5 Golden Rules For A Longer And More Vibrant Career

dreamsI’m 52, and usually the oldest guy in the room whenever I meet with colleagues or our industry more broadly. How has this happened? How have I survived and prospered in a so-called ‘young person’s industry’? Here’s the answer, in 5 simple Golden Rules. They worked for me. Will they for you?

First, not a rule. Just a reality. To survive in business and ensure your career keeps evolving and remaining relevant, you have to work on yourself as a project. You have to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Seriously. Get very serious about yourself and working on improving and developing yourself.

Here are the five Golden Rules:

1. Stay Green: If you’re green you grow. If you’re ripe you rot. As simple as that. Stay green. Be open to new learning. Develop a thirst for it. Ensure you are learning and growing every day. Take steps to make this happen. Critique your progress regularly.

2. Stay connected: Easier said than done, but I reckon I am more connected to what’s happening ‘in the street’ than most of the youngsters in my business…and we have 4,000 of them. Why? Because I read the papers, on line and off- every day. I read a lot. I read magazines on stuff I am not interested in. I go into shops I have never been in. Walk streets I have never walked. Have meals in suburbs I don’t know. Order dishes I have never had. Talk to taxi drivers. Go to the mosh pit of rock concerts. I have one of the biggest online brands of anyone in my businesand through this have a connection with a global community from which I constantly learn. And I’m the oldest guy in the room.

3. Have breakfast: Seriously. Have breakfast, three times a week, with a client, a colleague, industry contact, journalist. Give them ‘no holds barred’ time. Ask them this powerful question: “How are you?” Make it all about them. They will tell you stuff they have told no-one. You will make genuine human connections. And you will become invaluable to them. Oh- and make lifelong friendships.

4. Become a productivity ninja: Get more of the important things done every day. Work hard on improving your efficiency and effectiveness. Plan every day in advance. Make ‘to do’ lists. Prioritise them careful. Keep to those priorities as closely as you can in the cut and thrust of the day. Police your progress- every day.

5. Have a third place: Starbucks built its business on this concept. We have work. We have home. But where is your ‘Third Place’- that quiet, comforting space you can go to for a brief retreat and quiet reflection? For me, a coffee shop in North Sydney. I go there once a week. For an hour. To reflect upon how I am going, my progress and failures. How I need to sharpen my offer and accelerate the growth. How I can get more done and ensure I am working on the genuine important stuff. I always leave my Third Place with clarity of mind, a lighter step and hope in my heart.

Those are the Golden Five rules for me on giving yourself the best shot at a vibrant, opportunities-rich and rewarding career- for as long as you want to have it. Beware though- you will end up the oldest person in the room but- you know what- that’s kind of exciting too.

Do you have any other ideas on how to stay current, connected, evolving and valuable?


Having just reread this blog post, I have to laugh. Sometimes I come to realise what an odd person I am in many ways, summarised perfectly by this T-shirt I saw in New York this week (below).

big dill

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40 Responses to 5 Golden Rules For A Longer And More Vibrant Career

  1. Aryeh Sternberg April 24, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Great post Chris.

    In terms of To Do lists, have you ever heard of ‘Kanban’ or ‘Personal Kanban’ ( It is a tangent from Kaizen-style management, and created a system for To Do lists and task management, applicable for the average Joe to Agile Programmers working on severely complex projects.

    Having used this a bit, I think it could be a great tool for STW, and look forward to testing it out with my new team.

    BTW, are you free for breakfast next week?

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Thanks Aryeh- no I haven’t heard of it but will look it up for sure. Re breakfast next week- can’t do, am overseas and then Melbourne…but I’d love to catch up and will be in touch separately to do that. Chris

  2. Renee C April 24, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Great advice… thank you for sharing it.

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Pleasure Renee!

  3. Jess April 24, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Love this, Chris. Great post – thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Thanks Jess!

  4. Cobber April 24, 2013 at 10:39 am #


    Fantastic article, thank you. Some real food for thought there. The funniest thing about your posts is the timing, of course totally unrelated but the content more often than not zeroes in on my current weak spot!

    I agree totally and like you have always prided myself on point 2, time to pick up the slack on the others.

    If your ever in Perth I would love to take you to my new ‘third place’ for breakfast.


    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Thanks Cobber! I was in Perth a couple of weeks ago. I will make sure we have that breakfast next time I am there! Chris

  5. Bridget April 24, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Dear Chris
    Loved this…applies to those of us who are even older!!
    Best Wishes

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Bridget- lovely to hear from you! I hope you are well and happy. Chris

  6. Angela April 24, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Hi Chris. great article as always. Funnily enough your weekly blog is becoming my “third place”. Love your work.

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      WOW! Thanks Angela- that makes it all worthwhile! Thanks so much for the feedback. Chris

  7. Sing Ling April 24, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Hi Chris, love the post…thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      thanks Sing Ling!

