Retirement Wisdom From Plato (and Others)
Episode 601st December 2021 • Human-centric Investing Podcast • Hartford Funds
00:00:00 00:22:32

Share Episode


What if the great thinkers like Plato, Socrates, and Confucius had retirement figured out thousands of years ago? Discover how ancient wisdom can lead to retirement satisfaction.

Robert Laura is not affiliated with Hartford Funds.



John Diehl: [00:00:03] and I'm Julie. [00:00:03][0.5]

Julie Genjac: [:

human centric investing podcast. [00:00:08][3.4]

John Diehl: [:

inspiring thought leaders to hear their best ideas for how you

can transform your relationships with your clients.


Julie Genjac: [00:00:19] Let's go. [00:00:19][0.3]

John Diehl: [:

about wisdom. What do you think's the best piece of advice that

you've ever received? [:

John Diehl: [00:00:28] John, I would have to say the best piece

of advice that I've received in my life is from my parents many

years ago, and they said, Julie, don't wish your life away. When

I remember when I was younger, I wanted to be 16 and then 18 and

then twenty one and twenty five. All of these in my mind, these

very key milestones and all I wanted to do was get to that age

and they just said it will go fast enough. Enjoy living in the

experience. Don't constantly be looking so far ahead. And I took

that advice to heart and boy, were they right? Those years

should certainly fly by. How about you, John? What's a what's a

advice that you've received? [:

Julie Genjac: [00:01:09] So I had a business mentor, a guy I

still look up to to this day who once told me, John, change is

inevitable. You are not. In other words, you need to be

flexible. You need to look for the next opportunity. You can't

restrict yourself to kind of a one track thought about how your

career is going to go or how you're going to deal with

situations. Life life throws a lot of curveballs at it, and

unless you can be a little bit flexible and change with the

times, you can find yourself on the outside looking in. I

ought that was very helpful. [:

John Diehl: [00:01:42] Phenomenal advice, especially given what

we've all just lived through in the world. So I love that. Well,

today, John, we are very fortunate to have Robert Laura here

with us, and I'm so excited to hear some of his wisdom and ideas

as we chat today. But Robert is a pioneer in the psychology and

social science of retirement plan. He's a three time bestselling

author, nationally syndicated columnist for Forbes and Financial

Advisor magazine and a very well recognized presenter at

retirement conferences across the country as a former social

worker turned money manager, author and speaker. His work has

reached millions of people through seven book well guides and

over 800 articles. You heard me correctly 800. He frequently

appears in major business media outlets such as The Wall Street

Journal, USA Today, CNBC, MarketWatch, The New York Times and

more. Robert, welcome to our podcast today. We're delighted to

have you here. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:02:46] Thanks, Julie and John, appreciate it.

Look forward to spending some time with the guys.


Robert Laura: [00:02:51] Absolutely, well, Robert, I've followed

you for some time, and I'm particularly intrigued about kind of

this topic of wisdom, but but first, can you describe for me a

little bit about why today's vision of retirement causes

challenges for some people? Not everyone, but certainly some

segment of society. [:

John Diehl: [00:03:16] I think a lot of people approach

retirement with this idea that a life of leisure is going to be

good or fun, but you know, how many times can you go for a walk

on the beach or do these other things? And I think the other

thing is, as people are turning traditional retirement age to

that 60 to 65 or 70, the gas tank is empty. It's still more than

half full and they don't know what to do. They don't want to

just sit around and kind of leisurely bide their time. They want

purpose. They want direction. They want, you know, to have an

impact on other people's lives and not talk about anything

shocking or amazing. But they just want to do little things.

