9 Lives for Women Blog

Act 2 Career: Profit from Your Passions | April 3rd, 2013

For many years widely recognized Career Coach Nancy Collamer has been helping people turn the seemingly impossible into the possible. When we first became acquainted, she was helping women find professional and creative ways to start businesses and earn money without ever leaving their homes. For many who needed the extra income she was a lifesaver–allowing smart and capable women to contribute to household expenses while carrying out full Mom agendas at the same time.

Now Nancy has turned her attention to another group that often needs an income–but is also not willing to sell their souls to work. That’s the huge cohort of Baby Boomers who are leaving their big corporate jobs and looking for new ways to supplement their retirement nest eggs. In January Nancy published a new book focused on reinvention: Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement

What’s semi-retirement? It’s the stage after the big full-time job ends and full retirement sets in. From my vantage point it appears that semi-retirement extends for years and years. It’s hard to find anyone these days who retires to the golf course or blue plate specials in the Sunshine State. Part of that is due to the energy and restlessness of my Baby Boomer generation (everyone who tells me they’re retiring seems to be working again within a year), and part of it is borne of economic necessity.

In her book Nancy cites a 2010 Harris poll that delivered a grim report: 25% of people age 46 to 64  had no retirement savings. During my “Look Before You Leap” Ivy Exec webinar (for mothers thinking of leaving work and often not focused on their long-term financial security), I cited a New York Times article, “Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement“, sounding the alarms because 75% of people had less than $30,000 in  their retirement accounts. In that same article was a frightening prediction: almost half of middle class workers will be poor in retirement, living on a budget of about $5 a day.

That last prediction–evoking visions of cat food–seems overblown and sensationalized at very first glance. But when you consider what Nancy calls the triple threat of dwindling pensions, insufficient savings and uncertain Social Security–combined with increased personal debt, rising health care costs and falling real estate values, it does not seem so far-fetched. I personally know it’s true: one of my relatives–a former New York City executive–is in this very boat.

While many people have been much more careful about retirement planning, it is safe to say that just about everyone can benefit from saving a bit more…even at the 11th hour. And Nancy is not one for doom and gloom…her book is chock-full of positive inspiring and empowering ideas about how to make money in retirement and have fun at the same time. She features 50 different models for turning passions into profits, interests into income and hobbies into cash.

It’s great to hear stories about how others succeed, but the real bread and butter is in the “how to” guidance. Nancy gives plenty of this direction–showing readers how to create and sell informational products (like blogs or digital downloads), start a small service business or “business in a box” (franchise, direct sales or licensing arrangement), find flexible interim work, do well by doing good and get paid to travel. She also gives you the compass to head in the right direction so that you’ll understand motivating skills and interests, clarify lifestyle goals and create a solid plan for your next act.

Indeed, as I read Nancy’s book, I’m again reminded of her ability to make others feel that anything is possible. She talks about how the cost of running a business has decreased dramatically, paving the way for entrepreneurs of every shape and size. The global reach of the Internet, she points out, has made it possible to sell to anyone, anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a brick and mortar store to sell products (sell on your web site, Etsy or eBay); you don’t need a printer or stamps to produce and mail a newsletter (send one out electronically); and you don’t need a classroom to teach a course (hold a webinar online).

Like I do on this blog site (where I’ve told many interesting retirement adventures like the former financial services executive who now runs an upscale Vermont inn and the former investment banker who now teaches college kids the world of finance), Nancy’s book gives you many compelling case studies that prove it’s well within reach to craft a flexible semi-retirement career with passion, purpose and profit.

One of her case studies is a woman who says “When I’m too old to stand up, I’ll stop working.” My proclamation is slightly revised: when I’m too old to sit up, I’ll stop writing.–KAS

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