What the Heck is a Slow Down Party?

I went to a “Slow Down Party” recently. It was thrown by my friend Barry Watkins, a senior executive at Madison Square Garden who decided he’s going to step back a bit from the day-to-day of what he’s doing. Well-deserved after an incredible career. 

Barry Watkins

First, some history:

Barry started at MSG as an intern working for free for the New York Rangers. He was just doing anything for whoever at that time. It was a dream job for him. He loved hockey and he loved the Rangers. (His talent for playing hockey? Well, that’s another story…)

This was right around the time I was starting Steiner Sports in 1987. It wasn’t so easy back then to connect with players and book them for appearances, but I was able to work with Barry to get to a lot of Rangers players.

Anyway, back to the party:

So Barry invited over 300 people to his “Slow Down Party.” Since no one had any idea what it was about, we were all saying, “What the f*** is a Slow Down party?” Barry was right in the middle of some amazing things for over 30 years at MSG—meeting great people, raising a ton of money for Garden of Dreams, winning the Stanley Cup, just as a few examples because there was so many things he did—so what was he up to? Was he just trying to shake things up and spend more time with his family? Was it a retirement party?

Well, turns out it wasn’t exactly a retirement party, but it was a “re-fire” party. He was explaining to people what he was going to be doing moving forward—consulting, helping a bunch of different companies, raising more money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation and spending more time with his family.

This got me thinking—you get to your 50’s after you’ve been doing something for 20, 25 and then over 30+ years you wake one day and realize, ‘I still have 20-30 really good years left (god willing). Now what? What else? Not retire, but RE-FIRE!

A lot of people were not gung-ho about this idea and maybe they didn’t all agree with it. But, nobody asked me…I loved the idea! Except I wouldn’t having called is a “Slow Down Party.” I would have called it a “Speed Up Party!”

There’s no sense in slowing down; it’s all really a matter of refocusing and nailing a list of all the important things you want to do. Get going with the rest of your life while you still can now!

But, in order to do that, life really starts with gratefulness and appreciation about everything you have been able to experience. What can happen after 30 years in a long and successful career is that the more important things can get pushed to the side. Family…kids, your spouse, etc. Barry’s message, which can really be applied to anyone, not just someone towards the “back 9” on a long career, was that you shouldn’t get back-ordered on your “I love you’s” and your “thank you’s.” Let people know how much you care.

Barry threw a party for 300 people that he loves and he figured out to connect with all the people that are most important to him now in one night to say, “Thank you,” when for a lot of people, the time they reflect most positively on their experience with someone is at a funeral. 

If you threw a “Slow Down Party,” who would you invite? Who would you need to thank for their impact on your life? Who are the people that most inspired you and had an impact on you?

I guarantee you that’s not a short list of people. At what point do you stop to just say, “Thank you, I appreciate you, I see you?”

Ask yourself: did you follow your dreams? Who helped make those dreams come true? Did you make family your most important thing?

What would you say to your family, friends, co-workers and bosses? What would they say about you?

Throwing a party to share your appreciation and gratefulness for the people who are most important to you, who most inspired you and to acknowledge the gratitude and appreciation you have for what the world has given you was a great idea. Thank you, Barry. It’s a theme I hope will catch on.


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