Retirement – Yikes 

Almost daily we receive a news release about the retirement of this person or that. These are people I have known for decades. We grew up in the business together. Their leaving is a reminder that I have been here a long time.

Some people, most I think, work simply so they can retire. I don’t envy them. It means that the work itself is probably not fulfilling, but a means to an end. They work, they save, then, at a predetermined age, they stop working and transition into a world where they hopefully do things they do enjoy.

Others do things they enjoy all during their working life. They find ‘work’ exciting, fulfilling, and look forward to each day. The fifty years they spend ‘working’ has been a time of wonder. When they decide to ‘retire’ they typically keep doing the same things they were enjoying over the years, but perhaps at a different speed, or in a different place. Sometimes its good to get those old bones out of the cold in the wintertime.

Then there are those that see retirement as anathema. I don’t. I think to each his or her own. I have been asked many times “what is your exit strategy?” Frankly it never occurred to me that I needed one.

If you receive and MBA, the first thing they teach you is that in founding a company, you must have an ‘exit strategy.’ The assumption is that you founded the company with the purpose of leaving it. The idea is to make money and to be sure you keep the money when you leave.

I’ve always be a tad suspect of those folks. They aren’t making widgets because they love widgets, or want to create a better one, they are making widgets so they can move on to something else. Frankly I would look closely at those widgets before buying.

For some, retirement is the goal, for others it is change. For those folks I say ‘all the best.’

For me, I look forward to meeting all those youngsters moving up through our industry and learning from them. Things change. It’s the change that makes life wonderful.

My father taught me a lot. Mostly by example. He was a printer. His skills were only a little different than those used by Guttenberg all those centuries ago. But when change hit, he, even at an advanced age, knew he must change with it. He learned to use computers, offset printing, and moved from the oldest printing trade to the newest. Never missed a beat.

I was sitting in my office yesterday listening to a couple of relative youngsters argue over the benefits of Twitter, and Linkedin, over Instagram. I got up and left the room. They asked me if I was angry, I said no, bored. Change is the only constant. The rest is in the noise level.

The best place to be when change happens is in the middle of it, not on the outside looking in. Hard to do that when you are retired.


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