Meet Your Neighbor: Mark Zarrilli

12420246453?profile=RESIZE_710xMark Zarrilli, a financial adviser and sales associate with Coldwell Banker Realty in Boca Raton, relaxes at his condo in Highland Beach with a copy of his book. Zarrilli serves on Highland Beach’s Financial Advisory Board. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Mark Zarrilli’s final commute from Manhattan to Weehawken, New Jersey, after he spent 33 years on Wall Street came not in a car, boat, train or even a plane.

It came instead on a stand-up paddleboard as Zarrilli spent an hour navigating choppy waters on his three-quarter-mile trip across the Hudson River.

“It was definitely a challenge,” said Zarrilli, 58, who took the unusual trip in 2019 and who now has a home in Highland Beach.

The crossing of the Hudson was perhaps a metaphor for Zarrilli’s lifestyle transformation, going from a situation steered by outside forces — which came as a result of a three-decade career selling fixed-income securities — to a jam-packed but less intense life with him at the helm.

“My life is fast on my terms,” Zarrilli said.

These days, it would not be surprising to find Zarrilli selling real estate in Florida, developing property in the Keys or managing a bar he owns along with his brothers in New Jersey.

In between, he has time to mentor young athletes on the power of investing and to serve on Highland Beach’s Financial Advisory Board.

He and his wife, Janice, make time to enjoy all that South Florida has to offer — from the sunny weather to all the activities on the water, including fishing and boating.

On top of that, he’s updating a book he wrote, Brick & Mortar, which he describes as “part memoir, life advice, career advice, and the places you go, the people you meet along the way.”

“I’m not just sitting around talking about what I did for 33 years,” he said. “I’m planning on having fun for the next 33 years.”

The title of Zarrilli’s book has a double meaning going back to his days of growing up in Brick Township, New Jersey, and working with his father, who was a mason.

A boxer in the local Police Athletic League when he was teenager, Zarrilli met friends in the gym who helped him get started in the financial industry.

“In 1986, I was mixing cement by hand, doing block, brick and concrete work,” he recalled. “Within a year, I was working at a primary dealer, selling fixed-income securities to some of the biggest portfolios in the world.”

Working in the financial industry, he said, was incredibly pressured and fast-paced.

“It was like being on a treadmill every day,” he said.

A father of two adult daughters, Zarrilli still spends lots of time at the gym staying in shape. That also enables him to meet young athletes, whom he has mentored on investing wisely and given ideas on becoming well-paid professionals.

“I like going to the gym and talking to these guys and educating people,” he said. “We’re helping them find the right investment.”

Looking back, Zarrilli said his decision to leave Wall Street — and to do it on a paddleboard — came at the right time and the right way.

“I ended it the way I wanted to end it,” he said.

— Rich Pollack

Q. Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A. I was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and grew up in Brick Township, a blue-collar town along the Jersey shore.

Q. What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I worked as a bricklayer before going to Wall Street, where I worked as a fixed-income bond salesman. 
I am most proud of being gainfully employed for 33 years and of choosing how I would end my Wall Street career.

Q. What advice do you have for a young person selecting a career today? 
A. Be tenacious and have no sharp elbows — be nice. Do anything like you do everything.

Q. How did you choose to make your home in Highland Beach?
A. I was introduced to South Florida in the late 1980s during several visits for bond conferences.

Q. What is your favorite part about living in Highland Beach? 
A. The eternal summers and the slow pace of living. I enjoy the beach, boating, fishing, recreation and exploring local areas.

Q. What book are you reading now?
A. I read two books a month and just finished Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way. I started John Grisham’s The Exchange: After The Firm.

Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax? 
A. I like all genres of music. I am a lifelong Springsteen fan and I like old and new country and 1980s classics. I consider relaxing time while at the gym or beach reading.

Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions? 
A. I have two: “You’re not here for a long time, so have a good time,” and “Fear minus death equals fun.”

Q. Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A. My mom, who is eternally optimistic and sees the bright side of everything, is a great mentor and so is my dad, who taught me to work hard and play hard. Both instilled family first.

Q. If your life story were made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
A. Someone between John Wayne and Jerry Lewis.

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