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

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Melissa Davey Interview: Take that Detour!

Diana Landau | April 13, 2021


What a compelling interview this week! Carl interviews Melissa Davey, age 71,  a documentary filmmaker, director and executive producer of "Beyond Sixty". It all started when Melissa made a brave, bold move at 65—she took that detour! Prior to her work in film, Melissa had a big-time career as a national Senior Vice President for Genex, developing and managing the Social Security Disability Programs, where she worked for two decades.
Growing up, Melissa’s family was on the move, living in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. “Each time we moved I became more curious about everything.” As an adult, Melissa took an unconventional path, marrying young, having children young, divorcing young. “Looking back, I am so glad I experienced my young life in the way that I did. I really don’t believe I would have made the choices I have if it had been different.”
At 65, Melissa knew that she was ready to do something new, but not sure what. On a whim, she bid on a charity prize for the M. Night Shyamalan foundation, a day on the set with the well-known director. She won and had the opportunity to spend the day watching how a film was made.
Then, a pivotal lunch conversation with the director changed everything.
He said to her, “What do you do?” Melissa attempted to briefly explain the complexity of the insurance industry. “What do you want to do?” he asked. Melissa answered, “I want your job!”
The director nodded and replied, “Well you better hurry up.” This conversation stayed with Melissa. She had always been interested in films but had no time for it with her hectic schedule.
Melissa came up with a great idea for a film and a brave, bold plan. She told her husband she was going to quit her job and film a documentary, even though she had no experience making films.  She told her boss she would transition out over a year, giving her time to set up her filmmaking process and conduct some interviews for the project. A year later, she devoted her time to creating, producing and directing “Beyond Sixty….” a documentary about the fascinating lives and accomplishments of women in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond. “The film brings women’s voices forward…and we still have much time left to do new things.” “Beyond Sixty…” released on streaming video this week. “It’s been so amazing!” Melissa says of the journey. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll make another movie!”
Melissa Davey’s Advice for (Un)Retirement:
  • “Make sure you take the detour every time it’s presented to you because you never know what’s down that road, you never know what might present itself to you as an opportunity.”
  • “When you take off in a career you put your body and soul unto that and sometimes you have to walk away from relationships you’ve had—there’s no time. When you stop working so much, you have time to reconnect. It’s funny, with the good ones you just pick up right where you left off.”
  • “After 3 decades of being the boss it’s your identity (and ego.) You had a team of people to help you accomplish things. I have a great appreciation for the people who helped me!”
  • “Exiting your work life is a huge transition. Push through the fear. Most of our inability to move forward is fear-based.”
  • “You really are never too old to try something new. I’m going to do another film, and maybe another!”
  • “Learn how to pivot. It’s never too late!”



• Melissa Davey's Beyond Sixty Project: https://www.beyondsixtyproject.com/
• This Week's Sponsor is The Monkey Creative: https://themonkeycreative.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   Melissa Davey   film   documentary   director   vice president   unretirement  

Henry Schulman Interview: It’s Really Not Just About Baseball

Diana Landau | April 06, 2021

Carl interviews renowned sports journalist Henry Schulman this week. Schulman has covered major league baseball in the San Francisco Bay Area for over three decades. He was the San Francisco Giants beat writer since 1998 for the San Francisco Chronicle. Schulman has been a must-read (and listen!) for many Giants fans over his decades-long career. Prior to the SF Chronicle, Henry worked for the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Examiner.
Regarded as one of the consistently best journalists in the industry, Henry recently stepped away from the Chronicle into (un)retirement. A natural on the air and in writing, plus his sense of humor combined with deep knowledge of baseball makes Carl an ardent fan. Henry shares his next steps with us as he begins his Second Act.
Henry grew in Los Angeles to Jewish immigrant parents who were also Holocaust survivors. Both parents spoke multiple languages and were a little protective of Henry and his sister. A key moment for Henry was when his father took him to see his first baseball game, the LA Dodgers in 1969. “I was hooked from a young age,” Henry says.
As a teen, he told his parents he wanted to play the trombone professionally and they suggested a fall back position. He then became passionate about journalism. Henry said his parents couldn’t believe he would want to devote his life and education to a career that didn’t pay very well! But over time and through the course of his career, they became very proud of him. After college, Henry began working for small-town newspapers throughout California, which wasn’t so easy. “I think it made me a better journalist in the end.”
Now an admired sports celebrity on radio and TV, Henry talks about how different sports journalism is now. It used to be writing one article at a time for one newspaper. The digital age has changed so much of that, often demanding 4-5 pieces of content to be distributed daily. In 2015, Henry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, took a year off and is now cancer-free. His illness weighed heavily on his decision to step back from the grueling schedule. Of course, Carl gets Henry to share some intel on the best coaches and players he’s dealt with, sending Carl into total fan nirvana.


Carl couldn't help but ask Hank who his least favorite person to work with. It was the Giants former star Barry Bonds who had a reputation for treating the media poorly. Schulman holds nothing back about his feelings about Bonds and the games he would play with writers in the day. It's an interesting segment in the interview for sure.


