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SERIES: 2016 is the tenth anniversary of Bill Jensen’s seminal book, What Is Your Life’s Work?, composed of legacy letters — letters from leaders and managers to their loved ones. Each letter describes a life’s work legacy they wish to leave behind. Each letter is published and attributed as it was ten years ago, with 2016 updates as postscript. To see more of these stories, visit Bill’s author page.
Work: Solves people-problems with a great sense of humor
Mark Servodidio is Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Cendant Car Rental Group (parent company of Avis and Budget Rent-a-Car). He’s writing to his kids, ages 11 to 4.
DEAR NICHOLAS, BENJAMIN, EMILY, AND MICHAEL,
As I reflect on what lessons I have learned during my career that are worth passing on, so many come to mind. I could talk about the importance of spending more time at home and less time in the office, or treating people with dignity and respect, or following your dreams by doing what you love, or having courage to make the right decisions. All of these are worth reflecting on, and are important.
But for me, there is one thing that embodies all of these, as well as ensuring your happiness and success. For me, the secret behind everything is your work ethic — your attitudes, beliefs, and determination to stay focused on what is important to you.
I learned this secret from your grandfather. For years, every Saturday, without fail, he’d come in and wake my brothers and me out of bed. Every Saturday morning began with “Nighttime is for sleeping, daytime is for working. It’s daytime, so let’s go…”
We would then proceed to do every imaginable chore around the house — usually until dusk — then enjoy a great meal, and head off to bed. I know what you’re thinking: This does not sound like a fun way to spend half a weekend! But in many respects, those days are among my fondest memories of growing up.
During those days, I would learn many practical skills while being able to listen to and learn from my father. The work built strong relationships with teammates (brothers relying on each other for help — developing a give-and-take); gave me the stamina to do what it takes (don’t quit until the job is completed); provided a safe environment to make mistakes without fear of reprisal (usually!); taught me about faith and vision (being connected, and working toward a greater cause and purpose than just the task at hand); as well as teaching me about trust, respect, communication, difficult decisions, laughing, patience…all things you need to know to be both happy and successful.
What I struggle with is how to pass these things on to you. You probably wouldn’t tolerate such Saturday rituals, and I don’t know if I’d want to put you through them anyway.
There’s so much to pass on to you…
But I feel confident we’ve given you a good start down the right path. We’ll discover the rest together.
All my love, Dad
2006: Mark Servodidio’s day job — dealing with mergers, cost-cutting, and operations snafus — often makes him feel like the “bad guy.” That’s why he’s also on the board of a nonprofit organization serving preschoolers. He likes being the “good guy.”
2016: Mark is now President, International Avis Budget Group, and is living in the U.K.
Want to Write Your Own Legacy Letter? Go here for step-by-step instructions.