I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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Bob Wolfe Interview: The Pinot Guy now Pickleball Guy

Diana Landau | November 02, 2023

Bob WolfeCarl interviews Bob Wolfe this month, just as Bob "The Pinot Guy" embarks on a new career in his 60's. Timing, hard work, patience and the willingness to deep dive are the hallmarks of having a successful second (or third) career and Bob has been doing just that for decades. A wine expert who owns his own wine business, he has written over a thousand articles for magazines like The Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, The Northwest Palate and more. He has also been a long-time judge for wine competitions all over the world. Most people know Carl loves Pinot Noir, but Bob's second act as a pickleball instructor has Carl super-psyched!

Bob grew up in a very small rural town in Monroe, Oregon, (pop. 450.) His family lived on 22 acres with cows, chickens and lots of wood for Bob to chop into firewood. Eager to get out into the world after high school, Bob was intrigued by nuclear submarines and international travel and he joined the U.S. Navy.

In the 1980's, Bob started work on two of his interests at the time, natural pesticides and beer, (but not together.) You'll have to tune in to the episode to hear Bob's story about a 4:30am business phone call with Donald Trump way back then. (Some things don't change.) Bob's passions eventually led him to wine and he was one of the first in the U.S. to publish an e-newsletter devoted to wine. He enjoyed the perks of being a wine reviewer. "Wine writing is a wonderful gig!" he tells us.

He took some of the money from his other ventures and in 1991 he started The Oregon Pinot Noir Wine Club out of his garage. That very first day he had orders. In just a couple of years, he grew the club to a $2 million business. He started judging internationally and his wine biz career as a retailer and expert grew steadily.

Fast forward a couple of decades, Bob says he turned 60 and started thinking about what he wanted to do next. " I knew I wanted to wind down my time in the wine biz. I looked for something to belong to, something more social." Bob joined a pickleball club, took some lessons and loved it. "'I'm meeting new people and having fun. I find it satisfying on so many levels."

Now Bob has found someone to run his wine biz and is planning trips to Mazatlan, Mexico and Da Nang, Vietnam where you guessed it...he's planning to play and teach pickleball. He's even training to be a competition judge. Bob says, "I always ask myself, What's driving me and my passion now? I'm jumping in!"
Bob Wolfe's (un)retirement tips:
  • "No sitting on the sidelines, just thinking about what you want to do. Do it."
  • "Get enough friends to do things with--I'm determined to escape the dreaded senior lonely years."
  • "Give up on owning a lot of stuff. You just don't need it. Unburden yourself from taking care of things you don't use. It will free your mind too."Unretirement
• More about Bob Wolfe
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• I Used to be Somebody World Tour
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the "I Used to be Somebody" blog.
Tags:    Blog   Pickleball   Unretirement   Bob Wolfe   Pinot   Wine   Interview   I Used To be Somebody     

Travel Like a Rock Star

Carl Landau | October 20, 2023
My wife Diana and I just came back from a 16-day trip to Portugal. We planned it ourselves and had an amazing time! Before we left, my wife scoured online for every blog and magazine article, looking specifically for travel tips for Portugal.


But I just wanted to share with you some travel tips for international trips that we learned on our own, just by doing it.


• Get Global Entry: It takes some paperwork and a few months or so to get approval, but for $100 you get 5 years of TSA pre-check status for ALL flights domestic and international. On our arrival back to San Francisco, going through Customs was a breeze! While the regular line was very long and slow, we just walked up to a kiosk for Global Entry that simply took a photo of our face. And in 2 minutes the Customs officer waved us on and we were out.


• Use whatsapp: If you need to communicate with someone internationally, whatsapp is widely used. WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption makes it more secure than texting and other messaging apps. It's a free way to send messages to people all over the world and we used the app to communicate with hosts at the various places we stayed before our arrival---like, "Where the heck do we park?"


• Yelp no help: Yelp reviews are not a big deal outside the US. We found very few reviews and many were from 4 years ago. Other countries use apps like TheFork from Apple and others.


It's OK to hang: I'm not a fan of too many one-night stays when traveling to a new country. In the bigger cities, I'd rather stay 3 or 4 nights to get a better sense of the city. I'll take quality vs. quantity when it comes to sightseeing. And build in some down time. Yes, it can be a relaxing vacation too.

• Try booking.com: This was another app we used quite a bit. We didn't have every single night planned out and this app was easy to use and helped us find good deals quickly for places to stay.


• Lighten up: We traveled for 16 days and just used carry-on suitcases (international carry-on can be even smaller). Go with ALL wrinkle free, light clothes that can be easily layered. Oh, and washing clothes in the sink and hanging them on your balcony or patio works just fine.


NO on Google Maps: Google Maps suck. For car travel, Waze is waaayyy better and more accurate! You can also Use the Apple Maps app on your phone for everything else, including finding public transportation.


