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

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Adam Bryant Interview: NYT "Corner Office" Columnist moves to his own C-Suite

Diana Landau | February 13, 2024

Adam Bryant InterviewCarl interviews Adam Bryant this week. Adam is an award-winning (Including editing a Pulitzer story) journalist and had a weekly feature in the New York Times called Corner Office, where he interviewed business leaders across the globe. He was also Director of NYT Live, a global conference enterprise. He's had many different roles at the Times, including deputy editor in the Science department, deputy national editor and business editor at Newsweek Magazine. Adam says his 55th birthday gave him pause. "I thought if I wanted to do something else, I better get going." So he turned his side job into a new day job, writing books and coaching C-level execs.
 
Adam grew up in Montreal and Westchester, NY. He had a middle-class suburban childhood and his father was a journalist. (So of course, at first, Adam didn't want to pursue that course.) Adam was busy as a teen playing lots of sports and always having a part-time jobs. In college he worked as a reporter for small newspapers. He started working for the New York Times and his career took off in the 1990's. He had the Corner Office column for years and never missed a week.
 
After 30 years as a journalist, he realized he was going to leave the NYT at some point and there would be an "emotional blast zone" (as he calls it) of adjustment and the question was when. "I had to do some internal work to figure out what I wanted to do next." He recommends everyone who is contemplating making a leap to do just that. "Once you get out of the job/industry you're in, widen your lens. There's a big wide world out there. Time to experiment."
 
Over the course of 500+ interviews, Adam saw patterns and themes emerge in the business world and he started writing books about it. When he and his wife moved to New Orleans to be closer to their grown daughters and families, he says his wife gave him the third floor as his "office." You'll have to listen in to hear about the coolest office ever, which includes table tennis, foosball, and more.
 
Adam is now the Senior Managing Director at the ExCo Group, a company that mentors senior leaders to accelerate business impact. He is the author of four books, including his most recent ones, "The Leap to Leader" and "The CEO Test."
 
Adam's tips on making the leap to something new:
  • OBOB: Optional Band of Busyness
People should be aware of their optimal OBOB. How busy were you then and what level do you want now? For example, you can't assume if you're a CEO that all of a sudden you're going to be content playing golf twice a week.
  • Common Pattern -- Want, Should, Need
We spend a great deal of our lives focusing on "should" and "need." At this stage of life, pause before you do something you "should." Stare down that difficult question of "What do I really want to do?" Give yourself some time.Newsletter!

 

 
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   Unretirement   Pickleball   Interview   Adam Bryant   NYT Columnist   C-Suite  

My 6 Best (Un)Retirement Decisions

Carl Landau | February 10, 2024
Carl DiaryI'm currently starting my 4th year of what we call (Un)Retirement. And maybe I've learned a thing or two I can share to help you...
 
Actually do it and retire! I thought about it many times. Exactly when should I cut the cord and stop working the crazy hours and dealing with the pressure of running my own business for 40+ years? The best advice I give people about (Un)Retirement is do it sooner rather than later. I wish I had sold/quit 5 years earlier. The last couple of work years were a drag on my mind, body and spirit. And I didn't realize it until I stopped.
 
Hire a pro to create a financial plan. The reason I felt comfortable in stopping the job/career is that I had been working with a great financial planner for several years in anticipation of the change. That person is Ian Castille at Capital Advantage and I consider him a good friend at this point.
 
I talk to so many people that have/had successful careers and have created wealth that they manage themselves. Or at least they try. This is crazy. What do you truly know about the financial market? I'd rather pay someone that studies the market all day to make my decisions. I sleep so much better at night because of this.
 
Avoid the temptation to go back! You are an expert with experience and it's so tempting to go back. I was in the live event biz for the past 20 years. I know that business back and forth and have seen so many opportunities to return. But, every time I return to my senses (also with the wise counsel of my wife Diana who had to put up with my totally-consumed-working-self for many years). Now I focus on where I'm going!
 
Do something new. Use the skills you already have, except in a new way. After working for decades, we all have developed incredible insights into organization, management, writing or whatever. Just use that toolbox in some new and cool endeavor.
 
Hire someone to do the shit you don't like to do or aren't good at. When I first was launching our podcast and newsletter I was going to hire an assistant. But my friend Bekah said I should consider hiring a virtual assistant company. I did that 3+ years ago. I hired a company Monkey Creative. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. No employees for me to worry about and I only pay for what I need done. I get to do the writing and they handle the graphics, e-marketing and all the other stuff I don't want to do/not good at.
 
