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fuelled the rise in interim management placements. For others it is Unfortunately many of the most successful executives have framed
to part-time options, either by choice or simply availability. For still their planning around the Quarterly Results for so long that anything
others it is the chance to explore running one’s own business, or
beyond a 12 month time span can make them feel quite
moving into a completely different style, or hierarchical level, of
uncomfortable. Others are completely out of practice having put
work. A Yellow Pages survey in 2007 noted that over-50s who are
off that type of self-reflection for many years, always citing lack of
setting up their own businesses are contributing £24.4 billion to the
time and alternative priorities. Some have a conditioned reflex, or
economy each year and account for one in six start up businesses.
self-limiting belief, which tells them such self-focusing is selfish.
The survey also indicated that this group forms the most stable and
successful demographic for new businesses.
Many higher income earners concentrate solely on the financial
aspects of later-career and beyond. My concern is that they thus
Yet a research survey I commissioned in 2004 asked a cross-
avoid the point of what they really want to do and be at this largely
section of management-level workers in their mid to late 50s,
unexplored stage of life – and therefore stay at the lowest levels of
across three continents, what they saw themselves doing as
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Simply because we have money it
purposeful activity beyond the age of 60. Nearly half of the
does not mean that we can magically ‘live happily ever after’. One
respondents had either failed to come up with any ideas or had
never stopped to consider the question at all. Only just over 20%
of the most consistent responses I encounter in my work is ‘I just
believed they had it all thought out and well planned.
never have time to think about this sort of stuff.’
Many senior professionals who find this question difficult are the very
As Jane Fonda quipped recently, ‘I’m over the hill – but nobody
ones who would have had 1-year, three-year, five-year even ten-
prepared me for what was going to be on the other side.”
year career plans from graduation onwards. I’ve seen executives
who in their 40s could enunciate those plans faultlessly. And I’ve
seen them ten years later in their 50s looking like rabbits in NEW MODELS FOR LATER-CAREER
headlights when I asked what the next two years would hold (let
“I knew I had been lined up to go because of my age – dressed
alone the next ten).
up as a redundancy. But after the shock, it made me realize I’d
Harder for High Flyers
been approaching my Second Half as if it was exactly the same
as my First Half: same type of job, same type of company,
It seems as if the senior managers, executives and public and private
same stresses.
sector leaders - and their needs and desires concerning their Second
Half (i.e. the years beyond 50) - are being ignored. As if, simply having
I could cry ‘unfair’ about discrimination, but it jolted me to
more superannuation and savings than the average worker, they will
reconsider whether I had more options than the knee-jerk ones to
sail through the experience without the emotional, psychological,
which I’d reverted. What other ways could I find to do a great job,
practical and spiritual anxieties that others go through.
and with great people?
Yet my experience leads me to believe that quite the opposite is true,
It took me nearly another year, but I took it into my own hands. With
and that it is often far harder for leaders and topflight executives to go
two other friends we set up a small operation. None of us had done
through this Second Half transition than it is for the average worker.
anything like that before, and it didn’t look like anything we’d ever
An executive at the top of their game is very much like an elite
seen either. We’re what I’ve seen called “Olderpreneurs”
athlete. Success is wonderful and all-consuming, fuelled by passion
and determination. The aim is to reach peak performance and the
We’ve now got a couple of good contracts for strategic work in this
desire is to stay there as long as possible. Of course that cannot last
country, with clients we like and that is funding us to do some really
forever. So what happens beyond the peak? How do elite athletes
exciting work online. We’re setting up affordable knowledge-transfer
adapt to what comes after? What aspects can be shared, and what
on marketing and branding for emerging markets. It’s incredibly
lessons can be learned in the broader context of work and life?
mind-stretching and rewarding. And the good news is, of course,
that I would probably never have had the chance to develop this if
According to ex-international sports stars and Olympians, their
I’d have gone back into my comfort zone.”
experience is that finding what’s beyond can be even harder,
psychologically, than the effort of getting to the peak itself. Taken from an interview in “Winners in the Second Half” by Julie
Perigo, published by Jossey-Bass
What does work look like in the Second Half?
Two of the most urgent and fundamental issues for individuals, as
leaders, employers and part of the broader Economy are, ‘What
Source: Julie Perigo is the author of Winners in the Second
does work look like for me beyond 60? What do I do, once I’ve Half: A Guide for Executives at the Top of their Game,
reached the top of the ladder?’ published by Jossey Bass (£19.99).
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