Work beyond professional retirement in a technology connected world

The news and social media channels continue to tell us that many of our jobs will be taken over by artificial intelligence (AI). That may be true 10-20 years from now, but right now there is a positive aspect to these shifts that we should be aware of.

The fifty-plus generation has worked in a world where learning the steps and processes of operations were crucial to remaining relevant and effective. We understood and managed the steps. Computers started to track these and assist us along the way. In an AI world, they will be doing the work.

I am optimistic that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) should create new jobs. Artificial intelligence is, ironically, a technology that could provide unique opportunities in attractive new work roles and may have the impact of allowing people to work longer and more flexibly across life stages in the future.

What is our human edge?

One of the greatest skills sets of baby boomers is emotional intelligence (EQ). This is not an easily transferable skill for coding into machines. The algorithms can do part of the work but will struggle with the empathy and other emotional skills needed to help humans feel heard and appreciated.

Imagine yourself as an AI Tutor, guiding and parenting the process to ensure that it embodies the human touch. This may sound weird but is already happening and industries will search for older, skilled industry specialists to do this work. Imagine the motor industry. Most of the work is done now by robots, but skilled people work alongside the process to tweak and align the work that humans once did.

I look forward to the day that business employs older people to be present when needed for those that need human input. It will be the older generation that is able to listen and help solve particular problems when the only other presence in the room are machines who do the work. Think over the last 10 years, how booking movies has changed. Yes, automated, but what about that someone to help when you stand outside a theatre and are not sure how to book through the terminal in front of you.

Imagine call centres that ask this question first: How old are you? If you are over 60, push 1. You are put through to a human, who can guide you and understands the questions you need answers to. These small changes to the process of AI and change can make a massive difference to a group of customers who will leave the process feeling valued and heard rather than frustrated and confused.

The world is ready for a demand economy where certain skills will be in high demand across different industries. Technology is being set up to manage the marketing and finance and offering opportunities for skilled people to choose projects to do right from home. A new platform called One Circle HR is opening later this year and is focused on people with HR talent.

Technology and a changing workplace are real. The challenge for older adults is to learn as much as we can to engage and to look for the opportunities on the horizon that offer this generation opportunities due to our wisdom and experience.

Chartered hosts a 50-Plus Skills workshop


Are you approaching retirement and wondering what you will do with all that time? What will replace that sense of purpose that work gave you? Or are you already retired and ready to find a new kind of work?

To assist our clients to plan their transition from full-time, formal employment to a fresh view of work in retirement, we invited Lynda Smith, owner of 50-Plus Skills and CEO of Refirement Network to run a workshop at Chartered House.

Even if you have looked forward to not clocking in, being accountable for your time and attention, hitting the traffic, and just being able to set your own daily schedule, the novelty of not working can soon wear off.

Lynda Smith has a vision to engage all those over 50 in South Africa through 50-Plus Skills.

Lynda Smith invites the retired community of South Africa “to learn and unlearn, to discover and to create a new season”. Thanks to medical advances and technology, we are living longer lives, and the gift of this longevity is that we can continue to make a valuable contribution to our communities through our skills and experience.

“Be courageous and engaged,” says Lynda. She encouraged her audience to keep up with technological trends, to continue your learning journey, to redefine work – it can be without remuneration, it may take the form of mentorship, it can be philanthropic support.

50-Plus Skills is not a recruitment company, but is a place to share opportunities and offerings.

Lynda’s 50-Plus Skills is on online community where you can connect with other retirees on their own journey of discovery, with people seeking skills, with those creating new ways of working.

To become a member, go to The cost of membership is R500 pa and includes a half day life planning workshop

Chartered clients were encouraged to engage with 50-
Plus Skills.

When work matures with age

In my book Retiremeant – get more meaning from your money, I define work as a meaningful and productive engagement. When we are younger, we often see work as a “job” – something we do to earn money. Retirement gives us the luxury of seeing work differently, moving away from work as a duty or responsibility, to something that gives you a sense of direction, accomplishment and worth.

The key is in the planning! You have heard me say this so often before, and I cannot emphasise this enough. Preparing for your work life before you actually retire, alleviates a lot of anxiety and answers the million-dollar question: What am I going to do with my time?

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Tessa Deighton last week. She has recently completed a research study on the impact retirement has on the individual and explored the benefits of coaching (or what we at Chartered call, Life Planning) in preparing for this transition.

Tessa found that one of the biggest factors causing retirement anxiety is not knowing what you will do with your time, and what your life will look like.

