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.
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!