Authority Magazine has an article of an interview they did with me on 5 things Retirees Wish They Did Before Retirement.
Aggie Jordan, Ph.D., is the former founder and CEO of Jordan-DeLaurenti, Inc, a training and contract management company. Since selling this business, writing has been her life’s work. Aggie’s diverse background as a former nun, teacher, and relationship counselor has shaped her mission of empowering women to have their voices heard in the face of challenges to their rights for human equality. Her recent book, “A Woman’s Voice Should Be Heard,” shares Aggie’s journey from the convent to the ongoing battle for women’s equality, inspiring women to find empowerment through using their voices and seeking guidance from mentors and friends. Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path? Mycareer path was influenced by my upbringing in a strong Irish Catholic family and my 12 years of Catholic schooling. These experiences led me to make the decision to become a nun and teach in Catholic schools. However, my transformative experience at the University of Notre Dame during graduate school exposed me to the women’s movement, sparking my journey into feminism. This pivotal moment led me eventually to leave the convent and to a career as a dean at a university, where I fought for women’s rights and worked to be heard in a predominantly male administration. From the university, I joined General Motors Institute as a management trainer and soon transitioned to the aerospace industry. Here I met my husband and shorty after started my own business, focusing on training women and managers to work together. My personal struggles and battles for women’s equality shaped my career path, ultimately making a positive impact on women’s empowerment and societal change. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Helen Killgo was responsible for the “big bang” of my career. Mrs. Killgo, a Director in the Dallas Region of the Department of Labor, has been the one person with the strongest influence on my business becoming successful. Helen is the one responsible for urging me to do business with the federal government. She urged me to apply for the Small Business Administration 8(a) program, and when my application was rejected because I was a woman, she pushed me to file a lawsuit. I tell this story in my book, A Woman’s Voice Should Be Heard: My Journey From The Convent To The Battle for Women’s Equality. Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that? So many to choose from — most only seem humorous when we get enough distance from them. I was denied a small business loan from our local bank unless I was willing to have my husband co-sign. My husband was not involved in the business. He had a job. The President of the bank told me, “Based on your loan proposal, the board will have no trouble giving you the loan if you obtain your husband’s signature.” I was furious. This was such misogyny. They would not require a married man to get his wife’s signature. So I asked him to play a game with me. Would he be willing to role-play with me a new scenario where I would reenter the bank, sit down in his office as a single woman, and reread my proposal? He agreed. I left the bank, reentered, and knocked on his door. He welcomed me as he shook my hand. As I sat in his office while he read my proposal, his pen in hand, eyes glued on the numbers, I thought, holy cannoli, he’s the president of the bank, and he’s playing this role with me. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if it was illegal to record him with a hidden recorder in my attaché case. At the end of his review, he said. “I’ll recommend it to the board. I’m sure they are not male chauvinists.” I never used those last two words with him, but he got the message. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that? So many people, particularly women, have helped me to be successful in life. The women at Lewis Hall at the University of Notre Dame were responsible for helping me through my transformation from my life as a nun to my dedication to women’s equality, particularly Sr. Suzanne, who was a Theology Professor who made us question what we believed and who we were. What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout? Make exercise a priority. You will burn out faster if you are not healthy. Burnout can happen so easily, especially when you are an independent business person. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for keeping your business alive and well. Most of us give 60–80 hours a week to make our business successful. For entrepreneurs who are also mothers, the burden of time management weighs heavily. If they have a partner, that partner must share that burden. It’s up to us to ask for help and to be strong enough to ensure that we get it. Loving the work you do and experiencing success will also keep you going. Most important is taking time out to have fun. Take a weekend a month just for fun. Carve out alone time whenever you can grab it — get your manicure and pedicure regularly. And get a massage. Take care of your spiritual self. Know what you believe and follow those beliefs. Betraying yourself will not only cause you to fail but cause you to give up. What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture? Hire people who complement your weaknesses. And allow them to do their jobs. Respect their work, the time they dedicate, and their talent. Do not micro-manage but manage the big picture. Flexible time schedules are one of the major ingredients of a healthy work culture. Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact nearly every aspect of one’s life. Obviously, everyone’s experience is different. But In your experience, what are the five most common things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
Take six months to relax, get in touch with yourself, to know who you want to be.
Do not give in to others’ expectations. Do not “settle.” This is your time to create life as you want it,
Listen to your instincts and trust them.
It almost always takes more money than you expected, especially as time accumulates, and so does inflation.
Get healthy and develop healthy practices: exercise and eat healthy foods.
