Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Don't Retire, REWIRE! Goes to Juilliard

Recently we were invited to conduct a Lunch and Learn Seminar at The Juilliard School for the performing arts.  Juilliard, located in New York City's Lincoln Center, is considered by many to be the number one conservatory in the world for aspiring artists.  Over the years we have attended numerous performances in music, dance, opera, drama, etc. at Juilliard, and have always been impressed with the intelligence, talent and commitment of these students. So it was great fun for us to be standing up in front of them for a change. The approximately 30 students who attended the program got to learn about their Drivers. Here is a picture of Jeri with some of the students.

There is an interesting back story.  After the first edition of Don't Retire, REWIRE! was published in 2002, we heard that  some college bookstores were carrying our book. As it turned out, parents and grandparents who had read it were recommending it to their children and grandchildren who would soon graduate from college. Specifically they were suggesting they take the Drivers Test, which helps an individual identify what is important to them in work and life. Word got around and campus bookstores began stocking it.

We had done extensive research prior to writing the book.  One of the questions we asked individuals was, "Why did you or do you work beyond a paycheck?"   We got back 85 different reasons. We called them Drivers. Think of Drivers as the positive and satisfying emotional rewards we get from the activities we participate in.   We believe that individuals who have the most rewarding work experiences or retirements are those that select work, either paid or volunteer, that fulfills their Drivers.  Learning your Drivers is important at any age.

Thank you, Juilliard,  for giving us the opportunity.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Grow Old

HOW TO GROW OLD, Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life was written almost 2,000 years ago in 44 B.C. by the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. In 2016 a new edition translated and with an introduction by Philip Freeman was published.  It is a gem of a book with timeless perspective on aging and  invaluable advice on how to live a fulfilling life in later years. It is a read worth the time.

Many of us believe that old age is to be dreaded and avoided (if that was even possible) at all costs.  Cicero, instead, finds joy and a form of freedom in being older and as he says, "wiser."  He points out others who are role models because they kept their minds " tight as a bow."  Today we say use it or lose it, but it means the same thing.

He counsels against the bad behaviors of over indulgence in food and drink.  Exercising self control is a big deal for him.  One of our readers told us, "Cicero gives the same advise my doctor gives me. Now I know where he (the doctor) got it."

Cicero acknowledges that life can be difficult. "...what troubles doesn't it have."  However, he celebrates life and all the learnings and experiences that he garners it the pursuit of living.  You could say that he was really an early motivational speaker, highlighting that conquering difficulties is just part of the game and makes us wiser as a result.  He also believes the quest for youth is a waste of time.  If you read the book, you will find out why.

Princeton University Press is the publisher.  In their write up they feature the "French philosopher, Montaigne, who said that Cicero's book 'gives one an appetite for growing old'."  Two of our Founding Fathers, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, not only read the book but did so frequently to remind themselves of the wisdom required to age well.  Franklin, a printer by trade, even re-published it in the hope that more readers would benefit from the sage advice within.

It is a short book for a long life.  We highly recommend it.  Think of it as a companion reader to Don't Retire, REWIRE!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dig Up the Past to Plan Your Future

We just returned from a two week archeological tour of Israel.  One of the sites we visited was a dig that had unearthed 21 layers of history.  Said another way, over time 21 different historical communities existed at the same location.  When one community ended, another was built over it. During the subsequent millennium, new "civilizations" took hold.  It is hard to imagine when you see how compressed each layer is.  21 different histories exist in about 20 feet of strata.

Our guide loved the concept of REWIRING.  We all agreed that each community needed to REWIRE itself through the ages.

Archeological digs are like individuals.  We have many different historical layers of our lives involving interests, work, hobbies and opportunities.  People who seem to have the best retirements periodically excavate their own lives.  You don't need a shovel or a pick to get to the other layers.  You need some time to reflect on what you were previously interested in and to determine if a spark still exists that can ignite your interest all over again.

Our readers often contact us with their own stories of excavation and how they ended up with renewed interests after retirement.  Among the ideas cited were rediscovered old activities and hobbies they had has children or as teenagers.  Some even report they have used past ideas to start an entrepreneurial venture that has enabled them to keep working.  Put on your Indiana Jones hat and start digging!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Yes! There are Opportunities for Workers Over 50!

Age discrimination still exists, but not everywhere.  There is something new in the air that feels like opportunity.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics exceptionally low unemployment rates have resulted in over 7.3 million U.S. jobs being unfilled.  If you are thinking about leaving retirement behind and going back to work, now may be the time. According to The Job Network older workers are in demand.   If you are thinking of changing jobs even though you are over the age of 50, the stars may have lined up for you.  Significantly low unemployment rates are creating a much more receptive environment for older adult workers.  Numerous articles are appearing that highlight that older workers are being valued. recently published an article entitled "The Proven Value of Workers Over 50" demonstrating the stability, work ethic and dependability that this work force segment represents.   HR departments are becoming believers.  The momentum is on your side and we think it's about time!

