Which is going to last longer; your job, your personal brand, or your life?

Although your retirement may be decades away, it’s not too early to think about how long your personal brand will continue to serve you.

The importance of long-term personal branding is especially important because of the increased life expectancy you can probably look forward to coupled with the fragility of jobs and careers in today’s fast-moving world.

Have you considered the possibility you may outlive your personal brand?

That leads to two important questions:

  • What would it mean to be “brand-less” after your working career is over?
  • What are you doing now, and what can you do now, to work towards a lifetime brand?

The questions are especially important since research indicates a close correlation between mental activity, i.e., challenges, stimulation, productivity, satisfaction, and an individual’s physical health.

Going strong at 75

The questions occurred to me after I read a recent Seattle Times article, Seattle Jazz Broadcaster Reaching Fans Around World.

The article profiled Jim Wilke, who, for over 30 years, has been a leading figure in the Seattle jazz community, and beyond. His Jazz After Hours program reaches jazz lovers around the world through over 70 public radio stations and the Internet.

Jim Wilke recently celebrated his 75th birthday. At a time when many have retired, Jim is as active as ever:

  • Sharing his love of jazz
  • Recording jazz performances at festivals and local venues
  • Producing and recording several hours of radio programming each week
  • MC’ing jazz events

At an age when post-retirement creates health problems associated with isolation and loneliness, Jim’s calendar is filled and his inbox contains interactions and stories of his listener’s reactions to his programs. (See the listener comments on his website and the comments readers added to the Seattle Times profile.)

Most important takeaway in the article:  “No Retirement Plans”

What does Jim’s story have to do about writing?

Jim Wilke’s story is important because the challenges and satisfactions he enjoys (recording concerts, discovering new talent, creating engaging programs) are the same types of challenges and satisfaction that writing offers you!

Nobody can “fire” Jim Wilke, just like no one can “fire” an author who continues to find challenge and satisfaction from writing.

Challenge, passion, and satisfaction can help keep you healthy…if you have created a way to remain engaged in what you love and–most important–and have developed a brand and a platform to share your passion with others who share your interests.

A lot of Jim Wilke’s current satisfaction comes from current technology, i.e., personal computers and the Internet.  These tools will continue to be available to you, if you cultivate a brand and a passion to share.

It’s never too early to plan ahead

No matter how busy you are this week, I encourage you to devote a few minutes to think ahead and ask yourself, “What’s the personal brand I want to have on my 75th birthday?” and “What can I do today to pave the way to a strong personal brand at 75?” I wish you the best.


Roger C. Parker wants to help you write to build your personal brand. Start by downloading his free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Start to Write and ask your questions about getting started writing for personal branding success.