Having purpose and earning a paycheck can mean more than just the purpose of earning a living.
A major trend is occurring. People are pivoting to a job, self-employment, entrepreneurship, gig working and a host of other ways that earn them the money they need fits the lifestyle they want, and gives them passion & purpose.
In this interview the author of “Purpose and a Paycheck”, Chris Farrell shares what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. He wrote it with people over 50 years of age in mind. He has come to understand the true audience for this message extends back to people in their 30s as well. Chris is an economics reporter and commentator for MarketWatch, Next Avenue, the Star Tribune, and Michigan Public Radio.
He is a graduate of the London School of Economics.
Connect with Chris at https://chrisfarrell.net/
Get the book at https://amzn.to/3LvmggE
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Having Purpose & a Paycheck – transcript
[00:00:00] Helping you find your New Way Forward to the best years of your life. This is a new Way Forward podcast with Paul Long.
[00:00:08] One of the things that I think I have really learned in talking to so many people is we think about creativity as something like your your your, your writing a song, or you could edit something together really nicely. But creativity and thinking about how I can make a living, I just think people really come up with all kinds of unique things. They come with standard things, but they also come up with unique things. And so appreciate and don’t underestimate how creative people can be in figuring out ways to make a living.
[00:00:42] That’s Chris Farrell, and he is the author of Purpose and a Paycheck. Now, the kind of purpose he’s talking about here isn’t like, well, I know what my purpose in terms of a paycheck is. It’s to keep the lights on and pay the mortgage. Now he’s talking about something higher than that, something more aligned with new way forward finding a way to earn an income, especially when you’re older, that’s fulfilling, that gives you purpose, that fits what you want to do and make your life happier. And Chris has so many ideas because well, he’s the economics commentator, a reporter for PBS MarketWatch for Minnesota Public Radio, The Star Tribune Next Avenue. He’s a graduate of the London School of Economics and he’s the writer of that book on retirement. So he’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s going on for people who are older and the economics and the situations that they face, but also the amazing creative solutions that people are finding that could help inspire and educate you as well. But here’s the thing. He says this book isn’t just for those of us who are older.
[00:01:54] So my number one takeaway is in the book Purpose in the Paycheck. But with time, I’ve realized it’s a more important statement than I did when I was writing the book. And here it is. The book is written for people in their fifties and their sixties, right? Sort of. What can you be doing during this transition period that provides you an income, but also a purpose, a reason for getting up? But what I’ve realized is that the audience for that book is someone who tomorrow is turning 30, someone who tomorrow is 40. And because when someone who is 30 or 40 in 20 or 30 years, they’re the word retirement is going to have a very different meaning than it does for you and me when we were 30 and 40 years old. Our image of retirement and it’s still a powerful image is that retirement meant full time leisure. I mean, that if you said to someone to me, think back when you were 30 or 40 and someone said to you, what are you going to do when you retire? I mean, your answer would be something involving leisure. That would be a standard response.
[00:03:05] Now, we know there’s been a lot of changes, there’s a lot of experimentation going on. There’s a rethinking about what do we want to be doing during this, this next stage of life. But what I think of the audience for my book, Purpose and a Paycheck Now is that person who’s 30 or 40 years old, and here are some options. Here are some trends. Here are some things that you might want to plan for. And you’re going to hear a lot about the importance of savings. And by the way, savings is important, not knocking savings. It’s a good thing if you have savings, you’re kind of happy, right? You know, you feel like you got here. I’ve got a cushion here. But it’s thinking about what do I want to do next? Because the audience for that book or that person is 30 or 40 years old, they’re probably educated, they have a career, and they’re going to have increased longevity. And so thinking about what do I want to do next for the younger generation to me is the key takeaway from the book.
[00:04:08] And that’s such a good point, in fact. In fact, sometimes I tout the fact that that what the transformation that that pre-COVID was occurring with so many boomers either, well, some retiring and loving it. And it was right for the traditional retirement, which in your previous book on retirement called out the fact that it’s a modern manifestation. Throughout human history, people didn’t retire. They were relevant and worked until they were older. But that for that very important point, some were retiring and after a year or so they were miserable because they lost their relevance and others and others out of necessity or desire for reinventing themselves. But my point is, is that as I’ve said to to people in their twenties and thirties and such, that you want to root for those of us who are older because we are redefining what this phase of life is going to be with a longer lifespan and health span. And when I’ve shared that view saying, wait a minute, what if you viewed it is your turn? When I’ve shared that with somebody, I think a couple of people in their mid thirties very successful, you know, in the middle of a great career, young kids, they’ve gone, wow, that changes the way I’m thinking of my life now, let alone later.
