retirement planning

Retirement...Don't Sit on the Front Porch and Rock Your Life Away!

In retirement, Fran Buie is busier than ever… and having the time of her life.

After a 33-year career working in state government, Fran was ready for a change.

She found fulfillment by embracing lifelong interests and hobbies she had set aside for years… and helping others in her community.

As Fran says, we have limited time on earth, let’s do something worthwhile. We discuss that philosophy and also get into…

  • How to discover what you really want out of life – now

  • Ways to stay engaged and active in retirement

  • The unexpected value of your past experiences

  • The importance of having a Plan A – and a contingency plan

  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hey, folks. This is John Curry. Welcome to another episode of John Curry's Secure Retirement podcast. Today I'm sitting across the table from my friend, Fran Buie. I've been excited about interviewing her because she's an interesting lady. She's had a career with the state government and she teaches, she does artwork, she understands project management. Fran, welcome and I'm looking forward to hearing your insights today.

Fran Buie: Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me. 

John Curry: You're welcome. Thanks for coming. Tell our listeners who you are. Who is the real Fran Buie and what makes you tick?

Fran Buie: Oh, dear. I worked for the state government. Department of Revenue was my last state agency that I worked for. I worked for state for 33 years. I retired in 2007 from state government, but I still had interest in doing something besides just sitting on the front porch and rocking my life away, so I had a plan and I had a contingency plan. My plan A was to think about the things that interested me, what I wanted to do as far as hobbies, what I wanted to do to give back to the community that has been very generous in supporting me for many a year, and also what could I do that would be a contribution to the community as well as other people. 

When I retired I was looking at project management. That was my last job. I was working with the Department of Revenue on the CAMS project, which was the Child Support Enforcement Management System. It was the first automated system in the United States for child support enforcement. We successfully launched that program and I was very honored and thrilled to be the manager for that when we started launching it. It is in complexity and breadth second only to American Express Worldwide, so it's quite a large program, quite complex, and has been successfully operated for several years now. 

I also had been teaching off and on for years at college/university level as well as teaching adults in outside things like the senior center. I work as an art teacher there. I have several galleries and I will teach different kinds of workshops at the art galleries and also volunteer with AARP. We do tax aid, we do income tax filing for senior citizens as well as others who walk in and would like us to do their taxes. I work doing volunteer work. I'm the art curator for the North Florida Fair each year. We just successfully completed that as well. 

John Curry: I'm worn out just listening to what you're doing. So much for being retired. 

Fran Buie: Well, when you retire I think you need to have a plan and a contingency plan even. My plan A was, I looked at the things that interested me. I had been working in art prior to going to work for the state and I wanted to go back to that. I started taking lessons just to kind of brush up my skills that I had kind of let lay while I was working for the state and I also was thinking of the things that I wanted to do to give back to the community, which is the tax aid program. Giving back to the community through people coming in wanting to have their taxes done as well as teaching. 

I worked with Bainbridge State College. I've worked at the College of Pharmacy at FAMU and at the College of Medicine at FSU teaching prerequisite courses and advanced life support systems, things of that nature. 

John Curry: What words would you share with people who hear you saying what you've done? 33 years of work. Some people hearing this are thinking, "Wow. You've done enough. Slow down. Just go sit on that front porch and rock." And then others would say, "I would love to be more like Fran to learn what my plan A is." We were talking over lunch, most people don't have a plan A. They don't have a plan, period, much less a contingency plan. That's been my experience of 44 years in business. When it comes to retirement planning, most people don't have a clue. It's kind of like, "I'm going to show up and all of a sudden magically Social Security will come in, my 401k, my pension fund with the state," or whatever. So what would you say to the people, two different groups here. One's saying, "Hey, you've done enough. It's okay to go sit on that porch and rock."

Fran Buie: No, it's not. 

John Curry: Why not? Expand on that?

Fran Buie: Why not?

John Curry: I know you enough to know I know the answer, but I want to hear this. I want to hear it out of your mouth. 

Fran Buie: I want to be active. I want to be able to contribute. Sitting on the front porch and rocking your life away, to me it's time wasted. We have such a limited amount of time on this earth, let's do something that is worthwhile that gives us some kind of value to ourselves.

John Curry: Significance. 

Fran Buie: So that whenever we're not here anymore, at least we have left some kind of legacy. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. I can't see not doing something that contributes to society and it helps yourself. It keeps your mind sharp, keeps your body in tune, keeps you active and viable, and gives you pleasure in living. What kind of pleasure can you derive from just rocking your life away?

John Curry: All right, let's take it to the extreme now. If the other person who's listening who says, "Wow. I like that. I like the fact that you're doing so many things where you're bringing value to yourself as well as community. How do I get started?" If you were sitting in front of 50 people who are thinking that way, what would be some of the things you would encourage them to do, their own little project management if you would, to start working on finding these interests like you did? How do they discover what they really want and who they are?

Fran Buie: What are you interested in? Are you interested in reading? Are you interested in photography? If you're interested in photography, can you take classes or have you developed that skill well enough that you could share it with other people? Are you interested in music? What are your interests and then find the community of other people that have the same interests and get involved.

Are you interested in healthcare? Hospitals and healthcare facilities are begging for volunteers to come in and just be there to help people who come in who need a kind word, somebody to pay attention.

John Curry: A smile. 

Fran Buie: Somebody to look at them. Yes, say hello. If you're interested in teaching, there's numerous agencies out there that are looking for people who have experience, life experiences. I can go to a college or I can even go to an adult education class and if they want to talk about business management, how to be a supervisor, some of the criteria that's needed so that you can get credentials to teach. You can go there and provide that kind of a service. It is asked, it's sought after all the time. 

Senior center, you can go into there. They have a whole array of different kinds of classes. Long-term learning opportunities that you can go in, and in fact, you can go into things like the senior center and other like-minded facilities and do long-term learning classes and sometimes you can find out, "Oh, well, I would like to pursue that particular realm of information or do that kind of activity." There's art classes, there's different kinds of crafts, there's photography. There's travel. Get in a group and go traveling if you want to see the world or see other states, other pieces of the country. That's always available to you. 

There's different associations. There's the AARP. Red Cross loves to have people come. Recent hurricane, the Red Cross was seeking volunteers. You could go out and help provide care for those victims of the hurricane. There's things like that that's always available and you come to these agencies and these opportunities with a world of experience because you have been in the work world and you can provide that to the agencies. You can continue to contribute. You'd be valuable. 

John Curry: I remember a trip I was on. I was riding with two people that are like a brother and a sister to me and I made this comment that I've never fully retired because I don't have enough other interests outside of my work. It's Steve and Marjorie and they were there with me when I had my heart attack and had heart surgery back in 2008. They shuttled me around, picked me up, and we'd drive and have lunch and talk, and I've never heard her be so harsh, but she just screamed at me. She says, "Are you kidding me? You like martial arts, you like to work out, you like the time with your grandson. You like to fish, you enjoy hunting, you enjoy just sitting around reading a good book. Are you kidding me? You've got plenty of things to do. All you've got to do is be willing to do it."

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

John Curry: There are other interests that I have, but for me, I don't want to ever fully retire. I'm in a business where nobody can force me to retire. They can't say, "Okay, you're 66 now, you've got to retire." They can't do that. I can work ‘til I'm 86 or 106 if I want to, as long as clients want me. But I am to the point where I'm pursuing other things. We were talking about this morning, as we're getting this time of year, taking more time off to go hunting and fishing and things like that with my son and grandson and my brother. 

I sometimes struggle with, okay, I do what I do for a living, but what are the things I really want to do? I have no desire to travel a lot anymore. I hate getting on airplanes now. I will take a trip to conferences, but for me to get on a plane and fly to Europe again, I have no desire to go to Europe. I'm trying to reevaluate what I want. I'm working on my plan A, so I'm getting just as much value from this as other people. 

Fran Buie: That's good. For example, the last couple of weeks have been fairly busy because, like I say-

John Curry: You're always busy. 

Fran Buie: Well, that's true.

John Curry: Hey, when we first started trying to schedule this thing, we started this back in October. You remember that, right?

Fran Buie: Yeah, it's been a while. 

John Curry: Yeah, and you said, "That won't work. That won't work. That won't work. That won't work. This'll work." That's how busy she's been. 

Fran Buie: Yeah, this is like in the first part of November, like I say, I did the fine arts division at the North Florida Fair and we took in over 400 pieces of art in two days and those had to be displayed, hung, and everything so that we could prepare for judging to come in. It was a juried show. That kept me fairly busy putting that together. Also, during the time, I am with the Tallahassee Community Chorus and we had our fall concert in November as well. Then we released the art the 19th of November and I went straight in to, I also teach art, continue teaching the art classes and then we just finished the Seasonal Celebration and we had two concerts back to back, one Saturday and one yesterday, down at Ruby Diamond Auditorium there on the FSU campus. 

It's a matter of just finding what interests you and pursuing it. It sounds simple, it's not. You have to really think fairly long and carefully as what really interests you. What's your passion? What is it that you always thought? When you were working, "Wow, if I had time I would like to do ... " Fill in the blank. Now you can. You don't have to work anymore, so now you can. Fill in that blank and do it. 

John Curry: Let's talk a little bit about your artwork for a minute. You love doing art and you said you went back to school yourself to start taking classes to get better. But you also sell your art now too, so you are doing something you enjoy doing and you make money doing that. 

Fran Buie: Yeah, I do. 

John Curry: Did you intend to do that or was that just, happened? How did that come about?

Fran Buie: It came about, really I went back to brush up my skills, didn't have any kind of thought about what I was going to do once I started getting a room full of paintings stacked one on top of the other. 

John Curry: You had to do something with them, right?

Fran Buie: And started teaching and during the time, I contacted a couple of galleries and they says, "Well, we would like your art." I says, "Great." So I started taking my art to some galleries and I let them sell it, but then I thought, "Hmm." And I will have occasional dues and sell the art myself. It supports my hobby because art, the canvases, the oil paints, can be kind of expensive and by selling my art, I am supporting that habit, if you will.

John Curry: Yeah, but you also get to see your art in other places. 

Fran Buie: I do.

John Curry: It's like, I have a piece of your artwork here and every day I see it, especially when I come back from getting water from the kitchen, it's just right there in that hallway, it just stands out. That has to give you a lot of sense of accomplishment and pride, I would think.

Fran Buie: It does.

John Curry: That when you see your work, you say, "Okay, I did that."

Fran Buie: It does.

John Curry: A visible representation of that work.

Fran Buie: In a juried show, I recently submitted some artwork that won second place and I'm really good friends with the person that won the first place. I told her she cheated me out of my first place ribbon, but that's okay. The challenge is on now and the two of us are kind of friendly competition. Let's see who wins first next year. 

John Curry: I can see you doing that. "You beat me this year, but I'm coming after you."

Fran Buie: Well, when she brought in her artwork, I looked at her and I says, "Well, there goes my first place. Okay, next year."

John Curry: Talk about the teaching. Is there someone who's listening to this that might go, "Wow. I have a lot of knowledge. There are things that I could ... " Because all of us have acquired knowledge.

Fran Buie: Right. 

John Curry: The question comes, how do you teach in today's world with social media and the internet, it is so easy to create information products. Whether you sell on eBay, Amazon. My book was published in 2009. It's also available on Kindle. There's no limit today to being able to teach what you know. Talk a little bit about that.

Fran Buie: No. A lot of people will go back, they'll get their education or teacher's certificate so that they can teach. You don't need to do that. A lot of times you can go to different organizations, the Red Cross, you can go to senior center. There's other agencies where you can teach a class and share your knowledge because a lot of the things that you share, your life experiences cannot be gotten in classroom, cannot be incorporated into textbooks. It's things that you pick up through working and those work experiences can sometimes be way more valuable than that college degree or that credential that you get by taking classes or passing exams. 

You can teach and it can be very rewarding. I love it whenever I am teaching a management class and I see the lights go on and the students start interacting. To me, then I know that I have done what I need to do. 

John Curry: I agree. Life experiences are more important than many times what you get in the classroom. You mentioned earlier while we were having lunch leading up to our podcast, talking about teaching a course to help people prepare for a certain exam. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Are you studying just to pass an exam, or are you truly acquiring information and knowledge?

Fran Buie: Well, we have a couple of different ways that we go about it. I am the former president of the Tallahassee chapter of PMI, which is the Project Management Institute. What we do is, we teach a P and P prep class and it is simply, and we tell everybody, "You can take this class so that you can sit for the P and P exam," and that's what we're doing. We are teaching them how to pass the P and P exam. Now, my data is somewhat dated, but nationally the P and P exam, people sitting for it, there's a 60% pass rate, which means 40% of the people sitting for that exam are not going to pass the first time. So we're teaching you the skills to pass that exam.

However, a lot of times what you have are people who just want to be able to manage a project or understand the structure of a project and how they can be an asset in that project. And so right now I am developing the curriculum so that our local chapter can teach what we call Project Management Fundamentals. It gives you the structure and codifies the procedures that you go through in order to manage a project and increase the probability of that project completing on time and on budget. 

