As I’ve mentioned, working at home has its challenges. Having little direct interaction with people, other than back-to-back phone meetings, can get lonely. This is one of the reasons I occasionally visit the local coffee shop. I also go out for lunch a few times a month. I have to tell you about my recent jet-setting trip to Las Vegas that began with a simple lunch.
Several restaurant discounts are available in Sedona, especially during the off-season. A local restaurant group sends me a list of weekly specials. This special looked delicious, so I headed up to the airport for lunch at the Mesa Grill.
It is tough to top having a nice lunch for $9—drink included—while overlooking the Sedona red rocks, viewing private aircraft landing, and people watching!
But top it I did…
Having lunch at the Mesa Grill in Sedona
I saw a Learjet 60 land, taxi in, and park next to the restaurant. I carefully watched as the doors unfolded from the twin-engine jet and a couple in their early sixties exited the aircraft. They soon walked to the restaurant and sat at a table by the window, one table over from me. I was close enough to overhear their conversation.
Evidently, the jet’s passengers were in town for the day to attend a meeting about their sponsorship of the Sedona International Film Festival. The festival is quite the annual event in our town, celebrating its 22nd year in 2016.
We talked about Colorado
I was getting ready to leave with I noticed that the man from the airplane was wearing a golf shirt with a picture of the Royal Gorge Bridge. Having lived in southern Colorado for 30 years and being very familiar with that area, I was happy to say hello and chat about the Royal Gorge for a moment.
The couple introduced themselves as Joe and Shirley from Sacramento. They explained that they had taken a trip to Colorado Springs a few years ago, staying at the Broadmoor and went to the Royal Gorge as a side trip.
We instantly hit it off, and they invited me to sit down. I updated them on the newest Sedona restaurants and the best trails to hike, and how to avoid the crowds. I discovered we had a lot in common.
Time to return to the house and my remote job
I didn’t want to overstay my conversational welcome, and I felt sure that emails from my job were waiting for me. I told Joe and Shirley how much I enjoyed meeting them and then got up to leave. That is when I noticed Joe glancing at Shirley; she returned a look of understanding, and he proposed an idea.
“Bryan,” Joe said, “How about you come back to Las Vegas with us for a couple days to play some golf? We have some complimentary rooms at the Venetian to burn and we could put you up near our suite. We will have the pilot fly you back after a couple rounds of golf, while we stay on to complete some work in Las Vegas.”
I was shocked. “Joe, that sounds like an excellent offer and it’s very gracious of you,” I said. “Let me give my wife a call, and email my boss to see if I can adjust my work calendar.” A quick call to Dianne and a few emails cleared the next two days. “I’d love to!” I told Joe and Shirley.
“Sounds great,” said Joe, “Meet us at 5:30 and we will plan on taking off before 6. Plan on having dinner tonight at Table 10 , since it’s on the hotel property.”
Jet-setting from Sedona to Las Vegas
The trip to Las Vegas took less than forty minutes via Learjet. We landed before much conversation occurred, other than about the beautiful landscape around Sedona and the Grand Canyon as we flew over the south rim.
There was a driver from the Venetian waiting for us at the private aviation terminal and he whisked us away to the hotel resort. The room accommodations were outstanding and we had a great dinner at Table 10. I knew that after this exciting day, I had better get a good night’s sleep for the round of golf in the morning.
A conversation in the golf cart
I was in for quite a surprise the next morning when the Venetian town car took us to Shadow Creek for our golf game. The course’s rank is 17 of the top 100 to play in the U.S. This was going to be incredibly fun!
Joe was driving the golf cart out to the first tee box when we began to talk about his success. He and Shirley started their company twenty years ago in the corrugated box business after working at other companies over the prior decade. They saved every penny they had and borrowed the rest to buy state-of-the-art equipment and storage space as their business grew.
He told me they had not taken a vacation for nearly ten years as their business expanded—it had really accelerated when they landed some national accounts and bought two other small companies, growing their market to the entire West Coast.
I said, “That is an amazing story, Joe. Years ago, did you imagine this kind of jet-setting lifestyle for yourself? You know, a private jet, golfing at a top-notch course, and making new friends with someone from Sedona?”
“Bryan,” he said, “this is what I pictured as success in my life. I wanted to have the ability to enjoy some finer things, to experience life without having to comprise due to cost. Granted it took many years, and we can’t afford everything we want, but we are enjoying our life. Shirley and I set aggressive goals to expand our business and live the life we imagined.”
I asked, “Do you think you could go back to the same workload, seven days a week, with no vacation for years, if you had to?”
Joe thought about that for a second and then said, “I think we could, but we shouldn’t need to. We have no debt, an excellent management team, and a cash flow stream through other investments that will support us for the rest of our lives. Our plans should never require us to downsize our lifestyle due to money.”
A trip home by myself
The conversation went on like this for the next day as we had dinner and golfed at another course. We finally said our goodbyes, shook hands, and the Venetian driver gave me a ride back to McCarron private aviation terminal. As we arrived, I noticed that, parked on the other side of the fence, was the sleek Learjet 60 waiting for me, its only passenger, for a quick flight back to Sedona. What a couple of days!
On the return flight, my mind reflected on the business Joe and Shirley had built and the lifestyle it afforded them. I too, since my early teenage years, have had the dream to create such wealth. I believed I would become a millionaire by thirty. I didn’t make it by thirty, but I did by forty. The problem is it takes a lot of money to live like Joe. One needs to be deca-millionaire to afford owning a private jet.
The personal finance community tends to lean toward the early retirement track, which often requires frugal living. Nowhere in that equation does it involve owning a Learjet! However, there are a few that suggest we should focus more energy on generating income by building a business, a brand, a product, or a service. I tend to agree that, when it comes to having your own jet and pilot, it will be difficult to save up for this kind of wealth on an average household income.
My jet-setting lifestyle, deconstructed
I have reached a point in my life at which I am realizing the private jet might not be in the cards. I am not giving up hope. For me, I do on occasion enjoy some of the finer things in life. I know I can do this financially if I continue to live within my means and watch our investments. I tell you, I yearn to have some of these nice shiny objects…
Thanks for going along with me on this fictional story.
The facts are: I know Joe and Shirley; they are quite wealthy and own a business in Sacramento. I have golfed at many top courses around the country (at my employer’s expense). I visit the Mesa Grill about once a month for lunch, watch the aircraft land and take off. And I’ve stayed at the Venetian, for work.
I know that, if we continue to practice our savings habits–as outlined in The Seven Steps–we’ll get to our perfect retirement, with or without a Learjet. 🙂