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

Richard Turner Interview: From Courtroom to Darkroom

Diana Landau | October 05, 2020

Carl interviewed Richard Turner, an active 82 year-old with over 20 years of adventurous (un)retirement in the Tiki Bar studio last week. Richard lives in Sacramento but has a national reputation. His life has taken many twists—from prominent positions in state government to managing a large law firm to taking a dramatic U-turn to professional photographer and poet.


In his early 30s, Richard was already a Deputy District Attorney when he was given the opportunity to work for Ronald Reagan, then California’s governor. Richard says that even if you don’t agree with Reagan’s policies, he was always a gentleman. He worked closely with Reagan and the team understood that the goal was the White House. Richard also stepped up to become Governor’s representative on the scene during the 1969 People’s Park riots.


He then left his plumb job on the Governor’s legal team to become a trial lawyer and start his own practice. Specializing in state governmental issues, Richard grew his firm to 15 lawyers and 40 employees. His life was about work, kids, and their schedules mortgages, graduations—we all know the drill. He felt all the long hours in his work life were taking a toll. “I started to feel that five decades rushed by, like overnight,” and he began to wonder about the world outside his own. As a trial lawyer, his life was characterized by conflict. He wanted more.


At 60, spur of the moment, Richard told his wife he was going back East and would be back in a month. He had no plan, no agenda. He stopped in Idaho, Montana and British Columbia, taking photos with a brand new camera. One morning, before he bucked hay on a cattle ranch, he was sitting on a log as the mist rose from the Bitterroot River. An inner voice whispered, “Richard, you swagger around a courtroom all day arguing with people. There are a lot of other things happening in the world. Wake up before the miracles pass you by.” Richard says his sleep in the woods that night was delightful.


So Richard went from courtroom to darkroom, winding up his client responsibilities at the law firm and embarking on a new career as professional nature photographer and poet—two things he hadn’t done before but took enormous pleasure in—even though his friends and family thought he was crazy. It took some work to wrap things up in his old life, but he says the decision was easy.


Fast forward to now: Richard has sold thousands of copies of his book, “I Can’t Always See My Path, but I Keep on Walking”, a collaboration of his photography and poetry. He has more books in the works and has sold 54,000 of his beautiful, handmade cards featuring his photos. (Do the math.)


Here are some key insights on (un)retirement from the interview:


  • Richard: “Do whatever it takes to enjoy your life.”


  • Carl: “Don’t wait for tomorrow to do the things on your bucket list. People always wait for retirement, whenever that is. Do it now.”


  • Richard: “We get caught up in the troubles of life—the world, politics, family, etc. Life is short. Make an effort to enjoy it and be fulfilled.”


Richard summed up his (un)retirement in just three words: “I feel good!” He went on to say that what has become important to him now is to do something for humanity. He’s certainly found that in sharing his writing and photography with the world.


For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #4 with Richard Turner. For listening details go to our website!

To learn more about Richard’s work check out his website to learn more about what he's up to now.


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   podcast   Richard Turner   unretirement   poetry   photography  

Bring on the Nostalgia

Carl Landau | August 11, 2020

Am I the only one feeling really nostalgic these days? 


Since the beginning April I haven’t had a "real" job. First time in 32 years! So with some extra free time and the pandemic, I've been forced to slow down a bit and I can't help thinking back on my past. Have you felt the same way lately? 


I just listened to a short Hidden Brain podcast episode called The Time Machine, all about the feeling of nostalgia. You'd think reflecting on your past would be depressing. It's not! Research shows that “nostalgia-thinking” actually makes people more optimistic about the future. It reaffirms our social connections and our place in the world. And by remembering important details about your past, you can then lay out a vision for the future.


So I've been connecting with a bunch of people from my past. It's been easy to find some folks, harder to find others, and fun all the way around. I've probably reached out to about 20 old friends and had some great conversations.


I grew up in Cleveland, OH in the east side suburb of Shaker Heights. My best friend from age 5 to 14 was Bobby Brown. (Bobby goes by Bob now.) He retired about 4 years ago from a very successful career in the mortgage finance industry. He insists he was one of the good guys in the business. (And I believe him.) He's got a really cool volunteer gig with the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame and still plays in a band.


After 30+ years, I also reconnected with Debby McColloch, (she goes by Deborah now) who lives in Philadelphia. She was a big time boss for the City's Office of Housing and pretty much a professional "do-gooder". Back in the day, we worked together as counselors at a local Shaker day camp -- the most fun job I've ever had in my life!. She was a few years older than me and taught me a little bit how the adult world operated. I was about 17 when we started working together. That was the last time I think in my life that I had absolutely no responsibilities! 


Debby and I reminisced about watching the Indians and Yankees baseball game on our Nation's Bi-Centennial (Does anyone remember the annoying Bi-Centennial Minute messages?) and seeing an Elton John and Kiki Dee concert. 


She also told me how huge and unexpected the adjustment to retirement was for her and how it felt to go from being the big boss to all of a sudden no one caring about your opinion any more. That discussion gave me a bunch of pointers on how to make this transition easier. 


I really encourage everyone to reach out this week to someone who made a big impact on you in your younger life. It really is a great feeling and gives hope for the future!

Tags:    the carl diary   nostalgia   reunion   retirement   unretirement  

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