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

Michela O’Connor Abrams Interview: Emboldened and Resilient!

Diana Landau | October 19, 2020

In this week’s podcast, we talk with Michela O’Connor Abrams about facing life’s challenges head on and starting anew. Michela is the former CEO of Dwell Media, building the company from its early phase as a small magazine about esoteric design to an internationally recognized media brand. This was a huge achievement: The Internet has changed magazine publishing in dramatic ways and the brands that didn’t learn to develop new channels for their customer base sank quickly.

 

With Michela at the helm, Dwell became a 7-platform media brand. It’s known for showcasing gorgeous photography and innovative design and for bringing together architects, designers, and the trades in creating beautiful places to live.

 

Although there weren’t very many female CEOs 30+ years ago, Michela was a trailblazer in publishing. Prior to Dwell, Michela led companies from startup to exit and turnaround to high growth, at companies like IDG, Softbank, McGraw-Hill, Ziff Davis and Future Media.

 

Then four years ago, she faced the unimaginable. First, her mother unexpectedly was diagnosed with non-smoking lung cancer. Soon after that, one of her dearest friends died. Two weeks after that, her husband died, and then two weeks later her father died.

 

Flash forward to now. Michela says she is “emboldened and resilient.” She said it helped to imagine all four of her loved ones standing in front of her, telling her to go live her life with reckless abandon. “So that’s what I’m trying to do,” she says. I had to answer the question, “When, where and how do I recreate my future?”  

 

Looking forward, she has been eager to draw on her many years of leadership and coaching experience. Michela founded a new media company, MOCA+. Tapping into her vast experience and connections within the industry, she creates a team to help her clients depending on their need: Coaching, fine-tuning, pivoting, buying and selling. She’s loving it!

 

In her spare time, Michela serves on the board of Arcbazar and is an advisor to Turkel Design, Nebia, Aplat Inc., NextPlay, and NewStory. She is a sought-after speaker on leadership, design, and media and is always game to share her passion for good design and business innovation.

 

3 key takeaways on beginning anew from Michela:

 

  1. You choose what “balance” is and what work you take on. There’s so much to get involved in, you have to decide what you really want for you—first.

  2. Ask, “What’s my time worth?” Decide a price/value ratio that not only works for you but for the client as well.

  3. Take enough time off. Michela says she jumped back in after only 2 months but wished she’d taken more time in between business ventures.

 

For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #6 with Michela O’Connor Abrams. For listening details go to our website.

To learn more about Michela check out her website.

 

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   podcast   Michela OConnor Abrams   adversity   future   new beginning  

Joan Ryan Interview: The Courageous Path

Diana Landau | October 12, 2020

The best words to describe what Joan Ryan has done throughout her life is………..”Ground breaking.” She is an award-winning journalist and author of five books. Joan has been a pioneer in sports journalism, becoming one of the first female sports columnists in the country. She has covered every major sporting event from the Super Bowl and the World Series to the Olympics. 

 

Joan overcame the challenges of being a female in a male dominated world. She notes “I was competitive, so the more hassle I got, the more determined I got.” She started her career as a sports reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, then became an editor and eventually the first female sports columnist.

 

Carl talks with Joan about making the transition from decades in sports journalism to becoming a book author and writing for herself.  It’s no surprise that her first book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of the Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters (1995, Doubleday), was a controversial, ground-breaking expose that Sports Illustrated named one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time. The book and Joan were featured on Oprah, The Today Show, The New Yorker, New York Times and People Magazine among others.

 

Three successful books later, Joan again tried something new. Realizing that there was no one really “telling the story” of the then (2008) struggling SF Giants team, she set out to create a media consulting position for herself as an “in-house” journalist—a new concept at the time. She had lunch with CEO Larry Baer… and the rest is history.

