Category: Retirement Success and Inspiration

How Not to Be Archie Bunker in Retirement

How Not to Be Archie Bunker in Retirement

Remember Archie of the TV sit-com “All in a Family”?  That narrow-minded, opinionated, grey-haired guy in the armchair barking orders to his wife, Edith?  As we age and move into retirement, we run the risk of becoming that ‘grumpy old person’.  Unless, we develop a certain trait.

Lessons from Darwin

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution taught us that we must adapt to survive.  Dr. Johnson, a leading expert on adult development and gerontology agrees.  He has identified adaptability, the personal flexibility you can exercise at any given time in any given situation, as a key factor for retirement success.  We must adapt not only to survive, but to thrive in retirement.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin


Ch Ch Ch Changes…

Won’t stop in retirement.

Contrary to common perceptions, we will likely experience more change in retirement than any other time in our life.

Our body changes and will keep changing. Our lifestyle changes significantly as we end the formal work chapter. We will face changes in our family, from the loss of parents or perhaps a spouse, to the addition of sons or daughters-in-law and perhaps grandchildren.  We may move out of the family home, or to a new community; our social circles will change.  New interests, hobbies and leisure activities may emerge and perhaps your purpose in life will evolve.

Add to these, changes in technology, social norms, politics, demographics, the economy, the environment and other macro influences, and you get the picture.  Change is everywhere, all the time. When we fear or resist change, we seek sameness, search for that elusive certainty and security, and revert to rigid schedules.  We fall into a rut.  We get stale.  We become Archie!

 Adapting to change, not resisting or hiding from it, is the ticket to a smooth retirement ride.


How to Be More Adaptable

My yoga teacher uses the word, ‘release’ versus ‘stretch’ and that is how I would sum up adaptability.  You’ve got to let it go, not force the stretch.  To be more adaptable, we may need to change our attitude, decisions and actions.  It will likely mean letting go of the need for control and certainty and having faith that you, and the world, will be OK.

To be more adaptable means to be more:

  • Accepting than critical
  • Agreeable than argumentative
  • Forgiving than judging
  • Pleasant than harsh
  • Calming than upsetting

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect, wise elder?  The anti-Archie!


Start Removing that Crust

I admit it. I can be a tad crusty as I age.  A bit fixed in my opinions and view of the world. Maybe it’s the “I’ve seen/done that before” cynicism that’s creeping in.  Before we know it, we are encased in a thick crust of inflexibility.  Just like Archie.  It’s takes a conscious effort to remain flexible, malleable and adaptable, but we can do it.  When, we do, our life is richer, interesting and happier.

Care to share?

Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Dreaming of sailing on turquoise waters when you retire?  This adventurous couple set their retirement plan in motion and fulfilled this lifelong dream.  How did they fare? Here are the lessons they learned…


You Know What They Say About Plans…

Dean and Sue Pope are an articulate, open and thoughtful couple.  Avid boaters, they had a plan for their retirement.  Sell their home, buy the right boat, and sail the Caribbean for five years.  They did their research and calculated the financial impact of this dream.  Dean would work 3-4 more years before acting on their exciting retirement plan.

Then, changes at Dean’s work brought an opportunity for early retirement. Their retirement dream was accelerated significantly.  Boat shopping began a few years earlier than expected.  Their first assumption, the timing of their plan, … adjusted.


“Every assumption we made, turned out to be wrong.”


Other assumptions?  Exchange rates, price of gas, costs of goods and boat maintenance to name a few.  Their budget and expectations were regularly adjusted.  I am reminded how adaptability is a key factor to retirement success!


Life Happens

The Popes also assumed it would be five years before they became grandparents, hence the five-year boating plan.  That family blessing came in three years!  Sadly, a week after signing the boat deal, Sue’s father passed away unexpectedly.  A very rough start to the retirement dream.  Although difficult, Sue and Dean persevered and continued with their plan.


“The thing about dreams like ours is that they have a realistic undertone you don’t see when you are dreaming.”


The couple enjoyed the care-free boating life and met many friendly boaters on their travels. Yet, the reality of their new lifestyle meant they were far away from good friends and family.  “You can’t just pick up and go home for a birthday.”  Having the right communications technology helped.  They also invited close friends for winter visits to share the beauty of their boating experience.


