About This Conversation
Mark Nagle (Treysta’s Head of Advice) is joined by Tony Hall, client and friend, for a casual and insightful conversation on retirement and how to live life fully through this time. He candidly shares stories about life in retirement, the struggles of a retiree in a pandemic world, and living life just how he wants it.
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About Our Guest
Tony is a ex-financial adviser, who sold his business to Treysta back in 2008. Many of his clients remain clients of Mark’s to this day. Tony has been thriving in retirement, thanks to his pre-planning and attitude towards exercise, travel and family connections.
Transcript of Conversation
00:00:16 Mark Nagle
Welcome to In Conversation With, and for this installment, I’m delighted to welcome our client, and I hope a good friend, Mr. Tony Hall. Many of you might recall Tony Hall, who of course is in the advice industry, and many of his clients, in fact, or many of my clients, were Tony originally. So Tony, welcome. Thank you so much for giving us some time today.
00:00:40 Tony Hall
00:00:42 Mark Nagle
Tony, the background of this podcast was of course my exposure to all manner of retirees, and you know, people in different phases and thinking about retiring in different ways. And of course, they’ve all been affected one way or another by the COVID pandemic, and sort of thinking through what that’s meant for people, and I certainly have noticed a real cross-section of reaction and response to that. And I thought, you and I caught up for lunch the other day and of course had a fantastic time, and I was reminded of course that you, yourself, have been through the whole process recently of having a vibrant retirement, suddenly abruptly brought to a halt by COVID, and then you kind of picking yourself up and then at some point getting back into that vibrant retirement. So, I thought we might investigate that a little bit today if that’s OK.
00:01:40 Tony Hall
Right. OK. Nobody expected the COVID, so when it happened it was all a sudden we were in lockdown. Prior to lockdown, I was fairly active in going to the gym. But probably more importantly, every morning I have an exercise mat that I roll out, and I do a lot of floor exercises.
Now, I started out with very few, but they’ve grown. It was a lifesaver really that I continued and got better and longer at doing it without, you don’t have to rip muscles, you don’t have to tear yourself to pieces. But you gradually build it up and you retain a lot of what you would have had going to the gym. And walking. Walking is really a good thing. It’s good for your weight. It’s good for everything, and good for your breathing. So, I’m a strong advocate, if you like, of walking.
Of course, one of the big problems with Covid was I putting on weight. I tended to snack a lot. Two years later, I’m snacking less, but it’s been difficult getting the weight off.
00:02:47 Mark Nagle
Well Tony, can I just take you back, if we might take you back to the pre-COVID days, when you initially retired, what thought had you given to the kind of retirement that you wanted? And do you think you really thought it through or did you just kind of evolve into what retirement became for you? Because you really seem to propel yourself into it with vigor, and you were quite determined to live a very vibrant life.
00:03:17 Tony Hall
Yes. Prior to retirement, one of my grandsons was having a major birthday and decided to organize 24 of his friends and get on a couple of outrigger boats in Bali that slept 14 each or something, and they were going to go. They’re all surfers. And so, they were going out amongst the islands where all the breaks are. They know about these things. They read surfing magazines, like I used to read Playboy when I was young. So, they know that hundred kilometer, so and so, there’s a great break. So, overnight the boats would go, but they invited me to go. Now, they invited me to go with my son and another three of the grandsons. So, I participated. I didn’t do a lot of surfing, although there were some funny stories that I could tell about. And so, that was a wonderful holiday.
And we came back from Bali, and I then retired. And I thought to myself, you know, I had planned lots of golf, lots of golf. I had in previous times, you know, I would travel all over the place playing golf, sometimes overseas. But you know, local, there down the Murray and play wonderful courses and so on. So, I’ve been recently active prior to my retirement. But the business of deciding I will travel, I will travel wherever I can, and by coincidence, one of the grandsons and his friends were going to California, hiring a Winnebago, and he said to me, “Do you want to come?” And so, I said, “Fine.”
And so, I went to California. And I must say I didn’t sleep in the Winnebago; it was like Hiroshima inside but with a pick-up. So, I would go to a motel, and they would come up and do their ablutions. Two of them would sleep in the spare bed, and the other three would sleep in the Winnebago. It was a wonderful holiday.
