The concept of retirement is something that has always bothered me. People, typically, spend many years working hard in jobs they sometimes hate to be rewarded right at the end of life in old age. At this point, they can start to enjoy life and really focus on their passions. Does this not seem a bit backward?
I have no objection to retirement… as long as it doesn’t interrupt my work.
Up to this point in my life, I have not followed a linear, straightforward career path. In reality, what I have built is nothing less than a portfolio of experiences. It is these experiences that have helped define, design, and deliver my impact in the world. Experiences that have taken me to pretty much every corner of the planet and have profoundly shaped my world view.
I do see a time in the future where CV’s will no longer be required. Companies will be asking to see your portfolio of impact and experiences. This makes much more sense to me. Humans grow through experience and ALL experiences are valid. We are but the residual of our experiences in life. It’s what makes humans special and different from pre-programmed robots. This thinking, which has accelerated recently, leads me to only one conclusion. To practice what I preach, I need to completely re-frame my view of work and how I lead my life. I want to follow my passions NOW, I want to make a targeted impact NOW, and I want to enjoy my experience in life NOW.
I like to help and support people. Whether that’s through speaking, coaching, or consulting, I find my joy when making a difference to others. How can I ever retire from that? It would be impossible to do so given my values and ambitions.
If we retire so we can spend more time on our passions then the game’s up. I’m retiring now.
Thankfully, my role as Chief Experience Officer (CEO) at the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI) is a reflection of this philosophy. I am already following my passion and my purpose. Amazing things are already happening.
As for this idea about a portfolio of experiences, I can see how this plays out in my life. Last month, the World’s most valuable company wanted to fly me out to deliver a talk to their top leaders about EX. They called me. Why? Because I’m following my purpose. I’m immersed in the experience and the potential impact I can have in the world. What do you think about your portfolio? Are you following your purpose? Are good things happening as a result? Whilst I have had many amazing moments speaking at events, coaching, and consulting with great companies, there has also been the lowlights, which I may not be readily splashing on social media. This is called life. Reality. The great philosopher, Rocky, said: ‘It aint all sunshine and rainbows,’ and I’m inclined to agree. Yet, following our purpose keeps us going and is the fuel of perpetual progress.
Experience is where my focus has been for a long while now and I already feel much more comfortable about the long-term as I collect experiences, moments, and memories. WEEI is a small and independent employee experience company. We are building an action-based community- light on our feet and quick to respond to the needs of our clients. Advocates and allies for EX, we will never be or feel like a big company- as a practitioner of +15 years, I have an in-built need to stay close to where the action is and that’s the way we work with clients – as colleagues, not consultants.
My purpose is to help people and organisations to be at their best and have no regrets. The best way to do that, in my view, is through the EX. Work continues to play such an important role in our lives and people spend so much time in work- we must make the most of the experience as employers and employees. WEEI was founded as a community in Shanghai, and from 2018 has been incorporated in the UK. What I’ve found on my personal journey is that starting a business is very different from being an employee! It has been a fast and steep learning curve. I think the biggest thing is mindset. The transition from working within a company to running your own is a challenging one.
I can understand why most small businesses don’t last. There is so much to learn, so many things to consider, and many challenges to deal with. If your mindset isn’t right then it it’s even tougher. It’s even harder if you don’t have a truly compelling purpose and mission behind you. I’m thankful that, for me, these have been rock solid since I started in the HR profession.
I have seen people and companies pivot into EX. Some of them have already pivoted to something else. Others have gone back to familiar ground. That’s not for me. In my view, there is nothing else to move onto. Experience was, is and will always be with us. People were talking about EX as a fad in the early days, but not so much now. This isn’t some flaky management concept- it is something every human can connect with. In 2014/15, there were only a handful of people around the world speaking on conference stages about EX- I’m proud of the fact that I was one of them. EX will never go away. The key now is about business leaders getting the knowledge, skills, and mindset to operate effectively in this ‘experience economy’.
That’s a big challenge. I believe every employee should have a positive experience in work.
It’s good for people and great for business.
Now I’ve officially ‘retired’ to pursue my passion, I look forward to working with many more of you around the world.
Experience is Everything.
Ben Whitter is the Founder and Chief Experience Officer of the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI) and is recognised as one of the World's leading figures within the field of employee experience.
From ambitious high-growth companies to leading multinational brands, Ben is an in-demand EX advisor, executive coach and keynote speaker helping companies to establish or elevate business performance through a positive employee experience.
Ben has delivered keynotes on EX in over 15 countries. His work has reached 16 million people to date and has been referenced by Forbes, Deloitte University Press, MIT Sloan, Hays Journal, and Thomson Reuters.
To work with Ben, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org