So Much Learning and Refined Priorities

Sue and Dean prepared as much as they could for their retirement adventure.  Yet as Sue says, “you just have to do it” and learn along the way.  New challenges and new experiences brought them much nautical and boating wisdom. The nitty gritty of living in a foreign country expanded their perspective too. They also learned about themselves.

Being away from family and close friends for an extended period helped Sue and particularly Dean reset their priorities.


We don’t take much for granted now. We learned nothing is for ever, enjoy it while you can.”


The arrival of their grandson was the deciding factor in shortening their adventure by two years to come home. Their boating experience inspired them to be more engaged grandparents.  They chose to live in a new community that is closer to their children and their good friends, and are fully enjoying their loved ones. “We are content.”


Retirement is a Process, not a Thing

The Popes refer to their boating dream as their first phase of retirement. Now they are working on Retirement 2.0.  While family and friends are a priority in this phase, they are exploring more.


“We have to re-invent ourselves again and need our own life in addition to family.”


Sue and Dean are getting involved in their new community and charting what they will do next to keep ‘adventuring’.  I can hear the enthusiasm in their voices.  They are enjoying life.


Words of Wisdom

Sue: “You need to have a plan when you retire, something to work on and keep you busy. Otherwise, you can be lost in the beginning.”

Dean: “Every assumption is going to end up being different.  You need to be nimble and roll with the punches.  You will need financial capability.”

Both Sue and Dean are happy they pursued their boating dream in retirement. I’m happy they shared their story with us!  As Sue says…


 “Seeing it from the water is a lovely way to see the world.”


Care to share?

Retirement: Why a Life of Leisure Isn’t.

Retirement: Why a Life of Leisure Isn’t.

Ask soon-to-be retirees about their plans, and they will most likely answer with vacation itineraries.  Can retirement truly be a permanent vacation, a life of leisure?  Leisure is a fundamental human need, but a life of only rest and relaxation may not be good for us.


What is Leisure?

Dr. Richard Johnson, founder of Retirement Options and expert on adult development and gerontology, describes leisure as:


“Personally satisfying endeavours outside work which rejuvenate your body, stimulate your mind or enrich your spirit”


It’s a break, breather, vacation or diversion from our everyday lives that gives us pleasure and new energy. In other words, it’s not passive TV or movie watching! (That’s called compensatory leisure – compensating for lack of energy.) Leisure can give us respite in many different forms, and is essential to help us refocus and refresh. In fact, it is one of the 15 retirement success factors identified by Dr. Johnson. But there’s a catch.


The Paradox of Leisure

After decades of working hard, you may be looking forward to a life of leisure in retirement. Think twice about that!


Leisure isn’t leisure if it’s the only thing we do.


Herein lies the irony of leisure. It must be a diversion from our everyday to give our brains and bodies the true benefits of our reprieve. If it is the only thing we do, our leisure activities become our work. Leisure must remain secondary to give us its true benefits.


The Golf Course is not Your Office

When leisure becomes your ‘work’, it no longer gives you that respite that you need. We can see this on the golf course. When your focus turns to results, scores, competitiveness and perhaps pursuing perfection, you’ve lost the pleasure and reprieve that a game of golf can provide. Golf is no longer a diversion, but your ‘work’. Your mind and body will need a ‘vacation’ from golf!


One Person’s Leisure is Another Person’s Work

This bit of wisdom is particularly important to couples. Have you had the retirement ‘leisure’ conversation with your partner yet? Be prepared, you may have different leisure activities you each want to pursue. My hubby likes puttering and fixing things. It’s a diversion for him, but for me? Yuk. It’s chores and work. I prefer hitting the trails for the day. That’s too much ‘work’ for him.
Understanding your own, and each other’s, leisure preferences will help you navigate your retirement choices and decisions. Typically, you will prefer one or two of the following types of leisure:

6 Types of Leisure Preferences

  1. Socializing
  2. Spectator entertainment
  3. Artistic expression
  4. Intellectual stimulation
  5. Physical exercise
  6. Solitary relaxation


Not sure, where you sit on the leisure spectrum? The LifeOptions Profile TM, is an excellent assessment tool provided in the “The Choices We Make” coaching program that helps you understand your leisure and other retirement lifestyle preferences.


