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Live Long and Prosper! Longevity Tips from Billionaire T. Boone Pickens.

July 30, 2011, 12:00 AM

80 is the new 40: With life expectancy and the retirement age creeping inexorably upward, how are you planning to spend your eighth decade? Starting a new company? Writing your memoirs? Or sitting in a lawn chair, finally reading Proust's Remembrance of Things Past

T. Boone Pickens: More productive at 83 than most of us will ever be... 
83 year old T. Boone Pickens' c.v. reads like that of a small-to-medium-sized nation. He earned a fortune, lost it, then rebuilt it again around the age when most people retire. At the helm of Mesa Petroleum, he did battle with Big Oil, calling for massive, industry-wide restructuring. His Corporate Wellness program transformed Mesa into “the Most Physically Fit Company in America.” In 2008, he launched an $82 million advertising and lecture campaign in support of “the Pickens Plan,” an ambitious roadmap for American energy independence. And throughout his career, Pickens has given away almost $1 billion to support medical research, kids at risk, education, and athletics.

How does the Oracle of Energy sustain his own remarkable reserves of personal energy? Here are T. Boone’s personal secrets of longevity:

1. Find Your Motivation. “First, you’ve mentally got to want to do it. It’s never a temptation to me, for instance, to stay in bed. It’s never a temptation to stay home on a work day. I can’t wait to get to the office in the morning." 

"I get tired sometimes, but one one of the pluses I have is I really don’t know when I'm tired, and the way I find out is that I sleep for nine hours. If I go to sleep and sleep nine hours (and that is very seldom), only then do I know I was really tired."

2. Practice Moderation.  "I never smoked and I was a modest drinker. I don’t drink
hard liquor now. I drink wine, maybe a couple of glasses with dinner. More than that––never was of interest to me."

"My mother only took two bites of a dessert. I've never been able to master this, but I'm getting better at it . . . "

3. Stick to a Routine. "My first call to the office in the morning is 6:15. It’s 15 minutes before I start working out and I already have traders on the desk and I get what happened around the world at 6:15 in the morning . I have a trainer that comes in at 6:30 in the
morning. Somebody asked me one time 'Would you stay on that schedule if you didn’t have that trainer?' I don’t think I would. This trainer has been with me 17 years.

"The commodities market opens at 8:00, and equities open at 8:30 .  I'm in the office before 8 and I have called the first meeting for the opening of the equities at 8:30."

4. Watch Your Weight. "I'm very sensitive to weight. My mother, I can still remember when she was 40 years-old, she said: “I'll never weigh 120 pounds.” And she never did.  I weigh 175. The highest I've ever weighed in my life was 181, so weight is a big deal to me. I was 168 for over 20 years and so I'm only 6 pounds, 7 pounds above that weight.  I’d very much
like to get back to 168––and I'll make it back."

Stay as Strong as You Can for as Long as You Can. "I took  a physical last year and I sent it over to my doctor at Southwestern Medical and he called and he said, “I've got some good news and bad news for you.” And I said, “Good news first.” And he said, 'You’re going to live to be 114.' And I said, 'Bad news.' And he said, 'You won’t be able to hear or see.'

"I'm not going to make 114. I know that, but I hope to make it past my dad’s 90. Physically I'm in good shape, but I also know that you can see about how long you've got left, and there is a lot you have to accomplish before you get there. So you’ve got to stay in the best condition possible to be able to make it to that point. What I'm doing is working, so I just plan to repeat the same process and hang around for as long as I can."

WEIGH IN! Who's your Octogenarian Role Model? 

  • At 87, 39th US President Jimmy Carter continues to write books, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and travel the world engaging in conflict mediation. In a video interview with Big Think, he explains how he and his wife have stayed together for 64 years, and gives advice on how to sustain a healthy marriage.
  • At 82, former poet laureate Maya Angelou continues to publish her poetry, give frequent lectures, and host an XM radio show. 

. . . Who's your octogenarian role model, and why? 


Live Long and Prosper! Long...

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