From The Man Who Inspired The TV Series “Mad Men”.

I read Jerry Della Femina’s recent post on Facebook and had myself a good laugh. In fact. I found myself laughing out loud. You are just the right age to enjoy it too. While I work full time, I can identify with what he wrote here. I’m not sure if it’s because I live in Miami Beach.

I probably would feel the same way in the middle of Manhattan. Jerry was one of the most successful advertising executives in the world. We had the pleasure of sharing several accounts together. He even secured a few new pieces of business for HWH PR. Eliot and I even got to party, multiple times, at his beach house in East Hampton. He also owns a gorgeous brownstone just two blocks from where we lived in NYC.

Jerry, take it away.


By Jerry Della Femina

Lately, just about everyone I know has been asking me the same question:”Hey Jerry, you’re looking good. When are you going to retire?

This frightens me because I’m thinking they are saying to themselves, “God, Jerry looks terrible. I hope he retires so that he can enjoy his last few days in Florida, so at least when he is ready for his ‘dirt nap,’ he’ll go to meet his maker with a nice healthy-looking tan.”

My answer is I will NEVER retire and I must point to the piece below titled “Don’t Retire,” which was sent to me a few years ago by my old (and best) partner Ron Travisano. I find it hilarious. If the person who wrote it steps forward, I will be happy to give him or her credit. It’s so funny because it’s so true.”Don’t Retire.”

For those of you contemplating retirement, I would like to share my retirement experiences with you, which I hope will be helpful. Fifteen years ago, my wife and I moved into a retirement development on Florida’s southeast coast.

The last time we saw our grandkids was on Grandchildren’s Day, when they were dragged down by their parents. We were living in the Delray/Boca/Boynton Golf, Spa, Bath, and Tennis Club on Lake Fake-a-hachee. (There are 3000 lakes in Florida; only three are real.)

Our new community has so many interesting things for us to do. Back by popular demand, the feisty Hip Replacement Tappers Club will be tap dancing to the “Flight of the Bumblebee.” It promises to be quite a production, with lots of singing and dancing. This year, I am not in the cast but will be standing by with the defibrillator volunteers.

Our biggest retirement concern was time management. What were we going to do all day? Let me assure you, passing the time is not a problem. Your days will be eaten up by simple daily activities. Just getting out of your car takes 15 minutes.

Trying to find where you parked takes 20 minutes. It takes a half-hour on the checkout line in Walmart, and one hour to return the item the next day.

Then, of course, there are the visits to the doctor and dentist offices. Let me take you through a typical day. We get up at 5 AM, have a quick breakfast, and join the early morning Walk and Talk Club.There are about 30 of us and, rain or shine, we walk around the streets, all talking at once.

Every development has some late risers who stay in bed until 6 AM. After a nimble walk, avoiding irate drivers out to make us road kill, we go back home, shower, and change for the next activity. My wife goes directly to the pool for her underwater Pilates class, followed by gasping for breath and CPR.

I put on my “Ask me about my Grandchildren” T-shirt, my mid-calf shorts, my socks and sandals, and go to the clubhouse lobby for a nice nap.Before you know it, it’s time for lunch. We’re usually back home by 2 PM to get ready for dinner. People start lining up for the early bird at about 3 PM, but we get there by 3:45 because we are late eaters.

The dinners are very popular because of the large portions they serve. You can take home enough food for the next day’s lunch and dinner, including extra bread, crackers, Sweet’N Low packets and mints.

At 5:30 we’re home, ready to watch the 6:00 news. By 6:30, we’re fast asleep. Then, we get up and make five or six trips to the bathroom during the night, and it’s time to get up and start a new day all over again.Doctor-related activities will eat up most of your retirement time.

I enjoy reading old magazines in sub-zero temperatures in the waiting room, so I don’t mind. Calling for test results also helps the days fly by. It takes at least half an hour just getting through the doctor’s phone menu. Then, there is the hold time until you are connected to the right party. Sometimes they forget you are holding, and the whole office goes to lunch.

Many of the receptionists are quite rude. They keep you standing at that dopey little closed glass window, totally ignoring you. After a half-hour I ignore the “Do not tap on the window” sign, and tap on the window. This always drives them nuts.If you do, they put down their Egg McMuffin or their copy of the Enquirer and fling open the window, ready for a fight. I lie, explaining I tapped on the window accidentally because I have Parkinson’s.

They claim they are required to keep the window closed because of the privacy law, but I don’t believe it. Are they afraid if I were to overhear that Sol Lipshitz has hemorrhoids I would blackmail him or sell the information to a foreign government? In Florida, everyone has hemorrhoids!

Should one find they still have time on their hands, volunteering provides a rewarding opportunity to help the less fortunate. Florida has the largest concentration of seniors under five feet and they need our help. I myself am a volunteer for “The Vertically Challenged Over 80.”Food shopping is a problem for short seniors, or “bottom feeders,” as we call them, because they can’t reach the items on the upper shelves.

There are many foods they have never tasted. Whenever I see one of them struggling to reach a jar of gefilte fish, I rush over to lend a hand. After shopping, most seniors can’t remember where they parked their cars. They wander the parking lot for hours looking for their car while their food defrosts.Lastly, it’s important to choose a development with an impressive name. Italian names are very popular in Florida.

