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

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Stephanie Stuckey Interview: Rebuilding Stuckey's a part of Americana

Diana Landau | June 11, 2024

Stephanie Stuckey InterviewCarl interviews the unstoppable Stephanie Stuckey, the CEO of Stuckey's. The brand is known by generations as a highway oasis serving up pecan log rolls and kitschy souvenirs. Many Boomers fondly remember family road trips throughout the U.S. when stopping at Stuckey's was a tradition. Reviving her family's company is just the latest in a long list of Stephanie's accomplishments. She's been a Public Defender, a Georgia State Representative, a Director of Sustainability and Resilience for the City of Atlanta and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Stephanie's story has recently been featured in The New York Times, the TODAY Show and the Washington Post.
Stephanie was born in Easton, Georgia and was surrounded by family. "It was a fun childhood!" Her father was a U.S. Congressman, so the family split their time each year between Washington D.C. and Easton. Going back and forth between two very different homes, Stephanie says, "You grow up very resilient and you have to learn those social skills to survive."
After college and law school, Stephanie spent over 14 years as a Public Defender. She then served for 7 years as an elected Representative for the Georgia State Legislature. in 2012 she left politics and became the Executive Director of GreenLaw, an environmentally focused law resource center in Atlanta. (Another one of her passions.)
Stephanie's grandfather sold Stuckey's way back in 1964 for $16 million (the equivalent price in today's value would be $158 million). She purchased back her family's company in 2019 with no prior entrepreneurial experience. "I didn't even know how to read a balance sheet!" she tells us. Stephanie learned what she had to do--and that didn't include upgrading the actual physical stores, which were on the decline. Only a dozen out of 300+ stores were left. Instead, she realized people still wanted to be able to buy their pecan snacks and candies. Undaunted, she found two partners, (one a pecan farmer and one a marketing exec) and the brand now has an online store, a distribution center and just two years later, the company's sales have gone from $2 million to $14 million.
In addition to running the company and raising a family, Stephanie just wrote her memoir, UnStuck: Rebirth of an American Icon this year. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys traveling by car to explore the backroads of America and pulling over at every boiled peanut stand. She says she follows her grandfather's and father's advice: Work hard, be fair and have fun!"
Stephanie's advice on starting a second (or third) act:
  • "You are not alone! I think a lot of times it's very lonely, I know it is, it can be isolating when you're trying to put something out there."
  • "Go out there and find your community so you can support each other. Just reach out!"
  • "Embrace your weaknesses as opportunities to learn and celebrate your strengths!"
• More about Stephanie Stuckey
• More about Stuckey's
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Note Die
• (Un)Retirement Travel with the Pro Allan Wright, Zephyr Adventures
• I Used to be Somebody World Tours -- Tuscany, Portugal, Pickleball Adventure


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   Interview   Stephanie Stuckey   Unretirement   Carl Landau   I Used To Be Somebody   Podcast   Americana  

Martinus Evans Interview: Founder of Slow AF Run Club

Diana Landau | May 13, 2024

Martinus Evans Interview Episode 81Carl interviews the remarkable Martinus Evans this week. Martinus is an 8-time marathon runner, author and award-winning speaker who has empowered thousands of people to embrace the body they have right now, lace up their shoes and MOVE. His passion and his own personal journey inspired him to become the founder of the Slow AF Run Club, a global community who is challenging the preconceived notions of what a runner should look like. His mission is to inspire one million people of all backgrounds, shapes, sizes, colors and creeds to start running. Martinus and his powerful story have been featured in the New York Times, LADBible, The New York Post, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and more.
Martinus learned how to face and overcome challenges in his youth. He grew up in a blue-collar family on the Eastside of Detroit, He witnessed shootouts and drug deals from his bedroom window. Carl asks him what he was like as a kid. "I was short, fat and somewhat active. In dealing with certain situations, I was also a chameleon!" As an adult he worked as a suit salesman, working 10 hours days and his hip began to hurt. His doctor said, "Your hip hurts because you're too fat. You should walk to lose weight." Martinus was shocked by his doctor's words but turned that into a goal to someday run a marathon.
With sheer determination, courage and a trip to a running shoe store on the way home from the appointment, Martinus embarked on a journey to become a runner. Eighteen months later, he ran his first marathon. Once while running on a bridge during a race, a man taunted him for running as "slow as f%*k." He decided then and there to inspire others to keep going no matter what and decided to wear "Slow AF" proudly when he ran.
Martinus has served as a global ambassador for Adidas and partnered with many brands and has earned a BS in Exercise Science from Central Michigan University, an MS in Health Promotion Sciences and an MA in Digital Media and Design from the University of Connecticut.
Now Martinus has 30+ thousand members to his Slow AF club, an app, a new book. The Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run and just finished a 41-stop book tour. He just launched a non-profit, and he's looking forward to building that up. When not running races, Martinus lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Char, and enjoys playing fetch with his dog Mabel.
Martinus Evan's life advice:Martinus Evans Interview
  • Stick with it. "It's been ten years and I still want to quit! You have to outlast the newness of doing something to keep going."
  • Having a routine: "Having a routine goes hand-in-hand with 'keep moving'. You need a routine so you CAN keep moving."
  • Try new things. "Try new things you didn't think you could ever do in your younger years."
  •  Have a delusional belief in yourself. "You have to believe in yourself when no one else will."
• More about Martinus Evans
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• (Un)Retirement Travel with the Pro Allan Wright, Zephyr Adventures
• I Used to be Somebody World Tours Tuscany, Portugal, Pickleball Adventure
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   Martinus Evans   Slow AF Run Club   Move   Run   Empower   Martinus Evans Interview   Run Club  