• Check out Airbnb experiences: Airbnb is a great app to find all sorts of tours (boat ride/wine-tasting/walking, etc.) of any kind. You can pick the group size and price range you desire. They even have private dinner parties at locals' homes if that piques your interest.
Pro tips from our audience:
Andy Robin, author of Tapas Life suggests going to the same place for a month at a time to really get into the local life.


Adriane Berg, Chief Cheerleader of The Ageless Traveler says to look for free stopovers from airlines like Air Maroc and Turkish Airlines. Stay a few days and get a bonus vacation within a vacation. Also ask for airline and hotel upgrades, get separate, unbundled cost quotes on organized tours, sightsee on your own on cruises vs pricey excursions.


There are plenty of travel resources available out there. But no matter how prepared you are for your trip, you will probably make a couple mistakes. It's all okay, traveling in a learning process! And if you do it right, you'll feel like a rock star!


Tags:    Blog   Travel   Europe   Travel Planning   Travel Tips   Pro Tips  

Jed Smith Interview: Creative Marketing Exec Thrives in Italy as Artist

Diana Landau | October 10, 2023

Jed SmithThis month Carl chats with Jed Smith, a former top marketing exec who worked with brands all over the country, including Athleta, where he was the Senior Creative Director, before making his next big move 10 years ago--to Italy. Jed has embraced (un)retirement as a very accomplished artist and photographer. He is also the author of the recently released book "Under the Oak with Agnes.
Jed spent his growing up years in Columbia, South Carolina. His father was a nuclear engineer and his mother was an artist and art teacher. "She really brought out my love of art and expression......I am so grateful for that."  As a teen in Clemson, Jed says he didn't feel confident then and wasn't sure about his place in the world. Everything came together for him in college when he entered University of Georgia's School of Graphic Design.
Jed studied art abroad during college in Cortona, Italy. "I wasn't prepared for how it blew me away!" Living in Italy ignited a hunger in him to one day live in a different country and culture. Through his career, Jed lived in 15 U.S. states. (He adds that his mother always said he was restless.)  Years ago, Jed was working on a photo shoot in Italy for Athleta and stayed longer for vacation. Soon he was touring properties with a real estate agent. He'd just sold his home in San Francisco and he decided to buy a home in Italy. 
Jed has embraced his (un)retirement life in Italy. In addition to becoming an author, Jed blogs regularly on his Italywise.com about making the transition to living in a new country and wants to help others with adapting to a new culture and language. He also recently launched a new standalone website, Jedsmithart.com for his incredible paintings and photography. "Wake up every day and remember that your ability to create is without limit," he says.
Now 67 and living on the Italian coast, Jed is on the move again--this time to Ragusa, Sicily. "With everything I've learned, it's important to surrender. Show up, do your best, tell the truth and then let go of the outcome!" 


Jed Smith's tips on making the leap to a new country and culture:
  • "Americans don't often understand the flipside of immigration. You can't just waltz into another country. Research and plan as you begin to navigate the process."
  • "Be careful how you balance the romantic side of your dream with the practical realities."
  • "Without a command of the language, your experience will be so limited."
  • "My pet peeve: Don't try to pack up your culture and move, only leaning into what's familiar."
  • "If you're not feeling a little nervous, you're not taking the committed leap! Demonstrate to the universe that you are serious about the step you're taking."
• More about Jed Smith
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by Mike Ownbey, COMPASS 
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• I Used to be Somebody World Tour: First Stop -- Tuscany
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the "I Used to be Somebody" blog.


Tags:    Blog   Carl Landau   Jed Smith   Artist   Unretirement   I Used To Be Somebody   Italy   Marketing   Executive   passion  

Dat Truong Interview: High Tech Exec to Best Pho and "Grandma's Secret"

