Out of work: A new venture

I handed in my notice this week.  I have done that a couple of times in my life, but this is different. I am not going to a new job; there is no pay cheque waiting; there is nothing out there but good intentions and interested people. While I’m taking early retirement, I’m not retiring, and, having received a salary every month for the past 40 years, that’s a rather scary prospect. 

I have spent the past few years thinking about my future and what I am going to do with myself until retirement age and beyond, and more important, who is likely to pay me to do it.  I have seven years before compulsory retirement age, but I have a mother alive and well at 84, and a father still working as a pharmacist in a local hospital at 86.  You will understand, therefore, that, however uncertain life may be, long-term planning is called for.

What I do know is that I do not want to run an organisation’s Human Resources Department for another seven years.  A training department, now that’s a different matter, but there are few of those opportunities around this area. 

I knew that training would have to be part of what I do; I knew also that writing should play a role, but exactly what I could offer to whom was elusive.  After a long time wondering, praying and generally feeling somewhat inadequate for anything, we finally have a plan.

Raymond Ackerman, of Pick ‘n Pay fame, wrote about four legs to a business table.  Perhaps I am not aiming high enough, but I have three “legs” on my model.  The first is training and development of people.  This will take various forms, including part-time lecturing, workshops and seminars, and individual coaching and mentoring.  The focus of the seminars and workshops will be management skills, so-called soft skills, writing, and other themes that may take my fancy (and that I can persuade enough people to pay for).  Some will be my own material while some will be in partnership with quality training and development specialists.

The second leg is writing.  Having spent 16 years working with journalists I know that I will not, in the short term, make a healthy living from writing (I am no J. K. Rowling).  But my love for writing came as a serendipitous discovery a couple of years ago, and I have been indulging myself (with your help, of course, Dear Reader) ever since. Any form of writing or editing will do, and a couple of possibilities have taken shape.

The third leg will be general consulting work in the field of people management.  There is a surprising oversupply of HR Consultants, from the highly qualified to the not so, in this small city, so I do not expect to do much here, but the other two “legs” may feed work into this area.

I am creating a website with its own blog called Simply Communicate where I hope to draw readers (and clients) to my wise words and helpful hints geared towards managers of people. Do pay a visit, but it will be a work in progress for a month or so. Although some themes are universal, the emphasis will be on the South African workplace, and managing people in the ever-changing landscape (some would call it a minefield) of this country’s labour legislation.  Personally I never complain about the legislation.  Its complexity (trying to bring order and certainty into the mess of human relations) and it’s employee-centred focus has helped provide me a good living for 16 years, and long may it continue.

With the internet, of course, writing is no longer restricted by geographic boundaries, so if you have any writing or editing to be done come 1 September 2012, do let me know, I shall have some time on my hands—not too much time, I hope.

I plan to continue this blog with its particular focus, so don’t go away.


Filed under General Writing

14 responses to “Out of work: A new venture

  1. Pingback: Clearing the Clutter: Old Words for a New Life | Wondering Preacher

  2. Just read about your new adventure. Every blessing to you and Jen as you begin this new, exciting chapter in your lives!!


    • Hey there 365. We were just chatting about you and wondering how things were. Thanks for your blessings. Exciting and terrifying, but God is good. Your 365 posts will be good reading this next year! 🙂


  3. Good for you, my friend!
    I will cheerfully add you and this grand adventure to my prayers!


  4. Ian, courage to you! I did the same, at the end of 2007. I was chairing a large Eng lit dept at an SA university and got glandular fever, probably related to burnout. I took sick leave, and then reckoned that this was my ‘calling sickness’ and resigned. With fifteen years then before statutory retirement. Within a few months came the sub-prime crash and my retirement annuity went pear-shaped. I wrote and published a few decent-ish poems, and in 2008 got my first book of fiction published, and meantime recklessly began a very small scale construction business with a bakkie and two guys. Got work in this line but closed it down after six months of craziness. Got a writing fellowship for a year in 2009 at UCT and wrote my next novel which was published in 2011. Ran out of money, drew from my RA capital, sold half my garden, did garden clearing jobs with my bakkie, taught a few classes at UCT as a stand-in, was shortlisted for chair at Rhodes and other nice things, began a ceramics studio which is now, after two years’ learning and development, about to take off. And working on next novel. And still applying for the rare vacant senior post in the Humanities in SA. It is hectic! But it is my own hectic, and at times creative in between the debt-stretching.and now also keeping care of 88-year-old mother (swopping notes with each other on Agatha Christie), and at times wondering exactly what next. At times deep despair. at times a deeper realisation that I have a new calling and it will become rapidly clearer from now on …. Courage and strength to you.


  5. Pingback: Out of work: A new venture | SImply Communicate

  6. I’ve walked the same road – I quit my secular job to become a full-time
    evangelist, but the promised support didn\’t materialise, so I had to make
    some ”benoude spronge”. I\’ve been designing websites for quite a while, and
    the Lord started sending people my way who needed sites. I discovered that
    once they had their sites, the content stayed Ipsum Lorem for ever, and that
    they were wanting me to write their content as well, which I\’m not that
    good at, and certainly not prepared to do it for free. This might be a
    fruitful opportunity for you, to collaborate with website designers. When
    they design and implement a new site, that they get you to write good
    content, or refer their clients to you for help with content. It would
    require a good general knowledge, an understanding of how effective
    communication happens on the web (no scrolling, anchors and links, use of
    colours, optimised graphics, interactive links, keeping people on your site
    instead of taking them off-site …). I found a lady who writes excellent web
    copy, and I could refer clients to you as well, as geographical location
    doesn\’t matter. I suggest you set up your own website with examples of your
    work, testimonials and links to client\’s sites, and network with website
    designers, offering your interesting content and persuasive marketing copy.
    What helped me a lot was doing free work for on-profits, which led to paying
    work through word-of-mouth referrals. Let us know how you get on! Two sites
    I\’ve worked on recently are maramaglobal.org and mediaspecialists.co.nz –
    on both of these the clients wrote their own copy! \’nuff said.

    Paul Toschi
    New Zealand


  7. Hi Ian,
    Rose just showed me your blog tonight. Just writing to wish you every blessing and prayerful wishes for you new venture. The Lord is our provider.
    Lots of love


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