Welcome to Second Act Stories, a podcast focused on life and career change. In each episode, we bring you the story of a courageous individual who has made a decisive career pivot and is pursuing a more rewarding life in a second act. The stories are in their own words and the words of friends and family that helped them find a new path. Each episode examines the “before” and “after” phases of a life or career relaunch and offers lessons learned.
Shila Desai’s life has an intriguing and international timeline. She is of Indian descent – with her grandparents coming from the country’s Gujarat province. But she was born in Kenya and grew up there. She got her professional degree in the United Kingdom. And at the age of 24, Shila relocated to Canada where she spent most of her adult life. She arrived in Canada and didn’t know a soul. She met her future husband in the first few weeks in Toronto, they married and started a family. And they bought a bankrupt garment manufacturing company and turned it into a home run success. On the outside it looked like a wonderful life. But Shila struggled with depression and thirsted for something that she could call her own. At the request of her writer's group, she put together a tour that brought nineteen of her friends to India. The experience was such a success she turned it into a travel company called Eat Your Heart Out Tours (or EYHO Tours for short). As you'll hear in the podcast, EYHO Tours has developed a particular expertise in textile tours essentially bringing visitors and textile artisans in India, Morocco, Madagascar and Uzbekistan together. You can learn more about Shila's company at www.eyhotours.com.
Ruth Lavigne grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was a doctor (a radiologist) and she used to fill-in the date on patient sheets when her dad reviewed their films at home. As Ruth followed her father around his hospital, she always thought "that will be me someday." She ended up studying French in college and then business in graduate school. After marrying, starting a family and relocating to California, she found herself working as a banquet waitress in a San Diego hotel. She enjoyed the work and the flexible schedule which gave her time with two kids. Ruth's dream of becoming a doctor re-emerged one night as she held her oldest daughter Ariel in her arms and told her "you can be anything you want when you grow up." And Ruth thought, "one day this kid is gonna look back up at me say, so you wanted to be a waitress all your life?" With financial help from her parents and childcare support from her in-laws, she went back to school at 31 to take the necessary pre-med coursework. At 36, she returned home and entered medical school at the University of Cincinnati. At 40 she began a four-year residency to become a radiation oncologist. And at 45-years-of age, she finally became Dr. Ruth Lavigne. Ruth's story of persistence and overcoming obstacles is as inspirational as they come.
Jim Owen is 78 years old and he is in awesome shape. He works out regularly and part of his routine is doing three sets of 50 push-ups. That’s pretty amazing for a man of his age. But for most of his life he was a self-described, "certified couch potato." On his 70th birthday, his life changed when he watched a video of himself going on stage to give a speech. "My shoulders were hunched over. My knees were shot, so I was sort of shuffling along. And I had chronic back problems. It was humiliating." Jim lost 50 pounds, hired an experienced trainer and got serious about working out. And the impact on his life has been incredible. He wanted to share his new passion with others so he wrote and published a book called “Just Move: A New Approach to Fitness After 50.” For anyone who has ever said late in life, "Gee, I wish I could get in shape," this book is for you. DOWNLOAD EPISODE OUTLINE
Russell Abbott spent most of his career on Wall Street working in the management of hedge funds. About two years ago, he transitioned to working for a non-profit based in Brooklyn, New York called Extreme Kids and Crew. The organization is a community center where children with disabilities and their families can socialize, create and play. He’s a whole lot happier in the new job. Russell was first introduced to Extreme Kids and Crew via the Encore Fellowship Program. Run by a group called Encore.org, it’s essentially a matchmaking service that connects senior corporate executives with non-profit organizations looking for experienced talent. The program is now in it's tenth year and has placed over 2,000 executives in positions in 50+ cities across the United States. Episode Outline (Abbott) - website
Kerry Hannon is an absolute rock star in the world of career transitions and personal finance. She has written 12 books in this area as well as literally hundreds of articles for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, USA Today, US News and World Report and AARP. She is a sought- after speaker and expert who has appeared on everything from ABC News to NPR to The Dr. Phil Show. Her latest book is "Never Too Old To Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide To Starting A Business Mid-Life." We caught up with Kerry before a book signing in New York City for her perspective on the emerging trend of late-in-life entrepreneurs. It's a fast-paced discussion littered with nuggets of Kerry's wisdom from years studying second acts. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT For more about Kerry and her work, here's a link to her website. Special thanks to Encore.org's Marci Alboher for connecting me with Kerry.
Most of America already knows Kyle Merker. The Ancestry.com commercial where he "trades in his lederhosen for a kilt" has aired 22,000 times on broadcast television. Kyle filmed the Ancestry commercial at the age of 53. And the experience sparked an old passion that encouraged him to pursue acting after 25+ years in the world of accounting and finance. In just three short years, he’s been remarkably successful being featured in range of other commercials, television programs, films and theater projects. But he took acting seriously enrolling in a two-year program at the Michael Warner Studio in New York City. And he prepares meticulously for each and every audition. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to friend and neighbor Sue Check for connecting me with Kyle Merker.