We do that. It is available to anyone interested in project management and how projects work and how you put them together, how you set up the sequencing of a project so that you can go from beginning to end and be successful. What you can do, what your contingency plans are, what your risk exposure is, and how you address these kind of issues whenever you've got a project. 

John Curry: Tell people how to learn more about that. So, when a class is available, if they're interested, they can attend it. 

Fran Buie: If you're interested, you would go to our website. It's PMITLH, it's the Tallahassee chapter of Project Management Institute, and look at the events calendar. Also, you can contact, there's going to be a listing of the board members with their contact information. You can contact them and you ask about signing up for classes and come in and attend the classes. 

John Curry: Tell us what project management is. What is managing a project?

Fran Buie: Project management is, well, let me back up a little bit. The state of Florida as well as approximately 27 or 37 other states in the U.S. have implemented statutory language that provides for projects. Now, a project can be any kind of unique product or service that is offered. For example, if you are wanting to develop a specific kind of system, software system, to monitor some kind of a function or a program, that would be considered a project. If a project is valued over a certain amount, say $1 million or $2 million, statutory language in many of the states in the U.S. require that there be a certified project manager both on the state side and on the vendor side. The P and P credential is quite valuable for that reason because there is a demand for project managers. 

However, a lot of people will not necessarily want to sit for that credential. It is a fairly tough test to pass and they may not have the number of hours required as a prerequisite for being able to sit for the exam, or they may just simply not have that kind of an interest. They maybe are an accountant, but they need to work with these project managers and be able to talk their language and so they want to have the project fundamentals. Taking that, they can learn what it is when we talk about risk exposure, what it is when we talk about contingency plans or want to mitigate something. We talk about different project management plans and how we sequence different things and project life cycles. 

The fundamentals course gives you all of this, kind of gives you an overview of what a project is, how it is operated by a project manager, what the steps are that they go through, the different things that they contemplate whenever they have situations occur. You go over budget, you go over your schedule, behind schedule, or you have an opportunity that comes in that would be good, but it's going to impact the project. How do the project managers deal with that? The fundamentals or the overview course gives you that kind of an insight as to the thought processes that go on. 

John Curry: I want to take that course myself. We say project, but project could be something as simple as, okay, we're going to, as a family, do this project in the backyard. We're going to build a tree house. That's a project. I'm thinking of some projects we've done with Boy Scouts where the adults and the kids go, "We've got this job to do over here," so somebody had to take over and become the leader. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: Somebody had to take control and our job was to get the boys to do it, not us do it. Get somebody involved and get going and manage this project. That's what becoming an Eagle Scout's all about. They'd have a project and work toward that. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: So that's what went through my mind when you first used the phrase project management, because it could be something as simple as you doing it at home, or it could be a big complex multi-million dollar enterprise in the business world.

Fran Buie: Well, I have a friend who belongs to a group that go camping every year, or glamping they call it because they have these motor homes, gorgeous. She will sit down and map out where they're going to go. One year they decided they were going to tour the west and they had all the states that they were going. It is a project to sit down and figure out where the parks are that will support the particular kind of array of motor homes that they have, and dates, they'll sequence it and you've got to figure out what the cost is going to be for both the maintenance, the gas, the food, the campsites.

John Curry: And then the unplanned things that pop up. 

Fran Buie: And the unplanned things that pop up. Every year she's the P and P. I tease her. She says, "I don't want to manage a project." No, you do it every year. Because sometimes it's just nothing more than that tour during the summer, it's a project because you have to plan that. It just doesn't happen. You can't just kind of meander around and think, "Oh, that campsite looks great."

John Curry: Let's just pull in. 

Fran Buie: Yeah. Doesn't work that way. And sometimes it could be nothing more than a church bizarre or going to the Alternative Christmas that was held this last weekend. That's got to be planned. It just does not happen. Those are projects. 

John Curry: Right. Planning for a seminar, That's a project.

Fran Buie: Planning for a seminar is a project. It has a definite beginning, a definite end, and it's a unique service for that particular thing. That's a project. 

John Curry: I like to think in terms of managing your team. What are we trying to accomplish when it comes to anything? Your time, your energy, your attitude, your mission. What's your mission? Sometimes people will come in and say, "What would you like to accomplish?" "I have no idea." "What do you mean you have no idea? You drove across town to be here, you're going to be in an hour and a half meeting with me and my team. So what would you like to accomplish?" "I don't know. I haven't give a thought to my retirement or whatever to plan. 

Let's back up, because if we don't know what the mission is, we don't need to waste our time and energy. All it's going to do is screw up your attitude because you're going to get frustrated and I'll get frustrated, so let's work on your mission. Let's focus there. Let's determine what it is you want to accomplish and then we'll work backwards into it and in just a few minutes you can see them, all of a sudden they're like, "Wow. Okay, now that I have some idea of at least where I want to go, now I have a better attitude about it, I'm more open. Now I'm willing to invest the energy and the time to get the result.

Fran Buie: Retirement planning is a project.

John Curry: It's a big time project and it's a never-ending project because just about the time you think you've got it figured out, Congress will change the tax laws or they'll change Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid. So if some law changes that just all of a sudden blindsides all the work you did.

Fran Buie: Or you have some kind of life event that impacts that plan.

John Curry: Right. Unplanned life events we call those. 

Fran Buie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We call them known unknowns. 

John Curry: Known unknowns, I like that. 

Fran Buie: Or unknown knowns. 

John Curry: Unknown knowns. Something's coming that you're not going to like, right?

Fran Buie: Yeah.

John Curry: What advice would you offer people who are still working that are listening to this and they're thinking, "Wow. I'm five, maybe even as far as 10 years, away from retirement." Talk to us a little bit about when did you start thinking about retirement to take on these other activities. You didn't just do it all of sudden when you retired.

Fran Buie: No. I knew that I was going to be retiring at a certain point in time and I had started thinking about what it was that I wanted to do, what kind of goals I wanted to achieve, what was on my bucket list. 

John Curry: Wait a minute, goals? What are goals?

Fran Buie: Goals. 

John Curry: Why would goals be important, Fran. You're retired. You don't need to worry about goals.

Fran Buie: Of course you do. If you don't have a goal, then what's your purpose? If you don't have any kind of objective, what kind of guidance are you going to give yourself? Again, if you don't have any goals, if you don't have an objective, you don't have what the end is going to be. How much money do I want, how much do I need to retire and be able to do X, Y, and Z, and how do I get there with that? 

My husband and I started planning our retirement fairly late, I think, because we were almost 40 when we started planning what we wanted to do when we reached 65 or whatever. Then whenever I was about 30 years into state government, I started thinking, well, what do I want to do, because in about three to five years I'm going to be getting out and I don't want to just fade away.

John Curry: Sit on that front porch and rock away. 

Fran Buie: Sit on that rocking chair. I literally started making lists. Project managers are really bad about making lists. I started making a list of the things that I wanted to do, the things that I was interested in. I was interested in art. I wanted to take that back up because I kind of let it languish. I have a degree in voice performance in music. I wanted to get back in to that. 

I had been teaching classes off and on all through my career because I had started out looking in the medical field, was going to become a surgeon, and there were things that happened in my life that had a pretty big impact on that, but I was already pretty much in to the health field so I wanted to carry on with that, which is partly why I was teaching advanced life support at the different colleges, and I wanted to go back to that. 

I had somebody approach me with tax aid because I work with numbers. As a project manager, you've got budgets. I had a lot of numbers and statistical experience and I thought, "Hmm. Well, that could be interesting," and so got added to my list. So whenever I started thinking about what I was going to do when I retired, I went to my list and I says, "Okay, this is what I want to do. Now, how do I go about accomplishing that?" 

That's when I started reaching out to the different agencies and I still remained active with the local PMI chapter, so I teach classes there for them. I had, actually, Bainbridge State College reached out to me asking if I would teach a project management class up there, which is why I started teaching that, although I teach life support at FAMU and FSU. 

John Curry: Interesting. It's interesting to me that you just said that some things you went looking for and some found you because somebody would say, "Hey, we need help with this. Take a look at it." That would imply you would have to be somewhat open and listen and attentive when things come our way, right?

Fran Buie: We do. Don't shut something down because maybe it's not exactly what you had in mind, but then that may not be the final thing either on a product.

John Curry: True, but do you have trouble saying no to projects you really don't want to spend your time and energy doing? Do you have difficulty saying, "No, thank you. That's not for me"?

Fran Buie: No. 

John Curry: Well, I guess not because you're so busy, it's easy for you to say no. But I know a lot of people who have retired and they get caught up in volunteering, doing things that they really don't like doing, but they feel like they can't say no and they can't say, "Excuse me, it's time to settle down."

Fran Buie: No. I mean, yes, I want to contribute, I want to be active, I want to be engaged, but at the same time I recognize that I need downtime too. You have to renew and regenerate yourself, so you have to take care of yourself. Part of taking care of yourself is also recognizing what's available to you, what kind of opportunities there are. 

John Curry: I just had a thought pop in my head. I think the title of this podcast is going to be, Don't Sit on the Front Porch and Rock Your Life Away.

Fran Buie: Good. 

John Curry: I love that line. That's a great line. Anything you want to share in our final three or four minutes to our audience? Carte blanche, anything you want to share.

Fran Buie: Embrace life. Don't waste it. Your time is precious. Use it the way that makes you happy, but also can give value to those around you, those that you care about, and the community in general. 

John Curry: I use to say, life's too short to not do what you want to do. Now I have a different view. Life's too long. I keep that heart-shaped pillow there to remind me of my heart surgery July 10, 2008. It reminds me that any given moment, my heart could stop, your heart could stop sitting here, but the bigger reason it's there is to remind me to have the heart big enough to challenge people and get them to think about some of the things we're talking about now and that's why I want to do the podcast, because we get a lot of good information out there. 

I had a lady call me yesterday, she said, "I was just listening to your podcast and it was awesome." It was Dr. Kubiak, Larry Kubiak, and if just one person hears this and they benefit from it, it's worth the time, and more than one will hear it because people, they do tune in and listen to it. I thank you so much for taking your time and sharing with us today and I think we should do this again. Somewhere in the future we'll pick another topic or do an update. 

Fran Buie: Well, thank you for inviting me. 

John Curry: Thank you, Fran. Thank you so much.

2018-71422 Exp 12/20

Next Level Retirement Planning

As a longtime and committed journalist in Florida, WFSU’s program director for news Tom Flanigan has seen his share of political controversy but also plenty of uplifting news from everyday people.

He has a commitment to the truth, something he passes on to the up-and-coming journalists he mentors.

Tom doesn’t think he’s ever going to retire. It’s a sentiment that many share – traditional retirement isn’t for everybody.

We talk about the alternatives, as well as…

  • Why a healthy savings doesn’t guarantee a happy retirement

  • The impact of longer lifespans

  • Making sure there are no surprises with your retirement accounts

  • The rejuvenating power of lifelong learning

  • And more

Listen now..

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: Hi folks, John curry here, Welcome to another episode of John Curry’s Secure Retirement podcast. I've been looking forward to today because I'm sitting across the table from my friend Tom Flanigan. Many of you know Tom because of his work at WFU radio. I know Tom because I see him working at places like The Economic Club, Capital Tiger Bay. And sitting at the table Tom, we discovered and we met each other a long, long time ago back in your Centel telephone days. But, Tom, welcome.

Tom Flanigan: Well, thank you John. It's so great to meet with you here today.

John Curry: I would like for you to, instead of me trying to tell people what you do, please take a few minutes and just tell folks what it is you do at WFSU radio, and how did you get started there, and why you keep on doing it?

Tom Flanigan: Well, what happened was serendipity for sure, John, 2006 out of a job, impoverished, destitute, and not altogether happy with life. I stumbled across a reporter position at WFSU radio, and this picked up a career thread that I had started between 1973 and roughly, I guess 1987 when I had been full time in the broadcast business on the commercial side of the Radio Ledger. Then stepped away for several years to do corporate communications, as you mentioned back in the Centel days. I did public relations work for those guys, and then also a stint with Visit Florida. But having lost the Visit Florida job, finding myself at loose ends for approximately 18 months as far as a full time job was concerned. I stumbled upon a reporter's position at WFSU prior to the 2016 legislative session, went back in as a reporter, and then became the news director. And ultimately wound up with the position I have today, which is program director for news.

I'm not still really sure what it means, but a practical day-to-day basis, what it entails is to provide general oversight to the news department that we have on the radio side. Also, I work with the folks on TV and just like your podcast, we are now multi-platform. We are online on all of our news stories and other content that we provide. And I try to be an internal consultant for some of the, shall we say, less seasoned folks within the news department who may not remember that a guy named Hurley Rudd used to be a city commissioner here in Tallahassee or the fact that there was actually a governor before Charlie Crist in Florida. I try to help those folks out as much as I can.

