As I was celebrating my 57th birthday last week, and I told family and friends how “old” I was getting, they told me to “stop that right now!”
Which I did.
But they really didn’t need to yell at me…because I was not complaining in the least…
My mentor, Marty Edelston, often said to me:
“I love getting older since it means I am only getting smarter.”
And if he was still alive today to have this conversation with me (again!), he would once again explain the difference between “57 years of experience” vs. “one year of experience for 57 years.”
Marty was a lifelong learner and I am too…and if you are as well, I will be preaching to the converted today; however, I think some of the insights below might add to your thinking on this important subject.
I really do love getting old(er)…read my post “Living to be 156” which will give you insights on the power of living much longer than you ever thought possible in order to make a bigger difference in the world while you are here.
“Getting old doesn’t suck” is another way of saying how my first 57 years of experience will enable me to make even a bigger difference for my next 46 years (I’m not the one who will get to 156…only 103…you’ll need to read the post to get those details).
I’m sure I could have launched something at a younger age–but nothing as rich as what I am planning today—since I’ve got those 57 years of life (and 34 years of direct marketing) under my belt.
There are four pillars to my new business. I would like to tell you about each one and why each is possible mainly because I was paying very close attention to what I was doing those 34 years.
- Titans Mastermind: I am currently assembling a group of some of the most amazing and accomplished entrepreneurs, marketers and business leaders into what I’m calling “Titans Mastermind”.
It will not only focus on sharing state-of-the-art multi-channel marketing ideas but it will also create an environment for all of the members to grow their businesses…together.
Had I not learned how to be a contributing member and student to Mastermind groups throughout my career (at considerable personal cost and time), there is no way I could have ever dreamed of forming one of my own.
It was an investment I made over a couple of decades…and I am thankful that I paid attention, took a lot of notes and figured out what my own angle could be to create a valuable, high end Mastermind group.
The exponential positive effect these entrepreneurs will create by being members of Titans Mastermind (and the customers and clients they influence) is a dream come true.
- Simply put, I was born to do this.
- I just needed a little seasoning first…
- Consulting: When people ask me, “What are you doing now that you left Boardroom?” I HATE saying I am a “consultant.”
Sounds like a euphemism.
This is what people really hear:
“I don’t have a job anymore so I figure I’ll just work with whoever will write me a check.”
However, I believe that if you consult, you should become much more of a difference maker…not just someone who goes into companies to pontificate and make trouble.
In my post “Time to Retire,” I talked about the kind of consulting I refuse to do (what I call “grandparent’s syndrome”):
This is where as a consultant (“grandparent”) you get the client (“grandkids”) all ginned up (probably with a lot of sugar, figuratively in ideas and literally with ice cream and chocolate)…and then you let the company leadership (“parents”) figure out what you just did..
I also love this one about consulting:
If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
But if you are consulting from a place of true expertise and experience, there are so many more exciting models to get involved at a much deeper level with your clients.
The ability to be paid on performance or even to become an equity partner in the businesses you consult to (because you are coming from this place of deeper knowledge and multiple perspectives) seems far more rewarding than simply being paid for your time.
I just did an interview with my good friend Joe Polish called “How to Hire a Marketing Consultant” and in it we talk in detail what you should look for in a marketing consultant…some of those different models.
And much of the advice also applies to hiring all kinds of outside partners to help you grow your business (and not just prolonging problems)!
The full interview is here…I think you will find it very useful.
And back to my thesis for today: I’m not saying all of your consultants should be old(er)…but I am saying that you have to make sure they have encountered issues and problems in their lifetime that will directly apply to the ones you are facing today.
That unfortunately takes time (and experience) and
I will go out on a limb and say that most top consultants who can command more than just a cash payment are not Millennials.
I am reminded what Ronald Reagan said when he was asked about whether his advanced age would be an issue in his second term as President–he was running against the more youthful Walter Mondale in 1984 and Reagan was 73 at the time.
His response to that issue:
“I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience”
- Live events: I am planning events such as Titans of Direct Response in the future–and I know I could never have pulled the first one off (nor will I be able to do it again)–without being a student up until that point (and to continue being a student).
Identifying the best and the brightest we all must learn from is step one…and then contributing to those folks and their success in any way we can is step two.
And while I never did anything in my past with the notion that I might be able to “call in a favor” later on, the fact is that it was not an inappropriate “ask” when I invited them to speak at my first big event.
I also know it will not be easier the second time…I’m continuing to nurture all of my key relationships in the hope that the smartest people I can find will speak for me in the future.
And if they don’t that’s OK too.
And if they do, that will be awesome.
I win no matter what…and you do too when you give with no expectation of a return.
Simply put, I never would have pulled off Titans without a lot of years of investment in my education…and my relationship capital.
A good friend of mine has heard me speak on this topic several times and sent me a pillow as a present with the following written on it:
n. The happy occurrence of fortunate discoveries by chance.
I will add that “chance” is often created by years of dedication and focus to learning and giving.
- Products and courses: The fourth pillar of my new business will include creating products (courses) that will teach all that I have experienced and learned over my career.
The three courses I have in mind to produce right now (and please e-mail me your thoughts if any of these resonate with you):
- “Offline Marketing for Online Marketers”
- “What Every Copywriter Needs To Know About Marketing”
- “The Breakthrough Advertising Course: How one book changed the way we think about copy, creative, selling…and human behavior”
I am positive that there is no way I could conceive of creating courses teaching topics like these had I not gotten to my “advanced age” (that’s older, not old!).
In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.
And while there are prodigies who can do that by the time they attend their first prom, most mortals like you and I need some age to get there…and not just doing the same thing year after year.
I’ll stop beating this drum for today…but starting last week, I made a promise to my family and friends to stop calling myself “old” on my birthday.
The fact that I am often the oldest person (by chronological age) in many of the rooms I hang out in these days—hanging out with some of the most phenomenal marketers in the world—is something I should be proud of rather than constantly making everyone in the room aware that they are young enough to be my kids.
A better perspective: I am getting my Ph.D. in areas of marketing from others who have not put in the hours I have (yet) but they have achieved expertise way beyond what I know.
And they are well on their way to mastery.
This is a constant reminder that education and learning is everywhere…and of course if you are the smartest person in the room, consider yourself in the wrong room.