I have noticed one constant about confirmed retirees. Universally, they rarely talk about what they did for their careers. I mean almost never. I have met, played golf with, played tennis with, skied with, gone to dinner with and had a few beers with an assortment of people who literally powered the GDP of America for the last 50 years and they are reluctant to talk about the past. As representatives of American business their track record is phenomenal. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis there is only one year since 1960 when GDP growth contracted:
It is almost like their retirement day came with a magic decoder ring prohibiting reflections on their special contribution to making America great. I have also noticed that they long for the intellectual stimulation of business problem solving and the excitement of growing something meaningful. CapitalWorks’ business model depends on these highly effective retirees to help us buy, govern and exit our portfolio companies.
It is a shame that American retirement culture does not create purpose for the former stewards of GDP who are 54-1 during their managerial tenure. We should be memorializing their experiences. Their stories are the dead sea scrolls for capitalism. The younger generation could launch thousands of entrepreneurial pursuits from their insights. The communities in which they live and retire could benefit from the lessons they can teach about growth and prosperity. They understand employment and regulation. They have learned from failure. They know how to balance a budget and how to succeed, often against great odds. Most of them have more humility than a catholic nun on Good Friday. They are quiet, compliant, articulate and energetic. So why are they soundless? Why are we missing this chance?
It may be because we have never asked them to tell their story, or at least never with a voice that promised discretion and purpose. American business just does not have a place for part timers who used to lead. With so many loud, discordant voices in the political world and so many polarizing personalities in the media and endless derision of success and achievement, I am sure retiring “boomers” are happy to heed Brian Wilson’s advice and wax up their surfboard and just go “surfin safari”.
However, with crowdfunding and social media some nextgen entrepreneur has an opportunity to create an interesting national and international business model focused on the reservoir of physical and intellectual capital offered by the retiring baby boomers. These men and women supervised the creation of Trillions of dollars of enterprise value for their investors and solid careers and employment for their workers. The successor generation does not have to reinvent their system. The architects of that blueprint are standing by. You can find them everywhere successful people go to retire. Until someone asks for their help, they will be humming their retirement tune:
Early in the morning we’ll be startin’ out
Some honeys will be coming along
We’re loading up our Woody
With our boards inside
And headin’ out singing our song
Your insights are welcome
Periodically we will circulate this blog to a target market that includes successful families, wealth advisors and middle market business owners.
Please send us emails, articles, YouTube videos, tweets or even old-fashioned means of communication like voicemail’s, mail or a phone call on the topic of Private Equity For Families. All ideas are welcome.