Jane Canapini was a 20-year-veteran of the advertising world in Toronto, Canada. She worked as a creative director for both large and small advertising agencies. But in 2012, her last agency downsized and she was laid off at the age of 51. Rather than landing another job in advertising, she decided it was time to make a major career change. She pursued her life-long passion by launching a travel blog called Grownup Travels. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Today's episode is different. Rather than focusing on an individual’s "second act," we’re going to look at a region of the United States that has emerged as the leading example of a “second act” or “turnaround” community. I’m talking about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I traveled to Pittsburgh at the invitation of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a group that has been focused on advancing the region’s future over the past 75 years. In fact, this podcast will debut later this month at an event in Pittsburgh called “Our Next 75 Summit.” During my visit, I had the chance to sit down with more than a dozen leaders from the area. We talked about the past and difficult challenges the region has faced. But mostly we talked about the future of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania – essentially what I’m calling the Pittsburgh’s next act. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload
For the past 15 years, Time magazine has selected it's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." The 2019 issue includes Lady Gaga, Donald Trump, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Mark Zuckerberg and Dwayne Johnson. It also includes Desmond Meade, a name you've probably never heard before. In 2005, Desmond Meade had three strikes against him. He was homeless. He was a drug addict. And he was a convicted felon. Reaching the lowest point in his life, he was prepared to commit suicide by jumping in front of a moving train. But according to Meade, the train "never came that day." And he opted to check himself into a rehabilitation facility instead. He set a new path for himself earning an associates, bachelors and law degree. And then Desmond set his sights on the passage of Florida's Amendment 4. Officially known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, Amendment 4 was a ballot initiative to restore the voting rights of an estimated 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions. Political pundits gave the initiative very little chance of ever getting on the ballot let alone passing with the required 60% approval by the electorate. It took Desmond and his team at the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition nearly a decade. But on November 6, 2018, Amendment 4 passed with 65% of the vote. According to Meade, "I tell people that on November 6th, on election night, the country got to see love winning the day. We had over 5.1 million votes, a million more than any candidate received. And those votes weren't based on hate and fear, they were based on love, forgiveness, and redemption. Love actually won the day. Love destroyed that Jim Crow law." DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload Click here to read the Time magazine article about Desmond Meade, penned by Stacey Abrams, former Democratic Minority Leader for the Georgia House of Representatives.
Tom Forst was 57 years old. He was a regional vice president with Cox Media, a huge communications company. He was jetting around the country on private planes. He had an army of people reporting to him. He was making a hefty salary. That was 10 years ago. He decided to quit his corporate gig to pursue a life-long passion – music. He put out his first blues-rock album as Tom “The Suit” Forst. He did a month long tour of China as the headlining act. And now he’s back in the studio now working on his next album. You can check out his music at www.TomTheSuitForst.com. He also launched the "Chasing The Blues" podcast which is well worth a listen. As the Jethro Tull song concludes, "You're never too old to rock n' roll." DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload
Ken Coleman is a highly-successful ,broadcast personality and career coach who hosts a daily radio show, aptly called “The Ken Coleman Show.” Every day, he counsels thousands of listeners on how to best find their dream job. He also hosts the highly-successful EntreLeadership podcast which consistently ranks among the top five business podcasts on the iTunes charts. Ken is a genuine “Second Act” success story himself. At the age of 34, Ken started to pursue a broadcast career despite zero background and training in the profession. Nine years later, he has written a book that draws heavily on that personal experience as well as literally hundreds of telephone calls with his listeners. It’s titled “The Proximity Principle” and it is a strong guide for anyone exploring a second act. The simple formula described by him in his book and this episode: The Right People + The Right Places = Opportunities Special thanks to McKenzie Masters and Madison Crowder for the assistance in facilitating this interview. It was an honor to meet and interview Ken Coleman. Download Episode TranscriptDownload
This episode is a bit different (and we love “different” here at Second Act Stories). Today, we'll introduce you to Amy Yontef-McGrath. She lives in Montgomery County, Maryland and is the proud mother of three. Amy found herself in a bit of a funk as she approached her 49th birthday. She loved her job as a stay-at-home mom. But as her children were getting older and starting to leave the nest, it was clear that she needed something new. As she put it, I needed to “shake-up my life.” In a stroke of creative genius, she came up with “Follow Me To Fifty,” a year-long journey to complete 50 public service projects in advance of her 50th birthday. Amy joined a group of volunteers in kayaks to clean-up the Anacostia River. She helped a refugee family settle into their new home. She did a monthly-long stint as a food coordinator at the local food bank. She placed American flags on the graves of war veterans on Veterans Day. And along the way, she documented each of these projects in her "Follow Me To Fifty" blog. Amy's choice for the 50th project? She took a fifty mile walk along the Pacific Coast Highway in California. "I wanted to go somewhere I'd never gone before. Exploring new things was the theme of the whole year and I wanted the same for the walk." Amy Yontef-McGrath giving her "Volunteer of the Year" acceptance speech at Montgomery Serves Annual Awards Ceremony. Last month Amy was selected as "Volunteer of the Year" by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. In her acceptance speech, she asked the crowd to "Please keep following me. I'm not done yet." DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Download
