I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned
Carl Diary #2 - Bring on the Nostalgia
Carl Landau | August 11, 2020
Am I the only one feeling really nostalgic these days?
Since the beginning April I haven’t had a "real" job. First time in 32 years! So with some extra free time and the pandemic, I've been forced to slow down a bit and I can't help thinking back on my past. Have you felt the same way lately?
I just listened to a short Hidden Brain podcast episode called The Time Machine, all about the feeling of nostalgia. You'd think reflecting on your past would be depressing. It's not! Research shows that “nostalgia-thinking” actually makes people more optimistic about the future. It reaffirms our social connections and our place in the world. And by remembering important details about your past, you can then lay out a vision for the future.
So I've been connecting with a bunch of people from my past. It's been easy to find some folks, harder to find others, and fun all the way around. I've probably reached out to about 20 old friends and had some great conversations.
I grew up in Cleveland, OH in the east side suburb of Shaker Heights. My best friend from age 5 to 14 was Bobby Brown. (Bobby goes by Bob now.) He retired about 4 years ago from a very successful career in the mortgage finance industry. He insists he was one of the good guys in the business. (And I believe him.) He's got a really cool volunteer gig with the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame and still plays in a band.
After 30+ years, I also reconnected with Debby McColloch, (she goes by Deborah now) who lives in Philadelphia. She was a big time boss for the City's Office of Housing and pretty much a professional "do-gooder". Back in the day, we worked together as counselors at a local Shaker day camp -- the most fun job I've ever had in my life!. She was a few years older than me and taught me a little bit how the adult world operated. I was about 17 when we started working together. That was the last time I think in my life that I had absolutely no responsibilities!
Debby and I reminisced about watching the Indians and Yankees baseball game on our Nation's Bi-Centennial (Does anyone remember the annoying Bi-Centennial Minute messages?) and seeing an Elton John and Kiki Dee concert.
She also told me how huge and unexpected the adjustment to retirement was for her and how it felt to go from being the big boss to all of a sudden no one caring about your opinion any more. That discussion gave me a bunch of pointers on how to make this transition easier.
I really encourage everyone to reach out this week to someone who made a big impact on you in your younger life. It really is a great feeling and gives hope for the future!
“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! *