PROFILE: THE OFFICE—ONE PATH TO STRUCTURE
One of the most common themes I’ve heard in my interviews is LACK OF STRUCTURE…many who are retired are struggling to build some organization into their lives. When you’ve spent your life going to the office every day, the fear of sitting at home in your sweats reading the paper all day is a scary concept—especially for Type-A alpha males. Andrew, who I wrote about recently, seems to have found something that solves the lack-of-structure dilemma—AN OFFICE. It’s just amazing what the routine of going to an office did for him: It’s my “anchor…and sanity check”, he admits and credits the office with his smooth retirement transition.
Critical to the OFFICE’s success is that he shares it with several life-long friends who were in the same retirement mode. Without going into unnecessary detail, let me just say that these were all hyper-successful men. And now they all can still “dress for success”…get out of the house…and go to THE office! For all of them, they still have a routine and each comes into the office every day they are in NYC. Whatever the expense, the emotional and ego paybacks far outweigh the cost.
What do you do when you’re there, I wonder? First and foremost, “we have fun!”, Andrew grins. Each of them has an office “job”: One is in charge of IT, one is the fire marshal, one is the bookkeeper, and one is in charge of office décor and art work! Aside from that, they bring all their bills, paper work, banking, investment management, correspondence, not-for-profit work etc. to the office. And in that context, they share investment ideas, discuss politics and engage in all the water cooler conversations that go on in “normal offices.” And let’s not forget the Wednesday bridge game around that center-piece bridge table!
He talked and talked about some of the office happenings and trappings: The office is basically a bull pen with a couple of side offices. And then there’s that mini-office that they transformed into a “nap room”, decorated with a comfy couch and TV!!! Showcasing the office camaraderie and fun, Andrew told a story about their “chef.” “Chef???” I asked, ”you have a chef???” Decidedly NOT! But they told someone who was coming in to pitch an investment idea that they did…and promptly went across the street to purchase a gourmet lunch which these five guys then arranged expertly on platters and set the table quite nicely. (Whether they actually invited their wives in to do that…I don’t really know.) Anyway, the food was so good that the visitor asked to meet the chef. “He had to leave”, they explained. “Does he have spare days…I’d like to hire him”, the visitor exclaimed. “Sorry…but he’s fully booked.” To this day, that visitor still doesn’t know that there was no chef. And I just hope he’s not reading this blog!
The real point is that this Office fills a huge need in these men’s lives and none of them would be as comfortable in their retirement without it. If you can do something like this with friends…it’s a pretty satisfying way to build some routine and structure back into your life.