Just start and see what happens. I didn't have a plan beyond starting the I Used to be Somebody podcast and newsletter. Then I took a leap of faith. Perhaps it would lead to something else? It lead to me interviewing 80 incredible people that I would never have met in a million years. Many I now consider my friends. The podcast and some pickleball talk led to Diana and I co-authoring (with our instructor and friends Mo and Reine) the Amazon best-seller, Pickleball for dummies. Most recently, my new path has led to leading vacation tours around the world for our podcast audience. You never know...

 

Tags:    the carl diary   unretirement   pickleball   Best decisions   second act   pickleball book   I Used To Be Somebody   Podcast  

Dewey Forward Interview: Night Club Owner Pivots to Popcorn Shop

Diana Landau | December 04, 2023

Dewey ForwardCarl interviews music promoter/serial entrepreneur Dewey Forward this week. Just some of Dewey's accomplishments include organizing and promoting over 4,000 concerts, opening Peabody's Cafe and Peabody's DownUnder in Cleveland Flats and also developing the Sohio/BP RiverFest, (which was Ohio's largest festival in history with over 1,000,000 attendees). He has produced concerts for Spyro Gyra, Pearl Jam, Etta James, Wynton Marsalis, REM, Donovan, Bon Jovi, Bo Diddley and countless others. Dewey is also now the proud owner of an iconic popcorn shop in picturesque Chagrin Falls, OH.
 
Like Carl, Dewey grew up in Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. "It was a 'Leave it to Beaver' childhood, " he says. Enterprising even at the age of 9, Dewey started a "canteen" in his basement, selling refreshments and a place to hang out to the neighborhood kids. He also says he was a troublemaker in school and was on a first name-basis with the Principal.
 
After trying out three colleges, Dewey settled on Hartford where he says he didn't learn much in class but learned a lot about producing successful events. "I learned how to organize and promote concerts and events and how to create a crowd." He founded SAW--a student organization against the Vietnam War, organizing bus trips to Washington D.C. to protest.
 
Fun Fact: Dewey Forward is a "Jr.", his last name of English descent. "No one forgets my name!"
 
Carl notes that being a concert and event producer is a high-stress, high-risk career. "Yes, my parents were aghast but I didn't listen to them." In 1977 Dewey opened Peabody's Cafe and Peabody's DownUnder, two successful ventures in the up-and-coming Cleveland Flats neighborhood. His mother gave him the money to start both businesses. "I paid her back and I'll forever be grateful." By the time Dewey moved on, the area had grown from 5 restaurants and bars to 53. "When I look back on it, it was a blast but also so stressful."
 
Dewey retired for the first(!) time at age 50. Not one to sit still, he started a new business every five years. Now at 74, he's learning not to add more stress into his life. He does a lot of physical activity, including bike riding. "It clears my head and is good for my heart!" He and his girlfriend love to travel and he's building a second home on Lake Erie. His five words for the (un)retirement good life: "Keep moving and no stress!"
 
Dewey Forward's (un)retirement tips:
  • "Get rid of that negative voice in your head that tells you that you can't do things. We are a very capable generation!"
  • "Don't be too old to retire. What I mean is, do not keep working until your body is too old to do anything else."
  • "I'm not a planner. I just say, 'That looks fun!' and then I put blinders on and go for it!"Dewey Forward Interview
 

 

• More about: Dewey Forward and Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
• Sponsored by: Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by: How to Retire and Not Die
• I Used to be Somebody World Tour: First Stop Tuscany

 

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   I Used To Be Somebody   Unretirement   Interview   Dewey Forward   Carl Landau   Night Club   Popcorn Shop   Pickleball Media  

Bob Wolfe Interview: The Pinot Guy now Pickleball Guy

Diana Landau | November 02, 2023

Bob WolfeCarl interviews Bob Wolfe this month, just as Bob "The Pinot Guy" embarks on a new career in his 60's. Timing, hard work, patience and the willingness to deep dive are the hallmarks of having a successful second (or third) career and Bob has been doing just that for decades. A wine expert who owns his own wine business, he has written over a thousand articles for magazines like The Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, The Northwest Palate and more. He has also been a long-time judge for wine competitions all over the world. Most people know Carl loves Pinot Noir, but Bob's second act as a pickleball instructor has Carl super-psyched!


Bob grew up in a very small rural town in Monroe, Oregon, (pop. 450.) His family lived on 22 acres with cows, chickens and lots of wood for Bob to chop into firewood. Eager to get out into the world after high school, Bob was intrigued by nuclear submarines and international travel and he joined the U.S. Navy.


In the 1980's, Bob started work on two of his interests at the time, natural pesticides and beer, (but not together.) You'll have to tune in to the episode to hear Bob's story about a 4:30am business phone call with Donald Trump way back then. (Some things don't change.) Bob's passions eventually led him to wine and he was one of the first in the U.S. to publish an e-newsletter devoted to wine. He enjoyed the perks of being a wine reviewer. "Wine writing is a wonderful gig!" he tells us.