[00:05:25] So for the current generation that’s in their sixties, for example, there’s this remember the Buffalo Springfield song, Something’s Happening Here what it is in exactly clear. So a lot of experimentation going on and we’re really trying to figure it out. And it hasn’t been it’s an ugly word, but it hasn’t been institutionalized. There aren’t these well-traveled exit ramps, you know, semi-retirement, part time, retirement, whatever you want to have your exit ramp, that is a clear option available to everyone. And as you get older, you start thinking about that. A lot of it is people are creating their options, are struggling to figure out their options, trying to see what is their path. There’s a period of experimentation. But I did want to add. So you said what was my number one takeaway? I do want to tell you there’s a number two takeaway and the number two takeaway is this. Never underestimate how creative people are when it comes to making a living. You know, when I talk to people, I don’t know if this is your experience. You talk about working longer well into the traditional retirement years. You know, people automatically have this image that you’re just kind of doing the same thing that you were doing before. And it’s a natural response, but. The other day I was talking to someone commercial airplane pilot, and then during the pandemic, flights went way down and had a period of time where I didn’t have a whole lot of calls to go to work and fly airplanes.
[00:07:02] And so I had a little side business and he spent a little more time in the side business, and it’s online. And now he has a brick and mortar store and it sells airline travel related memorabilia now. Would you think of that if I said to you working longer, doing something with that pop into your mind? It wouldn’t. And there are so many examples like that that I can spin out people with their passions, with their hobbies, with things that they really believe in, whether it might be a social purpose, it might be some sort of collectibles, whatever it might be. So one of the things that I think I have really learned in talking to so many people is we think about creativity as something like your your your, your writing a song, or you could edit something together really nicely. But creativity and thinking about how I can make a living, I just think people really come up with all kinds of unique things. They come with standard things, but they also come up with unique things. And so appreciate and don’t underestimate how creative people can be in figuring out ways to make a living.
[00:08:17] That is such an incredible point because I am seeing that and I’ve been seeing it since I started this endeavor. You know, and for so many people that were doing it, I did it, you know, for myself. I reinvented myself in a new direction. I still have. He had the interest in the knowledge of the aviation industry. He parlayed that, you know, I’m parlaying my background as a television news reporter and content creator. But you have people like Paul Tavenner, who has a great TED Talk, who became an entrepreneur at age 66. There’s an interview with him on the way forward. And he was like a mid-level. He’s like, I wasn’t any kind of special executive. You would have never imagined me as an entrepreneur. I was a mid-level guy. He got forced out, you know, because of his age. And he said, I’m not going out like this. He became a social entrepreneur. And he’s like, I’m having some of the most fulfilling times of my entire life and my granddaughter think I am, thinks I’m really cool. And you’re right, the society that we’re in enables us to be creative in our thinking, to think outside the box in terms of what we can do and what we really want to to do. And when we get older, we’re in a position to do that because, you know, we figured so much out. And now to see what people in their twenties and thirties and forties are going to do with this will be even more doubly amazing because society and technology enables it.
[00:09:48] It’s exciting to think about if you’re going to graduate from college in May, early June, that college graduate, it’s very reasonable to think that they might have a 50, 60 year career and therefore that’s not oppressive. I actually think that’s liberating because you’re not going to want to work at the same company and do the same thing for 50 or 60 years. We know that. But what it does liberate you is I can do different things. I can try being an entrepreneur, I can go work for the government, I might work for a nonprofit, I can work for a for profit company. I might be a professional, but I’ll shift the sectors that I work in. And it means I might have to go back to school and pick up some extra skills not to pick up a degree, but to pick up some extra skills when I’m in my forties and fifties and sixties because I want to be doing something. And so one of the things that I think is happening in our society and it’s it’s very unclear. It’s very murky, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But, you know, when I was growing up, you go to school and then. You know, I had some friends who knew just coming out of the womb that they wanted to be a lawyer or they wanted to be a doctor. But most of us didn’t know what we really wanted to be.
[00:11:06] And so we spent a couple of years kind of bouncing around in the job market until we land on this thing called a career. And then you’re supposed to work at that career, and then you retire and you embrace full time leisure. So now think about what’s really happening. The silos are coming down. Yes, you go to school, but then when you graduate, if you had this long period of time ahead of you, you may actually have two or three careers in the course of your work life. You may go back to school multiple times because you need additional schooling and skills and so that you can get another type of job. And then retirement is in full time leisure. It may be some sort of mix of portfolio of activities that some of them may bring in income. Some of them reflect traditional volunteering, some of them are being a grandparent or just doing some of the things that you want to be doing. And so this sort of world is triptych. If you think about the medieval paintings, when you look at the triptych, well, it’s all it’s like a Picasso painting now. It’s all cracked. And you can kind of recognize what’s going on. But and you know that this is retirement, but it’s very different.
[00:12:27] Well, and I’ll also argue that, well, certainly as you as you grow older, you know, as you become more experienced in your life and you learn more about yourself and, you know, false beliefs and old beliefs that have been driving you to where you are and you’re ready for something else, that now there’s the opportunity for it. And when you said it’s messy, it is because those of us who are older are kind of finding our way, saying sometimes out of necessity, wait a minute, I’m not done yet. I want to keep going. It’s my turn and things of that sort. But that in and of itself is a challenge because there’s no roadmap. And some institutions and as well as some individuals just aren’t really prepared to see what that’s going to look like. But in your book, Purpose and a Paycheck, you identify the fact that, I mean, some really we were getting momentum, that things are trending in this direction to both enable it and take advantage of it. Right.
