Retirement Redesigned

Our online course is live! See the menu for details.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeProductivityBuild your side hustle

Build your side hustle

Build a good side hustle for a productive and rewarding retirement.

Build a good side hustle for a productive and rewarding retirement.

A carefully managed side hustle can emerge into a most enjoyable and productive retirement. Let me share an example by telling you about my good friend Peet van Zyl. Peet grew up in what is today the somewhat arid North West province. His family were cattle farmers. Although Peet, growing up, was fond of the farm he decided when he left school to do law. He duly graduated, qualified and ultimately practised law for more than 30 years. His focus all along was in the corporate commercial area taking on major briefs from the agricultural cooperatives and associated businesses.

He enjoyed his legal career and derived much pleasure from becoming an expert in his defined practice field, though always retained a keen interest in farming. He inherited a substantial part of the family’s farming business and worked at it part-time alongside his demanding legal practice. Gradually he started building and growing a stud.

Peet’s great love for his stud has been the Afrikaner breed of cattle. Over the years, he slowly developed the skill and the knowledge of breeding practices to build a stud. He got to know the “numbers” to do with understanding the genetics of this breed. These “numbers” or data, allow for following the history of a particular cow. It means keeping comprehensive details of the cow’s calves, noting weight, shape, and other key characteristics. Breeding the stud is part science and part art, he tells me. Select the best breeding options amongst the bulls and pair them with cows whose offspring show promise. This promise is based on patterns revealed through the meticulous recording of the “numbers” of their offspring.

Eventually, his stud farming became so engaging that he reduced his legal obligations to almost nil and now spends most of his time on the farm. Peet and his wife Lindé – who is actively involved and just as committed to his cattle breeding activities – are preferring the open air and relaxed environment of a farm. They are almost entirely migrated out of the Law practice and its Johannesburg responsibilities. They both say their lives now are “immensely satisfying.”

A particularly rewarding recent event has been Peet’s nomination for a special trophy. The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has nominated one of his prize cows – VZI 080066 – (they have numbers, not names) for the National Elite Cow Award. This means that he has achieved a special status as a breeder. Acknowledgement of his expertise could have long term benefits, including some indirect financial rewards.

A carefully managed side hustle can emerge into a most enjoyable and productive retirement.

Moving beyond the personal details of Peet’s unique circumstances, the process of his lifelong career development and his embracing of a rewarding ‘third age’ life is impressive. This is one particular example of how to make the evolution from professional life to the next stage very satisfying. Many people seem to think that coming to the end of what was a full-time career and facing the perceived void of retirement, is a sad end to working life. But clearly, this needn’t be so.

The major lesson learnt from Peet’s story is that he has had a satisfying side hustle all along. He nursed it, and it has given him many benefits in his retirement. The side hustle is becoming a well-known aspect of business life. Often for extra money or to tend to personal interests not addressed in ones career. The side hustle now shows up more often in the third stage of careers for a substantial number of well-known business leaders.

The side hustle is becoming a well-known aspect of business life.

Roy Andersen, as an example, has had a distinguished career as a company CEO and as a listed company chairman. In addition to a wide range of boardroom appointments and charitable involvements, he also had an impressive career as a part-time military leader. He is a general and presently heads up South Africa’s Citizen Force. On more than one occasion when he has wanted to resign from these duties, he has been persuaded to stay. His skill and expertise are still in demand and needed.

There are more examples of high-profile people having embraced the side hustle model. Sometimes they end up with more than one outside commitment and now have a ‘portfolio life’. Venus Williams, aside from being an outstanding international tennis star and winner of many titles including Wimbledon and the French Open, has built a successful interior design business. Athletic ability cannot stay sharp forever and perhaps she wanted to create something that holds meaning for her outside of her tennis conquests. She has created the company VStar Interiors which has managed commissions from a range of major clients.

The sometimes-controversial retired governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Tito Mboweni, who is now the minister of finance has for a long time cultivated his side hustle as a farmer. He tells me that his Avocado farm has had mixed success. But it gave him sufficient pleasure to sustain his commitment. Recently he has embarked on an interesting new venture for his farm. In line with the 2018 Constitutional Court Judgement which de-criminalised the use and cultivation of cannabis, he has started to plant and harvest this medicinal plant. When he was challenged and taunted by someone in a public meeting about it recently, he said “Arrest me then! It is growing on my farm.” Because he was already carefully tending his farm he was able to take swift advantage of societal changes.

Plan your side hustle in advance

If you plan to reset your life and to give up on the outdated model of retirement, building a meaningful side hustle is good advice. One of the most important challenges of retirement is finding meaning and identity in the third age. Simply retreading your old identity would be less creative and not as inspiring as establishing a new one. For this, a carefully prepared and crafted side hustle is a great spring board.
Chris Guillebeau who wrote “100 Side Hustles” and “The $100 Start Up” is a bit of an authority on the subject. These excellent books might help you with ideas for your side hustle.

Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here