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.
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.