Time To Abandon Ship

Cleaned out the office.

Handed back my building pass.

Took one final look back at the corner office where I had spent most of the past ten years of my life.

My name was still there but it won’t be on Monday morning. I’ve abandoned ship.

I’ve certainly gone through a bit of a rollercoaster ride leading up to this moment.

Excitement.

Fear.

Excitement.

More fear.

A friend told me that in retirement every night is like Friday night and every day is like Saturday.

Last night was Friday night and today is Saturday. So far so good!

We had a family celebration last night. Here is one shot of me with Lorraine and our three children.

Made it to the retirement line, which is really a new starting line for whatever happens next. Lorraine and I have spent years getting ready for this time of life.

We’ll soon be heading out to Hamburg, Germany and then from there to Norway. Things will likely be a bit quiet around this website over the next few weeks as I expect access to the Internet will be limited while we are away.

When we get back from Europe, it will be time to get our coach ready for the journey south.

Happy Retirement

An amazing reception for my retirement yesterday. There were four speeches before me and I started to think that I had shown up at the wrong retirement event. They must be talking about someone else!

Humbled, honoured, thankful.

Anyway, here is my retirement speech.

RETIREMENT SPEECH
For Delivery, July 18th at 2:00pm

Thank you for all the kind wishes and wonderful comments.

I am indeed a very, very fortunate man. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, an amazing family, good friends, and, clearly, the best looking team of colleagues in the world!

My life, your life, is not defined by a state of working or a state of retirement.

Our journey in life is defined by our relationships with each other, by themes of love, family, faith and self-acceptance.

I was taught at an early age that there several stages in life:

A time to learn.
A time to work.
A time to retire.

And so I went to school. I got a job. And now I retire.

Mission accomplished!

Although I do worry a little bit about the stage after retirement.

I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about what makes for a fulfilling career. Lessons that I have learned over the past 40 years or so.

Three words to remember: mission, mastery, freedom

Let’s start with mission.

Everyone here in this room has the talent and capability to create a great life for yourself, for your family and for your community. And everyone here in this room can make our company an even better company in the future than it is today.

It starts with answering one very basic question:

Why are you here?

Having a higher purpose, a mission, a cause that you believe in will make all the difference to you and to your career. You will know, that in some way — large or small — you have made our company a better place because of your work.

Have you ever experienced a moment where your life was changed forever?

It happened to me when I was 16 years old.

I lived in a small house in Lachine, Quebec that was built just after the second world war. My father had been battling cancer for several years and all I knew was that he was very, very sick. But I thought that he would make it. That he would come home from the hospital.

I can remember the telephone call as if it happened yesterday. It was early. 6AM. My mother answered the phone and all I heard was her screaming and crying.

Dad was gone.

He left no will. He had no insurance.

We were left with nothing. We had to sell the house and my mom and I had to find jobs to make ends meet. Life was very hard during those years after his death.

I made a commitment to myself that when I grew up, got married and had a family, that I would provide well for them. To make sure they were protected and to be financially secure if anything happened to me. That was the core part of my mission in life.

And that is why I believe so strongly in our company.

We help Canadian families with their financial security. We help Canadian families build wealth. Our promise to them is simple, fast and easy. We have a great company whose underlying mission you can believe in. A company that makes a difference in the lives of the people we serve.

Why are you here?

What is your mission?

When you know why you come in to work everyday, you have a mission. And that mission you will carry you throughout your life. That mission will be your anchor when you face challenges and it will be your reason to celebrate your accomplishments.

After mission there is mastery.

Getting better and better at the skills and talents that you use in your work leads to mastery. People will see you doing great work and great work always gets rewarded. Always.

But it is not just about getting better at what you do. It is about helping others to get better at what they do.

Keep learning. Keep developing. Keep pushing yourself to get better at the things you really love doing. And then one day it will happen. You will become a Jedi Master. Every Jedi Master must take on an apprentice.

And then you get to help someone else get really, really good at what they do. That is the true reward of mastery.

Mission, mastery, freedom.

And I don’t mean Freedom 55.

When you have a mission and you get really good at what you do, you will have freedom. The freedom that comes from being passionate about your work and why you do what you do. The freedom that comes from being really, really good at your work and helping others to be really, really good at their work.

Suddenly, your career becomes part of who you are. It does not define you. You define your career.