I first learned about Luke Mickelson and Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a non-profit that he founded in 2012, via the CNN Heroes Program. I immediately thought to myself “I have to interview this man.” Then I found out he lives in Twin Falls, Idaho – a mere 2,369 miles from my home in New Jersey. But as luck would have it, I was traveling to Salt Lake City for a business conference. So I rented a car and drove three hours across Idaho's wide open spaces to the national headquarters of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. So what is Sleep in Heavenly Peace? It’s an amazing non-profit with 150 chapters across the United States. In 2018, they built 4,144 bunk beds for children whose families can’t afford a bed for them. In 2019, they expect to build over 10,000 beds. On the wall behind Luke Mickelson's desk, is a framed photo of the 2012 Facebook post that helped launch Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Those might seem like a lot of beds but here’s a scary number. Sleep in Heavenly Peace estimates that 1.5 to 2.0 million kids in America sleep on the floor each night. Here's the story of how Luke and his wife Heidi founded "Sleep in Heavenly Peace." Included in their journey was a decision for Luke to quit his full-time job in order to focus on the organization's rapid growth. Luke and Heidi Mickelson stand in front of the map of Sleep In Heavenly Peace's 150+ chapters across the United States. Click here to learn more about and/or donate to Sleep in Heavenly Peace. It is an amazing organization doing amazing work across the United States (with plans to expand internationally in the year ahead). DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload
You don't have to freeze your body. No need for bionic limbs. And you can hold off on eating mountains of kale (thank goodness). If you want to live forever, then focus on building a legacy via meaningful work with younger generations. Last month, I sat down for an hour with the man who is essentially the creator of the encore career movement. His name is Marc Freedman and he appropriately heads up an organization called Encore.org. Here’s a quick summary of some of his accomplishments: Marc is the winner of the 2018 Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence; He was named a “Legend in Mentoring” by Mentoring.org; He was named an “Influencer in Aging” by PBS’ Next Avenue; Marc is the author of five books including his latest work, “How To Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations.” "How To Live Forever" gives dozens of fascinating examples of intergenerational experiences from across the United States and the globe. It lays out a road map for finding purpose and happiness later in life. Marc introduces us to a range of engaging characters successfully connecting, mentoring and collaborating with younger generations. My favorite adage from Freedman's book: "The real fountain of youth is the fountain with youth." I loved "How To Live Forever" and thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Marc. Today’s podcast is longer than our usual episodes but candidly the conversation was so rich in content it was just too good to cut down. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload
Warren Schueller (on the left in the purple t-shirt) worked for 28 years as a chemistry teacher in Staten Island, New York. But at the age of 57 he began working with a group called Careers Through Culinary Arts (CCAP) and transitioned to being a culinary instructor. He trained a wide range of schools including the French Culinary Institute (New York City), Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales and the New York Restaurant School and helped prepare New York City high school students for culinary careers. He retired in 2012. But you'll find him cooking every Tuesday at the St. Marks Center for Community Renewal in Keansburg, New Jersey. At this area "soup kitchen," Warren and his team are producing upscale meals for 60+ hungry, "down on their luck" individuals each week. Warren will turn 74 years old next month. And he hopes to keep cooking at St. Mark's soup kitchen "forever." Earlier this year the St. Mark's Center for Community Renewal embarked on a $50,000 campaign to renovate the kitchen. You can donate to the program by sending your check to Deacon Rose Broderick, St. Mark's Center for Community Renewal, 247 Carr Avenue, Keansburg, NJ 07734. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Download This week's post has the added benefit of an accompanying video for the podcast by award-winning filmmaker Paul Kaplan. https://youtu.be/zftCTloCz4g
Today’s episode focuses on someone I’ve known for a long time. Don Hessemer and I were part of a Saturday morning running group when I lived in Central New Jersey. He had a 38-year career as an environmental consultant in New York and New Jersey. But in 2018, Don decided it was time for a change. So at the age of 61, a time when many people are counting the days to retirement, Don decided to switch careers and become a hospice chaplain. Everyday he works with patients and their families as they approach the end of life. When I read Don's announcement about this new position on Facebook, I remember thinking to myself, “What an awful and difficult job.” But Don doesn’t think of it awful or difficult. And in some ways, he doesn’t even think of it as a job. It took him nearly 40 years but he feels that he has found his true calling. Don's path to his work as a hospice chaplain began shortly after his ordination as a deacon in the Catholic Church. "One of the priests in our parish would frequent the Center for Hope Hospice in Scotch Plains right here in town. And he would say mass maybe once a month. And he kind of introduced me to the whole hospice world. I mean, I really knew nothing about hospice. Hospice was a place where people went to die." Today, Don works 40 hours a week helping patients and families negotiate difficult, "end of life" challenges. Don's role as a deacon allowed him to officiate at his daughter Brittany's wedding. He walked her down the aisle in a three-piece suit, made a "superman change" into his vestments in the sacristy and then conducted the ceremony. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Download
In the hospitality industry, Chip Conley is a legend. Back in 1987, he created Joie de Vivre, that grew to 52 hotels in California and set off a boutique hotel craze. But after 24 years of managing the company, he decided to retire and pursue other ventures. Writing. Speaking. He was on the board of the Burning Man Festival. He created a new website called Fest 300 which celebrated the best festivals in the world. He kept busy. But then out of the blue, he was contacted by Brian Chesky, a 31-year-old CEO of a start-up company with a new concept called home-sharing. The company was called Airbnb. And Brian said, “Come work with us and help me democratize hospitality.” Chip said “yes.” So over the past six years, his second act has been a fascinating ride at Airbnb. And it led to Chip’s latest book titled “Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder.” So what exactly is a modern elder? According to Chip it is someone who can "marry an air of gravitas with a spirit of humility." In a business setting, that means serving as a sage counselor and learning like a wet-behind-the-ears intern at the same time. In today's episode, we'll also meet Sarah Goodnow Berry, Airbnb's Global Director of Brand. She is one of the millennials running Airbnb and one of Chip's mentees. Below is a photo Sarah took of Chip delivering his "farewell address" to the entire Airbnb staff in 2016 and the emotional post which she uploaded to instagram. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Download Click here for more information on the Modern Elder Academy. And click here to purchase "Wisdom At Work: The Making Of A Modern Elder." Special thanks to Marci Alboher of Encore.org for connecting me with Chip Conley. It's good to have friends in high places.
