I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned
The Carl Diary #6: Your (Un) Retirement Super Power
Carl Landau | September 22, 2020
When we launched Pickleball Media and started our podcast, I looked at this project in the same way I did in my previous career. In podcasting, like most media businesses, it’s all about how to build an audience. So you do that via email and social media and through providing great content that will attract the right group.
It's not easy starting to build an audience from scratch. Without going into the boring details, we took all the right steps. But like anything there are some parts I like to do and... some I don't. Surprisingly, I like building out an audience contact list, talking to sponsors and creating content. And I really like the interviewing part of the podcast. It's the personal contact and interaction with creative types that gives me energy.
But I really don't enjoy the social media part at all. And then it hit me... I don't need to do that. We'll do the basic stuff but I don't want to sweat the details of hardcore, daily social media. I just want to concentrate on what's fun for me.
I guess my point is that I had to give myself permission to just do what I want to do in (un)retirement versus what I needed or had to do in my previous career. Sometimes I think we all get caught up in what we used to do. Now we need to figure out what we want to do!
I have a public service announcement to help the world! Or... a gentle suggestion to my fellow seniors who have their cell phones ON SPEAKER MODE and have a VERY LOUD conversation, in public. Whether it's the supermarket or a doctor's waiting room (both of which have signs that say "no cell phone use") people using their phones on speaker mode don't seem to have any awareness that anyone around them can hear every single word of their conversation. Believe me, we don't want to!!! This is really annoying. And not very polite. No one wants to hear your private conversation, which usually involves some family drama or some injustice you've experienced.
There is a thing invented by God (or in this case Apple) called earbuds. You got a pair for free when you bought that iPhone 5 you're still using! They work great and you can hear the person you are talking with so much better. Plus you will be saving the world and the reputations of people over 60 everywhere!
Okay, since I'm on a rant roll I have another... ahem… gentle suggestion: I've witnessed this situation a lot over the past 5 months. My fellow shoppers are masked up nicely, doing their civil duty. And then they (I'm sure not one of you!) need to talk to someone about their deli order or have some question and they pull down their mask to talk. DEFEATING THE PURPOSE OF EVERYTHING! Please, wonderful fellow shoppers, stop this practice and keep your masks on!
The Carl Diary #4: Shaking up Routines — Herb Shopping in a Pandemic
Carl Landau | August 25, 2020
The pandemic has obviously affected all of us in many ways. In some ways unexpected and for the better. Like switching up some household responsibilities.
COVID plot twist: My wife is an amazing cook and loves to shop at the market. Now? That shopper is 100% me. For the past 5 months, Diana hasn’t been inside a store, anywhere. (She has a rare condition and can’t fight infection well. So she’s high risk for respiratory problems.)
Eleven years ago, when we were first together, we went grocery shopping just once. I guess I was too much a novice and when we walked out of the store, she said, "You don't ever need to come with me again… I’ve got this.”
So now this poor woman has to rely on me — who knows nothing except that I love eating great food. The shopping list is not ordinary. She uses exotic (at least to me) ingredients. And it involves going to 5 different places — normal grocery store, old Italian grocery, a butcher, a fresh fish store and the local farmers market. There are no frozen foods from Trader Joe's in our meal planning.
Here's just some of my culinary challenges: Herbs are the toughest — what’s the difference between cilantro, dill, mint? (There are 2 kinds of both parsley and basil, by the way.) Cucumbers — English, Persian or regular? Fennel (which they label as anise); savoy cabbage not plain cabbage; tofu has different levels of firmness; potatoes come in russet, gold, red, fingerlings oh my! Thin spaghetti vs. uh… spaghetti; orecchiette pasta, which is hard to pronounce and even harder to find. Couscous but Israeli couscous (THERE IS NO AISLE MARKED “COUSCOUS”!) Pork butt, is it bone-in or bone-out? WTF. Feta — it's supposed to come packed in water? Fish with skin on or skin off? Cornstarch: What is that? Where is it? When picking tomatoes at the farmers market, you're not allowed to squeeze them but don't get them too ripe or too hard.
So what have I learned from all this? I've embraced what I thought was a boring chore that I thought I wasn't good at. And it ends up being something I really enjoy doing! I'm chatting up the produce guy and grilling the fish guy — “Hey, what is the freshest fish today?” I’m loving it. And I feel like I'm doing something important to help my wonderful wife. Plus, I’ll be honest — come mealtime, I am definitely the beneficiary.
There’s never a better time to shake up the routine and learn something new!
I used to jokingly refer to myself as Mr. High Tech, High Touch. (There was a trending book in the '90's called High Tech, High Touch. Those who know me know how profoundly funny it is to think of me as a computer whiz.
In 1982 (after being fired by Don Pazour at Miller Freeman Publications) I was the Advertising Director at one of the first computer magazines called Dr. Dobb's “Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia: Running Light Without Overbyte”. It was written for people that didn't buy computers--- they made them.
I had no idea what any of the editorial content meant. But I knew how to pick up a phone and sell advertising for a magazine. I went on to start my own magazines for computer programmers with a dirty little secret — I never once during those days ever even used a computer.
Luckily for most of my career I always had an assistant that did all the more complicated computer stuff and I focused on selling. This reliance may not have been sound thinking, as I left myself a bit behind on the tech curve.
So up to current day —I have no assistant. Any tech issues come up and I've got to figure it out. And you know? I do. (You really can "Google anything"!) I've also gained a certain sense of satisfaction in figuring it all out on my own. Most importantly, I am not ashamed to ask for help when I need it. But I try to do it on my own first.
What I have learned is this simple, real world truth: If you want to stay relevant, you need to keep up with technology. If I can embrace it, you can too!
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!