Let’s zoom in on this a bit. If you had to advise your loved ones about the three most important financial issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
Count on it! Your financial plans will go awry. Things will happen that negatively affect your financial status. My husband and I lost a large sum of money in the stock market in our twelfth year of retirement. Who can forget 2007 and 8? We took some courses in real estate investing. Our daughter and her husband lived in Indianapolis, which had been identified by the experts as a great residential real estate investment. Newly built houses that would cost $500K in California were $130K in Indianapolis. We used some of our savings to buy these houses and rent them to young families. At first our selection of tenants for two houses was a huge mistake. We lost $8000 because of the damage the tenants caused. But having learned a lesson, we were able to stabilize our tenants for five years. When we sold these houses, they had nearly doubled in value, regaining more than our loss. Rent matched the mortgage and management payments as well as expenses for the most part. Our son-in-law managed them for us, and we all did well.
We learned that we cannot take the risks at 65, 75, or 85 years of age that we took when we were 40 or 50.
Be sure you have a financial counselor, no matter how much or how little your nest egg might be. But if your instincts tell you that a chosen counselor is not for you, get out of the relationship. We’ve exited poor relationships several times.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the three most important health issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would it be? 1 . Your health should be your #1 Priority. Your health may not be a worry in the early days. But it will happen: your joints will start to ache; your heartbeat can betray you; your body may produce cancer cells; or that time you spend in the sun will produce skin problems. Aging means that our bodies will deteriorate. We can control the rate at which that happens by discipline: regular exercise, healthy eating, socializing, and having a purpose in life. Go to these three doctors: for your annual exams: your primary care physician, your dentist, and your optometrist. Do not neglect this rule. 2. If you do not have a purpose in your life in retirement, you will be unhappy. We need a purpose to get up in the morning and to live happily. It is important to know who you are and how you want to spend your time. We can only do so much travel or visit relatives. So what will you do all the other days? 3. Retirement is the time to develop and use your creative talents. You cannot say, “I’m just not creative.” You are a human being; you have the ability to create. If you are unaware of your inborn creativity, take classes. Try painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, writing, history, research, and ancestry. These are a limited list of possibilities. There are so many offerings in adult learning. If you had to advise your loved ones about the three most important things to consider before choosing a place to live after they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
Choose a place with excellent health services. You will need them.
Know what you enjoy: mountains, seashore, hunting, fishing, or the four seasons. Just remember, no matter where you live, you will have at least three months of not-so-pleasant weather. Will that be colder than you can take or more heat than you can tolerate? Do you want to live near your adult children, your grandchildren, your siblings, or your childhood home?
If you have a spouse or a partner, choosing a place to live will take compromise. if neither of you will be comfortable with the other’s choice, then look for other alternatives. You do not have to “settle” when compromise is before you. None of us gets everything we want. One year, my husband and I traveled from Baltimore south across Florida to find something that spoke warm weather to us. Nothing hooked us. The next year we journeyed through the southern Midwest out of Colorado. Again we blanked, except for Arizona. It was a possibility. In the third year, we started out in Robert’s hometown of 40 years, Seattle. It was just too much rain for me. Same with Oregon. Beautiful, but not for me. We traveled down the coast until we reached Southern California. There it was, the Coachella Valley with its beautiful desert. We arrived in March when all the spring flowers were in bloom, and the streets were filled with people. The desert was alive.
Most retirees who are partners will have spent some time getting to know the other’s likes and dislikes. That was true of Robert and me, but neither of us really knew what we wanted. Perhaps Seattle for him was a possible choice, but it didn’t work for me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. Right now, I want to motivate younger women to fight for their rights over their own bodies. I have had those rights, and my granddaughters lost theirs within this last year. Women’s health decisions must be their own as they listen to their doctor’s advice. I wrote my memoir with this intention, A Woman’s Voice Should Be Heard: My Journey From The Convent To The Battle For Women’s Equality. Let yours be heard wherever you are. I will work for men and women to have the right to cast their ballot for each election. Let your vote be counted. Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story? Maggie Smith just finished her memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful (New York, 2023 One Signal Publishers), about her divorce and its effects on her and her children. Since I just finished my memoir, I was impressed by how truthful she was about her feelings. She owned those feelings and told her stories in her magnificent poetic writing that captured my heart. You will find in this book the ordinary pages filled with paragraphs on paragraphs but not all. Smith uses a single sentence or a single paragraph as a chapter, and all carry her story beautifully. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? “Each of us does what we want to do, on balance.” The only exception is if someone has a gun to my head (or similar violent force). We must acknowledge that beyond those uncontrollable forces, we make the choice to act. I am very impatient with people who spend their time complaining about their lives as though they didn’t make a choice and then continue to repeat those choices. No matter how much we rebel, our lives are like they are because we made the choices we made each moment, each day, each week, each month, or each year. We must accept our choices and move on. This is relevant in my life when I try to fight what I have to do. If there was another choice, would I not have taken it? So why am I complaining about my circumstance? The action you take says, “I chose.” Accept the consequences. Throw the past off your back. You only have this moment. What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media? Facebook: Aggie Jordan Website: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Aggie Jordan’s book, A Woman’s Voice Should Be Heard: My Journey From The Convent To The Battle For Women’s Equality, is available in print and digitally on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!