The podcast for technology teams and technology businesses, working for social good.

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  1. Achieving Success Through the "10 Year Phase" Career Plan Listening
  2. How To Boost Your Personal Productivity With Bullet Journalling

Achieving Success Through the "10 Year Phase" Career Plan

25 January 2019

Written and performed by Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds, the host and author of The Platform Podcast...

More episodes...

  1. Achieving Success Through the "10 Year Phase" Career Plan Listening
  2. How To Boost Your Personal Productivity With Bullet Journalling


Hi everyone and welcome to the Platform Podcast, your weekly look at all topics about running technology businesses and teams when you work for the social good. My name is Matthew Reynolds and I'm your host. In today's audio essay we're gonna be talking about how we tend to split our professional life up into separate phases. And over those phases we change the types of work we do, layering up experience to build up successes. And at the end we're able to put together a really interesting, and I hope a very satisfying story of our professional lives. And we can help people along the way while we're doing it. By understanding those phases better we have a clearer understanding of how to take advantage of the unique aspects of each phase.

What we see when we look at professional development is that we can split the type of work we do up into separate decades. And so we can focus on different things in each phase. So what I mean by this is if we look at the things we do in our 20's compared to our 30's and 40's and so on, there's some individual very common things that we see. So in our 20's we prepare for our first success. And we're gonna go into each of these phases as we go. In our 30's we take that preparation, and we achieve that first success. In our 40's we repeat that first success. In our 50's, now that we've had two successes under our belt or first success under our belt, we can help others with their first successes. And then in our 60's we're either enjoying our first successes, or we're continuing to repeat that pattern.

So as we go through this we're assuming a neat path through being able to start a career in our 20's and hit these milestones, 30, 40, 50, 60. This often doesn't happen like this, and so we're talking about an ideal path. But right in the end when we've gone through looking at each of these different phases we'll come back and touch on this particular point. So when we start off in our 20's we don't really know anything. And I think most of us would look back at, especially if we're in our 40's or 50's, we look back at our 20's and kina think, actually we thought we knew what we didn't. But we didn't. But we do have a lot of energy, we do have a lot of focus, and we kind of wanna come out of the gate and go, yep! You know what, I know what I'm gonna do here, I want to do this and what I want to do here. There's another big advantage in that we don't necessarily know what can't be done. Because kind of a lack of experience cut both ways. We can see this kind of maverick approach where someone in their 20's will go, I'm gonna go and do this. And everybody who's a bit older will be sitting there going, well we know that doesn't work. And then as a surprise, actually it turns out that it does work.

So in our 20's we're looking at this as a time to prepare for our first success. And the way that I tend to look at this is that there's a huge advantage to being the left tenant to somebody else's general within the business. So you take someone who is in a leadership position of the business, they're doing what it is they need to do, but they need someone to kind of back some of this stuff onto, a safe pair of hands, that can say, actually, you know what, can you go away and help me with this, this, and this? And also those people tend to be very open to the idea of you, someone younger, coming up to them and saying, well someone earlier in their career rather, coming up to them saying, actually I think we should X, Y, and Z. So, really what we're saying in our 20's is be that left tenant. But a left tenant to someone else's general. Because we want ultimately to have our own successes. We don't want to be working for other people the whole time and making their life better. We want to be making our life better and helping people along the way.

So when we come into our 30's we've had a good few years in the industry and we've proven that we can deliver. We should have a set of people who kind of look at us and go, actually this person is a safe pair of hands. They know what they're doing and they can be trusted. And now is the time when we get to be our own general and we get to go it alone. But this is where things start to change as well. Firstly we start to gather responsibilities. We don't gather as many responsibilities as we do in our 40's but we start to take them on. So we're getting experience from the things that we do but also from the things that we read and for the relationships that we have. Which it's why it's very important to have this kind of learning outlet. Especially in our 30's.

But this is the first time we start to really understand the idea of a ten year overnight success. So when we start to go into industry we think, actually this person, they started doing this thing, and they hit it out of the park and they achieve the success very quickly. But although some people do do that they can set something up and they can have it successful within one year, two years, or even three years, most successes take ten years. And that's one of the reasons why we see this kind of phasing. That we can say, actually, in our 30's we're gonna dedicate our time to do this. Because when we start in the beginning, when we end at the end, and again we're gonna talk about the 30's may not be precisely the 30's, but we see this different phases because we need to be able to phase this stuff up. If we're gonna go and do a big project, if we want that success, it's gonna take ten years.

So finally in this phase of our 30's where we're getting this first success we're gonna be the generals now so we're gonna need left tenants. So that's why it's good to be aware of the people that we've been working with in our 20's, and when we're doing this in our 30's, of these kind of people that are gonna have their first success next. So bring those people on as the left tenant to you as the general as you go onto your next phase.

