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Talbott Blog

What About When You're 50?

Harry Newton writes in Messed up private lives:

When I graduated from Harvard Business School in 1969, half the class went into investment banking. The other half went into management consulting. I didn’t. I became an entrepreneur, and for that, was universally derided. By our 20th reunion, I was gaining respect. By our 25th I was being consulted. My classmates’ ‘careers’ had hit a wall. They’d been passed over for boss. the younger kids had fresher ideas and worked harder. My classmates had lived beyond their means. They were onto their second and third marriages. They had no savings. They were overweight and out of condition. And now there were no jobs for 50-year plus gray-hairs. What could I recommend? Sadly, little. Could I help their kids? Now, I increasingly do that. I give my standard talk:

- Learn a new skill every six months. (Samples: negotiation; computers, investing, Excel.)

- Get involved with business startups. Ultimately being an entrepreneur is what will give you peace of mind in your old age.

- Save at least 10% of your income every month. Invest it in a wide variety of ventures.

- Learn how to pick ventures.

- Stay healthy. Lots of exercise and no over-eating.

- Give back.

When you’re 50 will you be having trouble finding someone interested in employing a 50-year-old has-been? Will your kids need help to keep them from having the same problem?

My parents gave me such a gift in raising me outside of “the system,” and I see the dividends from that investment throughout my life. There are the incredible experiences I’ve had at 25 that some folks haven’t had at 55, the loving (and gorgeous!) wife sitting next to me, the two beautiful children I already have (with more to come, Lord willing!), the true friendships formed in the forge of reality. I can’t imagine a richer life up to this point, and the promise for the future is so full. All of these things and more have flowed from Dad and Mom sharing with me their Christian faith, a faith that isn’t dry and dead, but rather a bold, thinking faith that promises and demands great things for and from each child of God.

It was a huge step when my parents decided — and kept on deciding — not to put me in public or even private school, but instead to teach me and later my siblings at home. They had little idea what they were starting, but they knew it was the right thing, and I’m so grateful for their courage. I’ve been brought up in an environment that says we ought to do things the best way, i.e. probably not the way everyone else is doing them. I question the status quo, and find myself puzzled by those compelled to conform to it. Why go to college? Why wait until you’re older to get married? Why wait to have children? Why go in to debt?

Now I find myself asking, “Why am I an employee?” I know some short-term answers to that question, but they’re going to run dry before long. There are great things for me to do, and those things aren’t going to be found among the cubes. I only hope I can boldly take a step as large as my parents, and in doing so catapult their grandchildren further still. There is little I am more passionate about than seeing my children (and grandchildren) do well, and actions speak louder than words. By my actions, I hope to say:

Love God. Love your neighbor. Be different. Be bold. Live purposefully. Do what you enjoy, using God’s gifts. And teach your children to teach it all to your grandchildren.

Via microISV