And some people still don't believe him

Most people only dream about retirement. It seems so far off and requires so much planning and saving. ESI, from ESI Money, lives the dream. He retired on August 2, 2016 — at 52 years old.

ESI planned for retirement, but he also did something else.

He told me: “Most people simply have a ‘take-it-as-it-comes’ approach to their careers. I didn’t. I actively managed my career.”

How do you “manage” your career? He says there are seven steps, but the first two are most important.

“Establish written, quantifiable goals with your boss and then over-deliver,” says ESI. “People get paid more for doing more. Also, become likable. The likability-factor can be as powerful as performing well, since people tend to reward those they like.”

Over a 20-year period, ESI’s savings rate averaged 36 percent. Let me repeat that: He saved 36 percent of his yearly income. And as he “actively managed” his career, ESI says, “I averaged over 8 percent annual pay increases for 28 years and eventually became the president of a $100 million company.”

Then he walked away in 2016. Now when he meets people, they treat his retirement as an economic opportunity, or they’re simply shocked. He shared some fun stories with me about how a few people reacted when he told them he no longer worked.

His first story revolves around an “executive recruiter friend.” No surprise there. But what happens after his friend “wouldn’t have any talk of retirement” and insisted on connecting with another guy “who would send appropriate job offers his way” is comical.

I’ll let ESI do the talking now: “I met this new guy for coffee and we had a lot in common. He networked brilliantly but when he found out I no longer worked, he spent the next 45 minutes brainstorming ways he could help me find a job and meet new people who might have jobs available.”

“I spent the time constantly fending off invitations to all sorts of events and meetings,” he says, “and it hasn’t stopped. For the last two months since meeting him, he keeps the heat on. Some people just can’t take ‘I’m retired’ for an answer.”

That doesn’t mean ESI isn’t staying active. He volunteers on the board of a nonprofit that helps the homeless. The monthly meetings take place in the same building where he worked his last job, so he still runs into former colleagues. On his way out of the building one day, he ran into one woman — he didn’t know her well, but she did know ESI left the company.

“She told me about her concern for me and hoped that I finally found other employment,” ESI says. “I told her no, I retired. She staggered a bit and stumbled back a couple steps, almost falling down the stairs we were standing on.”

“Her face then changed suddenly to one of joy and said, ‘Oh my, well that is good news indeed!’ We then chatted for a few minutes about how great retirement is.”

Hopefully he inspires her and others to get there sooner.

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Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski


Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

Career and Business, Retirement

401k, Financial Profiling, income, investments, save money

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Article last modified on February 1, 2019 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: ESI Money Retired in His Early Fifties - AMP.