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

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Jack Gallagher Interview: Take a Chance!

Diana Landau | May 11, 2021

Carl talks with Jack Gallagher, a comedian, actor, and writer, and Emmy award- winning television host of the PBS series Money Moves (nationally syndicated), Off-Limits, and Kids, Cash and Common Sense. He was also the host of California's The Big Spin Game Show and had a recurring role as a doctor on the hit HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm.
 
But there’s more! Jack is also the author and performer of eight critically acclaimed one-man shows. We’ve seen most of these highly personal, very relatable shows that make you laugh, cry and laugh again. His shows stay with you. So what’s Jack doing now? He’s still working and loving it, but also trying to take it easy. “I’m not chasing it anymore, but if someone calls, I’ll consider it.” (Of course, they still do.)
 
Jack grew up in a hard-working Irish Catholic family with 5 kids in the small town of West Bridgewater near Boston, MA. Jack says he was a shy kid growing up. (Most comedians are actually introverts.) By the age of 10, Jack knew he wanted to be a comedian, to make people laugh. “It took me out of my shell,” he says. His conservative parents were not so sure at first but eventually they came around.
 
After working towards a teaching degree, Jack took a chance and started performing at a Comedy Night on Campus, then in the Boston comedy scene just as it started to take off. Boston became a hotbed of comedy “greats.” It all happened pretty fast. Signed by an agent, Jack moved to LA and became a regular at the Improv. “Hecklers make you battle-tested,” Jack laughs. Then came the big break—an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. Performances followed.
 
In 1987 he was hired by KCRA in Sacramento to do a show. After being on the road for 15 years, Jack and his wife decided to stay, raise a family. He would fly down to LA and do his shows and then come back to Sac. He also had the opportunity to perform on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “It was a lot of ad lib—which is fun!” Always writing, Jack created eight one-man plays. Carl notes the stamina that takes. They require 60 shows in 6 weeks, 1.5 hours a night, 2 hours a night on Saturdays. “The audience rides the rollercoaster with me,” says Jack.
 
So now after a long, successful career, Jack at age 68 is still taking chances, but also taking it easy. He still writes and also performs in a band. Jack and his wife, Jean Ellen are also spending time visiting their sons, traveling when possible and every year they go to Massachusetts. “I’m really good at what I do. I’ve been incredibly lucky, it’s worked out.”
 
UnRetirement insights from Jack Gallagher:
 
  • “It’s weird to get old. Everything hurts! But I’m still 30-35 in my head. Sometimes I get recognized and sometimes I don’t and that’s okay!”
 
  • “I always tell my kids, the worst thing that can happen to you is someone says ‘No’. Just try something, take a chance!”
  • “I still like what I do, I still love performing. (But now) I try to do stuff that’s just fun!”

 

For More Information about Jack Gallagher: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Gallagher_(comedian)
 

 

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   Jack Gallagher   author   performer   risktaker   comedy  

Dan Blank Interview

Diana Landau | April 20, 2021

The Best Kind of Road Map

 

 

Carl had a fun chat with Dan Blank, CEO of WeGrowMedia this week. Although Dan isn’t retiring any time soon, the focus of his work is helping people in their (un)retirement to achieve their goals. Before founding WeGrowMedia, Dan worked in publishing and digital content development, and was in the perfect spot when those worlds collided. Just as he became even more successful, Dan took the bold step into launching his own business—during 2010! “I felt the recession was a great time to start a company, there were no expectations. I sort of wanted to see who wanted to hire me.” Over a decade later, Dan's company has helped thousands of writers and other creatives to launch their own successful projects.
 
“I was the art kid growing up,” Dan tells us.  Always the entrepreneurial family, Dan, his older brother and parents started a baseball card collector business on weekends, traveling the tri-state area, meeting people, sharing stories about their favorite players and cards. “I think my family's values of working hard, pursuing the creative and encouraging entrepreneurship had a big influence on me.”
 
In college, Dan had many ideas but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He always had side gigs however. He was a DJ and a cartoonist for the college newspaper, then went on to publish a music "zine" in the 1990’s. “I did it for the love of doing it,” Dan says. He profiled new CD’s in the zine and eventually had the opportunity to interview the members of Oasis and other bands he idolized.
 
After college, Dan began his career in publishing and eventually ran digital content for over 40 magazines. He started an internal newsletter for co-workers—the beginning of a weekly practice he has done for over 15 years now. “I have so many ideas, I can’t imagine not sending it (the newsletter) out!” In 2009-2010, his company diversified and his division was sold off. Dan was one of the last employees. He figured he had a network of his own because of his blog and newsletter and decided to leave the corporate life and launch his company, WeGrowMedia, using his knowledge and experience to help others achieve their goals. 
 