Preparation work often involves introspective work. When you’re 60+, your planning will, of course, include some exiting items on your Bucket Wheel®, but you are not just planning for a holiday. You are planning what to do with the next 20 – 30 years of your life. You are planning for a life filled with purpose and satisfaction.

We have compiled a Reflection worksheet designed to challenge and encourage your thinking. You will find the RetiremeantTM Reflections on my website ( – please check in with Reflection 15.

For added inspiration, read Mike and Natalie Pennel’s story. Mike started planning for his work in RetiremeantTM three years before actually ending his formal employment. It has been such an exciting journey working with Mike and Natalie and witnessing how they turned their hobbies into meaningful work.

Lynda Smith, also a Chartered client, shares her journey in starting 50 Plus Skills. I love how Lynda incorporated learning, earning and serving in the skills offering. Applying these skills, combined with giving-back, is a great way to continue working in retirement. You may not always earn in income from work in Retiremeant™, but whether you are being paid or not, you need to feel useful and relevant.

I’ll leave you with this quotation by Earl Nightingale, American radio speaker and author: “Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

What better opportunity to follow your dreams when you have the time to pursue them.

Best wishes,

From Retired to Restored

It took Mike Pennel three years to refurbish and restore his 1951 MG TD. This was his part-time job, while he was still working full-time for a prominent car manufacturing company. Little did Mike know that this labour of love would be the start of his new business venture in RetiremeantTM. He was reinventing himself and is now a specialist restorer of vintage cars.

“Vintage cars are a bit like us golden oldies,” he says. “They are full of wrinkles and dents and can’t be returned to perfect condition again. But they can be restored for a new lease on life.” For Mike, this type of personal restoration has meant far less pressure and much more joy!

Turning his passion into business

Mike’s MG TD arrived in parts in boxes

Mike bought his MG TD three years before officially retiring. “It arrived on a flatbed truck with all the parts packed into boxes,” remembers Mike. He spent weekends in his garage, painstakingly rebuilding and refurbishing every single part of the car while documenting every step of the re-build. He now fields questions on restoring TDs, and restores cars and components for other clients – all through word-of-mouth. Mike is selective of his clients and the work he takes on. “It has to fit into my area of expertise and meet my time-lines,” he says.

Having spent his whole life in the motoring industry, Mike has the expertise and passion to excel at what he does, while having fun at the same time. “The motor industry retires at 60. Time just creeps up on you. When I suddenly realised that I had to retire, it was all panic stations – I was not ready! I had not planned anything. Thankfully, I was asked to stay on for another three years which served my purpose in many ways,” says Mike. “When I finally retired at 63, I was ready. I had phased in my retirement with my hobby and knew exactly how I was going to spend my time.”

“The important part,” says Mike, “is to manage your time. Thinking back, I don’t know where I ever found the time to go to work.”

The pleasure of a task well done!

Planning your time

Mike’s advice is to plan the hours that you are willing to set aside for work every day. Even though his work is filled with pure joy and satisfaction, Mike allocates part of his day to other activities and interests. He has joined the German Shepherd dog club committee and apart from finding great joy in training his German Shepherd, he often gets called upon to restore the clubhouse. “Mike is always busy. If he is not fixing something in the house or clubhouse, he potters around the garage sorting things out,” says Natalie.

Natalie is fully supportive of Mike’s new business. It keeps him busy and gives her the time to follow her dreams.

Putting your creative passion to work

“I have always loved crafts and making boxes, trays and various décor items. When Mike asked what I was planning to do with all this stuff, I realised that I needed a creative outlet that would allow me to earn money at the same time,” says Natalie.

Natalie enrolled for a cake decorating Diploma and passed her course in her early 50s. “It wasn’t easy,” reflects Natalie. “I used to come home and ice my entire kitchen table, scrape it off, and ice it again!”

Natalie used her new skill to start a cake baking and decorating business. They refurbished their kitchen and she is very proud of the two ovens. “It also guarantees that we have dinner at night,” says Mike smilingly.

Natalie loves spending her time baking, piping and decorating, all from the comfort of her own home, with her orders also mostly coming in through word-of-mouth. “I am by no means artistic,” says Natalie, “but I love what I do!”

Natalie shares that her biggest challenge now is to grow her business. “I need to market my business better, but at the same time, I don’t want to be overextended,” says Natalie.

Mike and Natalie both spend part of their time giving back. With Mike’s skills coming in handy at the dog club, Natalie donates her time baking for a retirement home and child welfare project, and offers cake decorating workshops at retirement homes. “I love to teach and share my passion,” says Natalie.