And perchance, another grandson was in Mexico, surfing, and he said, “If you’re going to see them, you’d have to come and see me.” I then proceeded over the number of years now to go with grandkids to America, obviously, then to Jamaica, to France, Spain, Ireland a number of times for the music because they’re all great music kids, and Marrakech so I could sing the song and be authentic as you’ve been to Marrakech. I know one of the expressed statements. But getting back to the business of getting to retirement, you need to have and develop before you retire a really strong hobby of some sort, something that you can take with you out of your own home and so on and share with other people.
Particularly share with your family. I mean, come this Monday, I’m off to Amsterdam to meet a grandson and his partner, and small babe. We’re going into England and then to Ireland. And when I come back, three weeks later, I’m going with my son to Mongolia, fishing.
Now, it’s not for everybody, but it does raise the business of preparing, because what I’ve been doing for the last month is, when it’s not raining, God help us, there’s a park out the back of the apartment building I now live in, and I have a fly rod, and I have a piece of cloth on the end of the fly rod.
And I’m learning to cast. The birds are very interested in the little thing on the end of the line, it’s only a bit of fluff, but it’s acquiring a skill. When this trip is over, I will join some other friends I know who are fly-fishers, easygoing, you know, no big deal, drive somewhere, get in a Creek, have some conversation, drink a beer, perhaps a little whiskey. Who knows?
But even at this late stage in my life, and I’m 81, I’m acquiring a new skill. And I think this is maybe a way, and I’ve not had the fortune of things running for me the way they did. This is the sort of a thing that one should consider. If you’re 55, retiring in 10 years, or 65, whatever it is, you can’t just stop work and sit there, and make things happen. One of the things that I’ve done, and a lot of my grandchildren, particularly those that have left school and those haven’t actually as well, is that I try and introduce them to something where we have something in common. And I found that a couple of the boys that had left school early who now are both carpenters didn’t read very much.
In fact, read in the way you would read a novel or whatever. So, I introduced them to a particular author and the books were about the British Army and in the time of Wellington and the Battles in Spain. There are about 18 of these short novels. After a while, they’re shouting at one another. For God’s sake, finish that one. I finished mine, you know, hurry up and so.
And then one time, I went skiing with a grandson in Spain, and afterwards, he said to me, “What are you going to do now?” “So, I think I’ll go to Spain without any real purpose.” And he said, “Well, I’ll come with you.” He was able to because he was working in the summer in France, in a snow resort, and they didn’t allow work in the winter. And so, he sort of stopped working for some months.
So, off we went and we decided to follow the battle, the root of Wellington Battles across Spain backwards. And so, we went right across and finished up in Portugal, where my grandson fell in lust. Whoops, sorry, he fell in love, and we had three people touring for a while. But here I’m able to connect to these boys. Actually, the girls’ quite like these books as well. But it gave us something in common, not only talk about, but it also made these boys readers, and they’re now readers. And yeah, I’m really just that I was able to do this, and with purpose. So, I’m including my family in these things.
00:09:12 Mark Nagle
I think the message really is timely. I think it’s a rather lovely one really. I mean, these things don’t just happen do they. It’s not at overnight your grandsons or extended family then suddenly start inviting grandpa to go here, there and everywhere. There’s a level of cultivation on your side as well, isn’t there? And as you started kind of creating those common interests is something that I think that’s a fantastic lesson, and certainly it’s something that I’ve tried with my own sons to some extent as well. And I think that we all, you know, creating commonalities between the generations is really important because you do then tend…it’s great time, isn’t it? When you are exploring those common interests.
00:09:56 Tony Hall
Another thing, but then probably this is before retirement, or maybe during, it doesn’t matter, but you’ll have grandkids that are going to athletic carnivals, are going to swimming carnivals, are going to speech nights. Get yourself in there. Get yourself in there for all of these activities, find, not only it’s really wonderful, but it’s very fulfilling to see your generation, and the generation after that, doing things, and they love to see their parents and grandparents there.
00:10:27 Mark Nagle
00:10:28 Tony Hall
And keep in mind, as a grandparent, you have far more authority than the parents do. Absolutely more authority. The kids never give you a bad time. They give their parents a bad time because that’s what they’re made for. But their grandparents, no.
00:10:42 Mark Nagle
That’s very true.
