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I'm still working at 79. I've never felt burned out and have no plans to retire.

Perri Ormont Blumberg   

I'm still working at 79. I've never felt burned out and have no plans to retire.
  • Richard Grove is the 79-year-old CEO of Ink Inc. Public Relations and has no plans to retire soon.
  • Grove founded his company 30 years ago and enjoys the competitive nature of public relations.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Richard Grove, the 79-year-old CEO of Ink Inc. Public Relations in Kansas City, Missouri. It's been edited for length and clarity.

I'm the founder, chairman, and CEO of Ink Inc. Public Relations, and I'm 79 years old. I live on a 27-acre property in Kansas and am fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family who support my desire to continue to work.

My career began at Burson-Marsteller in New York City in 1968 and progressed through several other large PR firms and C-level stints on the corporate side. Thirty years ago, I founded Ink Inc. to go off on my own.

I still work every day and have no immediate plans to retire.

I'm still working because I still love my career

One of the things that keeps me going is having a competitive nature. Securing media can be a chase, and the chase never gets old. There's a lot of "no" in PR, and if you don't embrace the chase, you're lessening the chances to feel and earn on your client's behalf the satisfaction of succeeding.

I never really considered retiring in my 60s when many people typically do. However, when it becomes drudgery, or I find myself bored beyond recovery, which hasn't happened yet, I may.

I do look forward to turning over the reins of CEO management, which I've been doing gradually for the last year, so I might spend more time on the creative side of the business, including writing and pursuing prospective clients on a personal level. I don't have a set age when I plan to stop working entirely.

I'm not planning on retiring in the classic sense to some golf course

Most people experience fatigue, but I've never felt burned out. PR is a pressure-filled profession, a little more so at the top. Sometimes, clients, the media, or your employees can drive you a little nuts. I've been doing it for so long that I know these trials come in cycles and have a way of working themselves out with a little skill and patience.

I'm extremely fortunate that I continue to be in excellent health. I've lost close friends and family to various ailments and remain conscious of my fortuity. I'm committed to exercising and watching my diet. I still work out several times a week. I also keep my mind sharp and am always learning.

My kids and grandkids are extremely important in my life. Family is the real legacy we leave behind, not some business, successful or not. They live in California and Vietnam, but we share our lives with personal visits several times a year and weekly Zoom calls.

My age sometimes surprises people

I notice that people underestimate my age due to my demeanor and gait. Maintaining a sense of wonder and humor and literally walking fast so the young ones don't overtake me has been a valuable combination.

I often get comments about how fast I walk "for my age." This is a term I personally loathe, as if it's predetermined how one is supposed to act, or walk, at a certain point in life.

I have a passion for everyday life, even its ugly negative sides, and a sense of integrity, where I strive to do the right thing even though it might not always work out. My sense of humor about the absurdities around us is a big part of who I am.

I'm not typically asked how old I am, but on the rare occasion I'm asked, my response usually surprises the inquirer, which isn't a bad feeling. I believe it has less to do with my physical looks and more with how I present myself. Being active, interested, and having a sense of humor conveys a sense of youth.

I begin my workweek and day with exercise and watching the network morning shows

When I step away, I will miss the camaraderie and energy of the office the most.

Once I'm in the office, which I go to five days a week when I'm home, I scour The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today, looking for news that might be relevant to our clients or prospective clients.

I then review my emails and texts before starting my own correspondence and phone calls based on a yellow-pad schedule I've created. I then have internal meetings and Zoom calls with prospects.

I try to shut the office door no later than 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. because work-life balance is important to me. I often travel to meet with clients or prospects, as I believe the personal touch is far more effective than Zoom.

In my free time, I'm a passionate follower of my alma mater, the Kansas Jayhawks. Another true passion of mine is long-distance motorcycle riding. I've had memorable trips throughout Cuba, Vietnam, Mexico, and almost every corner of the US. Just like my career, as long as I have the ability, I'll continue exploring the open road.




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