Mike and Natalie share their tips for a successful RetiremeantTM:

  1. Be prepared. Retirement can be a shock. You may be ready financially, but you must be prepared mentally.
  2. Invest time in your hobby – who knows, it may turn into more than just that. Join a club or support group – be involved.
  3. Manage your time wisely – you don’t want to be so overextended that you cannot fit retirement into life.

Mike and Natalie have certainly restored their RetiremeantTM into an exciting new adventure. We wish them the very best of success in their new business ventures.

If you would like to contact Mike or Natalie, we have included their email addresses below:


Research reveals the benefit of retirement coaching

Always deeply touched by my conversations with RetiremeantTM clients, I am so grateful for your courage in talking about what this transition means. I am equally appreciative when someone gives their time to chat to me about the topic closest to my heart: merging your money with meaning to create the life you want.

Tessa Deighton is such a person, having just finished her research assignment for the Master of Philosophy in Management Coaching degree: The potential role of coaching for corporate executives dealing with the impact of a retirement transition.

Tessa interviewed me on the process Chartered follows in our RetiremeantTM Journey. Thank you to our clients who participated in this study; you will be pleased to know that Tessa received a first class pass. I am sure this study will be extremely helpful to coaches, corporates and others planning for the retirement transition.

Why coaching for retirement?

“I chose this topic,” said Tessa, “because I noticed how many people suffer ill health directly after retirement.” Tessa had a hunch that failure to plan for your life’s second half may create stress and increase anxiety levels, which in turn, impacts on health. “I wanted to research the impact retirement has on the individual, and specifically the corporate executive, and to explore the benefits of coaching in preparing for this transition.”

Research sample

Tessa interviewed both retirees (who had received coaching for their retirement transition) and seasoned executive retirement coaches for her study.

Research findings

Tessa found that people who don’t receive coaching prior to the transition risk being completely unprepared for retirement. “I found that denial of the day and the life after retirement is a major hurdle in the ability of corporate executives to face the transition,” she said.

According to Tessa, “the most prominent issue was what retiring corporate executives would do with their time to give them a sense of value, meaning and purpose.” Most people don’t consider what retirement will mean to them, and what their retirement will look like. In addition, corporate support focuses solely on finances.

In contrast, those who received retirement coaching acknowledged that retirement is a major transition, both mentally and emotionally. “Many said they had denied or underestimated the impact of the transition and found the coaching to be invaluable with beneficial outcomes,” Tessa said.

Top tips

Tessa received her Degree from Stellenbosh University. She burst a disk in her back a month before her graduation and suddenly found herself unable to walk. Rather than graduating in abstentia, Tess scheduled the operation for the following year and attended her graduation in her wheelchair.

Based on her research, Tessa shares her top tips from those in her sample study that had undergone retirement coaching:

  1. Acknowledge – retirement is a challenging transition; face it, embrace it, work through it.
  2. Support – make sure you have someone to talk to.
  3. Attitude – cultivate a positive attitude and see retirement as a beginning.
  4. Introspection – reflect on what motivates you; know your personality style and plan your life to accommodate your wants and needs.

Three tips from retirement coaches:

  1. Invest in yourself – allow yourself the luxury of coaching. Being prepared mentally, psychologically and physically is to retire successfully.
  2. If you work in a corporate, acknowledge the impact of your retirement and exit conditions. Plan ahead, and if possible, negotiate for a phased-in retirement.
  3. Lobby for coaching to be included in retirement planning.

I left my meeting with Tessa with a warm feeling in my heart, and the confirmation that we were indeed giving our clients the support needed. I am proud of our RetiremeantTM Journey at Chartered and feel so privileged that you – our clients – have trusted us to Retire Successfully.

Mentorship for all – young and old

It’s a rollercoaster and it’s scary!

This is what the rapidly changing world of work can be for those of us whose careers have been in an office from eight-to-five.

For younger people, this technology-driven world is familiar and offers an opportunity to work as a nomad or remotely.

The wisdom of elders

I have just finished reading a new book by Chip Conley called Wisdom @ Work. Chip was invited as a 50-year-old to mentor the young “tech” team who were starting Airbnb several years ago. This book captures lessons he learnt about equipping both young and old for this new environment.

Chip says: “As we’ve moved from grains to brains, many of us have lost appreciation for the value of the expertise and experience that only comes with age.”

Chip mentored these young entrepreneurs on leadership, hospitality expertise and emotional challenges faced when building and leading teams. When he attended their strategy sessions, he found their “tech” speak confusing and new to him.