It may also be a good time to invest in yourself.  Some individuals are going back to school and getting a new degree and others are pursing certifications that will permit them to start a whole new career.  Online learning represents a new opportunity to learn while you are still working. The costs of many online programs are decreasing rapidly making them affordable as well as convenient.

If you are already retired and are getting the itch to get back in the game, you don't have to go back to the same type job unless you want to. If doing something entirely different appeals to you, begin by  asking yourself what kind of work would you like to do. Come up with some ideas and start investigating.  If you hit on one that seems to be a good fit, see if you can find an internship.  Yes, older workers do get internships.  An internship will either confirm the job is for you or isn't a dream but a nightmare.  You can save a lot of time and false starts this way.  Often, internships can convert to full time positions.

Older workers can readily see that keeping up with evolving technology is a necessity if you want to remain competitive.  More and more companies are assigning older workers to age diverse teams that also include younger workers who are on the cutting edge of the latest computer updates.  The team benefits from older and younger experience.

Don't give up before you start. You may be pleasantly surprised when a potential employer asks you, "How soon can you start?"

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fear of the White Space

In November, we had the pleasure of being part of an excellent all day program on retirement in Sarasota, Florida hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College.  Our host was Executive Director, Janna Overstreet.  The attendees were a combination of retirees and those who are still working including some that took a day off from work to make sure they get a fulfilling next act.

One of the areas of concern was the FEAR  of the White Space.  This is a condition that affects many retirees. The white space we refer to is the amount of empty space on a person’s calendar once they retire. Some people love their new-found calendar freedom, but not everyone.

Before retirement, people dreamed about the day they no longer had to attend meetings with demanding clients or boring customers, not to mention endless sessions with the boss and the team. The idea of retiring sounded very appealing. Many call the initial stage of their retirement-- the honeymoon phase—and they live in the glow of free time and fantasies. After a few months, however, retirement bliss can change and send retirees into panic mode. Some retirees complain of being bored even feeling rudderless. The natural instinct is to immediately fill up one’s calendar with activities.

Many retirees, unsure of what they want, start to commit to anything and everything just to be busy. Very quickly the fear of the white space is replaced with a new condition which causes frequent outbursts of “now I’m too busy.” Some people admit that they have even committed to things that they really don’t care about! The remedy for this condition is to unearth interests, identify what really motivates or drives you, and then use this knowledge to select new undertakings that fulfill and energize.

Check out OLLI in your area for more great ideas.

Monday, January 14, 2019


Last week our English friends emailed us when the news broke about Andy Murray’s unplanned retirement. “He says he can’t think what he’ll do, where he’ll fit in, who he’ll be next etc. etc.” He questions who will he be when he’s not what he does anymore!  Maybe he shouldn’t RETIRE BUT REWIRE.”  Based on our friends comments we decided to probe further into Andy Murray’s dilemma, which is an area we are quite familiar with.

Andy Murray is the 31 year old reigning British tennis champion and Wimbledon star who announced his retirement from the sport due to a severe and recurring hip injury.  He has been a fierce competitor and a celebrity. He has been playing since he was 3 years old and in his first tournament at age 5.   That is a 26 year career.  His departure is sad and poignant particularly because it is not on his time schedule. He commented that he doesn’t think he will ever replace the emotional highs or the excitement that tennis has given him.  It sounds like a lot of people we’ve met who have retired and mourn the loss of their job and career.

Someone like Andy Murray has a lot of opportunity in front of him.  He could be a coach, a commentator, open a school or camp, serve on an international tennis committee, or be a spokesperson for the sport.  The list is long and is growing daily.  

Retirees’ work lives don’t have to end with sadness or the lament, “I used to be someone.” You still are the same person but without the title or the paycheck.  Like Andy Murray, retirees still have a life in front of them that can provide the emotional highs and excitement so often desired.  

Maybe it’s finding new work, volunteering for a cause you believe in strongly, being a mentor and role model, teaching formally or informally, assisting your community in an area you think is important.  Your list is long, too.  But to have new highs you have to be willing to try things, and in some cases be a beginner and risk failing.  As one of our readers told us, “I tried 5 new activities when I retired to see what would give me fulfillment.  It would have been easy to say after failing at the first, oh well, I guess that’s it for me. But I kept trying new things and dared to discard the first four. After all you can’t expect to be successful with the first try! Eventually I found a volunteer opportunity that gives me fulfillment, fun and yes even some of the emotional highs and excitement I had at work before I retired.” 

 What’s in your future?