Staying Fresh in Consulting; Every Product Has a Sell-By Date.

by Joe

Age discrimination may be illegal but age is still a reality. Most consultant’s primary product is THEM.  What is the expiration date on THEM?

In sports we all agree “father time is undefeated”…. We may be an outlier such as Peyton Manning but even Peyton will someday transition to another realm of work. 


Stay in good health and stay fit. Don’t need to look and act like your thirty which usually makes us look even older. But be in reasonably good shape for your age. Primarily to bring energy to the table. 

Stay relevant in whatever field you are in. Unlike the medical, CPA and legal realm independent consultants seldom are required to take courses and test in them. So, we must be driven from within to not only stay current but rise above the norm in our fields of expertise. 

Example. In China people don’t want to know what we saw and experienced in China or where we were or how often we visited  but when were we there last and how broadly have we gained exposure. What levels of exposure and how deeply we are experienced. No place in the world changes more rapidly than China! 

Clients ask discreetly about our age. 

“How sustainable is your work?”

“What are your transition plans?” 

Instead of feeling like you’ve been carded at the bar, you should take these questions as complements. It means your customers value YOUR contributions and they want you to continue to make them while you still have energy and all your marbles.  

Be honest. No one is forever. Also, as the competent professional that you are, you should be able to look forward to a time when you don’t need to work. Rather, strive to provide the best possible work at the best rate you can earn for as long as you are still providing good value to your clients.

My response is basically “I could retire and be fine. My wife might even be happy, but I enjoy working. Have worked since I was 16 and it is a habit I’m not eager to break. As long as I can be effective and relevant I have no plans to quit.”  

What contingency plans can we offer should something unexpected arise?  We should know and be able to articulate what these are: Poor health, health of a spouse requiring our attention, a sudden change in the political environment where we work, etc.  

Word 4 Asia encourages our clients to think in terms of three year initiatives and we promise that we can fulfill these with or without my personal presence. We have a team which can sustain any project(s) for that duration of time in place. 

Furthermore almost all our contracts are one year in duration. This provides a time for evaluation and off ramps if necessary. 

We cannot deny mortality. We should also be conversant with the norms for Boomer retirement.  Most all say they wish to work forever or at least until full retirement age, which is 67.  However, only a small percentage actually do. We should know why this is the case and make sure we’re honest with ourselves and upfront with our clients. Let’s keep living in the real world. 

Consultants who advise others must demonstrate wisdom in their own work and lives. That single factor may be our best sales presentation.

Need a little more inspiration, check out this wonderful Ted talk by boomer, Tom Hering, “How I Became an Entrepreneur at 66”. At 64, Tom was shown the door by his employer who felt he’d ‘aged out’. Two years later, he was the founder of a successful company, his passion project that turns industrial waste into packaging.
Click the link to view Tom Hering’s Ted talk.

What are your thoughts on remaining vital in your career, even as time continues to march forward? I’d enjoy the conversation. And, as always, if your organization’s plans include. expansion in China, perhaps you should contact us. Our large network, and more than twenty years of practical experience might be just the advantage you need to succeed! I can be reached at

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