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Our Heroes

Amy, former Executive Officer of a Fortune 50 Company

My transition went very fluidly because I had worked so intensely for so long that I was ready for more breathability, flexibility, and rejuvenation. I had a lot of pent-up energy that I wanted to use to explore interests beyond my corporate career, while still drawing upon the skills and experiences that I had gained. Retirement gave me the opportunity to try new things and engage in different and more creative activities.


Barry, former Private Company Founder and CEO

After starting and growing my own company, I was ready to move on to new adventures while I was still relatively young and in good health. Since the company was operating smoothly and I was ready to leave behind the challenges of running a business, I sold it and embarked on my next journey.


Bill, former Fortune 50 Operating Company President

In retirement I have spent a lot more time with my wife and I have really come to enjoy my time with her. I have loved having more time and flexibility to schedule things that are of interest to me.


Bryan, former President of a Large Oil Company

Unfortunately, I didn’t do much planning for my transition to retirement. When the time came, I was mostly worried about how I would replace my intense 70-hour work week with other satisfying activities. Due to my lack of planning, however, I was unwilling to make long-term commitments until I figured out where I wanted to spend my time. I was offered several directorships with large corporations but was concerned that my hands-on style would be frustrating in board roles. Once I had time to discern all of my options, I ended up finding opportunities in the charitable world where I could make a significant difference. My priorities in retirement have included staying busy and feeling productive, making an impact on the organizations where I volunteer, playing an active role in the lives of my 10 grandchildren, becoming and staying physically fit, and taking the time to travel internationally.


Charles, former President and CEO of Fortune 100 Company

I was not ready to be done working at the time my company asked me to retire, so I began to look for opportunities to work even after retirement. I wanted to do something truly new and different, so I joined boards in industries that interested me, but in which I did not have a lot of experience. I looked for places where I could find opportunities to learn, work, and grow.


Ed, former CEO of a Large Oil Company

My corporate DNA and training for deliberate analysis and planning contributed to thinking through my retirement well in advance. I retired at age 55 and was fortunate in being able to choose the timing myself. Because of a two-year restriction on board memberships, I used that time lecturing at my alma mater, overhauling personal finances, and embracing a new hobby: photography. After the initial two years, I joined four boards and volunteered with four non-profits, which occupied 50% of my time. Even though I was very careful about which board positions I accepted, the workload was a bit much. I miss the intellectual stimulation of making complex decisions and the quality of my colleagues, but I am really enjoying spending more time with my family. I hope to start focusing on my physical health – good thing I still have time to work on this!


Eli, former Vice President of a Fortune 500 Company

I retired because I wanted to do something new and different, so I gave ten months’ notice to my company and began the next chapter of my life. All I did was relax for a few months, but I was looking for new ways to use the skills and expertise I gained during my career, so I transitioned into consulting. After a few months of that I transitioned into business start-ups. Retiring doesn’t mean you have to be done working, and if you enjoy what you are doing it isn’t really working anyway .


Frank, former Fortune 100 Director

I spent the last five or six years of my career thinking about what I wanted to do next. My company hired a lot of consultants, and I thought that might be something I would like to do. After working for one company for so long, I wanted to see what else was out there.


Harry, former Executive of a Fortune 50 Company

When I retired, I’d spent nearly forty years working and was ready to transition when a new CEO took control of my company. I was lucky because I got to transition out slowly to help the CEO’s new staff. When you’re slowing down from 100mph to 30mph, take any opportunity to taper that you can get because it facilitates a smoother and more gradual transition.


James, former Executive Officer of Fortune 50 Company

The first time I retired, the transition went smoothly. I planned to leave months in advance and even stayed on as a consultant for a few months to ease into my new life. After a few months, however, I got antsy and returned to my company in a new role. I knew almost immediately that this was a mistake. Although I didn’t realize it, I’d come to enjoy my less hectic lifestyle, and my company had moved on without me. I should have mentally prepared and embraced the transition the first time to save myself the headache of a second retirement.


Jean, former Executive Officer of Fortune 50 Company

The first time I retired, the transition went smoothly. I planned to leave months in advance and even stayed on as a consultant for a few months to ease into my new life. After a few months, however, I got antsy and returned to my company in a new role. I knew almost immediately that this was a mistake. Although I didn’t realize it, I’d come to enjoy my less hectic lifestyle, and my company had moved on without me. I should have mentally prepared and embraced the transition the first time to save myself the headache of a second retirement.


Jerry, former President of a Large Oil Marketing Company

The timing of my retirement was exactly right. After I had completed some significant milestones and the job was starting to feel a bit “old,” I realized I was ready to retire and initiated the discussion one year in advance of when I wanted to leave. Although I had a great career and achieved more than I could have ever wished for, I never thought that I was defined by my work. I was ready for a break from the corporate world and have zero regrets about leaving when I did.