00:10:43 Tony Hall
We just, as this can be.
00:10:45 Mark Nagle
I think that’s very true. So Tony, this is all going along swimmingly, and you know, you are enjoying yourselves, you continue to build these relationships with your grandchildren and obviously your own children as well. And then suddenly out of the blue, December 2019, we start to hear about a virus in China, wherein by February or March of the following year, we’re all in lockdown. Can you sort of talk us through the initial impact that had on you, and obviously you had trips planned that had to be canceled, I think Mongolia being one of them actually.
00:11:19 Tony Hall
Yeah. Well, first of all, for those who might be watching, I’m widower, so I’m on my own. Contact with other people was very important. With my own children, every Saturday morning, we’d have an hour on Zoom talking about nothing, talking about everything, and that was important. Also, I used the phone a lot. I would ring people, ring people, keep contacts. It’s very easy to isolate yourself and make not so much, feel sorry. But forget about all that. And whilst social media can be a terrible thing, it can also be a very good thing. And one of the things that I’ve learned in retirement is how to use it, which I really didn’t. Emails was my best deal prior to retirement.
That’s the best thing I could do. But now I can use messenger and Facebook and and Instagram, and you know, these things that now, it’s important because the people that you want to have contact with will be doing it, and also your family right down the line, they’re all more okay with social media than I ever was, or when I’m talking to now.
I didn’t, for instance, get in contact with, say, Kohl’s or Woolworth’s to get deliveries. I would email one of the kids, or my grandsons, and give them a list, and they would appear out on the driveway, because I’m on the ground floor, but I’m up about 10 to 15 feet. And so, they would arrive there, and I had a heavy shopping bag, and I roped, and I lowered it down, they filled it up, and I pulled it up. It didn’t matter about the groceries; It mattered about the contact. And so, that was one of the things that became a big joke.
In this day of woke things, I did something terrible. I was after some hummus, and I didn’t want the skinny one because I was dieting at the stage. So, I wanted some hummus. And on the thing, I misspelt, as I got fat fingers, you see, I misspelt and I put ‘homo’ to not a skinny one. Well, you think they haven’t written me about for the last two years about that one. So, I started to read a lot more obviously because I wasn’t out as much and read a bit with a purpose, you know. I like history, so I have a lot of books. But again, iPad. iPad is great. If you want to read there, like most people are like holding a book, but the selection one gets from Amazon, isn’t it? Yeah, is colossal. And I come back, as I mentioned earlier, this is keeping oneself a little bit fit. You can’t rest on your Laurel’s because, before you retired, you were doing all sorts of things that inadvertently were keeping you fit, going right, you know, walking a little further, playing golf, whatever it was.
Now, you’re not let out of the house. So, you’ve got to really concentrate on doing something because you’ll lose it. Like a lot of things, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So, I’m just adamant about this exercise business, and I’m still doing it now.
00:14:11 Mark Nagle
My experience, and I know that you had a couple of health issues during that period as well, but I do recall speaking with you, and of course plenty of others, during that period, and there was a palpable downturn in energy from just about, you know. I don’t think that necessarily just goes for the older generation, by the way. I think that it kind of happened across the board. And as you have said, COVID kilo is…You know, vanity kind of goes out the window as well because you don’t have to think about being seen or going anywhere or dressing up to go for dinner or anything like that. So, all of those sort of came into play and also it appears for me now, when we look back, it’s almost forgotten three years, and we talk about memories and that three year gap almost doesn’t exist, and we talk about things that we did a couple of years ago when actually it was four or five years ago.
I guess the next part I’m interested in is, as we kind of continue to emerge in one way, shape or form, even though COVID is still very much in the community, how did you come out of that enforced hibernation? What re-energized you? How were you able to shake off the cobwebs and, and start to go back to doing the things and having that vibrancy in your life that you had before 2020?
00:15:35 Tony Hall
Terribly selfish reason, but was a good one for me, was that there were half a dozen pair of trousers I couldn’t get into. And so, here’s a motivation, lose some weight. And that was a big one for me. Also, you know, it was only a few years before COVID that I’d gone to Tanzania and done a stupid thing.
00:15:57 Mark Nagle
Yeah, I think we should hear the story.
