• Living the CEO Afterlife

    by  • November 8, 2017 • Life, My Books, Uncategorized, Writing • 2 Comments

    Those who follow my blog have an idea of how I’m spending my time as a retired CEO. I’m working – not for money, for fun. Beyond my recreational life (weapons of choice being a tennis racquet and a pickle-ball paddle – on a good day I use both), I’m writing about business leadership, branding and life. I’ve also written a historical novel, The Circumstantial Enemy. After several years of trying, I have found a publisher who wasn’t afraid to invest in a newbie, grey-haired novelist in an industry going through substantial change.

    Bottom line, I love the challenges of my CEO afterlife and I’m every bit as goal-oriented as I was thirty years ago. Fortunately I don’t take myself as seriously as I did in my business days; I no longer fret about my insecurities or fear the political animals lurking in the hallowed hallways of the Zurich head office.

    Looming retirement can be awfully daunting to a CEO, especially to those who define themselves by their job. Think about these personal and behavioral characteristics of the stereotypical CEO. They are:

    1. Performance-Driven
    2. Energetic and tenacious
    3. Passionate and disciplined
    4. Visionary
    5. Resourceful

    In addition, they relish in their leadership role and the power that goes with it. Imagine how difficult it is to keep the ego in check. The characteristics listed above are the very traits that motivate ex-CEOs in their afterlife. Many find satisfaction using their influence and past connections to help others. They are known to get behind philanthropic causes with all the zeal and determination they exerted while rising to the top of the corporate ladder and staying there.

    Yet not every CEO follows this trodden path. Some find happiness pursuing interests that evaded them during the demanding years in the C-suite. At one time I worked for a hard-driving fellow who was pushed out of the corporate cockpit. He was 62, a golden parachute strapped to his back, but no hobbies or interests beyond business. Worried for his emotional well-being, his wife bought him paint, canvas, easel and art lessons. Painting didn’t turn out to be the answer. But the notion of artistic discovery inspired my former boss. He embarked on creating life-size, caricature stone sculptures of people he knew. He became an excellent stone sculptor and a much happier man than he ever was in the executive suite. You could see it in his eyes whenever he spoke of his work and his eagerness to improve. He glowed.

    There are so many examples of former CEOs finding exhilarating second lives in their golden years. In each and every case where the retiree has unleashed a new passion to help others, there is an endless line of beneficiaries from students to sick kids, from aspiring young entrepreneur’s to lovers of art (as was the case with my former boss). To those of you nearing the end of an era, do not fret; a world of challenge and discovery fills the souls of your retired brethren. Embrace the opportunity and join me in the glory of this afterlife.

    Oh, and one other thing, if you’ll pardon the marketer coming out in me. Based on a true story, The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. Rich in incident with interludes of rollicking humour, it’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness. If that stirs your senses, check out the the e-book and paperback at amazon.com.

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    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Historical Novelist, Business Journalist

    2 Responses to Living the CEO Afterlife

    1. John Handson
      January 21, 2018 at 10:11 am

      HI John, great to read that your adult life is and was very successful. My family moved into and out of Alderwood in my teenage years. We originated in Scarborough and ended up back there. Yours is a success story that I am proud to say, I went to school with that guy. Take care maybe our paths will cross again.

    2. John
      January 22, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Thanks so much for reaching out, John. These are very kind words, and much appreciated. Sure, I’ve worked hard, found the passion and had some luck along the way to a good life. Hopefully, if an aimless teenager who failed the 12th grade could make something of himself so can anybody.

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