Letters From Stan

Self-Reflection on Turning 40

Stan Richards

Dear Gerry,

I Googled “turning 40” the other day. (No, not for me – I passed that milestone long ago. It’s the agency that’s saying goodbye to 39 this year.) It seems that turning 40 generates no end of advice, listicles, blogs, Pinterest posts, and every other form of self-reflection appropriate to four decades of existence.

I was curious as to how some of the offerings would apply to an agency, and I found one list of wishes to test our experience against. (It came from lifehack.org, to give proper attribution.)

1. I wish I had kept track of old friends.
We’ve done a pretty good job of that over the years. Many of our new clients were old clients at some point in our history. (Just last month, for example, two former Home Depot clients hired us at their new home, national builder PulteGroup.)

2. I wish I had saved more money when I was younger.
That’s the whole point behind our unequaled profit sharing plan. While the average age here hovers right around 30, I talk about the importance of retirement savings every year at our profit sharing meeting. When they get to 40 (50, 60, and so on), they won’t have any regrets like this one. (True story: One of our coordinators retired late last year, and her profit sharing nest egg was just shy of a million dollars. Isn’t that just terrific?)

While we’re on the subject of money, I’m also proud to say that at age 40, we have no debt. We’ve never borrowed a cent. How many 40-year-olds can say that?

3. I wish I had not burned bridges in the past.
This goes hand in hand with the first wish. And while we’re not perfect, we leave most bridges fully intact when we cross them.

4. I wish I had traveled more as a young adult.
With one office in Dallas and many clients spread around the country (and some beyond), we’ve spent quite a bit of our life so far on the road. I certainly don’t wish we’d done less, and I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have done more. If our clients feel well-served (and the length of our relationships tells me they do), then it’s probably been just enough.

5. I wish I had taken better care of my body.
I have two thoughts here. One, when the old building was beyond looking younger by having work done, we built a new one. And two, the top floor is a gym. We’re in pretty good shape at 40.

6. I wish I had been kinder to others.
What I love most about working here is how nice everyone is – in life and to each other. It’s been that way since day one. And with the bright, energetic new people we continue to bring on, I don’t see that changing.

7. I wish I had learned not to worry constantly.
We’re in advertising. We’re paid to worry. And we’re okay with that.

8. I wish I hadn’t collected so much “stuff.”
In 40 years, we’ve never had individual offices. It isn’t to keep us from collecting too much stuff; it’s to keep us from harboring political baggage. But it’s also had the effect of making our relocations easier over the years as we’ve grown and moved into bigger and bigger space.

9. I wish I had known how important hobbies are.
It’s probably fair to interpret hobbies as time dedicated to outside interests. And in that light, we probably didn’t hit our stride until our teenage years. By then, we were big enough to give back to the community in significant ways. Now, at 705 of us and counting, we never underestimate what a difference we can make by giving of our time and our resources.

10. I wish I would have realized that the mind stays young.
I thought everybody knew that.

Here’s to 40 remarkable years so far – and your ongoing role in our healthy and happy growth.