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

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Devon Zagory Interview: Food Safety Superhero

Diana Landau | February 23, 2021

 
 
Carl interviews Devon Zagory, a global expert in food safety. (Full disclosure: Carl and Devon are good friends!) Devon has decades of experience working on produce safety with agricultural producers, fresh-cut industries, and university researchers. He has worked internationally as a consultant in the fields of food microbiology and modified atmosphere packaging. 
 
Devon was also the founder of Davis Fresh Technologies, which had dozens of employees and five offices around the world. He sold that company in 2006 and became a multi-millionaire. He has written numerous scientific publications and given many presentations about produce microbial safety, packaging, quality and operations.
 
What does all Devon’s background actually mean? Is Devon Zagory a Superhero for food safety around the globe? YES.  And he still is at age 73, consulting when he wants for as much as he wants. Devon has travelled to over 70 countries around the world, with a mission and a continued passion: Working with poor farmers in rural countries to make their lives a bit better with technology.
 
Devon was a bookish kid with the typical childhood in the Bay Area of Northern California. His father was a family physician and his mother raised four kids. He went to UC Berkeley, where, as Devon says, “I had too much fun. Then I quit.” He decided to travel around the world for two years with a buddy and visited many rural farms. The experience made him realize what he wanted to do with life. He went back to school, earning a PHD in plant pathology, plus an agricultural degree. He founded his company and has worked with giants like Subway, Costco, Safeway, Raley’s and Outback restaurants in addition to farmers. 
 
About 5 years ago, Devon said he felt tired and cranky and made an announcement he was done with consulting and he definitely was not going to work anymore. What he didn’t know at the time was that he was sick. (No wonder he felt so tired all the time.) After the doctors found and treated a heart condition, Devon realized he still enjoyed his work and didn’t want to stop. He also participates in a weekly walking group and a Masters Swim program.
 
Insights on (un)retirement:
1. Push your comfort zone. Devon is an analytic scientist who now is exploring his creative side through becoming more social, playing music and writing a memoir.
2. Do what you love to do, feel moved to do. Volunteer, help out, give back, do what needs doing!
 
• To subscribe to the "I Used to be Somebody" newsletter, visit: https://pickleballmediahq.com
 
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” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    blog   interview   devon zagory   food   entreprener   unretirement   volunteer  

Val Haller Interview: Bringing Music to the People!

Diana Landau | February 16, 2021

 

This week's episode is an interview with Val Haller, Music Fan-Genius. After raising a family, Val launched her music business at age 50 in Chicago. Now 63, Val has authored a weekly music post for NYT called "Music Match" where she pairs classic artists with new artists. She is also a music festival producer (Winnetka Music Festival, year 4, 15,000 attendance), has her own podcast “Band in the Basement”, plus she’s created programs at Wrigley Field and the Botanical Gardens, and has been featured in Oprah magazine. 
 
If you are reading this, you must check out her site, Valslist.com. Val realized all the way back in 2003 when the music world began to go digital, that people of the Boomer generation were still focused on careers and raising their families and had little time to learn about the exploding music universe. Val recognized there was a need and capitalized on it. She wants to help older people to be exposed to and appreciate new music. 
 
On her website, you will find curated playlists that combine the groups we know and recognize from our generation, but paired with brand new bands, plus a little bio about them. I don’t know about you, but this blogger wanted to learn more about new music and did not know where to start. With Val’s playlists, you are way ahead of the game. You expand your music horizon, keep up with the times and (possibly) impress your kids with your incredibly cool playlists.
 
Val was entrepreneurial at a young age. Growing up, her family’s conversation around the dinner table was not typical. Her father was an entrepreneurial engineer so the questions were not, “How was your day?” but instead, “What would you invent? What would you change to make the world a better place?” 
 
In college, she started a side business offering hair cuts to students. It grew it into a successful little side business, earning thousands. Ironically, Val gave a bad haircut to one particular student—who is now her husband and business partner.
 
Now, running a successful business takes up most of her time. On becoming an entrepreneur and working with your spouse, she offers these tips:
 
1) Define which rooms of the house you can talk business in. 
2) Let each person be heard.
3) Stay in your own lane. It’s hard to do when you are both “Type A” people working hard together on something--but it works.
 
Bonus tip: Val goes full throttle in the high-energy music business, and is a fan of power napping. (This blogger is too.) Commit to 20-30 minutes each afternoon and you will feel refreshed and ready to keep going.
 
"I tell music agents, bands, producers that we're not your sexy audience, but we're your lucrative audience. We are important!" Val’s mission has been to make the world a better place, one creative playlist at a time. We think she’s killing it!
 
