Retirepreneur: Your Magnificent Career Coda
Welcome to Retirepreneur, a dynamic digital community for executives 50-ish and older who are striving for a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time gig.
Retirepreneur is for forward thinkers and doers who yearn for a more satisfying encore career chapter, designed on their terms, doing work they truly enjoy.
Donna Kastner, Retirepreneur Founder
My career journey has been described by many as eclectic, encompassing education, sales, marketing and consulting. Some changes were by design. Others by necessity, as my husband’s career required several relocations before settling in Cleveland.
For the better part of my career, this change-charged path felt like more of a hindrance. In retrospect, I now realize it prepared me to tackle this next exciting chapter, Retirepreneur.
Rather than take you through every twist and turn, here’s a quick look at my journey through four key phases:
- High School Band Director (1979 – 1984)
Three assignments in three different states. Two were struggling band programs in serious need of a jumpstart. The other was thriving, but the principal at that school wondered if a woman could handle this job. While I grew musically throughout this first phase, the best growth curve was in coaching and inspiring students to band together to entertain audiences at half-time shows, parades, and concerts. Happily, that principal was enlightened, too.
- Bootstrapping Entrepreneur (1984 – 1993)
With the birth of our first son, I realized a return to teaching wouldn’t be feasible, financially or emotionally. With belts already tightened, I bought an IBM PC Jr. and started a work-at-home business, typesetting books for a local publisher. Soon, I recruited a few work-at-home Moms to help. Later, I segued to stints as a freelance writer, magazine editor, and radio host. Greatest rewards: Happy husband, happy sons, more income than I would have earned teaching, and opportunities to hone my communication skills.
- Infomercials (1993 – 1996)
One moment, I’m enjoying a catch-up call with my sister, Kate. The next, she opens a door and we’re pitching a product to investors who wanted to make an infomercial. Guess what? They picked me. For the next six months, I hunkered down to write America’s Work-at-Home Secrets. Then it was off to Hollywood to film the infomercial with our celebrity spokesperson, Alley Mills (Mom from “The Wonder Years”). Ultimately, America’s Work-at-Home Secrets failed to hit the major leagues, but I continued for another couple of years as an infomercial scriptwriter and director.
- The Cleveland Years (1994 – present)
With little to no demand for infomercial marketers in Cleveland, I was at another crossroads. I was raised in a family of sales dynamos, yet always considered myself better suited for creative endeavors. Still, I accepted a job offer in software sales and discovered that the sales dynamo gene didn’t skip me. I was a top performer. Alas, top performers get bigger quotas and more travel. That didn’t sync with family needs, which brings on yet another segue to the world of conferences and trade shows. For the past fourteen years (longest span of my career), I’ve been immersed in this fascinating industry, first working for one of the leading event management firms and later, with an uber-talented group of consultants who made me much smart before venturing back out as a solo consultant.
My consulting practice continues and I’ve been blessed with a steady stream of work. The nest is now empty, as we watch our three amazing sons embark on their own career journeys.
And yet again, I’m working on one more segue to my best phase yet…
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Back then, I was sweeping too wide. While there were a few success stories, I now realize this DIY path isn’t a fit for everyone.
With this Retirepreneur reboot, I’m now zeroing on a more tightly defined market segment. Here’s where I’ve landed:
- Retirepreneur is for professionals with business acumen and experience in fields where demand is high, but the supply of qualified job candidates is low.
- Retirepreneur is for self-starters and lifelong learners, 50-ish and above, who with limited direction and coaching can advance well on their own.
- Retirepreneur is for executives who enjoy what they do so much, they’d love to stay engaged to some degree in their field beyond traditional retirement age.
- Retirepreneur is for people who would like to boost their retirement nest egg with income from a part-time consulting gig. It’s also a nice bridge for those who’d like to delay social security filing until age 70 to earn a huge boost on monthly income.
Intrigued? Does this sound like YOU?
If so, join me and let’s explore this next exciting chapter together.