After a twenty-year career in hospitality sales and management at Marriott, Amani Roberts decided to turn his weekend passion as a disc jockey playing music at clubs and special events into a full-time career. Today, he has made it as a sought-after DJ, teacher of aspiring DJs, writer and podcast creator. A combination of dedication and education fueled his success over the past sevens years. He reports that he is working harder than ever but he’s happier than ever too. Amani and I met in a study room at the public library in Manhattan Beach, California. Tell learn more about Amani Roberts, check out his website which includes The Amani Experience podcast. Special thanks to Alex Petrarca, Booking Agent at Interview Connections, for suggesting Amani as a profile for Second Act Stories.
We’re going to mix things up a bit with today’s episode. Instead of focusing on an individual’s story, we’re going to ask the question, “Can a city have a second act?” And that brought me to Irving, Texas – a city of about 240,000 people. Irving has a lot going for it. It is in the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It is contiguous to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, the 4th busiest airport in the United States. And it has Las Colinas, an innovative business park that is home to seven Fortune 500 company headquarters including Exxon-Mobil, McKesson, and Kimberly-Clark. And for nearly 40 years, the city was also the home of the world-famous Dallas Cowboys football team, one of the most successful sports operations in history. But in 2004, the city faced a traumatic event. The Dallas Cowboys announced they would be leaving Irving, opting to build a new $1.15 billion stadium in Arlington – about 25 minutes away. In 2008, the Cowboys played their last game in Irving’s Texas Stadium. And on April 11, 2010, the stadium was reduced to a pile of rubble in a controlled implosion that took less than a minute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9MwzM3LXDs&feature=youtu.be The City of Irving's Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys played for 37 years, was demolished in a controlled implosion on April 11, 2010. I traveled to Irving to explore how the city responded to the Cowboys departure and adapted to keep the community moving forward.
This episode takes us to Richmond, Virginia for an interview with Lynne Tickle. Lynne spent most of her adult life in the banking industry working up to a position as a senior vice president. But in December of 2015, she learned that her neighbor was dying. And that friend shared a final wish. "Please help take care of my husband Larry after I’m gone." That request turned out to be a considerable challenge. The Great Recession of 2008/2009 had crippled her neighbor's finances. So Lynne helped Larry restructure the debt on his house, obtain financing for badly-needed home repairs, find a real estate agent to help sell his home, sell antiques online, manage yard sales and document gifts to charity. In the end, she helped Larry sell his 3,500 square foot house and downsize to a 1,200 square foot home that was more financially viable. "To say she was a great help was a total understatement," according to Larry Kachelries. "Lynne basically took over every aspect of what I needed physically, financially and emotionally to turn the whole situation around." In the process, Lynne discovered a new passion: helping people like Larry get their lives together. Armed with this new experience, Lynne left the banking industry and launched a new company called Concierge on Call. The company focuses on helping individuals downsize and get back on their feet. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload
For today’s episode, I traveled to Frisco, Texas and met with Steve Paz. Since he was a boy, Steve always wanted to be a police officer and he got his chance initially as a military police officer in the Marines. He then spent twelve years with the Dallas Police Department, one of the finest police forces in the country. He was on the front lines of crack cocaine epidemic of the 1990s and encountered a number of dangerous situations which he describes in the podcast. In 2004, a family friend offered him an excellent corporate position – a role that he admits he was completely unqualified for at the time. He took the job which paid more money, dramatically cut his commute and offered his wife and family tremendous piece of mind. But he also felt a loss of purpose in no longer serving among America’s finest. We talk with Steve (as well as his wife Judy) about his decision. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload Special thanks to my friend Dean Barber for suggesting this episode.
This episode takes us to the United Kingdom for an interview with Lizzie Fouracre, a 33-year-old Brit with a sparking personality. Lizzie was living the dream helping to manage a fast-growing technology company in London started by her brother Tim. And while the pace of a technology start-up was exhilarating, over time she found herself wanting more from life. So she quit, packed up a tent and sleeping bag and decided take a six-week hike around Great Britain. And in a eureka moment at the top of a mountain in Wales, she decided to create a new venture called The Humble Retreat. She brought on a partner -- her mother Mandy Fouracre -- to help manage this (the two are pictured above). Eighteen months later, this mother-daughter team couldn't be happier working together. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload Click here to learn more about The Humble Retreat. Special thanks to Miriam Christie of Careershifters for connecting me with Lizzie.
