I wrote a piece on my blogpost on 4th June 2019 called “An imaginary conversation that could really happen”, which attracted a charming email from a man with whom my post resonated. Here is his response. I have used his own words with some minor edits. The “I” refers to that man of course.
THE BAD NEWS BEGINS
I too, had a successful corporate career with two large national companies. I also had 7 years running my own business including a pub, newsagency and a general store. All were successful businesses and sold at a profit, before going into the corporate world. I was GM of Sales in Queensland with a career of 22 years as well as Director or National Manager of another large print corporate for almost 10 years.
The positions I held are not important, but suffice to say I looked after big teams and loved my work at both companies with lots of travel, wonderful comraderie, and priceless memories.
Both companies were in print media and we all know what happened there.
They never saw the internet coming. I did though, and asked for a redundancy at age 52.
Looking back it was a risky and ill thought out move. I negotiated a very generous payout but I had no idea how much I would miss the discipline of work, the self esteem that comes with work, the sense of achievement, the comradeship. One day I was doing 80 hour weeks and the next zero.
I spiralled into depression for about 6 months. It was very difficult for my wife and kids. Without them I would never got through it. I sought help early, was medicated for several months due to low serotonin levels. But it took about a year to emerge from my walk in ‘the valley of darkness’ as I refer to it.
A SECOND CHANCE
After a year I decided to have another crack at the corporate world. I had not attended a job interview in 25 years. It was a hell of a thing to do to have the confidence to attend, and everything that goes with senior management corporate positions interviews, including several role plays whilst being videoed, psychometric testing and targeted selection interview techniques. It was robust to say the least but in retrospective what I needed to regain my confidence. I got the role. But almost 10 years later after taking the publication to new highs and my team being named the best led team in the business out of 10,000 employees. I thought we were doing everything right.
Unfortunately the print media game began to downsize. Costs had to go and three thousand expensive staff were made redundant over several months. After receiving the good news re our teams performance, two weeks later I was tapped to go.
This time I was much better prepared.
A PLAN FOR THE LAST THIRD
At age 63 I toyed with the idea of having another crack but after all the commuting, the constant interstate travel, I decided to ‘retire’. I had no plans. It’s a mistake.
The first few months were very hard but my previous experience had taught me that busy(ness) was the key. I had to find away to have a reason to get up in the morning.
Exercise became the key. I rode my bike or kayaked every day. I lost 10 kgs fairly quickly. Amazing what exercise does to set you up for the day.
At the same time my daughter and son had bought houses that needed a lot of work. I got involved. I am no tradie but for two years the work involved, consumed a lot of time.
I have always been an outdoors type. I joined a bush walking club and loved the idea of working hard to get somewhere where not too many people have been and absorb what mother nature has to offer and its free. I have done over 200 hikes in 6 years. I am on the committee of the club and very involved in all sorts of peripheral and club activity. As I write this I am off to a remote part of Australia for three weeks of hiking with 11 other club members. I could go on. Suffice to say it fills another gap.
I have had a self managed super fund for 20 years. During my working life I left it in the hands of so called ‘financial Advisors’. When I retired I decided to take it on myself. From a very mediocre performance in the hands of the experts I have averaged a little over 10% net p.a. To augment that I joined the Australian Investors Association to increase my education, but more so to network with like-minded people. I am just about to attend my 7th national Conference. Another gap filled.
With all this I am as busy as I want to be.
In addition my son has started his own business and I have worked closely with him by way of mentoring, advice and support. My daughter is a working professional with two babies. My son has just had his first as well. Another gap filled.
I thought I might share my journey with you for no other reason than to highlight the importance that retirement planning is crucial, that the last third should become ‘my retirement career’ and plan it like any project when in the ‘paid’ workforce.
No doubt you are aware of all this, but many of your clients could relate to the early part of my story and it may give you some testimonial reinforcement. If nothing else it feels good to share.
I will be 70 next year and constantly looking over the horizon for the next challenge. Good luck with your endeavours. I imagine its very fulfilling.