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Should you delay retirement and keep working? This podcast looks at all aspects of retirement – including not retiring. Let’s face it, retirement’s not for everyone. And many people are choosing to work longer, for a variety of reasons. For some it is financially driven. But for others it’s because they love what they do, enjoy the people they work with and have a sense of mission and purpose in their work. Scott MacKillop shares why he’s choosing to continue to work – and how he also enjoys his family life and a variety of interests outside of work.
Scott MacKillop joins us from Colorado.
Scott MacKillop is the CEO of First Ascent Asset Management in Denver, Colorado. After 40 years in the financial services industry, he’s still driven by seeing if he can do things better and make a difference in the industry. A graduate of Stanford University and George Washington University’s Law School, he began his career working as an intern at the Securities and Exchange Commission while in law school and then practiced law in Washington, DC for a little over 15 years, specializing in securities law, ERISA and venture capital transactions. Scott has published over 100 published articles and papers and has delivered over 100 industry conference speaking engagements. He was born in California and grew up in Silicon Valley (before it was called Silicon Valley), has lived on the East Coast and in the South, and in Denver since 1997. In addition to hanging out with his wife and kids, Scott plays lead guitar for the band at his church, loves hiking and has summited 30 “14ers ” (mountains 14,000 feet and higher).
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“The first thing I, I learned is that there’s really no way to perfectly balance work in life. It’s an aspirational goal, but you have to accept the fact that there’s only 24 hours in a day. And if you’re like me, there’s way too many things that you’d like to do and so you’re never going to be able to fit it all in. So you have to try to screen out as many things as possible to really just focus on your priorities and not let yourself get distracted. Embrace the fact that you’re not going to get everything right. You’re going to have days when you go, Oh, I spent too much time doing work and not enough time doing things with my family. And there’ll be other times when you see it the other way. So just don’t stress about that. Do your best to stay focused. And you have to think about it, because it’s not going to happen by itself. There’s nobody that’s going to tell you when it’s time to go do your fun things and stop working. So you have to be very intentional about it. I think the key is just recognizing that it’s hard to get that exactly right. But I have found, interestingly, that time seems a little bit expandable to me. So if I have relatively few things to do, I’m going to fill up the day. If I have more things to do, somehow or another, I can still get those in.”
On Guitar Lessons
“I also play guitar. I play in a band. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area back in the sixties. And so there were were a lot of pretty cool musical influences back then. And I actually ended up taking guitar lessons from Jerry Garcia before he became, you know, Jerry Garcia…What happened there was there was actually a guitar teacher named Troy Heimer, who nobody has ever heard of now. But all of my friends said, He’s the best guitar player! You’ve gotta go take lessons from him. So I went down to this local guitar store and tried to get lessons from Troy, and they said, Nope, there’s no way you can do it. And I said, I’ll come anytime, weekends or late. He said, Nope, sorry, he’s totally booked up. But we’ve got this other guy. And, they pointed to him. He was sitting, I still remember, he was in a metal folding chair. He had a Guild 12 string guitar, and he had this wild black wiry hair and probably about five days growth. And back in those days, he was kind of scary looking. But I listened to him play and it was unbelievable. So, I said, Okay, I’ll sign up take some lessons from him. So that’s how it all happened.”
On the Gift of Time
“I’m much more aware of the finite nature of the time that I have. There’s no question about it. I feel lucky. I’m 72 now. Both my parents died in their mid sixties, and so I feel like I’ve got this gift of these extra years. I don’t know how many more of ’em I’m going to have. I just look at each one of them as a blessing and recognize I could live, I guess, another 30 years, but I could also have a much shorter time period. So, there’s that sort of mysterious quality to time where, you don’t really know how much of it you have. You can’t really plan on a specific amount of time. But I am at the point now where the end of my life is not some theoretical thing. I know that I will someday not be here. And so it makes everything seem sweeter and more important. Every hour you have is a gift. And so you try to do the best you can with it and make a difference. I think it’s important. I don’t think everybody looks at the world this way, but I have been motivated a lot by trying to just make the world a better place in some little way. That might be just a smile to somebody in your family, or it might be something bigger that you try to do. But I think it makes it makes me very conscious of how I spend my time.”
On Common Mistakes in Planning for Retirement
“The thing that I’ve seen is people not really thinking that much about what it’s going to be like and how they’re going to spend their time – and how they’re going to feel about things. My recommendation is to think about the things that bring you joy in your life and be very intentional about that. Try to identify what those things are and say, Well, if I quit work, will I lose some of those things? Or will I get more of what I like when I quit and go do other things? I think it’s just really important to have in mind what are the things that bring you joy in life and try to gravitate in those directions. I think the reason why I’m still working at this point is just that I love what I do. I get a lot out of it and there would be no real substitute for it at this point in my life. So I continue to do that along with the other things that bring me joy as well. Once you leave the work world, you realize how much of your life structure was built round work. And when that structure isn’t there anymore, there’s no little fairies going to show up and say, Now it’s time to go do this. You need to plan to do that. There’s a lot of, I’ll call it work, but I’m not sure that it really feels like work, but there’s work to do to make sure you think about what you’re going to do next. The world can take you away. There are a lot of people who will push you one way or the other.”
About Retirement Wisdom
I help people who are retiring, but not quite done yet, discover what’s next. A long retirement is a terrible thing to waste.
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Joe Casey is an executive coach who also helps people design their next life after their primary career. He created his own next chapter after a twenty-six-year career at Merrill Lynch, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of HR for Global Markets & Investment Banking. Today, in addition to his work with clients, Joe hosts The Retirement Wisdom Podcast, which thanks to his guests and loyal listeners, ranks in the top 1 % globally in popularity by Listen Notes. Business Insider has recognized him as one of 23 innovative coaches who are making a difference. He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.