If you are in (un)retirement and working on your memoir, Dan can help you create a website, develop your marketing strategy and even plan the book launch. "For writers, I encourage people to listen intently to two things: 1) Your inner voice and taking action on those things you feel compelled to create, and 2) Learning about your readership, the folks you hope will be moved by your words. Both of these actions require a lot of empathy, and listening more than talking---like any good marriage!"
 
Dan Blank’s advice for starting a new Second Act in (Un)Retirement:
  • Communication: “What do you want your day to look like? What’s your purpose? Be really aligned with what you want it to be. If you have a partner, make sure that’s aligned too."
  • Collaboration: “As we get older, we get more and more fearful of failure. If you have a new idea for a venture/novel/project, talk to other people about it. Talk with your friends and colleagues and spitball ideas.
  • Clarity: “Keep doing what you love. Everything I do is because of who inspires me.”


For more about Dan Blank: https://wegrowmedia.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   Dan Blank   author   publishing   unretirement   memoir   entrepreneur   

Mike Branon Interview

Diana Landau | March 23, 2021
 

Keep Moving Forward -- Pickleball Instructor, Microbrewery Owner, World Traveler, High School Teacher, Massage Therapist, Book Author

 

 
 
Carl interviewed the multi-talented Mike Branon this week. After some ups and downs in life, Mike became an entrepreneur, finding a niche as a structural steel contractor. He grew the company to $20-$40 million in sales annually and then retired at 40, looking forward to his Second Act. Although most of our podcast guests are navigating (un)retirement in their 50’s-70’s, Mike took a chance and left the 24/7 work life behind, wanting to do more with his life.
 
Now 60, Mike is also a microbrewery owner, teacher, philanthropist, world traveler, massage therapist, Pickleball coach, explorer of spirituality, fitness and anything else that piques his curiosity. Most recently he has become an author. His goal at this stage of life is to share the lessons learned from his diverse background to help others find meaning and joy in their daily lives.
 
Mike wrote Pickleball & the Art of Living in 2020 during the pandemic, trapped on a cruise ship for 20+ days. (You can see Mike’s pattern of being faced with a challenge and doing something wonderful with it.) His book is definitely not just about Pickleball, it is so much more that. With helpful advice and a sense of humor, Mike encourages the reader to live their best life.
 
Not everything was rosy perfect for Mike when he was younger and he’s very open about it. His Dad was in the Navy and his family moved around a lot. Mike talked about frequently changing schools, learning to meet new people, having to figure it out. “It taught me to land of my feet.”
 
After college, he thought he would take the world by storm. Instead, he found himself working in a convenience store, getting married too young and divorcing at 30 with a young daughter. He felt he wasn’t going anywhere. “A lot of that (time) helped me. I know what it’s like to fail and I know what it’s like to succeed so when I look at my retirement years now, I am acutely aware of what I want to do with my time, what makes me happy.”
 
Always moving forward, Mike is now putting his energies into not only Pickleball and his other passions but he is also the Director of International Relief Teams for rebuilding homes for families and providing health care during disasters.
 
(Un)retirement insights from Mike Branon on living your best life:
  • “To me it was so liberating to be (un)retired. Just having that extra white space in your calendar allows room for the unexpected and the serendipitous to pop into your life.”
  • “If you love what you’re doing career-wise, no reason to stop. But also be open to transitioning. Be open to it.”
  • “Take baby steps, Try it on. See if it fits you. You might find unexpected joy.”
  • “Keep looking toward the future vs being pushed along by the past.”
 
• For more about Mike Branon: https://www.mikebranon.com/
• This Week's Sponsor is The Monkey Creative: https://themonkeycreative.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   mike branon   pickleball   author   unretirement   entrepreneur  

Mike Drak Interview: How to Have a Fun, Exciting, Meaningful, Never-Boring (Un) Retirement!

Diana Landau | March 02, 2021
 
Carl’s guest this week is Mike Drak, author of a new book, Retirement Heaven or Hell: 9 Principles for Designing Your Ideal Post-Career Lifestyle. Mike writes from personal experience, including an abrupt retirement, his struggle and adjustment, and then how he went on to design the (un)retirement of his dreams. His book is honest, funny and heartfelt. The book also details steps YOU can take to determine your next steps. Each chapter asks reflective questions and encourages you to dive deeper into knowing what you want in this stage of life. Most of all, he encourages everyone with helpful advice on how to live your 55+ best life.
 
Mike grew up in Toronto and still lives there today. He had been working in commercial banking for 36 years, starting right out of college. What he found rewarding about his career was working with start-up businesses. Many were small family businesses (and multi-generational). He truly enjoyed helping people and still does.
 
