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I still work past retirement age and have never burned out

This as-told essay is based on a conversation with Richard Grove, 79-year-old CEO of Ink Inc. Public Relations, in Kansas City, Missouri. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I am the founder, chairman and CEO of Ink Inc. Public Relations and I am 79 years old. I live on a 27-acre property in Kansas and am fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who support my desire to continue working.

My career began at Burson-Marsteller in New York in 1968 and progressed to several other large PR firms and to the C-level on the corporate side. Thirty years ago, I founded Ink Inc. to strike out on my own.

I still work every day and have no immediate plans to retire.

I still work because I still love my career

One of the things that keeps me going is having a competitive nature. Securing media can be a chase, and the chase never gets old. There are a lot of “no’s” in public relations, and if you don’t jump in, you reduce the chances of feeling and earning on your client’s behalf the satisfaction of success.

I never really considered retiring at 60, although many people usually do. However, when it becomes a chore, or I’m bored beyond recovery, which hasn’t happened yet, I can do it.

I look forward to handing over the leadership reins to the CEO, which I have done gradually over the past year, so that I can devote more time to the creative side of the business, including writing and researching potential customers on a personal level. I don’t have a specific age to stop working completely.

I have no intention of retiring in the classic sense on a golf course

Most people experience fatigue, but I never felt exhausted. Public relations is a pressure-filled profession, just a little bit more at the top. Sometimes customers, the media or your employees can drive you a little crazy. I’ve been doing this for so long that I know that these trials come in cycles and have a way of resolving with a little skill and patience.

I am extremely fortunate to continue to be in excellent health. I have lost close friends and family to various illnesses and remain conscious of my fortune. I commit to exercising and watching my diet. I still train several times a week. I also keep my mind sharp and always learning.

My children and grandchildren are extremely important in my life. Family is the true legacy we leave behind, not a business, whether successful or not. They live in California and Vietnam, but we share our lives with personal visits several times a year and weekly Zoom calls.

My age sometimes surprises people

I notice that people underestimate my age because of my behavior and walk. Maintaining a sense of wonder and humor and literally walking fast so the young ones wouldn’t pass me by was a valuable combination.

I often get comments about how fast I walk β€œfor my age.” It’s a term that I personally hate, as if it determines how one is supposed to act or walk at a certain point in life.

I have a passion for everyday life, even its negative sides, and a sense of integrity, where I strive to do the right thing even if it doesn’t always work out. My sense of humor in the face of the absurdities around us is an integral part of who I am.

I’m not usually asked how old I am, but on the rare occasions when I’m asked, my answer usually surprises the asker, which isn’t a bad feeling. I think it has less to do with my physical appearance and more to do with how I present myself. Being active, interested and having a sense of humor conveys a feeling of youthfulness.

I start my week and work day by exercising and watching network morning shows.

When I move away, I will miss the camaraderie and energy of the office the most.

Once at the office, which I go to five days a week when I’m at home, I scan the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today, looking for information that might be relevant to our clients or prospects . clients.

I then check my emails and text messages before starting my own correspondence and phone calls based on a yellow calendar I have created. I then have internal meetings and Zoom calls with prospects.

I try to close the office door no later than 5:30 or 6 p.m. because work-life balance is important to me. I travel often to meet with clients or prospects because I believe the personal touch is much more effective than Zoom.

In my free time, I am an avid fan of my alma mater, the Kansas Jayhawks. Another true passion of mine is long-distance motorcycle riding. I’ve had memorable trips to Cuba, Vietnam, Mexico, and almost every corner of the United States. Just like my career, as long as I have the ability, I will continue to explore the road.


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