[00:13:27] Yes. And the work part of it is the workforce is aging and the workforce is not growing. I mean, you think about with population growth is pretty much stagnant in the United States. The workforce is aging and a lot of it. Probably doesn’t have a whole lot to do with enlightenment on the part of management. It’s that do you want to fulfill these contracts? Do you want to grow as a company? And so I think there is a shift going on in terms of looking at a worker and not thinking when is this person going to retire? But looking at that person and saying, Oh, I got to keep these skills, I got to keep this knowledge, I got to keep this experience. There are these intangibles. Oh, yeah, there’s there’s this formal book that tells people how we get things done. And then there’s the way we actually get things done. And every anybody who has worked in an organization knows that the way things get done is not what’s in the book. It’s all these this is intangible knowledge about how you accomplish your goals. And with the aging of the workforce, I think there’s a lot of growing fear about that, that knowledge, that skill, that experience going out the door. So I’m not minimizing. Age discrimination really exists and it is there. The stereotypes are powerful. They’ve been around for a long period of time, but we’re living through a period of time also, and hopefully it lasts for a long period of time. While we’re having this conversation where the unemployment rate is extremely low and we know that organizations are just they want workers. And a definition of a good economy is when firms are looking for workers.
[00:15:12] Definition of bad economy is when workers are looking for firms. And so we are in a period of time where employers are more willing to think about hiring a boomerang employee, someone who used to work with them, gone off elsewhere. Now, that’s 20 years ago. 25 years ago, you would not hire rehire that person they had left you. Now, hey, you know, they know our culture. They know how to get things done, but they’ve learned some new experiences there. There’s been a big increase in retirements during the pandemic period that we’ve been living through a big jump. But when you look at the data, what’s really interesting is it’s not so much a big jump in retirements. It is a sharp decline in retirements. It’s a sharp decline in people going back to work who retire after six months a year. And a lot of that makes sense because of COVID fears about COVID concerns about COVID. So I think as hopefully, you know, let’s let’s fingers crossed here as the pandemic. Becomes less and less of an issue. More and more people are going to feel comfortable coming back to work in some form or fashion, and they’re going to be doing it at a time when employers and we are seeing UN retirements go up right now. So I do think that there is progress. It’s slow. It’s not as fast as it should be. I mean, people like us who are steeped in this are going, what? Why is this taking so long? It shouldn’t be taking this long. This makes no sense whatsoever. Nonetheless, I do think that there is progress.
[00:16:55] And we were talking right before the interview started about our mutual friend and your colleague, Carrie Hannan here.
[00:17:02] Hannan Yeah, she’s great.
[00:17:04] And something she posted in Yahoo! Finance today that, of course, showed the stunning numbers that were not at all surprised about in terms of the number of people, specifically 55 to 74. But that that number, that that range is easily expanded. Who were forced into retirement, lost their jobs, started retirement because out of unemployment and things of that sort. And and she was making the point and you touched on it, too, about there’s this huge demand, there’s this huge need for workers at the full scope of the of the, you know, from from fast food restaurants all the way to highly trained, highly accomplished professionals. And especially in the professional range where there’s a desperation to bring in qualified, talented people, there still seems to be, you know, and it’s understandable, unfortunately, a reluctance to bring in the older worker, which, by the way, I don’t have updated stats, but a few years ago I looked it up. Older workers have a longer tenure at a company.
[00:18:14] Yes, they do on average.
[00:18:15] Than people who are younger.
[00:18:16] They do.
[00:18:17] And yet it’s like, well, they’re going to retire someday. Well, maybe not. And they’re probably going to outpace. But anyway, that’s another issue. But yeah. What what are you seeing in terms of of and in your book, you cite many different examples where companies are starting to get it and finding it a success factor to hold on to or attract the older worker.
[00:18:38] Yes. And the unfortunate thing, just as you said, it’s just hasn’t turned into like a mass movement, a mass awakening. This is this is where we can we can gather the anecdotes. And the anecdotes tend to be industry specific. So if you look at the hospital industry and this is pre COVID hospital industry made a lot of adjustments with nurses and doctors, well, you don’t want to work full time anymore. You want to go 0.6, you want to go to 0.8. Now, you go back 30 years ago, this was not the trend. This is it’s time for you to retire. But because they were dealing, they there’s just so much demand for their services. They needed to keep the skilled labor. They made their adjustments. There was a wonderful article a couple of years ago by journalist Carol Hymowitz, and it was about the boom in Hollywood for writers who were boomers because of streaming and this huge demand to be writing scripts. And it just turns out that the skill about how to write a script and keep it on deadline and work in a room and all that kind of thing, you know, the demand was so strong that people were just like, Hey, you want to come work here? So you can look at specific moments and specific industries.
