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

Superfan (Un)Retirement Success Story: Julie Sursok

Carl Landau | January 19, 2021

So You're a Senior, WTF! 


Julie Sursok is an inspiring breakthrough author of the best-selling book “I’m Now called a Senior WTF.” Julie is a senior herself. She has run her own successful businesses, performed on stage and television and is an award-winning recording artist.
Julie emigrated from South Africa to Australia mastering the challenges of losing everything to rise back up again. And now with laughter, humility and life experience she is passionately inspiring seniors to stand tall and feel relevant again.
When she closed down her business, she realized that she was now in the category of “senior” but just didn’t feel like one. Julie saw seniors struggling with the premise that their self worth was tied up in their past and what they did and that they had now lost their identity.
It appeared retirement was fast becoming “retirement from life”. Julie knew she needed to change this and make seniors realize that this is the beginning of so many new things. She needed to get up on stage and talk in front of thousands of people and help them find their purpose and to be curious about interests that they hadn't dared to try. And, through that they would feel alive again.
So, as an example, she wrote a short film and directed it, executive produced a movie, became computer literate, danced the salsa with her grandchildren, discovered new countries with her co-senior and now, she's written a book.
Julie tells us, "For Boomers, it is only one small step at a time, you don't climb to the top of the ladder in one leap, you climb up one step at a time. I say to Boomers, we are all in the same boat but now is the time to find your new why. It just takes curiosity."
Super-Fan (Un)retirement Success Stories: We want to hear from you! Submit your personal stories of professional (un)retirement success to podcast@pickleballmediahq.com.


Tags:    blog   superfan   star of the week   unretirement   author   best-seller  

Chris Farrell Interview: Push Back on Boomer Stereotypes in Our Economy

Diana Landau | January 12, 2021
Carl interviewed Chris Farrell this week. Chris has an impressive resume: economist, economics editor of Marketplace Money, a radio show host on American Public Media, a radio host on Minnesota Public Radio, and columnist for the Star Tribune and PBS Next Avenue. Chris has also written five best-selling books, most recently Purpose and a Paycheck: Finding Meaning, Money and Happiness in the Second Half of Life.
Chris has studied and reported on economic trends for decades. For years people speculated on the Boomer generation and what would happen as they age. 
FACT: Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will celebrate their 65th birthday every single day until 2030.
Chris combined scholarly research with firsthand reporting to debunk the popular myth that an aging population is a burden on the economy. Instead, he found that people in the second half of life could be as creative, innovative and entrepreneurial as their younger peers. “The Boomer big shift is to starting a business, as solopreneurs or micropreneurs. They have knowledge, experience, typically they have contacts—and it doesn’t cost much to start a business these days. Whether they are forced to start a business or it’s something they want to do, it’s becoming a significant trend in our economy.”
In his youth, Chris went to Stanford and after graduation became a Merchant Marine, working all over the world for a year before attending the London School of Economics. Carl reminisced about his 20’s in San Francisco and how exciting it was to start up his first magazine. Chris agreed, noting that people need to lighten up on a lot of the young people in their mid-20’s. “You don’t have to decide your career early on. You can experiment, you can shift, and actually most people I know may have had some sort of idea what they wanted to do, but would end up doing something very different.”
Over the course of his career, Chris has been a columnist for Businessweek, The New York Times, Kiplinger's and many others. “One of the things many of us have learned over the course of our careers is what you do—it’s important you enjoy it and like it all and a lot of that comes from the people you are surrounded with; Are they smart, are they engaging, do they care? …..Be around people you want to be with!”
Some of Chris’s tips on contemplating (un) retirement:
1. Carve out some daily time for introspection. 
2. Then go to your network and ask them what they think. Your network knows you and cares about you and will help you hone in on your strengths.
3. This is not a “one and done” decision. That never works. Have that experimental mindset.
4. Realize the significance of (un) retirement and entrepreneurship. 
“I’m so impressed with how creative people are and what they end up doing,” added Chris. “One of the most heartening economic trends I've seen in our economy is multi-generational start-ups—it’s a wonderful trend.” 
To learn more about Chris Farrell, visit his website.
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #12 with Chris Farrell.
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 Farrell   unretirement   boomer  

Super-Fan (Un)Retirement Success Stories: Jill Thiry

Diana Landau | January 12, 2021
Look for YES!