John Curry: What you're telling me is you're taking advantage of your being a more senior in age and sharing that wisdom with people?

Tom Flanigan: Yeah, we all go down the same road, John. I am just maybe a couple of paces farther along than most.

John Curry: I understand that. As I'm getting more mature myself, I'm realizing that's the case. You made a comment earlier when we were having lunch, getting ready for this podcast about an advisory council. I found that to be intriguing, would you share with our listeners what's happening there?

Tom Flanigan: Sure. Because in public broadcasting, it is really critical that you connect to a wider audience than perhaps just your programming might warrant. And let me just elaborate on that for a second. You're going to have a natural audience depending on what kind of programming you put on the air or online. If you're really, really into current events, news of the day, all that sort of thing, you may gravitate towards WFSU radio because that's essentially all that we have on the air, both from NPR and also from our local kinds of sources that we provide like our news that we do here locally. But you also want to find out where else can we take this? And John, it's important to have a direct connection to the community beyond what you had said, running around shoving microphones up people's noses at all kinds of venues around town and local government meetings and that sort of thing.

A couple years ago, our management, who is David Mullins, our general manager, and Kim Kelling, my immediate boss, who's our content director, revisited the idea of bringing in a community advisory council, a group of people from all walks of life, all political backgrounds, all that sort of thing to at least give us as a station some additional community input as to where we need to go, what we need to be talking about, what sort of programming and other community involvement we can get into. We just had our meeting, as of today, which is the 19th of September, we got some good feedback on that. 

John Curry: That's good. I thought it was fascinating because instead of just limiting what you're doing to what the, quote, natural market is, you expanded.

Tom Flanigan: And we try to find where new audiences are. And all, I think talk radio, whether it's WFLA and my good friend, Preston Scott who I have known for years or what we do on WFSU, we gravitate towards an older target demographic, if we want to use a real technical media term there, which is older folks, generally 35, 45, even 55 years and up. And that's wonderful, and it's great, but the problem is it's self-limiting. These folks have a tendency to, shall we say, exit the mortal coil at some point, and you need to bring in younger audiences. How do you do that without alienating your core older audience? That's the secret. And no one has really figured out that secret yet, but we're working on it. And we're going to try to get as close to cracking that code as we can. 

John Curry: Yeah. I feel a parallel in what we're doing because we don't just talk about people's money for retirement, and that's why we came up with a secure retirement podcast and focusing in all different issues. I've interviewed physicians, I've interviewed, retirees, we talk about health issues, emotional issues. It's not just about your money, and it's the same thing with what you're doing. If you stick to just the one topic, it gets old too, but there's more than just that one topic. In our case, it's not just about how much money do you have in your IRA or your 401k or deferred comp or whatever retirement plan do got, what are you going to do with the money when you're ready to retire and how are you going to manage your health or are you emotionally prepared to retire?

I'm thinking of our interview just a week ago with a psychiatrist who spent a lot of time talking about ... It was Larry Kubiak, in fact, a psychologist, I guess, what are you going to do when you retire if you're not prepared emotionally? You may have all the money in the world, but if you're not ready to retire, what do you do? I'm seeing a corollary in the sense that for you is not just one topic, is not just the well-known people, if you will. What about the person that people don't know who they are, but they have a story to tell?

Tom Flanigan: Or people who, John, by the same token, and Larry could be actually a great guy. I've talked to him so much.

John Curry: He's a great guy.

Tom Flanigan: We have so many commonalities, it's crazy. But the psychology of retirement being something that we are kind of programmed to aspire to for all of our working lives. Oh, I can't wait till I get away from the day-to-day grind. My sweetie and I are going to fly off to Bermuda or Israel or someplace, and it's going to be great. And I have seen particularly from my days at the phone company when I did all the retirement parties, I took pictures of these people where in the middle of their retirement party with all of their coworkers and even their family gathered around and there's cake and balloons and party favors and all. You can almost see the realization hits them, tomorrow morning, all this goes away. My reason for being, the expression of my existence, which was this job and all of my networking connections, my friends, everything I have to live for is gone.

Often, those people would not last six months. I saw it over and over again. What you're doing here with the podcast and with your day-to-day consulting work with folks as they try to get a handle on, "Well, gee, how do I want these resources to work for me and my family and provide us with not only security, but maybe even a little bit of direction once we get out of the work a day world?" is so valuable, and I really applaud you and all your colleagues over here for that.

John Curry: Well, thank you for that. We take it very seriously that it's not just about your money. Now, you got to have money. let's be candid. If you don't plan and save properly, retirement won't be fun. But it's not just the money, it's the are you healthy? And we'll come back that in a moment because as one of my good friends says, you're looking pretty good for a guy your age. So we talk about what are you doing to maintain your health here in a minute. But let's go back to this advisory council from that. For anyone who's listening to this, if they have a topic that they think would be appropriate, is it okay for them to contact you so we have those topics? What's the procedure for that?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, my gosh, by all means, John. And thank you for the opportunity to get this word out. We're always looking for good stories, since we were little kids, daddy, tell me a story. And that desire holds true throughout our entire lives. If you are aware of something particularly, I put it in this category, good people doing good things. We need more of those kinds of stories today because we focus on all of the chaos here on the national political scene. Now, regardless of where you're coming from politically, it can be difficult. It can be heart wrenching, it can be frustrating, all those other things. But really, what takes place in Washington DC does not have an immediate and profound impact on most of us, really. We've concentrate therefore, and my newsroom on things that are going on kind of in our own backyard.

And we want to hear about people that are doing those positive things in their community, inspiring young lives or helping senior citizens get a better handle on what they're doing after retirement. Taking care of animals, whatever. And here's how you do that. You can go to, that's our website. And we do have a contact list down at the bottom of our homepage. And you can hit that, and the entire staff listing comes up. And just look for Tom Flanigan, you can click on my email. I think there's also a telephone number there. You can leave me a message. And I'm obsessive about this stuff, I'll get back to you for sure, I want to talk to you.

John Curry: There's no doubt about that. Tom does return phone calls. But also those who know me personally, who want to call me or my office, we can also get you in touch with Tom. Thank you for that. You talked about community, let's talk about Honor Flight for a moment. We were talking about that over lunch. I'm sure that you have interviewed people on your show talking about Honor Flight, and you've been involved from the standpoint of knowing what it is. Give me your perspective on Honor Flight, what it means to you and what your involvement has been?

Tom Flanigan: Well, the only great regret I have, John, is the fact that my dad, who served in World War Two, he did not land on Iwo Jima, but he was aboard of one of the huge tank size landing craft that were anchored right off the beach head there and offloading all of the war material and vehicles and troops and all that. And under unrelenting fire from Mount Suribachi, did not get an opportunity to take part in Honor Flight. He never got a chance, even though he was living in western Maryland and only 150 miles away from Washington, he did not get a chance to see the World War Two memorial in Washington. And that would've been so much fun to be on the Honor Flight with my dad. But I think as an ongoing tribute to these gentlemen, and in the vast majority of cases, it was men who served during World War two in Korea now heading into the Vietnam era and all, to show that, uh, they still have a reason to be proud.

And they are receiving in many cases for the first time, the honor to them, I think is just a remarkable thing. And I applaud this so much.

John Curry: It's amazing to hear the stories. I've had the privilege of being in all three of those lights. Two is a guardian for a veteran looking out for them for the day. And then another where I was helping Mark Kemp who is a local chairman of one of the [flight 00:14:08] with operations. And just hearing the stories and watching the interaction between the veterans with each other is just amazing. And I've had people say, "Well, why don't you do that? What's that got to do with your business or with retirement planning?" I said, "Are you kidding me? These are people, many of them were on that plane, late 80s, some of them are 90s still going strong." I'm thinking of my friend Charles now who had the honor of being with, I think Charlie now is 92, still going strong, retired professor, great guy. And my friend Harry Grant, Harry is either 89 or 90.

They're driven to keep doing things. They don't want to just sit in front of a television and do nothing. And what if we lived to be 95 or 100 years old? You want to be physically and mentally sharp. And to me, being around people involved with Honor Flight, I'm getting an opportunity to talk with people that you love and you care about because you have so many common interests. I was fortunate, I served in the Air Force, didn't have to do any battle. I worked on the airplanes, the B-52 bombers as a mechanic. But I feel like I did a small part, but I didn't do what these guys did. And they should be recognized and honored. And we're seeing more and more women by the way, on these flights too.

Tom Flanigan: That is true. I noticed the last group that went, there were more and more women. And we'll see that too because we had more gender equity, if not full equality in the services now for the past couple of generations. That's happening.

John Curry: That's true, true. You said something earlier that caught my attention, and I want to get you to share what you told me. When I asked you why do you do what you do? Tell our listeners what you told me.

Tom Flanigan: Why do I do what I do? Well, for two reasons. I am nosy, that's why probably growing up around adults, a small town in western Maryland. Not a lot of kids my own age in the neighborhood. I grew up with my mom and dad and their friends, and I always wanted to know what the grown-ups were doing. It was time to go to bed and mom would shuffle me off into my room, but it was only right down the hall from the living room and I'd sneak back in my jammies and peek around the corner and see what all the grownups were up to and listen to the gossip and try to ascertain just what they were talking about. But I'm also a gossip, so I would want to report that. And I didn't have anyone to report it to, so I had to sit on that.

And maybe that's it, all this repressed desire on my part to just blab to the world is why I got into the news business, John.

John Curry: That's why you got in, what keeps you there?

Tom Flanigan: Pretty much the same, it is fun. You were talking about the Advisory Council this morning, we have a member of the Leon County Commissioner who sits on our council. And this individual, I'm not mentioning names, I'm not mentioning gender. There will be no identification here, we must protect our sources. This is an old journalistic tradition as well as a point of ethics for us. But this individual took me aside and opened up an iPad and said, "Okay, here's a project that's going to be pitched to a particular intergovernmental agency over the next several days," first time I'd ever heard of it. But it was one of these, "Okay, you didn't hear it from me, but this is coming, be on the lookout for it."

And luckily, I know some people to ask about it. I can pull up the details on it, and I can do a story before anyone else can. And that to me is a major accomplishment. But in this era of fake news, let me hasten to add for the benefit of people who don't know how we do what we do. In the legitimate news media business, I am not going to take anyone's word for anything.

John Curry: You go to verify.

Tom Flanigan: We are going to check double and usually triple source any kind of information before it gets out on the air or online or on TV or anything else. We want to make sure we have the facts nailed down and we have confirmation before we move forward. Just because I know this stuff doesn't mean that you're going to hear about it. I have to go through the process of confirming, clarifying, making sure that when the information does get to you, it's solid.

John Curry: I appreciate you sharing that because more and more people that we talk with, they're more untrusting now than ever. They don't think they can trust politicians, the government in general, corporations. They feel like, who I can trust, who can I trust? And I love what Ronald Reagan always said, trust but verify. Trust, but verify. If you came to me and you said, I've got X amount of money in my IRA, I'm always like, "That's very nice, let's look at the statement. We're going to verify." And I'm not kidding you, daily, we'll have someone tell us emphatically, this is what I have, but you look at the statement, guess what? That's not what they have.

They have more or less or something totally different. It's the same thing for us, we want to verify because what we do, well, it's not life or death, it's about your money, and it's about making sure you have the money you need to have a good life later. It's pretty serious stuff. I share the same philosophy there. I don't have to be as detailed about some things as you do, other things I got to be more detailed because of the financial regulators that watch us to make sure we're doing it correctly.

Tom Flanigan: Yes. In your business, John, as you just elucidated, there are facts. There are incontrovertible, one plus one equals two. And no matter where you're coming from on the political or the emotional or any other spectrum, that is still going to hold water. And it's got to be a touchstone that you can rely on. Otherwise, how can you make decisions about people's financial future and how they're going to be able to get through life after retirement and all of that if you don't have all the facts from which to make these decisions?

John Curry: That's correct. And one of the things that harp on big time with our clients, what we called team Curry here is let's do our planning based on math and science. Don't do it based on what you think. We use some actuarial science here, how long are you going to live? Look at mortality tables. You probably are going to live 20 or 30 years in retirement. For some people, they'll live longer in retirement than they actually had in their career. What do you do now? I said, let's be scientific about this. Let's not just say, "Well, my dad died at age 70, I'm going to die at 70." What if you lived to be 100? We've got to do some planning.

Tom Flanigan: Yeah. What is that old disclaimer that we see in all of that, past performance is no indicator of future results?

John Curry: That's right, that's right. The attorneys and the regulators make you say that, but it's true, but it's true. I like to use the analogy, if you're driving down the road, do you want to use your big windshield in front of you or the small rear view mirror? I'd rather use the big windshield to look forward.

Tom Flanigan: But you'll never know where you've been.

John Curry: That is true, that's why the little mirror is smaller. You can look at where you've been, remember it, but don't get hung up on it. Look into the future. look at the future. Tell us what you like best about your work.

