Pharma Rep Wrestles With Retirement With Mary Brooksbank

Most of us die with regrets. Amongst the top ones?

“I wish I had worked less”… “I wish I had spent more time with the people I loved”… and “I wish I had lived my own life”.

And a major cause of these regrets?

Retiring too late.

Imagine if instead of email notifications, your phone was flooded with phone calls from your loved ones… wanting to meet for coffee on a Wednesday morning, make travel plans, or

That could be your life in retirement.

Today’s guest Mary Brooksbank retired 4 weeks ago. She put it off for 6 months. And now she’s here to paint a picture of how your retired life could be.

In this episode, you’ll discover how to mentally prepare for retirement, so you can work less, spend more time with the ones you love, and live your best life.

Listen now.

Show Highlights Include:

  • The weird way talking like a broken record prepares you for a seamless retirement ([2:51])
  • How school sports could help your children reach the top of the career ladder ([12:01])
  • The hidden “statement risk” that’s scientifically proven to harm your investment portfolio ([14:47])
  • Why a “protection mind” prevents you from enjoying retirement (and how to reverse this with Starbucks and a new car) ([15:12])
  • How to avoid a boring retirement with two words (even if your entire social network are your colleagues) ([17:30])

DLP041 PC - Pharma Rep Wrestles With Retirement With Mary Brooksbank



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas—and, now, here’s your host financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. Thanks for tuning in.

Retire in Texas is sponsored by PAX Financial Group, so be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com. I’m the CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group and I have to tell you that this information does not constitute legal, investment or specific tax advice, so be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information. For those that need to contact and have a conversation with a financial advisor, you just need to text “Texas” to the number 74868. [01:01].8]

Super excited today because I’ve got Mary Brooksbank. I’ve known Mary—Mary, how long have I known you now?

Mary: Long enough.

Darryl: Long enough. It’s been a long time.

Mary: A long time.

Darryl: Walked a lot of life together.

Mary: Awesome, yes.

Darryl: Really love your family, enjoyed just kind of seeing you guys just progress through your careers and take different turns. I think it took me a while to get you on the show, though. I’ve been wrangling you for a while. Christie, what did she have to do? Did she bribe you or something?

Mary: It was close to it. I mean, I had to retire first.

Darryl: That’s … yeah, okay.

Mary: And that was the issue.

Darryl: That was the catalyst, so, okay. You’re officially retired.

Mary: Officially retired four weeks.

Darryl: Oh my gosh.

Mary: Four weeks into it.

Darryl: It’s kind of crazy because it’s just like we kept talking. Here’s the thing with you, Mary. You said, “I’m going to retire,” and then that date would come. You’re like, I’m not going to retire yet, and then the date would come and you’re like, I’m not. Over the last five years, you were kind of flirting with retirement. Why couldn’t you pull the trigger? Some of those times you were like, I think I’m going to do it, and then you just would wait. What was keeping you there? [02:01].7]

Mary: Money.

Darryl: The people, the money, or …?

Mary: The security, and I know it’s in my mind, it was the security of a good income, even though you’ve told me a million times on paper that I could do it. But in my mind, I just had to keep working, and I also had another rule, I guess, in my head, too, that I wanted my kids self-sufficient on their own and that wasn’t going on as planned. A lot of things don’t go as planned, so we have to have some flexibility in there.

After I got over that, that that was not going to happen and my retirement age, coming into that big six-oh, 60, I was thinking that I need to do something and stop that. Just pull the band-aid off quickly, because that’s the only way I was going to do, which was to pull that band-aid off quick, and it was funny, because six months prior, I had to keep practicing saying, “I’m retired” or “I’m retiring.” Oh my gosh. It took me forever until I got comfortable saying that, and then I added another six more months. [03:03].8]

Darryl: That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. Tell everyone where you retired from.

Mary: I retired from Johnson & Johnson company at one of their medical device companies called Ethicon. All our products are sold in the OR, sutures, DERMABOND, anything to open you up in the OR and close you. I’m sure you’ve had some of our products used on you. It’s just an amazing company.

Darryl: What’s interesting about your role, and to some people that know your role, this is easy to understand, but other people that don’t know your role may assume that you have a salesperson role, which you do—you have to sell. We all do—but what I think is understated is that the physicians need your expertise to be able to accomplish that surgery successfully, and so sometimes they’ll pull you in the OR, right?

