I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned
The Carl Diary - I'm Not a Big Deal Anymore
Carl Landau | August 04, 2020
“How are you going to deal with not being a big deal anymore?”
It’s been about 8 months since my wife Diana asked me that question over a happy hour glass of wine. I had sold my company a few months before and was working a part-time one-year stint with the new company to show them the ropes.
"What do you mean?"
"Once you leave your job, the emails and phone calls stop coming and no one really cares about your opinion any more". And then she joked, (I think), "And I don't need you following me around the house, showing me the right way to make toast.”
It didn't take long for this information to worm its way into my brain. I knew she was right. This was the third company I’d started and sold. Way back "in the day" as they say (early 80's), I’d launched a computer magazine for software developers; the 1st magazine about Artificial Intelligence; plus a national conference and tradeshow. Then in the 1990s I started a craft beer / wine publication and event during that first wave of microbreweries.
After I sold those companies it all ended. Once you’re gone no one cares! Sure, you remain friends with a few of the people that you were close with but the company -- your “life’s work” -- moves on without you. It’s weird.
And now, after 20 years of being the Grand Poobah of my company Niche Media, creating hundreds of events for niche magazine publishers, it was all going to be ending—again.
So when you're an entrepreneur or corporate exec, a lot of your self worth is wound up in that job. I've always felt like I've been a pretty good dad, brother and husband. But, it's the work creation that I know I was good at. To me it came more naturally than the family stuff.
Within a few days I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to start a podcast for people like me. Like anyone my age (63) I want to spend more time with my family and go on really great vacations, (which of course is sort of a bad joke for everyone now, but they will be back!) But I still want to do work in new ways!
I really get a lot of energy from the work and creating. I just don't want the day-to-day grind. I want to have more fun and control the pace. So I've made a deal with myself; Try all sorts of new things. So I’m sort of the guinea pig for this Second Act journey into (un)retirement. Join me for the ride...
P.S. Why the Tiki diary? I have a fun Tiki bar instead of a garage —where I’ll be producing the podcast from! The "I Used to be Somebody" podcast debuts September 15th.
1. No one told me that in retirement, no one wants your expertise about that work you did for the last 20+ years. (Not even your spouse. Maybe your dog.)
2. No one told me that in retirement, taking a nap isn’t as fun as it used to be. You lay down for a moment (or three) to rest a little…and you’re afraid you might not get up again!
3. No one told me that my significant other is so busy. Here I thought they’d drop everything and focus on ME when I retired.
4. No one told me that in retirement that I’d get around to that consistent exercise routine and finally get in shape…but I’d have injuries! Pulled muscles! Playing through the aches! I can go on…
5. No one told me that I’d have to make new friends at my age. Not so easy! I think it’s harder for guys and more so if you had an all-consuming career.
6. No one told me that in retirement, the two most powerful words are YES and NO. Yes, I would like to go to dinner or see that new play! No, I do not want to join your committee with 30 weekly phone calls/emails and 5 meetings each month!
7. No one told me that in retirement, people would assume I do nothing all day. Not true! What’s different is now I control what I want to do and when I want to do it.
8. No one told me that in retirement, I would actually want to work, but just in a different way. (Less grind, more fun!) In fact, 3 in 5 retirees plan to launch a new line of work that differs from what they have done in the past.*
9. No one told me that in my Second Act, I would find my new work life so rewarding!
10. No one told me that in (un)retirement, there are so many people just like me—people who actually feel younger, not older! *