Tom Flanigan: I really enjoy the people that I work with. You talk about diversity, it covers not only racial diversity but also age background. If you believe in the Myers-Briggs' philosophy of the world, you have some folks who are intuitive, some who are just as hard-nosed when it comes to, I have to have everything laid out in front of me before I'll even have an opinion. And we have that kind of diversity throughout our organization. And I love working, especially with younger folks who come in as interns. They bring a freshness, a talk about a new approach. Sometimes a little unrealistic approach, and you have to say, "Well, let's sit down and have a chat about this before we take off in this direction or that."

But they also bring a refreshing difference to our operation because, no, this may be their very first legislative session they've ever covered. And to them, it's exciting, and it's new. And someone who's been around the block for maybe 30 of them, like I have, you think, "I've seen it all, the speaker is going to say this, the Senate president is going to move in this direction or whatever." Sometimes they may be more on the button than the more experienced folks are. And that's always interesting. It's fun to work together with folks who don't share your viewpoint, your perspective, your particular history. And I enjoy the heck out of that, I really do.

John Curry: I would guess that it keeps you feeling young too, doesn't it?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, it really does. And that's the other great thing about being in a university town like this, John, is that for the same reason that many people through this new initiative that's out there right now, the Choose Tallahassee thing where we're trying to bring in more retirees to this community, particularly should we say more affluent retirees. I know that's part of the chamber's deal and the real estate community and all. As they say, you can't do business with people who don't have any money. But by the same token, this is something that brings them to us, is the opportunity to be in a dynamic growing young community. We keep forgetting, we and Gainesville keep going back and forth as the youngest metropolitan areas in Florida year after year. That's changing slowly, but we're still younger than the average Florida City.

John Curry: It's exciting to. Everybody around me is, well, not even half my age. And it keeps me going, and I have people around to support what we do. They know far more about technology than I do, but that's great. We're a good match.

Tom Flanigan: Synergy.

John Curry: Good fit. That's right, that's right. Talk a little bit about, with the experience you have, we talked earlier, so I'm not speaking out of school here, but as a soon to be 69. You're at an age of when a lot of people would expect you and me, I'll be 66 in December to quote retire. Talk a little bit about why you're not ready to retire and likely probably won't retire from what I have seen about you, but talk about your perspective of what retirement is.

Tom Flanigan: Retirement is the unrestrained ability to do whatever the heck you want to do. That is the holy Grail, I'm sure in most people's minds, whether it's to travel the world, whether it's to, "Oh, I always wanted to mentor young people," and you jumped into a Big Brothers Big Sisters program or whatever it might happen to be. It might be a total reinvention. Good buddy of mine retired from the legendary channel 10, WPLG in Miami, Art Carlson, legendary anchor down there for many, many years. And great journalist, awards out the Ying Yang, what a guy. And nobody's doing right now, but when he retired after a little stint in Tallahassee working for a nonprofit advocacy group. He moved to North Georgia by the Tennessee border, and he got involved with a consortium of potters. And we're not talking medical marijuana here, we are talking pottery, wheel thrown pottery.

And this is what the mighty Mr. Art Carlson does right now, he sits at that wheel and he cranks out bowls and jugs and coffee cups, and just about everything day in and day out. And does magnificent work, and he is as happy as can be. That is retirement for him. He's probably working harder there than he ever did at channel 10, but is he a happy guy? And if I go to envision retirement, that's what I would do. I can't think of anything I enjoy doing more than what I'm doing right now. That kind of puts the Kibosh on this for me.

John Curry: Yes, I'm in the same boat. I love what I do, I don't want to retire. The day will come probably because of health issues. I told a class, if you get tired of me, you don't want to deal with me, I guess you've retired me. If enough people retire me, then I'm retired. But as long as they want to come in and meet, then I'm not retiring. But what I have been doing, and the people that I know that are happiest are doing something comparable, instead of , quote, retiring and then dying like you talked about your colleagues six months or a year later because they have no interest, start looking for interest today. Do those things today, travel, do something. I take more time off.

Last week, I didn't work Monday or Friday. I'm trying to do more weeks like that work three days, then maybe work every day for a while, then take two or three days off. And I find that if I can have a three or four-day weekend, I'm refreshed and ready to go. But the key is for people to find what's working for them. Now, for your friend, leaving the world he was in and just working with his hands was a way to go. I know people who retire, and they don't do any more work on their computer. I know people who don't even have a computer anymore. They'll just use their smartphone, but they'll work with their hands. They do other things, gardening, whatever that is fun.

Tom Flanigan: Or it can be something like, and this is another great advantage of this town, John, when you have something like the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the ALLI folks, because how many folks get to retirement age and think, "Oh, when I was back in college," or perhaps you didn't go to college at all, and this had been an aspiration somewhere in the back of your cranium. I always wanted to learn about philosophy, what the name of God can you do with that? But if you have that luxury of being able to take the time to study philosophy without having tests and quizzes and grade point averages hanging over your head, just for the sheer love of learning, how neat is that?

John Curry: Or art. I love going to different art museums. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure at the TCC foundation, that evening when they had the art show too, it was just fun to be there. Just looking around seeing stuff. Again, no test, no quiz, just enjoying, just enjoying. You made a comment earlier, again, while we were having lunch about the retirement advice your dad gave you. I would like you to share that because one of the things we try to teach people is the importance of saving, planning and not just hoping for retirement. Would you share what he shared with you?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, I'd be happy to John. And I'm sure dad's watching down right now and going, "Okay, now I get it right." My dad is small businessman in western Maryland, had a little store, totally under-capitalized. He never made much of anything out of it, but that was his life for a long time. But even though, he didn't have much-

John Curry: Excuse me, what kind of store? What did he do?

Tom Flanigan: It was a combination of school and office supply store in this little community of fewer than 6,000 people. But we had a small college, ultimately a university branch of the University of Maryland. You had students, and they always needed loose leaf paper, pens or whatever. And he also sold office furniture. Someone needs a file cabinet or a desk, they go and check out dad. He had some stuff there, or greeting cards. He got into the greeting card business too. But even though cash flow was not an overwhelming attribute of that enterprise, he advised always have a little something put away.

And with him, I know it was little, damn little. But it was still something. When he'd have business reversals, there was a little something stashed away that would get him through the bad times. And I kind of took that to heart. From the time I could work, I always had a bank account, and then later on, a retirement savings account. And I would usually opt for the 401k when that became available through the employer because in most instances where I was, boy, was I fortunate and still am. The employer would kick in, it's not exactly doubling your money, but it's still nice to have that additional that's coming in. When I had a job reversal, which I alluded to earlier in our discussion and lost a full time income for 18 months, we had to live off of that retirement savings plan, and it got us through.

Without it, I don't know what we would've done. We would've lost the house, the car, everything. And now, we're building back up again. If and when we do decide to retire, there will be something there. But I always made that there was something. And that was, I think the best advice, among the best pieces of advice my dad left me.

John Curry: And it's still great advice. I think it's more important today in the world we live in than ever before. You can look at what happened in 2008, the number of people who just lost their careers overnight, the mortgage business, mortgage lending, the realtors, it may just like overnight. And some people like to say they saw it coming, but most of them are bull, they didn't see it coming. It's great to look back on it and predict something that happened. But the people who had that reserve, took your dad's advice, had some savings, didn't spend everything. Didn't overbuy too big of a house or too expensive a car and overload themselves with payments they did just fine, and they're doing fine now. But the ones who really got in trouble, some of them are still hurting. I think that was great advice your dad gave you then, it's great advice today. I appreciate you sharing that.

Tom Flanigan: And also what you do, if I can give an applaud, your advocation, John, is this mantra that you keep preaching when it comes to financial diversity because when something goes down, something else is usually going up. And if you don't have all of your fiscal eggs in one basket, you're much more likely to withstand whatever the [vagarities 00:34:06] of fate throw at you. Then if everything's all in that 401 or, I don't know, all these people who buy gold and then you see the volatility in the precious metals market, you go, "Are you insane?"

John Curry: Well, people have different opinions. We have people who would argue with us about different things. I say, "Look, if that's working for you, by all means do it." But that doesn't mean just because you like it, it should be for everyone. I happen to love butter pecan ice cream, but that doesn't mean that you like butter pecan ice cream, you might want just plain old vanilla.

Tom Flanigan: And it doesn't mean that you have to sit there and eat butter pecan ice cream by the gallon every night.

John Curry: When I learned that I didn't have to eat it all at one time, that's when I started releasing weight and went from a high of 282 down to most of the time, about 223, 225. But I had a bad habit of thinking that just because it was in the freezer, Tom, I had to eat it.

Tom Flanigan: It's calling to you, John.

John Curry: John, I'm here, come get it. We got to close here in just a moment, but what are some of the things you'd like to make sure that people in our community know about Tom Flanigan, they can go to the website and read a little bit about you, but what are some of the things you'd like to end with and making sure they either know about you or WFSU? You got a blank canvas, anything you want to share.

Tom Flanigan: Oh, thank you, John. Oh, biggest thing would probably be if we could get more people involved in the community where they live. This is one of my, another great western Maryland term, Bugaboo, take that mom. That was one of her favorite phrases or aggravations, if you will. Because we do get so hung up on national politics or even state, "Oh, who's going to win the governor's race. Oh, my God." And we agonize and we fuss and fight and fume and get all upset about this stuff. Another very wise man, my acquaintance said, if you are totally focused on yourself, you will be very unhappy because you will never live up to your own expectations. You will always let yourself down.

Every time I'm feeling depressed, out of sorts, upset, I try to think of somebody else that maybe I can, if not help them at least interact with them in some way, shape, form or fashion just to get outside of myself or we can get outside of ourselves, especially in the community where you can make a difference, a tangible difference, whether it's mentoring a child, maybe it's volunteering at the animal shelter. Whatever you're interested in that is outside of you. Get involved in local political race, not national. Understand, not even statewide. A city or a county commissioner race, or join the league of women voters. Do something that is outside of that little 18 inch periphery that we call our personal space. And I think that's what makes me happy. And if I could just pass that along, I think there may be a few less really miserable people.

John Curry: I agree with you.

Tom Flanigan: If you do that.

John Curry: I keep that heart shaped pillow over there to remind me that 10 years ago, July 10th, 2008 because I had an open heart surgery. And I went through a period, when I'm honest about it, I was going through a period of depression. And I would sit around the house and kind of like whine and moan, poor little me, I could sense this downward spiral. But when I got plugged back into going into my rotary club, going to some of the, that's where I see you, Economic Club, Tiger Bay, Boy Scouts, especially with my son and grandsons. Then it wasn't about me, I didn't think about me. Then when I was sitting there, and it's the same thing with television. A few days ago, sitting and watching television was [inaudible 00:38:20] to be exact. And I was watching some of the news channels because I watch everything. I don't just pick one, I watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC. I go back and forth.

My friends think I'm crazy for that. I say, "Well, I want to hear what other people say." I don't want to hear the same thing over and over from the same people, I want diversity. But when I focus on my little problems, I felt like I got more boxed in and depressed during that period of time. I totally get what you're saying and I would encourage anybody and everybody listening to this, if you feel like you're not living life the way you want it, find one or two organizations that you care about to help. For me, it's Honor Flight, Boy Scouts and my rotary club because I think those are organizations that do a lot of good. And I don't want to just work all the time, I could. I could stay here 24 hours a day if I was just brought a bed, there's always something to do. But in your world, would you mind sharing with our audience some of the things that you do, how you're participating?

Tom Flanigan: Oh, one of the things that I do is to help my wife every way I can. Right now, I'm becoming close to being almost a full time caregiver on top of everything else because my wife who is now a double cancer survivor and pretty well incapacitated with arthritis, needs a great deal of care every day. And that is a focus, and I would do it anyway, but I get so much satisfaction from helping her. I really can't discount that as being an overall part of how I see myself in this big thing. But she's not so incapacitated that she doesn't say, "Look, I know you have to go to that meeting tonight. Anyway, before you go, could you rub my feet?" And, "Sure honey. We'll take care of that, and I'll see you in a couple hours."

And then I'll sneak back to the side room where I have a little studio. I'm also fortunate in that regard, I can remote produce a lot of the material that folks hear on the radio side of the world from the house. I don't have to be away from her any more than I absolutely have to. That is a focus right there that keeps me grounded. And then the rest, what we just talked about, John, is to find some other things you're interested in doing and that you feel connected to and get you outside of yourself. Take time for yourself. I'm not saying become a monk, become some type of a martyr that, "Oh, it's all for the world and nothing for me," because that isn't a good way to live either. That's not a good balance. But it's important that we kind of see where we fit into this larger picture. And I think that's what I'm all about.

John Curry: Well, those of us who know you understand that you have a lot of love for what you do in this community. And it's just been a joy sitting here across the table from you. I can't believe we talked, I'm looking at that clock, 41 minutes. It seems like this has been five minutes sitting here. And I wish we had the whole day, but I know you got things to do too. Tom, thank you so much.