[00:19:58] I did. There was a a firm here that does highly skilled machining for the airline industry, the fracking industry. And they were talking about that they were investing more in automation. It wasn’t invest in automation to get rid of their workers. It was invest in automation to keep their older workers on longer because they had a good crew of younger people coming in, but they needed training and there had been a period of time, about 20 years were not that many people went into the industry. So the big gap in the middle. So there was like almost no middle management, middle aged people there. And so they are investing in automation to keep them. So you can add up these anecdotes. And Mercer recently came out with a survey and there’s been a doubling of number of companies with formal part time programs or part time retirement, semi retirement, something that we’ve been looking for for a long period of time. But it’s still, as you’re saying, it hasn’t become routine. People still want to complain. I can’t see the workers that I really want to be hiring. And but in the end. So a lot of this is going to depend on how low is the unemployment rate and how long does the unemployment rate stay? Low.
[00:21:17] Right. But here’s the thing. And here’s the. Twist to this whole story. And I think this is something that if we went back, we’re having this conversation 15, 20 years ago, would not have been on the radar screen, which is going off on your own, starting your own business, because the notion of starting your own business 20 years ago was, are you crazy? That’s 24 seven. You have to be young to do that. It’s going to cost you all this money. You’ll drain your 401. K, your four or three B, and all these businesses fail. And Dodge is going to be bankrupt and. Well, the world has changed. It was also completely wrong because what has happened is you think about the older worker, the experienced worker. What do they have? They have skill, they have knowledge, they have experience, they have contacts. What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur solves a problem. They see a gap in the marketplace and they solve that problem. And starting a business. Well, your office is the home, maybe a co sharing workspace. Technology has lowered the cost of starting a business. And so typically people are spending very little money to start a business because the investment is their time and their knowledge and their skill. And a lot of it is close to self employment or what I like to talk about, it’s almost like self employment.
[00:22:42] Plus you have these sort of informal partnerships, not formal partnerships, but you know, a couple of people, you have a certain set of skills. There’s a project at a company used to work at. You bid on the project and you call up two or three of your friends who are in same circumstances as you and say, Hey, I got this deal. I want to come in on it, get to work with some people you like. You do the project, but you don’t have the formal. Issues of a partnership itself. So I think the sort of self employment solopreneur has really become a big issue. And part of it is you don’t have to deal with the algorithms. You don’t have to deal with the prejudices. You don’t have to deal with the stereotypes. And in fact, in many cases, your age may work to your advantage in terms of bidding for contracts. And just to give you one data. The Kauffman Foundation, which is an organization that promotes entrepreneurship, follows entrepreneurship. Back in 1997, about a little under 15%, 14 to 15% of new business formation was the 55 to 60 or 64 year old age group. And in 2020, that was 25%.
[00:24:01] And I like citing that index to where where it’s also been boiled down that boomers were starting up doubled the number of had double the number of start ups that millennials did and others. Other surveys and indicators show that that that the older you are, the vastly higher rate of success you have. Those a lot of startups fail, but I don’t like that 90% number because very often that’s people who don’t understand it have bad expectations. Funding is a part of it. The older you get, the more you know about that and. Yes. This trend, as I understand it, you know, has been generally out of necessity. You know, a lot of people who reach retirement, they like most Americans, they didn’t have enough retirement funds or they had to retire early and they didn’t want to deal with the ageism. And in my case. I’m self-employed. This whole endeavor is self-employed, minimum investment. And, and I’m I’m leveraging my age, which is really in my content creation business. Other people who are only talk on the phone with and then they meet me and they’re like, Oh, I thought you were like 30. But they still have this optic. But in this case, it’s a benefit for me. So, so I mean, I think obviously from a personal standpoint as well as what I’ve learned that this kind of self employment. Kind of entrepreneurial ism is not only possible, but it can be, you know, an incredible and viable solution.
[00:25:38] And also think about it. It’s incredibly creative. Almost by definition, if you’re self-employed, it’s all kinds of things you have to figure out How do I market myself? How do I price my product or my service? I have to get it be on the web. I have to how do I reach my customers? I mean, there’s all kinds of things that are involved in being self employed and I think so many people are creative. We have this image that you reach age 40 each age 50, and it’s on the downhill slope from then on, right? You’re just like, creativity is going like this and it’s not true. And which is another reason why I think people do become self employed because they get to be creative and they get to do something that they it’s it’s almost it has purpose almost by definition, because you to a certain extent have chosen this. Yeah, you might and you might have been forced to being self employed. It might be your best option of the options that you’re looking at wasn’t your first option. It turns out it’s your best option. But nevertheless, odds are you’re not going to be doing something entrepreneurial that you don’t like doing. You’re going to be doing something that, you know, this is something. I got some skill and I got some knowledge. You know, I got this and I can figure this out. And there’s this wonderful passage. David Riesman, he was a famous Harvard sociologist, psychologist, and he wrote this essay in the 1960s. And he said, and I think you studied Russian history. Is that is that correct?