Jill Thiry tells us she "fell upon" publishing just after completing an MBA in San Francisco. She also attended USF evenings while working full time in Insurance, after 2 years of teaching skiing, kayaking in Europe and traveling the world en route to home.)
She started with CMP Media in Oakland at their partnered investment with HealthWeek magazine doing classified ad sales and management. That initiated a 15-year career at CMP that grew professionally to VP Group Publisher.  She then decided to leave publishing for something new. “My advice is to look for new Yes’s in life, which also means practicing new desired No’s.”
Jill joined a choir, and then started a regular yoga and Pilates practice. She took her "work hard, play hard" philosophy and applied it more to "work smart and take time off to enjoy new things".  She joined an annual Family Goal Setting Group, which was the start of Club Change
Jill also wanted to now only work for things she was passionate about, and for many months even worked straight commission in order to toe-dip in healthcare, human resources, small business development, and recreation. During this same time, she started visiting Rancho La Puerta more and more and soon it became her  "happy place". She had an opportunity to move to Mexico and work at the Ranch—and she took it.
Three years ago, Jill reduced her hours at the Ranch and now co-exists across the border as well.  Half of each week she’s in Tecate working in her happy place at Rancho La Puerta. The other half of the week she’s enjoying the SoCal beach life in Imperial Beach and growing her Club Change business.  Jill remains inspired and ready to expand. “Who knows, maybe the next act will include "Club Change" weekends all over the country, and hopefully complete my first book?!”
Jill's advice on (un)retirement: “So often what we are looking for is right in front of us, and when we are humble and honest and looking with an open mind and heart, the solution is right there, like a red carpet extended for the rest of your life!” 
Note: Jill now offers a "Set Your Intention" one-hour complementary class, or an 8-week Club Change session for assistance in making change, one loving intention at a time.  
Super-Fan (Un)retirement Success Stories: We want to hear from you! Submit your personal stories of professional (un)retirement success to podcast@pickleballmediahq.com.
Tags:    blog   superfan   star of the week   unretirement   rancho la puerta   socal   club change  

Super-Fan (Un)Retirement Success Stories: Robert Francis James

Diana Landau | January 04, 2021
Based in our nation’s capital, Bob James enjoyed a 40-year career in marketing and PR. His clients included tech companies, manufacturers, financial services firms, publishers, trade associations, and government agencies. Besides steering clients’ campaigns, Bob spent much of the 40 years’ time writing copy, contributing articles and op-eds to trade magazines and to big-city newspapers like Newsday and The Washington Post. He even ghost-wrote speeches for a U.S. President (hint: the one who starred opposite a chimp in the 1951 film “Bedtime for Bonzo”).


Bob climbed off the marketing merry-go-round the day he turned 65, devoting the next 18 months to the hunt for a second career. “I’d been working 40 hours a week since I was 19, and was happy to step out of the rat race,” Bob told us.


“That said, I felt unmoored after I dropped out. While I told myself that was okay—I was taking a ‘gap year’—still I’d spend my mornings obsessively watching podcasts and reading books and blogs about retirement lifestyles and ‘encore careers,’ making lists of possible second-act careers. 


“But none of the business pursuits I landed on felt quite right—or, indeed, sustainable. I tried a part-time job, but hated it and quit after three days (the red uniform required didn’t help my morale). At one point, I even started to draft business plans—one for a trade publishing company, one for a tour operator, and the third for a recycling firm. But all those ventures seemed formidable, exhausting, and way too risky. The research I did only persuaded me that the businesses were personal dead ends.


“Meanwhile, I filled my afternoons drawing and painting and studying with great teachers at two of the local arts centers. Those pursuits soon became the highlights of my week, second only to joining my wife on Fridays for Happy Hour at the pub down the block.


