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Life Reboots At 45 (But Should You Climb Higher)?

Rob Ryan
Rob Ryan

The seeds for this blog were planted during a recent phone conversation with Rob Ryan, founder of GrowthHax. More seeds were planted during a TruMethods conference (you know: Schnizzfest 2016) keynote, delivered on June by 11 Vinh Giang, an entrepreneur and magician.

And in some ways, some of the roots for this blog stretch back to this entry: Surviving a Mid-life Jog and the Road Ahead, which I penned in September 2014. That blog explained much of my personal and professional journey up to age 44. And yes, I couldn't ignore the fact that my brother-in-law -- one of the best people I had ever known -- had died from cancer when he was 44. For that reason, in my mind reaching age 45 (and every day after) has been a bonus... an opportunity to move forward in new ways.

About two weeks ago, Rob Ryan mentioned his own mid-life journey to me.

You likely know about his previous leadership and entrepreneurial roles at more than a half-dozen companies (HEROware, TeamLogic IT and CentraStage come to mind). But like many entrepreneurs after a company sale, Rob took a hard look in the mirror at age 45 and asked himself a very literal question: What exactly does he want to do with his life from ages 45 to 65 -- potentially the most important chapter yet.

Another 'Hero's Journey?'

Frankly, Ryan was looking to embark on a Hero's Journey -- a term that masterIT CEO J. Michael Drake had shared with me last year. Basically, A Hero's Journey describes a person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of a group, tribe or civilization. (Example: Luke leaves a desert farm to join the Rebellion and defeat the Empire.)

masterIT CEO Michael Drake

Check Drake's background and you'll discover he's on a Hero's Journey serving the community in Memphis, Tenn. Shift your focus to Rob Ryan, and you'll see that his Hero's Journey is just starting to reveal itself. Part of it likely involves The Refresh Button, a stealth-mode storytelling content platform and community for entrepreneurs, business owners and executives. Another piece of the journey involves Ryan's daily #mystory entries on Facebook.

The journey doesn't end there. Ryan's greatest "business" focus these days likely involves GrowthHax. which I previously described as an on-demand business coaching system. Frankly, that description isn't quite right. GrowthHax is more of a knowledge sharing system. Leveraging a community  platform, experts with spare cycles offer guidance to folks who crave knowledge in specific subject areas.

GrowthHax isn't about giving MSP and VAR coaches a new way to pitch their services. Instead, it's a place where doctors, lawyers, professors, electricians -- folks from all walks of life -- can share their knowledge and guidance with those who crave it (for a fee, of course).

How High Should Rob (And the Rest of Us) Climb?

No doubt, Ryan is enjoying the journey as he builds GrowthHax. He's also working hard to build a "trustworthy, global network, so you don't have to." That requires a lot of time speaking with potential mentors, coaches and advisors before they potentially plug into the system.

It all sounds very promising. And exciting. And quite frankly, it also sounds like it could get expensive. Developing an online community takes plenty of vision and execution -- oh, and custom software code. And that's not cheap.

So how high does Ryan want to climb? Just how much does he want to invest in the platform and this latest journey? That's a question only Ryan can answer.

It's also a question all of us face on our individual journeys.

Success vs. Sacrifice: Writing Your Life's Legacy

The more success Ryan pursues the more sacrifices he'll need to make. That wise line comes from Vinh Giang, an entrepreneur and magician who keynoted TruMethods' Schnizzfest this past weekend in Philadelphia. (Admittedly, Giang is likely a decade or more away from reaching his 45th birthday. But we couldn't keep his messages out of this blog.)

Giang wasn't referring directly to Ryan. Instead, he was pointing to himself -- and to all of us. Giang already is an incredibly successful entrepreneur. But an audience member wanted to know how much higher Giang planned to climb.

Giang's shockingly honest answer: Not much higher. The pursuit of success, he explained, requires many sacrifices. And the next round of sacrifices would involve Giang's time with his own family. At this point, it sounds like he's not willing to make those sacrifices.

Preview Your Final Day, Then Press Rewind

Vinh Giang

As you continue your own Hero's Journey as an entrepreneur, Giang suggests reverse-engineering the story. Start at the end. What exactly, he asked, do you want your life's legacy to be? Next, start drawing a map that puts you on a course toward that legacy.

The advice sounded remarkably familiar. After all, HTG Peer Groups shows entrepreneurs how to focus on legacy planning. A lot of the conversation has upside. But HTG doesn't sugar coat the conversation -- telling MSPs and partners that they must also prepare for the four D's (death, divorce, disability, disagreements).

The four D's sound like a downer. But sometimes when you look in the mirror and deal with your mortality, you find the courage to march forward in a new way... Beginning a new Hero's Journey at age 45... or any age that suits you.

Onward. Upward. How high? Only you can strike the right personal balance between success and sacrifice.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.