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

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Devon Zagory Interview: Food Safety Superhero

Diana Landau | February 23, 2021
 
 
Carl interviews Devon Zagory, a global expert in food safety. (Full disclosure: Carl and Devon are good friends!) Devon has decades of experience working on produce safety with agricultural producers, fresh-cut industries, and university researchers. He has worked internationally as a consultant in the fields of food microbiology and modified atmosphere packaging. 
 
Devon was also the founder of Davis Fresh Technologies, which had dozens of employees and five offices around the world. He sold that company in 2006 and became a multi-millionaire. He has written numerous scientific publications and given many presentations about produce microbial safety, packaging, quality and operations.
 
What does all Devon’s background actually mean? Is Devon Zagory a Superhero for food safety around the globe? YES.  And he still is at age 73, consulting when he wants for as much as he wants. Devon has travelled to over 70 countries around the world, with a mission and a continued passion: Working with poor farmers in rural countries to make their lives a bit better with technology.
 
Devon was a bookish kid with the typical childhood in the Bay Area of Northern California. His father was a family physician and his mother raised four kids. He went to UC Berkeley, where, as Devon says, “I had too much fun. Then I quit.” He decided to travel around the world for two years with a buddy and visited many rural farms. The experience made him realize what he wanted to do with life. He went back to school, earning a PHD in plant pathology, plus an agricultural degree. He founded his company and has worked with giants like Subway, Costco, Safeway, Raley’s and Outback restaurants in addition to farmers. 
 
About 5 years ago, Devon said he felt tired and cranky and made an announcement he was done with consulting and he definitely was not going to work anymore. What he didn’t know at the time was that he was sick. (No wonder he felt so tired all the time.) After the doctors found and treated a heart condition, Devon realized he still enjoyed his work and didn’t want to stop. He also participates in a weekly walking group and a Masters Swim program.
 
Insights on (un)retirement:
1. Push your comfort zone. Devon is an analytic scientist who now is exploring his creative side through becoming more social, playing music and writing a memoir.
2. Do what you love to do, feel moved to do. Volunteer, help out, give back, do what needs doing!
 
• To subscribe to the "I Used to be Somebody" newsletter, visit: https://pickleballmediahq.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   devon zagory   food   entreprener   unretirement   volunteer  

Bob Tuschman Interview: Former Food Network Exec — Make an Adventurous Plan!

Diana Landau | September 29, 2020

In Episode 3 of our podcast, I Used to be Somebody, Carl talks with Bob Tuschman, former Food Network Senior Vice President and General Manager. (And many other cool job titles, as you will learn when you listen.) Bob realized even as a kid, he knew when he grew up he wanted to be part of the entertainment world.

 

To say Bob worked his way up to the top is an understatement! He seized the opportunity to work for research on a movie that Diana Ross was producing. Bob worked his way up there, eventually becoming Diana’s personal assistant and traveling the world with her. 

 

After a short gig as an agent for actors, he returned to work for Diana when he again was presented with a new opportunity—to work as a producer for Good Morning America with ABC. Bob loved the work and advanced quickly in six years.

 

Then it happened. While riding his bike in NYC, Bob was hit head on. He says of that time, “You can do everything right in your life and play by the rules and then get hit by a car tomorrow.” The experience made him really think hard about what he wanted to do in life and realized he wanted to try something new. 

 

Bob left GMA and took a position as Executive Producer with this new start-up called the Food Network. The network had little budget and had been largely focused on “how-to” and learning shows. The network moved toward entertainment and the rest is well known. Bob oversaw shows featuring Guy Fieri, Giada, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay and more. (Fun Fact: Their surveys and research showed that many people watching the shows don’t even cook!)

 

As the industry changed and more than 16 years with the Food Network, Bob wanted to try something new again—but he knew he didn’t want to work every day. He did not, however, create the typical “bucket list”—he made it into so much more. Bob created three lists in order to make this next phase of life successful: Curiosity, Adventure and Service. Under each category he listed all the things he’d like to accomplish. For example, Curiosity might include learning a foreign language. Adventure might mean biking across Italy. Service encompasses ways to service your community and make the world a better place. How could he do more meaningful work and get paid for it at the same time?

 

Bob had always wanted to teach and is now a professor at NYU/Stern and loving it. Some of his best advice to his students (and all of us, really): “Take any door that opens and walk through it. If you work hard, people will help you to succeed.”

 

For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #3 with Bob Tuschman. For listening details go to our website!

To learn more about Bob's previous career, check out his Food Network bio, and to learn more about what he's up to at NYU/Stern, check out his faculty bio!

 

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   podcast   interview   try new things   food network   bob tuschman  

Shaking up Routines — Herb Shopping in a Pandemic

Carl Landau | August 25, 2020

The pandemic has obviously affected all of us in many ways. In some ways unexpected and for the better. Like switching up some household responsibilities.

 

COVID plot twist: My wife is an amazing cook and loves to shop at the market. Now? That shopper is 100% me. For the past 5 months, Diana  hasn’t been inside a store, anywhere. (She has a rare condition and can’t fight infection well. So she’s high risk for respiratory problems.) 

 

Eleven years ago, when we were first together, we went grocery shopping just once. I guess I was too much a novice and when we walked out of the store, she said, "You don't ever need to come with me again… I’ve got this.”

 

So now this poor woman has to rely on me — who knows nothing except that I love eating great food. The shopping list is not ordinary. She uses exotic (at least to me) ingredients. And it involves going to 5 different places — normal grocery store, old Italian grocery, a butcher, a fresh fish store and the local farmers market. There are no frozen foods from Trader Joe's in our meal planning.

 

Here's just some of my culinary challenges: Herbs are the toughest — what’s the difference between cilantro, dill, mint? (There are 2 kinds of both parsley and basil, by the way.) Cucumbers — English, Persian or regular? Fennel (which they label as anise); savoy cabbage not plain cabbage; tofu has different levels of firmness; potatoes come in russet, gold, red, fingerlings oh my! Thin spaghetti vs. uh… spaghetti; orecchiette pasta, which is hard to pronounce and even harder to find. Couscous but Israeli couscous (THERE IS NO AISLE MARKED “COUSCOUS”!) Pork butt, is it bone-in or bone-out? WTF. Feta — it's supposed to come packed in water? Fish with skin on or skin off? Cornstarch: What is that? Where is it? When picking tomatoes at the farmers market, you're not allowed to squeeze them but don't get them too ripe or too hard.

 

So what have I learned from all this? I've embraced what I thought was a boring chore that I thought I wasn't good at. And it ends up being something I really enjoy doing! I'm chatting up the produce guy and grilling the fish guy — “Hey, what is the freshest fish today?” I’m loving it. And I feel like I'm doing something important to help my wonderful wife. Plus, I’ll be honest — come mealtime, I am definitely the beneficiary.

 

There’s never a better time to shake up the routine and learn something new!

Tags:    the carl diary   retirement   food   groceries   routine   pandemic