Live a Leisurely Life, Not a Life of Leisure

What’s the difference? A life of leisure is a life of scheduled activities that become tasks without much purpose or meaning. It evolves into a life with emptiness, and ironically, stress. It leads to the gradual wearing away of life’s luster, vitality and healthfulness.

A leisurely life is balanced with purpose and leisure, with meaning and pleasure. You are neither under-utilized, nor over. Satisfying your personal leisure preferences helps you live in the present, feel joy and be yourself. Leisure plays a secondary role in your life energizing you to fulfill your primary role – your life’s mission!

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Is Your Attitude Toward Retirement Outdated?

Is Your Attitude Toward Retirement Outdated?

There’s a shift happening in the world of retirement.  This shift is challenging prevailing attitudes and stereotypes of the retiree and retirement life.  Are you riding the new wave or is your attitude holding you back?


Who’s Your Model?

Our attitude toward retirement is likely formed by how others close to us experienced retirement.  Perhaps they were your parents, or co-workers, or an adventurous aunt.  What behaviour did they model?  Were they active, involved, and engaged with life?  Or, perhaps their experience was unappealing to you?

My dad took his retirement in stride.  He got involved in community affairs, launched a part-time consulting gig, took on new hobbies, planned interesting RV trips every year – some with his grandchildren, stayed physically active, and joined social circles like the ‘Lunch Bunch” of like-minded retirees. His example shapes my attitude.  (At 85, he’s still active, healthy and involved.)

Find an inspiring retirement mentor


Even if the retirees you knew had a so-so experience, it doesn’t mean you will.  Seek out a mentor that embraces retirement with purpose, vitality and zest and see how your attitude adjusts!  Need some examples? Check out Marlene’s story of big changes,  Dave’s story of athletic passion, this couple’s sail-away retirement, how this couple manages lots of together time and how P-Y builds relevancy in his retirement.


Maturation vs. Ageism

Research ‘retirement’ on Google and you will be faced with a list of sites offering either retirement residences, financial planning, or senior healthcare. Not very exciting.  What’s the subliminal message and underlying stereotype?  Do you buy into this perception of retirement?

The new retirement isn’t about getting old, its about an enriching maturation.


Retirees on the new wave don’t see retirement as a time of decline, but as a time for personal development and growth.  They are seeking deeper meaning in their lives and connecting with their real selves.  Retirement, in their view, isn’t about withdrawal, it’s about involvement. This new attitude is bucking the feeble elderly image and marketers and society haven’t kept up.  Have you?


Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life

Having a positive, insightful attitude about retirement is one of the 15 retirement success factors, identified by Dr. Richard Johnson of Retirement Options. In fact, attitudes and perceptions are key elements in many of his retirement readiness competencies. Your attitudes and beliefs shape your perceptions, thinking, feelings, decisions and ultimately actions. I am hoping that my blog will help change perceptions and attitudes towards retirement.  Follow along if you like!

“Attitude is the mother of all behaviours” Dr. Richard Johnson


Think retirement will be boring?  Keep believing that and you will be right.  Want a great retirement?  Do an attitude check.  What images of retirement dance in your head?  Who do you think of, when you think of retirement life?  Not liking what you see? Change the channel, change your attitude.  Seek out a positive retirement role model, and erase outdated stereotypes.  Yes, the glass is half full!

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How One Woman Made BIG Changes for a Happy Retirement

How One Woman Made BIG Changes for a Happy Retirement

She ended her marriage, moved to a farm, and launched a new business all triggered by early retirement.  Why?  To follow her life-long dream.  Now, she can’t stop smiling.  Here’s her story…


Now’s the Time

Marlene is an intelligent, authentic, and intuitive person.  You get the sense that she knows more about you than you do.  She knows herself too.  When the option of early retirement came, this professional project manager, knew exactly what she wanted to do.

Marlene Armstrong grew up with horses and her bond with these beautiful animals never left her.  It was time to answer her equine passion.  It was time to live on a farm with her own horses around her.


