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

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Mark Linsz: Top Bank of America Exec now a Second Act Guru

Diana Landau | December 07, 2021
Carl interviews Mark Linsz, the Co-Founder and Senior Managing Partner of My Next Season, an organization that helps companies and individuals with important career transitions and ensures they happen well. Mark was formerly the CFO Risk Executive for Bank of America—in the top tier of leadership. He’s had 27 years of holding key corporate leadership roles on three continents.


Mark’s childhood was unique—since his father was a minister and professor, he grew up in Asheville, NC, lived on Long Island, NY, and then spent years living in Africa. “I always loved numbers and figuring things out—even as a little kid.” In college, he became intrigued by two possible careers: 1) a trader on the stock market floor, and 2) a real estate developer. He ended up in a very big-time career in risk management, helping businesses assess financial, lending, and even reputation risks. “The benchmark was if it was too embarrassing for my mother to read, that it probably isn't good.”


Mark and his family lived in Hong Kong and London before being called back to the United States right before the recession. “Both experiences were fantastic for our family, experiencing different cultures.” At the end of 2007, Mark was commuting between work in NYC and his family still in London, then the whole family moved to Charlotte and he took yet another position with B of A. It was a very stressful time for Mark and the entire world when the recession hit. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear what it was like from Mark’s top position in banking.


About 2013, Mark started thinking about what he wanted to do next. “I needed to do something different,” he tells us. At first, he thought he would go into some type of financial advising. But then he talked with his future business partner, Dr. Leslie Braksick about people in executive roles and how to help them with transitioning to the life they want in their second, or third act. They started My Next Season in 2014. “It’s been a fantastic ride!” he says. Mark and his family now live in Charlotte, North Carolina. He loves his work but also makes time for family and nurturing friendships. “Seeing people transition with purpose is really exciting and so rewarding. You can have more impact and influence than you ever had before.”


Mark Linsz’s (un)retirement tips:
• “If I had to do it all over again, I wish I’d taken more time off.” (In between career and new venture).
• “Take time to think through what you really want to do next. Take 6 months to a year to find your passion, it’s extremely important.”
• “Be open to a new purpose. Think outside that box. This is your opportunity to try new things.”
• “The three most important things to focus on in (un)retirement are your relationships (family, friends, work), your purpose and to make sure you are intellectually challenged.”
• More about Mark Linsz and My Next Season
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.com
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage


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   unretirement   cfo   finances   recession   career  

Ryan Frederick: Finding the Right Place, the Right Time

Diana Landau | November 30, 2021

Carl interviews Ryan Frederick, CEO of Smart Living 360, a consulting and real estate development firm specializing in housing and healthy aging. Ryan wrote a very timely book Right Place, Right Time “the ultimate guide to choosing a home for the second half of your life.” He has a passion for helping people and organizations understand how we can do better when it comes to healthy aging and deciding where we want to live and flourish.
Ryan was born in Fairfax, VA and his family of four moved to Menlo Park, CA when he was in third grade. Ryan says he had a lot of things to be grateful for growing up. From an early age he, wondered, “How can I use my gifts and talents to make the world a better place?
In high school, Ryan says he was a “walking contradiction”, playing sports as well as singing in the San Francisco boys chorus. Peer pressure aside, Ryan says he learned some things. “Who cares what people think? Do what you think is right to do, what you enjoy! I think the experience made me all the more stubborn to do what I wanted to do.”
He attended Princeton and worked in Silicon Valley in his 20’s. While there, some employees at a company he worked for were involved in a financial scandal—it really shook him up, he tells us. Wanting to gain a deeper understanding of how business works, he then enrolled in the Stanford business program. He asked himself, “What if I took this passion to make things better and have a role in people aging and living better lives? Ryan also spent a month living in a senior community to learn from older people and see what it’s like.
After a few stints in the corporate world, Ryan founded Smart Living 360, an organization devoted to helping communities develop with healthy aging, at age 35. A decade later, he started writing a book based on this firm’s research and study when the pandemic hit. Many people then were questioning where they wanted to be living. “Moving is one of the biggest decisions of your life,” Ryan says. “Your surroundings affect you. These things matter.”
Moving is not the only way to improve one’s life, however. On average, only 10% of Americans move every year. You can make changes where you are to better align yourself with where you want to be in the next chapter of your life. Three years ago, Ryan and his family took his own advice and they made a big move from Baltimore to Austin. He enjoys tennis, grilling on his Green Egg and time with family. “There are lots of resources out there to help you—this is the time for growth!”
Gallup poll: 5 universal, interconnected elements that shape our well-being: (more in the book)
1) Purpose
2) Social connection
3) Physical well-being
4) Financial well-being
5) Community/Place
Ryan’s (un)retirement advice on the right place to live in your second half:
• “Do a self-assessment. Where am I now? Am I thriving in the areas that matter? Where can I be?"
• “Keep dreaming, keep creating, find ways to reorient your life. Take on new opportunities and map out a plan!”
• “Baby Boomers, healthy aging, more longevity—means big change is coming!”

