life, Boomers may actually work harder for what they decide they want to achieve.

What do you think? Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



Yesterday I attended an interview style talk with JAY  S. FISHMAN, Chairman and CEO of The Travelers Companies, Inc., at Baruch College's annual program named for prominent alum Burton Kosoff and set up by his wife, Phyllis. Fishman was notably straightforward, authentic, down-to-earth - and interesting. Here are some nuggets  for all four of the generations attending and beyond.

  • “No one plans to go into insurance. I just wanted to pay the rent on my apartment.”
  • “Life is always two ways.”
  • “Sandy Weill (one of his mentors and bosses) was unbelievable about asking everyone ‘What do you think?’ He understood collaboration.”
  • About experience: You need touch points and instincts to have the capacity to be accountable in an organization. This is separate from intellectual capacity. (slightly paraphrased)
  • “As a leader, be careful what you ask people to do. They will try ther best to do that. You might not like how they do it.” (i.e., what they do to accomplish what you ask them to do)
  • Fishman worries about our being a generation of “here and now,” wanting the newest thing all the time. Not saving.
  • People need to be involved and engaged, not just contributing to charitable giving.
  • In response to the question: What is the best mentoring role we can play? “Honest feedback is a gem.”



For some time I have been following the philanthropic and legacy efforts of Generations X and Y and how they differ from Traditionalists and Boomer generations in general. Also I’ve been advising on conflicting approaches within families that financial advisors and planners often need to address with their clients. So the report “Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy” by 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy caught my interest. I found the conclusions align pretty much with my more limited research and my experiences working with inter-generational workplace issues.

The examples of what twenty-somethings are doing are quite enlightening. As always they want to do it their own new way, not only in their use of technology, but also in making it about connecting with other people. Though some of the young people I worked or spoke with had substantial wealth, most others were finding ways to donate very limited assets and make them add up to become very meaningful contributions.

Here are the typical elements I noticed concerning this philanthropic activities.

  • The younger generations are looking for an “experience.”
  • They prefer ongoing involvement rather than an annual event.
  • What really juices many of them is to be able to connect directly to the recipient of their contribution
  • They use e-mail blasts to urge everyone they have ever come in contact with to join in. They are very open in their connections and it’s all about connecting.
  • They like voting for “the person who contributes the most…” and cash awards and recognition.
  • They are drawn to compete in contests; they like competitions and prizes.

According to Sharna Goldseker, Managing Director of 21/64, consultants on strategic philanthropy and the generations, beneath the surface of much of the under 35-year-old involvement in philanthropic projects is a search for their own identity.

Keep in mind that the Gen Y way is another search for community much as Gen X did, but perhaps for different reasons and with a desire for individual attention. Gen X originally sought community at work because it was missing for them outside of work. Gen Y has been educated in a more collaborative environment and it is their modus operandi.

I definitely see the desire to be hands on and to produce measurable change with their giving. Interestingly, this has been characteristic of the Boomer generation of women donors and something I personally very much relate to. All my professional life I have observed that women donors don’t simply want to write checks.

As for the under 35 year olds in families with foundations desiring to maintain family bonds as philanthropists, that is not surprising. Gen X and Yers are typically quite family-centric. The tension comes.from wanting to have a strong voice and their own style of philanthropy while maintaining family harmony

Millennials don’t think they have to wait to be older and richer. They think they can make meaningful contributions right away, and they do it creatively with new methods and tools.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com.


Bill Keller, now an OpEd columnist for The New York Times, started with his column on the entitlement behavior of Boomers what led to a dialogue of letters over a few weeks span between Keller, Leonard Steinhorn, author of the book “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy,” and then a slew of letters from readers at the invitation of the Times Opinion section editor.

My letter was not among the handful chosen for publication, and I am sharing it here. I chose not to strongly defend or criticize the Boomer generation but rather to make the point that the generations need dialogue to understand and appreciate each other better rather than whine and point fingers.

Most of Professor Steinhorn’s letter rings true to me. However I disagree about which generation gets tarred with the “entitled” label, which I think should be barred from our vocabulary in this context. In recent years, the GenY/Millennials have been frequently accused of a strong sense of entitlement. When the Gen Xers entered the workforce, they also were labeled with an entitled attitude. Then they became hard workers, like the Boomers did, and foist the entitled epithet on the Gen Ys. And as noted in both Bill Keller’s article and Steinhorn’s letter, the Boomers get it too.  It becomes meaningless, and the stereotypers should be more specific in their criticisms.

The younger generations don’t have the perspective to appreciate the positive changes the Boomers accomplished (laid out in Steinhorn’s letter) and what our society and business world was like before. We have to teach that better so they understand and are aware of what they could stand to lose.

 We need cross-generational conversation in the spirit I have been facilitating through social media (e.g., the Cross-Generational Conversation group on Linkedin) and in-person forums. The talk is notable for its civility and mutual learning and appreciation across the generations. We have more important things to do in our lives and the world than fueling phony wars among the generations.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot

New York, NY   August 15, 2012

Let’s continue the discussion. Please share your comments.