Be True to Your Dream

Just one problem.  Her husband didn’t agree.  After much soul-searching, Marlene faced a few truths about her life and her marital relationship.  She realized she couldn’t sacrifice her dream and made the brave decision to part ways with her husband of 36 years and father of their two daughters.

“It was kind of an amicable split”, although there were some “nasties” in the division of assets. The separation meant that Marlene had to rely solely on her own funds to finance her dream.  She had a good pension, could do contract project management work, and knew she’d launch a business involving horses.


Just Do It

And that’s what she did.  She studied equine science, bought a farm, built a riding arena and brought her horses home.  Her daughters, also avid riders, joined her.  Soon, people were knocking on her door wanting to board their horses at Foxview Stables.   But, that’s not the business she wanted to run.

Her eldest daughter, trained in equine management, runs the stables.  Her second daughter, studying for her veterinary doctorate, also helps.   Marlene was inspired by another idea.


Hone Your Calling

A casual conversation with a friend led Marlene to a business partnership, intense specialized training, and a very special coaching practice called Unbridled Coaching.

“People Whisperers” is the tagline.  Yes, life coaching using horses.  Horses, I learned, will only trust you when you are authentic and transparent. They mirror you. That’s about the best place to be in life coaching I figure!

It was during the specialized Equus coach training, when Marlene realized that this was what she was meant to do.  So did her renown trainers.  She passed with flying colours, and hasn’t looked back.

 “I’m in my happy place.”


Lessons Learned

“Be financially prudent.” Initial investments were high for Marlene especially since she was no longer part of a dual income.  Managing the financial aspect of investing and building her dream meant being adaptable to different income sources.

“Stay focused on your dream.”  It’s easy to let distractions get in the way and to take you off course.  When you’re focused on what you want, you can achieve it.

“Your body and heart never lie.  But, your mind tells you all sorts of stories.”  If you really pay attention, your body will tell you whether you’re on the right path.  Take the time to pay attention to your body.

Marlene’s only regret?

“I wish I had done this 10 years earlier.”


In Her Words

“Just do it and do it now.  Follow your heart, even if you’re scared out of your mind.”


Marlene Armstrong, Equus Coach

Unbridled Coaching

Care to share?

5 Benefits of Work You’ll Need in Retirement

5 Benefits of Work You’ll Need in Retirement

Think retirement is a life of leisure?  Think again. There are key attributes from your working life that you will need in retirement.  When we don’t plan to replace these 5 benefits, we can experience a gradual wearing-away of ourselves in retirement.  What are they and how can you satisfy them to keep your vitality in retirement?

According to the research on retirement success factors by Dr. Peter Johnson, founder of Retirement Options, the five benefits of work that have evolved to needs in retirement are:


  1. Income 

After decades of building wealth, you will begin to draw from your nest egg to meet your material needs when you retire .  It’s an adjustment and it can be nerve-wracking. An Angus Reid study reports that 48% of Canadians surveyed are worried about their money lasting their lifetime.

Having a financial plan and a qualified financial advisor will help you understand how you can best replace this benefit of work.  Need a financial advisor? Here are 6 questions you need to ask a prospective financial advisor from Jennifer Vachon’s blog.

Typically, income in retirement includes OAS (Old Age Security), your pension and savings.  A new source of retirement income is beginning to take hold.

Over 60% of new retirees are considering some form of employment after their first retirement.

But money is not the only benefit of work.


  1. Time Management 

Being free of your calendar, meetings, and conference calls may be your dream for retirement.  Yet, having a lot to do, actually does help us manage our time well.

Keeping some sort of schedule in retirement allows you to prioritize the people and activities important to you and keeps you engaged and involved.

Retirement is a time to create new habits and routines and explore new undertakings. Perhaps it’s a tennis game every Tuesday morning, art class on Wednesdays or a monthly community meeting.  Mondays are my planning and writing days. What you want to avoid, is idle busyness, killing time, or worse, letting your life schedule be dictated by TV programing.


  1. Sense of Utility

We all want to feel useful and have our work valued.  This doesn’t stop when our career does.  “Having purpose injects a sense of meaning in our lives.” Dr. Johnson reminds us.

This benefit of work was the hardest one for me to replace after selling our business.  I was feeling lost initially after having a clear sense of business purpose and direction for decades. I needed to take stalk of what mattered to me, of what strengths I could apply, and of what problems I could help solve to build a new sense of utility.