A force of nature.” That’s how one person described Judy Cockerton. Judy’s life changed dramatically when she became a foster parent at the age of 48. She and her husband Arthur took on the responsibility of raising two sisters aged five months and seventeen months – along with their own two kids who were 12 and 18 at the time. And for the first time she saw how flawed the child welfare system was in her home state of Massachusetts — and in America. She developed a really simple idea to improve the system. Let’s bring together adoptive families and their children with a group of caring elders. And let’s have them live together in the same neighborhood. So she created an organization called The Treehouse Foundation. She worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. She found a developer and helped secure $15 million in government funding. And she focused on building a model community that supports adoptive families. I traveled to Easthampton, Massachusetts and spent a day with Judy Cockerton and the Treehouse Community of 100+ people there. It’s an amazing story.
T’au Pupu’a came to the United States from Kingdom of Tonga at the age of five. He grew up in a home of modest means in Salt Lake City, Utah and started playing football at the age of ten. Legendary football coach Bill Belichick discovered him while he was playing for Weber State University and he joined the Cleveland Browns as a defensive lineman. But in his second season, a nasty injury ended his NFL career. Despite almost no formal musical training, he decided to follow a new dream to become a professional opera singer. After struggling in New York City for five years, he met opera superstar Kiri Te Kanawa at a book signing at the gift shop of The Metropolitan Opera. And she helped him earn a scholarship to The Julliard School, America’s most prestigious music conservatory. In the spirit of the opera world, we’re telling T’au’s story in four short acts. EPISODE TRANSCRIPTDownload To learn more about T’au Pupu’a and listen to some of his recordings, here’s a link to his website.
Joe Tedino had a long career as a journalist and public relations executive. But tennis was always his passion. So when he finally opted to retire from a senior position with Boeing, he decided to invest the time to get certified as a tennis professional. And that helped him land a position as Assistant Coach at St. Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit high school in the heart of Chicago. He’s been working with the boys and girls teams there for the past year and he couldn’t be happier with the change. DOWNLOAD EPISODE OUTLINE And here’s a link to an article which Joe penned for Kiplinger Magazine about his move from the “Corporate World to Coaching.” Joe is the final profile in the “Five Great Second Career Moves” article.
Today's episode takes place at the Lincoln Middle School in Rockford, Illinois. I spent the morning here with Arnie Rosen, a retired doctor, and 80+ seventh and eighth graders in the school's band room. Dr. Rosen loved his 27-year career as a gastroenterologist in this Midwestern community. But when he finally retired two years ago he had a plan for what he wanted to do. He wanted to become a “band grandpa.” If you’ve never heard that term "band grandpa" before, don’t feel out of the loop. Dr. Rosen actually created it two years ago. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to John Groh, President/CEO of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, for suggesting this episode. And here's the full photo of Dr. Rosen with his beloved tuba (taken by fellow band grandpa Russ Stoneback).
In this episode, we meet an incredible man named Jim Farrin. After a highly successful career as a globe-trotting, corporate executive, Jim helped start an organization called The Petey Greene Program. In a nutshell, the program brings volunteer students from top colleges like Harvard, Brown, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia into prisons to serve as tutors. They help prisoners get a high school diploma/GED. The program was piloted at Princeton University and has spread to 29 different colleges and universities across the Northeast. Jim is 82 years old today. Last year, he was one of five individuals awarded the prestigious Purpose Prize by the American Association of Retired Persons. But he is hardly retired. By his own admission he is working harder than he ever has before. And he has never been happier. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Click here to learn more about the amazing work of The Petey Greene Program.
Career expert Jeri Sedlar wrote “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” back in 2002 with her business partner and husband Rick Miners. They were largely responsible for blowing the lid off our traditional view of American life -- the “education first" – "work career second" – "retirement third” phasing. In August 2018, they came out with a third edition of "Don't Retire, Rewire!" based on new research and interviews. Simply put, I loved this updated book and found it incredibly valuable in my own journey as a fellow that will hit 58 years of age in the year ahead.It definitely goes in the "Best Books About Second Acts" section of this website. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
When I first heard Chris Donovan’s story I thought to myself, I don’t care what it takes. I have to interview this man. It took several months and a dozen or so email exchanges. But last month, I traveled to Massachusetts with only one thing in mind: interview the telephone repairman who is now focused solely on the one thing he always wanted to do in life: design women’s shoes. Since his junior year in high school, Chris Donovan has been sketching women's shoes. It's been his quiet obsession for the 30+ years. But at the age of 50, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he knew it was time to leave his safe job at the phone company to pursue his lifelong dream. "I need to follow this. I need to find out why I have this passion for shoes." Based on the recommendation of European shoe designer Aki Choklat, he was accepted to Polimoda, one of the best fashion design institutes in the world. He enrolled in an accelerated masters program and packed his bags for Florence, Italy. And while his first few months were difficult, he ended up graduating at the top of his class. In January, 2019, he will launch a new line of shoes at Chris Donovan Footwear. Take it from Tim Gunn of Project Runway: it's like nothing you've ever seen before. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Check out Chris' new line of shoes on his website. Finally, here's a photo of Chris Donovan and his incredibly-supportive partner Steve Wierzbicki.