At the same time, he needed to acquire a range of digital literacy skills. He labelled himself a MENTERN. He mentored them privately, and he interned with them publicly to fast-forward his learning on this evolving work environment.

Know yourself

This new world calls for us to examine our own lives, to identify possible gaps we have and where we can find the help we need. The best-case scenario is where we each learn from the other.

You may need help with technology skills and, at the same time, offer guidance as a mentor to a younger person. Trade with each other; this may be a family member or someone in your community. It may be trading your industry expertise for help with new developments in your industry, say, an older engineer with a younger engineer.

There are wonderful ways in which young entrepreneurs can be matched with older experts in their fields, and this combination takes the business thinking and success to a much higher level. The greatest challenge lies in respecting and understanding each other at the start of this process. The older mentor needs to be humble and open to learning, and the younger person needs to be willing to be teachable, open to sharing and growth. The right dynamic from the beginning can have remarkable results and form a strong partnership.

I love Chip’s reflection on this kind of partnership. “We know what a mentor relationship looks like as, historically, wisdom flowed downhill. But, today, for the first time, we are seeing the power of an intergenerational transfer of wisdom that flows in both directions. This offers the elder the opportunity to be raw again by being receptive to learning in a new way.”

His book is a great read and a chance to challenge our thinking and make a difference. We certainly need one another. The human factor is key. You are unique and have a valuable contribution to make. You may need to adjust your mind-set somewhat. An exciting adventure awaits.

Lynda Smith is a Retire Successfully Retirementor, and CEO of the Refirement Network (“Don’t retire, refire!”). She recently introduced her innovative Fifty Plus-Skills to the South African retired community – and it is proving to be a popular way for retirees to seek work and for companies to hire experienced personnel.

Turn your passions into retirement income or community support

4 ways to benefit from the activities and interests you love

1. Find a part-time job

Look for a part-time job that offers the chance to engage with your hobbies and passions on a more regular basis.

For example, if you love plants and being outdoors, you might find it satisfying to work at your local garden centre. If you love reading, volunteer to help children at your local school to read, or sign up with or – read our client’s story about his involvement here:

2.Use your strengths

If you love dogs and manage them well, offer (and charge for) your services as a doggie day-carer, or a pet- and house-sitter. Some families need someone to visit an aged relative or take him or her out shopping. Other families would appreciate a responsible driver collecting and delivering their children from school to home, and you can make an income.

If you love to cook, create a manageable cooking school in your home – invite friends to learn how to make the best pastries, breads, healthy meals. They can pass the word on, or sign up their domestic workers for a course. You can also become a party chef – so many non-cooks would love to hand over the responsibility of producing a delicious meal. If you just want to help a charity, why not host a “Pay-for-your-Plate” meal, where you charge for the meal and donate the funds to your selected charity?

3. Sell your art or crafts online

Many retirees enjoy hawking their wares at local venues like craft fairs, art shows and farmers markets. It’s a nice way to get out of the house, interact with customers and generate income in the process. But why not expand your reach by taking advantage of online marketplaces as well?

4. Teach your craft

Whether you’re a polished piano player, a witty writer or a master at mahjong, you can likely earn income in retirement by teaching others how to do what you do so well.

If you prefer to stay local, look at teaching opportunities at continuing education programs offered through your town, community colleges or private adult education programs. Or you can offer lessons out of your home. See Gill Orpen offering Bridge lessons in this newsletter.

To take your teaching online, you can deliver classes through your own website or by creating a class using an online teaching platform like LinkedIn’s, or

Networking can help, too

Finally, remember that as great as technology is, the best opportunities for work in retirement often surface from everyday networking. So, keep your antennae on alert.

(This article is an abridged version of Nancy Collamer’s article on

The value you bring to the marketplace

You are worth more than you think

When entrepreneur, Laura Gassner, was offered generous remuneration for a 40-minute speech, she was astounded … until her husband reminded her, “No, you are getting paid for 25 years and 40 minutes of work.”

That is when this truth came home to her: “We are not just the person we appear to be in the moment; we are the sum total of all that has come before us.”

Laura says, “For those of us later in our careers, it is the compounded wisdom of decades of experience, of successes and, yes, failures, too. At any place along our personal and professional evolution, it is never the momentary glimpse of genius but the hard yards that came before it.”

My favourite take-away from Laura’s article is this: “We have to think in terms of value and not just price.”

Value what you bring to the marketplace – stay open to learning and growing, but know that you have a valuable contribution to make.