So by the time we get to our 40's we've probably picked up a lot of responsibilities, but hopefully we can back everything off with the success that we've had in our 30's. So we're more likely to be in a marriage or civil partnership, we're more likely to have children, we're more likely to have mortgages. But we're also probably much more established in so far as we've been able to say, look, this is what I did in my 20's, this is what I did in my 30's, I'm now ready for the next thing. So our ten year overnight success in our 30's should have happened. And if we're lucky we've managed to put together a pot of money. And maybe we've actually got some cash or we've managed to pay down some of the mortgage. Or we've invested heavily in our pension pot which is really important to do at that phase. But maybe the success is just in name only. Maybe what we did is be able to go back and say, actually, this thing I did in my 30's it wasn't a roaring commercial success but it laid the groundwork for what I wanted to do going forward, is part of the story.

And part of the advantage of looking at a career like this is it allows us to craft a story. So it allows us to say, I did this, then I did that, then I learned this, then I tried that, and then I did this. But one thing that does happen significantly in our 40's is we wanna go on and repeat that first success, is that our values change. We're nowhere near the same person we are in our 20's. And as we get older it's not common, especially for people who are more professional or have worked with people who are quite driven, to be looking at what's happened and gone, actually, you know what? I was too commercial in my 30's. I wasn't focused enough on social good. And of course on this podcast we're looking at social good. So possibly, if you're listening to this and you're in your 40's you're sitting there going, actually, I recognize this. That in my 40's my values have changed. So the success that we're trying to do in our 30's may look really very different.

So in our 50's, at this point, we're very experienced. And we can describe a story that spans four decades. And that makes us very valuable. It allows us to go anywhere and tell a story that where we say, actually, you know what? Over the four decades in my career I've done this, I've done this, and I've done this. And experience is a really strong story to tell because we've been there, we've done that, we have a great idea of what works, we know what doesn't work. Yeah, we lose some of the energy, yes, we lose some of newer plasticity, yes, we lose some of the flexible thinking. But in our 50's we can start to look at how we help others achieve their first success. And this can be direct support such as advisory roles, consultancy, non executive directorships, on a commercial basis. Or it can be volunteering. We can just go into businesses and say, or go into organizations that work with local businesses and say, I want to help you do this.

Or it could be as simple as supporting our family members as they start off in their careers. Or it might be that we've done. We've done enough commercial stuff and now we wanna do exclusively charity work and help people in a more personal basis. It doesn't have to be that we're helping someone's first success in a professional commercial sense. It doesn't mean in our 50's we're saying, I wanna help that person achieve their first success in setting up a business. It could be, I wanna help that somebody achieve their first success in getting out of a bad situation that they're in. Or offering some sort of support that's more directly social good.

So in our 60's, the idea is that maybe we could stop working. And I remember when I was growing up and it was kind of like people retired at 60, 65, enjoyed a nice pension, and relaxed. But that idea today is ridiculous, to think that someone in their 60's can retire. People in their 40's today we'll probably keep going well into their 70's. And if you're in your 20's would you ever be able to retire? But that's a pessimistic view. The point is, is that when we're in our 60's we can still do all the things that we did earlier on but we've got a better story, we've got this more experience, and we should be able to benefit from the success we had early on. So it is why it's important in our 30's and 40's that we're taking money away and hiding it away into a good pension fund. And really managing those pension investments. Or it could be that as we were working as a commercial advisor in our 50's we're able to stretch those deals so that they're success based. So if a company that we're helping comes along and hits it big, we might get a percentage of that coming out.

So that's really a look at how we can split up this 20's, 30's, 40's. But in this audio essay I've been talking about an ideal path. I've been talking about someone that can get out of their childhood, get to university, and get into a career in a straight line. And a lot of people don't get that chance. And especially if you're working in more social good organizations you know this. You get people in their 20's where there isn't the head space, there isn't the right resources, they're just not in the right place to start this in their 20's. So maybe the 30's, 40's, and 50's is the time you prepare for your first success. And of course we can do this. Although we know we have more energy when we're 20 and we've got more experience when we're older and less energy when we're older, there isn't a deteriorative view towards age. Aging is just whatever you do. Really the important thing about this is to think about layering up the story. Think about those ten year overnight successes and think about how we can build up what we do in each phase.

So as we end this then, the question is, where are you in this journey? And what will your story be? Thanks very much for listening. If you've enjoyed this audio essay please follow us in your favorite podcast service. It really helps us get our name out. And we'd love to chat. And our socials are, we have a website at You can follow us at Twitter @theplatformpodc. And on Facebook and LinkedIn you can search for The Platform Podcast. Thanks for listening and goodbye!


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