Retirement gives us freedom to re-engage in things that we love and care about.  Perhaps its family, your community or a world issue.  Maybe it’s learning something and sharing your new wisdom.

Find a way to be helpful, to contribute in a manner true to you and you will find vitality in retirement.


  1. Status 

It’s not about a title, but more about having a place in our community, having a role in society.

“Status is the combined sense of personal worth and identity we derive from knowing who and what we are.”

At work, you knew your role and how you fit in to the scheme of work activities.  You will still need to find your place in society during retirement.  Your new ‘status’ may be tied to your life’s purpose, or in your new usefulness or the ‘new you’ discussed in my previous post.

I’m the “Pathways Champion” of my community, a volunteer role that came about as I developed my new sense of utility and purpose.  “The number one reason first retirees work again is not for financial gain but to feel involved.”



At work, we are required to interact with others.  Collaborating on projects, meeting deadlines, responding to queries, presenting ideas, resolving conflict, or welcoming new team members are all forms of socialization.  Through our interactions with others, we develop ourselves, build relationships and form friendships.

We still need social interactions when we retire and for some, this is the biggest loss after retirement.  You may be forgotten by the former work crew.

  Retirement is an opportune time to join or build new social circles. Circles that embrace your new purpose, interests and role in society.


Now you know!  Replace these five benefits of work and you are on your way to a retirement full of purpose and vitality.


Care to share?

Retirement: Identity Loss or Gain?

Retirement: Identity Loss or Gain?

You’ve had a successful career, professional accomplishments, recognition.  Perhaps your identity is your work.  How do you move from career success to retirement success?  How can you manage the loss of your work identity?


“What do You Do?”

In our culture, the first thing a person typically asks when you are introduced, is “what do you do?”.  We are identified, categorized, and valued by the type of work we do.  Got a professional designation?  Own your business? Another label.   It is easy to let our work take over our identity.  We’ve spent most of our lives working and developing our work skills.  As Dr. Wayne Dyer wisely said…

“We become what we think about all day long.”


Reframe or Regress

Retirement is an opportunity to reframe our identity from what we do, to who we are.  Dr. Johnson calls this work reorientation, his first of 15 factors for a successful retirement shared in this blog post.

“A self-definition built almost entirely on our work can hinder our growth in retirement.”

Those unable to redefine their identity are at great risk of falling into a lackluster retirement of withdrawal, apathy and non-involvement, states Dr. Johnson, founder of Retirement Options and leading expert on adult development and gerontology.


Turning Loss into Gain

Yep, I was one of ‘those’.  I self-identified through my work.  I was an engineer, had an Masters in Business, successful businesswoman – and all that went away the day we sold our business.  It felt liberating!  Society’s shackles were off.  I also felt the loss.

You can feel unimportant very quickly.  You are no longer of interest to the working set – you don’t “do” anything according to the narrow view of our work culture.  It can be a rude awakening, but it is an awakening.

Let go to grow.  When you let go of your old work identity, you are free to create your new identity, an identity that is truer to you.  This is fun!  It may take some time.  It’s a self-reflective exercise and you will likely begin to rekindle the kid in you.

The New You

Retirement gives you the time to reflect on the new you.  Likely, you’ve taken personality assessments in the past and perhaps there’s some insight in these.  A life or retirement coaching program may also help you uncover the true you.  Or simply think back to your youth and what sparked your interests before society’s opinions mattered.  Here is a good Ted Talk with tips on how to be a ‘self-expert’.

Get started!  Stir up those childhood dreams, and let the true you shine.  When you know who you really are, you will be able create a retirement that is unique to, and just right for you.  Stop calling yourself a retired ‘such and such’ and start the new you!  Isn’t it more interesting to ask “what are you thinking about” instead of “what do you do”?

Need some inspiration?  Find out how Dave, a former engineer, became a triathlete coach in this blog post.

