Keep Moving Forward -- Pickleball Instructor, Microbrewery Owner, World Traveler, High School Teacher, Massage Therapist, Book Author
Carl interviewed the multi-talented Mike Branon this week. After some ups and downs in life, Mike became an entrepreneur, finding a niche as a structural steel contractor. He grew the company to $20-$40 million in sales annually and then retired at 40, looking forward to his Second Act. Although most of our podcast guests are navigating (un)retirement in their 50’s-70’s, Mike took a chance and left the 24/7 work life behind, wanting to do more with his life.
Now 60, Mike is also a microbrewery owner, teacher, philanthropist, world traveler, massage therapist, Pickleball coach, explorer of spirituality, fitness and anything else that piques his curiosity. Most recently he has become an author. His goal at this stage of life is to share the lessons learned from his diverse background to help others find meaning and joy in their daily lives.
Mike wrote Pickleball & the Art of Living in 2020 during the pandemic, trapped on a cruise ship for 20+ days. (You can see Mike’s pattern of being faced with a challenge and doing something wonderful with it.) His book is definitely not just about Pickleball, it is so much more that. With helpful advice and a sense of humor, Mike encourages the reader to live their best life.
Not everything was rosy perfect for Mike when he was younger and he’s very open about it. His Dad was in the Navy and his family moved around a lot. Mike talked about frequently changing schools, learning to meet new people, having to figure it out. “It taught me to land of my feet.”
After college, he thought he would take the world by storm. Instead, he found himself working in a convenience store, getting married too young and divorcing at 30 with a young daughter. He felt he wasn’t going anywhere. “A lot of that (time) helped me. I know what it’s like to fail and I know what it’s like to succeed so when I look at my retirement years now, I am acutely aware of what I want to do with my time, what makes me happy.”
Always moving forward, Mike is now putting his energies into not only Pickleball and his other passions but he is also the Director of International Relief Teams for rebuilding homes for families and providing health care during disasters.
(Un)retirement insights from Mike Branon on living your best life:
“To me it was so liberating to be (un)retired. Just having that extra white space in your calendar allows room for the unexpected and the serendipitous to pop into your life.”
“If you love what you’re doing career-wise, no reason to stop. But also be open to transitioning. Be open to it.”
“Take baby steps, Try it on. See if it fits you. You might find unexpected joy.”
“Keep looking toward the future vs being pushed along by the past.”
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.