Sailing Through Life and Navigating to Success.
A native of the seaport city of Valparaiso, Chile, Jose Antonio Garnham graduated from high school and left home to attend the Universidad de Chile in Santiago to “change the world.”
There he earned this first post-secondary credential, a Bachelor of Political Science and Public Administration majoring in Government Financial Management.
Armed with a solid education and a strong religious upbringing with high ideals, he joined the emerging Christian Democrats, a party of idealistic intellectuals.
“We aimed to change the world and transform Chile to a developed country, but unexpected things sometime happen along the way that you cannot control,” he said.
As Chile’s Principal Budget Analyst and Director of Investment Programming, it seemed Jose was setting sail to accomplish his mission. But, in 1973, there was an historic military coup that that created an upheaval that wasn’t on his navigation chart. So, with a newly-earned United Nations Certificate in Graduate Studies in Economic Development & Planning, he set sail to a safe harbor.
Landing in Costa Rica with his wife and son, he worked on budgetary reform. Jose began what would be a 23-year career with the Organization of American States in a more hospitable environment.
On Jose’s next stop he landed – with many of his colleagues from Chile now in strategic positions — in Washington, D.C. where he would become, progressively, Senior Budget Analyst, a Director of Department and Executive Secretary of the Inter American Conference of Ministries of Labor at the OAS. A true intellectual, he continued his studies. In 1981, he earned a certificate from Harvard University’s Public Service Delivery Organization and, in 1982, a Master in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
When his son became 21, Jose steered himself back to life as a single person. Shortly thereafter he remarried, continued his work in D.C. and, several years later, retired in 1996 at age 56. Comfortable with a home and yacht on Chesapeake Bay, he had begun sailing into Sarasota, Florida to explore in 1991. After retiring from the OAS, he bought a home on Lido Beach and began wintering in this tropical paradise.
Not one to put down anchor and check out on retirement, Jose earned an Executive Certificate in Financial Planning at George Washington University in 2005. This would position him for his encore career a decade later as a writer, author and community leader.
Today, at 74, with sailing and maritime history as his hobbies, he is busy writing, publishing and serving as treasurer of the Sarasota Power and Sail Squadron Foundation. Lanchas Chilotas, his first book, chronicles a story about boat building and the heritage, history and culture of Chile. Next up, is a book on financial planning written expressly for young, aspiring Hispanics.
“The message here is that you have to create value and produce income beyond your paycheck. To do that, you have to work hard, plan, study, earn a degree…and keep learning for the rest of your life,” he said.
Jose knows this formula works. It is his life-long expertise that has paid dividends for him, personally, and for those with whom he has worked.
So what is his definition of navigating to success? Is it the same today as when he was a young man in Chile?
“Absolutely not! When you’re young, success means taking care of yourself and your family. When you retire, it’s about health and wealth. Health is being in control of your wellbeing. Wealth is rewarding yourself and others by giving your time and self to your community,” he said.
“That’s satisfaction in life.”
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