While working as the Director of Social Justice at St. Stephen's Church in Minneapolis, Cathy Heying observed a continuing problem among the working poor in the church's neighborhood: A poor person's car would break down and they would not have the money to repair it; Lacking dependable transportation, he/she would be unable to get to work and lose their job; Unable to pay the rent, they would become homeless. She initially thought: "Somebody really should do something about this." And then she thought: "Maybe that somebody is me." Cathy took the unusual step of enrolling in a two-year technical college to learn auto mechanics. It was a difficult experience for a 38-year-old social worker who knew very little about automotive repair. But she got through it with the help of an instructor named Dave Duval (who is also interviewed in this episode). Following graduation, she founded an extraordinary non-profit called The Lift Garage. According to the organization's mission The Lift Garage is a 501c3 nonprofit aimed to move people out of poverty and homelessness by providing low-cost car repair, free pre-purchase car inspections, and honest advice that supports our community on the road to more secure lives. In 2015, Cathy Heying was named a CNN Hero which raised the profile of the organization nationally. But Cathy was already a hero to the men and women of the Twin Cities who rely on her and The Lift Garage to help them make a living and live a better life. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Click here to learn more about The Lift Garage and how you can help support their mission.
Nancy Collamer is the author of Second Act Careers: 50 Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She is a recognized expert on career change and writes a monthly blog for the PBS site NextAvenue.org. Our interview with Nancy focuses on an especially, powerful resource from her website (www.mylifestylecareer.com). "25 Questions to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act" details a series of questions in four major areas: 1) Values, 2) skills, and experience, 3) strengths, gifts and talents, 4) hopes, dreams and impossibilities, It's a terrific exercise for anyone considering a second act. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT GET THE "25 QUESTIONS" FROM NANCY COLLAMER'S WEBSITE
Anita Kellman is a little like Superman. During the day, she is a quiet, mild-mannered patient navigator at the office of a breast cancer oncologist. But on Tuesday afternoons at 5:30 pm and Saturday mornings at 8:00 am, she is transformed into “Sarge” – a tough Navy Seal drill instructor who barks orders and leads cancer patients and cancer survivors through an hour-long “Beat Cancer Boot Camp” in Morris K. Udall Park in Tucson, Arizona. She first began "Beat Cancer Boot Camp" back in 2001. Every class begins with Sarge shouting "It's a beautiful day for boot camp." After a 5-7 minute warm-up, the class moves into 40-45 minutes of active exercises. "One of my trademark is that you end up doing 100 push-ups. I want people to know that they could do something that they thought they couldn't do. I want to make you physically stronger so you're mentally tougher." Over the past 17 years, Anita “Sarge” Kellman has helped hundreds of cancer patients and cancer survivors in her home of Tucson, Arizona. And she has helped thousands more via Kellman Beat Cancer Boot Camps in Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Utah and her appearances at different national events and races.
Terry is a compulsive gambler who hit “rock bottom” at the age of 30 when he lost nearly $1 million in a 36-hour period in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But he got himself into rehab, shifted gears from gambling to running and got his life together. This Fall he will run his 16th consecutive New York City Marathon. Terry's love of running extends into his new position/career as Executive Director of the New York Chapter of Back On My Feet. As Terry describes it: "Back on My Feet combats homelessness through the power of running and community support to help our members get employed and housed. Our members run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning. And if achieve a 90% attendance record in the first month, they get into our Next Steps program. That's where the secret sauce is. That's where we really can help overcome barriers to self-sufficiency." DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Click here to learn more about Back On My Feet.
From the age of eight, Buddy Rizer wanted to be in radio. He landed his first job at the age of fifteen and rose up through the ranks to actually owning his own radio station in his early 40s. But like many other industries, radio changed. "Deregulation" not "video" killed the radio star (to amend the 1979 hit song by the Buggles). And it sent Buddy on a completely different path into the world of economic development – a profession that he has excelled over the past 11 years. Today Buddy Rizer is the Executive Director of the Loudon County Economic Development Authority. His job is to create jobs and opportunities for the 400,000 residents of Loudon County, Virginia – a county about 50 miles west of Washington, DC. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Eva Levias Andino is a big personality with a compelling back story. She grew up in Cuba and proudly counts herself as a 9th generation Cuban. But at the age of 17 years old she left Cuba with her mother. She married and raised four children living in Puerto Rico and California before settling in Miami, Florida. Her life changed dramatically when her 20-year-old son Paolo invited her to lunch and told her "Mama, I'm gay." Over the next eight years she struggled with this news. But it eventually led her to work with the Yes Institute, an organization focused on suicide prevention and ensuring the healthy development of all youth through communication and education on gender and orientation. What started as a volunteer role turned into a full time position as Director of Development and eventually Chief Financial Officer. At the age of 75, she is now retired but still actively involved with the organization. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Click here to learn more about the work of the Yes Institute.
In this episode, we spend time with Mark Miller, a veteran journalist who has covered the retirement beat for a dozen years. Today, we’re talking with him about his new book “Jolt: Stories of Trauma and Transformation.” The book tells the stories of people have experienced traumatic events -- the loss of a child, a natural disaster, a life-threatening accident or illness, financial ruin or a terrorist attack -- and bounced back to thrive and grow. I sat down with Mark at his home in Evanston, IL and had a conversation about “Jolt” and what it can tell us about Second Acts. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT "Jolt: Stories of Trauma and Transformation" is available on Amazon.com.