[00:27:12] Well, Russian international politics, but yes, some Russian history.
[00:27:17] So remember, the kulaks in these were the Russian peasants and they got a little plot of land and they’d work on the the cooperative. And they didn’t work very hard, but they worked really hard on that little plot of land, he says. You drive through a factory town at night and you’ll see garage after garage is lit up and somebody is working on a various project, a side hustle. They’re working on doing something, he said. You know, in the factory they’re not allowed to be creative, so they come home at night and then they’re allowed to be creative. They’re just like the coolock with their little plot of land. And that’s always stuck with me. And it’s like with so many experienced workers on the job, are not allowed to be creative. Oh yeah, reliable. But they’re not invited to certain meetings. They’re not given certain opportunities because they’re older, they’re not creative. We don’t need them in this particular meeting. We don’t need them to be in this new endeavor that we’re trying out here. So but they are creative. And so I think that’s the other draw of starting your own business or being self employed or being a solo entrepreneur is that it allows you to exercise your creativity, exercise your passions, exercise your brain, and that’s exciting and that’s fun. And you’re not trying to persuade other people, Hey, I can do that. You know, let me into the room. I got ideas to offer here. I really do.
[00:28:54] Well, I’m going to give a testimonial in my own interview, because everything you said is exactly what I’ve experienced and exactly what’s made it worthwhile for me in the first place. You know, you say we lose our creativity and that’s a bunch of bunk, because whoever you are, you’re always are. You know, if you were creating the 30, you’re going to be creative at 90. And of course, some of the greatest accomplishments in the arts and science and everything have occurred from people when they were in the latter stages of life. So that point but the other thing you’re right about the self employment thing is, is that, you know, you’re not going to do something that you don’t feel good about and you feel it’s right for you. It may be scary. It may be daunting. Number two, you’re right about creativity in terms of pulling it off. I call it a lot of projects that I’ve done over the years for clients. You know, half the creativity is how do we pull this off with this budget messaging or whatever? And I’ve been having to, even though I’ve been a content creator my whole life, whether in TV news or otherwise, and I’m still having to I’m figuring it out every single day. And I want to use that as a Segway into the fact that. Bolton. Reznor told me that doing something like this, having this passion and purpose and staying engaged, whether it’s in a job or as an entrepreneur. A couple of lead researchers with a global insurance company, and in your book, you point this out to that. That is probably the number one successful health factor you can have when you reach older age.
[00:30:35] You know, here’s the thing. Purpose. Sometimes people talk about purpose is is a luxury, right? There are certain people who can gather resources and, you know, they can think about the importance of purpose. The thing is, purpose is fundamental. It’s fundamental to all of us. It’s about putting your feet on the ground in the morning, getting up. And it doesn’t mean that you’re happy. Doesn’t mean that every time. Every day is a wonderful day. But you put your feet in your ground and you feel like I’m a part of this community. I have something to offer. There’s a reason why I’m getting up today, and I want to do these three things. And so purpose is really fundamental to who we are. And so that’s one of the things when people at this stage of life, you know, I’m at the and I imagine you are, too, where young college graduates call you up and say, look, can I can we just talk? And you sit down and they go, look, I know what a job is. But what is this career thing? And, you know, I want a career. I want to make an income. But I want to do something that makes a difference. I want to make this world a better place. And I love the idealism. And I don’t know about you, but what I say rewards that idealism don’t lose that idealism. I mean, yes, it’s hard to figure out a career.
[00:32:03] There’s all kinds of twists and turns. But don’t lose that idealism about you want to make a difference. People 60 something say. Can I talk to you? I just just want to informational and they go you know I got any keep making the income I can’t do what I was doing before I don’t want to do what I was doing before. But I want to do something that makes a difference. I want to do something that leaves a legacy. I want to feel something that I’m proud about doing. So the only difference between that 20 something graduate and that 60 something encore career person, the only difference is when you’re in your twenties, time is infinity. When you’re 60 something, you are aware that time is shorter. That’s the only difference. And so one of the things that I always say to someone who’s 60 something and I think this is something that you mentioned earlier, you know, there probably isn’t an answer, but it’s a period of experimentation. Here’s the thing. You experimented all your life. You tried out different things. It’s no different when you’re in your sixties. The only thing that is different is you are aware of the importance of, you know, if I can find something that really provides meaning to me, boy, that would be a really good thing because I can stay engaged longer. I could just not work, I could continue. It’s more of a calling.
[00:33:36] And so I’ll continue to make an income longer. I’ll be engaged longer. And as you say, if you’re engaged, you’re physically and mentally more active. So if you think about what is it about work, whether you’re self-employed or not self-employed, you know, you’ve got to get up in the morning, you’ve got to brush your teeth, you’ve got to be presentable. You’re moving around, you’re engaged with your mind. You’re trying to figure out how to solve a problem, because that’s what you’re always doing is try and solve a problem. Plus, you’re part of a community, you’re part of some kind of an ecosystem. So you’re talking to people, you’re trying to figure out problems and all those little things that we don’t think about. They’re critical to health. We talk about health, about diet, talk about health, about exercise. But the studies that you’re mentioning, what they’re really saying is purpose is really important to your health. And we see that in mental agility, we see that in greater physical agility. And it’s that purpose, that sense of community, that sense of why I’m here. They’re just saw a lot of health benefits to it doesn’t mean you can’t have a health tragedy, doesn’t mean you can’t have a health setback. But when you’re thinking about your health and you’re thinking about quality of life and my standard of living thinking about purpose is not a luxury. It’s fundamental to.