They want to reinvent themselves, they want to stay relevant and

stay engaged. And that comes with a different set of rules,

behaviors and directions than just kind of thrown back and kind

of sitting in a rocking chair in clear numbers. So a lot has

changed. People are getting here wanting more. And the hard part

is they don't know really how to do it because they didn't have

a lot of role models, you know, previous generation just kind of

did retire, just kind of do simple things, but that's changed a

lot. [:

Robert Laura: [00:04:21] Robert, you mentioned things like

biking, beach walks, golfing. I always add sailboat. And there

it seems like sailboats are always very prevalent in the image

for retirement. But where where did that vision initially come

from? [:

Julie Genjac: [00:04:37] Well, I think the whole idea of the the

haves and the have nots that once you had enough money not to

work, you just live this life of leisure. And I think the other

thing, if you look back in:

established, average life expectancy was sixty one point eight.

So you really weren't supposed to get there. And if you really

look at why retirement was created, it was to take older people

out of the workforce. Now again, 20 30 years ago, people were

working physically demanding jobs, 50 or 60 hours a week of

their private working since they were 12. So they get to 62 or

65 and they're done. They need to be out of the workforce. You

fast forward to today, and we've increased life expectancy by 30

percent following those same rules, so we wouldn't be eligible

for, you know, Social Security until their age 80 now. And so

what's happening is people are turning against two or 65 five.

They want to be more and do more. And they've got now 30 years

of stuff to do, not just maybe five or 10. And so previously,

when they had shorter time span, you know, life spans leisure

was more of a focus. Now, when you have 20 or 30 years, they

much more than just leisure. [:

Robert Laura: [00:05:47] You know, Robert, I wanted to comment,

you mentioned the beach walking or the chair rocking, right? I

had a neighbor. This gentleman ran his own business until he was

well into his 80s. And when I asked him why his name was

floated, he said, You know, John, the reason is I have a lot of

friends that retired to that rocking chair. And guess what? It

ain't rocket anymore. It was his work, the daily interaction. It

didn't work like he did when he was 40 or 50. But he really

enjoyed being around the crew, some of which was his family and

the things that they achieved and that became part of his

retirement. I know that's as you said, that's not in the script.

That's not what we're kind of taught. But nonetheless, I observe

that more and more in today's version of retirement.


John Diehl: [00:06:33] Well, and I will say this is what I

appreciate about the work you guys are doing, you're raising the

awareness around these ideas because retirement isn't about what

you gain, because yes, you gain time and you gain some freedom,

but it's really about how do you replace what you're losing?

Because like your friend was saying, like he likes that social

connection, he likes the routine, he likes the mental stimulus.

Well, when that stuff goes away, if you don't have a way to

replace it, you end up being a retirement zombie. You just kind

of wandering around like, OK, Groundhog Day doing the same thing

over and over. And that's not what people want. And again, this

is why again, kudos to you guys for the work that you're doing

because we can fix that. They don't have to waste the first

couple of years trying to figure it out on their own if they're

ahead of the curve, have a plan to replace the work identity

filter times. They're often connected, they're going to make a

better transition, not just be wandering on the beach or making

their golf score get worse and worse because they're not happy

with it. [:

Robert Laura: [00:07:31] Robert, I love how you framed replacing

what you're losing. I just think that that's such an interesting

perspective and and so spot on and it's an interesting take that

you had is using the wisdom of ancient philosophers to really

improve the thought process around retirement planning. And

again, something that I haven't thought of before. Admittedly,

you know, you talk about using the wisdom of Socrates is the

idea that we should question everything. And how does that

wisdom and that philosophy apply to retirement planning in your

opinion? [:

Julie Genjac: [00:08:09] I think it's so important because

people aren't taught to critically think about retirement. You

know, they just kind of they go into it with these vague

assumptions and ideas that, well, it's going to it's going to be

good. I'm going to really enjoy it. But they don't. There's

nothing behind it. What does that really mean? If you ask people

to write down what is a perfect day in a perfect week look like

in retirement, they can write down the perfect day. It's not

that hard. You start to write down a perfect week. They start to

struggle because they can't. They don't know what they're going

to fill all of their time with. And so we really have to start

training people to ask themselves these tough questions of

really, what does retirement mean? What does a good life or

retirement? One of my favorite questions to ask is how will you

know if you're winning at retirement? Look, we can't answer it,

most people have no right like, you know, how to work, you know?

