Are you ready for your “second curve” in life and career?

Not all of my book recommendations are about technology such as AI or business such as business models, but also about life and careers. Looking back at my career, it seems that there are a few turning points in my life, and most of them have had to do with reading books that have given me direction. Of course, there have been people who have had a tremendous impact on my life; one is Donna Hegdahl from The TransSynergy Group.

When the company I was CEO of was sold, I contemplated starting my own US-based boutique management consulting firm. Donna was there to support and encourage me to do it and TELLUS International, Inc is now turning 19 years. Not bad. Donna was also the person who helped me to be part of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP.org) and I eventually became the worldwide president of the organization. Besides this, my relationships with Microsoft grew, and I eventually became a preferred vendor with Microsoft, delivering business modeling, envisioning, GTM, channel, and software pricing/packaging workshops for Microsoft partners together with Microsoft. This has included numerous educational sessions for thousands of partner employees over the past 15+ years. Without Donna, it would not have happened. I am forever indebted to Donna for what she has done for me.

The book I am referring to today is "From strength to strength: finding success, happiness, and deep purpose in the second half of life" by Arthur Brooks. He is a bestselling author of several books, and this book caught my eye, and I decided to study it. I am glad I did.

The book is probably not for people in the early part of their careers (even if there is a lot of learning) but more for people in the latter half of their careers (yes, I am one of them). I have mentioned before that one of my fears since my early career was that my skills would become irrelevant, and this has truly pushed me to learn to stay on top of things continuously. Working with Microsoft and ecosystem partners requires me to be "on top of things" to stay relevant and provide value to customers. An example is my dedication to studying, researching, and discussing AI and its impact on business models, software pricing, and other topics. My friend Mikko Peltola from A-CX and I have been delivering 10+ webinars around the AI topic in our webinar series "Approachable AI." An example of one of the webinars is where I (and Mikko) explain how an organization should look at AI when using the industry-standard Business Model Canvas framework from Strategyzer.

The book consists of 11 chapters. The website growthabit summarizes each chapter well in the following manner:

The man on the Plan who Changed My Life - discusses a decline in career and what is behind it as well as how to approach it positively to turn it into an opportunity rather than a failure.

Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think - describes a “second curve” in your life when you start a new vocation and lifestyle, which adds meaning to the second half of your life and makes you happier and more satisfied than ever before.

The Second Curve - describes how success is an addiction and what workaholism is. You’ll learn about losing your self-identity because of a compulsion to succeed, and how it destroys your relationships

Kick Your Success Addiction - is about getting rid of stuff that doesn’t add value to your life and keeping the things that do in order to create a new life around them.

Start Chipping Away - is about getting rid of stuff that doesn’t add value to your life and keeping the things that do in order to create a new life around them.

Ponder Your Death - explores the idea of death and how it affects an individual’s perception and changes their priorities for the better.

Cultivate Your Aspen Grove - compares how trees build huge interconnected systems with their roots to how people are connected to one another in similar ways. If one’s abilities decline, it makes way for another to grow in their ability to bring fruit to the world.

Start Your Vanaprashtha - explores how a lot of people use spirituality and religion as a way to cope with declining career prospects and how to approach spirituality and religion if it comes into play for the first time in a very long time.

Make Your Weakness Your Strenght - is about looking at every weakness as an opportunity to grow stronger, and it must be embraced with an open mind, since pain and suffering can boost your productivity and help you find your calling.

Cast into the Falling Tide - describes how changes are a natural part of human existence and that nothing is more permanent than change.

Seven Words to Remember - sums up the entire book by showing how one can overcome nature and instincts to transform their life and achieve new levels of happiness.

Each chapter includes many great anecdotes that resonate with me based on my career and accumulated experiences. Some of these are as follows (more great anecdotes in this link):

⭐“Great gifts and achievements early in life are simply not an insurance policy against suffering later on.”

⭐“Humans simply aren’t wired to enjoy an achievement long past. […] we run and run, hoping that the next success, greater than the last, will bring the enduring satisfaction we crave”

⭐“[…] it’s actually a triple whammy because as we try to stay even, we wind up in patterns of addictive behavior such as workaholism, which puts strivers into unhealthy relationship patterns at the cost of deep connection to spouses, children, and friends.”

⭐“[…] with age, people are better at combining and utilizing complex ideas.”

⭐“[…] fluid intelligence […] [is] defined as the ability to reason, think flexibly, and solve novel problems.”

⭐“[…] crystallized intelligence […] is defined as the ability to use a stock of knowledge learned in the past.”

  • Translation: When you are young, you have raw smarts; when you are old, you have wisdom. When you are young, you can generate lots of facts; when you are old, you know what they mean and how to use them.”

⭐But if your career requires crystallized intelligence—or if you can repurpose your professional life to rely more on crystallized intelligence—your peak will come later, but your decline will happen much, much later, if ever.”

⭐“[…] there always exists the ability to redesign your career less on innovation and more on instruction as the years pass, thus playing to your strengths with age.”

⭐“We are all born with gifts. Some find them when they are young […]. Some find their calling later, […]. Others find them only after realizing they were going in the wrong direction for a while […]”

⭐“[…] every change of circumstances is a chance to learn, grow, and create value.”

⭐“[…] Get on your second curve. Jump from what rewards fluid intelligence to what rewards crystallized intelligence. Learn to use your wisdom.”

⭐“[…] the three things you need to do starting right now to make the second curve better than the first: develop your relationships, start your spiritual journey, and embrace your weaknesses.”

⭐“[…] people in high-pressure jobs tend to self-medicate with alcohol, including drinking at hazardous levels, which can turn off the sensation of anxiety like a switch—temporarily.”

⭐“[…] Workaholism feeds fear and loneliness; fear and loneliness feed workaholism.”

The book is full of great reflections on life, career, and purpose, and if you are like me in your "Second Curve," you might want to check out and reflect by reading the book. You can also get the book as an audible if that is your preferred learning method. Remember, it is your responsibility to stay relevant and live a fulfilling life. Nowbody will do the choices for you, you are the one making them. I love what I do and don't even see myself "retiring." Why would I as every day I enjoy what I do. My wife Rita Salonen and I have built a life for our Second Curve where we combine work with things we enjoy, such as working from our motor home or our Finland properties. My dear wife Rita can manage her cruise travel agency TELLUS Travels from anywhere. It does not require an office.

The key is for you to drive your future; nobody else will. I have heard too many people say the famous words, "I will enjoy when I retire." I guess many people in my age group have already passed away waiting for that retirement. Quite a few.

I hope you enjoy the book and that you are able to have positive reflections when reading it.

If you would like to get my book recommendations to your inbox on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you can subscribe to them here on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/build-relation/newsletter-follow?entityUrn=7154173997436309505

Yours,

Dr. Petri I. Salonen

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