Mark Ross – Next Thing Group LLC / MBA, ACC
Encorepreneur; Thought Partner /Coach, Facilitator, Speaker, Artist
After a 30-year career in leadership and public service, Mark longed to start a new chapter. He ultimately worked with a coach to help determine his Next Thing. Now he helps others discover their Next Thing as they move into a new season as an Encore-preneur: enjoying the freedom to pursue the life, work and relationships that matter most. In addition to private clients who are navigating transitions, Mark also serves as a Team Host with the Rock Retirement Club and as a Strategic Coach with The REALIFE Process.
Mark lives in Texas with his wife, and is the proud father of two grown daughters. One of his deepest joys is to create art; “visual music to inspire the world” through expressionistic paintings, which is an important part of his Next Thing.
My Path to Becoming an Encore Leader
A Necessary Ending
When my brother and I were growing up, our dad was an executive with a large energy corporation. He reminded us often;” If you want to get ahead in your career, develop your people skills.” So, I did and it proved to be true. I had been serving in progressive leadership roles throughout my career in public parks development for a major U.S. city. Interestingly, I was what some may call, a reluctant strong leader. Being a happy follower was fine with me but when placed in charge, I could get the job done. And that’s exactly what I did for many years. But as time marched on, the responsibilities became heavier and I just wanted relief from the increasing demands of organizational leadership.
In my mid-fifties I was feeling the itch to do something new. My self-talk went something like this; “What’s next for me? Can I really do something different at this point? Oh, this discontent will pass and all will be well.” But the unrest grew stronger like a smoldering fire that wouldn’t go away. After seeking counsel from trusted advisors and working with an executive coach, it became clear. What was needed was a necessary ending. I didn’t jump ship right away, but planned a strategic exit. This didn’t happen overnight. It actually zigged and zagged for several years. Finally, after two false attempts, the third target date was just right. I “retired” from a 30-year career at the end of December 2015. I was 59.
The Messy Middle
Although I had a plan for both the financial and the non-financial aspects of this next season, the implementation had some surprises. While I thought I would end one season and begin a new one, I soon discovered that’s not the way it necessarily works. I had retired from the heavy responsibilities of leadership in my former employment but I still had the need to lead. This was frustrating at first, but I began to think of new ways I could lead that were a much better fit for this new season of life. While I was no longer responsible for the organizational results, I still had plenty of desire to contribute and support leaders who were still on the “inside.” But how?
A couple of years prior to my necessary ending, I joined a mastermind group. This was a collection of growth mindset business owners, entrepreneurs and executives with an eye on transitioning into new opportunities. This has been foundational for relationship building and has evolved into amazing opportunities over the years since my exit from my former career. Nevertheless, it took about three years of living in “the land in-between” to gain clarity and momentum to find and create new ways to lead.
A New Beginning
Today I’m engaged in Encore Leadership. I support leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners who appreciate the value of having a thought partner (professional coaching) as they navigate transitions in their life and work. My approach is through the lens of an Encore-preneur; Embracing the freedom to pursue the life, work and relationships that matter most. I also integrate my work with private clients, group facilitation, collaborative partnerships and visual art.
As an Encore Leader I am positioned to work with leaders throughout the country and in other parts of the world. As we work together in partnership, their influence as leaders as well as mine continues to grow.
GUIDANCE for Becoming an Encore Leader
Three Main Phases:
- Explore Your Encore- You are zeroing in on a plan to fund your encore.
Introspection- Look within for a fresh (or first time) encounter with your values, needs, strengths, aptitudes, interests, personality style, skills and experience. The more you know about what makes you “tick”, the better.
Direction- Determine an initial path you want to explore, begin taking steps in that direction and adjust accordingly. In other words, keep at it! Action fosters clarity.
- Launch Your Encore- Be patient with yourself. This may take longer than you think it should.
Experimentation- Take a deeper dive into the path(s) that interests you most and make progress. Learn, grow and keep going.
Iteration- Make little (or big) pivots along the journey. This is normal.
- Advance Your Encore- You are making progress but now it’s time to take it to the next level.
Reflection- Who am I now? What energizes me most? What brings joy to my life? Where do I want to go next? What do I want to stop doing?
Refinement- Experience is a great teacher. By now, you have likely learned how to continue the process of exploring, launching and advancing new phases of your encore.
Obviously, life is not a straight line and neither is pursuing your Encore. The journey is unique for each of us. Significant transitions often begin with a necessary ending then move into the messy middle and ultimately take shape as a new beginning. If you enjoy leadership but want to serve in a new way, perhaps Encore Leadership is right for you. All the best in your journey!