[00:34:59] Mental and physical health.
[00:35:02] Yes. And a point argued by someone who you’re connected with also. And I’m interviewing tomorrow Richard Leiter. Yes. And called out.
[00:35:11] That’s a great book. Yes. And it really does lay it out there.
[00:35:14] Yeah. And that that in some ways, with that clock ticking, you’re absolutely right. It’s like, okay, legacy, purpose, did I make a difference with my life? But yet, at the same token, I absolutely agree with you and having been going through it myself, that it isn’t it is just like that college or high school graduate. And you’re excited about the years ahead and the road ahead and all the difference I can make and stuff like that. Except now there’s still the road ahead. There’s still all the possibilities when you get older, but you also know a hell of a lot more about yourself and about life. And going back to what you brilliantly said earlier, if you pursue your own thing, you know it’s going to be right for you and for me doing this endeavor. I mean, getting to the nitty gritty scientific studies that mean having to learn new things, cognitive improvement. I’m driven not just because of my family, but I’m driven to I’m in the best health I’ve ever been in, you know, because I needed to be. And then you want to be that you learn things, but purpose is proven in and of itself. Purpose you being passionate about what you’re doing and having all those contacts and doing all those things, you know, makes you healthy. It has actually not just cognitive, but emotional and even physical benefits for you. So so with all of that said, we’ve painted the picture, right? What do we do? I mean, for that person who who let’s take the most challenging situation for that person who’s like, okay, purpose and a paycheck. I’m all in. But there’s probably some traditional thinking about how one goes about getting that dadgum paycheck in the first place. And I am older and I am up. That’s right. But basically everything that you came up with, you know, what are what are the thought starters? What are the the new direction way finders you can offer people?
[00:37:14] One is and this is easy to say, but it’s harder to do right. And we all learned that. Here are the five things that you should be thinking about. Well, kicking me hard, but just having an experimental mindset. You’re not going to find the answer, but have an experimental mindset. And then what you want to be doing is trying to plan ahead, think ahead. But by the way, for a lot of us, it may just turn out. You reach a point where you either leave your job or your job leaves you. Right. And you haven’t done the five years of planning ahead about what do I want to do next? And all of a sudden you’re confronting, what do I want to do next? So I’m acknowledging that it’s always better if you can plan ahead and you can kind of think through things. But hey, life happens. You confront these things. At that point, you reach out to what is your most valuable asset? And that is your family, your friends, your acquaintances, your former colleagues, your college roommates. It’s the people that you’ve known over the years and that know you and the value of your network is they’re actually going to help you think, what is it that I could do next? Which is another way of saying is, what am I good at? And we all have our own self deceptions.
[00:38:39] We all do. And that’s one of the advantages of your network is you may say I’m an incredibly empathetic person and people are going to look at you and say, you’re really nice, I really like you. But the word empathy is not a word that I would use around you. You are not an empathetic person and you don’t need to put yourself in a situation where that’s not the demand. Right. Or it could be the exact opposite. But your network can help. And you know, particularly if your network is about the same age as you are, you know, you can share stories, you can share insights. You’re helping each other out. The other advantage of your network is your network actually is going to make the introduction that says, I think you should so-and-so, you two should get together and talk. And it’s going to be part of that process of finding out what you’re going to do next. So the real key is your network, and what the network will help you do is also think about what is it that I’m good at, what really is my skill set, not what’s my job title, not what it’s been. My career not has been What do I do when you’re at the proverbial cocktail party and someone says, What do you do? You know, typically you’ll say, Well, I’m a journalist.
[00:39:53] Well, you don’t say I’m skilled at communicating complex ideas in a simple way. But that’s what a journalist does. That’s what someone who’s in public relations does. That’s what you can broaden it out. So what is your skill set? And thinking about that and then talking to your friends and then finding people who are actually doing something that you think is kind of cool and, you know, reach out to them. How did you do this? How did this happen? What was your process? And you know what you’ll probably find out of ten people you approach, one might not return your call or not want to meet with you, but nine of them would love to talk to you and they’ll give you their insights. And then the third thing is if you’re thinking about starting a business. Don’t start the business. Start having conversations in every. Well in every metropolitan area and in most small towns now in the United States, there is an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and a lot of that information is free. There are mentors. There are people you can talk to, test your ideas out. And they’re.
