Tony retires from the Sopranos now what?

Well, this past week the Sopranos final episode ran, and the journey for all of the actors in that series faded to black. There was quite a bit of controversy over the ending. I thought it was quite clever. For James Gandolfin, aka Tony, will he be able to move on to bigger and better things, and a paycheck? Or was this the peak in his career?

This week’s podcast is with Sean Pronger. Both he and his brother Chris have played professional hockey in the NHL. Ironically, his brother Chris won the Stanley Cup on the team that Sean played the most time on. Like other professionals like Sean and James, at some point, your gig is up. Sean shares his experiences moving on. “I loved playing, practicing, the rink, the guys and the workouts. I was like a fan sitting on the bench in awe, everything about it, I loved.” Knowing when to leave is always the professional athlete’s dilemma.

Sean Pronger had played professional hockey for eleven years and created a wonderful life for his family. Still, he was well aware that an athlete’s career has an expiry date and he had often contemplated his life after hockey. As long as he still enjoyed the game, he wanted to stay in it, but one day “the fun started to fade away inside and outside of the game.” So, after a workout in 2005, he arrived at a decision while resting in his loft. “I am done,” he shouted down to his wife. “That’s it!” Embarking on his post-NHL life, Sean experienced many of the common fears and doubts associated with moving on to a new career. What would he do? Would he enjoy it? Would he have to start in the mailroom? In fact, these questions illustrate why many players stay in the game even though they are past their prime. They are afraid to leave because they don’t know where they will go next.

“I have only played in the NHL,” was one concern that Sean raised when I worked with him to help him understand what he had to offer the job market. He needed to recognize that many of the talents that had enabled him to do well in hockey, like leadership and people skills, along with sound logic and problem-solving skills, could be transferred to other fields. His other strengths were more character related – commitment, perseverance, work ethics, adaptability and ability to function as part of a team. One key advantage that Sean brought to the table was his network.

“As a professional athlete, people want to meet you all the time.” He worked diligently to leverage his relationships and meet as many people as he could in a variety of industries. Sean also understood the value of developing and projecting his confidence – he had seen the difference it had made in his game. Now, making the transition to a new career, it would be crucial for him to project this same confidence to potential employers. Through our Career Transition Program assessment, coaching and building a game plan, Sean was able to land a new career, one that makes use of both his sports experience and his soft skills. He has joined ING, the large international financial company. The attributes that saw him through a decade in pro hockey will carry him through the next phase of his career.

Sean is one of the many people I profile that has made the shift. Is your gig fading to black? Book an initial consultation.

Along the road with you,


This week’s 10 Minute WORKout
Think about your current skills and attributes. How transferrable will they be for your next career?