We recently asked 200 top leaders in the Valley area several personal questions, including this one: At what age will you retire? The answers to that question really stood out.
Why? Because the most common answer, by far, was …Well, let’s turn to the always-succinct David Fleming, who, at 82 is among the oldest of the leaders, to speak on behalf of the group. His answer to the query about retirement: “Never,” he wrote.
In fact, a majority of those who answered that question expressed a deep reluctance to stop working. The main reason: they like what they do, and they appreciate where they are at in their lives.
For example, Jake Jacobs, of the accounting firm Rose, Snyder & Jacobs, said he had no plans to retire even though he’s 68 and past the traditional retirement age. “A person needs to retire to something, not from something,” he explained. “I really enjoy my work/life balance.”
Even those who projected a specific retirement age said they still see themselves transitioning into some other career or activity.
For example, John Yu, 53, of ImmunoCellular Therapeutics said he would retire at 70, “although I’ll probably still be engaged in activities that interest me.”
Likewise, Colin Donahue, 52, the chief financial officer at California State University – Northridge, said he would retire “officially” at 65, “but I will never totally retire.”
A few dismissed the question with humor. Mike Panesis of California Lutheran University’s Center for Entrepreneurship said he was too busy to think about retirement, then added: “At this point, I’d settle for a weekend without email.”
The single best answer came from Karen Gabler of the LightGabler law firm. “I retired years ago,” she deadpanned, “just have to catch up on my emails before I go.”
This query about retirement was part of a questionnaire given to those who were included in this year’s Valley 200. That is a book profiling the 200 most influential leaders in the Valley area, and it was distributed to paid subscribers in the Oct. 16 issue. Since we didn’t want that book to be a compilation of résumés but snapshots of real people, we asked a few personal questions.
You’ll learn, through those questions, that “Animal House” and “Caddyshack” are popular movie comedies among our 200 leaders. And I learned that many people are nostalgic about their first car and would love to have it back. “I have been searching for it for the last 40 years!” said Rickey Gelb of his long-lost 1959 Chevrolet Impala.