Finally, Henry shares how his whole life isn’t just about baseball anymore. He is looking forward to an (un)retirement that includes freelancing (maybe a book, we hope), extensive travel with his girlfriend, learning to cook Italian food and taking salsa lessons.  “It [future endeavors] wouldn’t have to be limited to sports. That would intrigue me a little bit.”
Henry Schulman’s insights into a successful (un)retirement:
• “It really does behoove you to set up a financial plan. Do Quicken or ibank for a year, categorize every expense over $20 and then give that information to a financial planner. They will know what you need.”
• Start thinking about a part-time job (maybe a wine-pourer in Napa!) to supplement your income.”
• “It’s really just math. Don’t be afraid. You can even “Google” what your break-even is with Social Security.”
• Don’t procrastinate on a Living Trust! Do it tomorrow before you do anything else.”


• For more about Henry Schulman: https://sanfranballscribe.blogspot.com/
• Henry Schulman Twitter @hankschulman
• This Week's Sponsor is The Monkey Creative: https://themonkeycreative.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   henry schulman   giants   sports   journalism   unretirement  

Mike Branon Interview

Diana Landau | March 23, 2021

Keep Moving Forward -- Pickleball Instructor, Microbrewery Owner, World Traveler, High School Teacher, Massage Therapist, Book Author


Carl interviewed the multi-talented Mike Branon this week. After some ups and downs in life, Mike became an entrepreneur, finding a niche as a structural steel contractor. He grew the company to $20-$40 million in sales annually and then retired at 40, looking forward to his Second Act. Although most of our podcast guests are navigating (un)retirement in their 50’s-70’s, Mike took a chance and left the 24/7 work life behind, wanting to do more with his life.
Now 60, Mike is also a microbrewery owner, teacher, philanthropist, world traveler, massage therapist, Pickleball coach, explorer of spirituality, fitness and anything else that piques his curiosity. Most recently he has become an author. His goal at this stage of life is to share the lessons learned from his diverse background to help others find meaning and joy in their daily lives.
Mike wrote Pickleball & the Art of Living in 2020 during the pandemic, trapped on a cruise ship for 20+ days. (You can see Mike’s pattern of being faced with a challenge and doing something wonderful with it.) His book is definitely not just about Pickleball, it is so much more that. With helpful advice and a sense of humor, Mike encourages the reader to live their best life.
Not everything was rosy perfect for Mike when he was younger and he’s very open about it. His Dad was in the Navy and his family moved around a lot. Mike talked about frequently changing schools, learning to meet new people, having to figure it out. “It taught me to land of my feet.”
After college, he thought he would take the world by storm. Instead, he found himself working in a convenience store, getting married too young and divorcing at 30 with a young daughter. He felt he wasn’t going anywhere. “A lot of that (time) helped me. I know what it’s like to fail and I know what it’s like to succeed so when I look at my retirement years now, I am acutely aware of what I want to do with my time, what makes me happy.”
Always moving forward, Mike is now putting his energies into not only Pickleball and his other passions but he is also the Director of International Relief Teams for rebuilding homes for families and providing health care during disasters.
(Un)retirement insights from Mike Branon on living your best life:
  • “To me it was so liberating to be (un)retired. Just having that extra white space in your calendar allows room for the unexpected and the serendipitous to pop into your life.”
  • “If you love what you’re doing career-wise, no reason to stop. But also be open to transitioning. Be open to it.”
  • “Take baby steps, Try it on. See if it fits you. You might find unexpected joy.”
  • “Keep looking toward the future vs being pushed along by the past.”
• For more about Mike Branon: https://www.mikebranon.com/
• This Week's Sponsor is The Monkey Creative: https://themonkeycreative.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   mike branon   pickleball   author   unretirement   entrepreneur  

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  

Retirement as an Escape

Carl Landau | March 16, 2021
My wife and I just watched two thought-provoking movies, back to back.


The first one was Nomadland. After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. She travels the country and still works occasionally, meeting all kinds of people on her journey.


The second movie was Some Kind of Heaven, a documentary. It follows the lives (and challenges) of four people who live in The Villages, a mega-senior, Disney-esque community in Florida, home to approximately 140,000 people—seniors only!


These two movies were strangely similar in the fact that there are some people of (un)retirement age who just want to escape. To me personally, that doesn’t sound so great. But both movies stayed with me and made me think.


Nomadland showed (un)retired people who were often triggered by something in their lives, usually a trauma, to move on while shunning mainstream life. Some Kind of Heaven is just that—a place where seniors from all over the country come to live out their dream retirement. But is it?


My first reaction was to be judgmental. But if something terrible or unexpected thing happened to me, who knows what choices I would make? If I lived somewhere I didn't like or had few relatives or friends, maybe I would want to live out the stage of my life in an entirely different way. Who knows?


What I've learned from talking with our podcast guests is that you can’t look down on others who don't make the same choices you do. As Episode #21’s guest Ed Casey says, “(Un)retirement is like a fingerprint. Everyone is different.” I can’t think of a better way to make the case that we all need to enjoy life right where are, right now.


Tags:    the carl diary   retirement   film   movie   choices   unretirement  


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