Retirement Planning: Why Gen Xers Must Understand Marketing

Marketing as Gen X's Path to Relevant, Passionate Work as Storytellers and Toolmakers

Let’s talk about marketing and why it is THE most important skill for you to have in your offensive retirement portfolio.



Let me explain.

It all starts with a quote I overheard on a podcast…

“We are all just storytellers and toolmakers.”

It made me look at the meaning of work in a whole new light.

It's more than just a catchy sentence; it's a new lens through which to view the meaning of work. It's about the essence of being of service to others and finding ways to make a living from it.

Here's why this matters, especially in the context of marketing.

We = Modern Storytellers and Toolmakers

Understanding that we are storytellers and toolmakers gives our work purpose and meaning.

  1. We encounter problems.

  2. Then, we build or use tools to help us solve those problems.

  3. And then tell stories about how we solved those problems to help others.

This process is at the heart of marketing. But to get paid for it, you've got to be able to communicate your value effectively.

And THAT is where marketing comes in.

The Role of Marketing

Marketing, in a nutshell, is the advanced form of storytelling and tool-building for our age. It's the intersection of our primal instincts and the modern marketplace.

Let me break it down for you:

  1. Personal Branding as a Career Asset: In today's world, your personal brand is as vital as your professional qualifications. Marketing is key to building a unique identity and standing out.

  2. Networking Power: Marketing skills amplify your ability to communicate value, both online and offline, essential for forging valuable connections.

  3. Digital Proficiency: In the era of digital platforms, digital marketing savvy is not just an asset; it's a necessity.

  4. Adaptability in a Gig Economy: In the gig economy, marketing oneself effectively is key to success.

  5. Leveraging Social Media: Social media, a powerful tool, needs a marketing mindset to maximize its potential for personal and professional growth.

  6. Storytelling as a Persuasive Tool: Marketing is storytelling at its core, a powerful way to persuade potential employers or clients.

  7. Keeping Pace with Changing Job Markets: Marketing helps you stay relevant and showcase continuous learning.

  8. Entrepreneurial Ventures: Marketing is indispensable for anyone looking to start their own business.

  9. Enhanced Communication Skills: Marketing involves clear, persuasive communication, invaluable in various professional scenarios.

  10. Reflects Self-Understanding: Effective marketing starts with knowing yourself - your strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling points.

Now, let's tie this back to you.

Applying Marketing to Your Skills

How can you apply these marketing principles to your existing skills?

Let's start with some real-life examples of how some friends and I encountered problems, built or used tools to solve them, and then told our story to help others.

Example 1: The Google Ads Guy (me)

  • Problem: Getting people to my website

  • Tool: Google Ads

  • Story: I was having a hard time getting visitors to my website, so I learned to use Google Ads. Now I get paid to help other business owners get visitors to their website with Google Ads.

Example 2: The Vacation Rental Guy

Here’s my friend who “retired” from his middle management position at a Fortune 500 company to start a vacation rental management business.

  • Problem: Managing vacation rentals takes a lot of time

  • Tool: A system he designed to help streamline everything from staging to booking to cleaning.

  • Story: My friend’s Airbnb was taking way too much time to manage, so he figured out how to streamline the entire process. Now, he gets paid to help other vacation rental owners manage their properties.

Example 3: The Painting Guy

And one more example for those of you who feel the need to work with your hands…

I have a friend who “retired” from his 3rd shift factory job to start his own painting business.

  • Problem: Walls don’t paint themselves.

  • Tools: Ladders, brushes, and a strong work ethic.

  • Story: My friend is a homeowner and loves doing work around the house, like painting. Now, he gets paid to help other home and property owners keep a fresh coat of paint on their walls.

The great thing is that you can either make the tool, use someone else’s tool to solve problems, or both.

Now, it's your turn.

Lab Time

Swing over to ChatGPT and paste this prompt to discover how you can transform your skills into marketing opportunities:

AI Prompt for Aligning Skills with Marketing Opportunities

"Hello AI, I am a Gen X professional keen on integrating my skills into effective marketing opportunities using the problem, tool, and story framework. Here's a snapshot of my background:

**Professional Experience:** [Briefly describe your past jobs, roles, or industries you've worked in.]

**Key Skills and Strengths:** [List your major skills, strengths, and any unique abilities you possess.]

**Problems Solved:** [Describe significant problems you've solved in your career or personal life.]

**Tools or Systems Created:** [Mention any tools, systems, or processes you've developed or significantly improved.]

**Passions and Interests:** [Share your passions, interests, or sectors you are enthusiastic about.]

Based on this information, can you assist me in:

1. **Identifying Marketable Problems:** Pinpointing problems that I've solved, which are relatable and have market potential.
2. **Tool Development Opportunities:** Assessing how my skills can be used to create or improve tools or systems that address these problems.
3. **Crafting Compelling Stories:** Formulating stories that effectively communicate how I've solved these problems using specific tools or systems, which can engage and inspire potential clients or employers.
4. **Aligning Skills with Market Needs:** Offering suggestions on how my unique skill set and interests can align with current marketing trends and demands.