He took some of the money from his other ventures and in 1991 he started The Oregon Pinot Noir Wine Club out of his garage. That very first day he had orders. In just a couple of years, he grew the club to a $2 million business. He started judging internationally and his wine biz career as a retailer and expert grew steadily.


Fast forward a couple of decades, Bob says he turned 60 and started thinking about what he wanted to do next. " I knew I wanted to wind down my time in the wine biz. I looked for something to belong to, something more social." Bob joined a pickleball club, took some lessons and loved it. "'I'm meeting new people and having fun. I find it satisfying on so many levels."


Now Bob has found someone to run his wine biz and is planning trips to Mazatlan, Mexico and Da Nang, Vietnam where you guessed it...he's planning to play and teach pickleball. He's even training to be a competition judge. Bob says, "I always ask myself, What's driving me and my passion now? I'm jumping in!"
 
Bob Wolfe's (un)retirement tips:
  • "No sitting on the sidelines, just thinking about what you want to do. Do it."
  • "Get enough friends to do things with--I'm determined to escape the dreaded senior lonely years."
  • "Give up on owning a lot of stuff. You just don't need it. Unburden yourself from taking care of things you don't use. It will free your mind too."Unretirement
 
• More about Bob Wolfe
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• I Used to be Somebody World Tour
 
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   Pickleball   Unretirement   Bob Wolfe   Pinot   Wine   Interview   I Used To be Somebody     

Steve Israel Interview: Eight Term US Congressman Now Cool Bookstore Owner

Diana Landau | August 09, 2023

Steve Israel
Carl has interviewed CEO’s, entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes, but this is his first interview with a U.S. Congressman. In this episode he talks with former U.S. Representative Steve Israel of New York. After leaving office in 2017, Steve has been a political commentator on CNN, MSNBC, HBO and more, is a frequent author for many media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post and The Atlantic. He is also Director of the nonpartisan Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. In addition, he has written two books, (Big Guns and The Global War on Morris.) Then in 2021, he became an entrepreneur and launched a new dream job—as the owner of an independent bookstore, Theodore’s Books, in Oyster Bay, NY. “Independent bookstores have always been my sanctuary. They make me feel good, safe and optimistic.”
 
Steve was born in Brooklyn and raised in Levittown on Long Island. He had the classic, middle-class family. “I took those valuable lessons with me to Congress,” Steve says. “It was tough to meet bills but there were plenty who struggled more than we did.” He started writing as a boy. (Does anyone else remember typing away on a Smith-Corona?) In high school, he worked for the student newspaper. “It put me on the path to being able to communicate.” He eventually became very interested in news and politics and knew even then that he wanted to work to make a difference in the world.
 
Carl asks Steve what it felt like to walk into Congress that first day in 2001. “It was the most extraordinary and surreal experience of my life. When I raised my right hand for the oath, I felt goosebumps—still do!” Steve ran for office 8 times and won 8 times. Carl asks him what most of our listeners would be surprised to know about Congress. “Congress is a far more civil and tranquil place than you see on television. There are people working together on both sides to create solutions. The news media is conflict entertainment, but there’s another story to be told.”  
 
The scoop: You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear Carl and Steve talk about Steve’s successor George Santos, the huge void of local, investigative journalism, voter complacency, plus big disaster relief antics from Florida Governor Ron De Santis.
 
Steve started thinking he was ready to move on from public service but got some good advice from a mentor to postpone his retirement for two years, in order to make sure he was making the right decision. "Best advice!" Steve says. When he did retire in 2017 at the age of 59, he began political and media consulting, teaching at Cornell University, wrote two books,  and more. "I think one mistake I made at first was to take on a bit too much." Since 2021, Steve is passionate about his bookstore. "It's hard, it's a challenge and I love it." In addition to running Theodore’s, Steve still does ALL the other things he does and is now working on his third book.
 
Steve Israel’s (Un)retirement Advice:
  • “The transition to (un)retirement wasn't easy, it took a little time to get used to it. Opening my own bookstore gave me a sense of empowerment in a different way than before. Try to take that risk, focus on the one thing that will be fulfilling.”
  • (On filling up the daily schedules) “I’ve had to struggle with the discipline of saying, "No.” I’m still working on it.”
  • “Accept the fact that we're not put on this earth to do one thing forever. Try something new and be courageous. You can do other things with your life—you can pursue different passions!”
 
• More about Steve Israel
• Sponsored by Mike Ownbey, COMPASS 
• Sponsored by How to Retire and Not Die
• 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” blog.
 
Tags:    Blog   Interview   Steve Israel   Carl Landau   Pickleball   I Used To Be Somebody   (Un)Retirement   US Congressman   Bookstore Owner  

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