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16. October 2014

The Birth of My Next Season

by Leslie W. Braksick, PhD MPH, Co-Founder and Senior Partner, My Next Season

I spent the past twenty plus years consulting to senior-most executives of the Fortune 500. A non-remarkable thing happened over that time period: I got older and so did my clients. In fact, most of the folks I had the good fortune to work with in the earlier half of my career, are now retired from their corporate leadership roles. As such, I had a front row seat to these corporate transitions, most of which were not easy for the executives.

While I was put in their lives to help them be (more/maximally) effective leaders, they also became dear friends. It is painful to watch people you respect and care a lot about struggle, unnecessarily. It was especially hard for me to witness, because I knew how selflessly and sacrificially these men and women had given of themselves to the benefit of their companies. They sacrificed health, hobbies, non-profit board roles, marriages, relations with children and friends, exercise routines, family vacations, and more, all to accommodate the busy travel, meeting, and required social-engagement-schedule needed to drive performance hard for the companies they worked for. In two cases, they sacrificed their lives having had no pre-existing health issues. (Tragically, they each dropped dead from heart-attacks less than a year after they were retired from their corporate jobs.) They never got over the loss of their identities and of what had defined them for their adult lives.

Many of these “newly retired” former clients called upon me to help. They knew I knew them well and they knew I cared. Over the course of working through the challenges of their transition a remarkable thing happened: their anxieties waned, and they found things that spoke to their hearts. They rediscovered hobbies. They engaged with non-profit organizations whose mission they felt passionate about. They worked through the stress of how they would spend their time and held important conversations and negotiations with spouses and partners. It became crystal clear that with tools, a companion to consider options, and networking to pursue/realize these options, a smooth and successful transition was more than possible.

The season of Spring– of rebirth– happened for those executives. Grey skies turned to blue. Bulbs, previously planted and then buried under snow, sprouted and gave birth to amazing color and possibility. The transition from corporate to what’s next, from black/white to Technicolor, was possible for ALL executives.

I decided to dedicate the next season of my career, to this end: helping executives transition from productivity to purpose: bridging the transition from corporate careers to next phases of life, where joy and fulfillment could be realized in new ways. And I set out to find a business partner who shared this vision, conviction, and desire to build and co-lead a company dedicated to this purpose.

I was introduced to Mark Linsz who had decided to leave a big corporate executive job with Bank of America in search of his next season. Mark wanted to lead and grow a business that had purpose as well as business impact and My Next Season met his criteria. Mark joined me to co-found a company dedicated to helping executives transition from productivity to purpose, and to partner with not-for-profit organizations financially and to help source executive talent to meet strategic needs they face. What a gift that has been.

We are excited to bring My Next Season to the world of business. We are excited to create new seasons for people who have spent their lives giving next seasons to hundreds of thousands of employees and customers. And we are excited to help companies ensure that those who transition are more likely to advocate, recruit and be ambassadors for their former employers, versus experience a bitterness/resentment due to how people were exited from their long-term employer.

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