I was having coffee with some friends the other day talking about some Business deals we were putting together and it occurred to me that at 60 I was the youngest of the group. The other three were CEOs of their own companies and still relished going to work every day. In their late 60’s and one in the early 70’s none would consider retiring. All had pensions and still earned substantial incomes.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with the former CEO of a leading NGO in Vancouver a couple of years ago. He had been a senior VP at a major bank and had retired early with a substantial pension. When the opportunity to serve as the CEO of the NGO was offered he eagerly accepted it because at 55 he was not ready to retire to the cottage or go fishing. He threw the NGO a zinger when he offered to take a greatly reduced salary.

Why would he do that? He told me that it felt good to give something back to the community and he could afford to because of his pensions.

Imagine the ramifications of hiring retired CEOs. With baby boomers accounting for the highest demographic ever, health a non issue with 60 being the new 50, and people remaining active well into their 80’s there is a wealth of knowledge that is going to waste.

I’ve been in interviews for the CEO position of at least two NGOs in the past year. The interviewers were committed volunteers deeply connected to the charity they we’re involved in. The crux of the interviews invariably turned to my knowledge of the charity’s focus, let’s say it was diabetes. I asked them if they wanted a professional business person or someone with diabetes. The answer both times was the former but they hired the person with diabetes. another charity doomed to be run by dilitantes.

What if they could have the retired CEO used to earning $250k for their budget of 100k? Would they pass up that knowledge base to find someone with diabetes, I hope not.

What if they could have the for the first time agencies, charities etc could have expert decision makers running their organization. It is a win win situation.

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9 Comments

  1. Makes perfect sense … but how do you get the NGO to understand and appreciate the concept? In most cases it is like talking to a brick wall … I think they are intimidated by the knowledge and qualifications.

  2. If that story actually happened I would assume it isn’t dilettantism they probably found a business man who is both qualified and has diabetes. Or as most people will point out who have actually worked in any capacity with these older founts of knowledge almost no one is intimidated by them or considers them overqualified. They mostly consider them out of touch and in all honesty they are.

    It came up in the comments and it was implied in the article. Pay rate does not mean knowledge or skill. People who’ve worked for or with men from the generation you speak of know from experience what others know from reputation. It’s a lot of “in my day” and “I’ve opened 80 businesses in my career”. Almost all of which is irrelevant.
    The times call for innovation and fast thinkers who aren’t mired in 1980’s “golf course and business lunches” mentality.

  3. I couldn’t have really asked for a much better blog. You are always at hand to provide excellent information, going straight away to the point for easy understanding of your subscribers. You’re really a terrific pro in this arena. Many thanks for remaining there humans like me.

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