If you’re a Baby Boomer, this could change your life.
Baby Boomers are the most career oriented generation there’s
ever been. Terms like “Dress for Success”, “Five Year Plan”, and
“Workaholic” are woven into their vernacular.
But the Boomer generation (of which I’m a proud member) is now
in their fifties and sixties, and beginning a mass exodus
from the workforce. Pew Research estimates 10,000 Baby Boomers
will retire every day for the next 15 years.
Even if you’re financially set, you’ll still have to figure out
what you’re going to do for the next 20+ years, because Boomers
can’t do nothing. This is why many will retire from large
organizations and launch small businesses.
They assume the power and influence they enjoyed in their long careers will
carry over into their new lives. But many are shocked to discover
what they had wasn’t real power, it was only temporary status
that came with a position. Once they no longer hold that
position, they have less power and influence than they would
have ever imagined.
You see this with political leaders that were so powerful in office,
but often find
themselves struggling to make it in the private sector after
leaving office. (Former presidents are an exception. The
average speaking fee for an immediate past U.S. president is
You see it with actors that are bigger than life when they have
a hit, but discover how little value their celebrity status has
when they're not on TV anymore.
The news is filled with stories of how people like Brett Butler,
star of “Grace Under Fire”, ended up in a homeless shelter.
Or Willie Aames, star of “Charles in Charge” and “Eight Is
Enough”, went from making over $1,000,000 a year to sleeping in
parking garages. The studios and networks have
the real power, not the actors.
We see it in the music business here in Nashville. If you watch
the TV show “Nashville”, notice how powerless Hayden
Panettiere’s character Juliette Barnes becomes after her record
label drops her. She has celebrity status, but her record
label has the power.
The more intense your job is, the more you’ll miss it when you
leave. You'll go though a form of the seven stages of grief,
because the thing that has consumed so much of your life is
suddenly gone. You’ll be surprised at how many of your former
colleagues no longer return your calls and emails promptly, and
you'll feel a certain sense of abandonment.
If you plan on doing something in business after you retire,
here’s the best piece of advice you’ll ever get:
BEFORE you retire, make a point to start forging more quality
relationships with people who have
These are the ones whose power belongs to them, and not to a
company they work for. Real power is not based on temporary
This applies at every level.
One high profile example is Warren Buffet. Most people know he’s
one of the wealthiest men in the world and is so powerful that
he can affect the stock
market with one statement. But most don't know that his company is
Berkshire Hathaway, or that he bought the Heinz ketchup company
On the flip side, everyone knows Microsoft. But few know the
name of the man that succeeded Bill Gates as CEO.
Despite having run Microsoft for 13 years after Gates left,
Steve Ballmer was unceremoniously pushed out last year when a
board member said in a conference call, "Dude, let's get on with
But not all people with real power are high
profile like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.
There's also the Joe the Plumber types that have owned their companies
for many years, and silently have more connections and power
than most people realize.
They don’t bring in billions, but they do bring in
hundreds of thousands or a few million every year, and create over half of
the new jobs.
They don't answer to a board or a boss, and can
run their businesses any way they choose, for as long as they
choose. They can hire and fire anyone they want, and can spend
money on whatever and with whomever they choose.
If you want to open a small business, run for political office,
or just get another job, these are people you should to get
To Your Success (even after retirement),
This principle still applies if you're under 50,
but for a different reason. Even though retirement may be way
down the road for you, you can still be fired at any time. You
need to make quality connections with people who have real
power in business, no matter where you are in your career.
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