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I was mindlessly scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day, checking up on past colleagues and what they’re up to. It’s fun to see the aging faces of folks I came up with back in the day, now sporting fancy titles like Executive VP, Director of this, President and Owner of that, and the like.

I don’t network any more (I never really did). I could reach out to old friends who now run the free world and make them “contacts,” but for what purpose really? Yet on a Sunday morning, it’s fun to sip coffee and trace the career of someone you sat in a cubicle with 30 years ago who now runs a piece of a billion dollar global business, and know that you could sneak up and jump on their back and they’d just grab you and laugh, and say, “Where the hell have you been hiding?”

LinkedIn feeds you an endless stream of faces, the algorithm finding people who have the same contacts as you, luring you (like all social media) deeper into the platform. I hadn’t been on it in maybe a year. Unfamiliar faces popped up, people I may or may not have met before.

Then, one very familiar older face appeared. Dark, hollow eyes, a warm, knowing smile, like someone who’d seen much. We had eleven mutual connections. Maybe he was once a boss of one of my friends.

So where did I know this Joe Ratzinger guy from?

I opened his profile….

Holy Crap! Joe R. used to be Pope Benedict XVI!! The retired CEO of humanity’s most practiced religion, the Holy See who for nine years shepherded a flock of billions, the once hand-picked defender of the faith, is suddenly out there on social media, looking for “another opportunity.”

I had to admit, the makeover was pretty impressive. Absent the white beanie and draconian vestments, now sporting dark brown hair and matching eyebrows, “Joe” certainly looked like a Director-level guy right out of central casting. I admired how skillfully he had reworked his online resume to appeal to the secular business world.

This guy had clearly been promoted often:

  • 2013 – Present President – JAR Consultants (Director Emeritus)
  • 2005 – 2013 CEO – Global Director of Catholicism (Vicar of Christ)
  • 2002 -2005 Dean – Catholic College of Cardinals
  • 1981 – 2002 Global Director of Policy and Doctrine (Rome, Italy)
  • 1977 – 1981 Regional Director (Germany) for Catholic Affairs
  • 1951 – 1977 Congregation Manager – (Munich, Germany)

Being Catholic myself, I presumed the eleven contacts we had in common were some of my Catholic business friends. Without further thought, I clicked the little blue CONNECT button. Much to my surprise, I got a comeback message an hour later.

Joe and I were now LinkedIn buddies.

He even followed that up with a personal message.

“Thanks for reaching out. Would you happen to know any higher-level Buddhists or Hindus?”

Might His Eminence be looking to bring his executive skill set to a competitor? Maybe he wasn’t actually ready to retire ten years ago. Maybe internal politics forced him out? I thought man, this guy’s 95 years old, but it sure seems like he’s got plenty left in the tank.

For a senior guy, he’s also relatable. We went back and forth messaging throughout the day.

He recently added Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint skills. I congratulated him for “9 years at JAR Consulting.”

We were once both members of the Knights of Columbus. He hasn’t made many meetings of late, but he did buy their life insurance.

We both follow Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown and L’il Wayne.

He endorsed me for Supply Chain Management. I endorsed him for Moral Infallibility.

So if you’re on the platform, look for this guy. He’s going places. And If you know anybody mid-level in the afterlife business, I’d be happy to facilitate an online intro.

Devin Householder

Devin is passionate about writing, reading and remaining in emotionally harmful relationships with losing sports teams. He suffers quietly (except on Sundays) with his loving wife and daughter in Rhode Island.

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