Jeannine Barr Interview: Here comes the Judge — Now Singer / Songwriter!

Diana Landau | April 05, 2024

Jeannine Barr InterviewA criminal district court judge takes up the guitar and never looks back. Carl interviews Jeannine Barr, who says a dream one night "really spoke to her" and she knew she wanted to become a musician. And unlike most people, she left her big career to follow her big dreams and actually took the leap.
Jeannine was born in Baton Rouge, LA as the youngest of three girls. Her father was an electrician and her mother was a nurse. "There were lots of rules in our house," she tells us.
As a student she was very competitive in academics, sports, cheerleading and more.
After college and teaching high school English briefly, she went to LSU law school and eventually became an assistant district attorney for nine years.
Unafraid to take chances, (as you will learn in this episode), Jeannine threw her hat in the political ring in 1994 and was elected as a judge. She moved up to overseeing felony and death penalty cases. She went on to be re-elected five more times, serving 24 years on the bench and retired in 2018.
In 2015, Jeannine said having to run for re-election every four years, plus the uncertainty of it was frustrating. One night she had a vivid dream that she had died creatively and that she was supposed to play the guitar. She announced to her husband the next day that she made a decision to learn to play the guitar at age 54 and he said, "Don't buy anything too expensive!"
After connecting with an encouraging teacher, Jeannine kept learning and challenging herself. She initially thought she'd learn some Christmas songs to play for family. Her teacher suggested she try to write songs and keep on doing it. "Suddenly I was a student and a virtual nobody in the music scene," she adds. She kept playing and writing. In 2018 her teacher introduced to Grammy-winning producer Billy Dorsey. That led to her first recorded song, "The Color Red," and eventually she released a 7-song EP titled, "Late to the Party."
Today Jeannine continues to record new songs and has been featured on the "Women of Substance" podcast. She loves to bowl with a league every week and lives with her husband, cats, (and guitars) in Houston, TX. She says, "At the end of the day, we're going to regret what we didn't try."


Jeannine Barr's (un)retirement tips:
  • "Going to my first guitar lesson was incredibly humbling. I found it very difficult. The beauty of it was that I was vulnerable and it would be ok."
  • "I went from directing bailiffs to having zero idea of what to do. It was a total role-reversal for me. Yet also---- a whole new gig!"
  • "Just try it. Follow the dream. Try not to be too impatient with yourself."
Jeannine was so inspired by being interviewed that she wrote Carl a song "I Used to be Somebody". Listen here!  


• More about Jeannine Barr 
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not 
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• (Un)Retirement Travel with the Pro Allan Wright Zephyr Adventures
• I Used to be Somebody World Tours Tuscany, Portugal, Pickleball Adventure


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:    I Used To Be Someboday   (Un)Retirement   Jeannine Barr Interview   Judge   Singer/Songerwriter  