In December 2009, Paul Tasner walked into a conference room and was let go from his position as the Senior Director of Operations of a San Francisco-based manufacturing firm. He was 64 years old. He met his wife Barbara and another couple for dinner that evening and proceeded to get "silly drunk." He wasn't ready for retirement. So two years later, he started Pulpworks, a company that designs and manufactures biodegradable packaging replacing the toxic, disposable plastic packaging to which we've all become accustomed to. With his 2017 TED Talk, “How I Became an Entrepreneur at the Age of 66,” he's became a poster child (or perhaps "poster senior") of older entrepreneurs. The episode also includes interviews with Dr. Benjamin Jones, Professor of Strategy at Northwestern University who directs the Kellogg School's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative and Barbara Walter, Paul's wife. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Over the course of a 40+ year legal career, Richard Turner served as Governor Ronald Reagan’s personal attorney and then as a high-powered trial lawyer. But at the age of 60, he had a series of epiphanies during a month-long sabbatical wandering around the Western United States. And he eventually left the bar and became a nature photographer. And a pretty successful one at that. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Interested in checking out Richard Turner's photography? Click here to visit his website. And here's the photo -- taken at an Idaho campsite during a month-long sabbatical -- that launched his career. The "Richard, this is terrible" feedback offered by a respected portrait photographer motivated him to learn how to take better photographs and ultimately launched his "second act" as a nature photographer. [caption id="attachment_1329" align="alignnone" width="475"] The "little moose/big pond" photo that launched Richard Turner's second act.[/caption]
Kevin Butler had a dazzling football career that began at the University of Georgia. He then played for 13 seasons as a place kicker in the NFL from 1985-1998. In his rookie season, he was part of Chicago Bears that won Super Bowl XX. But he always regretted not graduating from the university. And he told his three children, that he'd get his degree "when you are all done." On May 5, 2018, some 33 years after leaving the University of Georgia, he finally made that happen. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to Andrea Clement Santiago for connecting me with Kevin Butler and making this episode possible.
Sharon Sevrens had a thriving career as an investment banker. But when she and her husband experienced September 11th from their apartment building just a block and a half from the World Trade Center, she knew it was time for a change. Over time she had developed a passion for wine. So with no experience in retail sales or in the wine business, she purchased a liquor license from Whole Foods for $150,000. And in October 2005, she opened a wine store called Amanti Vino (which roughly translates to "lover of wine" in Italian) in her home town of Montclair,, New Jersey. It's been a runaway success with a second store now planned in Morristown, NJ. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Check out the Amanti Vino website. Special thanks to a public relations colleague Sharon Nieuwenhuis for connecting us with Sharon Sevrens and making this episode possible.
Father James Martin is an American Jesuit priest who has written a dozen books including The New York Times best sellers “The Jesuit Guide to Almost Anything,” “Building a Bridge” and “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.” He’s got a huge following on Facebook and Twitter and is frequently a religion expert for everyone from The New York Times to CNN to Comedy Central (where Stephen Colbert appointed him the official chaplain of The Colbert Report). But we are talking to him today about his second act – when he made the move from a promising career at General Electric to embrace a life of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Jesuit priest. It is one of the most dramatic life changes that you can imagine. EPISODE OUTLINE FOR FATHER JAMES MARTIN Check out "Building a Bridge," "The Jesuit Guild to Almost Anything, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," "The Abbey" and "Seven Last Words" on the Harper Collins website. "In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience," Father Martin's second book referenced in the podcast, was published by Sheed and Ward. All books are available on Amazon.
For 40+ years, Judi Schindler worked in the field of public relations. For most of that time, she ran her own firm called Schindler Communications. According to Judi, it was "a hugely rewarding job." And she emerged as a pioneer among women entrepreneurs helping to establish a Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. But when she decided to retire, Judi went back to a pursuit she enjoyed in her youth…acting. And what started out as simply “taking a class” turned into a second career with headshots, an agent and auditions. Now in her mid-seventies, she is still full of energy and creativity and going strong on-and-off stage. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Check out Judy's book, "Husbands: An Owner's Manual" or sign-up for her blog "The Toilet Seat Must Go Down."
This "Second Act" Story takes us to Rockford, Illinois, a city of about 150,000 people in Northern Illinois. We’ll meet a successful entrepreneur and hometown hero named James Purifoy. He has built an incredible “burger joint” named "Fifteenth and Chris" that has the most creative and delicious hamburgers that you’ve ever tasted. Every day a line starts forming an hour before he opens his doors. People love James’ burgers. But his story starts back in 1994 when James took a wrong turn and at the age of 19 was convicted of aggravated assault for shooting a rival gang member. And he spent the next ten years of his life in prison. But he made the most of his time in prison gaining a degree in culinary arts. And when he returned to his hometown, the people of Rockford gave James a second chance. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT CNN MONEY ARTICLE "SUPERSTAR BURGER CHEF CREDITS PRISON FOR HIS SUCCESS"
Trained as a chemist but working as an executive recruiter, Art Schill decided he wanted to try his hand at stand-up comedy -- at the age of 81. And it turns out, he’s really good at it. Less than a year after taking comedy classes near his home in Long Island, New York, Art has played a range of top comedy clubs including Carolines, Dangerfields, Mohegan Sun and the Broadway Comedy Club. In a way, he’s the newest and oldest thing on the East Coast’s comedy circuit. We interview Art, his daughter Lisa and his comedy mentor Paul Anthony who shared, "Art is really, really talented. None of us can believe he just started doing this in his 80s." Paul quipped, "Sometimes he comes to me to say, 'Why can't I go on last?' I say, 'Art, you're 82. I got to get you on stage as fast as possible. I don't know how much longer we have here." DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT WATCH ART'S ACT ON YOUTUBE Special thanks to Daniel Bubbeo, Assistant News Editor at Newsday, for connecting us with Art.
