Retirement is really great. I highly recommend it and encourage everyone to do it as soon as you can.

And you can do it at any stage in life regardless of age, education, societal status, or lifestyle by doing one simple thing — Realizing your value and capitalizing on it.

I would guess there's more people able to do what Alex did than there are those who will end up CEO’s or Hedge Fund managers.

I Wish I’d Known Number One

Realizing my value. I grew up on a small 26-acre farm where we grew soybeans and corn mostly. My family also had a floral and landscaping business at the same time.

I worked in both.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was acquiring work experience that I could use outside the family business to build a work career.

I was doing things like meeting deadlines, customer service, delivery, handling money, etc. I didn’t realize those things had value and could be transferred from one job to another.

As a result during my first few job interviews I said I had no work experience.

Because it was all I’d ever known since age 6 — I didn’t see the real value of what I was bringing to an employer until later.

I Wish I’d Known Number Two

Work is always a learning experience. Many people go to work, go through the motions, try to get through the day with as little hassle as possible, and go home and get ready to do it again.

When I got my first real full time job I found that if I learned my job well I would be given more responsibility. I could move up the income ladder.

My first real job was sitting at a desk with a bunch of other people with an adding machine making sure the addition on invoices was correct.

A trained monkey could probably do that job.

A year later I was a sales rep for the same company with an expense account, company car, and half of Illinois as a territory.

I Wish I Had Known Number Three

It’s not about me. No one is successful in business unless you help someone. I found that putting my needs, commissions and paychecks, ahead of the customer’s need was ultimately costing me money in my sales effort.

I stopped selling products and services to people and became their assistant buyer. This worked much better for me and them and my take home improved dramatically.

I Wish I Had Known Number Four

Empathy for Co-Workers. The 1960s and 70s were the me generation. Anyone older was out of touch. They dressed funny, talked funny, and even worked funny.

They had something called a work ethic.

Do to my work in the family business a good work ethic was about all we had in common.

What I didn’t realize until later in my working life was that these people were teachers of life and business.

They had the knowledge I needed to succeed. How they worked in the past changed the way we work today.

They had made the mistakes long ago that I was benefiting from today.

Some Final Thoughts

There are many people who worked their entire lives for one company. I am not one of those people.

In fact I have worked for 25 different companies in 18 different industries. Some people might say, “I guess he can’t hold a job.”

Sometimes I was hired away by a competitor. Other times there was a curiosity about that particular business that I wanted to know about.

But without that diverse experience there would be no books, no web site, and probably no retirement.

Take home this one thought. You have value that people are willing to pay for. How far you take that value is up to you.

The sky’s the limit. Just ask Alex.

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