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Masters of Third Half: Bob Freeman

At Third Half Advisors, we talk about a “Portfolio Life” as the way someone chooses to divide their time in their Third Half. A “Portfolio Life” is uniquely theirs, a way for them to live authentically by strategic allocation of time and talent. Our next Third Half Master, Bob Freeman, is fully embracing his Third Half. He decided his transition would be “an ongoing process. It’s not a sudden decision.” Meet Bob and learn about how he has eased his way into his Third Half using his Clifton Strengths, an assessment we use at Third Half Advisors, to plan his path forward.


"We are is happy to see Bob is living his dream: while he still has a foot still in his long-standing legal practice, he now has made room to embrace new and unique opportunities like the Tri-Faith Center, that have real meaning and purpose for him. This is what the Third Half is all about."

– Third Half Advisors Co-Founder, Caroline Brecker


Bob Freeman started our interview with what sounded like the beginnings of a joke. “A Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim sit down at a picnic table.” As implausible as that sounds, it’s not a joke. In Omaha, Nebraska it’s a reality.


Third Halfer Bob Freeman first dreamed of a Tri-Faith Center 15 years ago. After mulling it over—and taking 10 pages of notes—Bob decided it had to be built. And now that the Tri-Faith Center is established (and open to the public, if you’re ever in Omaha), Bob is writing a book—the first step of which is to review those 10 note pages.



In part, he writes because the Tri-Faith Center is a story that needs to be told. It’s an extraordinary achievement to execute this mission in our nation’s heartland. However, it also serves as a passion project—something that effectively fills his time and synchronizes with his values as he begins to scale back his law practice.


The Third Half Transition

Bob started thinking about his own Third Half transition as he and his law partners considered who would be the next generation of managing partners at his firm. “I’m now 67. What will be my process for turning over or transitioning responsibility for my group of clients? How am I going to do it?” Bob was starting to think about what his “Third Half Portfolio Life” would look like.


At Third Half Advisors, we talk about a “Portfolio Life” as the way someone chooses to divide their time in their Third Half. A “Portfolio Life” is uniquely theirs, a way for them to live authentically by strategic allocation of time and talent.


Bob is fully embracing his Third Half. He decided his transition would be “an ongoing process. It’s not a sudden decision.” Before transitioning, Bob had some concerns: client coverage, finances, and his spouse.


Bob had a few options. He and another partner came to the intersection of retirement at the same time. One decided to rip the band aid off, so to speak; he made a quick exit and has left the law practice. Bob chose a different, longer-term plan, slowly cutting down his hours and transferring his clients.



Using One's Strengths


Bob is dominant in the relationship building domain (results from a CliftonStengths assessment). He values his ties to other people and actively works to maintain them. In choosing to retire, Bob decided to move gradually and intentionally, taking into account the feelings of his hard-won clients – who he had nurtured for many years.


Bob was keenly aware of the disruption retirement could cause his spouse. He hasn’t taken the decision lightly. “Robyn and I don’t have [everything] done,” Bob says, “but we’re in an ok place where I think that it’s going to work out reasonably well.” After all, transitioning is “an ongoing process.”


In addition to consulting his wife, Bob says he wouldn’t transition unless he felt “personally, financially in an ok place.” Once he’d decided transitioning to his Third Half was financially feasible, and he and his wife were in an “ok place,” Bob started focusing on other things. Namely, the other parts of his “Portfolio Life.”


A New "Day to Day"


While Bob writes his book, he still goes to the office five times a week for three quarters of the day. From the outside, one might think transitioning would lighten his schedule. This is not always reality. Transitioning often results in the same amount of activity – just more diversity. That can make setting priorities difficult. Adding to the complexity, one of Bob’s top strengths is Achiever. So, whatever he chooses to do, he’ll want to finish it—something we observe can be harder to do with more flexibility and ambiguity on the calendar.


In order to help ease THA clients through their transition, we introduce the concept of “Blocks of Time.” Transitioning can change the way they consider time—rather than scheduling by the minute or hour, why not by “Portfolio Life” theme? With more freedom on the calendar, we suggest blocking out wider swatches of time (a few hours) during the week to allow more spaciousness for getting things done.



Bob has embraced the “Blocks of Time” concept in scheduling his “Third Half Portfolio.” Bob’s “Blocks” focus on continuing to practice law (including some pro-bono General Counsel work), writing the Tri-Faith Center book, his family, and community service. Each portion of his “Portfolio Life” takes up time—time he blocks off weekly on his calendar with a top priority given to writing his book. This method has allowed him to feel some new flexibility in his week, while honoring his Achiever strength by adding just enough structure to get something done!


Bob is a “Third Half Master”: He’s extremely aware of his own strengths, as shown in how he’s chosen to transition his law practice as well as the new projects he’s taking on. He is living his dream—a foot still in his career, something at which he is very proficient, yet embracing new opportunities that have real meaning and purpose for him. A man of many talents, we look forward to hearing more about Bob’s impressive journey through this next chapter.


Learn more about the Tri-Faith Center. Make sure to check out our other Third Half Masters stories to learn more about others who are transitioning from their corporate career to “what’s next”.