“Then, suddenly, one day in class I dashed off a painting the teacher (not kiddingly) called a ‘masterpiece,’ and I realized that—with enough effort—I could move beyond ‘hobby painter’ to ‘professional painter’ status. 


"Strange as it sounds, Covid-19 pushed me to act on that thought. Locked down and unable to venture outside much, I instead hired an artist’s consultant. With her guidance, I built a website, launched a blog, commissioned a logo, printed business cards, joined local arts organizations, and applied for exhibitions and fairs. The new business was up and running in less than four months, at a cost of less than $5,000.


“The best way to prepare for your second-act career is to pursue a passion project—or two or three—without any thought of monetizing them. Then, one day, things will click, and you’ll be off to the races!"


Bob now paints small expressionist still lifes in oil. He spends his days on the lookout for objects that evoke tranquility and domesticity, and paints them in a realistic fashion. By applauding the plain and prosaic, Bob’s paintings ask viewers to slow down, step back, stop doing and start looking—if only for a moment.


For more information about Robert Francis James go to: robertfrancisjames.com/
Super-Fan (Un)retirement Success Stories: We want to hear from you! Submit your personal stories of professional (un)retirement success to podcast@pickleballmediahq.com.
Tags:    blog   superfan   star of the week   unretirement   painter   artist  

Mark Shaiken Interview: Figuring Out What You Really Want!

Diana Landau | November 23, 2020
Mark Shaiken talks with Carl about what comes next after a big career as a successful attorney. Then Mark took his life in an entirely different direction. He has just released a new book, “And... Just Like That: Essays on a life before, during and after the law”.
The questions started in his 50’s-- “Well, what else can I do?” The answers were not so easy for him then. “It’s sort of a loaded question,” said Mark. “The truth is there are lots of things we can do.” Carl agreed that sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in something when you're pretty good at it. Decades can fly by.
Mark grew up in Queens and his family was on the move quite a bit as a child-- 11 times in 17 years. Mark said the main impact from that experience was that it was hard to make friends, only to move on again. In high school, he was envious of his friends who already knew what they wanted to do with their lives after graduation. 
He drove a forklift for awhile, still unclear about what to do. He became engaged and took the law school admission on a whim. He figured law school would give him 3 more years to figure out what he really wanted to do. Mark recognized a theme in his life, like “kicking the can,” (which in legal terms means “postponement.”) He never imagined then that he would actually become a practicing attorney.
Near graduation, a local bankruptcy judge was looking for a law clerk. Mark had to go back to school to actually take the bankruptcy course, but then worked for the judge. After a few years, unsolicited job offers kept coming and he and his wife moved to Houston and he accepted a position with a large firm. 
Mark and his family eventually moved to Kansas City, where he practiced for 28 years in “the big firm life”. Law was all encompassing, and with the internet came 10pm texts from opposing counsel. Most of his time was not his own. As he pondered his future, he humorously started calling it the "afterlife" because he thought he'd have to die to get out of law.
"I knew I wanted to retire to something, not from something," Mark said. He realized he had been "kicking the can" in his career choices and decided to do it differently this time. He allowed himself to dream, read career pivot books but most didn't resonate. Then he read the book "Your Next Season." The book made so much sense to him he called the author at his home and they had a wonderful talk.  The author had formed a company to help people during career transitions and Mark became a client. "I give myself credit for going outside myself for help when I needed it." It was a game changer for him.
Today Mark is an amazing(!) sports and nature photographer, while serving the Denver community on several Boards. One non-profit, Think 360 Arts for Learning introduces children from poor neighborhoods to the arts. Statistics show these kids are more likely to go onto higher education. Mark also teaches photography to veterans with PTSD.
Mark's (Un)Retirement advice: 
  • The plan: "Some people retire, then figure it out. That may work, but it's not for me. I need something more structured."
  • Joining a Board or charity: "Fit is important. You have to believe in the mission."
  • Life tip: "Don't ever believe there's only one thing you can do!"
To learn more about Mark Shaiken, visit his website.
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #11 with Mark Shaiken.
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   Mark Shaiken   photography   charity   unretirement