Tom Flanigan: John, thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. It's been a joy.

John Curry: Let's do it again sometimes.

Tom Flanigan: Sounds good.

2018-68847 Exp 10/20

Secrets of the Happiest Retirees

It’s tempting to think of retirement only from the financial side of things. Yes, it’s important that you save enough to be comfortable in your golden years.

But, says Dr. Larry Kubiak, you can’t forget the emotional and psychological side. As Director of Psychological Services at Behavioral Health Center Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, Larry knows that better than most.

With our identities so wrapped up in our jobs, retirement can bring your whole life crashing down if you’re not careful. And your mental health can suffer.

Retirement can – and should – be your biggest adventure yet! Larry and I talk all about how to make it happen.

Tune in to discover…

  • What you should do now to ensure a fulfilling retirement

  • The best way to react to bad situations

  • A strategy for staying young, no matter what your age

  • How to earn a “psychic income”

  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this Episode:

Episode Transcript:

John Curry: This is John Curry. Welcome again to another episode of our Secure Retirement podcast. 

Today, I'm sitting across the table from a guy I've known a long time. We're both grinning at each other here. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Larry Kubiak. He's a PhD. He's Director of Psychological Services at the Behavioral Health Center at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. Did I say that right?

Larry Kubiak: Yes, you did. Very good, John.

John Curry: Well, Larry, thank you for being here. This is going to be an exciting interview today, folks. While we were having lunch, getting ready, we were talking about some of the topics, and Larry, I have to tell you, I'm impressed that you took time to think through some of the issues that people who are getting close to retirement or are in retirement are facing. I know you have a wealth of information, so thank you for being here.

Larry Kubiak: Certainly. My pleasure, John.

John Curry: Let's start off by you just kind of sharing with our audience what you do, how you go about the process. Just tell them who you are, a little bit about your background, but also make sure you tell them that you're Rotarian and Vice President of your club. So, jump in. 

Larry Kubiak: Okay. Well, I have my doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Florida, and I have been a professional in the field for 42 years. I have been the Director of Psychological Services at Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center for the last 27 years.

I specialize there in psychological and neuropsychological testing. When people come into the hospital, it used to be that they were there for up to three weeks, and now it's about three days. One of the implications of that, it is very critical to have the most accurate diagnosis so that they can get the most appropriate treatment. Psychological testing is a very important component in helping to identify what's really going on as quickly as possible so that they're put on the right medication, that they're involved in the right therapy from the very outside, so that when they go back to their home community, that they've gotten started off on the right foot and that can be continued.

I have a lot of doctoral students from Florida State that do placements with me, to help learn how to do this kind of thing. We help make decisions about our people suffering from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's, all kinds of things, because those have very important implications in peoples' lives. We work with the psychiatrist and the rest of the treatment team to help make sure that people get the most appropriate treatment they possibly can. 

Also very involved with Boy Scouts. John and I have some ties through that. I was a Scout Master. I had 12 young men become Eagle Scout while I was serving in that capacity. I'm currently on the National Health & Safety Committee for Boy Scouts. I'm the chair of the Mental Health Subcommittee. I'll be on staff and have a major role at the World Jamboree this next year. John mentioned Rotary. I was the president of the Tallahassee Rotary Club, which is the largest club in our 50 club district in 6940, here in North Florida. I currently serve as Assistant District Governor, and will be interviewed in October for the possibility of serving as District Governor on down the road. So, we'll see how that goes.

John Curry: You'd make a great governor. I hope that happens. People listening to this might be asking the question, "Why in the world is John Curry interviewing a psychologist?" based on what they just heard. We were talking earlier over lunch, that it's not just about having money. Over the years, 43 years I've been doing this, we try to give good information to help people make better decisions, not just about money, but about life.

Larry Kubiak: Well, and John, one of the things that has always impressed me about you is, certainly, you do an outstanding job helping people be as financially secure as they possibly can be. Unfortunately, many of your colleagues, that may be as far as they go, but you have always impressed me as being someone who goes beyond that and wants to look at the total person. What can we do to help their total experience in retirement be as positive as possible? 

So, to me, it's certainly very natural that you would ask me, a psychologist, because we know that just being financially secure doesn't mean you're going to have the kind of retirement that you want to have. If you haven't prepared emotionally and psychologically, then you're probably going to be missing out. You have got to have a reason for getting up in the morning. Especially for us guys, maybe sometimes women too. Especially for us guys, a lot of who we are, a lot of our self-worth, a lot of our social connections, are tied to work. 

John Curry: Would you say probably the majority?

Larry Kubiak: Well, exactly.

John Curry: The majority.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Because, a lot of guys haven't made those social connections through things like Rotary or Boy Scouts, or the church and so on, and they've relied so much on their job or their family. So, when they retire, they go from having all of those needs met by their job, all of a sudden, to retiring and not having those needs met anymore. 

Unless they have adequately prepared ... And just as you must prepare financially, you really need to prepare emotionally. What is going to give you satisfaction? What's going to make you feel fulfilled in retirement? Now, is that going to be playing golf every single day of your retirement? Well, that might be okay for the first month, but I think you're probably going to get tired of that after a while.

John Curry: Let me jump in on that one.

Larry Kubiak: Please.

John Curry: I had the pleasure a few years back - haven't played in two years because of shoulder problems - of getting to play golf five days in a row. I discovered very quickly that I would not be able to retire and play golf every day. I didn't like it. That's tough. I was worn out. I can't even imagine how these pro players do that the way they do it. If I-

Larry Kubiak: Well, they're paid pretty well for it.

John Curry: Well, they are, but ... Some of them are anyway. 

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, well, some are and some aren't. So, yeah, I mean, if that is what gives you ... And that's fine to do that, and it's fine to travel. I know a lot of people want to travel and so on, and that's fine too. You've got to continue to learn, you've got to continue to grow. When we stop learning and growing, when we stop feeling like we're contributing to life, then that's when we start to die.

I think there are a lot of ways that people can deal with that. Now, some people, unfortunately, for financial reasons, they may be forced to continue to work, but, if you're in a position where you can continue to work because you really enjoy working ... And there's a term that we refer to as "psychic income", that if you're fortunate enough to be in a position where you work not just for the pay check, but because of the satisfaction that you get for working in something that contributes to peoples' welfare, then you get some benefit from that that you just can't put a price tag on. So, it's just very important.

Sometimes people can continue to work, maybe in that same field. Sometimes they may have had another kind of line of work that they might want to pursue. A good friend of my wife, she was a psychologist, and found that she really liked doing craft things. She has completely switched from that major career to something else, because she found that she got more enjoyment out of that. So, whatever that is for you, find that, pursue that, and it will go a long way toward helping you be more psychologically healthy and get more out of your retirement. 

John Curry: All right. Well, let's help the people that are listening to this [inaudible 00:08:06], okay, that's great, but how do I do that? Let's talk with someone, let's say in their fifties, [crosstalk 00:08:12] retirement. Say maybe they're 55, 60 years old. What advice would you offer them as far as beginning to start seeking out things so they have a purpose beyond work? What are some of the things you would suggest?

I know what I've told people to do. Explore things today, experiment, see if you like it. What do you think?

Larry Kubiak: Well, I think it's important for people to try a variety of things and really begin to identify where their passion is. I know, for me, I really enjoy being involved with Boy Scouts. I really enjoy being involved with the Rotary because of the multiple ways that we can give back. What's very unique to me about Rotary is that I have some unique skills, as a psychologist, that allows me to continue to give back through that. Now, for some people it might be church. 

What I'm saying is, don't just sit around watching television all day. I think you were saying earlier, John, that you had to do that for a while, and you realized that sitting around watching television all day would not be how you would want to spend your retirement.

John Curry: That would not be a happy retirement for me.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Exactly. So, get away from that. Get out there. Try giving back. Try getting involved ... [Olly 00:09:32]. You know, the Florida State, the classes? Use that as an opportunity to continue to expand yourself, to see if there's a real passion for you. You've probably gained a lot of experience in whatever you do, maybe you could be a teacher. Maybe you could do seminars, learn a new skill, learn a language. Whatever that might be-

John Curry: All good advice.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: All good. Part of it comes down to just taking the time to discover for yourself what you enjoy doing.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: I'm afraid that many people, I think most of us frankly, I know I'm guilty of it at times too, are just getting in this routine where you get out, you do this, you do this, you do this, but my experience has been clients ... My oldest client's 101. Clients that are in their late nineties, late eighties, the ones that seem to be the happiest are the ones who, they've taken care of their financial issues, so the bills are paid. They're not worried about paying their bills. But, they're not sitting home doing nothing. 

Larry Kubiak: Right.

John Curry: They are socially involved.

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: I'm thinking of a guy right now that I had the pleasure ... I'll just call his name, Dr. Charles [Nam 00:10:40]. I had the pleasure of being his guardian on one of the Honor Flights. 

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, yeah. Wonderful.

John Curry: Charlie's in his nineties. He's still going strong. We're constantly sharing ideas back and forth, and every time I'm around him, I have to remind myself that he's in his nineties, because he's got so much energy. He feels like I want to explore more, so now he's acting.

Larry Kubiak: Well, you want to continually be curious about life. You always want to keep learning and growing. So, identify what engages that curiosity. Kids are very curious. I've got three grandkids, and we go for a walk in the woods, and everything is just exciting. Everything is new, and there's something to learn about. We kind of get away from that as we get older. So, try to get back to that, to what really engages your curiosity, whether it be about yourself, or relationships, or getting back in a certain way. 

So, identify that passion, that enthusiasm, those kinds of things that really give you meaning in life, and pursue those. They're not going to come to you. You're not going to get them from watching television. So, force yourself to get out there. Maybe your spouse has to force you. Maybe a friend invites you to a Rotary meeting, or [Kiwanis 00:12:12], or Lions, or something like that. Give it a chance. See, see what you think.

John Curry: Get out of your comfort zone-

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, exactly.

John Curry: ... and try something new. Talk a little bit about ... because I know you experience this in your counseling, you have to, of where one person, one spouse, feels like, well, I can't do anything. I can't go do a because my spouse doesn't like a, and I have to please him or her because they always get their way.

Larry Kubiak: Well, you know, that's-

John Curry: Can you talk about that for a minute?

Larry Kubiak: I think that's a very important point. When we made those marriage vows, they didn't say that we have to enjoy everything together, we must spend all of our time together. I guarantee you, my wife has some interests that I don't have, I have some interests she doesn't have. She loves to go to yard sales on Saturday. That would drive me nuts. I have no interest in going to yard sales, so she can go. I like to, on a Saturday morning, I might like to go for a hike in the woods. I'll go by myself. I'll go with my daughter. But, my wife doesn't go with me.

My wife loves to go to plays in New York with our daughter. That's okay. We don't have to do ... Give yourself permission to not have to do everything together. In fact, that can, in many respects, make your relationship even better. If one of you goes out and does some things, and the other one goes out and does some different things, then you've got so many more things to talk about than if you always did exactly the same things. I mean, I don't mind, and I really enjoy hearing what kind of amazing bargain she got at a yard sale. So-

John Curry: You just don't want to be there in the process.

Larry Kubiak: Well, that's right. That's right. It would be very boring to me. But, give yourself permission to spend time away from each other, and don't feel like it's going to detract from the relationship. It actually will enhance the relationship. 

John Curry: Let's circle back on something you said earlier about, particularly men, so much of their self-worth is wrapped up in their careers. I'm seeing more and more of that with women now that are in the professional fields, where they have similar situations. Are you seeing that, or [crosstalk 00:14:36]?

Larry Kubiak: Well, certainly. Certainly. At the risk of sounding sexist, and I would apologize if it comes across this way, but in my professional experience, generally speaking, women do a much better job of forming relationships, friendships with other women, talking with them about their feelings and so on. Us guys, we don't want to talk about our feelings. We're the strong, silent type, like John Wayne, so it's not okay to talk about your feelings. But, that's probably why women live longer than we do, because they've learned how to do that. 

We were talking earlier about, well, what happens if a couple's been married for 50 years, and if the husband dies first, how long with the wife live? Well, she'll probably live a long time, because she's got all kinds of social support. If it's the other way around, a lot of times that guy will die fairly quickly, unless he has taken proactive steps to develop social relationships, to get involved with other men, to learn to express his feelings, to learn to go through the grieving process. We talked about that earlier.

One of the things that we see ... Well, life is filled with loss. I mean, you lose your pet, you lose a girlfriend, you lose a job, but the longer you live, the more losses that you've had in your life. It's normal to go through a grieving process when it comes to losses. It's not normal to get stuck in them, and to never work through, and to stay depressed, and become suicidal and so on. So, it's important to give yourself permission to experience the stages of grief. Kübler-Ross has talked a lot about the five stages of grief - the denial, the anger, the depression, the acceptance and so on. It would be nice to say that people go through those at the same time, in the same way, very quickly, but everybody's different. 

