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Tea Leaf: There comes a time when change is warranted

There comes a time ...

… when a significant career shift is warranted.

… to spend more time smelling the roses.

… to spend more time with family. (My family is my wife, six kids and 13 grandkids.)

… to spend more time working on a frustrating golf game.

… to see more of the world and sometimes just taking the time to expand one's horizon and appreciation of history.

… to spend more time reading, painting, working out and doing things that have perhaps no real value other than pure enjoyment.

No, I am not retiring from professional speaking. I never plan to do so.

No, I am not planning to conclude my 16 years of service to the $52 billion Zions Bancorporation, one of the most highly regarded commercial banking enterprises in the nation, with banks in 10 states. I hope to serve as economic consultant to banks in four of the bank's states for as long as they find me useful.

A change

What I am doing is giving up control of the professional speaking portion of what I do and allowing true professionals to handle it. They will handle all the paperwork, the expense billings, the sales process and the occasional hassle.

When inquiries to speak come into the office via telephone or email, the vast majority will be forwarded to my management team at San Diego-based SpeakersOffice, Inc. We will still maintain contact with a few select national clients, as well as handling inquiries for more local presentations.

Change for the better

After eight months of discussion, I am very fortunate to have accepted an invitation to join SpeakersOffice, Inc., considered by many to be the top business speaker management firm. The company's website is

I will be SpeakersOffice's 14th speaker and its only economist. I can truly say that of the top 10 "business topic" speakers I am aware of, a majority is part of this team.

Looking forward

I have reached the ripe old age of 61. Both of my parents passed away last year. Such events force one to consider health, longevity and priorities.

I have without doubt bored my wife, bored my adult kids and bored anyone else who might listen in recent years with what I consider three powerful truths about life as one gets older.

I believe the first truth was attributed to actor Warren Beatty. It suggests that when one cannot distinguish what one does for a living as being either work or play, that is a form of success.

I believe the second truth to be from an outstanding business consultant, professional speaker, coach and all-around smart guy named Alan Weiss. He, also in his 60s, suggested that the greatest sign of wealth as one gets older is not money, but free time. I will definitely have more of the latter, if not much of the first (that six-kid reality quickly comes to mind).

The final truth, used so often but so powerful, is something like "no one ever laid on his death bed wishing they had spent more time in the office."

All are powerful statements.

Less Jeff

I will still need a professional office. I will continue to write my economic and financial newsletter, the Tea Leaf, now in its 37th year, as a weekly publication. It scares me every time I say that.

We will still research and produce a proprietary monthly small-business index in a variety of states for our banking clients. We will still research and produce a quarterly publication for the customers and potential customers of our major banking clients.

I will still serve on five national forecasting panels. And yes, I and other economists will still make excuses for when those forecasts wrong.

Jeff is a personal speaker and an economic consultant to Zions Bank.