Sally Williams: an extraordinary person behind a remarkable brand

Whether you’re thinking about the delicious nougat and ice cream, or the person herself, Sally Williams is nothing short of delightful. My ten days spent with Sally Williams this past December on holiday in Rocktail Bay was inspirational! It went beyond just a wonderful break, jam-packed with everything that makes a holiday perfect: fun, time to relax and spending time with my family and friends.

These ten days were motivational. Infectiously so, because without even trying, Sally has a way of inspiring you to live life to the full. She does that with authenticity because she’s a living example of how mid-life can be the start of a whole new chapter.

The incredible thing about her story is that, at a time where most people are thinking of their retirement years, Sally’s life was about to restart – at 54 years of age. With her abundant positive attitude that helped her enlist the right people along the way, she truly embodies the notion that anything is possible.

I first met Sally as a student in her cooking school and was one of the first to taste her nougat trial recipes. “I practised for two years and made sure it wasn’t too sticky or too sweet,” Sally remembers. “My cookery students were the tasters.”

After supplying her nougat to a few retail outlets, she knew she was onto something magical. Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit, and often staying up through the night cutting her nougat by hand, wrapping it in wax paper, and personally delivering orders, she made a net profit of 1.4 million in her first year – all from her garage.

Even though Sally had incredible support from her late husband who doubled up as her bookkeeper, she soon realised that she needed outside help to sustain the business’s unprecedented growth. She brought on her son-in-law as a silent partner and recruited newly-graduated chefs to help make the nougat and bring some fresh thinking into the brand. At this point, her nougat was already selling internationally.

After 18 months, Sally moved her business from her garage to a factory in Kramerville in Johannesburg. She kept up this extremely busy pace for eight years until her (now late) husband, who had retired before she did, suggested that they sell the brand and enjoy the fruits of their labour. Sally was 62 years old at the time.

Sally believes unwaveringly that the secret to her success is excellent customer service, even though I believe that the heavenly nougat had at least something to do with it. Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: Passion. Energy. Determination. “If you have a good idea, go for it!” says Sally. “Failures are inevitable, brush them off and carry on. Don’t give up too easily. Good quality-control and excellent customer service goes a long way.”

Being married for 52 years with four children, nine grandchildren and a successful household brand is truly a remarkable achievement for anyone. But Sally is not quite done yet. She is gearing up for her next project: writing her own recipe book. Sally is once again determined to team up with technologically savvy younger generation to turn this idea into a reality and I am eager to hear what this mentee and mentor relationship will yield.

I feel so grateful to have spent this time with someone with so much courage and positivity. I hope that by sharing Sally’s story, you too can find your courage to persevere in reaching your end goal – and perhaps teaming up with someone from the younger generation is just what you need to give your next project a little jump start!

A mindshift in midlife – working takes on a new perspective

If you’re feeling a bit stuck in the midlife phase and transition into the next chapter of your life, why not read Chip Conley’s new book, Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. This book is based on his experiences and insights as he transitioned from CEO of the hotel group Joie de Vivre, which he ran for 24 years, to joining Airbnb as mentor to cofounder, Brian Chesky. Conley felt a bit out of his depth in this very modern, digital environment and quickly discovered that he had as much to learn as he had to teach.

He started a knowledge sharing culture at Airbnb where the elders and mentees both learnt from and shared knowledge with each other. “That’s the new sharing economy—sharing wisdom across generations,” he said. “Mutual mentorship is the future.”

The course I will be attending this month, Consciously Curated Life, is part of a series of workshops run by Chip Conley’s Elder Academy and based on his book. What excites me most about attending this course is sharing the wisdom with our RetiremeantTM community.

For many people, the mere thought of what they are retiring TO fills them with fear and anxiety. It’s about not feeling relevant and no longer “fitting in” to the modern workplace. It’s also about having to adapt, change and finding new opportunities when you may not be ready to leave where you are currently.

I often meet clients in their 50s and 60s who have been forced to retire. The “what next” question causes overwhelming stress as they were not prepared for this transition. In some cases, the need to supplement income to add to retirement investments becomes so urgent and overwhelming that it is almost impossible to look beyond the immediate financial concerns.

They key is in the planning. It’s about thinking and reflecting on your own special talents, that unique self that you bring to the world, and finding a way to repurpose your skills and wisdom into something that is meaningful. It’s about pausing, giving yourself the time to consider how you can adapt towards being relevant and where you can add the most significance where your work is concerned.

So yes, my bags are packed and I’m ready to go! I will be taking that extra empty suitcase and bring it home filled to the brim with tools, tips, learning and wisdom to share in our Retire Successfully workshops, future blogs and Life Planning meetings.

I am confident that together we will make this transition easier from midlife to what’s next on the journey.

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