00:15:59 Tony Hall
Right. Well, back to Portugal, and my grandson falling in lust, you see, he then says to me, “Grandpapa, what are you doing next year?” And I said, I hadn’t thought about it because he was going to be back at the snow. I was going to leave him again. So, he said, after the skiing, “What are you going to do?” And I said, “Well, I hadn’t thought about it.” So, he said, “Well, why don’t you climb Kilimanjaro?” Yeah. I said, “Yeah, thanks a lot. People die on that mountain, Dave.”
He said, “Yeah, grandpa, but it would be such a cool death.” And that planted the bloody seed and, and it irritated me all through our summer here. And I made the decision that I would climb the mountain.
Now, keep in mind, at this stage, I thought it would be a bit of a dottle. You know, you walk up, come down, have a few beers. It may take a few days, but okay. That’s it. Yeah. And so, with all that knowledge, actually I went to the website. So, I looked at all of what people said. Of course, sometime afterwards I realized people don’t put things on the website if they failed, only the winners.
See, we started out, and the first day is up and down through a rainforest. And at the end of it, I bugged it. And so that night at dinner, the guide comes along and says, “Well, Tony, how was the day?” And I said, “Oh, look. I think I’ve made a mistake. I didn’t realize it was going to be this hard, but, you know, I think I should go back.” And he said, “Well, there’s a problem here, because in the national park where we are, nobody is allowed in the park without guide, and we’re going that way, and you can’t go that way without my guide.”
And so, I went that way. And I did make it to the top. And the residual of that was halfway through the lockdown, in that period where we were able to do things, I had a knee replacement, yeah, but the knee is fine now, and you know, I’m up and about doing whatever I could these days. These operations are wonderful. Yeah.
00:17:50 Mark Nagle
Tony, I just want to bring you back to the cobwebs off and looking forward. What has given you the confidence to travel again?
00:17:59 Tony Hall
My health, I think my health. If I was unhealthy, well, you know, I wouldn’t go. You know, I’ve got a few problems, like everybody, a blood pressure and cholesterol and so on, but you know, those are under control. But I think I feel confident about doing it because I feel confident that I can cope with all the things that happen when you travel, with maybe lost luggage or planes that don’t come when they exchange or whatever. You know, they don’t panic me anymore, you know. The only time I panic is when I think I’m going to lose this fish at the end of the line.
But generally it’s a confidence thing, and you get this confidence in the travel, but for me is by keeping up with your health, being able to walk around Toledo for six hours or five hours, or whatever it is, and not have to sit down and rest for two. But if you can’t walk for four hours, walk for two, or whatever, and have a rest. And so, you’ve got to work to your fitness. You know, I like playing soccer. I suppose, you know, you can’t chase every ball, but chase the ones you can. And the holiday that you you’ve got to do, do it in a fashion that makes it easier, not like when you were 40, where you could, you know, the whole world was, you know, you’re the smartest person and the strongest man, whatever. You’re not anymore. So, you should be selective about what you do. But I keep coming back to those exercises because they make life so so much better. So, much more inclusive.
00:19:18 Mark Nagle
Yeah. I think that’s really a good sound message. And as I said at the beginning of this podcast, I of course do get to interact and speak with many people in your age group and many people, of course, in retirement. And there are many, I mean, that I sense haven’t emerged from, as I’ve described that, enforced hibernation quite so easily. And as we all know, it’s easy to kind of get stuck, and shaking the cobwebs off is something a couple of people just this week have said to me, it’s something that they’ve had to actively work on and manage. And it’s not just been the case of just getting back to normal. It’s much more force than having to, you know, whether it’s exercise or planning a trip or, whatever it might be, they’re having to really kind of work on that.
So, I spoke to a wise old there yesterday actually, and it’s kind of a good way for me to summarize before we end with your fondest memories. So, you might give that some thought. Before I ask you to do that, a couple of what I hope are practical tips which were handed to me by, as I said, somebody that is in that category of forcing themselves and to get back and to start to live life more fully again. So, the first thing he said is, you know, don’t allow fear to dominate your life, which I think is really important.
