4 reasons leaders are calling it quits on retirement … and why that’s a good thing

reasons leadsers are unretiring sam reese

Hi, my name is Ed Stillman and Sam Reese CEO of Vistage Worldwide posted on August 10, 2022 the below article.

I’ve been in Austin since 1989 and chairing since 2006. I’m in my 70’s remain relevant, monthly coaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders in becoming better leaders, making better decisions while solving their most pressing issues. We are making a difference in how Austin small to mid size owners and CEOs create good to great companies.

This chapter in my book called LIFE is the most meaningful chapter of them all, and it could be you?

Give Sam’s article a scan and reach out to me if you want to explore being a Vistage Chair in Austin Texas.

According to an analysis of Labor Department data, an estimated 1.5 million retirees have re-entered the U.S. labor market over the past year.

As someone who left the corporate world for retirement and then changed my mind, I have a first-hand perspective of what’s to be gained when someone “unretires.”

At Vistage, I also see the wisdom our executive coaches (many of whom are unretirees) bring to the table, both in group meetings and one-on-one conversations with CEOs who are looking for advice from those who have navigated difficult terrain before them.

Many of these Chairs are leaders who took the leap of faith to reenter the workforce because — after taking some time to recharge and explore hobbies — they just knew they still had more to offer the business world.

In conversations with colleagues, friends and Chairs throughout the years, many unretirees have expressed similar thinking behind their decision to re-enter the workforce and bring their skills, wisdom, and experience back to the table on their own terms.

Find purpose and relevance

Time and time again, retirees who choose to re-enter the workforce cite the same central reason: They want to quench their burning desire to be a part of something larger than themselves again and miss the thrill of feeling impassioned about their purpose.

By nature, humans strive for a sense of relevancy and desire to leave a lasting impact; when someone retires, that switch doesn’t automatically turn off.

Seasoned executives who are able to do inspiring and meaningful work on their own terms find the best of both worlds. They discover they can be more productive than ever before while leading balanced lives.

These days, there are so many options for what one’s definition of “work” looks like. Experienced leaders have more opportunities to do fulfilling work while catering to their lifestyle at any stage.

Wisdom is in hot demand

With the “Great Resignation,” roughly 4.3 million people quit their jobs, creating a job seeker’s market across the board. As a result, experienced leaders and employees are in high demand.

Many coming out of retirement have found they can leverage a valuable skill set: earned wisdom. After jumping back in from the sidelines, many gravitate toward roles where they can mentor, coach or consult others to success, offering up lessons learned from decades of experience in the trenches.

At Vistage, we see this up close every day, as Vistage Chairs bring decades of business experience into their discussions with CEOs. That first-hand, real-world insight is unparalleled when making critical business decisions.

Appreciating diverse perspectives

Diversity is one of the most critical elements of the workforce in 2022. Different perspectives result in better decisions, and seasoned executives provide essential intergenerational wisdom that can only come from experience.

It would be a great shame for all the wisdom that is accumulated over decades of leadership to be lost in retirement when it could be shared with the next generation.

Being and having mentors is just as important for “unretirees” as it is for rising talent. Mixing with those from different backgrounds and generations enables fresh thinking and collaboration. In these tumultuous times, it has become clear how much we have to learn (and stand to gain) from one another.

Renewing skills

Technology continues to rapidly transform our lives and subsequently, learning new skills has become a critical component for those re-entering the workforce.

But those who return to the workforce aren’t just looking to upgrade their technology skills. They are on a quest for lifelong learning.

Rather than focusing on the areas where they’ve already built a lifetime of expertise, they are also interested in finding new skills and continuing to jump into unfamiliar territory. They seek out a sense of renewal with curiosity and humility, gaining new knowledge and different expertise to round out their years of experience.

Unretirement may not be for everyone, but there are many who reach the top of the mountain only to realize that they still want to climb another peak. These executives are always trying to learn more and improve, and they’re also interested in giving back and helping others after a lifetime of success.

There has never been a better time to rethink “retirement” and leverage the opportunities presented by the flexibility to create a new, fulfilling path forward for those of retiring age.

The growing popularity of unretirement is an exciting opportunity for retirees to continue to offer their vast knowledge and experience on their own terms. Not to mention, businesses have so much to gain from the contributions of seasoned executives.

Let’s have a cup a coffee and see if we’re a good fit for you and you for us.

Ed Stillman



Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?