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

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Chris Welles Interview: Out of Africa a Second Act Found Him

Diana Landau | March 16, 2021


In this episode, Carl talks with Chris Welles, the Founder and President of American Rhino, a successful apparel and home goods brand. The company is so much more than t-shirts, canvas totes and hand-painted trays depicting zebras, however. Thanks to Chris and his vision for the business, which donates 10% of every sale back to Kenya, American Rhino is the new business model for a purpose-driven fashion business that supports Kenyan land and wildlife conservation, as well as the local communities.
Chris founded the company a little over four years ago. Yet the seeds of this new entrepreneurship began with a family trip to Africa on a safari in 2008. Chris was an executive recruiter at the time, living in Boston. He says the trip was transformative for him and his family. In 2010, Chris and his oldest son returned to Kenya, as they were invited to participate in the Rhino Charge, an annual off-road motorsport competition raising funds for rhino and wildlife conservation. As the only American team in the race, they were known as the “American Rhinos” and he outfitted the team with hats and t-shirts emblazoned with a red, white and blue rhino logo designed by his son.
So how does a vacation inspiration turn into a business? “We didn't do well but we had a blast,” Chris told us. He said they never had a chance at winning the competition but the requests for hats and tees with their logo kept coming. “We had no clue on how to make it (apparel) or market it or any of that stuff. That was part of the fun, figuring all that out.” Rather than having the items made in the Far East, they made a decision that their goods would benefit East Africa. “Early on we thought, let’s find a way to make our goods in the areas of the world that we are supporting.”
Chris started knocking on doors, looking for opportunities. “I asked a lot of questions.” Meeting initial resistance, he kept going back and eventually made agreements with African companies to produce their goods. Pre-COVID, the company had 4 seasonal stores, a retail store in Boston plus online sales and has done pretty well. They are poised for growth.
The most meaningful part of this journey for Chris was creating the American Rhino foundation to raise funds to protect the endangered species. When he first met the “Rhino Rangers”, they had little in the way of gear and supplies to protect the black rhinos in the Masai Mara Reserve from poachers. The foundation has given several grants for uniforms, camping gear, vehicles, etc.
FACT: 25% of all new companies are started by Baby Boomers.*
Carl asked Chris if he had advice for Boomer entrepreneurs. “It’s been a blast. It is certainly daunting. As Boomers we’ve all figured out how much money we have left and it’s a little scary investing your money in a startup. But it’s so rewarding."
  • "Make sure you are really enjoying it."
  • "It’s important to have some kind of mission behind it, not just making as much money as possible."
  • "There are so many reasons to say no. Find the one good reason to do it and go for it! "
*Guidant Financial Survey
• For more information about Chris Welles and American Rhino: https://americanrhino.com/
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   chris welles   rhinos   second act   unretirement   foundation  

Andy Levine Interview: The Master Becomes the Student

Diana Landau | February 09, 2021
Carl interviewed Podcast Host and CEO Andy Levine this week. Andy hosts the popular “Second Act Stories”, a podcast that shares the stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding lives in a second act. He is also DCI’s Chairman, a highly specialized firm with expertise in economic development and tourism marketing. 
When Carl first started researching about developing his “I Used to Be Somebody” podcast, Andy was totally generous with advice and lessons learned. And now…..Andy is in the process of transitioning out of his career at DCI and into his own Second Act. (He's also run 14 marathons!)
Andy started with DCI in 1991, a firm founded by his father. Both of his parents worked there. His father approached him about working at DCI and told him he could change it any way he wanted. Andy seized the opportunity. Andy said, “Early on, you figure out a way to separate business and family.” His parents were open to change and Andy had an open canvas.
Now 30 years later, Andy is having fun producing his own inspirational, Public Radio-style podcast and thinking about his next steps. “I’ve always been fascinated by people who did something for 10, 15, 20, 30 years and then switched to something completely different.” 
When designing your own (un)retirement, Andy emphasized the importance of trial and error and giving yourself permission to be strategic for your own life. “Find out what feeds you. It’s less about making money and more about finding meaning. What do you find rewarding? You’re going to have to do some work to find out what that is.” He also pointed out that it’s rarely a straight line to your goals. You have to be flexible, make adjustments and it’s okay to pivot.
One of Andy’s favorite podcast guests has been an 81-year old man who had a career as an executive recruiter, with a dream of becoming a comedian. He told Andy the man now works frequently in stand-up and has been introduced to a whole new group of people, loving life.
Andy’s 3 Keys to (Un)retirement:
- Self-awareness: Recognize your accumulated knowledge and skill set, plus your strengths and weaknesses.
- Flexibility: You might have to change your approach to that dream or even change direction.
- Curiosity: Have a genuine interest in the world around you and in learning new things.
• For more information about Andy Levine: https://www.secondactstories.org/
• To subscribe to the "I Used to be Somebody" newsletter: https://pickleballmediahq.com