  8. Adrianne April 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I’m between meetings in Milson Point and decided to go to a cafe I’ve not been to before for lunch by myself to read “lean in” which I recently downloaded to my iPad. I’ve also just booked in a mini vacation with my HSC year son to go abseiling & canyoning in the mountains on Friday and practice what I preach about pushing the envelope and getting the most out of life. Experiencing it all. Reading your latest blog post was serendipity – reinforcing what I try to do but reminding me of the importance of it. Oh – and started back with my own blog too after a few months away. Thanks Chris.

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Adrianne- appreciate the feedback and story. Chris

  9. debra spykerman April 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I love your blogs Chris. They are so simple and the words/thoughts/ideas are just so powerful. Being of the same age and always the oldest in the group, I can relate. It’s such good advice – thank you for sharing.

    Let’s have breakfast and catch up when you are next in Singapore.


    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      Will do Debra. Thanks!

  10. Russell The Love Muscle April 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Love this Possums post.
    Who needs Covey and Carnegie when we have Chris?

    • Chris Savage April 24, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      So how do i monatise then and retire?!

  11. Russell The Love Muscle April 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Add 2 more rules and then call them habits.

  12. Caro April 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    This post put a smile on my face. Ok, I’ll confess, the smile’s pretty much always there, but it made it wider and a warmth flowed through, as I couldn’t agree more.

    Green’s my favourite colour, and the iPhone & iPhone were heaven set for a learning nerd like myself, as now there’s no need for time wasting ego fueled debates on who’s right, instead you can look it up online and all benefit from the learning.

    And of course people themselves provide new insights every time you engage.

    My ‘3rd place’ has always been daily exercise of some description in the morning. It’s what helps me to thrive and set the tone for the day. It’s a de-stress, as well as an energizer and keeps me balanced. It’s as essential to my well-being as water, sleep and the ‘ch’s’ (dark chocolate, chardonnay, champagne!).

    Thanks Chris, I hope all is going well for you up in the Northern Hemisphere.

    PS: If you want any guidance about Monetizing online, give me a buzz! 😉

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Thanks Caro. Appreciate the comments! Chris

  13. Mark April 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    This is an awesome post Chris! When I first met you at a talk you gave at Microsoft (about 4 years ago) I was inspired by what you had to say back then and I’m still inspired by your wealth of knowledge and experience. Thanks for sharing.
    Your Point 2 really resonates with me:
    ” 2. Stay connected: Easier said than done, but I reckon I am more connected to what’s happening ‘in the street’ than most of the youngsters in my business…and we have 4,000 of them…. ”
    I’ve since moved on to work for and it’s been a truly amazing experience. I login everyday to our internal Facebook for business application called and it’s the way we connect. It helps bring people together, collaborate with people sitting it in office on the other side of the planet, connecting teams, sharing knowledge and best of all, reducing emails and the un-productivity that stems from it. Best of all, because it’s like Facebook, youngsters love using it!
    If you haven’t heard or seen in action, check out this video – (if you were a fan of ‘The Brady Bunch’ you’ll appreciate this video).

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks Mark. Good to hear from you. Yes I will look up ‘Chatter’. Will let you know what I think. Chris

  14. Robert April 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Chris, I agree with all the comments above.

    I enjoy and look forward to your posts and generally read them several times to try and really ‘hear’ what they say. Thanks. They make a difference.


    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      Thanks Robert. I appreciate the feedback. Sometimes I think Possums has run its course but then feedback like this motivates me to keep going. Thanks again! Chris

  15. Craig Badings April 26, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Chris as the next oldest guy in the room I’d like to add one more: Healthy mind healthy body. Make time to keep fit and eat right. Without one’s health our mental agility suffers.

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Work for me to do in that regard Craig!!

  16. Luis Garcia April 26, 2013 at 10:49 am #


    You are spot on – except that at 53, I am usually the oldest guy in the room when you are about. Just.

    Agree entirely with all five points.

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Fair enough Luis!

  17. chris April 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    “Staying green”- an absolute must!
    I’ve always regarded myself as a student of the communication industry.
    There’s always more to learn and more to understand.
    And I always enjoy talking to and discussing ideas with people who are tick brighter than I.
    Thanks Chris

    • Chris Savage April 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

      Thanks Chris!

  18. Elizabeth Clerke April 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I’ve been a fan for some time now – thanks again for some simple, powerful ideas. Much appreciated.

    • Chris Savage April 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Pleasure Elizabeth!

  19. Gordon May 1, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Only one I’d add is have an unplugged time for something a little more physical. Whether it’s running, riding, climbing, bushwalking, sailing…something that has you out in the sun taking care of the machine that provides for the upstairs. By taking in what’s around you and having that time in the moment, you allow the rest of the ‘noise’ to unclutter in the sub-concious.

    Didn’t do it for a long time and when I did, it changed so many things… What’s your unplugged time look like?


    • Chris Savage May 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Thanks Gordon. Not enough of it. But when I am in the groove, running and exercise. Otherwise, not nearly enough! Chris

  20. Zoe June 11, 2013 at 12:49 am #

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?

    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

    • Chris Savage June 11, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      That is fine Zoe.


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