Yahoo is publishing first-person perspectives from Americans 65 or older who have returned to the workforce after retiring or who have picked up a second job to bolster their income. These personal stories come on the heels of an Associated Press poll that says 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it’s at least somewhat likely they will work during their retirement years. Forty-seven percent, meanwhile, said they’ll retire later than planned. Here’s one account.
FIRST PERSON | 2010 was a pivotal year in Green Bay, Wis. We sold the business, received the first Social Security checks and retired. This was quite a dramatic change in lifestyles for both of us. I worked 12- to 14-hour days while my wife, Mary Jo, first raised the children and then tended to the home — alone.
Almost overnight, there I was, together with Mary Jo in the house continuously, after 44 years at the office. I was recovering from a surgery and not able to play golf, which may have exacerbated the feelings of (I hesitate to say the “e-word”) entrapment. Not that I was unhappy. For me, it was more the realization of being here, in this spot, now. This is it. My career is over. I cannot go to the office. This was quite different from sitting at my desk between phone calls imagining what I would do in retirement. I think Mary Jo felt the same way.
The tide turned
As a Type-A personality with lots of ideas and energy, my plan was to take my time, see how retirement developed and to somehow re-invent me. It did not take long. About six months had passed by when Mary Jo suggested, “Find something to do outside the home.” She does not recall making that statement, and possibly I misunderstood with my poor hearing, but, I repeated it so often I think she just tired of it.
The epiphany: I will write a book
I announced the plan to my family in 2010 at a Christmas gathering. Mark, our son, who has experience in marketing, technology, and business, said, “Dad, you do not want to write a book. You want to start a website.” It had never entered my mind. Here, I am 65, technologically challenged, and one who struggled through English in high school, starting a website?
“Would it be easier to write a book?” I asked. He explained his logic about the upheaval in the publishing media brought on by the Internet. As I listened to his ideas, I saw the logic and changed direction: “I’m starting a website.”
Zero to 120 mph in 12 months
I began writing articles in January 2011. The goal was to build a website with information specific to real estate consumers. My work experiences earlier in my career included founding an innovative real estate company that focused on the customer. I wrote on WordPress, an online content management system, about the real estate process and the steps for a customer to take. What questions to ask and when to ask them. The reader could learn to avoid potholes and move confidently through the process. Without this information, the website would be empty.
Build a… what?
My family pitched in. Mary Jo allowed me to write uninterruptedly, Mark, instructed me on how to build a wire-frame and design a request for proposal, known in the business as an RFP. Erica, our daughter, a professional photographer, took photographs and created images for the articles. Along the way, we incorporated the idea of consumers being able to ask questions, and finally, a service where a consumer could “Find a real estate agent” using the website. As I was writing, the web design company that won the RFP was building the website to beta standards. I answered the first question for a reader in February 2012.
Do not take ‘no’ for an answer
The questions were coming in. Consumers liked the fact I was not a practicing agent, but that I knew about the subject. Someone suggested to me “Why not put the answers in the newspaper?” That seemed like a good idea, so I called an editor of one of the leading syndicators. While they encouraged my writing style, the answer I received was “Mr. Montgomery, this is a business where you do not start at the top.” While the experience was disappointing, I have happily found a number of editors since that disagree with the first one.
I now spend 12-14 hours a day answering questions and finding agents. Each week, I send the best questions to the newspapers. I love the new job as I loved my old job. Today, when my friends ask me “Monty, when are you going to hang it up?” I find myself repeating how the famous radio commentator and columnist, Paul Harvey, replied when someone asked him the same question. His answer – “I’ll tell you when I’m going to retire. I’m going to retire just as soon as I find something that I like to do better.”