Tag Archives: baby boomer

Why I’ll Never Retire

Ugh, baby boomers, retirement, selling the business … ouch. Strikes me like “lions, tigers, and bears,” in the Wizard of Oz. Scary.

I’m 61. It was my choice to change my job more than two years ago, so that now instead of managing my company with 45 employees I’m writing, speaking, blogging, and teaching. And I thank God that I had that choice. The company’s better off with a new management team, and I’m better off with a new job. But I worry about the rest of us. Retirement scares the hell out of me.

One of my closest friends retired two years ago. Now he’s bored out of his mind, looking for things to do, and not happy about it.

I’ve seen some successful retirements: it seems to work when they jump from one thing to another, something they like, something they’ve always wanted to do. Golf and fishing, or the equivalent, are rarely enough.

One variable that I’m sure matters is liking what you do. As my good friend now retired used to talk about it with relish, just 3-4 years ago, it always sounded great to him, but horrible to me. And, no surprise, he was tired of his work, but had nowhere else obvious to go. I was getting tired of the managing, but I did have somewhere I wanted, badly to go: the writing, speaking, etc. I still love the company I started, just not the day-to-day management of it. I liken my new job here to the concept of a safe harbor. It’s different, it’s easily separable from what I did for years, but it’s still the same company, same industry. And it also keeps me away from meddling with the new management, which (I’m pretty sure) is a relief to them.

Apparently I’m not the only one. I just read Steve King’s Greying of the Workforce post on Small Business Labs. Lots of grey-haired folks are staying on longer. And that’s because they want to, not because they have to.

And then there’s this, which turned up last week in Why Retirement is Bad For You, on Forbes.com

Studies show that men who retired from corporate jobs, donned their gold watches and lazed about at a resort lived measurably shorter lives than those who sought productive work (e.g., volunteering for organizations like SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives). In fact, plenty of retirees who traded productive work for sunshine and early-bird dinners dropped dead surprisingly soon after making the transition.

That seems like a variation on the same theme. Those older people in the work force are probably way better off for it, at least if they figure out how to be in jobs they like. Maybe that’s the best answer to an aging population?

Moonshot, Columbus, now Woodstock Also a Myth? Say It Ain’t So.

We baby boomers have lost too many cultural icons. Don’t take away Woodstock.

Some nut shot John Lennon. Good journalism — or was it reality? — took away our faith in institutions. We’ve pretty much lost Ford, Chevrolet, General Motors, Wall Street, faith in television news, trust in doctors, air, water … hell, they even took away Christopher Columbus, who went from great explorer to racist exploiter, all in one generation. And now there are people who say the 1969 moon walk was faked. But Woodstock too? What’s left?

I turned 21 in 1969. I was a West coast kid, nowhere near Woodstock, working a summer job between years at college. But, despite the technicality of geography, I was there in spirit just like the rest of that half of my generation that had woken up to new values, wanted to change the world, believed in a new kind of freedom, opposed the Vietnam war, and drank the cool-aid. With whatever symbolism we could find, usually nothing more than long hair and bell-bottom pants, we paraded our loyalty to what we thought was going to be a once-in-history sweeping change in humanity.

The Woodstock media sensation was cultural affirmation.  It was just about a year after the 1968 student uprisings world wide — riots, broken windows, overturned cars, breaking out simultaneously in places as far apart as Tokyo, Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, and cities across the United States. Unlike the year before, though, it was a new kind of uprising, a peaceful uprising. It was validation. Half a million people gathered for three days in a muddy field with no money, no violence, no hierarchy, no police, no authorities, and no problems. And it proved what we’d been saying to ourselves, to our parents, to our teachers, bosses, and anybody else who objected.

It felt like a turning point. After Woodstock, “Hippy” was no longer a bad thing to be.

All of which brings me to this disturbing segment of a fascinating Wall Street Journal video (below) on how Woodstock changed music. Oh the loss, oh the disillusion! Is nothing sacred?

Disillusion number one: marketing? The narration says “the Woodstock nation was born, ushering in a whole new area of marketing. True, I’m all grown up now, I get marketing, my company depends on it like the rest of small business, but jeez, marketing at Woodstock? That’s Woodstock’s legacy?

No, I hope not; but then John Scher, CEO of Metropolitan Talent, explains:

“You had a new brand. It was called Woodstock. And you had music that was associated with a mass movement: A social, cultural, and political movement. Music could be marketed, differently, than it was before. And then you had people who had no soul, just trying to sell product, trying to figure out how they could latch on.”

(If you can’t see the video, click here to go to the source at wsj.com)

But wait: it gets worse. The narrator implies that the legacy was more the movie than the event, and in the movie …

“Not all the performers fared so well.  The order of performers was changed, some were left out, in some cases songs performed elsewhere replaced songs performed at the event.  It all helped to create a memory that wasn’t necessarily true to life.”

And still worse. The five-minute piece finishes with WSJ Music Critic Jim Fusilli:

“There’s a lot of really terrific performances that received no exposure. For the past 39 years, they’ve gotten very little bounce. A lot of Columbia artists didn’t get into the film. A lot of Capitol artists didn’t get into the film, or onto the album. You had a giant label in Warner Brothers, who had possession of the music at Woodstock.

“I don’t remember what actually happened anymore either. I’ve been struggling against the myth of Woodstock. I’ve probably read 10 books, I’ve listened to (I bet your) two thirds of the music that was at Woodstock. I’ve talked to probably 20 people who were at Woodstock or involved in Woodstock. And I don’t really know what happened anymore. The only thing I have that I can trust is the music.

“This is a debate that I have with myself all the time, as to whether things like Woodstock, and the Beatles, and the Stones, will continue into the future. Whether people will have the same affection for them once the social context has changed. And I think it’s hard to say. The truth is that as long as a single hippy remains alive, the myth of Woodstock will be perpetuated.”

Screw historical accuracy. Power to the people. Leave Woodstock alone.

On the other hand, sacred? Who are we kidding? So, in the immortal words of the late great Gilda Radner (another baby boomer, by the way), never mind.