On this episode, we spend time with Marci Alboher, the author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. She also is a Vice President at Encore.org, a nonprofit focused on helping people pursue second acts for the greater good. Marci offers her thinking on the best practices in transitioning to a second act. And she outlines common traits shared among individuals that have been successful in making the change. And finally she talks about her own journey from lawyer to journalist to author to non-profit leader. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT ABOUT THE ENCORE CAREER HANDBOOK
Joe Bock retired in 2008 after a long and successful career as an electrical engineer. But he always remembered his time back in grade school as a kid sitting on the sidelines and never getting into an athletic game. "I wanted to be athletic more than anything else." And when he retired he was determined to help “kids like me.” So at 74 years old, he now runs a program called “Benchwarmer Basketball” that has a growing and faithful following at the Cheviott Hills Recreation Center in Los Angles, California. He went back to school to study kinesiology (what Joe terms the "politically correct" word for physical education). And he hit many road blocks along the way. But he stuck with it and has helped dozens of kids off the bench and on to the basketball court. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT BENCHWARMER BASKETBALL VIDEO Special thanks to Encore.org for assistance in arranging this interview.
Deborah Shaw was an established costume designer in New York City. For 15 years she worked for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” creating hundreds of costumes for the program. But when the show moved to Los Angeles, she decided to stay in New York and do something completely different. And her second act took her to Rikers Island, one of the most dangerous prisons in America. Starting in 2009, she began working in "The Big Garden" -- a two-acre plot amid the prison complex -- helping both detainees and prisoners via horticultural therapy. Today she is building a new program for the Fortune Society using gardening to help individuals recently released from the prison system re-enter everyday life. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to Sarah McKinney of Encore.org for connecting us with Deborah Shaw.
Laura Raposa and Steve Syre have been married for 30 years. And for most of that time they have worked in journalism – working as columnists for the two largest daily newspapers in Boston, Massachusetts. Laura worked as gossip columnist for at the Boston Herald. Steve worked just 1.5 miles away as a business columnist for the Boston Globe. In August 2015, they decided to make a change – a really big change. They opened a bakery and lunch spot called The Foodsmith in South Duxbury, Massachusetts. According to Laura, “I’ve never worked this hard in my life…But this is for me. This is for Steve. And that’s just terrific.” DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Dayna English was a highly successful investment banker at Merrill Lynch. She spent most of her career in Latin America. She flew first class, stayed at the Four Seasons when she traveled and wore tailored Chanel suits. But when Dayna turned 50, she traded all that in become a public school teacher. It’s been a tough, tough road. But every day for the last ten years she gets on her bike in Manhattan, rides to work seven miles and teach math at some of the most difficult schools in New York City. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to Sarah McKinney of Encore.org for connecting me with Dayna English.
Kerri Martin was working a comfortable IT job and enjoying life in New York City. But when she watched the first of two planes crash into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, she knew it was time to do something else. She followed her love of cycling and created a unique non-profit in Asbury Park, New Jersey called Second Life Bikes. This community bike store is best known for their “Earn a Bike” program which allows area youths to put in 15 hours working as a bike mechanic in exchange for a bike of their own. “We don't expect that they all grow up to become bike mechanics, but that we're giving them some sort of like mechanical skills and some sort of life skills…just showing up at a place at 3 o'clock and signing a time card, and learning how to shake hands and look people in the eye.” DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Mark Salvacion had been a lawyer for 25 years but increasingly felt the focus on “making money” and “evading the law in the right way” was crushing his soul. The final straw…after he uncovered a specific instance of fraud within his company and refused to sweep it under the rug, he was fired within two weeks. So in his early 50s, Mark switched gears from his work as a corporate lawyer and decided to become a Methodist Minister. Today he is the pastor of Historic St. George’s Church in Philadelphia, a church with a long, rich history but also some immediate challenges. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Dr. Harry Strulovici was a successful plastic surgeon with a thriving practice in Michigan. But when his father passed away, he took a close look at his own life. He went back to school, enrolling in a global health program at the New York University Schools of Medicine. And then through a different program run by Yale University and Johnson & Johnson, he went to Uganda to work for a three-month period at Mulago Hospital. Upon his return to the United States, he founded Life for Mothers, a program focused on decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates in Africa. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to Sarah McKinney of Encore.org for connecting me with Dr. Harry Strulovici. .
Jorge Alvarez came to the United States from Honduras at the age of seven. He grew up with his mother and his sister in tough circumstances in the Bronx. This episode is more about life change rather than career change. Jorge’s story focuses overcoming an addiction to alcohol and drugs. His second act finds him clean and sober and working for a sustainable recycling company. He manages a team of ten people that are in the field working with their clients to recycle glass and aluminum. DOWNLOAD EPISODE TRANSCRIPT Special thanks to Deb Brown of Back On My Feet for connecting me with Jorge Alvarez.