Michael Gates Gill, son of privilege and New York society insider, was the very model of what moms want their sons to become until he was eased off the corporate merry-go-round at 53.
Yale graduate, member of Skull & Bones, Executive vice president at J. Walter Thompson on major accounts, children going on to college, all was going well until the new owners of JWT decided that he didn’t fit the lean, mean, hard-charging image they wanted to project.
As many others have done, he went into business for himself and even wrote a book about it. But, ten years later, his life as an entrepreneur had collapsed, an ill-advised affair left him at a new low point in his life, and he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
While sitting in Starbucks painfully going through the motions of contacting prospective clients, a chance encounter with Manager Crystal Thompson gave Michael a new start in life.
On the way to his personal and financial redemption, he learns to clean toilets, run a cash register, and become a coffee master. None of this was easy and he made plenty of mistakes along the way as he recounts in his essay in the Sept/Oct 2007 AARP magazine.
I haven’t read the book and I am writing this only to illustrate that this is an increasingly common career situation and that personal redemption is possible with enough work and persistence.
His story also illustrates that it may take more than one attempt to recover from a massive career dislocation. His earlier book about his entrepreneurial experiences was called "Fired Up!: The Proven Principles of Successful Entrepreneurs".
It seems that he may not have covered all of the essentials, as his consulting practice eventually dwindled and he had to regroup and start again.
From what I have read in the AARP article, it appears that this time he has made some significant changes in his approach to life and that may make the difference in his latest career(s).
I wish him well.