The case for quitting your job

News broke recently that after four years Steve Chapman will be retiring from his role as CEO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems Inc. at the end of the year. Current chief operating officer Ben McLean will take over the role. I should have seen that coming, though I thought it might be a few more years. Chapman told me he already had his replacement picked during a planning meeting for our last Power Breakfast event, at which Chapman was a panelist, back in October.The Power Breakfast was titled “The Growing Generational Frustration” and centered on how to recognize, manage and incorporate the frustration being felt into your workforce succession plan. If you couldn’t make the event, here’s a video of the panelists’ opening comments: 

Succession planning has been on my mind a lot since our event - and no, I’m not retiring or leaving, I think I still have a good 30 years in me. But I always marvel at organizations that can achieve lasting success, and no doubt proper succession planning is a key to that. 

One of the things Chapman said at our pre-event was how many times he’d seen really good leaders who didn’t know how to get out of the way. And as a result, it wound up dramatically hurting the organization when the time came that the leader was no longer there.

After the event, Chapman sent out an email to all the panelists with a link to a Wall Street Journal article headlined “The case for quitting your job - even if you still love it.” The article cited data that projected that 24 percent of the workforce would be age 70-74 by 2022, and 38 percent would be age 65-69. That’s a remarkable increase from 1992, when 11 percent of workers were 70-74 and 20 percent were 65-69. The article said that millions of Americans who could afford to retire were planning to hold on to their jobs, but it argued that walking away might be the best thing for their health and happiness.

The article goes on to say that many adults are finding the downside of remaining at the same desk year after year is a tendency toward complacency, coupled with a reluctance to ask tough questions. But those who take the leap of retirement frequently gain more than they imagined and fall in love with work all over again in a new opportunity. The article questioned, if every job ends someday, is it better to be ready for the moment and even pre-empt it, rather than have it catch you unprepared?

Easier said than done, of course.

Even if you’re not at the point for retirement, the article is worth the read, and can help jump-start discussion that helps you personally and ultimately professionally. Chapman, after four years in the role and at the age 62, seems to value this approach. Read the article here:

The skinny on Gartner

No, nothing super-juicy here. I met with Iowa Cubs owner and “Civic Skinny” writer Michael Gartner last week. We had a great discussion ranging from newspapers, to city politics, lawsuits and his true love, and mine, baseball. He’s pretty excited about the new digital scoreboard going in at Principal Park next season - and so am I. You might already know this, but his father, who worked at the Register for a number of years, lived to be 102. His secret: Avoid dangerous left turns. After all, three safe right turns make a left. Yes, don’t feel bad if you have to draw that really quick like I did. Read Gartner’s 2006 piece about his father here: 

The true meaning of Des Moines

After my last column ( mentioned the Raygun T-shirt that reads, “Des Moines ... French for The Moines,” I got a note from columnist and history buff Dave Elbert. Did I want to know the true meaning of “Des Moines”? 

Well sure. In fact, I had briefly, and I mean briefly, Googled it when I was writing, since I’m not a native. Google reports there is a bit of debate, as it’s either a French derivation of Moingoana, an Indian tribe that lived along the Des Moines River, a word that refers to Trappist monks, or it means “river of the mounds.” Elbert, however, said he’s only seen what some feel is the real meaning of Des Moines in print twice - once by Des Moines Register columnist Larry Fruhling and once by Register writer Mary Challender. 

I tracked down Challender’s piece (, which cited linguist Michael McCafferty, who agreed that the word did refer to an Indian tribe along the river. However, his research found that “rather than denoting the tribe’s true identity, the name was a ribald joke offered up to French explorers Marquette and Jolliet in 1673 as a bit of razzing between competing Indian communities.” 

The real meaning? Well, and I’ll skip the linguistics, it translates politely Challender writes, to “the excrement-faces.” 

So there you have it. Maybe Raygun has some material for it’s next shirt. “Get Des Moined.”

Swing, and a miss

The people need to know. When I poked fun at Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers about his dancing in my last column, I didn’t realize how close to home I really hit. Turns out, and I have a really good source on this one, he and his wife - but mostly he - flunked out of a swing dancing class. Jay, cough, I mean my source, told me he might have the music gene, but apparently he doesn’t have the dancing skills to match.