September 18, 2013
Cranky Old Guy Finds Happiness
If you're a regular reader, you've probably noticed that there is very little of an autobiographical nature that appears in this blog.
There are two reasons for this. First, I prefer writing about advertising to writing about myself. And second, I believe you prefer reading about advertising than reading about me.
Once in a while, however, I write something autobiographical and today is one of those days. Several people have sent emails or asked recently about how I'm enjoying my almost-retirement, so I thought I'd write about it.
It has gone way better than I had any right to expect. I have not had a moment of regret about leaving the agency business.
One of the things I thought I might miss was being treated like a big shot. When you're an agency ceo and your agency spends a lot of money in media, everyone wants to be your friend and take you places and buy you lunch. When you retire, you quickly become "Bob who?" The good news is that I haven't missed it at all. Yes, there are a few games I'd like to have gone to, but that's why God gave us television.
The issue that has been challenging has been figuring out exactly how retired I really am. My new company, Type A Group, seems to be evolving into something different from what my partner and I conceived.
We started with only two things we knew for sure: it was not going to be an agency, and we were not going to hire anyone.
Other than that, we defined the business loosely -- as a consultancy to agencies and marketers in a few different areas. Our mantra was that we'd know what business we were in when we got our first client. After about 90 days, it became clear to us that the one area which seemed most interesting was helping companies and agencies market to the over-50 crowd. This is a major opportunity that I predict will explode in the next few years.
But interesting things keep popping up that have nothing to do with over-50's. Some we have passed on, and some we've decided to pursue.
One of the things that has been so pleasant about these past few months is how varied the work has been.
Another of the surprising things is the amount of speaking we're doing. I'm not here to pimp the company, but I will say that I'm really enjoying the speaking and it seems to be going over well with the audiences we've been addressing. As you can imagine from the blog, our talks are different from the usual conference fare, and while not everyone agrees with us, people seem to enjoy the talks and the response has been terrific. It's almost like being in the entertainment business.
We're also engaged in a creative project, which is the last thing we thought we'd be doing. Out of the blue, my partner had an idea and we brought it to a company and they liked it and it looks like we're going to produce it.
Without question, the most liberating part of the almost-retirement gig is that I don't really give a damn about a lot of things I used to have to worry about. As an agency owner one of the great burdens was the worry about people whose livelihoods and families depended on me. One wrong word to a client and peoples' jobs could be in jeopardy. So I always had to be careful about what I said and how I said it. Now I say exactly what I think, and if someone doesn't like it, so be it. There is an amazing feeling of freedom when, after decades, you can finally tell the truth and not care about the consequences.
Of course, the thing that keeps me most busy is writing. In addition to this blog I have two books I am "working" on (by "working" I mean feeling guilty about by not doing a fucking thing.) One is fiction and one is another compilation of blog posts and short pieces. The one thing that is a complete shock is that my book remains the #1 selling ad book at Amazon and has been for 6 months. I hardly make any money from the thing but it's still very gratifying.
The answer to the question about how I'm enjoying my almost-retirement, to those of you who have been kind enough to ask, is that it is still early days, but so far it has been excellent.
And Speaking Of Speaking...
I'll be talking to the Portland Ad Federation tomorrow evening on the subject of Social Media vs. Traditional Media. If you're in the Portland area, please come. You can find the info here.