You know, when at work, you know how to win at home with your

family. But how do you win at retirement? And that's again,

where where we can do some solid work about helping people

replace the worker that fill their time, stay relevant,

connected mentally and physically active, express your spiritual

place, feel financially secure. The more of those boxes you can

check off, the better you're going to be. But again, we have to

look at, you know, some some ways to critically think about

this. And what a better way to look back at things like Socrates

as an unexamined life is not worth living. Aristotle talked

about good decisions aren't based on numbers, but on knowledge.

And so we can really start to use stuff that thousands of years

old and apply it to today's retirement and in the process, help

le make a better transition. [:

Robert Laura: [00:09:44] So, Robert, when we think about

Socrates saying question everything, why do you think that idea

in particular is so important and how does it help financial

professionals and their clients think differently about

retirement planning? [:

John Diehl: [00:09:59] Well, it's a huge opportunity, especially

for financial professional, because you have to have your own

philosophy, right? And you know, people are coming to we're

trusted experts when people come to a financial adviser. And so

if we can share our philosophy, our ideas, our experience,

that's what they're really looking for. People are naturally

curious about life in retirement. During my workshops, there

thing is one of the most common things in my response form isn't

I wish Bob would talk more. It's always I wish I would have

heard more from other audience members, so they're naturally

curious about what other people are thinking and doing. And so

as advisers start to critically think about life after work in

terms of these non-financial components, they can develop, you

know, kind of this philosophy that they can espouse to their

clients. And again, because it's not something people have

thought a lot about, it has really powerful results. People have

these aha moments because they never thought about retirement

like that. So advisors can take the lead this first step and

say, Let me think about what this is going to really look and

feel like. Let me write down some client stories. Let me write

down some ways they can fill their time, replace the worker then

and do these other things with. They're ahead of the curve. They

look innovative and proactive instead of being responsive or

reactive. [:

Robert Laura: [00:11:16] So interesting, Robert. And, you know,

have you found that that there's a sentiment with the clients

and investors that, you know, when it comes time to retire,

can't we just be a little bit spontaneous? Let it happen. See,

see where the wind takes us. All of a sudden, we know we don't

have to set an alarm clock every day. That's a bit of a sense of

relief. We hope that maybe our financial pieces are put

together, but you know, can't we just go with the flow a little

What would you say to that? [:

Julie Genjac: [00:11:46] You know, yes and no, I mean, it really

did you know what people don't think about is, is their

personality or their style, right? So if you're an extrovert or

an introvert, you know what makes for a successful life for

retirement is going to be very different for people. And that's

why I think, like you can't just always go with the flow. I

think you have to you're better off going into retirement with

some general ideas or direction. One of my biggest things is I

think that the honeymoon phase is one of the most dangerous

phases for clients because they kind of just let things go, and

I'm not saying they don't deserve to do that. But if you put

your life on hold for three or six months because you're just

relaxing and taking it easy, it doesn't automatically come back.

So you're not going to maintain those connections at work or

you're not going to be hooked in with your friends or family, or

you're not going to be exercising. And so I think as people make

the transition, it's really important to have specific goals

like, well, and this is again where advisors can really be

helpful to say, you know, what are the goals you want to

accomplish in the first 30 days of retirement? What are some

goals you want to accomplish in the first year of retirement

that opens up a whole different piece of thoughts and ideas? And

again, can you still go with the flow? Yes. You know, but I

think if you go into it with some plans, some goals and

strategies, it's going to make it a lot easier and really quick

to that point. One of the things that I despise that people say

is you need to retire to something. And really what you're

saying is postpone your best life until you get to retirement

and then you're going to figure it out. Well, guess what?

