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Career Evolution for Older Executives

This article is a follow up to "What It Feels Like To Get Fired At Age 70.

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I am now 72 and 4 months years of age. I have re-framed who I am, what I have to offer, and how I approach work. It took a few months, to change, but the transition began after I incorporated myself as an LLC. After that, I realized gradually that I was no longer an employee, but a “company of one” offering my services to a client. My boss and employer morphed into a customer for whom I was filling a need and performing a service. My objective was now to keep the customer happy and satisfied. When I started my “job”, we had a handshake agreement that I would probably hang around for a couple of years and when his son who was finishing up college joined the company, it would probably be time for me to leave. At around 15 months into the project, I noticed things slowing down. Although I was performing the same function, I noticed focus gradually shifting to other priorities. With my newly re-framed mindset, I did two things. First, I checked with my client to see if he still needed my services. He emphatically said, “Yes! Of course!” In spite of this reassurance, the support for my activity was winding down. Secondly, I decided that I needed more customers. So I revisited LinkedIn, got in touch with some dormant ties, and spread the word that I was in the market for new clients. Within a couple of months, I had landed a new customer with a new project.

Right before I was to start this new project however, my old project ended. My former boss, now client, told me that he felt the project had run its course and that his son, who was part-time for a month or so, would now be joining the company full time. So no surprises here except timing. Lesson learned for me in my new role, was to set up a definite time frame with an evaluation meeting in the last month, to determine if there is a need to go on. So with my new client, that is exactly what I did. I set up 6 months as our initial contract period. I now have some certainty with my new client. I am also looking for new clients to fill in the inevitable time gaps with my new client.

So in sum, it has been one year and eight months since I left my last job. I’ve had experience with my first client that taught me a lot, gave me a chance to re-frame who I was, and also made me much more knowledgeable about how to manage and use a network. These were huge and refreshing changes. In addition, with my new skill using my network, I can now see options opening up that were not apparent to me before.

I was afraid that age discrimination would be a huge impediment. It hasn’t been because I haven’t let it be. Retirement? The word doesn’t exist for me.

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