[00:41:08] They’re accelerators. Colleges and universities have programs. You know, there’s all kinds of avenues to have discussions and talk about your idea. People will really help you out because here’s the thing. Entrepreneurs have this image of being the the lone person that can’t get along with people, so they have to go off and be by themselves. My experience is entrepreneurs are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge and entrepreneurs in the same business that you want to be in. We’ll tell you how to price your product. They’ll tell you what are the risks. They’ll tell you a good a good marketing ideas. They’ll share an immense amount of knowledge. And that’s part of why I think with entrepreneurship, you don’t want to spend a lot of money. You want to spend a lot of time. You want to test out your idea. You want to tap into these resources. And I remember someone I was talking to the other day and they wanted to get into owning a four plex. And I said, So have you talked to any landlords? And he said, Well, no. I said, Look, they’re landlord meetings every month in town and go to these meetings, talk to the landlords. What’s it like to own a four plex? What are the issues that you’re dealing with? What’s the return on your dollar? What are the what should you be aware of? Tap into all this knowledge and experience. And the thing is, that’s fun in and of itself. And in the end, you may pursue an entrepreneurial idea and you’ll end up realizing, no, actually, what this is going to lead me to is this job over here, and that’s great. You went through the whole exercise, so it’s real. But I do think your network and your local resources, you can just. Learn so much and find out so much about yourself and what might be your next path.
[00:43:03] That is probably some of the most powerful advice one could give me for any endeavor, but certainly the self employed thing or or being an entrepreneur. You’re right. There’s an ecosystem. There’s so many people out there. I’m connected with Rick Terran, who’s a serial entrepreneur. He wrote Ageless Startup and he’s just launched. And I’ve like volunteered to be involved with the Center for Ageless Entrepreneurial ISM, which more than anything, networks, people together on a new way forward. I’m setting up a community platform so that you can connect with other people to support each other, because there’s always somebody going through what you’re going through and you guys can help each other masterminding where you can listen to me and what I’m going through. And at the very least, I have to hear my self express and get out of my own head.
[00:43:55] Yeah, exactly.
[00:43:56] And by helping you, I help myself. There are mentors out there, but mentorship has to be a bit of a two way street. You’re absolutely right. But it’s funny how reluctant we are to seek the help and assistance and collaboration from other people. You know, my biggest fear has always been not knowing what I needed to know. And so I even learned to open ask very open ended questions, saying, first of all, here’s my situation and here’s what I need. What do you think? Rather than saying, how do you do this? And you never get to the point where they’re like, Oh, don’t worry about that. You need to worry about this, whatever. So that’s that’s that’s absolutely incredible advice of building that network.
[00:44:43] Then there’s.
[00:44:44] One other.
[00:44:44] Thing, which is and I learned this from an entrepreneur who was complaining that when he left employment and he started his own business, he bought a very expensive coffee machine. And that coffee machine annoyed him enormously because what he realized is all he needed was a cheap little coffee machine. And it’s the importance of cost. And this coffee machine that he had spent, he’d just wasted the money because all he needed was a hot cup of coffee. And costs are really important when you’re starting a business. So it’s very easy to think about, I need a nice computer screen and I need this and I need that. I need that. When you’re when you’re on your path and you’re on your journey, keep your costs down. Just be very cost conscious because you’re not bringing in an income yet. Or if you’re bringing in an income, it’s very, very little. So just be very, very cost conscious and be very aware of taxes and all those things. But you’ll learn that from your community. Other entrepreneurs will tell you the same, but I do think this be cost conscious. Don’t spend before you need to invest your time, invest your with the economists. Call your human capital, your brainpower and your knowledge. But just be very aware of not spending much money upfront until you can justify that expense.
[00:46:17] But that’s incredible advice. And I’ve heard that from so many people. I’ve even heard from people who’ve, for instance, that are influencers. And you see their ads all over the place. And they’re the first ones to say, exhaust your organic reach before you spend one penny. Because also, too, when you get into advertising or you’re competing with guys like them who have a lot of money. One more thing before we go, and that is, is that if I am looking to get back into the job market, keep my job or whatever, and I’m older and what I do run across, like for instance, with the ageism thing, I say, okay, it’s wrong. But a lot of people didn’t get the memo and they don’t really care. They can’t care about everything. It’s just bad people that it’s up to us to maybe lead and change. So working with Dr. Mike and Gerhard on intelligence about how to improve intergenerational wisdom in the workplace, it comes down to how are you going to react? How are you going to look at them differently? How are you going to treat younger people differently and and be the change but also to you hear about h.r. Hiring managers saying, hey, i’m not just i’m getting candidates that are older and they’re out of date. They’re not aligned with the modern day workplace or their skills aren’t up to speed. They don’t have those certifications, which you mentioned. So with all that said, what are your recommendations of what we have kind of getting past the existential challenges that we have and what we can do internally to get that job, keep that job, find that job.
