I was recently in Seoul. While hanging out in my favorite coffee shop in Itaewon after a few meetings I started to think about retirement, current events, and what my friends in Seoul are up to. I still like to meet up with friends and former colleagues if possible though sometimes meetings keep me busier than expected.
One of the lessons of retirement is that the company or organization you worked hard for and perhaps stayed up at night worrying about still goes on without you. Friends and colleagues may be happy to meet you (or maybe not) but at the end of the meeting they go back to work- without you! It may be hard to adjust to the fact you are no longer relevant to the company you worked for and some of your colleagues may no longer even think about you. In fact, what you think or do no longer matters to the company.
I am trying to figure out what to do next as I may live another 25-30 years. Obviously, my legal career is basically over. It really hit me when I had my 40th law school reunion on Zoom. 40 years of practicing law, working for companies and law firms. Though some of my classmates still work, some like me have retired or left the practice of law altogether. Many are no longer working. Like me, they get to practice their golf swing! I also get to work on my Korean.
Though I miss the practice of law sometimes, I do not miss trying to bring in business, filling out timesheets, or attending client meetings in which the client expected me to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It was draining to have people always approach me with legal questions on the street or at cocktail parties (expecting free legal advice) even though many of the questions covered topics I was not well versed in nor interested in.
Now I get to reflect on my passions and what I want to do. Remember, one of the lessons of retirement is the fact you are now in a different stage of life. The past is the past. Companies you worked for are no longer interested in you. Nor do they care what you think. You have to think about the next steps on your own.
What do you want to do?
With covid restrictions tightening around Asia because of the Omicron Covid variant, some businesses are finding themselves stuck in limbo instead of getting back to quasi-normal. Hopefully, the Omnicron variant will not be as serious as first thought and people can get slowly back to normality. Omnicron of course is not the only risk that Asia and the world faces. A few days ago, people were enjoying the beach here in Busan where I live, the coffee shops were packed, including the one on the beach where I usually write, restaurants were busy and people were enjoying themselves. Even the baseball stadiums were packed. Then came Omicron. But also other risks too. With business increasing in parts of Asia, the Supply Chain itself had been stretched thin. Supply risks emerged. Other risks also began to surface such as the current semi-conductor chip shortage. Inflation is beginning to rear its ugly head (inflation in Korea is at the highest rate since 2012) and other major areas of risk such as employment, geo-political and currency-related risks are once again knocking on the door. So if you are doing business in Asia or thinking about doing business in Asia you must identify the risks.
As the world scrambles to try and normalize, Asia- the world’s primary source of manufacturing, is fraught with many areas of risk. Companies seeking to do business in Asia, whether Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, or elsewhere, have to be very careful when it comes to risk. Besides Covid, operational, financial, legal, geopolitical, and environmental-related risks are all major areas of concern. Cyber-related risks are also increasing as they are in other parts of the world. As companies and countries start to address Covid related lockdowns, it is very apparent that companies must consider a multitude of risks. In fact, companies must be laser-focused on managing the many areas of risk, especially in Asia.
Obviously, risk management companies are a good resource for companies to use when managing risk. Other resources exist too, such as risk reports which identify risks on a regular basis.
One such report or report that is specifically focused on countries in Asia as well as Southeast Asia generally, happens to be Erudite Risk’s Daily Risk Briefing (DRB) Reports for Asian countries including Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, and others. Erudite’s risk reports monitor intelligence in 12 countries across Asia and collect data from over 1000 sources on a daily basis. I highly recommend this report for those doing business in Asia whether it is Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, or Asia as a whole. It is the most comprehensive risk-related report I have read that provides daily updates in a country-specific or regional manner. You can find out more at Erudite’s website- www.eruditerisk.com or for a sample go to the South Korean daily risk report page at the following link:
I am sitting at my desk thinking about the day ahead. Now that I am retired, there is no longer the mad scramble to get ready for work nor the worries that accompany working at a law firm or corporation. It really is how to plan a worthwhile day without having to stay busy handling other peoples’ problems or day-to-day corporate issues.
I notice that many people have Youtube channels talking about retirement or where to live outside of the US. A common theme seems to be living or traveling outside of the US after retirement. I have lived outside of the US for many years- in South Korea to be exact. Though living in another country may have its charms…such as not worrying about US taxation too much (you still have to file your US tax return if you are a US citizen) people in other societies such as Korea still have the same wants, needs, and issues as those in the US. So, if you plan to live in a different country, remember things may not change as much as you think except for perhaps the cost of living.
