Some of us work to live. But a surprising number of us live to work.
That’s the message that comes from our annual Special Report called Eight Over 80, which begins on page 19. In this feature, we highlight eight Angelenos, all 80 or older, who are still working. And still working hard.
Why? It’s not because they need the money. Well, it’s nice, of course, but “the income is sort of secondary,” said 86-year-old Jerome Redston, who owns an eponymous insurance agency.
No, these people work not because they have to. They want to. They find it satisfying and deeply meaningful. They live to work. “I love my work and I especially enjoy mentoring younger lawyers,” said Harold Friedman, 87, a partner in a local law firm. (By the way, if you want evidence that he’s got a lot going on at the office, flip to page 21 and take a look at the photo of his desk.)
When you read this brief section, you’ll see that these guys truly enjoy what they do and they just don’t want to stop. “The last 15 or so years have been the best years of my life,” said Warren Haussler, who joined a new company in Pasadena at age 65 and bought it at age 79. He shows up at work at 7:30 most mornings, tries to find time to go to the gym a couple of times a week and claims he’s never worked harder than he is right now. He’s 84.
It’s clear he gets sustenance from work. “I want to be and feel useful, productive,” Haussler said.
Oh, yes. You’ll also get a little advice about what it takes to stay vigorous in the upper years. “Work hard, eat good food and have a good sex life,” said Stanley A. Dashew, 95. By the way, Dashew came out with his first book earlier this year.
It’s inspirational and somehow comforting to be reminded that running a business or carrying out a career may be difficult and stressful. Sure, it also is generally fun, rewarding and, ultimately and importantly, meaningful. After all, we are defined by what we do.
And who better to remind us than those who don’t have to work at all? But they continue working because they just want to. They don’t want to stop. They live for it.
• • •
And speaking of good reminders, it’s always reassuring to see entrepreneurship alive and well, even in down times.
Our centerpiece story on page 1 of this issue is about a local guy who, along with his partner, has improved the method of processing short sales. Even though short sales account for 20 percent of California’s residential transactions in today’s troubled real estate market, they still are typically handled as if each is a one-off oddity, usually by a real estate agent who wasn’t trained to do so.
Eli Tene simply employed Henry Ford’s assembly line technique. He broke the process into a series of tasks and then had one person specialize in each. A few other businesses have done something similar, but you have to wonder why more didn’t do it years ago.
One reason: Many Americans, for whatever reason, seem to have trouble seeing the opportunities all around them. Immigrants, for whatever reason, often seem to be better entrepreneurs, able to spot those opportunities.
Tene is an immigrant from Israel.
Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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