EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I don’t know about you, but at the age of 71, I still have more than a few miles left on my odometer. The thought of retirement is still something far off into the future. I imagine I will get to that point in my thinking someday, but it isn’t now.

When members call me for advice, I always ask them how old they are. Lucky thing I’m not working for a corporation or I would probably get sued. That said, the reason I ask someone’s age is not to discriminate against them, but rather to give them better strategies.

When I was in my youth in the 1960’s I suppose we thought the “old folks” didn’t know much about anything. There were so many of us baby boomers back then that the market was flooded with well educated individuals. Back then, many folks went to college just to avoid the draft. So, America got spoiled.

Now all of us baby boomers are not only well educated, we are also well experienced. (Notice I didn’t use the words “over qualified.”) We bring a lot to the party. No learning on the job for us. All of those things that only happen once a year, we have done 30-40 times. That is indeed a wealth of knowledge.

Part of the perceptual problem is on our side and part on the side of the “outside” world. Our vision of ourselves can hold us back from considering opportunities that are perfectly viable. Perhaps you were an Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer in your last life, but wouldn’t it be better to be a Controller of a small company than unemployed? It is difficult to accept this change in who you are, I suppose, but that is YOUR problem. I would suggest to you that it is always better to be working.

The “outside” world is very much hung up on moving people up through the ranks and this model of how careers are supposed to work prevents them from engaging individuals who are “taking a step back” but who can easily do the job. They are very concerned that you will be bored. They assume that you will bolt at the first opportunity for advancement, as if the younger folks they might hire wouldn’t do the same thing. The more likely situation is that you would stay a lot longer than someone “on the make” in their career.

The real quest I would suggest to my fellow members of The FENG who are “older” as we count years, but still of a mind to use their mental capabilities in some useful fashion is to identify your core saleable skills and find a willing customer. It may not even be a traditional W-2 job, but rather a series of consulting assignments. Are they easy to find? Well, neither is a “proper” job.

The truth is that there may not always be jobs, but there is always work that needs to be done.

In The FECG, we rarely have a two week consulting assignment that doesn’t go 2-6 months. People who actually know how to get things done are hard to find and our clients tend to find more and more work for our consultants to do once they engage them. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Everyone has a core skill set which produces actual work. If you are looking for consulting that allows you to sit in a high backed leather chair and pontificate on this that and the other thing, you WILL be looking for a long time. If on the other hand, you are willing to roll up your sleeves and practice your many talents, you just might make a FORCED retirement disappear as a concern.

Regards, Matt

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