In essence, wherever you retire, coming up with a game plan for retirement is important. Some structure is needed, whether it is spending more time with your spouse, working on different projects, or starting a new company. Exercise becomes more important as you get older so coming up with an exercise plan is important too. If you don’t create your day, your day may control you. You may just start reacting to events instead of creating events. I think it's all about perspective. My advice for anyone who is thinking about retirement is to think about what it will be like once you stop working for a company or organization. What will you do or not do? How will you spend your time?
Covid has really given us time to think about our lives and what we will do after retirement. Many people may have taken early retirement because of Covid. Some may have decided to complete their bucket list before it’s too late. Or even start giving back to society instead of working. For those of you who want to retire, I suggest spending time thinking about how to structure your day and accomplish your dreams. For those of you still working- what are your goals and aspirations? How will you accomplish them? Think about creating your day. Be proactive, not reactive.
Remember, don’t let your day control you. Control your day.
I am sitting at my desk thinking about what’s next after retiring from the legal profession. Having just visited my son and daughter in the US as well as their children (I have three grandkids!) my wife and I find ourselves in quarantine even though we have been vaccinated. Korea does not currently recognize most people who have been vaccinated abroad though there are exceptions. Consequently, I must endure 14 days of quarantine. Hopefully, things will change in the near future and I can travel abroad without worrying about quarantine,
Having visited the US (specifically Chicago and NYC) I noticed the US appears to have reopened for business. Though many people in NYC still work from home, the entertainment, sports, and leisure industries are starting to reopen. Broadway is beginning to open as well as most restaurants and sporting events. In Chicago, the restaurants and sporting events have opened up with many employees going back to office buildings this month or next.
So, what does the US re-opening tell us? It is opening for business with some states open while others are beginning to open. The infection rate of the Delta variant is decreasing in many states and Covid vaccinations are increasing. People are even beginning to receive booster shots. I think by the end of 2021 or early 2022 many Covid related restrictions will certainly begin to ease as the pace of vaccinations has increased and the Delta variant begins to decrease.
From a travel standpoint, I fully expect to travel to the US in the Spring of next year and most probably the Fall as well. Travel for many people will pick up in 2022 and the travel and entertainment industries will both benefit. The world’s economy will certainly improve next year as many (who want to) go back to work.
Therefore, companies have to be ready to handle the usual legal and risk issues that they normally face as well as those issues and liabilities caused by the pandemic. Insurance, transportation, and supply chain issues will undoubtedly remain major areas of risk for the foreseeable future. But the normal areas of risk whether legal, operational, geopolitical, or financial will all, of course, have to be dealt with too. Obviously, a company’s crisis management plan must consider pandemics such as Covid. But also, the normal everyday areas of risk that can and will result in loss of business must be addressed as well.
The good news is that the world’s economy is opening up. The bad news is that the world’s economy is opening up. Those in the risk management business or in legal should consider developing checklists to cover the legal and operational risks their respective companies will encounter now that the global economy appears to be opening and people are in fact going back to work. Such checklists can cover a multitude of risks and focus the risk manager or in-house lawyer to look at potential risks and risk processes in detail. It may help to bring in a third-party risk management consultant. Some of the risks that should be on the checklist include:
Employment-related risks- are sufficient processes in place to cover risks?
Operational risks- are sufficient processes in place to handle operational risks?
Legal risks- are processes and procedures in place to handle the multitude of legal risks the company now faces?
Crisis- what crisis looms down the road and is management ready to handle it? After Covid what kind of crisis will most likely occur?
Geopolitical risks- are there risk management processes in place to address potential geopolitical issues?
Now is the time to prepare for risks if you haven’t done so. Don’t procrastinate as the world economy is beginning to open up.
Sitting on the beach sipping ice tea (or ice Americano sometimes) I’ve noticed how people are enjoying themselves. Some are tanning themselves on the beach and others are swimming in the water. Even though the news is preoccupied with Covid 19, many people have gotten on with their lives. The daily infection count in the US for Covid the other day was increasing it still was not as high as it was. In essence vaccines have worked. Perhaps herd immunity is developing in the US and elsewhere. Though there is talk about the Delta variant, so far the number of serious infections have decreased in the US. So, it appears that maybe the worst of the pandemic is behind us, at least in the countries that have access to the vaccine.
There are a number of lessons I think that people should have learned during the pandemic. One of the lessons is that all things shall eventually pass. Pandemics eventually pass. Catastrophes eventually pass. Even careers and businesses eventually pass. Of course all of us will eventually pass too. People will eventually go back to their regular lives. Daily concerns will eventually trump concerns about Covid. In essence, whether retired or not, people will need to think about the long haul not just short term concerns and short term problems.