SO after 30+ years as a banker, Mike began to think about doing something else. But nothing could have prepared him for the way he found out he was leaving. He was called upstairs to go over projections, yet a young woman from HR was there with severance papers. Adding insult to injury, the bank asked him to say he was “retiring,” and then to save money, actually combined going-away parties with other employees. “I felt like I was going to my own funeral,” Mike said.
 
He struggled, not knowing what to do at first. “I decided to write the book because I knew a lot of people were going to struggle like I did when transitioning to retirement. I knew a lot of people didn't have a handle on what real retirement is and what it feels like.” Waking up at 4:30am every day to write, he grew very excited about the project. (And he also happened to develop daily writing practice.) His editor noted that he started out to write a retirement book and ended up writing a book about (un)retirement! 
 
Today Mike is a 38-eight-year veteran of the financial services industry, working with his wife and still living in Toronto. He is also the bestselling author of Victory Lap Retirement, an award-winning blogger, public speaker and retirement lifestyle designer. His personal goals include training for a 2024 Iron Man triathlon and visiting his son in Australia, where they plan to face their fears and get in a cage with a Great White shark!
 
Mike’s “9 Principles” from his book offer great (un)retirement advice, but here’s  the key: “You need something to retire to—don’t waste valuable (un)retirement time planning what to do. Do it now!”
 
For more information about Mike Drak: https://boomingencore.com/en/article/announcing-our-book-retirement-heaven-or-hell
 
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:    mike drak   interview   unretirement   author   writing   banking   retirement   bestseller  

Richard Haiduck Interview: A New Spin on (Un)Retirement

Diana Landau | January 19, 2021
Richard Haiduck was Carl’s guest on the podcast this week. Richard is a former Life Sciences Exec who just published his new book, Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers Share Their Meaningful Journeys in RetirementThe book is based on interviews with retirees who share how they are shifting gears in their (un)retirement. Sometimes they shift smoothly, sometimes they grind the gears, and often they take some time to find their groove. The stories reveal the rich abundance of “second life” adventures, from the exotic to the mundane. It’s about the joys, challenges, and inspirations that are a part of the journey in this next stage of life.  
 
The interview started out extremely well when Carl asked his guest, as an icebreaker, if he knew anything about Pickleball. (Carl asks this question to every single guest, and so far he was 0-13.) Richard not only knew all about it, he has a court on his property(!) and plays often with his grandkids. So excited to get his very first positive response, Carl talked about how pickleball is the great equalizer, anyone can play together, it’s great exercise and super fun.
 
Now to the core of the interview—Richard grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and attended Miami University in Ohio. Even as a 7-year old, Richard knew he wanted to be an author. He wrote every day for one year, writing all kinds of fiction. Then he just stopped, wanting to focus on other kid-things like riding his bike, hanging out with friends, etc. A couple decades later, Richard turned that laser focus to the life sciences, working as a CEO for start-up bio-tech companies, their mission to discover breakthroughs in medicine.
 
After many years of living in Singapore and New Zealand, Richard then decided to pivot, setting up his own consulting practice. He wanted to share his knowledge and lessons learned to help new CEO’s of bio-tech start ups. He had two criteria for mentoring clients: “I worked with people I liked and I liked what they were working on.” Carl agreed that is one of the advantages of being an entrepreneur. He added, “You get to choose your employees AND choose your clients.”
 
Richard charted a wise and gradual course into (un)retirement life. Every year, over a span of 5 years, he began reducing his client load by 20% and adding a retirement activity. The goal was to phase out of work and ease into (un)retirement without that hard shift from “Monday you’re the boss, and Tuesday it all stops.” Richard and Carl acknowledged that depending on your profession, it’s not so easy for some people to do it that way.
 
Now fully in (un)retirement, Richard still cycles 3,000 miles a year, among other pursuits. As Richard talks with his friends and his network, he noticed a familiar thread. They were doing all these amazing things in retirement but not necessarily sharing about it. His desire to become an author, from all those years ago, came back. He wanted to write a book about their experiences to share with others. “I had two criteria for the book. 1) the process was enjoyable, and 2) over time, it had to feel like a useful book to people.”
 
A “relaxed intensity” theme emerged from these stories. Many people could still become deeply immersed in something, but in a more relaxed way. To explain it further, Richard said, “It’s like you take on something that’s difficult and a challenge without ripping your insides out about it.  You just can’t do that in your 30’s.” The end result is (un)retirees are combining joy with a sense of purpose.
 
Richard’s (un)retirement advice:
 •     I used to be somebody, I’m still somebody—just different now.
 •     Before you make the decision to retire, be sure you are able to identify what you are going to.
 •     Try it on and see, if it doesn’t work, move on!
 •     Define what this new freedom really means to you.
 
To learn more about Richard Haiduck: visit his website.
 
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #14 with Richard Haiduck.
 
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   cycling   author   retirement   advice  

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