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

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Devon Zagory Interview: Food Safety Superhero

Diana Landau | February 23, 2021
Carl interviews Devon Zagory, a global expert in food safety. (Full disclosure: Carl and Devon are good friends!) Devon has decades of experience working on produce safety with agricultural producers, fresh-cut industries, and university researchers. He has worked internationally as a consultant in the fields of food microbiology and modified atmosphere packaging. 
Devon was also the founder of Davis Fresh Technologies, which had dozens of employees and five offices around the world. He sold that company in 2006 and became a multi-millionaire. He has written numerous scientific publications and given many presentations about produce microbial safety, packaging, quality and operations.
What does all Devon’s background actually mean? Is Devon Zagory a Superhero for food safety around the globe? YES.  And he still is at age 73, consulting when he wants for as much as he wants. Devon has travelled to over 70 countries around the world, with a mission and a continued passion: Working with poor farmers in rural countries to make their lives a bit better with technology.
Devon was a bookish kid with the typical childhood in the Bay Area of Northern California. His father was a family physician and his mother raised four kids. He went to UC Berkeley, where, as Devon says, “I had too much fun. Then I quit.” He decided to travel around the world for two years with a buddy and visited many rural farms. The experience made him realize what he wanted to do with life. He went back to school, earning a PHD in plant pathology, plus an agricultural degree. He founded his company and has worked with giants like Subway, Costco, Safeway, Raley’s and Outback restaurants in addition to farmers. 
About 5 years ago, Devon said he felt tired and cranky and made an announcement he was done with consulting and he definitely was not going to work anymore. What he didn’t know at the time was that he was sick. (No wonder he felt so tired all the time.) After the doctors found and treated a heart condition, Devon realized he still enjoyed his work and didn’t want to stop. He also participates in a weekly walking group and a Masters Swim program.
Insights on (un)retirement:
1. Push your comfort zone. Devon is an analytic scientist who now is exploring his creative side through becoming more social, playing music and writing a memoir.
2. Do what you love to do, feel moved to do. Volunteer, help out, give back, do what needs doing!
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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   devon zagory   food   entreprener   unretirement   volunteer  

Deborah McColloch Interview: The Philadelphia Story: “Do-Gooder” Does GREAT!

Diana Landau | November 13, 2020
Carl had the opportunity to catch up with his long-time friend Deborah McColloch -- who he discovers "really was somebody!" So many of us understand the importance of community service and want to do it “some day.” Philadelphia’s Deborah McColloch devoted decades of her career to affordable housing development, at the OHCD (Office of Housing and Community Development.) She is still going strong in (un)retirement, devoting much of her time to serving on Boards that make her community a better place to live. Her career was dedicated, hard work combined with ribbon-cuttings, ground-breakings, a $100 million budget  and a staff of 75 to manage, plus definitely some masterful political maneuvering.
Carl met Deborah back in the 1970’s when both were day camp counselors for the Shaker Recreation Department in Cleveland. They had, in Carl’s words, maybe too much fun? (Carl and Deborah have been long friends and recently reconnected again.) Deborah’s parents were teachers and inspired her commitment. “I have always had this passion for community,’ she says. Her three brothers eventually pursued careers in community service as well.
In 1978 Deborah started as summer intern and eventually worked her way up to OHCD Director , a position appointed by the Mayor. Deborah not only worked with many diverse groups (often with opposing agendas) but also negotiated between the Mayor and the City Council to get things done. It’s a difficult job, and possessing huge amounts of patience is key. “In this field you need to be flexible. You need to like people and like interacting with people. While the rewards may not be monetary, they are soulful.”
Every four years usually meant a different administration and the opportunity to evaluate whether she wanted to keep doing the same work. In 2015, she decided it was time to do something new. “I didn’t have a specific plan, but I had things I definitely wanted to pursue, in addition to my hobbies, like quilting.  Before spending time ticking off items on her bucket list, she took a break. “Go on vacation as soon as you retire. It creates a clear space between work and starting the next thing.” After a 3-week trip to Hawaii, Deborah came back and tackled her bucket list, including attending Philadelphia Phillies' spring trainings, a trip the Grand Canyon, and even singing songs with her daughter on the actual Greek island featured in the movie, “Mama Mia.”
Deborah now serves on an impressive list of community Boards: The Neighborhood Gardens Trust, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Community Ventures and St. Laurentius School. She is still working hard to create housing and neighborhood services for those in need, as well as urging thoughtful land preservation. Deborah’s three most powerful words to describe this new phase of her life: “Purposeful, creative and….contented!”
 Wise(un)retirement advice from Deborah:
  • “It’s important to think about how you want to spend your time, energy and creativity in retirement. Think of ways to contribute without sitting in long boring meetings.”
  • “When volunteering, it is very easy to get swept up into doing other people’s grunt work. Be selective. Are they good people who are committed to the community?”
  • “It’s a huge life transition to retire (or do something new), like when you become a parent. Your career is your identity. How do you want to redefine your identity now, for yourself and to others?
  • “Remember that you have a lot to give AND have a lot of experience. You have value!”
To learn more about Deborah McColloch and one of the many non-profits she works with, go to New Kensington Community Development Corporation: visit their website.
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #10 with Deborah McColloch.
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   Debb McColloch   Deborah McColloch   philadelphia   housing   volunteer