I think when it comes to retirement, a lot of the enjoyment you might get of retirement can be lost if you are going through a severe grieving process. Don't be afraid to seek some help. I don't mean drugs, drugs are not going to help the process, but giving yourself permission to talk to people that can really help you through that. For many of us, it might be family, it might be friends. It doesn't necessarily have to be professionals. It may be a support group. But, give yourself the permission to do that and work through that grieving process, and I think that the more effectively you're able to do that, the more enjoyment you can get out of life, out of your retirement, and much better things will be for you.

John Curry: That's true if you're 20 years away from retirement.

Larry Kubiak: Oh, yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

John Curry: Because, we're going to experience losses no matter what we think or say or do. I mean, I think back to [three 00:17:44] years ago, my dad died. He was battling cancer for several years. I look at the quality of my mother's life now, and in a lot of ways she hasn't gotten over his loss and is still grieving, and it's taken its toll on her health. 

Larry Kubiak: Sure.

John Curry: Frankly, her sister's around her. You're right, we handle it differently. 

What would you suggest as a way to learn more about dealing with these losses? Because, it's true, we lose friends. In today's politically charged environment, I witnessed at a Rotary club, not mine, but a club I was visiting, two guys arguing so loudly, and the profanity over political issues right now, that they stomped away angry. I'm told that, even now, they won't even speak to each other, and this happened two months ago. Two months ago. 

We're becoming so polarized in different areas. What advice would you have to, I don't want to say "protect ourselves", but to put ourselves in a way where we don't become guilty of being the cause of that, or if we receive that, we can get over it fairly quickly and not worry about it?

Larry Kubiak: Well, I think several things come to mind. I think one is the whole notion of empathy. Empathy is so critical in everything that we do in life, and being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Again, without getting political, before you speak, before you yell at somebody for being whatever you want to call them, try to understand where they're coming from. A lot of times, it comes from fear. 

People might be afraid of immigrants, for instance, because they're afraid that their way of life, their income, is threatened. So, a lot of times, people react perhaps through prejudice and so on out of the fear. I would say really work to try to hear what is behind those words, really try to understand the other person rather than just yelling at them. I think that's one of the things that's most missing in the discourse and why we see the issues being so apart. 

Because, I think ... Well, again, I'm very involved with the Rotary, Rotary Youth Exchange, and we have so many international high school students that come to Florida and the United States from other countries, and we send them overseas and everything. I think one of the things that we learn from having exchange programs and so on, or traveling internationally, is we learn that there is a lot more that's similar among us than there are differences. 

John Curry: Right. No matter where you travel.

Larry Kubiak: That's right. Exactly. That deep down, while the governments may be at loggerheads with each other, if you relate to the people in that country, the parents there are interested in the same things that we are. They want their kids to grow up into healthy, productive citizens, just like we do. Once you begin to empathize and identify and understand things from their perspective, it's harder to encapsulate them in being this kind of person and so on. You begin to see them as more of a whole human, and that's what we're after, is to foster those kind of ties. 

I think empathy and taking the time to really understand and really listen ... I mean, I always like to say, God gave us two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately, in today's society, it's a matter of not just I want to talk, but I want to out-yell you, and whoever's the loudest yeller is who gets paid attention to. To me, a much greater characteristic that I'd like to see for everybody is that we take a lot more time to slow down and really listen to what the other person is saying.

John Curry: Good advice. I want to share something that happened back in 1992. Pat and I were going to take a trip to Paris, and we were told how everybody in France are going to be so rude and righteous and all this to Americans. 

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: We experienced none of that.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: None.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: In fact, we had people going out of their way to guide us when we were on the wrong train one day. 

I've thought about another experience back in the 70s, going to New York City for the first time. Back in '78 I think it was, '78 or '79. Same thing. "Oh, they're going to be so rude." I was so lost. I was on the wrong subway. This guy looks at me, and he says, "Sir, where are you trying to go?" I told him. I said, "I'm trying to go to [inaudible 00:22:56] Broadway, near City Hall." He said, "You're on the wrong train." So, he's trying to explain to me [crosstalk 00:23:01], and here's what he said. He said, "I got time. Come with me." We get off the train, he takes me over to the proper turnstile, he drops in two tokens, goes with me. He goes, he gets on the next train, takes me back to City Hall. He said, "At City Hall, your building will be to the left somewhere." He said, "Enjoy your time in New York City."

I only remember the first name was Bob. I wish I had ... So many times, I wish I'd gotten his name and address and kept in touch. But, there is an example of not only empathy, but also expectation. If I expect you to be angry, that's probably what I'm going to get. 

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: Because I'm going to send off vibes that I'm expecting that.

Larry Kubiak: That's right. That's right. That's right.

John Curry: But, if I'm expecting that you're going to be nice and friendly, and you're going to be my new friend ... And I'm reminded of a quote that's attributed to Abraham Lincoln. He said, "I do not like that man. I should get to know him." 

Larry Kubiak: Yes. A lot of wisdom in that. I think, to help diffuse that kind of escalation and tension and so on, really try to listen to the person. If you can reflect to that person what you hear them saying, "Boy, you sound like you're really afraid that dah dah dah dah dah," or you ... And the more we can identify the feeling word behind what the person's saying, the more they feel understood, the more that lowers their tension. Because, so many of us feel like nobody hears us, nobody understands us, and that's really critical in any relationship in life. 

Certainly, when we're talking about retirement, and we're talking about men having difficulty when they lose their job, lose those relationships they have at work, begin to form those elsewhere. The more you're able to do that, when you get away from work, then the more successful your retirement's going to be. So, use those skills that you developed over all those years in work to develop new ones, and that's one of the exciting things about retirement. You get a chance to try some different things, to develop some skills that you may not have had, to form some new relationships.

The friendships that I've developed through scouting, and through Rotary, and through my church and so on, have been extremely enriching to me. I would not want to trade them for anything else. That can be the same thing for someone looking forward to retirement. You can't start too soon to begin to develop those kinds of things.

John Curry: In fact, I would argue that if you waited until retirement to pursue those, you're going to be very unhappy in retirement.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. Certainly. No question.

John Curry: But, if you start pursuing those well before ... I keep three books on my shelf. One is [Kurt Douglas' 00:25:53] book. He's 101. [George Burns' 00:25:56] book, he died at age 100. And Betty White, she's still working at 96 years old. I keep those as role models, because when people say, "When are you going to retire?" I hope I never retire. 

Now, I want to do more of the things that I want to do, and not feel like I have to come to work every day-

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: ... but I don't want to stop doing what I'm doing. It's like you said earlier, no plans, no desire to retire, as long as you're bringing value and helping people.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: We're both doing counseling work. Mine's counseling regarding ... Well, it's not just financial. A lot of times I feel like I am a psychologist, psychiatrist, lawyer, accountant, all bundled into one.

Larry Kubiak: Sure. Exactly. Exactly.

John Curry: It's funny. When I was a kid, I always thought I wanted to be first a school teacher, then a preacher, then a trial lawyer. 

Larry Kubiak: Oh, my.

John Curry: I'm convinced that I'm in the right profession, because I get to do all of those.

Larry Kubiak: You do all of ...

John Curry: I'm teaching, I'm preaching, and I'm trying to persuade. 

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. Very good. Very good. [crosstalk 00:26:58].

John Curry: Let's address something that we haven't talked about, but I think is very important, and that is trust. Having trust in ourselves, in the people around us. We live in a world today that's become more and more untrusting, and frankly, rightfully so. When you look at what's happening in the political world, the corporate world.

Larry Kubiak: Sure. Sure.

John Curry: Address the importance of trust for a minute, especially entrusting yourself and seeking help with people that can guide you, that you have confidence in.

Larry Kubiak: Well, trust is very critical in anything that we do in life. If we don't ... When we're born, going as early as we possibly can, when we're born into this world, we have zero ability to take care of ourselves, and we are 100% dependent on our parents. [crosstalk 00:27:48]-

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:27:48].

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, that's right. But, let's say you cry when you're a baby, and your parents come to you and they attend you. If you need to be changed, they change you, and if you need to be fed, they feed you, and so on. If that is the consistent pattern that happens, then you start to learn that I can trust this world. Obviously, as we get older, we have to decide, well, who can we trust and who we can't. But, we're born and we are totally dependent on our parents. If they meet our needs, then we realize that we can trust, and we can begin to trust.

On the other hand, let's say that you're a baby and you cry, and nobody comes. You cry, and nobody comes. You cry, and nobody comes. Or somebody comes and slaps you. So, what is your image of the world starting out there?

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:28:45].

Larry Kubiak: I need things, but nobody is going to meet those needs. Then that's replicated in other things in your life, and so on. 

So, trust is something that is very critical from our very beginnings in life, and the more it's replicated, that we can trust people and they will meet our needs, the more likely we are to trust other people. Now, again, it's a lifelong process of learning to trust, and sometimes we're going to get burned, and sometimes we get burned and we may not want to trust anybody for a while. But, hopefully, we learn that, well, the only way to go through life like that is to be a rock, and it's not much fun being a rock, that we've got to get out there and we've got to take some risks and so on. 

What our parents and people who care about us need to help us to is to help advise us on who to trust and who not to trust. Sometimes we'll listen to them, sometimes we won't. Sometimes we're going to be headstrong and we're just going to rush ahead, and we're going to make some bad decisions, and we hope that that helps us to learn what to look for more carefully in the future. That's true in any relationship. Employers. 

John Curry: True.

Larry Kubiak: Spouses. I mean, Jeez, one of the most important decisions you make in your lifetime is who you want to marry, and who you want to be friends with. 

At the Behavioral Health Center, one of the things that ... We see a lot of young people in our adolescent unit there, because they have ... Maybe a girl trusted a guy, then he runs around with her best friend. That's very serious trust, and just imagine how hard it's going to be for her to trust another guy in a relationship. Or if she's been abused in a relationship, it's going to take that much more effort to ever be able to trust again. So, trust is very, very critical. I mean, it's set in place from our initial relationship with our parents, but it's a lifelong endeavor. 

We can never get to the point of saying that, well, I can always trust these people and so on. It's unfortunate that there are people who will take advantage of you, with all the identity theft, and people just have so many more creative ways to take advantage of you. Certainly those who are retired, who may have saved a lot of money and so on, they're going to be a target, a magnet, for people who are going to try to take advantage of them. Maybe when they need some care ... I mean, you read about it in the newspaper all the time. Somebody who offers to help take care of them, to be a friend for them, to handle duties for them, and they take advantage of that, they take them for thousands of dollars. 

John Curry: Would you believe that in our world, the training we get, we actually are trained by some of the financial regulatory bodies on what to look for, so that if we see or suspect that somebody's being taken advantage of ... And, sadly, it's usually, as you just pointed out, either a family member or a close friend who's doing it. It's not some total stranger. 

So, we have to take classes each year to be on the alert, if you will. Or if we see somebody who, maybe they're not able to make a decision, you contact a family member, I'm concerned about your mother or your father, whatever. That's a tough call.

Larry Kubiak: Well, it's interesting that you bring that up, because I mentioned that I am a neuropsychologist, and so part of what I do is neuropsychological testing to help identify whether or not someone may be experiencing dementia. The greatest risk factor for dementia is getting older. Well, getting older still beats the alternative of not getting older-

John Curry: Yes, [crosstalk 00:32:42].

Larry Kubiak: ... but, the older you live ... Now, it's not inevitable that everybody will have Alzheimer's or anything like that, but certainly the risk increases. Fortunately, we know more about that whole process than we did 20 years ago, and 20 years from now we will know even more. I'm hopeful that, within our lifetime, there will be a cure for Alzheimer's. Actually, I'm going to be part of a drug study that's looking at a very positive possibility there's- 

John Curry: Are you going to be taking drugs, is that what you're saying?

Larry Kubiak: Well, no. I'm going to be testing people who are, but ... 

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:33:19].

Larry Kubiak: I think one of the important things for your listeners to be aware of is that whether it be them, a spouse, a family member as they get older, if you start to see some cognitive issues, have them checked out. Certainly, first of all, I would have them alert their physician. Go to their physician. There are some kind of screening things that the physician could do to help begin to identify if there were some cognitive decline there. There also are neuropsychologists and neurologists that can do assessments that can begin to identify how severely impaired someone might be, and whether or not there may be areas in their life that they should not be making decisions. Maybe there needs to be a power of attorney to help them make certain decisions, and so on.

So, all I'm saying is that, certainly, if you see in yourself or someone else some cognitive decline, check it out, and make sure that a person is not going to be taken advantage of otherwise.

John Curry: I'm glad you discussed that, because we've had several cases in the last few years where it was almost like divine intervention in that we were able to get people to go see an attorney, get their legal documents done, get the [inaudible 00:34:45] power of attorney in place, before a stroke occurred or some other health issue. 