 

Joan’s long experience in clubhouses and locker rooms and then with the SF Giants team made her realize that successful teams, in any type of organization, cannot only be driven by analytics, but that culture makes the difference. It's not an either/or question. “Culture is the bedrock of team chemistry and high performance,” she says. So you know what happened next. Joan’s latest book, Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry (Little Brown, 2020), is out now. 

 

Advice on career changes and life from Joan Ryan:

 

1. “Ask yourself, how can I apply this skill set that I worked so hard for to something new?”

 

2. “Anytime you pitch a new idea to someone, you better connect the dots on how it’s going to put money in their pocket.”

 

3. “It’s essential to find your new tribe, whether it’s a new organization, golf, etc. You have to get out there. Do not isolate. We need connection, we are social beings.”

 

For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #4 with Joan Ryan. For listening details go to our website.

To learn more about Joan's work check out her website

 

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   podcast   Joan Ryan   Giants   bestselling  

Richard Turner Interview: From Courtroom to Darkroom

Diana Landau | October 05, 2020

Carl interviewed Richard Turner, an active 82 year-old with over 20 years of adventurous (un)retirement in the Tiki Bar studio last week. Richard lives in Sacramento but has a national reputation. His life has taken many twists—from prominent positions in state government to managing a large law firm to taking a dramatic U-turn to professional photographer and poet.

 

In his early 30s, Richard was already a Deputy District Attorney when he was given the opportunity to work for Ronald Reagan, then California’s governor. Richard says that even if you don’t agree with Reagan’s policies, he was always a gentleman. He worked closely with Reagan and the team understood that the goal was the White House. Richard also stepped up to become Governor’s representative on the scene during the 1969 People’s Park riots.

 

He then left his plumb job on the Governor’s legal team to become a trial lawyer and start his own practice. Specializing in state governmental issues, Richard grew his firm to 15 lawyers and 40 employees. His life was about work, kids, and their schedules mortgages, graduations—we all know the drill. He felt all the long hours in his work life were taking a toll. “I started to feel that five decades rushed by, like overnight,” and he began to wonder about the world outside his own. As a trial lawyer, his life was characterized by conflict. He wanted more.

 

At 60, spur of the moment, Richard told his wife he was going back East and would be back in a month. He had no plan, no agenda. He stopped in Idaho, Montana and British Columbia, taking photos with a brand new camera. One morning, before he bucked hay on a cattle ranch, he was sitting on a log as the mist rose from the Bitterroot River. An inner voice whispered, “Richard, you swagger around a courtroom all day arguing with people. There are a lot of other things happening in the world. Wake up before the miracles pass you by.” Richard says his sleep in the woods that night was delightful.

 

So Richard went from courtroom to darkroom, winding up his client responsibilities at the law firm and embarking on a new career as professional nature photographer and poet—two things he hadn’t done before but took enormous pleasure in—even though his friends and family thought he was crazy. It took some work to wrap things up in his old life, but he says the decision was easy.

 

Fast forward to now: Richard has sold thousands of copies of his book, “I Can’t Always See My Path, but I Keep on Walking”, a collaboration of his photography and poetry. He has more books in the works and has sold 54,000 of his beautiful, handmade cards featuring his photos. (Do the math.)

 

Here are some key insights on (un)retirement from the interview:

 

  • Richard: “Do whatever it takes to enjoy your life.”

 

  • Carl: “Don’t wait for tomorrow to do the things on your bucket list. People always wait for retirement, whenever that is. Do it now.”

 

  • Richard: “We get caught up in the troubles of life—the world, politics, family, etc. Life is short. Make an effort to enjoy it and be fulfilled.”

 

Richard summed up his (un)retirement in just three words: “I feel good!” He went on to say that what has become important to him now is to do something for humanity. He’s certainly found that in sharing his writing and photography with the world.

 

For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #4 with Richard Turner. For listening details go to our website!

To learn more about Richard’s work check out his website to learn more about what he's up to now.

 

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   podcast   Richard Turner   unretirement   poetry   photography  

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