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

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Maxine Clark Interview: Build-A-Bear Mega Founder Turns to Social Entrepreneurship

Diana Landau | July 07, 2023

Maxine Clark Interview: Build-A-Bear Mega Founder Turns to Social EntrepreneurshipCarl interviews Maxine Clark, a true catalyst and inspirator. After a two-decade career as a successful executive in retail, Maxine pivoted at age 48 and founded Build-A-Bear Workshops, which has sold nearly 250 million stuffed animals worldwide. In 2004, Maxine orchestrated the company's highly successful $170 million IPO, the first St. Louis woman to do so. Maxine, a woman of boundless energy and enthusiasm, continues to be a driving force for positive change in the world.
 
Maxine grew up in Coral Gables, FLA. Her father was an electrician and her mother had quite a remarkable career in the non for profit realm. Maxine tells us her mother graduated high school at 14 and went to work as a secretary for Eleanor Roosevelt. Fun fact: Roosevelt urged the women who worked for her to go out in the world and advocate for positive change. Her mother did so, first as a big fundraiser in the community and then started a school for children with Down's Syndrome. Maxine tells us, "My mother was very creative. No problem can't be solved. I like that."
 
Although she first thought she wanted to go into law, after college she began an illustrious career in retail, working her way up the ranks of the May Company. She became President of Payless ShoeSource in 1992. In 1996 at the age of 48, she moved to St, Louis and started thinking about a new business. Sparked by the idea of creating personalized teddy bears, she tried to buy a couple companies, which didn't work out. Everyone told her she was crazy.
 
But you guessed it--only nine months later the first Build-A-Bear Workshop opened in St, Louis. Carl asks Maxine how she could go from creating a concept to opening a store in record time. "I'm pretty good at planning and execution. I had experience and resources. But I also had a vision." As Founder and CEO, Maxine led her Build-A-Bear team to the pinnacle of growth and success just seven years after start up. She was the first woman to bring an IPO to Wall Street, managing critical relationships for the company to be publicly traded on the NYSE.
 
After 17 years with Build-A-Bear, Maxine wanted to pivot again, but this time in the not for profit world. In 2015, she launched a ground-breaking project to create positive change in her community. The "Delmar Divide" was an area in St. Louis historically known for segregating poor black neighborhoods from white neighborhoods. Maxine's team bought the old St. Luke's Hospital and is developing an innovative hub and collaborative space dedicated to helping not for profit creatives to work together, to improve the lives of children and families in the metropolitan St. Louis area. This once-neglected dividing line in St Louis is now being transformed into The Delmar DivINE. Maxine says, "This is joyful work. Dream the dream-- supreme!"
 
Maxine Clark's Inspirations:
  • "Your experience is so valuable to somebody else. There's always something you can do to strengthen your community."
  • "Look around at what interests you, whether its non-profit or volunteering and just meet people around it. Network!"
  • "I like to bring experts to the table, and I also sit at the table, to make sure we find solutions and continue to move forward."
 
• More about Maxine Clark
• Sponsor by Capital Advantage
• Sponsor by Mike Ownbey, COMPASS
• Sponsor by How to Retire and Not Die
 

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   Social   Entrepreneur   Pickleball   Maxine   Clark   Build-A-Bear   CEO   Interview   How To Retire and Not Die   Carl Landau   UnRetirement   I Used To Be Somebody  

Doug Villhard Interview: Big Time Entrepreneur Pays It Forward

Diana Landau | March 14, 2023

Carl interviews Doug Villhard, a former software company president and co-founder, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, author and now a professor teaching entrepreneurship at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Doug was only 49 when he and his partner sold their company for $30 million. He had started his side-hustle--teaching--years earlier and is very happy in his new career. He has 400 students each year, full of bright ideas and eager to learn how to create, launch and manage their own companies. "I teach them to continue to be curious and look for problems to solve in life and work. I encourage students to innovate and take risks." Doug is also the author of the recently published Company of Women, a fictional story based on the life of E.G. Lewis.
 
Doug grew up in a family of five in St. Peters, Mo. His mother was a teacher with very high academic standards and his father was an engineer. "I thought you were supposed to get straight A's and listen to your parents. I didn't know there was any other path!" Doug tells us. "I was a little Eddie Haskell-ish--good with adults and a little mischievous behind the scenes."

 

After college, in 1995 Doug landed a job with Disney Interactive in their online division. He says he loved that job and learned a lot. Years later, when he was married with a child on the way, took a job with the St. Louis Post Dispatch in St. Louis, working on their website. where he met Matt Coen, his future business partner. Doug ran various software companies and then Doug and Matt co-founded Second Street Media in 2007.
 
