Many women at the end of their careers assume their best years are behind them. But for Patti Hart—a successful trailblazer who made Fortune’s inaugural list of “50 Most Powerful Women”—the best is yet to come. She shares her top tips for women who are ready to retire in a different way.
00:05 - 00:35
Welcome to Women and Wealth. I'm Beata Kirr, Co-head of investment strategies at Bernstein. And this podcast aims to educate and inspire women to make the right choices for their wealth. Well, welcome. I'm so excited to be here today with Patti Hart, who has given me a favorite quote that I'm now using regularly. And the quote is, retirement is no longer a story of old age. It's a story of long life.
00:35 - 01:14
So Patti has been a CEO, a chairwoman, a board member, an investor and an adviser. Her career has spanned three decades of leadership positions across sectors, and she was honored as a member of Fortune Magazine's inaugural list of 50 most powerful women that was in 1998. Patti is clearly not done yet, and today she's here to talk with us about not only her trailblazing career journey in the male-dominated world of really both tech and gaming, but the book she recently co-authored with her husband, titled The Resolutionist. Welcome to the anti retirement movement.
01:14 - 01:18
So Patti, welcome to the show and thank you so much for joining me today.
01:18 - 01:33
Thank you so much for having me, Beata. It's such a real honor and privilege to not only share my story, but to really cause me to reflect on all the great opportunities that have come my way and great opportunities for me to learn.
01:33 - 01:56
Well, thank you. And given your career journey has been so long, we're going to start focusing on your career journey, but we're going to have to admit to our listeners that we can't start at the beginning because then we would surely have a 60-minute show and not about a 25-minute show. So I'm going to fast forward a little bit and share with our listeners some of the highlights of your early story to really set the stage.
01:57 - 02:49
Couple of things that stood out for me is that you were the first in your family to go to college. You spent your early years in the telecom industry really climbing the corporate ladder and then you moved out to Silicon Valley, where you became the CEO of a startup, mastered the financial side of the business. All of those aspects, managing the balance sheet, the P&L, raising equity, taking companies public via an IPO. And then we fast forward to 2006. At that point, you joined the Board of International Game Technology, or IGT for short, and ultimately, three years later, you became that company's first female CEO. Now this is in a business where there are not a lot of women in the whole business, let alone at the top. So let's zoom in on that. Tell us a bit about that experience and how it all came about.
02:49 - 03:26
Yeah. Well, as you can see, I'm a person that loves change. I really gravitate to it and am really inspired by the transformation of businesses and really serving customers. So I had the opportunity to come from the boardroom into the CEO office in an industry that surprisingly is very dominated by women at the user level. So if you think about who sits in front of slot machines, it's very much dominated by women. The businesses had always been run by men, so the products had been developed primarily by men and distributed and sold by
03:26 - 03:59
So I thought it was a great opportunity to really look at the female customer population and say, How can I put a little bit of a spin on the products of this company that serve our primary customer? It was lonely being the only woman really at the top. There were a few women that had blazed the trail before me, Elaine Wenn being one of them, someone I greatly admire and that I really look to for leadership cubes in the gaming industry. But it was really, for me, it was a two-bagger.
03:59 - 04:26
I was not only a woman, but I was an outsider from the industry, and both of those things were challenging at times. But I think they also provided just an amazing opportunity. So as a woman, I could really look at my products and think, mostly women use my products. So how do I make them more attractive for people of my gender? So I thought it was a great opportunity, though daunting, I must say.
04:27 - 04:55
I say to people often that the gaming industry is like being in the royal family, that you have to be born into it and you can never leave it. And I think that's one of the things that's changing, and I think it's a myth that people are working to break because there is great opportunity, at the end of the day it's an entertainment business, it's a content business and there's a great opportunity, I think, for people that come from outside the industry, but equally as important to move from the industry to contribute in other places.
04:55 - 05:39
I think that's so interesting and when you were talking about who your buyer is compared to who is in leadership, I was thinking about a similar industry, and that's the auto industry where Mary Barra often talks about at GM how for decades no executive thought about where a woman puts her purse in the car and that women are at the forefront of making the purchasing decision for cars and how she specifically had thought about that redesign in many of her vehicles. So I think there's so many similarities to other industries. Let's talk about that a little bit more in gaming. I'm sure you've got some stories about conferences and casinos, but any particular highlights you want to share with our listeners?