Diana Landau | September 07, 2023

Dat Truong
This week Carl interviews Dat Truong, a former Silicon Valley Techie who left the big paychecks behind in search of something new, something fun, something more meaningful. Dat, who currently owns Lela's Bistro and Grandma's Secret in Portland, OR, started his career on Wall Street, working with the likes of Wall Street Systems, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and others. He then pivoted to Silicon Valley where he contributed to several software start-ups that were later acquired. Now at age 53, Dat says he's living life on his own terms and is loving his new endeavors as an entrepreneur and restaurateur.
When Dat was 5 years old, his family immigrated from Vietnam to New York, just days before the fall of Saigon in 1975. He says his father, who he aspires to be like, was the most selfless, hard-working person he has ever known, working as an engineer while Dat's mother managed the family. After college in New York, Dat lived in Manhattan and worked on Wall Street.
Dat felt like the black sheep in his family. He was always very social and outgoing, as opposed to his studious siblings. These qualities served him well in his high-tech career in management. "You have to learn to work with people; communicate tactfully, be a good listener and know your audience." In 1997, ready to escape the hectic lifestyle of NYC, a friend encouraged Dat to move cross-country to Silicon Valley to join an internet security start-up. 
After 20 years in Silicon Valley high tech, Dat moved to Portland to leave the hustle and bustle of the bay area, searching again for something new, something more meaningful, something that would fit with his healthy lifestyle. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. "It was a real struggle contemplating different directions I could take." In Portland, he found Lela's Bistro and loved their Grandma’s beef pho so much he ended up going there 4-5 times a week. "Their food is so clean, so deeply flavorful." 
After several weeks, Lela's owner asked Dat if he had a job, because he was there so much. After telling her he was contemplating a new career that aligns with his healthy lifestyle, she told him to buy Lela’s and they'd work for him! Never owning a restaurant before, Dat's "Aha" moment came when he decided to take his own advice and embrace his sense of curiosity, of which running a healthy restaurant was one of them. And the rest is history. "It was one of the best decisions of my life. We provide honest wholesome meals, made from scratch by Grandma Chef, to a lovely community.” 
Dat learned to hire genuine, kind -hearted people. "If you surround yourself with good people, a good team, good things will happen," he says. Grandma, (Co Ngan, who makes the amazing beef pho), told Dat she used to sneak out in her 20's to underground bars in Saigon to satisfy her curiosity and sense of adventure. Another "Aha" moment came for Dat. He wanted to celebrate Grandma’s younger years. He created this wonderful subterranean mid-century cocktail bar, reminiscent of a French Colonial bar in Saigon, with vintage glassware, black and white photos of a young Grandma, soft music and conviviality. At Grandma's Secret, a blue light shines when they're open but there's no sign, relying on bringing in patrons by word of mouth. It's no surprise that the bar has already been featured in Eater Portland.
Dat says two things have helped him in his new endeavors. "I've let go of my ego and I stopped caring how others judge me. Removing those two aspects of who I am has been liberating. I can just be myself!" We think that's great life advice too.
Dat Truong's (un)retirement advice:
  • Pursue your curiosity. What drives you inside? Stop saying "What if?" and try it!
  • Pursue aspects of your lifestyle that are important to you. I love healthy eating and meeting new people. Lela's and Grandma's Secret are part of that.
  • Surround yourself with good-hearted souls. This is important in work and in life.
  • Have genuine intentions. It's a reflection of you!
• More about Dat Truong
Lela's Bistro
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by Mike Ownbey, COMPASS
• I Used to be Somebody World Tour: First Stop -- Tuscany
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the "I Used to be Somebody" blog.


Tags:    Blog   Dat Truong   Interview   (Un)Retirement   I Used To Be Somebody   Pho   Business Owner   Bistro   Grandma's Secret   Carl Landau  

I Used to be Somebody World Tour: First Stop - Tuscany!

Carl Landau | August 17, 2023
We started the I Used to be Somebody podcast and newsletter about three years ago. Once we started building an audience for our listeners and readers, I couldn't help but think how we should have some sort of in-person event to connect all these creative people (YOU). For the most part, these are people 50+ who are thinking about (un)retirement or recently left their career to embark on what they want to do next. As we like to say on the show, something new, more fun and more meaningful.
I've been in the live event biz for 30+ years. So I know how to put together great conferences and tradeshows that really connect people and are FUN. For this event, at first I thought a retreat at a nice resort would be perfect.
But then I got to thinking about it more from my (un)retirement perspective. Did I really want to go back and do the same thing I did for decades? Do I want go back to negotiating with hotels over room rates and ridiculous catering fees? And let's not forget the made-up "resort fees" that are simply extra charges for no good reason. NO! (I still have nightmares about this.)
Instead, I calmed down, took a deep breath. I talked with my good friend, Brad Ring -- who I had sold my magazines Brew Your Own and Winemaker to over 20 years ago. For the past several years, Brad has been hosting these super fun events around the world for his magazine audience, where they travel to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Chile, etc. Next year he's going to South Africa and my wife Diana and I are going along too.
Brad said, "What people want now are EXPERIENCES!" I'm totally in agreement with that concept at this stage of my life. "Something new, more fun, and more meaningful" is still forefront in my mind. I was intrigued with the idea "So why don't we have our own trip for our I Used to be Somebody audience?"
Brad works with this great tour company run by Allan Wright of Taste Vacations. His company has been organizing travel vacations for 26 years. You can tour any one of twenty countries and his local tour guides do everything. They have relationships with all the best local hotels, restaurants and attractions. We just bring the people and they treat you like family. (Max per trip is 20 people.)
So Allan and I created a trip, (our first trip), for our subscribers! We're going to Tuscany! The tour is September 15 - 21, 2024. I've been to Tuscany just once and loved it. We start off in Florence and then go to the countryside, exploring the hillside towns and stunning walled cities.
We've also come up with an engaging I Used to be Somebody educational agenda that will be mixed in with all the fun in Tuscany we'll have. Join us! You'll make amazing connections and have the time of your life.
My wife Diana and I are so excited to meet you!
Here's the agenda, accommodations, details, and pricing! 


Tags:    Blog   I Used to Be Somebody   Event   Trip   Tuscany   Tasting Tour   September 2024  


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