How Will You Be Remembered?


I started my immediate post-college career as a bench (laboratory) biologist. One of a small handful of women in a large R&D organization in the late 70’s, I came into the position knowing that the department director wanted to hire a man. I was told that Human Resources said that they “must” hire a woman this time around.

My manager made me feel appreciated and respected

Thus, I may have started off thinking I had something to prove. Or perhaps knowing that I was #2 on the hiring list may have shaken my self confidence, and I could have retreated. I never got that far because my immediate supervisor was a person who appreciated and respected me, and he let me know that.

From the start, he told me often that “hiring you was the best thing I’ve ever done”.  In a myriad of ways let me know that I was resourceful and smart enough to get the work done. He told me he was personally sad but excited for my career when I left the lab. He passed away from cancer several years after that.

What I remember now

When I think of him, I remember his warmth, his encouragement, his kindness, and the respect he extended to all of us in the lab. I smile inside, if not outside. He helped me to get started in my career with a great deal of confidence.

He left a legacy. Not only with me, but his character touched all of us in the lab. He made us all feel good. This is what he left behind. We were creative and productive as a result.

You see, how you make people feel is what they’ll remember. As a leader, you have the ability to impact people in many ways; your strategic thinking, your vast knowledge and your ability to get things done are all important.

People remember how you made them feel

But at the end of your career or your life, what people remember is how you made them feel. The thought can make them smile inside when they think of you.

When you can help them to feel good, it isn’t a big leap to consider how that impacts the quality of the work they do. They will willingly follow you and work harder and with more conviction when they can respect you as more than just their manager.

There is no time like the present to consider how you want people to feel about you when you leave. What will they remember?


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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