If you are managing a business you should realize that in many parts of the world, businesses are opening up again especially in the hospitality sector. The travel industry also as well. If you are a risk manager or in-house counsel, you should realize that to a certain extent things are going back to semi-normal which means you have to think about the issues you faced before the pandemic as well as issues you will face post pandemic. It appears many office workers were more productive in the office than working at home. Are you prepared to go back to the office? Are your employees ready to go back to the office?
Knowing the pandemic shall pass means you need to prepare for the long haul. If you manage a business- did your business plan survive? Did your marketing plan work? What legal issues presented themselves and were you prepared for them? Are you prepared for business and legal risks after the pandemic?
I think the Covid pandemic has shown how resilient the human race is. It has shown society in general that it is not a long term threat as much as a short term threat (the vaccines appear to be working and were introduced 1 year after the major outbreaks which shows how far science has come) which means life for many will eventually go back to normal.
So remember, to be successful you have to think about the long haul. Sure short term problems will arise, but they eventually pass. Think about the long haul. Think about long term issues and concerns. Are you ready for the future?
Retiring to Busan from Seoul has guaranteed I would be next to water. Currently I am on Gwangali Beach (actually sipping ice coffee from a nearby coffee shop) enjoying the beach. Though it is hot outside (33 C) I am near the ocean which means there is a slight breeze coming off the water. Having a breeze when it is 33 C outside is nice. Watching people on jet skis and sailboats gliding by is also nice. As I am not working, I don’t have to wear a suit and am instead wearing shorts which is one of the perks when you retire- you don’t need to dress up but can in fact dress down. I hope to wear my tailored suits again someday but am not too concerned. Though I planned this escape to Busan for a while I am still amazed it has come to pass. I reached this retirement goal of living on a beach in Korea because of several reasons. Long term planning, setting goals, and of course having the goddess of fortune smile down upon me. Getting to this place has required planning, taking action, taking chances and moving forward even though I felt like stopping at times. Fortune came my way when I started to take chances and made the effort to change my life.
Looking back, my career (actually several careers) had ups and downs but at the end concluded successfully. Though I’ve constantly reminded my colleagues that what they need is a long term plan, I never really voiced my opinion that taking chances (which means taking action) is just as important. One of the reasons I had a very successful career was the fact I took chances and recognized the potential opportunities that presented themselves as a result of my taking action. All of the people I know who have had successful careers (legal, business, etc.) all took chances and all took action. Look around you. I assume that the people you know that are successful in life all had to take chances and all had to actually take action.
Taking chances and action are just as important as long term planning or goal setting. However, before you set goals you need to think about the direction you want to go in. I know a number of lawyers who burned out and dropped out of the practice of law. Perhaps if they figured out what they liked or were interested in, they may have gone in a different direction or stayed in the legal profession (which is quite large) and gone in a slightly different area of law. That goes for those in other professions or careers. If you do something you like or at least understand the areas you are interested in you can then set goals, plan ahead and then take chances when opportunities come your way. For those who don’t know what to do or feel stuck, a career coach may be advisable. Or simply sitting down with your peers and asking for advice. If you are lucky enough to have a mentor, take advantage of that fact and sit down with your mentor. He or she may point you in a new direction but that maybe what you need.
In retirement, there are few really pressing needs. There is no longer an office to go to or a deadline to meet. In fact, I am at a coffee shop overlooking one of my favorite beaches sipping an ice tea. Time therefore takes on a different meaning than for many people caught up in the daily rat race. But in fact it should serve to remind you that to be successful you need to set goals and take chances. Come up with a plan but don’t be afraid to veer from it if opportunities present themselves. Things tend to unfold gradually not instantly. It may take a while to see where you are going, but you may be able to at least know you are going forward to your dreams. What are your dreams? Have you thought about that?
If you are in business, look down the road. What are the business trends for 5 years from now that you see? What about 10 years from now? To be successful you need to see long term business trends and cycles. If you are practicing law, look down the road. What areas of law will be hot 5 years from now? Are you positioned to take advantage of it? Sure you need to think about tomorrow, but more importantly, you need to think about 5-10 years from now! Have you thought about your long term marketing plan? What are your 5 or 10 year goals? Are you doing what you like? If not, why not? Are you getting the experience you need? If not, why not? What should you do to get the experience you need?
Everyone needs a long term plan. But to get to where you eventually want to be, you need to also take chances and also take action. Don’t just sit at the computer all day wishing you were doing something different. Do something different. So my advice is as follows:
Start thinking about what you want to do or where you want to be in 5 years
Start developing goals to get you where you want to be in 5 years
Start taking action to implement your goals
Start taking chances to meet your goals
Start taking the opportunities that come your way once you start taking action
It all begins when you start taking chances.