At Second Street, they focused on how to draw big audiences and then create layers of products and services around them. (Hint: Kids and pets are huge!) "Second Street is where I really learned to listen to the customer. It's the whole trick to being successful in business." (Full disclosure: Carl worked with Second Street for about a year and sold his company to them.) Carl talks about how much he admired the company culture at Second Street. Doug says, "I don't know how you can be successful without a great team behind you."

 

Jawdropper: When their kids were in school, the nearest Catholic high school was 45 minutes away. So with no blueprint (the last school was founded 80 years earlier) Doug and his wife Diane actually founded a Catholic high school in their area. "It was 1400 families--a whole community came together, " Doug adds.

 

Since Doug had already started teaching entrepreneurship at Washington University before the company was sold, he easily transitioned to his full-time second act "Teachers get summers and holidays and breaks, so for me there is still time to travel with my wife", (you'll have to listen to the podcast to hear about their unique travel strategy), Doug tells us. "And I just wrote a fictional book based on E.G. Lewis, the biggest magazine publisher in the world in 1904. He was a huge proponent of women's right to vote."
 
Doug Villhard's 7 Tips on Being a Successful Entrepreneur for Your Second Act:
  • All businesses solve a problem.
  • Keep listening to your customers.
  • You have to be selfless for it to work.
  • Ask yourself: Are the customers happy? Are your employees happy? Are your loved ones happy?
  • Getting involved with younger people is invigorating and broadens your perspective.
  • Never before has it been so easy to have a side-hustle. There are so many ways to put your toe in the water!
  • Don't sit around trying to make the Second Act perfect. It's impossible. Just run some experiments and try little things until you find what you want.
 

 

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   doug villhard interview   unretirement   (Un)Retirement   entrepreneur  

Ted Bahr Interview: Drone King turns into 60's Rock Art Gallery Owner

Diana Landau | February 08, 2023

Ted Bahr Interview Episode 66
Carl interviews successful entrepreneur Ted Bahr. This is an engaging interview about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and then starting a cool second act. Carl met Ted in San Francisco, in the heady 1980’s when the computer age was taking off and magazine publishing was at its zenith. In his career, he launched dozens of new magazines, online properties and events. In 2017 he sold his company, BZ Media, and now owns an art gallery—more about that later.
 
Ted grew up in Westchester County in New York. He said his family lived the typical suburban life. In his teens, he “….rebelled with enthusiasm!” he tells us. After college he worked for one of the biggest names in publishing, Ziff Davis in NYC. After selling advertising for Car and Driver magazine and then helping with launches of some high-tech magazines, he was transferred to San Francisco.
 
In his 40’s, Ted had a wife and three kids and was entrenched in a very prestigious position with Miller Freeman in the corporate publishing world. He says he felt like he was losing the ability to be an entrepreneur. “I wanted to be the guy at the top. You know, the guy with his own business.” Ted made the bold move to leave and start up his own company. “It’s the entrepreneur mindset. Intellectually you know you are taking risks but emotionally you are positive you can do it.” (Never mind the 18-hour days and the naysayers!)
 
Ted and his business partner Alan Zeichick grew BZ Media, a high-tech media company, to 28 employees. The company produced technical conferences and expositions in a variety of fast-growing markets. They published SDTimes, the leading magazine for software development managers and produced SPTechCon, AnDevCon, Big Data TechCon and many more. BZ Media also launched InterDrone, the largest conference and expo for the commercial drone industry in the world in 2015. In 2017, Ted sold all the properties.
 
Here’s another Ted twist: He had always had a keen interest in the music of the 1960’s since his time in San Francisco, where he saw Big Brother, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish and many others. And he avidly collected psychedelic rock posters from that period. At BZ Media, they had bought a big space and he had the idea to create a gallery to show his art/posters. The response was so enthusiastic that after he sold the company, he opened the Bahr Gallery in Oyster Bay, New York, selling high-end rock artwork and now has an online website as well. (Perfect for Baby Boomers who remember that time well and now have disposable income.) Ted enjoys connecting with lots of interesting people, hearing their stories and holds periodic exhibitions as well as lending his art to museums. Fun fact: Ted sold an Elton John art poster to Bernie Taupin! Ted is an inspiration—still following his passions with great success.
 
Ted Bahr’s (un)retirement tips:
  • “Create a F*@# it List, not a Bucket List. So many voices in our heads saying “You SHOULD do this. If you're not interested in doing whatever it is, don’t do it. That’s OK!
  • "Do what you love with people you love for as long as you can. Decide if you want to deal with employees. Decide if you want to work with people—retail or behind the scenes? Do you want to be on the clock or set your own hours?