It’s been characterized as a tribal thing in Silicon Valley – a tribe with young “elders.” Wrote Holly Finn in a recent Wall Street Journal column,  “Philanthropy plays to their strengths. They are resilient, craving results but loving risk. They know how to mobilize millions. Scaling equals success. And they understand technology is transferable, profit to non-profit.”

Look where they give. It’s what they know, they understand, they see as the future: not so much giving to the arts and culture, but to education and growing entrepreneurship, new businesses that will create jobs.

I think that whether we call it impatience or desire for immediacy or living in the moment because of constant change, uncertainly, distrust of or frustration with established institutions and desire to see the impact of their efforts quickly, we can expect Gen X and Gen Y philanthropy to exhibit some similar characteristics:

  • Support causes they personally relate to such as educational- and small business-oriented ones, that is, they foster economic growth and innovation;
  • Support causes and market-driven helping enterprises that are started and supported by their friends and peers;
  • Take active roles as doers, not wait to “pay their dues” in the traditional board hierarchies;
  • Use social media, crowdfunding, alliances and joint ventures to gain visibility and have impact faster than in the past – as they do in their businesses and personal life.

It will be interesting to see how new approaches to philanthropy, many enabled and influenced by technology, ripple out to other views about money, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and solving both local and world problems.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com 



We have been witnessing and experiencing two opposing trends affecting the generations in different ways during this recent and enduring economic crisis/recession/downtown. This article focuses on Generations X and Y, people in their 20s to late 40s. While those two generations are different from each other in significant ways, their use of technology to reinvent approaches (or processes) is worth examining not only for the immediate purpose intended, but also for new models to apply their values to making and spending money.

During the downturn the affluent and wealthy have generally gotten wealthier – that is, those who already have significant assets as well as the successful tech entrepreneurs and hedge fund managers, to name the most obvious. During the same period, the under 35ers who had education debt and had trouble getting a good or any job, especially the high-paying ones they expected their education to result in, have been suffering for who knows how long. This gap is certain to shape long-term attitudes about money and values for both the haves and have-nots.

For the young members of the creative class, it’s no time for hunkering down. With Silicon Valley’s very successful entrepreneurs leading the way – and exerting peer pressure by offering large sums if they are matched by others in the tech community – we may be seeing those generations’ tech entrepreneurs become role models of young philanthropy.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal (May 5, 2012) by Holly Finn in an article, “Young, Rich and Charitable,” they are stepping up in a big way now. For example:

  • Mark Benioff (age 47), Salesforce founder, large gift to San Francisco Children’s Hospital
  • Mark Zuckerberg, (27), Facebook founder, Newark, NJ schools
  • Marc Andreessen (40) and Ben Horowitz (45) founders of Venture Capital firm Andreessen Horowitz – the 6 partners pledged to give away half of their earnings

And others (not named Mark): signed Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge:

  • Elon Musk (40), PayPal founder
  • Dustin Moskovitz (27), Facebook co-founder
  • Sergey Brin (38), Google and wife Anne Wojcicki (38) promised $1 million to local anti-poverty charity Tipping Point if matched by Silicon Valley peers
  • Jack Dorsey (35), Twitter co-founder, opened his rolodex and arranged a fundraiser for Build, a non-profit that teaches disadvantaged students how to be entrepreneurs

Leaning on others to spread the philanthropy trend, calls have been made to peers who have just sold companies and walked away with big bucks.  Angel investor Ron Conway said, “The Facebook generation is going to be very philanthropic earlier in their careers.”

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



As professionals and executives become more senior, there is often a desire or expectation, self-generated or from others, that they will want to devote themselves to "good works" as a legacy. Leading edge Baby Boomers, tracing back to their formative years in the 1960s, started out as a generation to be socially conscious, involved and eager to make significant contributions for a better world. As they matured and became intensely immersed in their careers, often achieving substantial recognition and financial success, some are well on their way to fulfilling their "legacy bucket." Others have been too busy to think about it.

The philanthropic and pro bono world is watching. For example in the legal field, both the American Bar Association's Second Season of Service Initiative and some local entities such as the Association of the Bar of the City of New York have been eyeing and expecting senior lawyers nearing traditional retirement age to become a large talent pool for pro bono work.  The Great Recession’s effects may have changed or delayed that for a lot of them.

Pro bono, volunteering or unpaid work is not for everyone. In our *Next Generation, Next Destination* client interviews, we find that many Baby Boomer professionals want to continue to play in the business arena – with financial compensation. This was true before the recession, and is more so now.

So I had an interesting thought. The hedge fund managers and tech entrepreneurs under age 40 have started to think about philanthropy and how to use their money to do good. But many don't want to do it in the traditional ways. They are interested in starting their own entities with a different model which combines making money with doing good things for society. Perhaps some of those seasoned Baby Boomers can link their legacy time, expertise and desire to continue to contribute with the Generation X and Y entrepreneurs for some hybrid organization that takes advantage of the best each generation has to offer.

I, for one, would look forward to seeing how this can take shape. There certainly are limitless needs, causes and opportunities whether built on a not-for-profit or for-profit model.

I'd love to hear your ideas on this.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



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