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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.

Ben, former Vice President of a Fortune 50 Company

When I was a young man I had the opportunity to serve others through not-for-profit work in Japan. Working the majority of my career in corporate America, I always knew that when I retired, I wanted to find a way to give back. Having a plan made my new season something I looked forward too and now I can use my skills to dramatically impact the lives of those less fortunate.

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.

Brenda, former Fortune 100 Executive

After spending twenty years working in the financial services industry, I realized as the market crashed that I was ready to do a little reinvention of myself. I probably could have coasted to retirement, but I wanted to find a way to leverage my history even as I was willing to explore something new. So I began to connect even more with people I considered advisors as well as make new acquaintances.

Bryan, former CEO and CFO of Large Public Company

I always wanted to retire at a young age to enjoy life, specifically with my family. I was nearing the age of my hopeful retirement and my employer was bought by another company, so it was ideal timing for me to leave. I was asked to stay on part-time to help with the transition which allowed me to slowly adjust to my next phase, and also confirmed my decision to retire. I liked not working! I arranged for a smooth transition by setting up board positions for post-retirement. This summer will be the first time since I retired 13 years ago that I will not be on any boards and that is okay with me because I have plenty to keep me engaged with life.

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 .

Elizabeth, former Fortune 50 Executive

My boss was extremely surprised when I told her I wanted to retire, but I had thought about the decision for over a year. I had accomplished my goals within the corporate world, and I was much more excited about the opportunities that lay before me outside of the company.

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.

Gary, Former Vice President of Fortune 20 Company

After giving 16 years to my company, I knew that it was time to look for something different. I was too comfortable in my role and wanted to keep learning. A departure date was negotiated, and I felt eager to pursue new opportunities and reclaim other areas of my life. The transition, however, was more difficult than I anticipated. It was hard to let go of the rhythms and mindset that had dominated most of my waking hours. But after a few months, I began to adjust to a new way of living by focusing on what was most important in my life and using the gift of time I had been given. Currently, I am a part-time consultant at a public relations firm, active in professional organizations for public relations, and a guest lecturer at communications schools. Volunteering at my local library and serving on an economic development board in my hometown have provided additional balance and a way to give back.

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.

Laura, former Executive Vice President of Fortune 30 Company

In the years before I retired, I spent a ridiculous amount of time traveling. I was flying across the country multiple times a month, and got to the point where I didn’t feel like I was even participating in my own life. I felt like I had groomed my direct reports well and that I had been successful, so I knew it was my time to transition. I wanted to focus on the things I didn’t have time for before, and I wanted to use my skills to give back to the community.

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.

Martha, former Executive of a Fortune 50 Company

After narrowly escaping a large executive level lay-off at my company, I realized that I needed to start planning for transition to early retirement on my own terms. My daughter was nearing the end of high school, and I wanted to spend time with her before she left for college. I had also committed to a couple of non-profit board positions that I knew would keep me engaged. While I thoroughly enjoyed my career and my airplane seats aren’t as good as they used to be, I have fully embraced my new life.

Mary, former Executive of a Fortune 50 Company

After working a number of years in a large international corporation, I decided that it was time to leave and begin to fulfill my dream of working for a not-for-profit. There are so many great organizations that need help, and I knew that my skills in management and finance would be useful. I told my boss why I was leaving, and over the next year, I transitioned out of my old company and into a new season of life.

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.

Patrick, former CEO of Large Oil Company

Not much has surprised me about retirement. It has seemed like a natural evolution. My wife and I did not do a lot of formal preparation for retirement except for thinking about where we wanted to live a couple years in advance. We decided we wanted to build a second home in Florida. Working on this project actually forced us to think about many other issues surrounding retirement. Immediately following retirement, I was active with four directorships. As time has gone by, I have reduced my directorships and am spending more time with children and grandchildren.

Paul, former President and CIO of a Private Equity Firm

My retirement story does not fit a cookie-cutter mold. I worked in the financial world for 18 years. I was a bond trader and I knew I wanted to be prepared to retire early in life because you can only work in that line of business so long without doing yourself some damage. My family was in Canada and I was living in New York much of time. I knew I wanted to see my kids play sports and I wanted to be available to help my parents who were both diagnosed with dementia around the same time. I ended up starting a small fund 18 months after retirement, but now am officially retired. I loved working and enjoyed what I did, and it was still the right thing to leave when I did.

