Sunday, September 28, 2014


By Rob Watson

Recently a close personal friend completed the process of retiring. She sold her home, moved temporarily, into an apartment, completed the paperwork for retiring with her job and set about to wait for the magic day. In the week before that day, her friends gathered to say a fond farewell then, she packed her remaining belongings. The day after retiring from a life of working, she piled into her car, drove a thousand miles, and began to settle into her new life. From the known to the unknown in three days time. Her transition reminded me of my own...

During the summer of 1989 it became clear that my boss at Small Company was getting tired of me. It was probably a combination of realities. First was my independence from his leadership style. He wanted a faithful follower. I did my own thing. I was his top sales manager. No mater how he changed the rules for what constituted top guy, I was always it. Second was the corporate atmosphere. I was the last of the early employees that did not fit the hiring criteria: 3.5 GPA, BS in Computers or engineering, and a Masters in Business.

As part of my exit strategy, I convinced the boss to let me do The Road Show that fall… introducing our new products by traveling from city to city giving four hour training sessions on their use. Wife and I left in August and returned the first of December… 18,000 miles… 56 cities… 116 presentations. On my return, the boss had picked my replacement, a fresh faced college hire with no experience. (In the following 6 months, sales in my territories dropped from $1.2 million per month to $400k per month.) I resigned my position and took vacation until my date of resignation.

A business associate from Medium State was starting his own electronics company and consented to my buying into the enterprise and being his sales manager. Plan A was for me to bring in a pile of money and we would get rich together. All I had to do was leave everything behind and move to the new location.

I had joined a hunting lease in Big State and spent some of my vacation chasing deer over the several square miles of the place. It was a Christmas Tree shaped plateau rising a hundred feet or so above the surrounding plain. There was a high point on the top, near one end. From this point, one could see many miles in all direction. The illusion was that one could see the whole of Big State. On the last day of hunting, a couple of days before my permanent move to Medium State, I climbed to this high point to say my good byes to my home of 20 years.

As I sat there, I tried to remember each of my friends, the things we had done, the places we had been. I silently said adios to each. I strove to remember the people with whom I had worked, the companies, the customers, the trade shows, the training classes… I smiled. I remembered. I cried. Then, I let it all drift into the past. I stood, pointed my rifle into the air and fired. I imagined the sound waves traveling outward and putting the period on my life there. As I walked down the plateau I was at peace, filled with thoughts, plans, and hopes for the future.

I drove home, packed my car, kissed Wife and sped off into my unknown. Along the road to Medium State there is a high point, not far inside the state line. From there, on a clear day, as that one was, one can look out and see more than a hundred miles across the state. I stopped at this lookout point and welcomed myself to my future. I stood there and dreamed dreams of learning new things, new adventures, new people, and success. My soul was at peace and my expectations soared as I drove on.

I would wish, for all of my friends as they dive into retirement, the peace, the joy, and the 'Great Expectations' I felt as I drove into my future in those days.