Co-workers and True Friendships: Can They Really Exist?
Ric’s Take On Building Your Social Network – Outside of Work
I want to digress a little bit from our normal commentary and just share with you a personal story. It's been a year since we announced - Jean and I, that we were leaving Edelman Financial Engines, the financial planning firm that we founded back in 1986. This transition was a long time coming - about five or six years, and we finally announced it to our staff and our financial planners at the firm about a year ago, a little more than a year ago.
The departure had a whole lot of fanfare, as you would hope, and as we would have wanted. The company threw Jean and me, a big farewell party. They had 200 of the firm's advisors and longtime staff there to celebrate our career. Long time, very dear friends of Jean and me threw us a party and invited 50 close friends and colleagues to have a special private event. We got a great many emails from our many advisors at the firm and many of the staff, a lot of whom have been with us for decades. And it was, as you can imagine, a very emotional time for us to be walking away from the company that we had created and was really our baby, our lives fully devoted to the building and operating of Edelman Financial.
In this year since, Jean and I have been very busy creating and launching this radio show and DACFP, the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, DACFP, which is our crypto education company. We teach folks about digital assets, blockchain technology and helping you understand the investment opportunities that exist.
Through all of this it was really very difficult. We were in the middle of COVID, of course, and we lost our very dearest friend to cancer. My mom passed during this period. Jean's father has passed, and COVID, of course, is just a blanket over everything that has changed everything for everyone.
We are very excited about what we're doing, our involvement with the continuation of our consumer education here on the Truth about Your Future, with our newsletter and my new book, The Truth about Crypto, this radio show on podcast, our video cast, webinars, masterclasses, it's all very exciting and I'm speaking pretty much nonstop at conferences nationwide. This past spring, I did 23 gigs in just three months and my calendar is again booked this fall through Thanksgiving. I'm one of the most popular speakers in the financial field and now in the crypto field as well. And we also do a lot of work on Capitol Hill involving crypto regulation, financial literacy and retirement security. My new book on crypto hit number one on the bestseller list when it debuted in May. I get a lot of invitations to speak. A lot of companies are turning to me asking for me to provide consulting to them. And we're also busy with Rowan University, where Jean and I went to college, the Edelman Fossil Park, the Edelman Planetarium and the Edelman College of Communications and Creative Arts.
So we're very busy and very excited and we're very happy with everything that is going on in our new lives. This new chapter that we have embarked upon in this past year. Looking back, though, I see that we made one mistake and that's the focus that I want to emphasize with you here. Most of our friends, most of our social network was tied to our financial planning firm. We built a company that was family friendly. The slogan that Jean and I had created decades ago was that “we're not here to have fun, but we want to have fun while we're here”.
And so we entertained heavily. We often had our executives and senior staff at our home. We had all of our financial planners at our home multiple times. We paid for trips all over the world with our top people. We took folks to Paris and to Rome and to Machu Picchu and other exotic places. We took everybody in the company. 1500 people to Disney World – twice -- and not just our staff, but their families as well, their spouses and their children. Wonderful people that we've had the privilege of being associated with through the decades. And we think the utmost of them. And we spent much of the past 40 years with these folks.
And then we left the company. And that action, our separation from Edelman Financial Engines severed the connection. In the past year, we've been in contact with maybe five or 10 of our former colleagues. Now, I'm not complaining about this. This is not a pity party. That's not my point here. This is merely a fact of life. I know that these folks like Jean and me and think highly of us and are very fond of us. And I know that we all enjoy being together whenever there's an opportunity.
The Common Bond of Work: Now Gone
The one thing we all had with our former colleagues, our former planners and our former staff, the one thing we all had in common was work. And that's no longer the case. They still have their work. We're just not involved with it any longer. And people are busy with their jobs, as busy as ever. They're busy with their families, their church, the community. It's hard to stay in touch when the one common denominator you shared no longer exists. I get it. We're part of their past. They're still in the game. They're still dealing with the daily activities of the company. We're out of it. And so I think it can be awkward for them. So while Jean and I wanted to build a family friendly company (and I think we succeeded, I think we succeeded in treating everyone like family) the fact is, we're not family. We were just colleagues and coworkers, not family.
And so the lesson we've learned a little late, but not too late and the lesson that I'm sharing with you so that as you plan for your departure from your job, where you've spent your career with your colleagues and coworkers, is this: don't limit your social relationships solely to the people you work with.
I've been talking with a lot of people who have retired or left their jobs or changed careers over the past years, and everyone tells me the same story. If you're lucky, there are a few you'll remain close to. But the overwhelming majority of people you worked with; you'll never see again. You'll never talk to them again.
In our case, this is true even for people whose lives we've changed, who owe us, frankly, darn near everything they have. We just shrug. It's just human nature. There's no malice. There's no animosity. It just is an acknowledgment, a recognition of the importance of friendships, deep, meaningful relationships. If you think you're getting them from the people you work with at your job, I think you're going to be disappointed.
You've been building a successful career. Make sure you also build yourself a life - one that is separated from the career. Who are your friends? Who do you spend time with outside of work? Who do you watch ball games with? Who do you go to dinner with? Who do you travel with?
If everyone on your list are coworkers, you're making a mistake. Your post-work life is going to be lonely. And if you now realize that you've been making this mistake, fix it. It's easy. Just start now. Broaden your social circles. Meet new people. It's not hard. And that's what Jean and I have always done and what we're doing now. Most of our social circle was tied to the business, but not all of it. So we've got a great stable of close friends, and that's really important. Folks who are not connected to the old history of our company and meeting new people is not only fun, but we don't have that old history of the company as an anchor. It gives us a chance to reinvent ourselves.
And I'm mentioning this to you because this show is all about your future, and I want to make sure you're not surprised or disappointed like we have been in many cases, so that you can look forward to your future with a more realistic approach than I think we did. It gave us a bit of a false start that added to some of the emotional challenge of leaving the company. And so maybe this commentary can help you avoid that. After all, like I said, this show is called The Truth About Your Future. And the truth is that in that future, after you leave your job, you'll want to keep your friends, even if that means finding new ones.