The other thing which I thought was fantastic, and I’ve not really thought about it before¸ and you actually alluded to it, Tony, around too. You know, go and see your GP and understand what your individual risks are because the world has been kind of diagnosed as a single person for the last three years, you know. We’ve all been herded through vaccination programs, or whatever it might be, and there’s been very little kind of one-on-one discussion around the risk of COVID to an individual, and we’ve sort of thought more about it as a risk to people in general. So, I think going to visit your GP and getting some reassurance around what the risks actually are is really…
00:21:14 Tony Hall
It is really important. Yeah.
00:21:26 Mark Nagle
Yeah, I agree. That was a really good tip. The other thing he said was to find a travel company that you trust. And that’s quite interesting. Now, everybody of course has their own views on this, but for him, he found a boutique travel company where the health and safety measures that they’re taking are very strong. So, they’re using sort of surgically approved masks for everybody in the buses when they’re moving around. Those sorts of things. Some people, they wouldn’t like that, but for others, it gives them the sense of safety and security that they need. So, that was his second tip, which I thought was really good.
Finally, well, was taking baby steps. Just kind of don’t rush out and do a big trip to Europe. If that’s not where you’re pulled, do a smaller weekend trip, keep it domestic, interstate maybe, that sort of thing. And the final one was I guess one that you added actually, Tony, which was seek out willing relatives or friends that you could travel with, which might again give you an added sense of security. So, if something does go wrong, as you’ve said, like it might be nothing to do with health these days, much more likely to be lost baggage or something like that, but if you’ve got the support of somebody that you trust, that that often can make those things a little easier to manage.
So, I thought they were a really good group of practical tips for people that’s sort of struggling to get out and maybe do some of the things that they had on their list that they’ve not been able to do recently.
00:22:46 Tony Hall
It’s surprising, just to add, your local council, get on their website or on their mailing list. There’s an enormous number of inclusive things for people who have retired. Really good ones. Anyway, sorry I interrupted you.
00:22:57 Mark Nagle
No, no, not at all. No, thank you. And that’s very much what this session is about. And I think, you know, that maybe that we convert some of this to text, and then send some of the tips out just because they’re no doubt very useful.
So, Tony, to finish up by, and frankly for me this is what this is all about. You know, you reach a certain stage in life where you understand how redundant material things are. You realize now that life is all about creating memories and really enjoying the relationships you’ve created. So, on that basis, what are your fondest memories in retirement? And if you’ve got a couple that stand out.
00:23:34 Tony Hall
There are innumerable things. I mean, you know, we talk about the birth of great grandchildren, all those sorts of things. But from a point of view of simply retirement, and a couple of incidents, one of course was climbing that mountain, that that was certainly a highlight, and it was ridiculous, but it was a highlight. But the other one that comes to mind was that I’m with my grandson Dave again, and we’re in Spain, and every evening we would go and have a few drinks, a bit of tapas perhaps, and so on, well into this holiday and we’re sitting in a bar, and we’ve had more than a few. And I said to Dave, “How’s the beer?” He said, “Great. I like the beer.” He said, “How’s the wine?” I said, “Well, look, I’m drinking house wine because I really don’t know any Spanish wines, and three weeks that we’ve been going, I haven’t struck a bad red on the whole journey. And of course, even if I did. If you can’t be with the wine you love, love the wine you’re with.”
“Oh,” he said, “Grandpa, that’s great.” He said, “You should get that as a tattoo,” because they’ve all been, they been on me for years, you’ve got get a tattoo, you’ve got to get a tattoo. And I said to him, “Uh, well, okay, Dave. Tell you what, you get the tattoo on your bum, and on my bum I’ll have an arrow that says “see Dave’s bum.”” And I told his father about it, and his father said, “You better not get into any public showers, let me tell you.”
00:24:57 Mark Nagle
Good stuff. Look, Tony, I hope, you know, from my perspective, I, I look at you as a real light when it comes to leading life, when it comes to living a retirement in the way that you genuinely want to live it and embracing it with both hands and making the best of every moment. And all power to you, and I hope it goes on for many years to come. And for today, I just hope you’ve kind of inspired a few people to maybe follow some of your footsteps, maybe not to the top of Kilimanjaro but, you know, their own version of that. And yeah, just helping people get back out there and essentially living the life that they want to lead without the fear and restrictions that we’ve all been living under for a period of time now.
So, once again, Tony, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. And we will chat soon. No doubt. So, thank you so much.
00:25:45 Tony Hall