Baby Boomers: Are You Ready to Reinvent Yourself?

Baby Boomers: Are You Ready to Reinvent Yourself?

There’s a lot written about reinvention these days.

Most of the editorials are about companies. The drivers are those who fix their businesses before they break. The passengers are the ones who avoid reinvention for as long as they can, and the roadkill are the companies that never deal with transformation or leave it so late that the business is already toast.

Reinvention isn’t limited to companies. No matter what stage you are in life, you should be prepared to reinvent yourself. Sometimes there’s a catalyst that gives us a shove such as a layoff, a failing industry, or retirement.

This baby boomer faced personal reinvention at 47 when the company I lead as CEO was sold. I ditched the corner office for the consulting world. To be honest, that reinvention was minor compared to the one I embarked on fifteen years later when I retired. Deciding to transform myself from CEO to rookie novelist became the most daunting self-inflicted trial of my entire life. 

Other than embellishing business proposals to invest millions of dollars in various ventures, I was a fiction neophyte.

My former invaluable corporate network was suddenly benign. So was my experience running a $100 million business. Other than a story idea, I was alone. And after penning a couple of chapters, I felt even worse. I was in over my head. Give up? No. I’d been through several corporate reinventions. They were all tough. I knew that reinvention required tenacity, determination and hard work.

I didn’t write another word for a year, spending my time learning how to write fiction – reading every book I could get my hands on. Two years later I had finished my first draft. It wasn’t good. I needed another 3 years of rewriting and editing. And by the time I convinced a bona-fide publisher to publish the book, 8 years had passed. The Circumstantial Enemy was released by Endeavour Press this month. 

Much has changed since I ditched the corner office, including me. And thanks to this particular reinvention and a few other changes in values, I’m loving the challenges of the CEO afterlife. Maybe it’s because I’m just as goal-oriented as I was in my early days. 

Related: Why I Ditched the Corner Office for Good

Looming retirement can be unnerving to business executives who often define themselves by their job. Think about these personal and behavioral characteristics of the stereotypical leader:

  1. They are visionary.
  2. They are performance-driven.
  3. They are energetic and tenacious.
  4. They are passionate and disciplined
  5. They are resourceful.

These characteristics are precisely the traits that motivate these folks in their afterlife. Some find satisfaction using their influence and past connections to help others. They get behind philanthropic causes with all the zeal and resolve they exerted in their chosen fields. Others find happiness pursuing interests that evaded them during the demanding years of their careers. 

Those who transform tend to find exhilarating second lives.

In cases where a retiree has unleashed a new passion to help others, there’s an endless list of beneficiaries from students to sick kids, from aspiring entrepreneurs to lovers of art. If you’re nearing the end of an era, do not fret; a world of challenge and discovery fills the souls of your retired brethren. Embrace the opportunity and join me in the glory of this afterlife.

One other thing, if you’ll pardon the marketer (Business ’68, Marketing major) in me. Based on a true story, The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. Rich in incident with interludes of rollicking humor, it’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness. If that blurb stirs your senses, check out the e-book and paperback at

John Bell

John Bell is the author of Do Less Better. The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World. A retired consumer packaged goods CEO and global strategy consultant to so ... Click for full bio

Do Valuations Matter?

Do Valuations Matter?

Written by: David Lebovitz

The S&P 500 has had an impressive start to the year, rising over 4% year-to-date with only three days of negative performance.

However, as the equity market has moved higher, investors have become increasingly concerned about valuation. While it is difficult to ignore the fact that the S&P 500 forward P/E ratio currently sits at 18.5x, well above its 25-year average of 16.0x, we believe elevated valuations may be justified for three reasons. First, 2018 earnings growth is expected to come in around 15%, suggesting investors will be compensated for paying a higher price, and second, inflation and interest rates are both below their long-term averages. In an environment of low rates, low inflation, and healthy earnings, perhaps it is appropriate for stock market valuations to be above average?

Finally, valuation is not a great predictor of short-term returns. As we show on page 6 of the Guide to the Markets, valuation tells you very little about what will happen over the next year, but a decent amount about what to expect over the next five years. For those who are still skeptical about equities given current valuations, it is important to remember that bull markets tend to go out with a bang, rising by an average of 26% during their final 12 months. This makes sitting on the sidelines expensive, particularly in a world of low interest rates.

Related: Will Companies Reinvest or Repurchase Due to Tax Reform?

So are valuations concerning? They have our attention, but we remain cautiously optimistic that equities can continue to push higher. However, late cycle markets require a more nuanced approach to investing, meaning active management will be essential. As such, we continue to see opportunity in the more value-oriented sectors of the market, with energy and financials being two of our favorite ideas.

Low inflation and yields can support higher multiples



Related: Will Companies Reinvest or Repurchase Due to Tax Reform?

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Opinions and statements of market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. These views described may not be suitable for all investors. References to specific securities, asset classes and financial markets are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investment returns and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when sold or redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. ETF shares are bought and sold throughout the day on an exchange at market price (not NAV) through a brokerage account, and are not individually redeemed from the fund. Shares may only be sold or redeemed directly from a fund by Authorized Participants, in very large creation/redemption units. For all products, brokerage commissions will reduce returns.

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