Four people who did not retire to a life of golf or gardening.
Art education: Former museum curator Kate Carmel studied part-time for two years to become a certified appraiser in retirement.
Today, after a part-time job at one charity and a fellowship at Encore!Hartford that included a crash course in nonprofit management and finance (44 hours of classroom time at the University of Connecticut, two months in the field), Champagne is a full-time fiscal analyst at Key Human Services, a Hartford nonprofit offering services to individuals with mental disabilities. Her salary is 25% lower than at Hartford, but other rewards are greater. “I feel I’ve lived my life with blinders on, never interacting [with] or encountering the extreme need and poverty around me,” she says.
The retirement fantasy of gardening, golfing and lounging on the beach is out. Meaningful work is in. Yes, some retirees have always taken part-time jobs out of boredom or financial need. What’s different now is that baby boomers are approaching work not as an afterthought but as a pillar of their “retirement” plans.
Even the rich now reject the idea of hanging it up. When Barclays ( BCS – news – people ) Wealth polled 2,000 affluent folks worldwide last year, 60% of those with a net worth of $15 million or more said they planned to stay involved with work no matter what their age. “In previous generations many looked to create their wealth early on in life with a view to enjoying it when they retired,” observes Greg Davies, an economist who is head of behavioral finance at Barclays Wealth. But now, he adds, the wealthy regard work not as a “necessary evil” but “a part of who they are.”
That doesn’t mean they all want, like investor Warren Buffett, to continue doing what they’ve done for decades. Many folks take their skills to the nonprofit world, shift to self-employment or pursue a new or latent passion. Billionaire Stanley S. Hubbard, a longtime pilot, has turned daily management of his broadcasting empire over to his kids and started a new business making special gear for the type of private Gulfstream jets he owns (see story, Second Flight)
Make no mistake: For the masses who must fly commercial, a working retirement is about more than just personal fulfillment. With longer life expectancies, climbing medical and long-term care costs, the decline of traditional pensions and the higher benefits earned by waiting to take Social Security, it’s also a matter of financial prudence, if not necessity. In the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey, a record 74% of workers (up from 56% in 1998) said they expected to work for pay in retirement, even as overall worker confidence in being able to afford a “comfortable” retirement hit a new low. Instead of settling for living on less, Americans have embraced working longer as the “new normal,” the study concludes.
Even people with retirement savings see earning a half-time income as a safety net,” says Beverly Jones, who advises 50- and 60-somethings as a career coach at Clearways Consulting in Washington, D.C.
A career coach for 60-year-olds? Yep. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, a think tank focusing on boomers, work and social purpose, figures that today’s 60-year-old might reasonably plan to work at least part-time for another 15 years. “That changes the entire equation about what you want to do, what’s possible to do and whether it is worth investing up front for additional education,” Freedman says. “Under the mantle of this hybrid notion of being working retired, people are crafting a stage of work that’s becoming something substantial–its own chapter,” he adds.
Here are the stories of three folks who have written new chapters. For practical advice on drafting your own, go toblogs.forbes.com/kerryhannon.
The Art Lover
When Kate Carmel retired at age 62 from auction house Phillips de Pury & Co. in New York City, she hung out her shingle as a certified art appraiser, serving buyers, sellers and collectors who need special appraisals to claim tax deductions for donations of art.
Surprisingly, even with a graduate degree in art history and 35 years in the art world, including a stint as chief curator of the American Craft Museum (now the Museum of Arts & Design), Carmel needed more education to get certified. So at the urging of a co-worker (who was, fortuitously, president of the Appraisers Association of America, which issues a certification recognized by the IRS) she began taking courses at New York University well before she retired from the auction house. It took her two years of part-time study. “Many people claim to be appraisers and aren’t,” Carmel explains. “There are legal documents that you have to know how to prepare. The IRS pays attention. It requires a rigorous attention to detail to not raise any red flags.”
Today, at 71, Carmel charges $250 to $350 an hour and her business is still growing. Her specialty is 19th- and 20th-century decorative art, a field with a finite number of genuine authorities, which gives her an edge.
The work flow is erratic, which can make travel planning difficult. “There are times when I’m really stressed, say, two or three estate clearance projects go into warehouses. I can spend six weeks with someone uncrating, photographing and measuring. Then there will be a quiet period,” she says.
The Academic Rebel
In 2009, at the age of 55, University of Illinois entrepreneurial engineering professor David Goldberg decided to leave academia. He had been working to open up engineering education to philosophy, social sciences and the arts and concluded he could better promote change–and have more fun–from the outside.
“Universities are medieval institutions,” he says. “Faculty just say no to any kind of innovation–curriculum reform is great, just don’t change my course.”
Goldberg and his wife, Mary Ann, have two sons, 18 and 21, now in college and graduate school. “At first she was fearful about the money,” he admits. After all, he was earning $200,000-plus a year, and she had never worked outside the home. But Goldberg ran the numbers and found that between his university pension and their other retirement savings they could cover their monthly bills.
Anyway, he intended to keep earning. Before he retired, Goldberg, ever the methodical engineer, spent a year preparing. He worked with an executive career coach, set up his own educational-change consulting practice (ThreeJoy Associates) and lined up clients, including his old employer. He also enrolled at Georgetown University’s executive-coaching certificate program, which he likes for its emphasis on human feelings–something engineers don’t usually talk about, he notes.
His December 2010 “retirement,” Goldberg says, means, “I don’t have to continue to mindlessly charge hard and do things at the same pace.” His new pace is hardly slow. This year, in addition to a three-month stint at his old university, he has consulting, coaching, teaching and speaking gigs in Greece, Holland, Italy, Peru and Singapore. His wife is going along. “I’m viewing it as a time to do things in cooler places and to have time to smell the roses in those cooler places with my wife,” he says.
The Charity Marketer
Trish May landed at Microsoft ( MSFT – news – people ) in 1985 at the age of 31 with an M.B.A. and four years’ job experience marketing macaroni. She worked 72-hour weeks and was a prime mover behind PowerPoint. By the time she resigned as director of marketing and strategic planning in 1999, thanks to her stock options she never needed to work again.
But she still wanted to work for a cause: women’s cancer research. May had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, the same year her mother died of ovarian cancer. So she set out to build a business whose profits would all go to cancer research and education. After a few years of networking, volunteering and learning about the charity world, May spread out three large grocery bags of mostly natural foods on the floor of her Seattle-area home to decide which could be most easily branded for the cause. Her conclusion: the simple commodity of bottled water.
May worked full-time without salary and donated several hundred thousand dollarsof her own money to get Athena Water and her charity, Athena Partners, launched. She outsourced production, distribution and transportation, concentrating on what she knew–marketing and building partnerships. In 2009 her charity grossed $3.2 million.
Then, last summer, Atlanta, Ga.-based DS Waters of America bought the Athena brand, with the intent of turning it into a national brand. Charitable results? Athena Partners donated $336,000 to cancer research (and spent many times that on cancer education) while May ran it and transferred $975,000 from the brand’s sale into a cancer charity fund housed at the Seattle Foundation. Plus, DS Waters has agreed to donate another $400,000 from Athena sales to breast cancer research by the end of 2013.
May, now 57 and cancer free, isn’t sure what she’ll do next. She took a vacation with her college professor husband and is now consulting to DS Waters and picking cancer-cause recipients for the money parked at the Seattle Foundation. “It’s not easy stepping back from the intense involvement of building a brand and championing a cause,” May says. “I’m going to intentionally keep things unstructured for a while to see what emerges. It’s the journey, as they say.”