Mary: No, we are usually in the OR on a lot of our devices, because very critical situations where they’re stapling the fundus or they’re stapling along, or if something happens and the stapler jams, you need to walk them through it—so not only understanding the sales portion of it, you also have to understand the product and the clinical aspects of your product, and then, third, to be able to talk a surgeon through using your product. [04:18].6]

It can be very stressful, but very rewarding, and seeing what your products can do to the patient outcomes is just very fulfilling and educating, and education is a big part of what I love to do, training residents on products and for surgery.

Darryl: Yeah. I want to touch on that a little bit more, but now I’m going to go back in time. Are you originally from San Antonio?

Mary: I would say, I got here as soon as I could. As some of you might know, there’s the term “military brat.” That’s what I was, a military brat. My dad was a World War II veteran.

Darryl: Interesting.

Mary: And I was born in Germany, in Stuttgart, Germany. Then a year later, my dad was transferred to Fort Sam Houston. I lived on base, Infantry Post there at Fort Sam by the Quadrangle. [05:07].6]

Darryl: I know exactly where that’s at.

Mary: But I was, too, like I really knew. That’s what they told me.

Darryl: Yeah.

Mary: And then a year later, in 1964, he retired. Then we moved to Windcrest, which is a little incorporated city, Northeast San Antonio, nestled in between Randolph Air Force Base and Fort Sam.

Darryl: It’s kind of right in between, yeah.

Mary: All the retired military families grew up together.

Darryl: Best Christmas lights in Texas, yeah.

Mary: It was awesome. Yes, the best Christmas lights. Everybody came to see our Christmas lights. But an amazing little town.

Darryl: Did your mom work?

Mary: No. Once my dad retired, he was probably going, “I have five kids. How are we going to do this?” Mom did not work. He got a job with Sears, Sears, Roebuck, downtown San Antonio, in the appliance department.

Darryl: Oh, classic.

Mary: And my mom stayed home with the kids and raised us.

Darryl: That means that, if I’m gathering this correctly, that’s middle class. That’s not rich. Five kids, retired military, small pension, Sears. The mom doesn’t work. You’re not rich, right? [06:02].4]

Mary: Three girls in one bedroom, two boys in another.

Darryl: Oh, is that right?

Mary: In fact, three girls in one bed.

Darryl: One bed. Not a bunk bed?

Mary: No, it was, I don’t know, a full probably. I don’t know. I was young.

Darryl: Did you do any activities, sports, or anything?

Mary: Yes. I was the youngest. The closest to me in age was four years older than me, and then my oldest brother was 14 years older than me. But you want to emulate what your siblings are doing, so I wanted to do what my sister was doing, even though she did not want me to do what she was doing.

Darryl: Of course.

Mary: She was swimming, and then at the age of eight, we started swimming at Fort Sam Houston, Aquabrats Swim Team there, and I went swimming there. It was an amazing time of my life and I loved sports. I was kind of a tomboy, athletic, and loved football.

Darryl: Swimming requires a lot of people to do club. You have to do it. Did you do any of that club stuff?

Mary: Yes. That swim team could only take me so far and I was developing pretty quickly, so by sixth grade, the coach at the club team, Coach Walker, you must have had a conversation with my mom telling her that he wanted us on the team, and I’m not quite sure how we paid for it. [07:08].8]

Darryl: Yeah, I was going to ask.

Mary: I don’t know. I found out some things that they had paid for us to go to some swim meets when we went out of state and things like that. Again, I did not know any of this.

Darryl: Did they ever sit down and talk to you about money? Did you just learn it on your own or did you learn through observation, or what happened?

Mary: Observation, mostly observation. We were very conservative, and never went on vacations. We went up to Fort Sam Houston Recreation Center there at Canyon Lake. That was our vacation.

Darryl: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Mary: Right? In the trailer. We weren’t around any family. All of my mom and dad’s family were up in Upstate New York. In fact, my parents, both my parents were deceased. I think my dad’s father was still living. Again, we didn’t have family around, so we were our own family, but we just had hand-me-downs. Mom made clothes. Again, I wanted sports. I loved athletics so I swam all the way up through college and did get to that. [08:03].2]

Darryl: Where did you go to college?

Mary: I went to the University of Oklahoma.

Darryl: All right.

Mary: Boomer Sooner, those Texas Longhorn fans out there.

