Life After Full-time Work Blog

Learn about preparing for life after full-time work through posts from Don's upcoming book.

# 93 Why I’m Grateful

Quite simply, I’m very lucky

 

I was going to write a simple but heartfelt “thank you” to all of you for subscribing to my website, this being the time of year when one is given to thoughts of gratitude. Perhaps it’s because I recently turned 75 that I’ve been reflecting on my life and how very much I’m grateful for, that prompts me to expand on that notion and enlarge the list. It isn’t often, I suspect, that one consciously assesses one’s good luck.

So …

I thank my family for love and security and unity.

I thank my extended family for adopting Susan and me as additional parents and grandparents – what a gift to us, what an honor.

I thank my relatives and friends for giving me the warm and comforting feeling of belonging.

I thank St Xavier’s College, Calcutta, and Trinity College, Cambridge for nurturing and challenging me and expanding my thinking and my capabilities.

I thank Canada for inspiring in me the freedom and confidence to be myself.

I thank Rosalie Thomas and Rinaldo Petronio for enlarging my consciousness at difficult times in my life, when my naturally narrow thinking was taking me down.

As I think back on my career, that too was founded on so much that was given to me.

I thank George Russell for being like the head of a family, and a mentor to me, rather than a boss.

I thank the Margaret A Cargill Philanthropies for giving me, after I entered my own Life Two and thought my contributions were done, the fulfilling feeling of belonging to a wonderful organization that does enormous good for the world.

Both organizations had a family culture that resulted in my retaining so many ongoing friendships with my work colleagues.

I thank Morneau Shepell and Common Wealth for their confidence in me even at this stage at which business relationships tend to be gently disengaged rather than built.

As I think about it, I’m reminded of my time before Russell Investments, at Commercial Union, Imperial Life and Pension Finance Associates, and I’m in touch with colleagues from all of them today – as indeed I still am with fellow students from St Xavier’s and Trinity. I thank them for their long-standing comradeship and loyalty.

In my book Life Two I explicitly thank a number of people for their enormous support in teaching me and helping me.

And now I thank you, my readers, for the support you give me by subscribing to this website. You have helped to shape my thinking on Life Two with your comments. And when you write to me and tell me that it has triggered thinking or action on your part and you are grateful for the trigger, you have no idea how gratifying and fulfilling that is to me.

As I think back to the young lad growing up in Calcutta, I’m astonished at how lucky my life has been. I hope I give back something from the abundance of all that has been given to me.

May good health and good fortune accompany your future years.

***

It has been an extremely busy couple of months, promoting the Life Two book, and below I have compiled a sort of souvenir photograph album to remind me of several events.

The first two are from my part in a series of four lectures at weekly intervals at the Fall 2019 Aquatic Academy in Long Beach, CA. Three Stanford University professors and I each delivered a lecture on an aspect of retirement, followed by a Q&A session.  Mine on October 10 was called “Life Two: A Time of Opportunity” and I focused on the positives of the transition and the opportunities for volunteering. (That’s worth a blog post, some time.) The U-curve of happiness is always a popular topic (it shows that we’re typically happiest at this stage of life, and it’s a consequence of brain chemistry, not of leaving work behind). And there’s one of the Q&A session, with my dear friend Russ Hill chairing it. Russ arranged for a copy of Life Two to be given to every member of the audience.

On October 23, in The Hague, Netherlands, the World Pension Summit also arranged for a book signing and distribution (the third photo), and I was actually also involved in two other WPS events that day. As an Advisory Board member I was one of the judges of their innovation awards (what a wonderful group of entries!) and gave out some of the prizes. And I was a panel member for a session on “the modern pension pot.”

Then, on November 4 in San Diego, CA, the Defined Contribution (DC) West 2019 conference organized by Pensions & Investments also arranged for me to describe the Life Two book before a book distribution and signing (the fourth and fifth photographs).

My grateful thanks to Russ Hill and to the teams at P&I (Chris Battaglia, Nikki Pirrello, Amy Resnick in the photo, and so many others) and WPS (I now add Harry Smorenberg, Eric Eggink, Mirjam Guldemond) for their generosity.

Then back to Toronto for the podcast launch on November 13. That’s the sixth photo, in which I’m with the team at Common Wealth. Co-host Alex Mazer is fifth from left (at the back); his business partner Jonathan Weisstub is second from left; and our hero Janette Luu is sixth from left (in front, in the jacket). I’ve already expressed how happy I was to work with them.

Meanwhile Victoria Tomlinson, the CEO at Next-Up Limited (http://www.next-up.com/) had discovered me and contacted me via LinkedIn. We hit it off, and she was particularly interested in my starting to write a blog so long after my working career was over. She interviewed me over the internet (earlier on November 13, the same day as the podcast launch – a busy day!), and created a 13-minute video that’s on her website and on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY86c2YIshM), and she posted it on LinkedIn. I took a screen shot and attached it here (photo #7). I think Next-Up is terrific; in fact I used one of Victoria’s interviews of retirees as a story about volunteering to tell at the Aquatic Academy session.

And finally on December 12 in Washington, DC, I attended a Policy Forum at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, where for many years I had served on their board and chaired their Research Committee. I was privileged to talk about Life Two, and have promised to send copies to the many members who gave me their card. I don’t have a photo of the event, but EBRI’s President and CEO, Lori Lucas, was at the DC West conference and posted a photo of us on LinkedIn – the final photo shown. I thank Lori for her generosity in permitting me a spot on the EBRI program.

All in all, a very busy period, thanks to the goodwill of so many generous people.

And the confidence to do it all started with the kindness of Claer Barrett and her team at the London Financial Times, when in July they published my article on Life Two (https://www.ft.com/content/2a8abfa8-a3c7-11e9-a282-2df48f366f7d) in their Weekend edition and accompanied it with an FT Money podcast interview (https://www.ft.com/content/7858cc77-3464-478d-9565-6e7c26b51182 ).

Again, I think of how lucky I am.

One final anecdote, to bring a smile to your lips. After the podcast launch event, a friend in the investment industry emailed me to say that he had listened to one of the podcasts and that my voice is perfect for the medium: “smooth and comforting.” I told him that was a relief to me, as up to now I’ve always assumed it’s the content of what I say that puts people to sleep – now I have the option of believing it’s the soothing tone of my voice. To which his response was: Zzzzzzzzzz …  Yes, it’s only a close friend who can tease affectionately!

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4 Comments


I have written about retirement planning before and some of that material also relates to topics or issues that are being discussed here. Where relevant I draw on material from three sources: The Retirement Plan Solution (co-authored with Bob Collie and Matt Smith, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), my foreword to Someday Rich (by Timothy Noonan and Matt Smith, also published by Wiley, 2012), and my occasional column The Art of Investment in the FT Money supplement of The Financial Times, published in the UK. I am grateful to the other authors and to The Financial Times for permission to use the material here.


4 Responses to “# 93 Why I’m Grateful”

  1. KC says:

    Beautiful post. Suffice to say those who know you, those whose lives you have touched, and those with whom you have crossed paths along the way, feel grateful for you too.

  2. Mike Clark says:

    Great reflections Don – I guess I will never close that 8 year gap, but I hope and pray my energies continue, as yours. Now trying to help Chris Martin and Birmingham and their climate plan! And preparing for COP26…

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