It’s Not Time for Retirement. It’s Time for Reinvention.
Peter C. Diamond, Author, Amplify Your Career and Life: 4 Steps to Evaluate, Assess and Move Forward
There is a prevailing sentiment that once past 40 you’re too old to reinvent your career. The transition is too risky. You have too many responsibilities. You may put your reputation in jeopardy. Besides, reinventing you means starting over. And starting over is daunting. Taking chances is for the young. Isn’t it better to hunker down, hang on and survive until retirement? Bunk.
Can you be innovative, entrepreneurial and over 40? Heck yeah. How about being wildly successful in a low interest category? Absolutely. Case in point, Sam Farber who created OXO (the rubber handled ergonomically designed kitchen utensils).
In the late 1980’s Sam Farber was inspired to create an easy to handle peeler after watching his wife who is mildly arthritic struggle to peel apples. Not only is it fascinating how he disrupted a sleepy category, kitchen utensils, he did this at age sixty-five.
His story shatters the myth that innovation and entrepreneurship is a young persons business. So many times, people over forty complain about ageism in the workplace, feeling their better days have passed, or lament of lost opportunities to do something entrepreneurial. And yet, here is a senior citizen who seized a moment to solve a problem and make a difference.
Here are few pointers on how to reinvent your career:
Leverage your strengths: Sam Farber was part of the Farber family who started Farberware. In 1960 he started his own business, Copco (enamel-coated cast iron cookware), which he sold in 1982. When he identified the problem (or as an optimist would say, opportunity) that would bring him out of his short retirement, he called upon his strengths and category knowledge to begin designing a new apple peeler.
Question: How can you use your strengths and accumulated knowledge to solve a problem that has meaning to you?
Make it your own: He revolutionized the utensil category with his signature plastic-coated soft black handles. They looked vastly different than any other utensils available at that time coupled with an unconventional name that most people mispronounce. It’s “Ox-Oh”. By putting his own stamp on it, he created a unique selling proposition and product that stood out in the markeplace.
Question: How would you bring a unique designation to your product or service?
Gather support: By this time Sam Farber had sold his business, and while he had extensive connections within the industry to draw upon for assistance; he still had to gather the right support team and partners to further develop and manufacture his new creation.
Question: How able, willing and strong is your support network?
Sam Farber’s story is a great reminder that age is not a barrier to creativity, innovation, action and most important reinvention. All it takes is inquisitiveness and belief in what can be. Think of what we would have missed if he had thought he was too old to reinvent his career – great looking, easy to use kitchen utensils.
You’re never too old for a great beginning. What are you curious about?
About the Author
Peter C. Diamond, “The Amplify Guy”, is a professionally trained, certified coach and author of Amplify Your Career and Life: 4 Steps to Evaluate, Assess and Move Forward He works with hundreds of senior-level executives and others to guide them through change, ranging from navigating career shifts and creating better work-life fulfillment to greater career and leadership enlightenment, and renewed self-respect. His corporate clients include Leo Burnett, United Airlines, National Association of Realtors, Razorfish, mcgarrybowen, Fresenius Kabi, PVS Chemicals, Human Rights Watch and Intelligentsia Coffee. For more information, please visit www.petercdiamond.com and connect with him on Twitter, @petercdiamond.