I'm looking for practical strategies to leverage my background in a marketing-centric career or business venture, focusing on the problem, tool, and story approach. Thank you!"

Here’s what I got…

(for the record, it's kind of long, so you don’t have to read the whole thing. Just wanted to share).

Based on your extensive background and the information provided, here's a structured approach to align your skills with marketing opportunities using the problem, tool, and story framework:

### 1. Identifying Marketable Problems:

Problem 1: Mid-career stagnation and the desire for a more fulfilling, autonomous professional life.

- Market Potential: Many Gen X professionals feel stuck in traditional jobs and are seeking ways to reinvent their careers, especially with the rise of digital opportunities.

Problem 2: Difficulty in leveraging digital marketing and AI for effective lead generation and business growth.

- Market Potential: Small business owners and B2B sales/marketing managers often struggle to keep up with digital marketing trends and tools, including AI integration.

Problem 3: Inadequate retirement planning focusing solely on savings rather than skill development and multiple income streams.

- Market Potential: There's a growing awareness among professionals about the limitations of traditional retirement planning and the need for alternative strategies.

### 2. Tool Development Opportunities:

Tool 1: A comprehensive online course or coaching program for mid-career professionals focusing on career reinvention and leveraging digital skills.

- Your Skills: Your personal journey, internet marketing expertise, and understanding of Gen X culture.

Tool 2: AI-integrated digital marketing solutions tailored for small businesses and B2B sectors.

- Your Skills: Your proficiency in Google Ads, AI, and experience in various B2B niches.

Tool 3: A retirement planning toolkit focusing on skill development, freelancing, and creating multiple income streams.

- Your Skills: Your experience in transitioning careers and building a successful freelance business.

### 3. Crafting Compelling Stories:

Story 1: Narrate your journey from a blue-collar worker to a successful freelancer and business owner, highlighting the challenges and breakthrough moments. This story can inspire mid-career professionals to embrace change and pursue their passions.

Story 2: Share success stories of businesses you've helped transform through your AI-integrated marketing strategies. Focus on specific challenges, the solutions you implemented, and the tangible results achieved.

Story 3: Discuss your personal approach to retirement planning, contrasting traditional methods with your strategy of skill development and income diversification. Include real-life examples of how this approach has brought you and others financial stability and peace of mind.

### 4. Aligning Skills with Market Needs:

- Leverage Personal Development and Storytelling: Your journey is inspiring. Use storytelling in your marketing to connect with your audience on a personal level. Podcasts, webinars, and social media are great platforms for this.

- Focus on AI and Digital Marketing Trends: Stay ahead in your field by continuously learning about AI and digital marketing. Offer webinars or write articles/blogs to share your insights, establishing yourself as a thought leader.

- Networking and Community Building: Use your love for NFL, music, and marketing to build a community. Host events or online forums where like-minded individuals can connect and learn from each other.

- Tailored Solutions for B2B and Small Businesses: Develop and market bespoke solutions for the niches you've worked with, using case studies to demonstrate your understanding of their unique challenges and how you can solve them.

- Content Marketing: Regularly produce content for your blog and social media channels, focusing on your areas of expertise like Google Ads, AI in business, and career reinvention. This will attract B2B sales and marketing managers, generating leads for your consulting business.

Not bad!


Remember, marketing isn't just a business tool; it's a way of storytelling.

When you understand how to use it to share your knowledge and help others, you're not just future-proofing your career; you're taking it to the next level while doing something you love doing.

And who needs to retire when you have all that?

It Might Get Loud

Here’s the first thing that popped into my mind when I was thinking about how to marry music with this storytelling and toolmaking shtick.

It’s the opening scene of the documentary “It Might Get Loud”.

Jack White shows us that with a bit of imagination, you don’t need to buy a guitar if you want to make music. You could just make one out of the junk.

Problem: no musical instrument

Tools: a hammer, some nails, some wire, and a guitar amp.

Story: I’ll let the video take it from here… press play.

Talk about a hook? When I first watched this documentary, there was no way I wasn’t watching the rest.

Check it out when you get a chance. It’s a great flick.

Until then, go try out the ChatGPT prompt above and see what get.

Have a good one,


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