The Formal Version
Edward J. Zinkiewicz retired from a successful 40-year career in software engineering in 2011, and began a second career as a motivational leader and author. Ed and his wife, Crys, founded a new company in 2010, Retirement-U. That company focused on helping people discover possibilities and avoid pitfalls as they transition into this new phase of life called retirement.
Together this team has developed several courses and retreats including a favorite called The New 3Rs of Retirement. Even though Retirement-U was closed in 2016, the course will be revived in 2018 as a web-based kickstart to retirement.
Ed is the author of the three-book "Retire To" series that focuses on social relationships, health and wellness, and finding fulfillment after retirement. The series includes Retire to Play and Purpose, Retire to a Better You, and Retire to Great Friendships.
Ed recently completed hosting a podcast on volunteering. These 100 interviews are available here as two blog pages with a focus on 1) Who volunteers and 2) Where people volunteer. Rather than tell you what to do, these interviews offer insight into the kinds of things volunteers do and things asked of volunteers.
Ed is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Claremont Graduate School. He and Crys live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they continue to find fulfillment in work, traveling to see friends, community and church activities, and spending time with their grandson. Ed loves to read science fiction. He has also sung in a bluegrass band for more than 40 years. For the past 9+ years, the group has conducted gospel sing-alongs in three nursing homes each month.
The Informal Version
Having a nice, informative, fact-filled bio on the back of a book is good. However, as a potential reader of my books and other resources you may want more than that. So, this biography is about the person you will find in the resources. Me.
The bio describes me as “software engineer”—not a profession one might expect of an author. This may come as a surprise, but what “software engineer” really means is that I worked with people. I had to find out what people really wanted and really needed. I had to find out what was going wrong and, more importantly, what people thought would make things right again. I had to craft a design for the new product that would fix what was broken or fulfill a dream. And it had to be easy to use.
The official bio says I was “successful” at software engineering. I have a knack of ferreting out what is needed. My customers liked the fact that I worked with them to build a plan of improvement. Working with a computer to deliver a product was only one of the means. I could measure my success at this by counting many customers over the years who asked me back to do additional work. Again and again.
I’ve approached the development of my "retirement" resources the same way. Over the past eight years I’ve spent countless hours watching, learning, interviewing, digesting, analyzing, and summarizing. I found that some folks seem to slide right into retirement and survive without a hiccup. Many people, however, do not make a smooth transition, stumbling in retirement, tripped up by some not-so-pleasant surprises. Some slammed into obstacles. Others got mired in worry. These surprises, worries, and obstacles seemed to cluster about three root fears:
• Infirmity – No one wants to lose independence and end up dependant on others.
• Loneliness – No one wants to lose friends and social contact.
• Meaninglessness – No one wants to lose the ties to meaning and purpose, to feelings of successfully overcoming challenges and reaping rewards.
Needless to say, none of this bad stuff shows up at the retirement party.
The advance billing for retirement promises recreation, relaxation, and a reward for a long life of work. Dare I say that some retirees have felt as though they instead got trapped on what was supposed to be a luxury cruise but with less than luxurious surroundings and events? That never happens. Right?
Figuring out what to do about these concerns took a great deal of work. I interviewed a lot more people. I searched my own experience. I read a great deal. I collected success stories. I watched a mountain of videos. I collaborated with experts. In these resources I’ve compressed a lifetime of experience and eight years of intense exploration. I’m proud to say that each of these concerns highlighted here is dealt with in turn in one of my books and is continually addressed in other ways.
How are they dealt with? Much like the Lone Ranger when he talks about “heading the bad guys off at the pass.” These books tell you where the bad guys are going to be. My resources present a map of the territory. They invite you on a journey of your choice. They give options.
The challenge I had as a software engineer was to deliver software that not only solved problems but was easy to use, as well. As then, I have tried very hard to make my resources user friendly just as my software was. For example, I wrote my books in the most accessible way I could think of: I tell stories. Stories about me. Stories about retirees. Stories about the problems. Stories about the solutions.
I want you to feel we’re having a conversation in your living room. I want you to feel at home. I want you to hear me as though, if not a good friend, I’m a trusted neighbor.
All I can ask is that you invite me into your living room. What can I say? I’m a software engineer. Let’s talk.
...the Retired Guy