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Early Retirement: A Success Story

Early Retirement: A Success Story

What’s it like to leave a high level professional career in your early 50’s and take the leap to engage your passion?  Meet Dave Harding, formerly a partner in an engineering consulting firm and now?  A very fit triathlete coach.  Here’s his story…

Start with Passion

Dave has a quiet demeanor, and is one, I get the impression, who thinks things through. He tells me that as a triathlete, you spend a lot of training time alone with your thoughts.  He uses this time to listen to his body for feedback, and I think, he also listens to his soul.

Dave’s passion is competitive athletics, something he has done nearly all his life. He first dipped his toe into marathon and triathlon coaching while still fully employed.  That’s when he realized coaching was what he really wanted to do.  He decided to pursue this passion more purposefully and began to act on his dream.  (How could one be more purposeful than completing several Ironman competitions?)

Prepare Perform Achieve

That’s Dave’s motto and that’s how he made his transition from fully employed to a fulfilling early retirement.   Over three years and while still employed, he took night courses to become certified and build his credibility in Fitness and Lifestyle Management, as a Personal Trainer, and as a Triathlon Coach.

He assessed his financial position in partnership with his wife to determine feasibility and timing for his early retirement. She’s still fully employed and the kids are launched which helped ease the transition.  He planned a phased changeover.  Dave moved from full-time employment to part-time contract work with the same company.  He carried out the contract work for a year before ‘stopping cold turkey’. That year gave him time to build his coaching business with less financial strain.

Dave enjoys the flexibility of his schedule now and the ability to have more time for his own training. (That’s 15 hours a week of training, yikes!)  The phased retirement approach gave him financial security to grow his coaching business and ease into his new lifestyle.  His coaching business keeps him engaged, allows him to apply his skills and talents to help others and propels him to chart growth both personally and for his business.

Lessons Learned

“Conceptually, have a plan of where you want to go.” It will be up to you to determine what’s next advises Dave.  It won’t be handed to you when you do fully retire.  It’s much better being pulled to something new, than being pushed out the door.  When you begin to feel less engaged in your work and secure in your finances, find what you really want to do and go after it.

“The social aspect is a bit of a shock.”   Moving from an office setting to working on your own can mean the loss of social connections. Ensure you maintain and create a social outlet that you enjoy.  It may mean developing new social circles and sticking to a schedule that gets you out meeting people.  Otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of time alone at home.

My take-away from our conversation?  It’s up to you to live the life you want – especially in retirement. Plan for it and just do it!  Thanks Dave for sharing your story and inspiring us.  Must admit, I’m now a bit more curious about the triathlon scene especially since Dave mentioned he has clients over 60!

In Dave’s Words

“Find what you really want to do in life and pursue that the best you can do.”

Dave Harding, DEKK Coaching, Ironman Triathlete


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Ready to Retire? 15 Success Factors

Ready to Retire? 15 Success Factors

There’s more to preparing for retirement than financial planning. Important research has determined 15 factors that are key to retirement success.

What is retirement success?  It’s a feeling really.  A feeling of vitality, of purpose, of contentment.  How we reach this sense of happiness in our next3rd differs from person to person. It may take a bit of self-study to understand just what we need to lead a fulfilling 3rd act in life.  There’s help for that!

Dr. Richard Johnson, a leading expert on adult development and gerontology, and founder of Retirement Options has been studying retirement for several decades. His research has revealed that a retirement consisting of only rest and relaxation does not necessarily create a happy retirement.  What does?  Here are his 15 success factors in layman’s terms:

Fabulous 15

  1. Manage the identity shift from ‘what you do’ to ‘who you are’
  2. Positive attitude toward retirement
  3. Ability to set your own course
  4. How healthy you feel
  5. How financially secure you feel
  6. Current happiness
  7. Expected happiness in retirement
  8. Sense of purpose
  9. Leisure interests
  10. Adaptability
  11. How much you live in the ‘now’
  12. How much your parents and adult children depend on you
  13. Quality of your relationships
  14. How young you feel
  15. Ability to replace the benefits of work/career


Whew!  That may seem like the mother load; don’t fret!  You’ve probably got a good handle on some of these and other factors may be less important to you.  Yes, the fabulous 15 may require you to pause and reflect.  That’s good.  The better you understand where you stand on these factors, the easier your decisions and the clearer your path to a happy next3rd.

I will explore each of these success factors in upcoming blog posts.  Stay tuned!

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