I participated in a two-hour Zoom call yesterday morning to celebrate the career of Dean Deszo Horvath, who was enjoying his last day as Dean of the Schulich School of Business after serving in the role for the past 32 years.
Have you ever found yourself sitting in an interview, and had the interviewer ask you, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"
I've never liked that question -- because, really, who can predict where they'll be five years from now with any degree of accuracy? -- and have taken to answering it candidly and with a smile by saying, "It doesn't really matter, because no matter how I might have answered that question at any single point during my career, I would have been wrong."
I would have been wrong because I've never worked at the same company for five years.
And here's Dean Horvath who's been with York University longer than I've been alive. (He didn't become Dean as soon as he arrived at the university.) At 32 years, Dean Horvath is reportedly the longest-serving Dean of any major business school in the world... and that's not a record that's likely to be broken any time soon.
During the two-hour Zoom call, a dozen high-profile, highly-successful people who've worked with the Dean in some capacity over the years took turns telling remarkable stories about the man and his accomplishments on behalf of the school. It was clear that no arm-twisting was required to secure their participation; they each went on at length about the Dean's impact on the university and on themselves.
Dean Horvath accomplished some remarkable things during his tenure, and it's clear that every Schulich graduate owes him a debt of gratitude for increasing the value of our degrees. (I earned two of them from Schulich -- BBA 2000, MBA 2008 -- so I'm twice as appreciative.)
But this post isn't intended to be a tribute to the man.
It's intended to have you think about what you might want people to say about you during your retirement celebration, whenever that may be.
Take a moment to think about everything you would like your former colleagues to say about you, and write it down.
Think about the people who would be asked to pay tribute to you during your celebration, and write down the reasons why they would feel so honoured to do so.
Write your thank-you speech, highlighting the personal and professional accomplishments of which you are most proud.
Then work backwards from there, starting today.
P.S. If you're interested in reading the Dean's final message, or learning about all things that the school has accomplished during his tenure, click here. It's a great read, especially if you're a fellow Schulich Alumni.