There's no magic dust or motivation when you get there. You're

not like, who now? Glad I'm here now. I'm super motivated to

work out and eat healthy. Spend more time with the family. This

is all easy. That's not how human behavior works. And so when we

tell people you have to retire to something, we're seeing

procrastinate so you want to retire with something. So if you

start to develop these habits and strategies beforehand, it's

easier to continuum rather than just jump on board because it's

like a New Year's resolution, right? Every year, I'm going to

lose weight and save more money than I do for a week. And so

retirement is a giant New Year's resolution. Don't put it off.

Don't postpone it. Start living your best life now.


Robert Laura: [00:14:03] I think that's interesting, Robert. You

know, as I think about all this time that will have in

retirement. I don't think I think people lose perspective, but

it probably wouldn't surprise you to point out that, you know,

the biggest difference and how people differ in spending their

time pre-retirement versus post-retirement. I love asking this

of clients. I'll say, you know, what do you think the biggest

difference is the biggest change in how we spend time, what

area? The answer is watching TV, how many of us go? I can't wait

till I retire because I really want to watch more TV. But this

is what happens when we go in with this spontaneous, let's see

what happens and see how it goes. And I think, you know the word

that I like and just wondering how you'd react to it, Robert, is

is that word intentional being intentional about whatever it is

king? Your thoughts on that? [:

John Diehl: [00:14:57] Now, spot on, so I think and that's a

great term, just to be living an intentional retirement, to know

what you're going into. And to your point, what people don't

realize is when you retirement doesn't change who you are, it

magnifies who you are, right? And so if when you have downtime,

if you sit around watch TV and, you know, visit the refrigerator

every 10 minutes, you're going to do it more. If you worry, when

you have downtime, you're going to have fewer distractions in

retirement, so you're going to worry more. And so I think it's

really about exactly what you're talking about is developing

this plan and you don't have to have every second of the day

earmarked out and be very specific and volunteer, you know, a

thousand hours. You don't have to say yes to everything. But I

think if you're, you know, just to your point, intentional, if

you just take the time to do more than just think about it,

because that's the other problem I see with people is they've

got it all figured out. It's all right up here. Let's put it on

paper, OK, let's write down some of these things. And this is

powerful even for financial advisors. Again, like if you were to

ask you a couple, write down what is a perfect day in a perfect

week look like? You're going to be surprised what the

differences of opinions are. And you know, it's not about

marital counseling or fixing that. It's about saying, you guys

might be seeing some of these things different and it's

something you want to start talking about. You know, so again, I

think that again, being intentional, taking the time to think

about it, question things about retirement, but then start to

write it down so that you have a reference point, because I'll

also say that everyone has these amazing ideas before they

retire. I'm going to do all this stuff and then they get there

and they forget it all. So if they write it down, easier to

remember it. [:

Robert Laura: [00:16:44] But I also think advisers ought to be

thinking for themselves about your Socrates words of wisdom or I

question everything because let's face it, we've been trained to

approach retirement in a certain way, and sometimes I think we

need to question the practices. And to my point, earlier, if

change is inevitable, we may not be. If we don't question

everything, we could find ourselves on the outside looking in

right? [:

John Diehl: [00:17:11] Well, and that's I think the biggest

issue for really what's happening in the financial services

industry is it's changing. The new narrative is clients want

more than just financial advice. They want some guidance and

some direction. They want a sounding board. They don't want a

therapist or a counselor. They just want someone with some

knowledge experience to expound on some of the things they're

thinking and feeling. They want more than just passing on their

wealth. They want to pass on their wisdom. And so I think the

role is changing. And to your point, if advisors don't start to

question, how am I adding value, how am I making a difference?

How do I keep this relationship sticky? Because I will tell you

most of my clients when they come in to talk to me, they know

I'm taking care of their money. That's kind of a done. That's

what I do. It won't talk about other stuff. And so if you don't

develop some of those soft skills and start to see what this

trend is going, it's going to be one of those situations. You

start to lose assets, you're like, Oh, maybe I should figure

this stuff out. So it is about questioning what it's not even

what the industry is doing, it's what we could be doing. It's a

disservice not to do this extra stuff to clients.