 

 
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   ted bahr interview   unretirement   (Un)Retirement   art gallery   entrepreneur   rock  

Corky Logue Interview: Pawn Shop King Turns Into Pickleball Pied Piper

Diana Landau | April 11, 2022

 
Carl talks this month with Corky Logue of Rollingwood, Texas. Corky is a man of incredible energy and focus. As a serial entrepreneur, he has owned 40+ companies. "One of my biggest shortcomings is I'm a little too optimistic about things," he says. A big success came at the age of 47, when he went public with his chain of EZ Pawn stores, leaving the company a few years later with about $30 million in stock. A self-described workaholic, Corky is still as busy as ever at 74. "Everything I do is fun. If it's not fun, I'm not doing it!"
 
Corky's father was in the Navy, so his family moved some but most of the time they lived in the South Austin area, in a trailer park. Corky has a large family and six children of his own. He says he was a geeky teen, very involved in Explorer then Eagle Scouts. "It taught me leadership,"  he says. After high school his father urged him to join the Marines, but Corky wanted to attend the University of Texas and moved out on his own. He worked 2-3 jobs and put himself through college. Sometimes on the podcast, guests talk about their worst job and how the biggest problem was usually the boss. Corky tells Carl, "Since 1972 (when he was 24), I have never had a boss. I've been the boss!" 
 
He has owned drywall supply companies, bike stores, travel agencies, software companies and more. From the early 1970's to the mid-1890's he was running 12 companies simultaneously. He also became a pilot. "I like living at 100 miles an hour." Corky says he only needs about 3 hours of sleep each night. "I'm still as busy as I was when I was working. The big difference is back then I had few friends. Now, through tennis and pickleball, I have more friends than the previous 65 years!"
 
Corky has 2 courts in his backyard, where he schedules 45 people to play pickleball each week, 4 games a day. "When they're through, they come up for a beer. It's so much fun. I've met some great people." In his spare time, he spreads the message of Toastmasters as a 50-year member. "Absolutely, Toastmasters has made me a different person and I want to pay back what it gave me." Corky also spent some time as Mayor of Rollingwood. There's a pattern here with Corky—a high energy lifestyle, leading by example and having fun—all at the same time. "I used to be somebody, and now I'm nobody and I'm damn happy about it!"

Corky Logue's (Un)retirement Advice:
  • "Play pickleball! It's one of the few sports you can play 7 days a week. With pickleball, I've made the most friends, had the most fun and it keeps your body happy too. "
  • "I have a daily routine that I stick to, I'm still trying to learn to live at 55 miles an hour." (vs 100 mph)
  • "Being social helps you live longer. If that's the case, I'm going to live to 150."

• 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   Corky Logue   pickleball   toastmasters   texas   EZ Pawn   serial entrepreneur  

Susan Stewart Interview: Do it, Don’t Wait! One Life!!!

Diana Landau | June 22, 2021

 
When you meet Susan Stewart, you think right away that you must be friends. She really cares about people. A former golf prodigy then pro, a colleague along the way saw her promise and helped her build her resort merchandising career. Then in 2017, tired of corporate life, she risked it all (her wife was very supportive) and started her own retail store in 2017. Strapping sells funky, kitschy, relevant, irrelevant, unusual items and it’s been a big hit with two stores and a thriving online business.

 

Susan has a successful business in a neighborhood in a transition with a long history but no surprise--she has become a community leader and advocate. She's advocate for everyone! She just opened in her second store during a pandemic—and she’s excited about it! (You’ll see in the podcast episode.) She is inspiring and inspires others with her infectious energy.

 

This budding yet savvy entrepreneur grew up in Hudson Valley in New York. Her parents were chefs and eventually the family moved to Palm Springs. As a child, Susan loved golf. After high school she had a job with Paramount Studios as a runner, meeting Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and one of her golf heroes, Arnold Palmer.

 

A couple of careers later, Susan decided to go for it. “In January I had the idea, in February I found the space, in March I got the key and in April I opened!” she says. “I’m a doer. I think most entrepreneurs are. You jump in with both feet!” Now she is a successful shop owner who really views her business as a way to be an integral part of the community. Susan is hoping to hire some extra management and play a little more golf, looking for that sustainable life balance.

 

Susan’s advice on becoming an entrepreneur in your Second Act:
  • “Failure is okay, it brings you to where you are.”
  • “People always ask me; how did you pay for this? Be prepared that banks aren't going to loan you the money.”
  • “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. You have to be adaptable. You have to really see your failures and grow from it.”
  • “You don't know that you don't know something until you (eventually) know something!”

 

 

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   susan stewart   interview   unretirement   golf   retailer   lgbtq   second act   third act   entrepreneur  

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