I’ve read a lot of finance books. Like a lot. 90% of them were written by 50-year-old men all telling me the same thing over and over.
Retirement Stepping Stones is different. Honestly, it’s not really a finance book at all (although finance is sprinkled in). It’s emotional, relatable, and exactly what people need to prepare themselves for decades of retirement that are HAPPY and fulfilling. I interviewed the author and fellow blogger, Tony Hixon. As writers, our preferred interview style takes place on paper, so you can read his words below!
1. When did you tell yourself, “I’m going to write a book?”
In 2017, NAPFA sent out a media request to its members. The question was simple, “What’s an obstacle you’ve overcome as a Financial Advisor (FA) that has changed the way you give financial planning advice?”
My business partner, Adam Zuercher, knowing my story well, alerted me to the opportunity. I took this to heart and thought a lot about it. Up to that point, the story about my mom was only known to a very limited amount of people. It is truthful that time heals wounds, but at that point in 2017, just 6 years after she took her life, it still seemed very raw.
After some thought (and prayer) on if I would respond to the media request, I went ahead and decided to send in a short paragraph of my story to gauge the interest of this journalist. Within about a day, I got a response from Morey Stettner from MarketWatch. He said that he had received quite a few responses of how an FA had overcome cancer, or an automobile accident, and they used that to become a better advisor, but no one had quite the heart-wrenching story as me. We scheduled a phone call for the 30-minute interview the next day.
Once on the phone, he was quite a gentleman and a great interviewer. What was supposed to be a half hour interview turned into an hour, and with that, Mom’s story had been shared. Taking a deep breath at the end of our call, he pronounced, “Tony, you have a book inside you, you just don’t know it yet. Your story needs a bigger audience than this article will provide.”
I reflected on his words and had a gut feeling that he was right. But I wasn’t an author, I had no time or expertise to write, and had no clue how or where to start. So, I stuck that thought in the back recesses of my brain for my potential “someday” list.
In 2019, I befriended Pastor Tony Miltenberger through a Learning Leader Circle we were both a part of. He heard me articulate my story during one of our Leadership Circle calls and asked if I’d be willing to be a guest on his podcast (Reclamation Podcast). I had never done anything like that and was quite intimidated and nervous about it. Before the scheduled interview, I had a meeting with my dad and sister, and asked them to express their thoughts on me sharing Mom’s story to a larger audience (he has several thousand listeners). I never wanted my dad or sister to think I was sharing outside of their comfort level, nor did I want them to think I was doing it for financial gain or credibility marketing. They each reflected and agreed that sharing Mom’s story had to happen. We each wanted her story to be used to help others. Keeping it private was no longer an option. We wanted to honor her legacy and use her story to help others transition well into retirement.
Pastor Tony is a caring, articulate and gifted interviewer. During the podcast, he asked questions that I had never really been asked before. He peeled back layers that had been previously unexposed for all those years. An hour later, his words matched Mr. Stettner as he proclaimed, “Tony, you have a book inside you, you need to get this story to the masses. I want to help!” And by the time the conversation was over, I had committed to releasing a book on the 10-year anniversary of Mom’s death. The thing about podcasts is that you often get lost in the recording as if it’s just a conversation with a friend. But I was quickly reminded that I had just agreed to this in front of several thousand listeners! That was July of 2019. By November, I had brainstormed a skeleton outline of the book and began putting words on a page by December 2019.
2. If readers only took away one lesson from your book, what do you hope that lesson will be?
Many retirees (and, quite honestly, many FAs) think that preparing financially is the only thing that needs addressed in the years leading up to the transition. However, I’ve learned…and am passionate…about the fact that preparing for the non-financial side of retirement is just as important. Finding meaning and living with purpose can wane after you’ve retired from a successful career, where you spent a considerable amount of time sharpening your skills and with your office companions…your social network. Often, upon retiring, a loss of purpose can set in. It’s vastly important to do the hard work of identifying your values and aligning those values with your new retirement lifestyle. Drifting aimlessly into retirement can lead to depression and anxiety. In fact, it’s a sad truth that your chance of suffering from depression goes up by close to 40% after you retire, and approximately 25% of adults over age 65 are experiencing some form of mental health issue. Retiring on purpose, with a purpose is an important lesson to learn.
3. What is the most meaningful lesson you have learned through the book-writing process?
Writing is hard. Life doesn’t stop. I still run a Wealth Management firm. I still serve clients. I’m still a husband and a dad. I still need to get some exercise. I still volunteer at some non-profits that are important to me. But I’ve found that adhering to a consistent discipline will get you your desired results. I just kept writing, refining, deleting, changing, rearranging, saying more, getting the heart engaged…and eventually, I got a few thousand words on a page.
Get your reps. Consistency compounds.
4. What’s the recipe to financial success?
And I think an under-appreciated ingredient is to invest in yourself. Sure, following all the traditional financial principles (many of which are found on this blog!) are all appropriate. But one that doesn’t always make people’s radar is to include a line item in your budget for an investment in growing yourself. That could be a simple as subscribing to interesting podcasts (free), to purchasing the latest book from your favorite non-fiction author (some cost), to hiring a Life Coach or Executive Coach (larger cost). Other options include joining the association of the career you’re in (e.g. for Financial Advisors, things like NAPFA or CFP…for others, YPO or Toastmasters). The investment in yourself will pay dividends in your career and personal life as you learn balance, well-roundedness and hone your skills of your profession. And, as you become more skilled, you become more valuable. As you become more valuable, your earnings power and potential increase exponentially.
5. How can my readers buy your book?
Thanks for asking! The book has been released and is available on all major online book retailers. Simply visit www.tonyhixon.com/book to purchase. I should note that all proceeds from the sale of my book go to the Pamela M. Hixon Memorial Nursing Scholarship at the University of Findlay. I’m grateful, in advance, for any of your readers who purchase a copy and help build the Scholarship Fund!
I’m also engaged on social media, mainly through my Facebook page Tony Hixon, Financial Advisor. Finally, I’m a fellow blog writer as well! So, if your readers would like to engage with my weekly thoughts, have them subscribe to my blog at www.tonyhixon.com/blog.
I enjoyed reading Tony’s replies to my questions, but I was also disheartened. Disheartened because I know that thousands of retiring adults will face the transition alone. It doesn’t have to be this way! Consider getting Tony’s book for your retiring friends. Don’t let them be a statistic – one of the thousands of retirees struggling with depression! Push your loved ones to prepare in advance for what will certainly be a challenging, but hopefully thrilling, transition.