• Learn more about Ryan Frederick and his book, Right Place, Right Time
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.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   CEO   smart living   real estate   Princeton   Silicon Valley   Stanford   Unretirement  

Robin Pajaro Interview: Former Chef Gets Her Groove Back!

Diana Landau | November 16, 2021

Carl interviews Robin Pajaro, a former head chef for Ritz Carlton, a private chef on yachts, a hypnotherapist, owner of Coco’s Cocktail Caravan and so much more. What’s important to know about Robin is she embraces change and is unafraid to try new endeavors—which is why she seems to be successful at whatever she sets out to do.
FUN FACT: Robin’s mother was the first Alice in Wonderland at Disneyland. She became Walt Disney’s stewardess on his private jet and was there when they found that Florida property. To learn more about some of Walt’s eccentricities and the secret Club 33, you'll have to listen to the podcast!
Robin grew up in Laguna Beach, an only child to a single mother. Her mother was a big exec at Kodak who loved to cook and entertain. “I really owe a lot to her for my love of cooking and entertaining,” Robin says, “she always included me in it. Cooking eventually became my passion and I took it a step further.” Robin says she was a rebellious, adventurous teen that managed to stay out of trouble. At age 19 in community college, she was in a serious car accident and lost her short-term memory for months. The struggle to get back to normal made her think, “Maybe there’s something bigger out there for me.”
She jumped at an opportunity to go to South Africa for 3 months. “It was a special time (in South Africa),” she says. “Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison and it was great to see all the change happen.”  Three years later, after backpacking all over the continent with friends, Robin took a job in Boston aboard a private yacht with the hopes of attending culinary school. “I just winged it,” she laughs. She says the family was very kind and the job was fun. Then she attended culinary school in Pasadena, closer to home.
Robin interned for Ritz Carlton and eventually became head chef at their Laguna Niguel property. It was the 1990’s, the pay was not so great and the field was entirely male-dominated. She worked hard to be respected and tells us she felt like a pioneer for women in her industry. Later, when she met her husband, she left the chef-world to become a mother, raising two daughters. But she never really stopped working, trying on completely new ventures—including a time as a certified hypnotherapist, adolescent alcohol and drug counselor, competing in a triathlon, even a stint as pastry chef at a doggie bakery.
While working at the doggie bakery, she re-discovered her passion for cooking. “Doing that creative work again and having full control of it really reminded me how much I loved cooking. I asked, "Now that I have my passion back, what do I want to do?” She became interested in mobile-entertaining and the possibility of working with so many different kinds of people intrigued her. Robin and her husband found a gutted out 1970’s retro trailer and after some remodeling and planning launched “Coco’s Cocktail Caravan.” “I love this business, seeing people’s faces light up. And it’s so much fun—we’ve done Barks & Brews for a good cause, weddings, business openings, even a disco party!”
 Robin’s (Un)retirement Tips:
  • “Figure out what you don't want to do, that’s half the trouble.” 
  • “Finding your passion (or rediscovering it in some way, like I did), and being 100% confident in your expertise, you can’t fail. Just take the leap!”
  • “When you're in your joy, your bliss --and making money too, what more do you want?!”

• Learn more about Robin Pajaro
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.com
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
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   unretirement   robin pajaro   chef   hypnotherapy   embracing change   passions  

Steven Petrow Interview: How to Age with Grace, Wisdom, Humor and Hope (and without hoarding!)

Diana Landau | November 09, 2021

This week Carl talks with Steven Petrow, the award-winning journalist, advice columnist, and book author about his latest book, “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Older – a highly judgemental, unapologetically honest accounting of all the things our elders are doing wrong”. It’s a perfect read for our listening audience!


Steven was caring for his elderly parents and began making lists about what he wouldn’t do as he aged. He admittedly started a snarky list, but as he saw his parents struggle, a compassionate, funny and very helpful NYT article followed, then a book. He writes about the very human experience of aging, with chapter titles like, “I won't wait until I’m deaf to get a hearing aid”, “I won't limit myself to friends my own age” and “I won't pass up a chance to pee.”


