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

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Neil Haley Interview: Pro Wrestler Turns Into The Media Giant

Diana Landau | November 15, 2022

Carl interviews former pro-wrestler Neil Haley, who pivoted to teaching after retiring from the wrestling entertainment world. Turning 50 soon, Neil is now experiencing a "rebirth" with a whole new media career. (I'm perfect for the I Used to be Somebody podcast, he tells Carl.) Neil has had a unique life path and he shares what he's learned from his past experiences as well as his enthusiasm for his new adventures in media now. He has a very popular "Neil Haley Show" podcast/radio show that airs 7 days a week in more than 180 countries and is syndicated in 150+ stations.

Neil grew up in the Pittsburgh area as an only child. His father went to MIT and landed in the corporate world, his mother worked at a university. Neil is 6 ft. 10 inches tall, so his childhood years were not always easy for him. Neil says that being a 6 foot, 4 inches tall high school freshman then was "....not the same as growing up tall today. It was odd to be so tall in the '80's. People didn't accept anyone that was different in those days."

After playing basketball in college, Neil began pro wrestling at the age of 23. He was known as "Neil the Real Deal", "Future Shock, "The Giant Warrior" and others. When he decided to retire, it was not so easy. " You have all these accolades and then it's different," he tells Carl. "Now they have great programs and training facilities for wrestlers who are moving on, I didn't have that." But he did take away some very transferable skills from the experience.

"I learned ideation, creativity, and storytelling from wrestling." After teaching 4th and 5th graders and middle-schoolers, he says, "Teaching was a stretch for me but it was still performing," he observes. He tells Carl that he really enjoyed inspiring his students in new ways.

Neil made the transition to multi-media giant by inspiring his clients with that same zeal. He had learned storytelling and hosting TV shows in wrestling, and took it further with social media, celebrity endorsements, his podcast/radio show, and as a full-on brand agency, "The Media Giant." He plans to keep loving what he's doing and working for a long time. (His father didn't retire until 83.) "Who knows? By the time I'm 80 or 90, that'll be the new 60!"

(Un)Retirement advice from Neil Haley:
  • You have to use your transferable skills to move to the next career."
  • "Find the right experts to help you."
  • "Educate yourself as much as possible and spend some time studying thought leaders."
  • "Develop a daily routine. And it's important for entrepreneurs to also schedule an end-of-day time on their calendar!"
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   Neil Haley   pro-wrestling   Neil the Real Deal   multi-media giant   unretirement