Jim, former Chairman, President, and CEO of a Large Technology Company

I began to consider my retirement a year before I actually left my company. It was a good time for me to transition out, both for me and for the company, so I gave them notice in advance and worked harder than ever to finish well for my successor. As strange as this sounds, I think going through a company buyout earlier in my career helped my transition a lot. I wasn’t nervous or apprehensive about the unknown, because I’d already experienced it before, and I knew I’d be fine.


Jim, former Chief Human Resources Officer for International Corporations

I spent my entire career having a game plan. I was deliberate in strategizing each move, never leaving anything to chance. I always knew what needed to be done. For some strange reason, however I didn’t have a plan for how I would spend my time during retirement. I thought it would be a natural transition. I thought, “I’m passionate about everything, so I’ll find other things.” Well, retirement came and there was no soft landing.


Jim, former Executive Vice President and CFO of an International Corporation

My company had a mandatory retirement age, so I knew when I’d be retiring years before the actual date came. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, but ultimately the “where” trumped the “what.” My wife and I wanted to move across the country to a warmer climate, and so I decided not to look for new responsibilities until we found a new home. Eventually I got both.


Jim, former President of a Large Canadian Oil Company

My departure was unplanned and was the result of a corporate reorganization. Despite the fact that I was caught off guard, I’ve been able to phase into retirement by slowly and steadily scaling back my responsibilities. Initially I worked as CEO of an organization and then switched to serving on five boards, two of which I chaired. Eventually I was ready to reduce my overall number of directorships. Board work allowed me to maintain my stature in the business community while progressively decreasing my time commitments. Despite the initial shock of the unplanned change, I have been delighted with the choices I’ve made and the opportunities that have come along.


Joe, former Senior Vice President of an International Company

I’ve always set goals for myself: physical goals, mental goals, career goals. When I felt like I had accomplished everything that I wanted to in my career, I decided it was time to retire and focus on some other aspects of my life. In this new season, I have goals as well, and because of these I don’t feel unproductive. I’m still working towards something.


John, former CEO and VP of Fortune 10 Company

One of the best aspects of my transition is that I can spend more time with my children and grandchildren. Retirement allowed me to take trips with my wife and kids to places that we had always wanted to go, but that we couldn’t because of my work schedule. Now that family is my priority, I can be a powerful influence in the lives of my wife, children, and grandchildren.


Karen, former Executive of Fortune 50 Company

When my company went through a restructuring, I found out that I would be transitioning sooner than I had originally planned. I still had some time to prepare, but I was afraid of what life would look like on the other side. My worst fear was waking up on the first morning after leaving, and realizing I had nothing to do. It’s terrifying to think of a life without any purpose or anything to look forward to.


Kathy, former Partner, Management Consulting Firm

My transition was wonderfully smooth because I spent a lot of time planning ahead. After thirty years of traveling for business, I was ready for a change in lifestyle. I’ve always known I wanted to retire early, so I’d been thinking about the transition for a while. I gave my company ten months’ notice so that I could finish well and plan a great new beginning.


Les, former Chief Human Resources Officer for International Corporations

For most people one retirement is probably enough, but I’ve had two. I was fairly young when I retired the first time and after three years of part-time consulting and not-for-profit work, I felt called back to full-time work. When I retired from that position a few years later, it was much different. I was more relaxed and prepared for what was coming.


Mark, Brigadier General USAF, (Ret)

After spending over 30 years in the aerospace industry, I wanted to have some different experiences. I went from the Air Force to taking a year off to being the President of a public company to owning a Chick-fil-A. My mantra was “I’m not making a decision for the rest of my life. I’m just making a decision for what I’d like to do next.” I decided that I would try something for three years and if I didn’t like it, I would try something else. I have no regrets. Instead, I have stories that I hope will help others.


Mark, former Executive of a Fortune 30 Company

At the height of my career it wasn’t uncommon for me to have six or seven work-related calls to take on both Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t have control over my time, I wanted to spend more time with my family, and I wanted to give back to the community. A year in advance, I began to plan for my retirement and think through how I wanted to spend my time and resources.


Mark, former Executive of Fortune 10 Company

When my company and I decided it was time for me to retire, I was ready. I’d spent thirty years with the same company, and there really wasn’t any place left for me to grow there. When you get that high up in a corporation, open seats become harder to find. A number of head-hunters tried to recruit me right away to do jobs I’d already done, but I wanted to try out some new things.