Peter, former Brand President of Premier International Cosmetics Company

A smooth transition from my 40-year career to retirement was very important to me both personally and professionally. While it was my decision to retire, the timing was discussed with my company so that we could ensure a successful transition on both ends. I felt prepared for my transition because of a combination of factors: I had thought about retirement often and had a plan; I walked through the process with an Advisor who helped me re-define personal and professional goals; and I had both the qualitative (mindset/perspective) and quantitative tools (updated resume, bio) to facilitate my next season. Currently, my time is divided between spending time with family, traveling, serving on two not-for-profit boards, teaching classes at my alma mater, and doing some professional consulting. The best part of retirement for me has been being in control of how I spend my time. This is a gift, especially after 40 years of time-commitments!

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.

Randal, former CEO of Fortune 100 Private Company

“Retirement” isn’t a realistic word anymore. You just move on to the next exciting phase of your life. After twenty-five years at the same company, I reached a ceiling. Now I’m spending my time on new endeavors that I find just as fulfilling as anything I’ve ever done. I’ll never really “retire.”

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.

Rick, former Director of Marketing for Large Oil Company

My retirement scenario was bit unique in that I was repatriated after 5 years in Europe. I had about one year notice before retirement, but had been thinking of implications for much longer. I bought a condo in Toronto in 2000 and a condo in Florida in 2002. Having an established home base to go to was very important to me. Though retirement has gone well for me personally, I was disappointed that the support for repatriating at retirement didn’t garner as much support as expatriating into an assignment. The day after I retired, the support disappeared for re-entry, tax planning, etc. I nearly made some very disadvantageous financial situations. It would have been beneficial to receive some coaching and assistance with repatriating, including increasing my network after many years away.

Rick, former President and CEO of Private Corporation

The way my work contract lined up with the calendar, I knew that I could leave the company near my 65th birthday. Knowing my potential retirement date ten years in the future gave me a long time to consider my options and thoroughly prepare my management team and my successor. I retired at the end of my contract and was then able to join the Board, which allowed me to see out the transition.

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.

Scott, former Senior VP of Human Resources for a Fortune 50 Company

“Rocky” is the first word that comes to mind when I think about how I would describe my transition to retirement. I thought I was ready, but I really wasn’t. I had planned, but I hadn’t planned enough. My whole life had been work and family—period. While working, I promised myself I’d develop new hobbies, but would start something new and then stop. Fortunately, I can now see that my rocky transition helped me realize what I wanted. I am a big believer in giving yourself time to step away from it all and think about what gives you joy and energy. I anticipated golfing taking up a big chunk of my time, but after playing for a while, I realized I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would. Instead, I have found myself traveling with my wife, exploring the city (we moved from the suburbs), going to baseball games, doing pro-bono work with college grads, rekindling old relationships, and doing some coaching and consulting.

Ted, former Executive Vice President of Fortune 500 Company

My prior company set their mandatory retirement age for senior executives at sixty-five, so I knew that I’d have to leave when I hit that arbitrary number. So-called retirement age has not caught up with people living healthier lives and being mentally active well into their eighties. I know that a lot of people look forward to the traditional retirement age and having an abundance of time for golf and travel, but I enjoy the current balance I have between family and work.

Thomas, former Entrepreneur and CEO

You could say that I retired twice. After a long career with a corporation that I bought and lead as CEO for a number of years, I decided it was time for me to transition into my next season. Several years later, however, the board asked me to return as an interim CEO while the company underwent some management changes. I agreed and so transitioned into and then out of a CEO role for the second time. You could say I’ve had a lot of practice retiring!

Tina, former Vice President of Fortune 100 Company

Thankfully, I was very excited and mentally prepared to retire. I retired early (age 56) and developed a plan with my company that would allow me to transition after successfully completing a new product introduction launch. A goal of mine was to secure a seat on a corporate board, so I began networking in advance. I am very busy now, and happily so. I serve on three corporate boards, two not-for-profit boards and have completed two important projects that have a big impact on my hometown. It’s also been delightful to be able to go to our new home in Florida in the winter months and play lots of “bad golf” – an enjoyable and maddening new hobby!

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