Financial Planning | Leadership / Management

Every man for himself? Hardly.

Romasco The business-survival mentality of the recession thus far seems to be "every man for himself." Our natural instinct in turbulent times leans toward self-preservation, so we turn our gaze inward and try to do the things that will ensure our own financial stability.

And that's fine, as long as we don't miss the chaos that has engulfed the lives of those we serve.

Consider this: Fully half of the AARP's members now work. That's according Robert Romasco, secretary / treasurer of AARP's Board of Directors, who outlined the changing needs of the group's members at the recent DigitalNow Conference in Orlando. (Romasco is pictured above at left with keynote speaker Clay Shirky). The numbers have changed so dramatically that the group no longer refers to itself as the American Association of Retired Persons; it's known simply as the AARP.

The notion of workers delaying retirement is nothing new. Mitch Anthony has called it "the new retirementality" -- the idea that if you enjoy your work, why not keep working?

The difference here, according to Romasco, is that today, many of the AARP's members are continuing to work because they can't afford to retire.

Then there's this: One of the fastest growing demographics in America today is made up of those 85 years of age and older. If you're 60, Romasco said, you have a one-in-three chance of living until you're 90.

Put those things together -- an aging population that continues to work well past retirement age -- and you have a situation that impacts every part of an AARP member's life ... health care, Social Security, financial planning, to name just a few.

"The needs of our members have changed dramatically," Romasco told the DigitalNow audience. "We've never seen days like this."

The point is this: Take care of ourselves? By all means. We can't serve others if we cease to exist. That's why the airlines tell us to put on our own air masks first.

But let's not lose sight of our mission. We're all here to serve others -- members, clients, customers, whomever. Fixing our own financial problems means nothing if we don't help those we serve fix their problems, too. The moment our efforts at self-preservation impede our ability to serve others, we've gone too far.

Learn more at the Expo
The 2009 Maryland Business and Accounting Expo, slated for June 16-17 at the Baltimore Convention Center, will offer lots of recession-survival tips and ideas for how we can better serve our customers in turbulent times. Get complete details and register here.

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Bill Sheridan