Steven grew up in Forest Hills, NY, taking the subway to Manhattan for high school. “We were all mugged at one point,” he says, “not so great for my wallet but great for my character.” His dad was a TV producer turned journalism professor and his mother was a psychiatric social worker. As a well-known advice columnist on manners and social civility, Steven was inspired at an early age by his mother, who was very careful to teach her son to be a well-mannered boy. Steven also had a particular passion as a kid for meteorology, but you'll have to listen to the podcast for that funny story.


After graduating from UC Berkeley and then obtaining several degrees from Duke, Steven started writing articles for the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other media about cardiac problems, depression, even sexual issues. Steven writes in the first person about all sorts of things. “You’ve been so open and honest about your life in a public forum,” Carl notes. “I’ve been writing in that way to make it easier for people, less challenging,” Steven says. He started writing an advice column on manners and social civility about 25 years ago and his career took off – with a book deal, more columns, more books. “These days I like to focus on the language we use, how we show respect, and how we can break through this polarization.”


Now 64, Steven has no plans to slow down. “I love what I do as a columnist and writing books. As long as my brain and my fingers still work, I don't plan to stop.” Steven now lives in Hillsborough, NC, and enjoys spending time with his family, including many nieces and a nephew. He’s also working on a screenplay for the new book. “It’s an entirely different creative process and I’m learning a new craft. I've never done it before and it’s really fun to do. Fun is a great value and virtue at this stage of life!”


Some of Steven Petrow’s advice on aging with grace:
  • Quality time: “Think about who you want to spend time with. Friends come and go through seasons in your life. Why is it we have no problem telling people we broke up with someone (in your love life)… but the same can be true of friendships.
  • Young friends: “I do think it’s important to have younger friends as a way to help you see the world in a different way, to talk about new things. It keeps you nimble and helps you see a bigger world than you might see day-to-day, or just being with folks in your own generation.”
  • Learning new things: “Try a different place, or take a different route—get out of your rut! Embrace the unfamiliar rather than being afraid of it, running away from it.”
• Learn more about Steven Petrow
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by LoveMyHeartStudy.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   unretirement   steven petrow   journalism   UC Berkeley   Duke   humor   hope   grace  

Mark Shaiken Interview: Figuring Out What You Really Want!

Diana Landau | November 02, 2021

At the 32:23 time-mark, you can listen to Carl's updated short interview with Mark and hear news about his wonderful "afterlife" and learn about his first fiction novel, “Fresh Start”. The original interview aired one year ago.


Mark Shaiken talks with Carl about what comes next after a big career as a successful attorney.  Mark planned to take his life in an entirely different direction – as a writer. He has just released his first book, “And... Just Like That: Essays on a life before, during and after the law” and wants to eventually become a full-time author.


Mark grew up in Queens, NY and his family moved 11 times in 17 years. It was hard to make friends, only to move on again. In high school, he was envious of his friends who already knew what they wanted to do with their lives after graduation.  He eventually became engaged and took a law school admission exam on a whim, never imagining he would have a long career as a big-firm bankruptcy attorney. 


The "What's next? What else can I do?" questions started in his 50’s. The answers were not so easy. “It’s sort of a loaded question,” says Mark. “The truth is there are lots of things we can do.” He started joking about his "afterlife" because he thought he'd have to die to get out of law. 


"I knew I wanted to retire to something, not from something," Mark says. He allowed himself to dream, read career-pivot books, then found "Your Next Season," which inspired him to actually call the author at his home. Turns out the author had formed a company to help people during career transitions and Mark became a client. "I give myself credit for going outside myself for help when I needed it." It was a game-changer for him.


Today Mark is an amazing(!) sports and nature photographer while serving the Denver community on several Boards and teaching photography to veterans with PTSD. He has just released his second book, "Fresh Start" (the title from a bankruptcy code), a legal thriller, and is working on his third book. "It hasn't been a linear path to my afterlife," Mark tells us, "But I have wrapped up my law practice and I'm now happily a full-time novelist."


Mark's (Un)Retirement advice: 
  • The plan: "Some people retire, then figure it out. That may work, but it's not for me. I need something more structured."
  • Joining a Board or charity: "Fit is important. You have to believe in the mission."
  • Life tip: "Don't ever believe there's only one thing you can do!"
• Learn more about Mark Shaiken visit: https://www.markshaikenphoto.com/books/
• Sponsored this week by LoveMyHeartStudy.com: https://lowercholesterol.study/?utm_source=pickleball&utm_medium=podcast&utm_campaign=lovemyheartstudy
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   mark shaiken   attorney   author   unretirement   career   law  


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