05:39 - 06:15
Well, I mean, I think, like I said, it was a very male dominated industry and it's in the entertainment industry. So companies that are in entertainment tend to lean in. I think all forms of entertainment have been a bit sexist, you know, over the years. And, you know, we were no exception to that. So I really did focus on that as a female CEO, as a woman walking in the casino, you know, sitting down at a slot machine that has a scantily clad woman as a topic didn't seem to be all that comfortable to me.
06:15 - 07:03
So thinking about those kinds of things, how can we move, you know, one of the products we launched soon after I became CEO was our Sex and the City slot machine, and it was very tasteful. It was really about shopping and shoes and purses and all the things that women love as opposed to the sex component of it. And that was a big change. You know, like all industries, we had large trade shows and we had a history of scantily clad models handing out things, and we really tried to shift that to be more information driven and have our people that were presenting our products actually know the product and present it with information and compelling reasons to purchase the product as opposed to, you know, beautiful women. So not that beautiful women don't have a place.
07:03 - 07:24
I have enormous respect for beautiful women, but I think it wasn't serving the purpose that we wanted, which was really to provide product information to our consumers. So some things were very welcomed. I would say by our workforce and the industry, and some things were not as welcomed because it was really changing history, and all industries, I think, resist change.
07:24 - 07:42
Yeah. And as it turns out, I think you ran the company quite successfully, right? So it turns out you didn't need the sale to look like it had looked like historically and having the different lens with which you approached it worked just as well, if frankly, not better from a profitability perspective.
07:42 - 07:55
One of the other things I thought was interesting about your experience in gaming is how you then took your lens and your experience to lift other women up. So can you talk about other changes in the industry that you were a part of leading?
07:55 - 08:33
Yeah, I think Global Gaming Women, which is an organization that didn't exist when I went into the industry, I cannot take credit for leading it. I contributed to the early formation. Patti Becker led that work and continues to lead the work, but we really thought it was important to create an organization for women because it's such a male dominated industry. It was nice to have a place where you could go and see other people like you, and the organization is really focused on training to really advance women in the industry and to give them a platform to learn from one another.
08:33 - 09:24
So the Global Gaming Women organization today is a significant part of the industry, not just in Las Vegas, but around the world. And that was a first and again something that wasn't necessarily an easy thing to get started, right. It was really not just resisting the idea of creating something for women, but getting women to be willing to come and spend their time away from their desk and away from their work environment, to invest in themselves and invest in their future. So hats off to Patti. I contributed a small amount and I'm proud of my contribution, but it takes a driver to get that done and I think it's made a big difference in the industry. You do see women now at all levels of the industry now, and I think that's something I can't take 100 percent credit for, but I was certainly part of the change.
09:24 - 09:49
It's great to see their progress and just thinking about your bio, the fact that Fortune ran that, you know, most influential women in 1998. That list just came out a couple of weeks ago, and it really made me think that enormous progress has been made and it is important for us to to look back and see the long scope of history on this one. At times it feels frustrating in the pace of progress.
09:50 - 10:49
So you had this amazing career and now I want to transition to, you know, what you're doing now. So it's no surprise that you weren't going to go quietly or gently into the dark night of retirement, if you want to spin it that way, and clearly you are taking retirement by the reins and driving your outcomes. So tell us about this concept of anti-retirement and for our dedicated listeners, you may remember that now, a couple of years ago, we had a very similar episode, similar in the topic with the founders of Lustre, who were two retired executives that came together and said, kind of very similar thing around, Hey, we're not ready to be, you know, golfing and playing tennis. And, you know, one of them had got her airplane license was going to be a pilot. But really remaking the concept of retirement is a familiar topic for us.
10:49 - 10:59
So I want to zoom in, Patti, as to your take on this and your lens. So let's start first with what is the notion of anti-retirement mean to you?
10:59 - 11:48
For me, I mean, I would say, I felt like I had two choices when I had sold my company. One was I could retire like the generations before me retired, right? My parents retired and the way people had for years. Or I could think about retirement in a different way. So my husband and I coined this phrase anti-retirement, we wrote a book about it and it really isn't about I'm against retirement. It really is saying we are the anti-everything generation, this boomer generation, right? We were anti-war. We're anti-aging, we're anti-racism, we're anti-everything. And anti really is about redefining it, right? So don't settle for what someone else's idea of retirement is but define it in a way that works for you. So that was really the idea behind
11:48 - 12:15
We created this anti-retirement movement that we really are enjoying being a part of. It's a really important thing at this stage of life to be surrounded by kindred spirits and to find people that are supporting your. You're continuing to grow, you want to grow, you want to contribute, you want to be away from the daily grind of the work that you did for 30 or 35 years, regardless of what the work is. But that doesn't mean you're ready to put yourself on the shelf.
