In music & money, Willie Nelson & Julian Robertson have redefined career long game


Two unrelated stories in the past week are truly inspiring for career long games we all must play.

First was a New York Times feature about Willie Nelson still touring non-stop at age 89. The pandemic was basically the only tour break he took in decades. His wife describes the mindset when Willie brings up retirement:

“At the end of every tour, Will talks about retiring,” Annie says. ” ‘I think I might retire.’ But then we’ll have a conversation: ‘Well, what would you do if you retired?’ We both know the answer: Just lay down and die. It’s impossible to imagine him not being out there.”

That says it all about work-life long game, and so do two other things:

During pandemic lockdowns, Willie would sometimes sit in his parked tour bus “just to pretend I was going somewhere.” And he notes how Frank Sinatra — another legendary career long-gamer — was his favorite singer because “He never sang a song the same way twice. I don’t think I do either.”

NYT journalist Jody Rosen astutely notes this approach “camouflages technique with naturalism,” and I think this approach is a great way for all career long-gamers to keep things fresh in whatever work they do.

Willie didn’t achieve superstardom until age 45, and he’s been going hard ever since with 100+ live dates per year, as he will to the last.

Which brings us to the second story of hedge fund legend Julian Robertson dying last week at age 90.

Robertson helped create the hedge fund industry when he founded Tiger Management at age 48.

His founding age is especially notable now as hedge fund ageism prevails and tech startup success stories mostly involve 20-somethings.

Robertson “was like a sponge, constantly soaking up as much information as he could from his colleagues, peers and competitors. His skill was learning from others and taking the knowledge and turning it into profits for the firm, his colleagues, his clients and, of course, himself.”

He started Tiger with just $8 million in 1980 and by 1998, managed $22 billion.

But Robertson’s biggest career long-game legacy — besides starting at age 48 — is his mentorship of younger players.

He funded dozens of Tiger “cubs,” former employees who went out on their own and also became legends with his help.

Both Robertson’s and Willie’s career long-game stories are shining victories in the battle against boredom, confidence lapses, and agism. Both links below.

Please add your comments or reach out with your thoughts.


Willie Nelson’s Long Encore (NYT)

Julian Robertson, Hedge Fund Guru to ‘Tiger Cubs’, Dies Age 90 (Bloomberg)




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