Michael, former Fortune 100 President/CEO

I made the transition from President/CEO to Vice Chairman and that was a very difficult move for me. When I decided to address some problems within the company, I did not enjoy the support from the board. I was promptly asked to retire and was given a generous package. I realized I needed to sever my emotional relationship with the company because it was eating me alive. It has continued to anger me for years after leaving and now I have ill feelings toward the company I spent my entire career with.


Nancy, former Not-for-Profit Board Chair, Leader, and Consultant

I’ve never fully retired; I just keep reinventing myself as I move through the seasons of my life. I’ve worked in banking, as a finance professor, as a leader of several not-for-profits, and as a development and education consultant. The key to a successful transition is to be open to new experiences, think positively and be resilient.


Norm, former President of Business Unit of Fortune 100 Company

When I had major back surgery, I decided it was time to retire. I had originally wanted to help build homes for those in need, but the surgery prevented me from being able to do this. I found a new unexpected calling working for a not-for-profit. It helped me make my Next Season a productive one, as it allowed me to greatly contribute with the skills I had gained in the corporate world. It really consumed my days and nights—and how I spent my weekends. I have felt like, through this effort, I was making a difference and giving back.


Patricia, former Managing Director of Fortune 20 Company

I’ve really lived through two retirements at this point. When I initially transitioned out of my corporate role, I wanted to keep working but in a different setting, so I took a position as a university administrator. Now a few years later, I’m moving out of full-time work and discovering a new season for the second time. Retirement isn’t a “one-and-done” experience but a series of exciting choices and transitions.


Peter, former President of a Large Oil Company

As a result of a merger and subsequent corporate reorganization, I agreed to my retirement date about a year in advance and my transition was very smooth. My priorities for retirement have included improving my health through regular exercise, staying intellectually stimulated through a few corporate boards, managing my own money, spending time with grandkids, and enjoying the outdoors to fish and golf. For me, the key has been to stay active and not let myself get bored.


Rich, former Private Company President and CEO

After working for seventeen years in public policy and moving to the corporate world for another twenty, I’m now ready for what my wife and I call “Life 3.0” I’d been working with my board leadership for five years on a strong succession plan, so I knew that they were in good hands when it was time for me to leave.


Richard, former Executive Officer of a Fortune 50 Company

My transition was somewhat of a shock. I was not prepared for life outside of my corporate job. You go from having 15 meetings a day and 100 people trying to get on your calendar to having absolutely nothing to do. It’s a huge change and you have to prepare for it.


Robert, former Fortune 200 Operating Company President

I decided to retire because I found I was not spending nearly enough time with my family. I took 2 years to prepare the company and myself for my retirement. From the company standpoint, my transition went really well because I gave myself enough time to prepare for my next season. The timing was perfect considering the company was coming off of a strong financial year, successfully coming out of the challenges caused by financial meltdown.


Sam, former President of a Large Oil Company

Thanks to my wife, I was prepared to make a smooth transition to retirement. My wife encouraged me to think about post-retirement six years before I made this transition. Because of the advanced planning, we decided to restore a historic house that is now our new home. Before both the move and my retirement, we started spending holidays in the area of our new home and got to know the surrounding community. I also became very active in industry associations before retirement, which set me up for board positions. This brought continuity and ease to the transition.


Toby, former Physician and Professor of Medicine

For years I’d let my work consume a large portion of my life. I worked long hours in the hospital and didn’t trust others to handle my responsibilities while I was away. I couldn’t even relax on vacations. It took me a little while to allow myself to relax in retirement, but since I have, I have found my next season to be a rewarding and healthier one.


Tom, former Primary Care Physician

While I had loved my years working as a physician, the practice of medicine had changed greatly in the years leading up to my transition, and I felt ready to retire. I started cutting back two years before my last day of work and spent that time planning for what my next season of life would look like.


Vanessa, former CEO and Chairwoman of Fortune 100 Company

I had been planning towards and thinking about retirement for years before the date actually arrived. I wanted to be on boards and do consulting work, but first needed time to relax and think. Staying positive and enjoying the fruits of my labor was really important, because I’d worked hard for years. Now was my chance to reflect on all the good I’d been able to do for the company and the individuals I worked with. I also wanted to slow down a bit from my frenetic pace


Vicki, former Executive Vice President of a Fortune 500 Company

After working for the same company close to thirty years, I needed a change of pace, so when the company went through a major restructuring, I decided to leave. Moving forward I seized new opportunities as they came along, eventually leading several large not-for-profits. You need to have a plan as you begin your transition, but don’t be afraid to adapt to unexpected adventures life brings to you.


Wayne, former Director at Fortune 100 Industrial Company

I wanted to get involved with not-for-profits while I was working, but I traveled so much that I didn’t have the time. After retiring, I got involved in a lot of efforts within my community, which supplements my activity level and I really enjoy