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   andy levine   interview   unretirement   second act   marketing  

Barry Pincus Interview: From "Toughest Bosses in America" to Working on His Own Terms

Diana Landau | November 02, 2020

This week, Carl talked with finance wiz Barry Pincus about his long career as a CFO for dozens of very different organizations. His client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in America. He’s worked closely with The New York Yankees, Martha Stewart, Sportsrocket, IMG Artists, Dennis Publishing (Maxim Magazine) and more. Whether he’s readying an organization to go public, bringing cost centers into line, or building rock solid infrastructure for clients, Barry’s goal is always to identify the pain points, find solutions and improve the bottom line.


While working in Manhattan in his 20s, Barry would see rows and rows of accountants in office buildings, all working side-by-side in unison, and he thought… “Not for me!” Instead, he dove into the world of strategic operations and finance. “Sports is the world’s oldest reality show,” he told us, explaining that all the operations (such as concessions, hospitality, media rights, etc.) around the actual game drive revenue. Barry worked for the New York Yankees during the George Steinbrenner days. He’s got some great stories!


Barry loves working with creative people in diverse situations. He worked with Martha Stewart after she took back her company from Times Warner and Barry helped the organization get ready to go public. He says that Martha, in addition to being a brilliant creative, surrounded herself with the most creative team she could find. She insisted on new, creative ideas.


Flash forward to now: Companies shift and change, there are often buyouts and mergers and jobs get eliminated. Often Barry would go into an organization, turn it around and then move on. Barry’s “Aha!” moment came when he realized that at 67, he didn’t want to work full-time anymore and definitely didn’t want to work any longer at someone else’s whim. “I wanted to choose who, when and how I worked.”


So Barry created a business plan for his “second act.”. Through experience, Barry has the wisdom and knowledge to know what he is good at—storytelling and selling. “You are always doing those two things: to investors, the Board, everyone. I love helping companies with that.” He knew he wanted to work in a way that was less stressful, more diverse, without becoming bogged down in company politics.


Barry is now a “Interim & Fractional CFO, COO and Board Advisor”, specializing in finance and operations for TechCXO, a network of C-Suite level people who form teams based on the client's specific needs. “I get to come in and help people. It’s like sometimes companies need a grown-up in the room.” Barry started this venture recently and still gets the excited-anxious butterflies of beginning something new. (He most likely gets his work ethic from his accountant father, who at 99 years of age still has one client!)


Key takeaways from the interview with Barry Pincus:

1)   “When you do something new, you have to have a certain amount of patience.”

2)   “Figure out what makes you happy. Does this work fit with your personality, your lifestyle? Do you want to work more, or less?

3)   “Consider how a new venture will fit with your spouse during this stage of your life. Are you both still working and do you want to continue?

4)   “Anxiety is motivational. It keeps me going! “


P.S.  It so happens that superstar Barry Manilow’s birth name is Barry Pincus. “I’m still waiting for my royalties from “Mandy”! Barry laughed.


Learn more about Barry at Barry Pincus Tech CXO.


