Outdated Concepts


Here’s a bold statement: retirement and college are outdated concepts of the 20th century. You may disagree but listen in as Ralph and Bill discuss the topic and see if your opinion changes.


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Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast, where we discuss various leadership topics, team and organizational development ideas, and current leadership challenges and successes. I’m Bill Berthel.

Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone.

Bill Berthel: So Ralph, today we’re gonna start talking about some outdated concepts, and I know you’ve got kind of two that you’re ready.

You got some energy around? Yeah, the outdated concepts. Retirement and college.

Ralph Simone: I’m probably a little too sensitive to, at least one of these topics based on my advancing age, but, um, I, I will start by saying this, that what I’m about to declare is ungrounded, but I think worth talking about. So I turn 65 years old in a couple weeks.

I gotta tell you, I am tiring of hearing the questions, and I don’t know if they’re questions and or statements or suggestions

Bill Berthel: or suggestions

Ralph Simone: maybe they’re suggestions. When are you going to retire or you’re still working? See, I don’t think that’s a question. I think that’s, that’s more of a statement and um, that got me thinking, you know, of course defensive, do I look older?

Whatever. But thinking that the traditional view of work in retirement is an outdated linear model, And I think it fails to recognize kind of the seasonal and integrated aspects of life. And, and I know I have sensitivity to it. I know that I’m not objective because of my age, but that’s, I think we need to really challenge that.

And I think we need to challenge it because we don’t have enough people . So I don’t think we can afford this mass exodus of baby boomers and other following that, and I think it was, you know, it was designed at a different time. It was designed when we worked physically harder. Right. You know, that you would retire.

I think it’s, I really don’t think it’s kept pace with where we are in society today.

Bill Berthel: Well, there’s something, Ralph, that I appreciate that you’ve shared. I think, you know, not just with our team, but outside of Emergent with other leaders and other individuals in the community, that it’s about remaining relevant.

Ralph Simone: Absolutely. It’s a question my kids ask me every time they see me. How you, are you remaining relevant dad? You remain relevant by continuing to learn. by being curious. By asking questions. I mean, Bill, I often joke that when I get the question on retirement, I say, Look, I retired. On November 15th, 1991, they, they kinda look at me, but I say, That was the day I resigned my position from Coopers and Librand, which is now pwc.

And that’s when I started my own consulting practice. But I started to work in a different way. And I think that we need to really rethink retirement and we need to really rethink the way in which we work. And so that was part of the process.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, I love it. I love it. I think your point about the workforce and that we need people is spot on.

But I think it’s also about the quality of the individuals who might be retiring too early, who might be self-selecting and, and wanna respect their choices. Maybe they have something else aligned and that’s wonderful, but I think the model, the concept has asked some people to leave too early.

Ralph Simone: I think so, and I think one size fits one, and I think we have people that have way more in the tank that are really healthy and they have so much to share that why are we ushering them out of the workforce so quickly?

And you, you know, one, one of the reasons I actually, uh, left Coopers in, in 91 is I didn’t wanna work, you know, 60 plus hours a week for the chance at perhaps becoming a partner in having a pile of money by the time I retired, I, I wanted, I wanted to learn, contribute, and live along the way. And, you know, although I, I didn’t describe it this way, I think I was playing the infinite game and I think we have… You know, this goes back to our discussion on, uh, resource utilization. We have so many people that are in their sixties and seventies and even eighties that are vital, relevant, and have so much to contribute. And, and that’s probably one of the reasons that I think this is an outdated concept that requires, you know, rethinking, retooling and re-engineering.

Bill Berthel: We, uh, mentioned a few minutes ago that. So there’s some thoughts around the outdated concept of college as well.

Ralph Simone: Well, well, that was the other thing I was reflecting on in my current role, right? As a leadership development coaching consultant, I fully realized that I didn’t need a four year degree in accounting to be able to do this work well.

