Whenever I am asked to describe myself, I cringe. It is not an easy task and gets harder all the time. When I look back over time, I see several different people. Who at different periods in time, have all led me here to this point in my life. You might say, over the years I have worn a lot of hats.
One hat I donned right out of high school was a job at the telephone company. I had part-time jobs in high school, but this was my first full-time gig. I worked as a frame technician, wiring in circuits for business customers in downtown Chicago. I was always mechanically inclined, so I learned quickly and soon advanced to higher-pay grade jobs. The same type of hat only a bigger brim.
This career must have fit me pretty well because I stuck with it for 32 years. Of course, over the years the technology changed, as did my responsibilities. My time was well spent, and it went by in the blink of an eye.
On my 30th service anniversary, I was awarded a choice of a gold watch or a wall clock symbolizing the time I had spent. Sorry, no hat. I didn’t wear watches, so I took the clock, which still hangs on my office wall. (Note the engraved plaque at the bottom honoring the milestone).
In 2001 when the dot com bubble burst, technology companies were ejecting employees at an alarming rate. My company offered an early retirement buyout that was too good to pass. We had already planned our move to Arizona, so the timing could not have been better.
I was too young to retire, so I started my own consulting business. I really liked that hat, but consulting hats were out of style in those years. My clients were the very same people who were going through massive downsizing and struggled with laying off hundreds of employees and then hiring a high-priced consultant.
When the attack on 9/11 occurred, the government pulled my secret clearance, further taking away my ability to bid on government contracts. I eventually transitioned myself into a Microsoft Certified Trainer, which brought me some new clients, but the pay was far less than I had become accustomed. The hat had become too small or my head too big. I looked for other options.
Some of the hats I wore didn’t fit very well. I had good skills, so my goal was to continue in a professional capacity. I did not want to pass out shopping carts at a big box store.
For a few years, I worked as a tax preparer and taught classes on the fine art of preparing a proper tax return, which was very interesting work and offered a lot of freedom. I learned a lot about financial services and about people who never failed to surprise me with their lack of financial knowledge.
I finally found a career that not only met my needs for flexibility but offered compensation that matched the value of the time I spent working. Real Estate. It was a bit of a learning curve but with my business background, and keen understanding of technology I soon made the hat fit. While I never wore the Platinum Agent Award hat at my brokerage, that wasn’t my goal. I left that ambition for the younger agents. My goal was to help my clients with the biggest sale or purchase of their lives, making sure their hats fit them properly.
Today I call myself semi-retired if there is such a thing. You are more likely to find me on a tennis court than at an open house. I will be wearing a hat of a different style along with a pair of tennis shorts.
I have only one minor regret. I should have started this tennis gig a lot earlier. I might have spent the last twenty years being a tennis pro at a country club. What could be better than getting paid to play a kid’s game?
All I know is that I have a closet full of hats, which is good because the hair on the top of my head, is getting a bit thin and a good hat helps keep the sun off.