Today is my first day out of the office for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Since it is also the last Thanksgiving before my early retirement in 2016, I thought maybe I would reflect on the things I am THANKFUL for in my 27 year career:
- I’m thankful I skipped a baseball game that I had tickets to one afternoon when I was in college and instead took a temporary job (supposed to last 60 days) at a big local company. I stayed 12 years.
- This was a terrific company that really invested in me. My boss(es) really went the extra mile in ensuring my development. I am thankful they took the extraordinary effort to sponsored me through graduate school (nights & weekend MBA program for several years) and gave me great projects to prove myself & learn from.
- I’m also thankful for those that saw enough potential in me early on to put me on a management-track, even though I lacked the sophisticated Ivy League MBA background so many people in the company had. I had to be patient for the opportunity, but they saw some potential in me and made it all come together.
- Throughout my career, I am thankful for the great folks I have partnered with and had on my team. An old boss once said, “In leading businesses your dreams come true through the hard work of others.” I have always tried to go out of my way to ensure others see my appreciation. They entrusted me with leadership of businesses ranging from $100M to well over a $1B dollars. That’s some confidence.
- When my first company was acquired by MegaCorp #2, many of us worried that we would be the first out the door. Out of 85 marketing managers that went over to “NewCo” on 11/1/01, just a handful of us made it to the director-level, and only two of us made it to VP. For this, I am thankful I worked hard, had good sponsors, a patient wife, and received good advice. I also stayed at this company for 12 years.
- I am thankful for the good fun I had at this point of my career. I’ve been on amazing commercial shoots, went to huge events/premieres as a VIP, stayed in dozens of 5 star resorts, worked with amazing people & celebrities, traveled first-class internationally, and had a blast with my teammates. Many of these experiences were really one-of-a-kind and more than offset any bad days at the office.
- Thanks also to the bosses and “old-timers” I respected who went out of their way to give me good advice on saving & investing for the future. I’ve had good financial counseling over the years and am continually amazed at how things have added up for early retirement. When I left my last job – at a time the company was really struggling – I was amazed at the package I was able to take. My boss said “You’ll never have to work again if you don’t want to.” I was 46 years old and four years ahead of my FIRE plan.
- I probably should only be just a few years into my “Late Career” with another 5-10 years to work, but I am thankful that we are well set enough for me to be close to calling it quits voluntarily. I am just 4 months and a 4 days away from my planned finish line. I’m expecting it is going to be hard to actually say “enough” when that date comes in 2016.
- I am thankful I have spent the last (almost) 3 years at my current MegaCorp. It is a completely different kind of company than where I spent the first 24 years of my career – it competes in many industries, is very global in revenue, and has developed highly differentiated technology. I have learned a lot over the last few years and have met some great new people. I doubt I will be well remembered in 10 years except maybe as the guy who quit in his 40s.
- Last but not least, I am happy to have learned early in my career (from a boss) that your priorities should be: “Family first. MegaCorp second. (Except sometimes).” That kept things in perspective when work/home balance became a challenge.
That’s it for my last day at the office before Thanksgiving weekend. What moments of your career are you most thankful for? How are they setting you up for a life of FIRE?
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