Sky Bergman Interview: Professor Turns Filmmaker

Diana Landau | February 29, 2024

Sky Bergamn InterviewCarl interviews filmmaker Sky Bergman. Sky's directorial debut, "Lives Well Lived" is currently airing on PBS, Amazon, iTunes and Kanopy. The documentary is a collection of fascinating interviews with about a dozen older adults sharing historical perspectives, their advice for future generations ad reflections on living a life well lived. Making documentaries is her second act as she is also an accomplished, award-winning photographer and still teaches photography at Cal Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Sky's parents were divorced so she grew up in Philadelphia, Florida and spent summers in upstate New York. She says she had the good fortune of living in a four-generational household. Her father was a geriatric physician. "He would come home and tell me these amazing stories about his patients. I know that colored my consciousness to want to be part of older people's lives and tell their stories."
In school, she was a bit of an introvert and a band geek. She found her passion for photography at an early age. "I fell in love with the dark room!" she says. After college she traveled the world as a professional photographer. Her artwork is included in permanent collections at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Seattle Art Museum, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, among others. Her commercial work has appeared on book covers for Random House and Farrar. She says a highlight of her photography career has been the cover of the Smithsonian Magazine in 2001. "I loved traveling and photography so I could follow both passions at the same time."
After teaching for many years, Sky (un)retired at age 56. "I wanted to make a movie about older generations and share their stories with the world." She put together a list of interesting people and a list of 20 questions for them. Carl asks her how she was able to fund the movie. "I have never let money stand in the way of what I want to do," she tells us. Sky decided the grant submission process was too lengthy for her, so she came up with a revenue-generating plan by renting out rooms in her home. She tells her visitors they are helping to fund her movie and they end up excited supporters as well. "A crazy, wonderful way to fund a film!" she acknowledges.
"Lives Well Lived" debuted to a sold-out audience of 850 with her grandmother and many of the film's subjects in attendance. It was a true highlight for Sky. She is now working on two new projects, "What is Mochitsuki?" a film celebrating family, tradition and mochi, and a documentary about the "Prime Time Band", a band of musicians aged 40 to 90 who are reigniting old passions. Sky says, "The only way to combat ageism is to make generational connections!"
Sky Bergman's (un)retirement advice:
  • "Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone makes for a more interesting life."
  • "Develop a new sense of purpose after you retire. Who are you now and what do you still want to do? Whatever it is, you have to plan and think about your future. Remember, finding your sense of purpose is life-long, and can change over time."
  • "Have a good support system--not just family but also friends."
  • "Attitude and resilience go hand-in-hand. There are so many times in our lives when we cannot control what's happening around us. But we can control our attitude about it."
• More about Sky Bergman
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not 
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• (Un)Retirement Travel with the Pro Allan Wright, Zephyr Adventures
• I Used to be Somebody World Tours TuscanyPortugal, Pickleball Adventure


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   Sky Bergman   Filmmaker   Professor   Interview   World Tour   Pickleball Tour   (Un)Retirement   Carl Landau  

Adam Bryant Interview: NYT "Corner Office" Columnist moves to his own C-Suite

Diana Landau | February 13, 2024

Adam Bryant InterviewCarl interviews Adam Bryant this week. Adam is an award-winning (Including editing a Pulitzer story) journalist and had a weekly feature in the New York Times called Corner Office, where he interviewed business leaders across the globe. He was also Director of NYT Live, a global conference enterprise. He's had many different roles at the Times, including deputy editor in the Science department, deputy national editor and business editor at Newsweek Magazine. Adam says his 55th birthday gave him pause. "I thought if I wanted to do something else, I better get going." So he turned his side job into a new day job, writing books and coaching C-level execs.
Adam grew up in Montreal and Westchester, NY. He had a middle-class suburban childhood and his father was a journalist. (So of course, at first, Adam didn't want to pursue that course.) Adam was busy as a teen playing lots of sports and always having a part-time jobs. In college he worked as a reporter for small newspapers. He started working for the New York Times and his career took off in the 1990's. He had the Corner Office column for years and never missed a week.
After 30 years as a journalist, he realized he was going to leave the NYT at some point and there would be an "emotional blast zone" (as he calls it) of adjustment and the question was when. "I had to do some internal work to figure out what I wanted to do next." He recommends everyone who is contemplating making a leap to do just that. "Once you get out of the job/industry you're in, widen your lens. There's a big wide world out there. Time to experiment."
Over the course of 500+ interviews, Adam saw patterns and themes emerge in the business world and he started writing books about it. When he and his wife moved to New Orleans to be closer to their grown daughters and families, he says his wife gave him the third floor as his "office." You'll have to listen in to hear about the coolest office ever, which includes table tennis, foosball, and more.
Adam is now the Senior Managing Director at the ExCo Group, a company that mentors senior leaders to accelerate business impact. He is the author of four books, including his most recent ones, "The Leap to Leader" and "The CEO Test."
Adam's tips on making the leap to something new:
  • OBOB: Optimal Band of Busyness
People should be aware of their optimal OBOB. How busy were you then and what level do you want now? For example, you can't assume if you're a CEO that all of a sudden you're going to be content playing golf twice a week.
  • Common Pattern -- Want, Should, Need
We spend a great deal of our lives focusing on "should" and "need." At this stage of life, pause before you do something you "should." Stare down that difficult question of "What do I really want to do?" Give yourself some time.Newsletter!


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   Unretirement   Pickleball   Interview   Adam Bryant   NYT Columnist   C-Suite  


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