Robert Laura: [00:18:18] That makes so much sense, Robert, and I

just I wanted to repeat something you said because I just think

it's so powerful that helping clients retire with something, not

to something, and I just really struck me and I just felt like

it should be repeated. But you know, if we think about helping

financial professionals continue to engage with their clients

and add value, as you just mentioned, what would some of the

best practices be from your perspective? If there was one thing

using your concept of ancient wisdom that they could implement

with, say, the next point conversation that they have, what

would your guidance be? [:

Julie Genjac: [00:18:58] I think it's just, you know, developing

some bridge questions and bridge conversations, you know, so

asking clients some new questions that move away from the

dollars and cents of it to, you know, the non-financial in, for

example, super low barrier. Easy question, do you think it's

time to retire the word retirement? Because a lot of people, I

mean, they get mad about the term retirement. They're like, I'm

not retired, I'm not done. Don't put me on a shelf. Don't put me

out to pasture. You're like, Whoa, I didn't notice that, but it

is an emotional topic. And what you're going to get a sense of

when you ask that question again, is that like, what do they

want to not have retirement look like because they're going to

say they want to retire the word retirement, but then to say,

Well, what would you? How would you replace it? What would you

replace it with? Again, you're going to hear things like

reignite man or retirement or re-inspired mint because they are

starting to see this as that next journey. And so I think

advisors can really take some simple steps with a question like

that. Another question could be, you know, how have how has

COVID been a precursor to what retirement may look or feel like

for you? So again, that now we're talking about everyday life,

like you're like because you're not, you're going to hear,

especially for couples like, I'm going to make sure I'm working

part time. So I'm not around my spouse cheating. But like that,

they've spent so much time together. They're realizing, Hey,

maybe there's going to be more to this than just sitting around

the house and to John's point, watching TV all day together. So

I think it's it's just again, I don't have to become therapists

or counselors. I don't I don't want to know why you didn't get

an allowance when you're 13. We can just be talking about how

was COVID been a precursor? Do you want to retire the word

retirement? My question earlier. How will you know when you're

winning at retirement? Because what happens again when you ask a

question like that, how will you know if you're winning at

retirement? They can't answer it, but if you can, you show

value, right? That's how you get results. You're like, Well,

here's how you do it. We have to figure out, how are you going

to introduce yourself when you retire? Or are you going to say

you're retired? Or are you going to say, why return from my

first career? And now I'm working on this? And so it is about

helping people work through that stuff, and I think the best

ices, just better questions. [:

Robert Laura: [00:21:12] So, Robert, that's a great takeaway, so

really examining the questions we're using, right, thinking

about where they might lead. And again, I would advise for folks

to take a look at some of your thoughts around the ancient

philosophers, right? Sometimes just a simple statement that

question everything can kind of stick in our heads. Remind us

over and over again what we should be thinking about on a

regular basis. Robert Laura, we want to thank you very much for

ing us on the podcast today. [:

John Diehl: [00:21:44] Thanks for having me a great time.


Robert Laura: [00:21:47] And if you're interested in reading

Robert's article, how ancient wisdom can improve your retirement

planning, visit Hartford Funds dot com slash wisdom. Again,

Funds dot com slash wisdom. [:

John Diehl: [00:22:02] Thanks for listening to the Hartford

Funds human Centric Investing podcast, if you'd like to tune in

for more episodes. Don't forget to subscribe wherever you get

your podcasts and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube.


Julie Genjac: [00:22:17] And if you'd like to be a guest and

share your best ideas for transforming client relationships,

email us a guest booking at Hartford Funds dot com. We'd love to

hear from you. [:

John Diehl: [00:22:27] Talk to you soon. [00:22:27][0.0]