12:15 - 12:38
And if you look at the research, Stanford Longevity Center did some research, says we've added 30 years to our life in the last 100 years. And what are you going to do with those? Those all come in retirement, right? And so what are you going to do with those years to continue to stay relevant? So that's the concept. It's saying retire in a different way, don't choose not to retire, but do it differently.
12:38 - 12:52
Mm-Hmm. And we spend a lot of time talking to our clients about the longevity and how the likelihood of that 30 years even exceeding that number going forward and how that affects their financial plans, for sure.
12:52 - 13:05
So in your book, you distill this wisdom that you've learned into 12 specific resolutions. So can you talk about which ones you think are the top three for our listeners?
13:05 - 13:49
Sure. I would say the one that's the most essential we find in our, we do a lot of workshopping. We do a lot of book clubs, this kind of thing. The one we find most essential is building a new metric system. We all have been measured, probably since you're five years old and you brought home your first report card and you've been measured ever since, whether it's grades in school or promotions or bonuses or what have you. So creating a new metric system is really critical, I think, for your continued relevance, feeling relevant that you are accomplishing and you're moving things forward and really challenging yourself to measure things that historically had been unmeasurable, your level of happiness or connectedness or what is spirituality, whatever you feel like you should be measuring.
13:49 - 14:30
So I would say the one that's most essential is create a new metric system. The one I think that's the most important for confidence boosting is develop your elevator pitch. You know, people tend when they're retired, when they meet new people to talk about their very first job. Yeah, I'm Patti and I started out in telecommunications and then I did da-da-da. And it really what it says to the people you're talking to is that your best life is behind you, and in fact, your best life isn't behind you. And it also drives your conversations to be about what you did instead about what you're doing. So developing an elevator pitch that really is about what you're doing today can be basic, or it can be very complicated.
14:30 - 14:58
The one that I think is the hardest is saying goodbye to FOMO, the fear of missing out. We all have lived with our calendars, chocked full of activities and appointments and saying no to a lot of invitations just because we didn't have the time. And so I think the idea of opening your calendar at this stage of life and seeing empty spaces and getting comfortable and embracing those empty spaces is really challenging.
14:58 - 15:33
You know, I say to everyone, I found myself doing a lot of things when I was working because I was afraid of the negative side, if I didn't do them versus the positive side, if I did do them. And you can eliminate that now and say, one of the things we do every month is we look back at the past month at our calendar and we circle in red the things that we felt really moved us forward in life. And we talk a lot about the things that didn't so that we're informing where we spend our time. But it's a challenge to say goodbye to, you know, I want to do everything. So I would say those are the three.
15:33 - 16:16
Those really make me think. I'm thinking about your calendar point that you just made. That's clearly good advice, not just for somebody that's retired. It might even be better advice for all of us in the midst of this career chaos, actually, because we're so busy calendaring and moving on to the next thing, and especially in the last couple of years, with everybody working from home and the Zoom back to back life, it's very, very important to be able to take stock. And I don't think we do enough of that in general, probably as a society. So I commend you on that discipline, that sounds really luxurious, to sit down and say what was a win and what was a loss effectively in the last 30 days. It's really disciplined.
16:16 - 16:40
So similarly, I want to hear your elevator pitch because I think you're so right on this that people start with, again, whether you're retired or not retired, they always start with their career. And then what about these different careers and what about people managing households? And that's a career choice. And what about your interests? I think we all kind of do this wrong, so I want to hear you do it right and I can work on mine.
16:41 - 17:11
Yes, no, that's great. So I would say my elevator pitch is that I'm a champion for Sport for all through my work with the U.S. Soccer Federation. I'm helping to reinvent a regional theater in the San Francisco area based on coming out of COVID and all the changes to our business model. I'm embracing the details, large and small, around my personal investing, and I am doing a lot of mentoring of new executives to pay it forward.
