This Foreword by Chip Conley is from the book “Next For Me: A Guide to Change for Everybody” from the founders of Next For Me.
I first met Jeff Tidwell in 2001 when I was presiding over my boutique hotel company, Joie de Vivre in San Francisco. Jeff sent an email from Kauai, where he was operating a bed and breakfast. He had read my first book “The Rebel Rules” and sent kind words on how the book inspired him and his new company “Aloha Dude” and asked if I would like to be an advisor to his company. I liked his chutzpah and how he was crafting a brand for a small property, so I said yes.
Some 15 years later, I was finishing up my official tenure at Airbnb in October of 2017 as the in-house mentor to CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky. The experience being a Boomer in the Millennial start-up world inspired a next level awakening for me. During my four year tenure there as the Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, I was as much a mentee as I was a mentor.
Jeff showed up in San Francisco around that time and was preparing for a talk at The TechInclusion Conference, and wanted to run his talk by me. He arrived and told me the talk was about being gay and 60 in tech. It was his statement to the world about what he was facing in the workplace.
There was a moment of serendipitous alignment and much to his surprise I updated him on my experience at Airbnb. I told him I would be publishing my next book “Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder.” The book was a testament to how intergenerational collaboration was a powerful tool and imperative for the businesses of our time.
And most exciting of all, I showed him drone footage of a beachfront campus we were building in southern Baja (Mexico) called the “Modern Elder Academy”, where midlife folks could retreat, find inspiration, and ponder what’s next for them.
Jeff told me about an idea he had around a wisdom exchange under the brand Next For Me. I encouraged him to take the first step forward. We had some back and forth to get more specific about the startup strategy. There was enough to go on for me to get behind his ideas. Without hesitation, I invested and became an advisor.
He joined up with his longtime colleagues Carole McManus as Editor-in Chief and Drew Domkus leading the media production side, as co-founders. They comprise a well-tuned, “we’ve been here before” operation and what I love and support is that they always seem to be having fun while doing it.
In this guidebook you won’t find the traditional business writing or formulas. In fact the techniques they applied to their business are now presented here as a guide to create your own path to change. Carole and Jeff wear their hearts and minds on their sleeves within these pages. They genuinely care about the kind of business and culture they’re building. They care that the people they work with share their values and principles. They care that what they put out in the world is thoughtful and kind.
The fun tricks and tips in the middle of the book are ways to look at your career and life in a new light or a sometimes necessary fresh perspective. They pulled in an exercise from the Modern Elder Academy too: by using pattern recognition you might find yourself in a very familiar situation, because you’ve been there before, metaphorically or otherwise.
Ordinarily I might be a little concerned that this company that I care so much about was always living in the clouds, and possibly not thinking about the long term success we’re all hoping for. You’ll see that’s not the case when Carole and Jeff bring it all back to practical matters like frugality, mental and physical fitness, all the while working with the agility of hackers.
I only hope that this guide will help you in building a thoughtful next chapter with a foundation in values and big thinking. I can say for certain that if you follow along, or even just try one of these exercises, you’ll see your experiences rise in a more enlightened way, and have a more open foundation for what’s next for you.