For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #8 with Barry Pincus.


To share this blog, copy and paste this link: https://pickleballmediahq.com/blog/barry-pincus-interview-from-toughest-bosses-in-america-to-working-on-his-own-terms

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   barry pincus   CFO   second act  

I'm Not a Big Deal Anymore

Carl Landau | August 04, 2020

The Carl Diary“How are you going to deal with not being a big deal anymore?”


It’s been about 8 months since my wife Diana asked me that question over a happy hour glass of wine. I had sold my company a few months before and was working a part-time one-year stint with the new company to show them the ropes.


"What do you mean?"

"Once you leave your job, the emails and phone calls stop coming and no one really cares about your opinion any more".  And then she joked, (I think), "And I don't need you following me around the house, showing me the right way to make toast.”


It didn't take long for this information to worm its way into my brain. I knew she was right. This was the third company I’d started and sold. Way back "in the day" as they say (early 80's), I’d  launched a computer magazine for software developers; the 1st magazine about Artificial Intelligence; plus a national conference and tradeshow. Then in the 1990s I started a craft beer / wine publication and event during that first wave of microbreweries. 


After I sold those companies it all ended. Once you’re gone no one cares! Sure, you remain friends with a few of the people that you were close with but the company -- your “life’s work” -- moves on without you. It’s weird.


And now, after 20 years of being the Grand Poobah of my company Niche Media, creating hundreds of events for niche magazine publishers, it was all going to be ending—again.


So when you're an entrepreneur or corporate exec, a lot of your self worth is wound up in that job. I've always felt like I've been a pretty good dad, brother and husband. But, it's the work creation that I know I was good at. To me it came more naturally than the family stuff. 


Within a few days I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to start a podcast for people like me.  Like anyone my age (63) I want to spend more time with my family and go on really great vacations, (which of course is sort of a bad joke for everyone now, but they will be back!) But I still want to do work in new ways!


I really get a lot of energy from the work and creating. I just don't want the day-to-day grind. I want to have more fun and control the pace. So I've made a deal with myself; Try all sorts of new things. So I’m sort of the guinea pig for this Second Act journey into (un)retirement. Join me for the ride...





P.S. Why the Tiki diary? I have a fun Tiki bar instead of a garage —where I’ll be producing the podcast from! The "I Used to be Somebody" podcast debuts September 15th.

Tags:    the carl diary   podcast   entrepreneur   unretirement   second act  

No One Told Me

Carl Landau | July 15, 2020

1. No one told me that in retirement, no one wants your expertise about that work you did for the last 20+ years. (Not even your spouse. Maybe your dog.)

2. No one told me that in retirement, taking a nap isn’t as fun as it used to be. You lay down for a moment (or three) to rest a little…and you’re afraid you might not get up again!

3. No one told me that my significant other is so busy. Here I thought they’d drop everything and focus on ME when I retired.

4. No one told me that in retirement that I’d get around to that consistent exercise routine and finally get in shape…but I’d have injuries! Pulled muscles! Playing through the aches! I can go on…

5. No one told me that I’d have to make new friends at my age. Not so easy! I think it’s harder for guys and more so if you had an all-consuming career.

6. No one told me that in retirement, the two most powerful words are YES and NO. Yes, I would like to go to dinner or see that new play! No, I do not want to join your committee with 30 weekly phone calls/emails and 5 meetings each month!

7. No one told me that in retirement, people would assume I do nothing all day. Not true! What’s different is now I control what I want to do and when I want to do it.

8. No one told me that in retirement, I would actually want to work, but just in a different way.  (Less grind, more fun!)  In fact, 3 in 5 retirees plan to launch a new line of work that differs from what they have done in the past.*

9. No one told me that in my Second Act, I would find my new work life so rewarding!

10. No one told me that in (un)retirement, there are so many people just like me—people who actually feel younger, not older! *

* Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations

**Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality

Tags:    baby boomer   unretirement   career   lessons   second act   retirement  


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