17:12 - 17:56
And then I would put a little tagline at the end and say, I'm watching all the Alfred Hitchcock movies, so. So those are the kinds of things when I introduce myself and it changes, your elevator pitch changes, right? My husband and I, when we were living in London, we were watching all the Bond movies in chronological order, and we found that that was the conversation point that everybody wanted to talk about, right? It was, Which Bond did you like the most? Which Bond girl? When was the first female of significance in a Bond movie? And so, so I think really sharing with the world what you're doing now says that I'm proud of what I'm doing and it matters. And it's different than what I did for thirty five years, but it's still important.
17:56 - 18:41
I love it. First of all, you're doing a ton, and I think your elevator pitch would have sounded great if you just ended with the first bullet point. Let's be honest and the fact that you're clearly an overachiever because you had four bullet points in very different areas, but it is remarkable. None of them mentioned your career. None of them mentioned you were a CEO. None of them mentioned you were a trailblazer in the industry. Fortune's most powerful, right? And I think it's really, really smart to think about it that way. And like I said, I think all of us that are working can think differently about how we introduce ourselves as well. There's so much connectivity and purpose in that pitch, and you can see how when you enter a room, I think you build relationships immediately with that pitch. So I love it.
18:41 - 19:31
OK, I know we could talk about the other nine resolutions in equal amounts of detail, but we wanted to keep everybody focused on the three so they can go out and buy the book and read more about the remaining nine and really enter your movement and find you online to learn more. I'll close out with the question that I ask every guest around intentionality. Our new tagline at Bernstein is really "investing with intention". We've pivoted from "making money meaningful". They're similar, but it's an evolution and I like it. I like the investing with intention concept, and for some, it really means how you're being intentional with financial decisions. For others, it's time, decisions, and for others it's prioritizing what's meaningful. So it's an open ended question. And how do you invest with intention? So what does that mean to you?
19:31 - 20:16
Well, it's a really important part of my life now. I think more so than when I was working. I feel like when I was fully employed, I really just turned over my investing to the world and now having the great luxury of being intentional about where you apply your resources, you spend your life building these resources, money, certainly being one of them, time, now at this stage of my life being very important one. Wisdom. Where are you applying your wisdom and asking questions, and your network, that's another resource, probably for me, my most precious, I mean, I invested a lot of time in my career building my network. So when I consider applying my resources, all of these resources, it's very intentional.
20:16 - 21:01
Now, at this stage of my life, and intentional doesn't just mean returns. I mean, certainly there are equity funds and fixed income vehicles that I invest in. But for me, it's bigger than that and I have the great luxury after thirty-five years of hard work to look more broadly at how I apply my resources. So when I am thinking about investing personally, I think about can I make a difference. Personally, can I make a difference in whatever the situation is? Can I apply my network or an experience I had or wisdom? Can I help mentor somebody? So I do think about it very differently, very intentionally. I don't do much any more in my life that isn't incredibly intentional. But
21:01 - 21:44
investing is a big one because I do really value all of these resources, and I don't just look through it through a financial lens anymore. I look at what I'm investing in, what impact is it having in the world socially or otherwise. And that doesn't mean it can't be some great new self-driving car technology that's impactful. So it can be the traditional things. But I'm looking further downstream as opposed to just what is the short-term or mid-term return, but what is the return in the world? And it makes the due diligence process a little more challenging, honestly, than I experienced earlier in my life, but I find it much more rewarding.
21:45 - 21:58
Excellent Patti. I can see the discipline and intentionality in everything you do and really commend you on the career, on the book. It's been great to get to know you. Is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with before we sign off?
21:59 - 22:30
I would leave the listeners with whatever stage of life you're in, right? If you're early-stage, mid-stage, late-stage, or if you're deciding to become an anti-retirement zealot like I am, to live your life with intention and purpose. And if I could talk to my younger self, advice I would have given myself, probably in my thirties and forties is to be more purposeful and intentional about each step I take and I've learned it late. I'm a late bloomer on this one, but I'm enjoying
22:30 - 22:33
Well, thank you again for joining us, Patti, and thanks to all of you for listening.
22:34 - 22:34
22:35 - 22:50
If you enjoyed the podcast and haven't subscribed to our show, please go to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you listen to subscribe and rate us. You can also find us on Twitter at BernsteinPWM or find me, Beata Kirr on LinkedIn.
- Beata Kirr
- Co-Head—Investment & Wealth Strategies