[00:47:59] There’s no easy answers there, right? I mean, it’s the stereotypes are incredibly powerful. And just to. The importance of a tight job market in dealing just partly with the issue you’re talking about. Just think about the past two decades. Go from 2000 to 2019 and we had a very good labour market in 2000. And then we just not a great economy, right. And the Great Recession, all kinds of issues to 2019. So there’s a line of people out the door and there have been studies have shown how many jobs all of a sudden required a college education. Job didn’t need a college education, but employers could do it. They could put it on there. So why not? We’re just going to hire college educated people now. What’s happening right now is there’s a movement away from that that’s kind of requirements being very quietly dropped in a number of companies. There was this wonderful, wonderful Professor Warren Bennis, very famous at the University of Southern California, and a real pioneer in sort of leadership studies. And he was telling me, he says, Chris, here’s the thing at USC. He says, you know, right now we need to hire an HVAC technician. So there’s a lot of people want to be want to work for us. So we decided that we want an HVAC technician with a master’s degree, and then we want an HVAC technician that composes an original piece of music and then builds his own piano out of sustainable materials and then plays the piano for us.
[00:49:37] And then we’ll decide or decide whether or not we’re going to hire them as an HVAC technician, he says. Okay, so now the economy is booming all of a sudden, okay, you don’t need to build a piano. Well, guess what? You don’t need to compose original music. Oh, by the way, you don’t need a master’s degree. Can you repair an HVAC system? That’s all we care about. So one of the reasons why I do talk about the importance of this strong economy or whether the economy is weak, is that part of it is just simply out of your control. But when it comes to what can you do, I think there’s a couple of things. One of the most pernicious myths out there is is intergenerational conflict. And the fact is, it’s fun being around people of all different kind of ages. It’s a community. And I think that’s what you should be open to. And. Enjoy being around younger people, enjoy being around middle aged people, enjoy being around your peers. These are people and they have ideas and they have histories and they have families and they have stories to tell. And I think it’s just really being open to people of different ages and we’re all bringing different experiences to the table.
[00:50:52] That’s what diversity is all about, is bringing different experiences to the table. I mean, if you think about it, the Vietnam War was a shaping moment in my life. Now I work with people who weren’t even born during the Iraq War. And the Iraq war is something that’s in the history books. So but that’s that’s a wonderful thing. This is a good thing. We have we have different experiences. We bring different things to the table. So I think it’s really being open to the generations and embracing it as opposed to falling into some sort of dialogue about there’s conflicts and generations don’t get along, blah, blah, blah, all that nonsense. The other thing I think that you really have to be proactive about is work on your network, develop your network, keep your colleagues. Look, there’s all kinds of uncertainty. We live in a world where for some reason it’s like the standard person is someone who finds a career, stays in the job for 30 years, saves for retirement. They they they they never have a down day. I mean, it’s like and that’s what we think is the standard. That’s what everyone is like. And then there’s some people who don’t live up that no, most people lose their jobs. Most people have health setbacks, poor spells of unemployment. Your children are having issues and you have to take off work.
[00:52:23] Your parents are sick and you have to take care of them. This is what life is all about. It’s all these ups and downs. And so one of the constants that you can do is stay in touch with people that know you and what you can do and what your jobs are. Because here’s the thing. If they know you, that’s you know, the research is more than half of all jobs come from a recommendation anyway. And so I think the most powerful thing that people can do to address just what you’re talking about is be engaged, be curious, stay in touch with people. And we all, we all most of the time you can get a sense things aren’t going right here. Things there’s there’s just we’re not sure what’s going on. But I need to be proactive here and I need to reach out. I need to figure out what’s going on, what can I do? So the generations are your friends. The generations are a wonderful thing. It’s all part of diversity. And be proactive with your network and just stay curious. I mean, in the end, if I had a motto, it’s stay curious. And if you stay curious, in the end, you’re going to be employed, you’re going to find work, you’re going to have purpose. And you’re going to have a paycheck.
[00:53:45] Brilliant. And to punctuate that point, the book right over here that I finished about a year ago, Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin. Now, as we’re recording this, Ken Burns, Benjamin Franklin is on. And to me, he’s one of the most remarkable human. I even did a post today saying, you know, Elon Musk would be a distant second to Benjamin Franklin because he was he was a serial entrepreneur. He was an angel investor. He was an inventor. He was a rebel. He was a social activist. He kind of you could say he invented social media because he was one of the rare newspapers that invited different people to comment on things and all that kind of stuff. Why why did he not only have this exceptional life as Walter Isaacson in the book and last night in the show say, why did he have not only exceptional life but a long life? Was that because he only had two years of formal education before he had to go to work for his family? He was always afraid that he there was something he needed to learn and know that he didn’t know. And for his whole life, he viewed every day as a step in self-improvement and in learning new things. That’s what made him exceptional. And so that goes right back to the root of what you said. So that’s brilliant advice, brilliant insight. And I got to tell you, you read this and besides the details, you get this overall sense of where the opportunities lie, what the new realities are, and the trends. It’s better out there than you think it is if you take advantage of it. Would you agree?
[00:55:30] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:55:31] Chris, as always, thank you ever so much. Look forward to you interview.
[00:55:36] It was fun. Thanks to you so much.