We’ve changed our name from Encore.org to CoGenerate! Join us at cogenerate.org to bridge generational divides and co-create the future.

We’ve changed our name from Encore.org to CoGenerate! Join us at cogenerate.org to bridge generational divides and co-create the future.

You know your book has captured the zeitgeist of a moment when its title has become commonly used shorthand. Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners, the husband and wife team behind the book Don’t Retire, Rewire, saw their catchy phrase go viral long before the existences of internet memes.

I caught up with Jeri through email just as the book’s third edition was being released. Here’s a condensed version of our conversation.

Marci: How has the world and how have trends around retirement changed since you first wrote this book in 2007?

Jeri: The First Edition was published in 2002. We had just come off of the Dotcom era; the first Microsoft Millionaires had cashed out and the idea of retiring early was on people’s minds.

The Second Edition came out in 2007 just before the economic downturn. This edition included new ideas for how to stay in the workforce longer plus a section for couples who were struggling to create retirements that were individually and collectively fulfilling.

Eleven years later, after doing research for the third edition, the biggest trend is that people want to, and need to work longer work for a variety of reasons. Many people under-saved then got hit by the market downturn and never recovered; others find themselves supporting parents or who have run out of money or divorced children with grandchildren returning home. Physically taking care of grandchildren is definitely on the rise.

Reasons for wanting to work include “I love my work so why stop?” To “ I want to try something new and keep going until I’m 75 “ to “I have no interests to pursue” …to  “retirement is a long time and I am afraid to be bored and become invisible.”

Marci: At Encore, we created the Encore Fellowships as a pathway for those wanting to use their skills to transition to a new kind of social impact work. Can you share any other innovative models you’ve seen for those who may want to downshift while still earning a living and having an impact?

Jeri: I have not seen any new corporate models but that could be because my most recent focus has been with entrepreneurs or partnerships not the corporate space. I have been advocating that if someone is selling a business, a medical practice, or whatever, the entrepreneur construct an exit strategy that includes continued consulting, offering services for 1 – 3 days a week so they can ease into the future. Some of the medical entrepreneurs have explored giving back situations globally such as Doctors without Borders and dentists doing work in Costa Rica. Some of these entrepreneurs are involved with churches that have missionary programs that are allowing them to taste the future. People who know their “drivers” {a concept Jeri explores in the book} and have high self awareness find new ways to fulfill and execute on those drivers and end up creating futures of fulfillment.

Marci: I wonder if the next generation will even need to plan for these transitions in the same way. Do you think the retirement language will even exist for millennials?

Jeri:  A recent financial survey stated that millennials want to retire at age 61! So my tendency is to say that the word retirement and the desire to retire will exist because it is a life stage and the word/concept is part of the lexicon and our lives. That’s even before Social Security can kick in. I think technology and competition will burn them out and retirement will be the opportunity for the next act or encore they desire where they can explore other jobs, opportunities, volunteering etc. I think retirement might be a hard ending for many. For others who are in a better financial position, it may be a time pursue what they really want. I fear that they may see retirement as a nirvana, where all will be well, which is an unrealistic approach to the future. You have to work to figure it out and you have to have saved. We know that millennials tend to want experiences more than things things, so there is some speculation about how much they are saving and can afford to save. Surprisingly several millennials have used the rewiring concept to figure out their lives now. Millennials are “skills merchants;” always learning then moving on. That could serve them well in retirement as they mix forms of new work with pursuing dreams at the same time

Marci: The financial data on saving for retirement is frightening, with scant numbers of people really having adequately planned for a retirement without income. What’s your best advice to those who feel financially unprepared for a transition to a new chapter of work and life?

Jeri: Sorry to say it but the rubber has met the road. Americans are not savers. First, work as long as you can. If you hate your job at 50, you’ll detest it at 55, so look to see about making a change now. Be open to doing whatever it takes to change professions. If you want to stay in the same job, then work to make yourself an invaluable member of the team.  Next create a budget! Know where and how you are spending your money. Consider downsizing before you retire. Sit down with a trusted advisor or Financial Planner and run the numbers. The sooner you know your financial picture, the sooner you can see where you need to work on it.  Some individuals might want to consider relocating to a more cost effective area. With unemployment being so low, more jobs remain unfilled because of lack of qualified applicants.  People with in-demand skills have a lot more leverage than they used to have. Some of these are pretty drastic moves, but are all options. Nothing should be off the table.

Marci: You and Rick have been in this space for quite a while yourself. How have you rewired or evolved and what’s next for you two?

Jeri: Rick sold his company several years ago and had a cliff retirement. The sale was unexpected and he was not prepared for his next act! He reviewed his “drivers” ( as found in DRR) and selected volunteer activities based on his interests.

He has been very involved with helping young veterans entering the workforce. Rick continues to use his skills and is constantly learning new ones. We are also globe-trotters and have even traveled to Saudi Arabia to deliver rewiring workshops.

We both have continuous learning drivers so our travel is very centered around our interests in the arenas of opera/music and Georgian architecture. I sit on boards of organizations that support each of those interests. The new edition has given me an opportunity to continue to work with individuals and organizations to prepare them for the future, which I love doing.


Published: August 30, 2018

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