We've thought about it several times as a team. We go, "Wow." That, we can't take credit for that, because there was the timing issue of getting people motivated, who for years wouldn't do it. I'm thinking of a couple now, where every time I would discuss it with him, he would get angry. I mean, angry. One day he was just cussing at me, and said, "I don't want to deal with these blank blank lawyers." But, when he was ready, he was ready. We took advantage of it, got him in front of the attorney, got it all done. 90 days later, the man suffered a stroke.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. 

John Curry: And everything was in order. Everything was in order. He since has passed away, but this lady has been able to carry on.

Larry Kubiak: I think it gets back to what you were talking about with the whole issue of trust, what we were talking about earlier. I think, when you have developed a relationship with your clients, and they have seen that you have worked very hard to help prepare them for their financial future in retirement and so on, if you develop that level of trust, you might be in a very important position to advise them about those kinds of things, or their spouse, or whatever. 

Certainly there may be some initial pushback, but don't be afraid of that, and don't be afraid to encourage them to do what's needed in getting that identified. If there's nothing, well that's fine. It may be a temporary thing. But, if it's something that's going to be more serious and more long lasting, then it's best to prepare for it and take the proper steps to deal with it.

John Curry: Good advice. As we wind down here, let's talk about this for a moment. You made a comment earlier about the importance of goal setting, and the image. I don't want to leave that, because we both have talked about the importance of visualizing and imaging. Spend a moment on that please.

Larry Kubiak: Okay. All of us need to set ... We don't want to just wait until New Year’s Eve to set a goal for our life. We should be continually setting goals. Financial goals, employment goals, relationship goals, whatever. We always need to be setting goals. Half the battle in accomplishing a goal is to actually be able to visualize yourself accomplishing that goal. 

Before I've used the analogy of a golfer. If you're having to hit a ball over all water, if it's me, I'm going to imagine the ball going in the water. A professional is going to imagine it landing on the green and going in the hole. So, if you can't form an image of yourself successfully accomplishing your goal, you're doomed not to meet it. So, imagine that. Imagine what life is going to be like when you're retired and you're free to do the kinds of things that give you the most satisfaction in life.

So, picture that. What's that going to be like? What’s your day going to be like? What are your relationships going to be like? Who are you going to be spending time with? Where are you going to be spending time? The more you can visualize that and you can describe that to someone else, the more likely that it is to happen. So, forming that image is very important in any goal setting, whether it be ... 

I remember working with a woman one time who was going to have a bariatric bypass surgery. She was morbidly obese. Her goal was to be able to walk around Lake Ella with her child, just without being in pain, the pain that she had so much weight on her knees, it was so painful. So, being able to form that image of what it was going to be like walking around there, and the look on her daughter's face and everything, is what helped her get the motivation to actually make that happen.

John Curry: When I had heart surgery 10 years ago, there was a guy in the room next to me who had the same procedure, a triple bypass. He was so angry, throwing things at the nurses and the other staff. The doctor, same doctor, he asked me, "Would you please, when you're taking a walk, invite this guy to join you?" I said, "Sure. What's up?" and he told me. And he did. Finally, he got out of bed, took a walk.

But, the first time we were taking a walk, he was focusing on all the problems. There was nothing to look forward to. He was like, "Why are you so happy?" I said, "Because I'm not dead." I mean, the surgery worked.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. [inaudible 00:39:28] exactly.

John Curry: I'm able to [crosstalk 00:39:30]. I'm white as a sheet. I walked 10 feet, I thought I was going to pass out. But, at least I'm moving.

Larry Kubiak: Exactly.

John Curry: I finally got the guy laughing, and we're talking, and then he looked forward to walking three or four times a day.

Larry Kubiak: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Curry: As you were talking about the importance of goals and imaging, that popped in my head. Because, I think about ... There are times when I'll dwell on the negative side, and I've gotten pretty good at quickly saying "stop". Just stop. Don't go there, and then get out. I'm convinced that people who are happiest and most successful in life, they have the ability ... Like a pro golfer. A ball goes into water, they don't dwell on that shot. It's over. 

Larry Kubiak: That's right.

John Curry: That's behind you.

Larry Kubiak: Can't change that.

John Curry: What's coming forward next?

Larry Kubiak: Exactly. 

John Curry: And I think that helps also a lot with the loss and the grieving. Now, there's also a line, you have to understand, where you could become so callus and become arrogant about it, but the longer we dwell on stuff, I call it the "downward spiral". I'm sure there must be merit to that from the psychological training standpoint and counseling, because some people just want to dwell on the negatives.

Larry Kubiak: Well-

John Curry: Some people can't help it.

Larry Kubiak: Yeah. Bad things are going to happen in life. Bad things are going to happen. That's just part of life. Some things will be much more traumatic than others. But, we all can make decisions. We can't decide if something bad is going to happen to us. I mean, a lot of times things just happen, not for any fault of our own. We have an accident because somebody else was drunk and ran into us. But, what we can make decisions on is do we want to continue to be a victim, or do we want to move on with our life? 

There are people who make decisions to be ... They've had bad things happen in their life, they were abused, they were molested and so on, and certainly they didn't deserve that, but the longer you make the decision to be a victim, the longer you keep putting your life on hold. When you make the decision to not be a victim, to make the best out of a situation, to move forward with your life positively, then the sooner you're able to move on and accomplish the things that you really do need to accomplish and want to accomplish and deserve to accomplish. 

John Curry: Let me tell you, Larry, we see that a lot. We see people who lost money in 2008, when the market crashed, and they've made good decisions since then. Some have made poor decisions, like parking their money out of fear. Because fear's a big, big, powerful issue. But, the people that seem to be doing well now are those who say, "Okay, yes, I lost money. The market's very high now, I could lose money again, so I'm going to protect some of that money. I'm not going to live in fear with it." Whereas, others, no matter where they are, if the market's high, they worry about it crashing. If the market's low, they're worried about when is it going to come back up. 

So, what you just said about ... That's somewhat being a victim, isn't it? I'm allowing my loss from before, of 2008, to keep me from doing the things I need to do today, to be able to make better decisions. I never thought of it that way, but that is being a victim, isn't it?

Larry Kubiak: Yeah, it is. It is. There are a lot of things in life to be afraid of, but if we live our life based on all of those fears then we never move forward.

John Curry: We have no life.

Larry Kubiak: We have no life. That's right. Exactly.

John Curry: Wow.

Larry Kubiak: So, we have to make a decision to step forward. Not recklessly, obviously, but to listen to the advice around us. Obviously, those who didn't listen to your advice and took all of their money out of stocks are regretting it now. 

John Curry: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Larry Kubiak: And you can always say, "I told you so," but you would not do that.

John Curry: I would not do that. That would not be very empathetic.

Larry Kubiak: No, it wouldn't. It would definitely not be empathetic.

John Curry: Or sympathetic either.

Larry Kubiak: Right.

John Curry: I'm looking at that computer screen. We've been talking for 43 minutes. 

Larry Kubiak: Oh, my.

John Curry: This has been a fantastic interview. I'm hoping we can do this again some time-

Larry Kubiak: Certainly.

John Curry: ... and expand a little bit deeper. 

Larry Kubiak: Sure.

John Curry: Larry Kubiak, I thank you so much.

Larry Kubiak: Well, my pleasure. 

John Curry: Thank you.

Larry Kubiak: All right. Thank you.

Outro: If you would like to know more about John Curry's services, you can request a complimentary information package by visiting Again, that is Or you can call his office at 850-562-3000. Again, that is 850-562-3000. John H. Curry, chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, accredited estate planner, master's in science and financial services, certified in long-term care, registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC. 

Securities products and services and advisory services are offered through Park Avenue Securities, a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, New York. Park Avenue Securities is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. [inaudible 00:44:38] Financial Corporation is not an affiliate of subsidiary of Park Avenue Securities. Park Avenue Securities is a member of Finra and SIPC. 

This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact one of our financial professionals for guidance and information specific to your individual situation. All investments contain risk and they lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Please consult with your attorney, accountant and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your particular circumstances. Not affiliated with the Florida Retirement System. The Living Balance Sheet and the Living Balance Sheet logo are registered service marks of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, New York. Copyright 2005 through 2018.

This podcast is for informational purposes only. Guest speakers and their firms are not affiliated with or endorsed by Park Avenue Securities or Guardian, and opinions stated are their own.

2018-68854 Exp 10/20

The Two Most Important Elements of Financial Planning

As a senior analyst with CNBC and pioneering financial journalist, Ron Insana has seen a lot of ups and downs in the markets and how that impacts the average investor. And over the years he’s identified some key factors that separates those who do well… and those who fall behind.

Ron shares the two most important things you must be doing right now to invest in your future. And he has some specific advice for what to do when you have a “winner” in your portfolio – it might not be what you think.

We also talk about…

  • How to overcome the Main Street versus Wall Street divide

  • The one thing that could most affect your investments in the coming year

  • Why “balance” is so important in your financial planning

  • The impact – good and bad – of today’s 24-hour news cycle 

  • And more

Listen now…

John Curry: Hello, this is John Curry. Welcome to the latest episode of the Secure Retirement Podcast. Today I have the pleasure of sitting with Mr. Ron Insana. Ron is senior analyst and commentator for CNBC. Hello Ron.

Ron Insana: Hey John, how are you?

John Curry: Good. Good to see you.

Ron Insana: You too. Thank you.

John Curry: We've had two great days here at a conference dealing with retirement planning. In fact it's called Retirement Income Summit. So, Ron, tell me a little bit about your background so our listeners can know who you are. Your background, and then folks you're gonna hear some background noise, because literally I grabbed Ron.

Ron Insana: We're in a hall.

John Curry: And he's sitting with me in a hallway.

Ron Insana: A hotel hallway.

John Curry: And doing this presentation. So Ron, tell us who you are and why you do what you do.

Ron Insana: Well it's an interesting question with respect to the why. The why was originally accidental. I got a job at Financial News Network back in the early days of business television.

John Curry: Good old FNN.

Ron Insana: FNN. And decided to say for the next 34 years. So between Financial News Network and CNBC, I've been a financial journalist for more than three decades. And the conversations that I heard around me at FNN in mid 1980's really sparked my interest and my desire to figure out a way to explain the language of Wal Street in the language of main street, so that we could really make financial market and economic events meaningful to people at home for the first time on television.

That's something now that's been going on for several decades in a row.

John Curry: That has to be fascinating, because really you were a pioneer in that, because that wasn't being done at the time.

Ron Insana: No, FNN started in 1981. I joined in 1984. So Bill Griffith, Sue Horera and myself were among some of the earliest players in that space. And we were to be honest making it up as we went along. Not necessarily the content, but certainly the approach that we took. We ad libbed a lot of it. It was an underresourced facility way back when. But part of that process is it was really sink or swim. So you either learned the content and then went on the air and delivered the news, or you didn't make it. So learning the content was the most challenging part of it having not studied any of this in college.

I was a film major in college and I ended up being a business journalist. That's one interesting thing too about jobs and opportunity that I try to impress upon my kids, is that you don't know where you're going to end up, ans so that you should embrace every opportunity that comes your way because it could take you places you'd never thought you'd go. And you might actually end up in a destination that was better than the one you intended.

John Curry: And just be curious about people and other things. That's what I love about my work. 43 years now building a clientelle. I have clients from all walks of life. I learn something new everyday.

Ron Insana: Absolutely.

John Curry: Every day. And it's fun.

Ron Insana: And that's one of the interesting things about the news business and it's even on an accelerated basis today given the way in which media and politics have changed, and economics. There is no deadline anymore. There is no day. There is all day. And there is all news all the time and so.

John Curry: Everything's a deadline.

Ron Insana: Everything's a deadline. Every minute is a deadline, a potential deadline. So you really have to learn not only how to maintain that curiosity, but maintain the pace, and then also take all that information that's coming so fast these days, put it into perspective, and determine what's noise and what's news. And what's really important to people. Particularly in our field where we're talking about people making decisions about how to allocate their money. Whether it's for pure savings. Whether it's for education. Whether it's for healthcare. 

Sometimes they really do have to listen and they really can't avoid the news and they may have to make changes as a consequence.

John Curry: And quickly.

Ron Insana: And quickly. Sometimes. Yeah, I mean, usually you have enough lead time. I think the market sends you enough signals. And it's a pure belief of mine that the markets are message sending mechanisms. And sometimes they give you enough of a heads up that you don't have to be the last one out the door if something big is coming.

John Curry: I think that's so important because people who are listening to this are probably asking, "Okay, how do I go about building an investment portfolio?" And to make it clear, you don't sell investments?

Ron Insana: Correct, no.

John Curry: You're not in the business of selling them.

Ron Insana: I may someday again, but right now I don't. Yeah.

John Curry: So if you would, take a moment and give our listeners your perspective on what to do with all the talking heads telling you do this, do this, do that. Just give some of your thoughts on what people should do when they're investing for the future.