Darryl: Yeah, some people are booing right now. Some people just turned it off.

Mary: Sorry. Hey, okay, they had the best Texan athletes up there, I’ll tell you that.

Darryl: They did, yeah.

Mary: So, they paid. I went.

Darryl: It’s funny because a lot of kids now go to OU. A lot of my family goes to OU. When you graduated, did you get into your career right away or how did that look?

Mary: Can I tell you something a little strange about this whole scenario?

Darryl: Sure.

Mary: I got a full ride. I knew in middle school that we didn’t have money for college and I didn’t have time to work because I was swimming all the time. I either lifeguarded in between practices during the summer, or taught swim lessons. I was gone from [5:00] in the morning till [7:00] at night. That was work, and then I loved school. I mean, my work was swimming and then school. I was a really good student, very studious.

So, I got up to OU. I went here on a swimming scholarship. My dad was in sales at Sears. Mom stayed at home. She started working at Josie’s of Texas if y’all know that. [09:04].5]

Darryl: Oh yeah.

Mary: And then Dillard’s to get the discount in middle school and high school. We loved that. We got 25 percent off, anything at Dillard’s.

Darryl: That’s a big deal.

Mary: It was awesome. Anyway, so I went up to one of the seniors on the swim team from Houston. I go, “Marybeth, what should I major in?” and this is 1980, and she goes, “PLM.” I’m like, “That’s petroleum land management. Will I make money?” “Yes.” “Okay.” So, I signed up. That’s how I picked my major.

Darryl: It spells land management.

Mary: Petroleum land management. You’re part of the exploration team in oil and gas, so you have your geologists, your engineers, and your landmen. They’re all together. Landman. I was a landman. I did that, for four years. In ’84, there was a big bust everywhere, but, luckily, I got into one of the big companies, Fina Oil and Chemical Company, based out of Europe, but Dallas headquarters. I was hired right out of college and I found out I was the only female professional in the exploration department in all of Fina. [10:00].9]

Darryl: How did that make you feel? How did that make you feel, intimidated or like, I’m going to do this, okay?

Mary: No, not at all. I swam, I was a tomboy. I hung around guys more than I did girls because I didn’t like the drama. I just liked sports and all that, so I was fine with it. I was the only one with the PLM degree, and sometimes I would come into work and I’d ask where the other landmen were and they were all golfing. No one told me.

Darryl: Yeah.

Mary: But it was awesome. I was fine. Then I started getting my [master’s]. I took my master’s program there when they had the night school, when they started the MBA at night, so I worked and did my MBA, and I still didn’t know any different, like I wanted to go into a certain field or anything. I was fine.

But there was a time when my husband said, “Hmm, Ethicon’s hiring.” I’m like, What’s that? What company is that? Because he had just got a job in the medical field the year prior. He had to pull me out of the office literally. when I got off, took my hand and took me to the interview, just to go check it out, because I’m like, No, I’m a landman. I’m fine. I have my MBA. I don’t know anything better than that. [11:07].4]

That’s kind of how it all initiated, and then I went through the whole interviewing process and I actually ended up getting the job. I left on a Friday and jumped right into the medical field. I left on a Sunday to be flown up to Jersey, New Jersey, for eight weeks of training.

Darryl: And ever since then, how many years has that been now?

Mary: Retired with 33 years with Ethicon.

Darryl: Thirty-three years.

Mary: Yeah.

Darryl: That doesn’t happen anymore.

Mary: Great company. There’s always ups and downs wherever you are. The grass is not always cleaner on the other side. And I felt very confident. I loved the company. I loved what it stood for, working family. I mean, it was awesome, and the opportunity. That’s a huge reason, too, for the jump over. The opportunity was endless and I’m all motivated by challenges and you tell me what to do and I’ll get it done, if it takes two hours or 20 hours. I get paid for the work I’m putting in. [12:01].0]

Darryl: If you reflect back, was this idea of being motivated by challenges a byproduct of your competitive swimming?

Mary: Yes, athletics is the foundation, and nothing was ever given to me. I always worked for it. You get in what you put into it. You get out what you put into it, and I was always a hard worker. We were raised that way. No complaining, do it and just get it done, and that’s how I tackle everything. Faith-based, too, though, centered, got to be ethical.

Darryl: You’ve always had your faith as a priority in everything that you’ve done, as a mom and a wife, and, really, as a business person for a long time, so that’s been a critical part of your life.