• For more information about Val Haller: https://www.valslist.com/
 
• To subscribe to the "I Used to be Somebody" newsletter: https://pickleballmediahq.com
 
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” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    blog   interview   val haller   music   entrepreneur   baby boomers   naps  

Andy Levine Interview: The Master Becomes the Student

Diana Landau | February 09, 2021
Carl interviewed Podcast Host and CEO Andy Levine this week. Andy hosts the popular “Second Act Stories”, a podcast that shares the stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding lives in a second act. He is also DCI’s Chairman, a highly specialized firm with expertise in economic development and tourism marketing. 
 
When Carl first started researching about developing his “I Used to Be Somebody” podcast, Andy was totally generous with advice and lessons learned. And now…..Andy is in the process of transitioning out of his career at DCI and into his own Second Act. (He's also run 14 marathons!)
 
Andy started with DCI in 1991, a firm founded by his father. Both of his parents worked there. His father approached him about working at DCI and told him he could change it any way he wanted. Andy seized the opportunity. Andy said, “Early on, you figure out a way to separate business and family.” His parents were open to change and Andy had an open canvas.
 
Now 30 years later, Andy is having fun producing his own inspirational, Public Radio-style podcast and thinking about his next steps. “I’ve always been fascinated by people who did something for 10, 15, 20, 30 years and then switched to something completely different.” 
 
When designing your own (un)retirement, Andy emphasized the importance of trial and error and giving yourself permission to be strategic for your own life. “Find out what feeds you. It’s less about making money and more about finding meaning. What do you find rewarding? You’re going to have to do some work to find out what that is.” He also pointed out that it’s rarely a straight line to your goals. You have to be flexible, make adjustments and it’s okay to pivot.
 
One of Andy’s favorite podcast guests has been an 81-year old man who had a career as an executive recruiter, with a dream of becoming a comedian. He told Andy the man now works frequently in stand-up and has been introduced to a whole new group of people, loving life.
 
Andy’s 3 Keys to (Un)retirement:
 
- Self-awareness: Recognize your accumulated knowledge and skill set, plus your strengths and weaknesses.
- Flexibility: You might have to change your approach to that dream or even change direction.
- Curiosity: Have a genuine interest in the world around you and in learning new things.
 
• For more information about Andy Levine: https://www.secondactstories.org/
 
• To subscribe to the "I Used to be Somebody" newsletter: https://pickleballmediahq.com

 

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” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    blog   andy levine   interview   unretirement   second act   marketing  

Bo Sacks Interview: A True Renaissance Man

Diana Landau | February 02, 2021
This week Carl interviews the multi-talented Bo Sacks. A veteran of the printing/publishing industry, Bo Sacks was always an innovator. He has been a Publisher, Editor, Writer, Director of Manufacturing, Senior Sales, COO, Pressman, Software Developer, Cameraman and more.
 
Even way back in the ‘70s, he followed a more creative path than usual. Bo founded his own weekly newspaper in the metro New York area with 50,000 subscribers. “None of us knew anything about it…we made up the rules as we went along. It was a great paper.”
 
Bo went on to become one of the founding fathers of High Times Magazine. He said the magazine was wildly successful, with 700,000 circulation—truly a high time. It was fun to meet Blondie, Mick Jagger, Hunter Thompson and Jamie Lee Curtis, among others.
 
Bo went on to work for the big mainstream media, like McCall’s, New York Times Magazine Group, Ziff Davis. Bo noted, “I didn't know I had a ‘career’ until my 30’s!” He had always been an entrepreneurial spirit, so at first the corporate world didn't get him. But he brought some new ideas in, saved them money and Bo thrived.
 
“Where’s it going to go, Bo?” Carl asked, in reference to the future of Media. “Print will never go away, not at least in our lifetimes,” Bo predicts. “Print is going to move from a commodity to a luxury. This is one of the mistakes the industry still hasn't fully grappled with yet.” He sees one issue of a magazine costing $15 in the future. His view on the integration of technology and media: “Once 5G comes in, it will be double-light speed in our ability to communicate and share.”
 
A life-long learner with an unquenchable curiosity, Bo hasn't taken the traditional path to (un)retirement. In addition to his long and varied career, he publishes an industry newsletter, travels the world as a lecturer (pre-COVID), serves as a fireman and City Councilman. “I live a tangential life,” he said, “I had a main path with all these side roads that eventually lead back.” 
 
Today his firm, Precision Media Group, does private consulting and publishes "Heard on the Web: Media Intelligence", a daily e-newsletter that delivers pertinent industry news to a diverse, worldwide, publishing community of over 16,750 media industry leaders. It is the longest running e-newsletter in the world.
 