Ron Insana: Well I think there are some people who are quite capable of doing it on their own because they've had some lifelong experience with it, or they come from a family that's very familiar with the investing process. And that's one way if you're lucky enough you can go about it. To me the thing that makes the most sense is having a trusted advisor, who is seasoned, who has experience. Who can first and most importantly, develop a plan. Everything that I've seen over the course of my career is that people with a plan tend to outperform people without a plan.

People who adhere to their plan with a great deal of discipline and patience again, tend to outperform people who just again, sometimes noise, and make moves that are inappropriate for the longer term goals. So I think that planning process is extraordinarily important. And it encompasses everything, from 401 K's to Roth IRA's, to insurance products, to everything else that you need to fully round out an investment profile that meets all your needs. Whether it's short term cash. Whether it's education for your kids. Whether it's retirement. Whether it's the end of life. All of those plans, if people are truly thinking about these things, they should take a holistic approach and make sure they're hitting all those marks so that they don't fall short of their goals when the time comes.

John Curry: I tell people that if you have a plan, a written plan of action, you're more likely to stick to that. And you're not going to be swayed so much by the news media, or your friend on the golf course saying, "Hey [crosstalk 00:05:29]."

Ron Insana: [crosstalk 00:05:28]. Yeah.

John Curry: Right? Or worried about the political arena. Because the truth of the matter is, I love how you talk about Wall Street and main street. The truth is people on main street do not have access to the information that's available on Wall Street. And by the time you take action, it's already been done.

Ron Insana: Yeah, although that space has shrunk a little bit over time as information's been a little bit more democratized. 

John Curry: No doubt. No doubt.

Ron Insana: But you're not gonna beat algorithms, you're not gonna be professional money managers who are advantaged in ways that are appropriate for their business. I mean their job is to sit there all day, interact with companies, interact with strategists and others to determine what's coming next and try to know a little bit ahead of time. And I don't mean that in a nefarious sense that some people use it. But their job is to be ahead of the curve. And most people who are working all day and raising kids and doing other things with times, coaching in the afternoon or what have you. You just don't have the time to dedicate to that process where you know everything you need to know all the time. That's what professionals do for a living.

And having done it myself on the news side, I realize there is still a gap between what most people know and what I hear. And that's true for investment professionals as well.

John Curry: I hear from clients, "I don't want to know that stuff. I might have the time to do it. I don't want to take the time to do it. Because I want to go with my wife. You help me find the right answers."

Ron Insana: Yeah, and your written plan comment is interesting because I'm a completely uptight list maker. That's how I live my life. And part of that is a function of my job. I started taking notes more so than I ever did in high school or college, about the news. And I used to go through pads and pads of paper every single day. We would take notes on everything that occurred. And I got into this process of not just taking notes, but then also making life lists. Still hand-written. It's a little bit archaic. I occasionally use my notes page on my cell phone. But I make lists and check things off. 

And I think that's made me more efficient in my work and even in my personal life, because I do feel accomplished when I'm taking those things off and I do know that they're getting done. And I think that's the same with a financial plan. The more that you can tick those things off and meet your goals, the more comfortable, the more relaxed your life is going to be.

John Curry: Amen. My team gave me a hard time, because you see I have a journal in front.

Ron Insana: I see that, yeah.

John Curry: I make notes all the time. And they'll laugh at me and say, "Why don't you just put it in the computer?"

I said, "Because I can't get my hands on it. I can't see it that way."

Ron Insana: Well I'll tell you, there's some interesting studies coming out about kids who are taking notes with their computers in school versus kids who take hand written notes. Retention levels are higher with handwritten note takers.

John Curry: Interesting.

Ron Insana: And there's some new studies coming out with that. I had this conversations with my kids. One of my kids actually had right, left confusion when he was young, so his handwriting was horrible. So he really requires a computer to take notes.

John Curry: Right.

Ron Insana: But absent that, literally writing things down is great for hard wiring your brain.

John Curry: Yes. I agree totally. I take a lot of notes at conferences like this conference I've got a book half full already. And then I'll have my thoughts also.

In the few minutes we have remaining, because we've got to get back to a tight schedule here.

Ron Insana: I think we're good. Yeah.

John Curry: Just talk a little bit about what you see as being the future from the standpoint of all the political unrest that's going on. The lack of civility if you will across the different industries, and political world especially.

Ron Insana: Well it does seem to be a unique time. I hate to use the word unprecedented, because you can go back into early American history and find things that are less civil than this in terms of the political distance.

John Curry: They shot each other back then.

Ron Insana: Yes. Aaron Burr was around, and Mr. Hamilton was cut short at what, 37 years old as a consequence. And even John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had some wild political arguments amongst their campaign teams that are probably more like today than we want to recognize. But I think civility coming back to political discourse is either going to take a statesman or a stateswoman who redefines the process back towards what we're accustomed to. Or we might just spin off the rails into having these food fights on a regular basis in politics.

Now having said that, the US economy is in fine shape. The tax reform bill is helping some folks. De-regulation is helping some industries. So absent the political or geo political upset, the economy still looks good. I think we are getting to a point in the cycle where we're at peak growth, where the Federal Reserve may very well accelerate its interest rate increases. And we might have something of a downturn later this year, early 2019 that'll feel challenging.

So I think those are the things people need to pay attention. Mostly really in a lot of ways absent some geo political catastrophe, the Federal Reserve is the thing to watch. If rates start to go up more quickly than people anticipate, even though earnings are good, even though growth is relatively good, we know that rising interest rates generally interfere with stock market performance.

John Curry: Right.

Ron Insana: So there are times that you have to make allocation decisions based on what the Fed's doing, and I think that might be central to the conversation we're going to have later in the year.

John Curry: So what advice would you offer to people listening to this, that hear you say these things? Is it still develop your plan, stay the course?

Ron Insana: Well absolutely. And there are times, and there will be a time again, where you ... And in fact it might even be now, that if you have enormous winners in the stock market that have run up well more than 300%, the index's alone have done that since the bottom of 2009, that you recalibrate your portfolio. You re-balance, you bring the allocation back into what is your planned targets for stocks, for bonds, for other alternatives that you may have, and make sure that those remain in balance and they don't get too far out of whack with respect to the program that you've put in place.

So we've had a huge run up in the market, we've had a little correction. 10% peak to trough, which is normal. And in fact, well overdue in a certain sense. And if you have stocks that have gone absolutely ballistic or hyperbolic, or however you want to describe it, again, it's a good time to pare those back and find some other opportunities in the financial markets that are under-owned, under- loved, and under-explored. And your advisor often times can help you do things like that.

John Curry: That's difficult for most people to do.

Ron Insana: Yeah.

John Curry: Because they see it going up. I don't want to get out of it. It's going great. And then they wait too long. All of a sudden the market comes down. Now they're hurting.

Ron Insana: Well you don't have to sell it. You never have to sell everything. You take some chips off the table. You take some profits. You re-deploy the profits into assess that might be underperforming for a period of time. You might want to put a little more ballast in the portfolio by buying bonds or munies, or something along those lines. Upping your contributions to a whole life insurance policy. However you can meet your goals. You never want to let your portfolio get too far out of balance where you're riding on the back of just a couple of assets, a couple of stocks even.

And then all of a sudden if they do in fact run into trouble, you're going to have to make up that ground later on. So sticking to a balanced plan, however that balance is defined by you and your advisor, is most often the best way to go. 

John Curry: And I think it's key not to have all your money in the market anyway.

Ron Insana: No, I mean you have to have a little cash, a little dry powder.

John Curry: Have some liquidity.

Ron Insana: Absolutely. Look, that's part of that plan which is, how much emergency cash do you need? How much is dedicated to tax deferred savings? How much is dedicated toward even some speculative investments you'd like to make? Do you have what we like to call Vegas Money on hand so that if you see something that's interesting that you want to trade, you can feel comfortable doing that without worrying about the overall plan that you've already put in place.

John Curry: Absolutely. Let's talk a little bit about this conference we're attending.

Ron Insana: Yeah.

John Curry: We've had the pleasure yesterday of going over to Yale University and hearing some professors in the finance and marketing department.

Ron Insana: I'm surprised the divinity school didn't burst into flames when I walked in. But that's another story for another day.

John Curry: [crosstalk 00:12:54].

Ron Insana: It really was.

John Curry: But why are you here? Tell us why you have such an interest in doing what you've done. You've served as our MC this week for Park [inaudible 00:13:03] Securities, conference on retirement masters. Why are you here? Why do you have such a passion for this?

Ron Insana: Well it's an interesting format for me. Having become a contributor to CNBC, and I did go off and manage some money for a period of time after my full time work at CNBC. And I went through that process during the crisis. So it wasn't quite as fruitful as I had anticipated. So I came back, got back in the media business. And then expanded my public speaking business, which in a lot of ways is as fulfilling as my television job used to be.

I get direct feedback from the audience. We do deeper dives without any commercial interruptions when we do interviews, when we do conversations. When I give a speech and then do Q and A with the audience, it's actually informative for me because I get to hear what people on the ground are thinking bout. Whether they're financial advisors. Whether they're an insurance business. Whether they're clients and we're doing client events in some cases. I get to go all around the country and hear what people have on their minds. And that's both in terms of what's happening in the economy and the markets. But it's also in terms of what they're thinking about politically and how they view the news media more broadly, which is always a challenging question I have to face when I'm in front of an audience.

So given the rapid changes in all those areas, it's great for me to hear the audience and hear their concerns or hear what they have going on in their businesses. If their businesses are running hot, how are they feeling about the economy. If they're feeling really hot are they telegraphing that to me in a way so I can use that as an economic indicator. It's really a boots on the ground experience for me that helps me inform some of the things that I still do for CNBC and MSNBC as well.

John Curry: Well, I've been fascinated watching you this week. You take the time to talk with people. You're a celebrity but you are down to earth. You talk with people. You're getting to know people. You're truly a people person. You enjoy getting to know people.

Ron Insana: Absolutely. And for a wide variety of reasons. One, I've kind of always been this way. And have never really shied away from conversations. I kind of like to hear what people are thinking. And it's funny. I used to watch president Clinton when he was in office and I interviewed him on numerous occasions. He had this, in addition to his insatiable curiosity about facts and figures and content, he also had an insatiable desire to talk to people.

John Curry: Right.

Ron Insana: And I always noticed that he drew energy from that. And it's not necessarily something that I added after I met him. But I always find it's informative to me. I make new friends and quite frankly and somewhat selfishly, sometimes you find new business opportunities in these conversations as well.

John Curry: Sure.

Ron Insana: I think shying away from the audience actually leaves you in a position where you get less out of the experience than you would otherwise. 

John Curry: Absolute.

Ron Insana: So some people like to hit and run. It's just never been my style.

John Curry: Same here. Keep on contributing, helping people. Let them grown. As we wrap up, anything you want to end with that you want to share with our listeners.

Ron Insana: I think the more informed they can become and the more aware they are of their circumstances around them locally, literally around them locally within their own companies or chosen professions, but then also more broadly with respect to the news and respect to what's going on with domestic and global events, then the less risk there is of getting blind sided or at least, the better chance you'll have of delivering informed questions to the people that you work with, your advisors. So that you feel comfortable that when you get a question answered, it's adequate to the situation.

So I think as much as people say information has been democratized, it's true up to a point. There's a lot of information but there's not a lot of wisdom. So I think people have to pay enough attention so they know which questions to ask, and also know that they're comfortable that they got their questions answered correctly.

John Curry: Very good. Before we go, tell people how they can tune in to catch your shows.

Ron Insana: Well see I'm on CNBC usually Thursday or Friday on Power Launch, which is one to three Eastern time. MSNBC is fairly random based on the news. They'll call me whenever they want me in. Very often times I'll appear on Stefanie Rules show which is at 9 AM Eastern time. And then we're coming out with a newsletter. Some colleagues of mine and I starting May 1st, called the FAQ, or Financial Advisor Quotient. That's gonna be FAQ, or That should be out may 1st I believe.

John Curry: Very good. Ron Insana. Thank you so much for taking the time.

Ron Insana: Thank you for having me.

John Curry: It's been a pleasure.

Ron Insana: Appreciate it.

If you would like to know more about John Curry’s services, you can request a

complimentary information package by visiting Again, that is Or you can call his office at 850-562-3000.

Again, that is 850-562-3000.

John H. Curry, CLU, ChFC, AEP, MSFS, CLTC, registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities, LLC (PAS). Securities products and services and advisory services are offered through PAS, a registered broker dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life Insurance company of America, New York, New York. PAS is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. North Florida Financial Corporation is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS. PAS is a member of FINRA and SIPC. This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Please contact one of our financial professionals for guidance and information specific to your individual situation. All investments contain risk and may lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Guardian nor any of its subsidiaries offer Long Term Care Insurance and Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. Please consult with your attorney, accountant, and/or tax advisor for advice concerning your particular circumstances. Not affiliated with The Florida Retirement System. 

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This podcast is for informational purposes only. Guest speakers and their firms are not affiliated with or endorsed by PAS or Guardian and opinions stated are their own. 

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