Introducing The First Monthly Victory Lap Retirement Winner

ernie-zelinski-4Picking the first winner of the VLR award was easy for me. Some might consider me a little biased, but how could I not give the award to my friend and mentor Ernie Zelinski? After all it was Ernie’s books “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free” and “The Joy of Not Working” that basically salvaged my life and gave me the courage to leave a 36-year banking career that was slowly killing me.  If I had read Ernie’s book earlier, I would have probably exited my corporate job even sooner than I did.

Ernie is an interesting guy, who learned early in life that he wasn’t cut out for the corporate world. He’s a true free spirit, always has been, always will be and I just love his personal story. At the age of 29 he bailed (some might say was fired) from his job as a professional engineer. I say bailed because subconsciously we sometimes do things that will end up giving ourselves the result that we really want, as in “I know if I do this they will probably fire me” and in Ernie’s case they actually did.

In Ernie’s own words: “I Truly believe that had I not left corporate life, I would either be dead today, or suffering from some serious stress-induced illness.” Yours truly was also on this path. Thanks for showing me the way Ernie!

Ernie doesn’t know the word quit once he has decided on a direction to go in. Failing a first-year university English class three times in a row didn’t dissuade him from becoming a writer. He made a deal with himself to write for a minimum of three hours a day. He knew that it’s all about taking small regular steps in the right direction, the compounding of daily effort.

When he finished his first book, he couldn’t find a publisher and again in his own words: “most publishers thought that the manuscript was written by a ditch digger whose last three years of education was spent trying to get through grade nine.” Not being able to find a publisher, he was forced to self publish and like they, say the rest is history.

Ernie recently celebrated the 25th year since self-publishing “The Joy of Not Working” which has sold just over 296,000 copies and has been published in 17 languages. One of his other well know books “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free has now sold over 301,00 copies. Just goes to show that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and are willing to take some risks and put in the hard work. Everyone at some point needs to face their fears in order to succeed.

Thinking about what Ernie was able to accomplish gave me the courage to start work on my own book. There were many times when I wanted to give up. Writing, I learned, is really hard, but remembering what Ernie went through gave me the strength to carry on.

We get together whenever Ernie comes to Toronto and have a steak at the Keg along with a bottle of his favorite wine Mollydooker Shiraz   described by one wine connoisseur as “a wine that will kiss you on the lips, smack you on the ass, and leave you feeling completely satisfied”.

Ernie’s main purpose in life, the thing that gets him out of bed in the morning, is finding ways to help people develop to their potential and attain some of their own dreams. I was lucky he was willing to take me on and teach me the ropes, though I still have lots to learn. Now the responsibility is on me to take what he has taught me, use well and help a lot of people in the process. You just can’t take from your mentor without giving back in return. The expectation is that at some point I will bump into someone that needs a helping hand, just like I did, and show them the way. If everyone thought and acted like this the world would be in a much better place.



PS. Please send me your stories about people who are enjoying their Victory Laps. I will pick a winning story each month and the winner will receive a signed copy of our book.



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5 thoughts on “Introducing The First Monthly Victory Lap Retirement Winner

  1. Ernie Zelinski Reply

    Mike, thanks for the kind words. It is an honor to be “The First Monthly Victory Lap Retirement Winner.”

    You say, “There were many times when I wanted to give up. Writing, I learned, is really hard . . .”

    Here are some of my favorite quotations about the writing life. I offer these words of wisdom from other knowledgeable people who have inspired me to attain the personal freedom and financial independence that I enjoy today from my writing projects:

    “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”
    — Joseph Heller (author of “Catch 22)

    “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
    — Richard Bach

    “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying
    when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
    — Dale Carnegie

    “Writing is the hardest way to earn a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.”
    — Olin Miller

    “The profession of book writing makes horseracing seem like a solid, stable business.”
    — John Steinbeck

    “Books work as an art form (and an economic one) because they are primarily the work of an individual.”
    — Seth Godin

    “Even the most careful and expensive marketing plans cannot sell people a book they don’t want to read.”
    — Michael Korda

    “Nobody ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have while trying to write one.”
    — Robert Byrne

    “The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.”
    — Thomas Carlyle

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      I love that quote by Robert Byrne. Ernie, you never have to worry about buying dinner at the Keg when you come to Toronto for a visit because it’s on me! Your the best and your books help a lot of people and today we need all the help we can get.

  2. Simon Reply

    Congratulations Ernie! I said to Mike when I met him last week that your book and the Victory Lap book are the only two books I’ve found around the mental part of retirement which I think is a huge gap in how we plan for retirement today. I have also read your other books on work and am passionate that we need to help others change the way they view success. I’m on the precipice of my Victory Lap and both you and Mike are inspirations on how to buck the trend and move forward. Ernie – you are a deserving winner of first VLR winner!

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Agree totally with you Simon there is a lot of work that needs to be done with respect to the mental part of retirement.

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