Bo Sack’s astute observations on (un)retirement:
 
1)  “At any point in your career, you should start thinking about what you want to do, even in your 20’s. It seems ludicrous to me to wait until you're 65 to develop side interests. Get these side interests into your life as early as possible. Then there’s no cliff, there’s no cliff at 65, you just transition to those other areas of your interest.”
 
2) “The world’s a beautiful place and I like helping it spin!"
 
For more information about Bo Sacks go to: http://www.bosacks.com/

 

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” weekly blog.
Tags:    blog   interview   bo sacks   high times   magazine   unretirement  

Dr. James Beckett Interview: Sports + Math = Amazing Success!

Diana Landau | January 26, 2021
Carl interviews the one and only Dr. Jim Beckett. Dr. Beckett has lived quite a life—and as he says, “I had a childhood hobby that grew into a successful business and now I'm turning back into a hobby!”
 
He is currently the CEO of Beckett Interests Inc. of Dallas, Texas. He is the founder of Beckett Publications Inc., the world's largest sports and entertainment collectibles publisher, and served as its CEO from 1984 until selling the company for a reported $20 million in January 2005.

Beckett Publications' titles included Beckett Baseball, Beckett Basketball, Beckett Football, Beckett Hockey, Beckett Racing, Beckett Fantasy Sports Powered by Rotoworld.com, Neopets (The Official Magazine), Beckett Pokemon, Beckett Dragonball Z, Beckett Anime & Manga, Beckett Yu-Gi-Oh Unofficial Collector and a number of other titles. Jim has also authored more than 50 sports-related books, including numerous annual price guides in several collectible fields.
 
As a child, Jim lived in 18 houses in 18 years. His father was in the military and then a corporate CEO and it kept the family moving. He said of those years, “Moving a lot with new schools means you've got to be a quick study.” Jim also discovered that his hobby of collecting baseball cards was a great “socializer.”
 
After earning his Ph.D. in statistics from Southern Methodist University in 1975, he was a tenured associate professor of statistics at Bowling Green State University until 1980. Surrounded by so many baseball entities in the region, he said it was an immersive experience. Combining his great love of sports and math, he decided to publish a free price survey to the collector market in 1975. In 1979, he published a full-length book.
 
Living in Dallas in 1984, Jim then published Baseball Monthly magazine. It was such a success he left his other jobs to fully devote his time to Beckett Publications, Inc. Carl noted that he also launched his first magazine in 1984, Computer Language. Their paths and exit strategies were entirely different—Carl sold his magazine three years later, while Jim grew his company over 20 years into an empire. “I’m not really a serial entrepreneur”, he said. “I’m an opportunistic entrepreneur, I had many great ideas, but that one idea seemed to have legs on it and it sure seemed that I should be the guy to carry it forward.”
 
The company eventually expanded way beyond baseball cards, selling 2 million magazines a month. “I think I have the record for the greatest direct mail return, I had a 1,000%! I would send out 1,000 pieces of mail and get 10,000 orders,” Jim told us. Then while actively leading the company, Jim suffered a heart attack. It forced him into concentrating on his schedule and his health. He went into a more executive role with the company, which he didn't enjoy. “I’m a hands-on guy!” Soon he started thinking of selling.
 
In addition to running a successful company, Jim had started a pro-bono consulting business to help leaders and future leaders solve problems. He started having 200 meetings a year with different entities, often bringing in peers to help too. Jim’s love of problem solving has led to more than 5,000 meetings over the years. “It has been so fulfilling,” he added.
 
Now in (un)retirement, Jim is going strong with a daily (yes, daily!) podcast for the sports collector world. Turns out that in the pandemic, card collecting has had a dramatic resurgence. 2020 was the biggest year ever. “I get to have an impact on my industry and influence the influencers. I'm having a blast!”
 
Dr. James Beckett’s (un)retirement advice:
 
“I think people need to find some connection to a passion. It’s not I have to do this, it’s I get to do this. How great is that?”
 
“I was always a person to bring order out of the chaos……as I've grown older, I've realized you don't want to eliminate all the chaos. A little bit of chaos is the joie de vivre.”
 
“Leave the world a better place. Make a positive impact!”
 
Check out the Dr. James Beckett: Sports Card Insights podcast.
 
This week we're sponsored by 032 Outsourcing: Call 214.403.3755 or visit: https://032outsourcing.com/

 

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” weekly blog.
 
Tags:    blog   interview   Dr James Beckett   baseball   baseball cards   sports   collector   podcast  

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