Mary: Definitely. My mom instilled a Roman Catholic upbringing. We’d be at swim meets on the weekends in between prelims and finals, we had to go to mass. We had to go to mass. One thing great about Catholics is that we could go Saturday, anywhere from Saturday evening all the way through Sunday evening, so we would be able to catch mass somewhere on the weekend, but that was first and foremost. [13:07].7]

Darryl: It hasn’t changed now. People just do a podcast in between everything.

Mary: Exactly.

Darryl: I know of many people. They’re in the sports world and they’re like, Okay, let’s go in and we’ll go and watch a webcast in the parking lot between meets, so that still happens today.

Mary: Yeah.

Darryl: So, 33 years and I know I’m missing a lot here, but for the sake of time, you get to this place where it’s time to transition. How did your spouse feel about you transitioning? Did he want you to transition out of work or retire, or did he want you to stay?

Mary: I think he did. I’m not sure now. He sees that I’m having a little bit too much fun.

Darryl: Oh, okay. Tell me about the fun. I mean, it’s only been four weeks, but what does it feel like? Does it feel like a relief or do you feel like part of your identity is gone, or is that a tension every day?

Mary: I thought a little bit of the identity and people need me and all that. Oh, did I realize, turn that switch, and I have a whole different life that I never thought I could have. I mean, it’s like my phone’s not ringing, the emails, the faxes– Faxes. Listen to me, all the time. I was going to say pager, too, but … [14:14].0]

Darryl: That was funny actually.

Mary: It’s just all that stimulus is like, whoa, it’s not there, and that stress level has just dropped at this point, until I get my next statement.

Darryl: Oh, your investment statement.

Mary: Credit card statement.

Darryl: Oh, credit card statement. I was thinking your investment statement.

Mary: No, that was another reason I kept kicking the dang can, and then I made a decision, and then, all of a sudden, the market goes down.

Darryl: I know, right? You know what? I can’t tell you how many times that happens.

Mary: I’m like, darn it, everything was looking so good and I finally told Darryl that I’m going to do it.

Darryl: And then the market goes down.

Mary: And then it just disappeared.

Darryl: You said something that’s very interesting and I got a laugh as I’ve never heard this before. We talk about statement risk, which is a real risk that people who look at their statements more frequently, the science has proven it, lots of studies, they actually do worse in their investment because they fiddle with it. But what you said was funny because there’s two statement risks. There’s, one, the investment statement risk and the other one is the credit card statement risk. [15:09].6]

Mary: The most important one.

Darryl: We did some studies with you or some little tests, some behavioral finance tests, and you’re protection-minded, meaning, because of the way you grew up being frugal, not having a lot, five kids, you tend to protect. You think about protection first. “Okay, am I going to have enough? I don’t want to outlive my money.” But, right now, you’ve turned that switch off a little bit and you’re enjoying life. You’re spending money?

Mary: Definitely. You made me get a car. I went out and got a new car. I was going, “It’s great. I’ve had a company car for so long and this is so nice, to have a real luxury car.” It’s nice.

Darryl: That’s so cool, though. It’s hard to do, right?

Mary: Oh, very hard.

Darryl: Because, for those that know me, I didn’t grow up with money, so I’ve had a hard time spending money and I can’t explain it. I tell people that all the time. My wife tells me, “I mean, you can afford that. You can buy that,” and I just can’t do it.

Mary: I can’t either. To me, I try to tell my husband, it’s more of a practicality and waste. I don’t need it. I mean, if I had a desire, “Oh, this is all I ever wanted,” I get that. [16:08].4]

Darryl: But then there, I guess, is this place where you’re right now. You’re like, Hey, I can get a Starbucks and I don’t have to feel bad about it, right?

Mary: Getting there but the Starbucks thing.

Darryl: Okay, the Starbucks. Yeah.

Mary: That to me is like, Oh, I have my coffee at home.

Darryl: Yeah, okay, gotcha.

Mary: I got my own frother the other day, so now I can froth my own, make it just like Starbucks.

Darryl: That makes sense. Is there anything that you find yourself splurging on that you didn’t before?

Mary: No.

Darryl: No?

Mary: Not yet.

Darryl: Not yet. Okay.

