As we get closer to retirement, we start to look at our 401(k)s, pensions (for those that still have them) and anticipated social security benefits. This is the time to start readjusting the portfolio and our lifestyle to sock away enough money to live on after we stop working. Mike Shaldjian is taking a path less traveled or more traveled, depending on the way you look at what he is doing.

For those in the public relations/media relations industry, especially in Arizona and Hollywood, his name and work are ubiquitous. He works for News Exposure, a news clipping, media tracking and media database service.

If you are a client of The Gotfried Group, he is the guy I go to when I get your story told in the local or national media, and need a copy of the clip.

I first met Mike in 2006, after moving to Arizona from Washington, D.C. When I opened The Gotfried Group a little more than a year ago, he was one of the first to offer congratulations and support. In fact, he knew of an organization that needed help telling their story and provided a referral, which turned into a client.

Like Mike, if you know of a business or organization that you would like help increasing awareness of their product or service, please have them contact me at Steven@GotfriedGroup.com or by phone at 602-568-5067.

Below is my interview with Mike about News Exposure and his upcoming adventure:

What is News Exposure?
News Exposure is a complete digital solution for public relations, marketing and corporate communications professionals offering everything from broadcast, print and online news tracking with analytics to a robust media contact database.

What do you do for News Exposure?
I work with prospective and existing clients to put together a suite of services to fit their needs. I also provide ongoing customer service and support, including helping them track media coverage to vetting reports on media coverage to securing copies of media clips. I also alert clients to news stories that may be of relevance to them/their industry.

I understand you are moving to the Philippines this fall. Are you going to still be working for News Exposure?
Yes. I will still be doing the same work I am doing now. In fact, unless I told you I was moving, you would have no idea I was not in the United States. Friends have joked saying, “That’s not how outsourcing works.”

How are you going to provide the same service when you are overseas?
I’ll be working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. because they are 15 hours ahead of us. I’ve never worked a “graveyard shift” in my life, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly.

It will be like you’re still in your current office.
Yes. I do everything by phone and email anyway. In fact, I will probably be able to provide even greater service because I will have less distractions.

Who uses your services and why?
Other than PR, marketing and corporate communications professionals, we also do a lot of work with the entertainment industry. I’ve worked with dozens of documentary filmmakers throughout the years in providing archival news clips for their projects. From Michael Moore to Spike Lee, we have assisted archival producers with research and clips in post-production. We also do a tremendous amount of work with all the late-night shows as well as the cable political and comedy programs.

How did you come up with the idea to move as a retirement strategy?
A year ago, I started to think about retirement. Staying here in the United States would require me to work at least to 70. I began to consider my options at that point. I was also looking for a simpler life. A slower, more relaxing lifestyle. I began looking into the world of Expats and could see myself living abroad. I was really drawn to the idea of living abroad.

Why now instead of when you retire?
My decision to move there now and continue to work for two or three more years rather than move when I retire is because I can bank a good portion of my salary during this time, making retiring early possible. I’m fortunate enough to a have a job that can be performed anywhere there is internet service.

Why the Philippines?
I looked at the possibility of moving to South America. That somehow just didn’t excite me much.  Then, I began looking at the Asian countries. I finally settled on the Philippines for a few reasons.  Of course, the cost of living is a fraction of what it is here. I could actually survive on my social security alone over there. The people are considered to be among the friendliest on earth and English is their second language, taught in all the schools from an early age.

How has the process gone to get the necessary visa etc?
It’s been a little tricky, but not terribly difficult. I had a couple of options to consider. I could apply for a retirement visa, but would have to deposit $10,0000 USD with the Philippines government. And then that money could only be touched when I leave or to purchase property. Foreigners can’t own land without having a Filipino on the title with at least 51 percent ownership. However, I can own a condo.

At this time, I am traveling under a tourist visa, and will follow the rules, which allow me to renew every 60 days for up to three years. The United States requires that I return for a 30-day stay at least once every seven years to continue receiving my social security benefits.  I’ll make my first trip back in 2021. I may end up applying for a permanent residence visa down the road, but the tourist visa option with the extensions seems to be the easiest route for now.

You work with a lot of PR, marketing and communication professionals. Do you have any words of wisdom about anything to this group?
Keep your monitoring service constantly informed of your projects. Copy us on your media advisories. Constantly update your keywords and let us know of your deadlines so we can better serve your needs. I always feel like more of a partner than a vendor with my clients, part of the team. The more information you can provide, the better the results we can produce for you.

What has you most worried about moving to the Philippines?
I’m most worried about finding a place to live close to a hospital. At my age, that’s something to seriously take into consideration in case of an emergency. The difference between a 10-minute commute and a 30-minute commute in a third world country can definitely be life or death. Something we take for granted here in the States, despite all the challenges with health care, is that medical assistance is usually only minutes away when you need them. Not so much where I’ll be living, so proximity to the hospital is definitely a priority. You know what they say: Location, location, location.

I am sure you will have some great stories to tell after you have been there a while. What about now? Do you have any unique or interesting stories in your 20-plus years in the industry?
I received a referral from a local Phoenix news station. The individual told me that years ago Sean McLaughlin did a segment about him and his 5-year-old son who was very ill and they didn’t know if he would live. The son was graduating from college in a few weeks and he wanted to be able to give him a copy of that news segment for his graduation. I was able to locate the segment in our archives, and we sent it to this man within 24 hours of his calling us. A month later, I received an email from the son. It was full of gratitude and emotion. I think of that email every now and then when I get down. It puts things back into perspective for me. I’ll never forget the words he ended with,

“You have no idea how much joy you’ve brought both me and my father. This was a day that shouldn’t have happened, and we are grateful to you for this reminder. Bless you.”

I have a few personal questions to help my readers get to know you a little better. What is your favorite movie?
I have many, but being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have to say “Casablanca” ranks in the top 3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it or how many tears I’ve shed during the final scene

What was the last book you read?
The Five People You Meet in Heaven

If you could break bread with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Charles Spencer Chaplin. He was a childhood idol and one of the greatest comedic actors of all time. I would love to have a meal and conversation with the Little Tramp.