Retirement Redesigned

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

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Inspirational Elders

Inspirational elders are found in all walks of life

Longevity enables us to do some of our best work later in life

A note from Johann

For as long as I can remember, I perceived old age as a time of decreased physical ability and deteriorating mental capacities. But now, as people are living longer and healthier lives, they are also staying productive into their later years. In fact, they remain productive way beyond the age of traditional retirement that used to be associated with slowing down.

With increased longevity, there are those who are making full use of this time. We are learning of more inspirational elders around the world. Many countries boast highly productive octogenarians, not only the blue Zones, regions well known for inhabitant who regularly outlive their global counterparts. Sir David Attenborough is a great example! At age 95, he is still investigating the natural world and making outstanding documentaries. Think also of Queen Elizabeth who, at 96, was still attending to the affairs of state days before her passing. Nelson Mandela only became president at 75 and was one of the most celebrated and respected elder statesmen of our time. He remained a dedicated activist and philanthropist well into his 90s and after officially retiring from politics.

Entertainer Sir Paul McCartney is still making music at 80, publishing albums and collaborating with others, while Pope Francis at 85 continues to lead the Catholic Church. There are scores more examples when you look at communities who many not have the spotlight of celebrity shining on them but are doing equally impressive and important work at a local level.

The key thing is that retirement is no longer a time of inevitable decline after a life of full-time work. We are finding in our research that there is increasing enthusiasm for doing productive and purposeful work after the traditional retirement age of 65. Jim Collins, the renowned author and growth and sustainability researcher, recalls on meeting Peter Drucker at age 86, that he still had 10 books in him! He was certainly into long term thinking. Actuaries say that these days a reasonably fit and healthy person at the traditional retirement age of 65 years is likely to live for multiple decades past this age threshold. This leaves plenty of runway for planning and setting goals. Who knows, maybe you might also be doing your best work after retirement?

I’d like to invite you to sign up for our next webinar where we’ll be discussing the role of neurotransmitters and psychology as we grow older. We’ll be joined by an expert in the field, psychologist and part-time lecturer at the University of Kwazulu Natal, Brett Nydahl. Click this link to sign up for the free webinar on Wednesday 4 PM SAST at

We take inspiration from people who haven’t let aging define their mindset but rather allow their interests to guide them to meaningful pursuits. With a spirit of reinvention and we can accomplish great things, like the people we’ll be featuring in our posts this week. Follow along for uplifting examples of inspirational elders.

Our top 2 article picks this week:

Straight from the hedgehog’s mouth: management guru Jim Collins

Bestselling business author on how he became invested in the principles he framed.

Our take:
Jim Collins references the “big years” when talking about the ages between 60 and 90. His goal is to dwarf the period that came before by what comes in the big years – this is a big hairy ambitious goal indeed given what he has produced in his lifetime already. We’ve selected him as an inspirational elder because of what he aspires to achieve in elderhood.

Article excerpt:
“The Hedgehog Concept” comes from Collins’s best-known title Good to Great (2001), which appropriates Isaiah Berlin’s essay The Hedgehog and the Fox, itself based on the Greek proverb, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Collins turned it into a principle for leaders to live by. He found that chief executives who led companies that went from merely good to truly great had a simple, clear understanding of what they and their organisations were best at.

“I am at my core a teacher . . . I never started a firm, a big consulting firm, or a training firm, and I keep my own schedule really tightly limited.” Why? Because “I don’t want to sell ideas, I want to teach ideas”.

For a teacher, Collins is a particularly effective salesman, though. His books have sold more than 10 million copies, the London seminar is a sellout, and chief executives flock to his management lab in Boulder, Colorado to engage in “Socratic dialogue” with the author.

‘The big years’
“I would like to renew, I would like to be renewed,” says Collins. “The big years are 60 to 90, to me,” he adds, pointing out that when he first met Peter Drucker, then aged 86, the Vienna-born sage still had 10 books left in him. “I want to dwarf what happened before this with what comes next.”
Click here to read the full article on

How Taikichiro Mori became a billionaire

Our take:
We find Taikichiro Mori’s story inspirational because he made his greatest business success after his retirement from his profession in academia. Once he retires as a professor he took care of some building developments he inherited from his father and turned the into a billion-dollar success story. It just goes to show that retirement can be a very productive time in our lives.

Article excerpt:
Taikichiro was the son of a wealthy landlord. He attended the Tokyo College of Commerce (now Hitotsubashi University) and graduated in 1928. He became a college instructor and after the Second World War, he transferred to Yokohama City University where he taught trade theory. From 1954 until his retirement in 1959, he was the dean of the College of Commerce.

In 1959, Taikichiro set up Mori Building Company after his father passed away. The company took over the management of the two buildings his father left behind. Under his leadership, the company grew to become one of the largest landlords in Tokyo.
Click here to read the full article post on

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Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates
Whether building new habits or building your community, building is the key here. We can continue to grow and change in this chapter of our lives. Our building blocks may be small or they my be huge – that’s not the important distinction. The important part of this quote for us lies in the action.
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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.