Mary: No, just visiting friends and really just not having to have schedules and phone calls and Zoom calls, and everything else I have to work around, where it’s actually my schedule. I’m not used to having my schedule to work on.

Darryl: Great point. I want to ask you about that real quick and then I know we’re getting close to the end, but I told you I wouldn’t even cover all the questions.

Mary: I’ll have to have a Part 2 because I have a lot to tell you.

Darryl: Yeah, you’ll have a Part 2. Let me just ask two more questions. One, what does the next chapter look like? You’ve retired relatively young, which is in good health, I’m assuming. You don’t have to say anything about that.

Mary: Yes, yes. [17:00].7]

Darryl: But what are you going to do? What are you thinking?

Mary: I want to get my household in line first, but I will do something. I have to do something down the road, probably real estate with my husband because he’ll be retiring soon at the end of the year and he does that.

Darryl: Ranch sales or residential?

Mary: Any type. He’ll do ranches and lake houses. He’ll do it for friends and family. He doesn’t really promote right now because he’s got the other job. Don’t tell anybody. But, anyway, something I think. It might be real estate, but …

Darryl: But you’ll do something to keep you at it.

Mary: Yeah, it’d be fun to work with him on that.

Darryl: Yeah, and then going back to your faith, any nonprofit work with the church or what are you thinking there?

Mary: I’m already starting getting calls. I’ve been telling everybody I’m available. Granted, we have a couple of trips lined up more towards the end of week, several. We leave again on Friday for a week, but I’ve already told them, my friends that are involved a lot, “Call me, I’m available.”

Darryl: That’s so cool.

Mary: “I can help you get organized and get things done.” 

Darryl: You’re going to be so stinking talented for an organization that needs just kind of that business acumen. But what’s interesting about your business acumen is it comes from a female point of view, which is going to be invaluable. I mean, the challenge for you is to be able to say no, when, eventually, word gets out. I know people are going to call me up already and say, Hey, can she help here? [18:15].6]

Mary: I would be more than happy to.

Darryl: But, yeah, there’s so much to cover. I think your journey is really inspiring in a lot of ways because you came up through a humble beginning. Really, swim really gave you a lot of the skill sets, as a result of the hard work, discipline, overcoming challenges. It made you who you are today, and, of course, family values, your mom and your faith.

Mary: Got me through a lot of it.

Darryl: Your faith got you through. I mean, we haven’t touched on your life story. It has much more depth than we could cover today, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Mary: So am I. Now that you got me here finally, Darryl, I finally took your advice and feel confident and comfortable about it.

Darryl: It’s going to be fun. Now the final, most important question. What’s your favorite salsa?

Mary: Okay, we all know Chuy’s has that. I can’t ever figure out what the name is. I had to look it up. It’s their Creamy Jalapeño Cilantro Dip stuff. [19:07].2]

Darryl: Oh yeah.

Mary: That green stuff, and then sometimes I’ll mix it with their salsa, too, but I could drink it. It’s so good.

Darryl: You have to mix it.

Mary: Yeah.

Darryl: I like mixing it, too, Chuy’s, and the chips. There’s no calories in those chips, right?

Mary: Yeah. No.

Darryl: So good.

Mary: Not at all, but it reminds me, I might need to go there and get some.

Darryl: That’s exactly right.

Mary: But there’s one at H-E-B, all my H-E-B friends out there.

Darryl: They have it at H-E-B.

Mary: There’s a Mark’s, a new salsa that they have. It’s Mark’s, M-A-R-K [apostrophe] S. They have four different types of salsa and I love the roasted salsa, roasted something salsa.

Darryl: I get that. I like the roasted one, too.

Mary: But it’s Mark’s, FYI. I have no affiliation, I promise, to any Mark’s.

Darryl: You don’t sell it? That’s not your new business?

Mary: No.

Darryl: Yeah, okay.

Mary: No, no. I don’t work for H-E-B, yeah.

Darryl: Yeah, exactly. Look, this has been awesome. Thank you so much again.

Mary: Sure.

Darryl: I wish we could cover so much more, but maybe Part 2.

Mary: Definitely.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah, thank you.

For those that are listening, I appreciate you tuning in today. You’ve listened to Retire in Texas with Mary Brooksbank. I’m your host, Darryl Lyons, and I want to remind you to text “Texas” to 74868, and you can speak to one of our advisors complimentary. [20:12].6]

I want to ultimately remind you that you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.


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