Brief Book Overview
A tidal wave of baby boomers is approaching the traditional age of retirement, but they’re too healthy, too motivated and not wealthy enough to just play golf for the rest of their projected long lives. Many are ready for a transition, and many are looking for meaning, not just money, from their work. “Some 78 million American baby boomers are now beginning to retire, and one survey this year by a research institute found that half of boomers are interested in starting … new careers with a positive social impact.” (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times, July 20, 2008)
We were two 50-something Silicon Valley executives who left high-powered careers and moved to Africa to do non-profit economic development. Our story is set in two very different African cities, Mbabane, Swaziland and Nairobi, Kenya, where we worked at TechnoServe, an international development organization whose tagline is “Business Solutions to Poverty”. At TechnoServe, Wendy utilized her high-tech marketing expertise plus her experience teaching young people business and success skills with Junior Achievement (JA) in the United States. Wendy launched a youth program in Swaziland (JA Swaziland) and supported the Young Women in Entrepreneurship program in Kenya. Rick used his management consulting background to advise small businesses that included a bottled water company, a utility pole processor, a commercial bakery and a piggery in Swaziland. Rick also helped the new TechnoServe Country Director in Kenya and to a lesser extent in Uganda to improve project management and financial controls.
Since TechnoServe played such an important part in our lives starting in 2005, all book profits will be donated to TechnoServe to sustain its worthwhile programs in reducing poverty. While working in Africa, we also experienced the strange, frustrating, sometimes scary and constantly fascinating facets of African traditions, culture and daily life. Our vast range of experiences included: watching the annual Swazi Reed Dance where 40,000 women dance topless for the king; learning about the traditional Swazi bride price of seventeen cows, which could be negotiated if the bride was not a virgin; surviving the fatal hailstorm that destroyed our rental car; discovering that although Rick’s Kenyan resident visa allowed him to live in the country for a year, it did not authorize him to enter the country; and discovering the mysterious and feared Mungiki gang through close encounters.
We wrote this book to inspire our fellow boomers to embark on similar adventures in encore careers that will not only improve the lives of others, but also will profoundly enrich their own. Based on our experience, we will inspire our readers to seriously explore an encore career, help them to choose what to pursue and give them examples of how to enjoy their experience. While there is no cookie-cutter approach that will fit everyone, understanding our experience and recommendations will greatly aid anyone considering an encore career.