Caroline Ceniza-Levine Interview: Do What You Love to Do! (And Quit What You Don't)
Diana Landau | March 30, 2021
This week’s guest is Caroline Ceniza-Levine. Caroline is a dynamo in every sense. She has been a career coach for Amazon, Condé Nast, Goldman Sachs, Google, Tesla and other start-ups through global economies. Her specialty is career change, and she is the author of “Jump Ship: 10 Steps to Starting a New Career."
But HR is just a fraction of the many things she does well. She’s been a guest expert on CNN, NMC, CBS, FOX and other outlets; she’s also been a Senior Contributor to Forbes and a former career columnist in Money, CNBC and Portfolio. Did we mention she is also a Director for non-profits, an adjunct professor and a very funny stand-up comedian?
Although definitely not your average career path, Caroline says she learned the pace and variety from her hard-working single mother. She says that growing up in Lower East Manhattan, her mother always had several side gigs. Caroline went to Barnard College and studied at Julliard as a classical pianist. It was the first time she decided to pivot to something new. “That was a big growth step for me,” she says. “Quitting was a gift to myself.”
So Caroline followed her many other interests instead. She was working with large companies and saw very successful, talented, hard-working people who were still not 100% satisfied with their jobs. That’s when she decided to trust her instincts. Her secret? “You have to be prepared to pivot constantly. So I embraced that.”
Caroline urges people to find their dream jobs, instead of a haphazard approach to finding that next opportunity. The same could be said of (un)retirement—make a plan:
Look for growth opportunities
Identify your resources
Make the changes you desire
Build a new community
During the podcast, Carl tells Caroline how much he admires how fearless she is. Caroline replied, “I’m actually fearful. But you just need to push yourself through it!” Caroline and her husband now split their time between NYC, Jacksonville FL, and Costa Rica. And you guessed it, still following her passions!
More insights on (un)retirement from Caroline:
• "Networking—Go do it! Figure out the methods of networking that work best for you."
• "It’s so much easier now to make money at things you are interested in. What a great time to have a body of expertise and experience and (you can) carve something new out of that."
• "Work is play! I now pick my projects based on whether they’re going to be fun and I’m going to enjoy working on them."
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.
I know in (un)retirement you have a lot of freedom and you can probably do whatever the hell you want to do. But taking the freewheeling approach to a retirement "non-plan" usually means getting zero done and you don't feel particularly fulfilled.
We came up with 20 UnRetirement Strategies. Some may seem obvious. And some are just silly. But #1, "Developing a Routine" has come up in almost every guest interview on the podcast. The key is that your (un)retirement plan doesn't have to be crazy ambitious to be successful. You are also allowed to build some fun into your plan!
In reflecting over the past, as well as the last super-weird year we have all experienced, I have come up with some new additions to my own (un)retirement plan. Here are three things that I've learned to do and have stuck with successfully:
1) Pivot: My wife and I, along with probably a lot of you, were planning to take some really cool trips to other countries. So Diana and I decided that every 6 weeks, we'd take a mini-trip. And we've had an absolute blast renting various VRBO's and exploring small towns in our region. We've hiked up a storm. These little getaways give us some travel to look forward to, even during the pandemic. So if your original plan doesn't fly, pivot!
2) Stretch: I know it sounds basic but stretching your body and mind is really important. Over a year ago, I suffered a severe hamstring injury (yes, playing pickleball) and did physical rehab. I learned a simple, daily 15-minute stretching routine. And I've incorporated meditating at the same time. For those who know me, this doesn't sound very "Carl-like", but I love it and never miss a day of my stretching routine.
3) Challenge: I learned how to put together a weekly podcast and Diana and I write a weekly newsletter. This isn't easy to do. As deadline looms each week, it can be a little stressful. But I've learned there is positive stress and it's a really healthy thing to challenge yourself, especially in (un)retirement. In the last year, I've learned probably 100+ new things about technology, the creative process and the retirement industry. I've talked with new people that I would of never talked with in a million years, plus I'm making a connection with an audience of about 1,000 people a week. And hopefully we are helping our listeners figure out their (un)retirement. Find ways to keep challenging yourself!
See? Making an (un)retirement plan can be sexy. Try it!!!