I wanna be clear about something. I am not antico. Yeah, yeah. There are some positions and professions that absolutely need that level of education. I’m just against how strongly many people feel like it’s the only option. I think we’ve brainwashed an entire generation to see college education in many cases as the only solution, and in the process they have incurred an insurmountable debt.

And they’re not any closer to being on the road to their passion or success than they were before. And I think that’s very limiting. And I think we need to really, and we’re seeing the negative consequence for that. We don’t have enough people in the trades. We don’t have enough people to do some of the service work.

That was a noble profession years ago. But people no longer lining up to do that type of work.

Bill Berthel: No, absolutely. We have some clients that are really living that pain where there aren’t those, uh, younger trades people coming into the workforce. And you mentioned the debt. The college debt can be so high. It delays savings for people to start their lives buying a home if they’re interested in getting married, whatever that looks like.

And home ownership is the number one financial key to reducing intergenerational poverty. So there are huge societal challenges. Associated with some of this debt.

Ralph Simone: We gotta continue to challenge these models. They’re outdated. They don’t work for everybody and, and I think even the idea that you need to go to college immediately after high school.

I mean, really, how are we, Why? You know, I, I mean, I think of all the studying I’ve done since college. I’m a much better student. I pick things when I’m ready. I pick things that I’m really interested in and I fully engage, but I’m more mature. I’m, I’m able to kinda look at the application. I’m able to look at it from some different lenses.

So I just think that, you know, these are just two of the things. Uh, one happens to be a little more sensitive because of my age, but these are just two of the things that I think we would. Better rethinking, and not only rethinking, but restructuring how we utilize people and how we train people. I was thinking the other day about companies that, you know, technical companies, they could save money on engineering resources if they went to high schools.

Hired kids out of high schools that had some proficiency and interest in STEM. Science, technology, engineering, and math. And training them in their system. Almost go back to the old apprenticeship. You could save a lot of cost. You could develop people in your model. Uh, And you could save them from this debt that they would incure that prevents them from buying their first home.

I, I just think there’s so many things we need to rethink that it’s actually exciting and that’s why I want to keep working.

Bill Berthel: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s, you know, it’s just one story. I, I didn’t go to college right out of high school that was, uh, uh, too difficult of a decision to make such a, Altering choice at that point.

You know, 18 years old, 19 years old. Leaving high school, I, I entered the workforce. I was fortunate to find an organization that grew me and developed me, and I was able to get my college degrees as an adult. It’s one story. One story, right? But I think there are different ways to be able to do this. It’s perhaps what does the larger model look like and how might individuals make more intelligent choices for themselves.

Ralph Simone: So I think it starts with admitting that the way that we are thinking and doing and working isn’t working for everyone. In fact, it’s probably working for fewer and fewer and so I think it’s time to really challenge our thought process on everything and be open to learning and be open to experimenting and be open to challenging even the things that worked for you.

I mean, people could say that it worked for me yet I’m still questioning it. I think we have to keep challenging ourselves that there are better ways and we will be in constant pursuit of finding them, but the only way to do that is to unlearn some of these past practices that are deeply entrenched in our society.

Bill Berthel: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I hope there are some young folks that are listening to our podcast and, um, you know, I would give a piece of advice in that space that, you know, if you’re entering the workforce, you can find an organization that has education development opportunities, tuition assistance, great benefit.

You can do it along the way while you’re developing yourself as a young.

Ralph Simone: I wish my daughter would’ve thought of that. You know, she finished her undergraduate in three years and then went back to graduate school, has a job when she gets out. I said, Why didn’t you let your employer pay for any? That’s dad trying to save some money.

So , that’s, I’m not looking at these topics through completely objective lenses today.

Bill Berthel: Well that’s okay. You know, part of the podcast here is to stretch our minds. Think about things a little bit differently for, you know, our leadership and our organizations, and looking at some of these concepts as possibly outdated or how would we adjust them or tweak them to work a little bit better for ourselves and our organizations.

Be sure to tune in every other week to listen to more Get Emergent podcasts. Thank you.

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