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Home  > Work >  Jobs & Hiring

Retirement Rebound
by Chris De Benedetti

What's the best way to develop your career? Retire.

Don't laugh. Peter Desnoes' abbreviated retirement helped him achieve new perspective and meaning regarding his approach to work and life.

Peter Desnoes
President and CEO of iBEAM
Born: 1943
Family: Married with three children (one child on the way)
Previous Experience: Founder & CEO of Burnham Broadcasting Co.
Spent 16 years with the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC)
Education: B.A., University of Arizona

When Desnoes cut short his very successful career in television broadcasting, all he sought was more time spent with his new family. Just a few years later, Desnoes surprised everybody including himself when a low-pressure stint on iBEAM's board turned into an unexpected offer for him to head the start-up. Even more surprising, Desnoes accepted.

He is now the president and CEO of iBEAM, an online network that delivers streaming audio and video over the Internet.

As Desnoes leads iBEAM to create revenue streams from streaming media, the lessons he learned from his brief retirement continue to inform his new approach to business. That is, he simultaneously wants to be the best dad and CEO he can possibly be.

"Actually, my children were a major reason why I took the job (with iBEAM)," Desnoes says. "I realized having retired early with children ... (that) they were going to grow up without any knowledge of the reason why they are privileged.

Like any tightrope, the secret to walking this fine line is balance, according to Desnoes. While he now works to illustrate to his children how life's rewards come from hard work and hard work only, he also is sure to take time off these days for the same basic reason: his family.

This is a more-balanced perspective on working that Desnoes didn't possess before his early retirement and certainly not when he first started in the television industry. "25 years ago, I would have worked 25 days in a row," Desnoes says with a smile.

Taking some time off has long been a prescription for gaining a more complete life, but Desnoes' brief foray into retirement has actually helped him segue successfully into a brand new industry. While he still exhibits strong signs of ambition and work ethic, something more altruistic than the bottom line drives Desnoes these days.

"How are we going to be judged at the end of our life?" he asks. "It isn't going to be who has the most toys. ... It's going to be how we've given back to society. What have we done with our children's lives? You know, have we made the world a better place? ... I think that's what ultimately gives satisfaction."

Tune into PBS' Nightly Business Report tonight to see Donald Van de Mark's interview with Peter Desnoes. Prime Movers airs every Thursday on the Nightly Business Report. Check your local listing for times.


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