Retirement: A Fable

The Great and Powerful Wizard was tired.

He found himself dreaming of sleeping in, long weekends at the lake, or reading the newest bestseller.

But work never stopped. Someone always needed his advice, guidance, wisdom, or even something more practical – courage, a heart, or a trip home. He was constantly putting out fires, answering emails, managing staff (it takes a lot of people to run a land like Oz).

Lately, he began to daydream about what life would look like after retirement. But he didn’t have a plan. He had always thought he’d work until the Munchkins carried him out feet first. But that destiny was not as compelling as he had once thought. And retirement suddenly seemed more like a possibility.

He finally decided to talk with Dorothy. She was a good egg. Once she visited Oz, she could never stay away. So while, she spent plenty of time in Kansas, she made the commute with ease. She had always been able to help the Wizard during busy times or vacations, he just had to ask. But now he wondered, might she be interested in taking over for him, full time?

The Wizard decided not to abruptly pop the question, though he really wanted to. Instead, he reached out and invited her to lunch. “I’d love to catch up, Dorothy, see how you are doing. And I’d be interested in your thoughts about some of my future plans.” 

“Yes,” Dorothy replied. “I’d love to!” So they set a date.

Before Dorothy arrived, the Wizard began to think about what he really wanted. And when. And if he was ready to make it happen. He was excited and he made notes, things he didn’t want to forget to mention to Dorothy. Like how good she was with the Oz employees, how much they respected her. And what a gift she had for advice and counsel. And the practical stuff as well. Wasn’t it Dorothy that took care of that flying monkey problem a few years back? And she was great at collaboration. The Lion (no longer Cowardly, thanks to Dorothy), the Scarecrow and the Tin Man loved to bring her in on projects as needed.

The date finally arrived, and the Wizard and Dorothy began their conversation.

Wizard: Dorothy, thanks for joining me for lunch today. You may be surprised by our lunch topic; I want to discuss my potential retirement and whether you might be interested in taking over as the Great and Powerful Wizard.

Dorothy: I’m stunned. I think congratulations are in order on your upcoming retirement? When are you leaving?

Wizard: I’m starting the planning process now – which means I’m not going anywhere right away. But I am ready to set a timeframe and I want you to be a part of my succession plan. I thought some time out of the office to discuss the possibilities and questions you have might be important.

Dorothy: When I first came to Oz, I was straight off the farm and appreciative of a place where I could learn and grow. But I don’t know anything about running Oz by myself! I feel busy with the work I do to support you now and my family. What do you mean when you ask about my interest in being the Great and Powerful Wizard?

Wizard: I have confidence in you. You know our staff and citizens and they all love and respect you.  That’s a huge factor already in your favor. I’m still figuring out what a transition would look like, but at a basic level, I expect there would be a financial obligation from you to buy into Oz and then a process where I would begin to teach you how to run it. Keep in mind, we have a great staff and I have no reason to believe they wouldn’t continue to stay and help you every step of the way. And you are already used to filling in for me for vacations and other breaks over the years.

Dorothy: Wait, a financial contribution? Wizard, you know I’m not in a position to write a 6-figure check. With debt and my home loan, this may end the conversation before it even gets started.

Wizard: We both have a lot to learn about how this would work, but I wouldn’t expect you to write a 6-figure check. First, we need to figure out how much Oz is worth and what your ownership portion would be. I’ve spoken with friends who have been through the process and they tell me there are a variety of options for equity investment that include payouts over time, including after I’m fully retired, as well as the opportunity to get financing. Oz has a great relationship with our community bank, one of our next steps could be a meeting with our contact there to start asking questions.

Dorothy: This is surprising and unexpected, but in a good way! Yes, let’s schedule that lunch and explore the possibilities. Thank you, Wizard, your confidence in me makes me feel as though I might be able to tackle this.

As the Wizard made his way back to the Castle, he felt relief. The conversation with Dorothy had gone better than he had expected. Dorothy had seemed genuinely excited and interested and she was ready to take the next steps to move forward. The Wizard began to believe that retirement might not be a daydream after all!

Want to learn more? Schedule a 90-minute consult with Camille or order “Designing a Succession Plan for Your Law Practice: A Step-by-Step Guide for Preparing and Packaging Your Firm for Maximum Value” by Tom Lenfestey and Camille Stell via this link. 

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Nicky Dunlap

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