The idea of redirecting your retirement may come from a surprising source. You may be exposed to a new idea, a new person, or a new set of facts, all of which might cause you to rethink your direction. Retirement gives you the freedom to try new things, and then easily back away from anything that is not working for you.
Here’s a story of how my retirement took on a new direction.
I had been retired for a few years from my career as a life sciences executive and had a nice blend of family, learning, leisure, and volunteering. Doing after school tutoring was a good way to give back to disadvantaged kids. Over time, however, it became apparent that my tutoring skills were just average. Some days I connected to the kids and felt like they got a lot from our session. Other days, we were more like two ships passing in the night.
Muhammad Yunus changed my thinking. He won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in microfinance in Bangladesh. He is a social entrepreneur, economist, banker, and civil society leader. My wife and I went to hear him speak.
His social impact message was a personal wake up call. He changed my life. He caused me to think about volunteering in a whole new way. He broke me out of my comfort zone.
His talk had multiple messages, but one part of that talk lives on in my memory. He challenged all of us to think about our best skills. He asked the audience to consider if we were volunteering in a field where we had expertise and are able to have maximum social impact. His message was about the efficiency of our efforts to give back.
Yunus went on to describe social entrepreneurs at the intersection of caring and capitalism. These young, passionate, smart people are working on important social problems all over the world, and using business models to achieve their impact. Their dedication is not enough; they need wisdom from others whose business backgrounds can contribute. Making a big difference by mentoring social entrepreneurs was an opportunity to consider.
At this point, I turned to my wife and said, “There are 500 people in this room hearing this speech, but this guy is talking to me.”
Being an average tutor could be replaced by being a mentor to a social entrepreneur. I’d been a business mentor all of my working life, and I knew I was good at it. Watching people grow through mentoring gave me immense pleasure. Wasn’t this mentoring role where I belonged? Wasn’t it worth spending time to learn more?
The next six weeks were an intense investigation to learn about mentoring social entrepreneurs. What were their needs? Were my skills a good fit for their needs? Would mentoring be any fun? Would it fit with the other activities in my retirement? How do I connect to the right opportunity?
Networking sounded like a good way to find the answers. Friends gave me suggestions of people that they thought would provide insights. Introductions followed, and face to face meetings were held with fifty people. These meetings included leaders of local social impact organizations, foundations, board members, universities, and mentoring organizations. The first result was overwhelming. The menu of appealing choices was simply too long. Over time, however, a fit began to emerge. I decided to become a mentor at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.
My retirement was redirected.
About Richard Haiduck
Richard Haiduck is a former life science executive, now enjoying an active and productive retirement. He is currently immersed in writing the upcoming Tales of Retirement, a book about the generational cultural shift led by active retirees, which chronicles the experiences of fellow Baby Boomers as they actively reinvent themselves in this stage of their lives. Richard has been volunteering as an executive mentor with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship since 2018. He is currently mentoring his fifth social enterprise — Every Shelter, which utilizes the power of design to provide dignified temporary housing solutions for displaced communities — and will next mentor Sun Power, the first solar company in Myanmar. You can visit Richard’s website and find him on Twitter at @richardhaiduck.
Learn more about becoming a Miller Center mentor and sharing your expertise to create impact.