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Get out while you can

wrote me a lovely review for Corporate Escapology when I shared an early version of the book with her.  She’s the author of Hype yourself and runs a Substack community helping all manner of business owners promote themselves.

Lucy runs great online workshop for her paid subscribers and one on the 24th May is all about landing an opinion piece in national media.  I don’t know why but my instinct was to avoid this – perhaps fearing if I wrote something too controversial I’d get trolled (flashbacks to school when I put my head above the parapet and regretted it).

But as an adult and a marketer, I also know that having a point of view is essential in carving out an identity.

And I actually have some quite strong ones – hence a book.  So I thought I’d test one out here:

If you’re 50 in a corporate career, get out while you can.

You can debate why 50? You can say plenty of people are having great careers in their 50s. You can say it’s just privileged people who have the choice. All perfectly reasonable challenges. But this is an opinion piece by an entrepreneur – not the kind of thing I’d have written in a corporate job to please everyone (and by the way no-one).

My reasons are simple and I think fairly incontrovertible:

1.        Your job opportunities have dried up: there are fewer options you’d stand a chance of getting and competition lies on all sides; your career has possibly plateaued. Sorry.

2.        Your priorities have changed: flexibility may be more important (even essential), work-based travel holds little attraction, a project that would have once been a dream now looks like just a load of extra hassle. More money does not = more happiness.

3.        Your work has changed (and probably not for the better): meetings, planning, stakeholder engagement, slide-building etc., have become ‘the job’. What you joined to do, what gives you joy and what plays to your strengths and purpose takes up a much smaller proportion of each day.

By 50, your corporate career is causing you more harm than good. And it’s terminal.

The harm doesn’t lie just in the plateau, the misaligned priorities or the misfit with work – it’s in what it does to your self-confidence, your energy levels and your happiness.

Read Dr Lucy Ryan’s Revolting Women if you need further proof of how corporate life is turning off and pushing out middle-aged women who feel disenfranchised from the workplace just at the time when they have so much more to offer. And it isn’t just the women.

Over a third of workers in their 50s in a recent poll (Phoenix Insights, 2023) said their job was unfulfilling; almost 60% said they feel left behind by their employers.

No-one likes to be treated like a child, to be told where to work, to feel so little control. Or to feel trapped by their job.

BUT I’m not saying steer clear of corporates – quite the opposite in fact: corporates pay well, we understand them best and can help them most.

But reframe the relationship.

Instead of employee and career, think freelance, coach, consultant, advisor, mentor – for multiple clients or as a portfolio career.

In many ways, working this way is the pinnacle of a corporate career, because you are so valuable that no single corporate owns you as before.

You have agency. You’re the boss:

1.        You create your own opportunities.

2.        You make work fit around your priorities.

3.        You do the work that plays to your strengths and gives you joy – you can ditch (most of) the rest.

And with more than 15 years left doesn’t that sound appealing?

What’s the alternative? Wait to be told “Thanks, but no thanks”, your job’s for the chop, leave on their terms, be a victim?

50 is the time to take back control. To know your own value. To fight for what you deserve.

Get out while you can.


Whaddya think? Contentious enough?

I recognise I’m talking to a pretty privileged audience – many people don’t have the luxury to reframe their relationship with work. But maybe those privileged few could pioneer the change so that everyone else gets a chance.

I’d love your help with something. I’m collecting stories of people who have left their corporate job to do something different.  My research for the book demonstrated an unhealthy lack of inspiration and confidence in corporate people when it comes to answering the question “What next?” I want the book and the podcast to inspire people – help people explore opportunities, not write everything off as “That’s not me”.

So I have a one minute request – if you’ve left and are doing something different please fill in this From/To form and share a tip to help someone else feel inspired and more confident.  It’s your good deed for the day.

And of course while you’re feeling generous, Corporate Escapology is now available for pre-order! My LinkedIn post this week on the book wending its way to the printers got some lovely comments and some even lovelier pre-orders – thank you!

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