This week’s riff: 11 years ago, I was struggling to plan my future after deciding to leave my role at Boots the Chemists. I was considering various options, including taking another corporate role, joining a management consultancy firm, teaching, becoming a university lecturer, creating my own consulting business and opening a tea shop.

Well, maybe not the last option, but the list was long and confusing and I had no real idea what to do next. Thankfully, Alex Gourlay, my mentor at the time and now the COO of Walgreens, gave me access to his own executive coach, who, at our first meeting, asked me this question: “Stuart, what would your 70-year old self advise you to do?

At that point, everything became clear. All my concerns about salary slips, job security and perceived status fell away, and I knew that what I really wanted to do was start my own consulting business. And I set to work immeditately.

I still use the same question today when facing a big decision (although I now seem to be asking my 80-year old self!). Looking at decisions from this distance removes all the heat and noise of the short-term minor details so that you can focus on what’s really important.

What big decisions are you facing right now? And what would your 70-year old self advise you to do?


Off The Record: When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles

Give me your answer, fill in a form

Mine for evermore

Will you still need me, will you still feed me

When I’m sixty-four?


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.