Executive Decision

Lonely At The Top

During the start-up phase, ex-execs often get caught up in the millions of details involved in getting their businesses off the ground. Yet once the venture is up and running, many find the novelty of being on their own begins to wear thin. Loneliness, says Darr, is a common grievance among former executives who pursue entrepreneurial avenues.

"I had to get used to not having the social interplay with people on a regular basis," says Wanda Schiele, owner of Celebrate All People, a leadership and diversity consulting firm in Aurora, Colorado.

Unsatisfied with the technical emphasis her job as project manager with US West had taken on (and two years short of full retirement), Schiele accepted a partial buyout package in October 1993, after 23 years with the company. She sank $5,000 into computer and telecommunications equipment, contacted past clients, and even did a lot of free jobs to get started. Still, business was slow. And while she appreciated the free time and the chance to visit more with her grandchildren, Schiele, 54, missed the frequent social activity she'd enjoyed as a trainer in a bustling corporate environment.

Business has since picked up, but Schiele still makes a concerted effort to reach out for human contact on a regular basis-an effort, she says, she didn't have to make when working in a large corporation. For instance, she frequently meets people for lunch, attends networking events and rekindles old business friendships. Says Schiele, "I have learned to search out people for social interactions in a way I didn't have to before."

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Executive Decision.

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