A CEO’s Advice For The Third Chapter Of Your Career

The full article can be read on Forbes.com
Written by Richard Eisenberg

From Digital and Direct Marketing Expert Brian Fetherstonhaugh

OgilvyOne Chairman & CEO, Brian Fetherstonhaugh, shares his thoughts on the three chapters of a career:

What are the three chapters of a career?

Fetherstonhaugh: In the early phase, you need rocket fuel — the meaningful skills and relationships that will propel you for this surprisingly long journey.

The middle chapter in your career is all about differentiating yourself, really tapping into what you’re passionate about and excellent at and just going for it. This is the time to really make sure you’re the best at something and different from other people on the career shelf.

And what’s the “passing the torch” chapter of a career all about? You’re not just talking about succession planning for business owners, right?

No. The passing the torch phase can be a really meaty and rewarding chapter of anyone’s career. One of the most nourishing and satisfying things you can do as you’re entering or going through it is to spend a lot of time teaching.

Why is teaching so important in the third chapter of a career?

I think people lose gas when they don’t feel they’re contributing in meaningful ways; teaching gives you a sense of contribution. It’s also deeply nourishing to see that what you do or know matters.

Almost every month I teach at places like MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Columbia, Yale, McGill and NYU. It’s fun and makes me sharper in crystallizing my thinking. And I absolutely get energy from the students, no question.

I’m also a personal mentor for a few people at Ogilvy; I was just assigned an incredibly sharp young guy last week.

How should people work on boards either while they have full-time jobs or in retirement?

Lots of people use funny language when they talk about doing this, saying things like, “I’m going to sit on a few boards.”

I say, “Sitting on a board, like you’re just sitting there?” It sounds passive and unrewarding. And I tell them, “Why don’t you find a way you can bring something to the party that nobody else can bring?”

Three weeks ago, I signed up for a new mission with Building for America’s Bravest, which is a phenomenal organization that builds custom homes for severely disabled veterans. Ogilvy is now working with them to bring their message to the market.

What should people in their 50s do to make their third chapter the best that it can be?

Think of your eBay factor. Say to yourself: “If at age 60, I was put up for auction on eBay, who would bid for me?” If neither a paying organization nor a not-for-profit would, go do something about it to make yourself more valuable.

There are a lot of talented boomers and every year a big chunk are hitting traditional retirement benchmarks. So you will be competing for positions.

Go back to school for new skills and make sure your subject matter expertise and relationships stay fresh. That’s what people pay for.

What’s the biggest mistake people make moving from the second chapter of their career to the third?

A lot of people are in denial about their third chapter. I’ve heard people in their 50s say, “I’m done; I’m packing it in.” And when I ask them what their plan is they don’t really know.

It’s gonna happen. There will be a chapter three. Whether it will be rewarding and nourishing or a bummer is up to you.

Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue. Follow Richard on Twitter @richeis315.

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One comment on “A CEO’s Advice For The Third Chapter Of Your Career
  1. Mish Fletcher says:

    Sound and insightful advice from a man who’s clearly climbed to the top of the career ladder

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