They convey … world traveler, uppity sophistication, and wealth. Where would you rather live … Murray’s Condos or the Lakes of Venice? There is no difference. They are both owned by Murray, who happens to be a cheap bastard! The Italian names appeal to those name-dropping, phony snowbirds who are out to impress their friends up north.

I once heard someone say, “We spend our summers in the Catskills, but we winter at Villa Borghese in Delray Beach.”I have been to Villa Borghese. There are 1200 Jews and two Italians!

I hope this material has been of some help to you future retirees. If I can be of any further assistance, please look me up when you’re in Florida. I live in The Leaning Condos of Pisa in Boynton Beach.

Wikipedia ……Jerry Della Femina (born 1936) is an American advertising executive and restaurateur. Starting from a poor Italian background in Brooklyn, he eventually became chairman of Della Femina Travisano & Partners, an agency which he founded with Ron Travisano in the 1960s. Over the next two decades they grew the company into a major advertising house that was billing $250 million per year and had 300 employees and offices in both New York and Los Angeles.

Della Femina is known for his larger-than-life personality and colorful language, and was referred to as a “‘Madman’ of Madison Avenue”. In 1970, he wrote a book about the advertising industry, humorously titled, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War. The book became a best-seller, described by The Guardian as “one of the defining books about advertising”, and eventually inspired the television series Mad Men. Jerry is married to TV personality Judy Licht.

Financial Whiz Todd Gerber Responds to Jerry Della Femina’s Anti Obama NY Post Story


Jerry Della Femina

DigiDame first to challenge Jerry Della Femina PR Spin

Click here for the original blog post on Della Femina’s claims.

Remarks From Todd Gerber

“You make a good point about the high overhead probably being the reason for the sale, Lois. I can’t figure out why someone in Mr. Della Femina’s position would feel forced to sell because of the higher taxes in 2013, which would amount to an additional 8.8% (5% higher capital gain +3.8% surtax on income over $250,000 for the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare) had he sold in 2013 vs 2012.

“Assuming a $20 million gain on the property held for decades, that would amount to $1.76 million in savings by selling in 2012. With a Manhattan townhouse and Palm Beach properties, plus the value of the Hamptons house, it’s reasonable to assume Mr. Della Femina’s has net worth in excess of $50 million. With that amount of net worth, I can’t understand why a 3.5% reduction in net worth due to the tax implications would make someone feel like they absolutely had to sell NOW. If that was the case, it sounds like borderline irrational behavior to me. Your assumptions about wanting to reduce overhead sound more plausible.

“And, of course, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has its own axe to grind trying to make it look like Obama forced Mr. Della Femina’s hand. The Post article implies a 40% rise in taxes in the same sentence it mentions a 5% rise in taxes,and the reality of an 8.8% rise in taxes in the case of Mr. Della Femina. That represents just 1 pretty decent year in overall investment return. Spin, spin, spin.”

Jerry Della Femina’s Fiscal Cliff PR Spin

Jerry Della Femina

Jerry Della Femina

I almost fell off my chair at breakfast this morning when I read a story The New York Post published about Jerry Della Femina, one of the most creative guys in the advertising business, being forced to sell his $25 million house in East Hampton because of President Obama’s fiscal policies. Della Femina blamed Obama for his financial woes. He was quoted as saying “I want the proceeds of this sale to go to my kids and my grandkids. I don’t want my money going to Obama, and that’s what’s going to happen in the New Year. That’s why I sold right now, that’s why I wanted to get this done.”

Sold for $25 million

Sold for $25 million

The Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper explained, “A fall off the fiscal cliff could trigger a 40 percent rise in taxes on short-term investments and a 5 percent spike in taxes on long-term capital gains.” The legendary ad man was the genius behind Meow Mix and Absolut Vodka campaigns. The 8,500 square-foot house sold for $25 million even though those in the know claim it was on the block for years for $40 million.

I met Jerry 25 years ago when he and I worked for BellSouth as independent agencies. He had the advertising portion and I had the PR. We were working on the precursor for Blackberry. Jerry and I introduced the first wireless email device into the world. The unit was the size of a brick and everyone at the time said no one wanted wireless email. He worked very hard to prove everyone wrong. We didn’t know the answers ourselves but we had a great client, Janet Boudris, who could clearly see the future.

Because of that working relationship, I was in Jerry’s company a lot. There wasn’t a minute that he wasn’t absolutely sensational. Clever as clever could be. Eliot and I went to his East Hampton home a few times so we know the house he is talking about. Honestly, the New York Post is calling the house a mansion or estate, but from my recollection it was a nice, sizeable home. The location was outstanding. I have been to many homes on the ocean but Jerry’s house was in an exceptional spot. It was situated on a cliff with a full view of the ocean from every window in the house and certainly every spot around his pool.

Jerry’s comment about being forced to sell the house because of the fiscal cliff is totally unfair. Jerry is probably selling the house because as we all get older, we don’t want to carry the overhead we did in the heyday of our careers. How do I know this? Because it is happening to me and many people I know, who lived a fast lane life with fast lane expenses. Jerry owns a fabulous NYC townhouse plus several homes in Palm Beach. He probably looked at the monthly money coming in and what was going out. As we get older something has to give. East Hampton was the most sensible to go.

To blame Obama is absolutely ridiculous, but that is Jerry’s spin. I just couldn’t sit back and read that BS in the Post. Blame old age. We still may be relevant and creative but we may not be able to generate money like we did in our 40s and 50s, certainly not in the advertising and PR business. The new kid on the block is raking in the dough.