By Steve Moran

I recently received an email from my friends at Sage Age Strategies announcing that Melinda Schmitz was elevated to the role of President of Sage Age Strategies. It went on to say that Faith Ott would remain as CEO but this transition would allow Faith to spend more time on her “passion project”, a ground-up senior living community in the South Carolina Low Country that will be developed and operated to be the kind of place she and her senior living friends would want to move into.

That Is Not What I Meant . . .

Shortly after Faith sent out the email, she started getting emails from friends and colleagues saying “congratulations on your retirement.” To which Faith went . . . 

“Argh . . . that is not what is happening.”

The Stuff We Do

Early in the life of every entrepreneur, that entrepreneur does everything from the secret sauce stuff that actually generates income to being the marketing director, webmaster, bookkeeper, and even janitor. As businesses grow, it becomes inevitable, even critical that the founder hires team members or contractors to help carry the load.  

In some cases letting go is really easy, like taking out the trash, and in other cases, it is really hard. While it is often not true, leaders often feel like they are better at everything than anyone they could hire. In a lot of cases, this is not true and often even if it is true, those things aren’t the best use of time and energy. 

The Perfect Mix . . .

When founders of organizations are doing it 100% right, they get to the place where they spend all their time, or nearly all their time doing just the stuff they are excellent at and letting others do the stuff they are good at. It is hard or maybe even impossible to get to 100% but should be the aspiration of every leader at every level.

Succession Planning . . .

In the case of Faith Ott and Sage Age, Melinda taking over more of the day-to-day operations is all about two things. The first is freeing up Faith to do the things she is excellent at and passionate about; working on strategy and new business development. It is also about increasing Melinda’s scope for that day in the future when, if things go according to plan, Melinda will take complete control of Sage Age. 

This is a worthy plan and it appears there are many senior living organizations, particularly on the not-for-profit side don’t seem to really have thought much about who will take the reins next. Not thinking about it can put the organization at serious peril and what Faith has done is a great multi-year model that will serve the industry, the Sage Age team, and the Sage Age clients for years to come.  

In talking to Faith she described how she is looking forward like this:

“I am busier than I have ever been, and still connected and involved with the vision and direction of Sage Age. I am still actively consulting and a part of the business development efforts for the organization in addition to my passion projects: my new development active adult healthy living community, my board work for Abe’s Garden, Hearthstone Institute, and The Highlands, as well as my Care Giver’s Journey book. Maybe they can “have Faith in one thing” pun intended, I am not retiring anytime soon!”

We can hardly wait for more goodness from Faith.