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Tea Leaf: There comes a time

Published: Thursday, April 5 2012 3:12 p.m. MDT

There comes a time...

…when a significant career shift is warranted.

…when it is time to spend more time smelling the roses.

…when it is time to spend more time with your family. (My family includes Lynnette, my beautiful bride and partner of 27 years; four daughters and two sons; and 13 grandchildren.)

…when it is time to spend more time working on a frustrating golf game.

…when it is time to contemplate writing a fifth book.

…when it is time to sleep in more often…or get up earlier. (Personally, I favor the first option.)

…when it is time to stay up later on occasion…and not worry about an early-morning meeting or conference call.

…when it is time for me to actually finish a screenplay I have been working on for the past five years.

…when it is time to see more of the world…and sometimes just taking the time to expand one’s horizon and appreciation of history.

…when it is time to spend more time reading, painting, working out and doing things that have perhaps no real value other than pure enjoyment.

No, I am not retiring from professional speaking.

…I never plan to do so.

No, I am not planning to conclude my 16 years of service to the $52 billion Zions Bancorporation.

…one of the most highly regarded commercial banking enterprises in the nation, with banks in 10 states. I hope to serve as economic consultant to banks in four of the bank's states for as long as they find me useful… (OK, no wise cracks!)

A change

What I am doing (for those few who might actually care) is giving up control of the professional speaking portion of what I do…and allowing true professionals to handle it. They will handle all the paperwork, the expense billings, the sales process and the occasional “hassle.” Awesome!

When frequent inquiries to speak come into the office via telephone or email, the vast majority will be forwarded to my management team at San Diego-based SpeakersOffice, Inc. We will still maintain contact with a few select national clients, as well as handling inquiries for more “local” presentations.

Change for the better

After eight months of discussion, I am very fortunate to have accepted an invitation to join SpeakersOffice, Inc., considered by many to be the top business speaker management firm. The company's website is www.speakersoffice.com.

I will be SpeakersOffice's 14th speaker…and the only economist. I can truly say that of the top 10 “business topic” speakers who I am aware of, a majority is part of this team.

Looking forward

I have reached the ripe old age of 61. Both of my parents passed away last year. Such events do force one to consider health, longevity and priorities.

I have without doubt bored my wife, bored my adult kids and bored anyone else who might listen in recent years with what I consider three powerful truths about life as one gets older.

I believe the first truth was attributed to actor Warren Beatty. It suggests that when one cannot distinguish what one does for a living as being either work or play. That is a form of success.

I believe the second truth to be from an outstanding business consultant, professional speaker, coach and all-around extremely smart guy named Alan Weiss. He, also in his 60s, suggested that the greatest sign of wealth as one gets older is not money…but free time. I will definitely have more of the latter, if not much of the first (that six-kid reality quickly comes to mind).

The final truth, used so often but so powerful, is something like “no one ever laid on his death bed wishing they had spent more time in the office.”

Powerful statements all.

More Lynnette

One other significant change in the office I have shared with my wife for years is a greater focus of her skills as a pop violinist, recording artist and entertainer. She is now working on her fourth CD, this one with music she has written.

Her website is www.lynnette.com. Her first three CDs were co-produced by Mannheim Steamroller’s Chuck Penington, who has also written some of her music.

I have always told my speaking clients that if they liked me as an economist and professional speaker, then they love her talent, her range of music, her charisma on stage and her passion.

We have had an arrangement in recent years. I make her listen to me speak once in a while (for example, last week in Orlando and the prior week in Seattle).

In exchange, I get to hear her perform every chance I can, no matter where it might be. (OK, Paris two years ago was a bit far). I am hoping she might let me have a small corner in what will now primarily be her office.

We will still fill a number of slots as speaker and entertainment at the same national or international conventions. Hint: discounted combined fees, lesser travel and lodging costs. Where useful, please stick that in the back of your minds.

Less Jeff

I will still need a professional office. I will continue to write my economic and financial newsletter, the Tea Leaf, now in its 37th year as a weekly publication. (It scares me every time I say that.)

We will still research and produce a proprietary monthly small business index in a variety of states for our banking clients. We will still research and produce a quarterly publication for the customers and potential customers of our major banking clients.

We will still be available to the local, regional and national media for statements, quotes and whatever it is that some people find of value from an economist. I will still serve on five select national forecasting panels. And yes, I and other economists will still make excuses for when those forecasts are most often wrong.

And then there’s Taylor

Our youngest daughter, Taylor, now 20 years of age and a senior at a local university, will continue to “run” the office. She has been doing so for two years. Her best friend, Lisa, will also continue to be of service. Many thanks also to our son, Shawn, who worked with us for six years and Lynnette’s brother, Kendall, who ran the show for eight years.

One more time: I’m still available as a speaker and as an economist. As they say, only the names have changed.

There comes a time.

Jeff is the only economist to have earned the CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) international designation, the highest earned designation in professional speaking. He is also economic consultant to Zions Bank.

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