There is one final thought that I would like to leave with you.

I am more and more convinced, having gone through many different passages in life, that the things I value most are the warm, caring relationships I have with the people who have passed and are passing through my life. These things are eternal and the rest is like dust before the wind. These relationships are the things to value and so I strongly encourage you to measure your success in this life by the quality of care you give to those around you. We need to be friends. We need to take an active role in the people who pass through our lives. We need to care, to trust, to support and to cherish our family and our friends.

I am grateful and thankful for the support of my family. I am grateful and thankful for the support of the leadership of our company.

I cannot adequately express the gratitude that I have for my amazing team and my wonderful colleagues.

All I can say is thank you for this incredible journey. I will carry many wonderful memories of our time together.

Thank you.

Retirement Speech

It was a battle but I finally finished up the retirement speech. 891 words. Roughly 7 minutes.

The corporate retirement reception is tomorrow afternoon at 2pm. It will run for an hour and I get to bring it home at the very end.

I will post the speech tomorrow after the reception. You can let me know if it made any sense at all.

Technically I will have two more days at work after the retirement reception tomorrow. I’ll clean out what little is left of my belongings on the Thursday. I have a luncheon with the CEO on Friday and then time to celebrate this transition with my family. They have a set of events planned for me this week-end. Regardless of those plans, I am just thrilled to be with my wife, my children and my grandchildren for the week-end.

Lorraine and I will then head out on a Norwegian cruise. I expect the posts will be very limited over those two weeks as we will be either on a ship with limited Internet access or spending our days touring Norway.

The big transition to retirement is almost here. When I provided my notice last October it seemed like it was so far away.

Three more sleeps.

I will wake up the same person though.

Just without a job!

Exit

I’m just about finished the transition work at the office. And there has been a lot of transition work. Since I provided my notice to retire back in October of 2017, the pace of work has been pretty intense.

Now? The pace has backed off dramatically. My successor started last week and aside from introductions and transition planning discussions, my workload has reduced a lot. I have only a few days left before I retire so I am not surprised that things have started to wind down.

There is one task that I have been putting off and that is writing my retirement speech. My company is holding a reception next Wednesday and next Wednesday will come up fast.

My speech will be short as retirement speeches should be. 5 to 10 minutes at most.

Shouldn’t take long to prepare right?

A word of thanks, a few words about the company and the team and perhaps a few words of wisdom about corporate life.

Although I have spoken extensively over the years at industry keynotes, corporate events, boards, especially my years lecturing, there have been a few speeches that I found particularly challenging:

  • I was asked to be the commencement speaker for the graduating students at the college where I used to teach.
  • The father of the bride speech for my oldest daughter.
  • The father of the groom speech for my oldest son.

I had such a hard time putting my thoughts together for each speech and even though I am very comfortable with public speaking, all three events terrified me.

I am just as terrified about this retirement speech next week.

Time to start working on it.

Retirement

14 days to go before retirement and a few retirement events are now beginning.

Last night my management team held a retirement dinner for me. Such a wonderful evening and such a great team. Incredible food at a beautiful location in the country with dear colleagues and friends. So honoured to have been able to serve with this team.

My retirement gift from my management team really means a lot to me. The Mont Blanc LeGrand is inscribed with the words Best Boss Ever!

To be remembered this way is both humbling and rewarding.

And there is a bit of a back story about the pen itself.

During my career, I have held senior executive roles at two large Canadian insurers and one very large Canadian bank, having served 10 years at each company.

For almost 15 years, I carried a Mont Blanc LeGrand with me every single day that I was working. Regardless of location, regardless of business travel, that pen was always with me. I loved the feel, the weight and the quality of such a nice writing instrument.

Then one day, at the bank, I had left my pen at the office. I had set it down for some reason, forgot to pick it up and when I returned to the office the next day, it was gone.

I was reluctant to spend the money to buy a new one as it was a very expensive pen. I did without it.

I did miss the LeGrand though and I felt badly about having lost the pen.

My executive assistant who has supported me both at the bank and at my current employer knew the story about the lost pen. She helped to decide on this retirement gift with the team.

Such a perfect gift!

I will cherish this pen not because of its feel, weight and quality. I will cherish the pen for the engraving and the memories of working with such a fantastic team.

A few more retirement events before I finish in two weeks. And then a new chapter of life begins. So looking forward to getting out there with our coach.