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Second Act Stories
19 minutes | 16 days ago
He Built A Global Company...Then He Rebuilt His Alma Mater
Pete DeBusk is a true entrepreneur. He started from humble beginnings growing up in coal mining towns in the Appalachian Mountains. In his "Act 1," he founded DeRoyal Industries, a major manufacturer of medical products with 1,900 employees and facilities in a half-dozen countries around the world. Today, the company manufactures over 20,000 different products. Back in 2000, Pete began to step-away from the business turning the day-to-day operations over to his son Brian. He admits it was a difficult transition for him. Coinciding with this corporate leadership change, Pete was asked to serve as Chairman of the Board of his alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU). And that's when his second act began. He's been LMU's Chairman for 21 years now and Pete has rebuilt the school using the same playbook that he used at DeRoyal Industries. According to Pete, "You find niches and you fill niches." Under his leadership, LMU has added a medical school, law school, veterinary school as well as dozens of new majors that have helped the University grow by 1,500%. As Pete shares in this episode: "I've built DeRoyal for my own personal use. Of course, it was a business. LMU you're doing it for somebody else. You're doing it to help people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to get a better education to grow in professional fields. Because it's hard to come out those Appalachians and get into graduate schools and get into stuff and a lot of people give up before they get started."
22 minutes | a month ago
Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother's Grief & A Second Act
Anne Moss Rogers was at the pinnacle of a 20-year professional career. She opened her own digital marketing agency in 2010. The business grew quickly and by 2015 she and her partner had 9 employees and a growing roster of clients. While her professional life was going especially well, life at home had significant problems. Her son Charles – the younger of two boys – suffered from a combination of depression and drug addiction. The problems began early in high school and escalated. At considerable expense to Anne Moss and her husband Randy, they tried to help by placing him in a therapeutic boarding school followed by rehab. But on June 5, 2015 at the age of 20, Charles took his own life. In the aftermath of her son’s passing, Anne Moss sold her agency and has became a staunch activist for suicide prevention. She launched “Emotionally Naked” – a blog about the experience. She speaks frequently before both high school and adult audiences. And she has written a powerful book called “Diary of a Broken Mind.” Anne Moss Rogers is a textbook example of what psychologists call “post traumatic growth.” When Charles committed suicide in 2015, she entered an unimaginable cauldron of pain and grief. And she came out the other side stronger and focused on making a difference in the world. And her work is saving lives. We concluded our interview by asking her, "What would Charles think of what you're doing now?" Anne Moss responded, "I think he would be proud to know that I'm following my heart." On the first anniversary of Charles death, Anne Moss Rogers recorded an emotional reading of the lyrics of "Forgive Me Momma," one of many songs that were discovered in her son's backpack after his passing. It's about four minutes long and we hope you'll give it a listen by clicking the link above.
13 minutes | 2 months ago
Dave’s Gambit: A New Life Teaching Chess To Youth
Dave Lazarus worked for 35 years in information technology. But at 60 years old he found himself unemployed. And the prospects of landing a new job in IT weren’t terribly encouraging. So on the advice of an old friend, he went back to an old passion: chess. And he started teaching chess to elementary students first in an after-school program and then as a private teacher. The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the popular Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” led to an explosion in demand for online chess lessons. Today Dave teaches chess 7 days per week to a mix of students from grade 1 through 5. His online chess group, “Dave’s Young Tigers," has 180 members so far.
17 minutes | 2 months ago
How An Overweight, Drug Dealer Became A SoulCycle Instructor
Noa Shaw has led a hard life. Drugs and alcohol took hold of him at an early age. And he has struggled as both a drug addict and drug dealer for most of his adult life. But eight years ago his life took a turn for the better when he wandered into a Soul Cycle studio that was just opening up in Los Angeles. Soul Cycle is a fitness company that is the gold standard in cycling workouts. After his first workout, he was hooked. For three months, he attended every day – sometimes two workouts per day. He lost 100 pounds and got himself into shape both physically and mentally. The team at Soul Cycle saw something in Noa and they invited him to audition as a fitness instructor. At 57 years old, he is the oldest Soul Cycle instructor on the planet. And here in New York City, Noa has built a dedicated following of riders that are inspired by him on a regular basis. He is a certified life coach and in February 2021 released an inspirational book "Stop Thinking Thoughts That Scare You." Noa Shaw can be reached on instagram (@noashaw26) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
12 minutes | 2 months ago
Marianne The Vaccine Hunter: New Gig For Lifelong, Springsteen Fan
Mariane Sugrhue had a long career as an information technology manager with AT&T, Telecordia and NCS Technologies. She retired in 2018 at the age of 60 and has pursued an eclectic schedule of volunteer activities that includes judging ice skating competitions, helping to rescue dogs from "kill shelters" and working with a local food pantry. Her greatest passion is being a devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. She has attended 225 Springsteen concerts including following him for a 2017 concert tour in Australia. According to Marianne, "No two concerts are ever the same with Bruce." The combination of her information technology background and a well-honed skill at landing Springsteen tickets have prepared her for a new challenge...helping older residents secure Covid-19 vaccine appointments. "You can look at an appointment like getting a concert ticket. It's logic...it's a strategy...it's going in there and having things pre-populated and hitting refresh, refresh, refresh." To date, she has secured vaccine appointments for 83 of her Garden State neighbors. "Whenever I secure an appointment I do a happy dance and eat a cookie."
17 minutes | 3 months ago
Puppy Love: Tara & Jess Leave Big Pharma To Form DIG Labs
In 2015, Tara Zedayko and Jessica Chu were both employed at Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies with $82 billion in annual revenue. They bonded over their work launching new healthcare products for humans but also a mutual love of dogs. Four years later, Tara and Jess departed J&J and founded a start-up company called DIG Labs. Their focus is on the use of technology to provide personalized health care for our furry friends. Tara is 36 years-old and Jess is 32 years old. As you'll hear in the episode, DIG Labs is developing an app that would allow pet owners to photograph their dog’s excrement, text it for immediate analysis and receive feedback in just 10 seconds. Yes, we may now conclude, there is an app for everything. Click here if you'd like to learn more about DIG Labs. You can also sign-up for the wait list for the launch of their new app. And make sure to bring your cellphone along on the next walk with Fido.
19 minutes | 3 months ago
He Advised Major Companies...Now He Works With Aspiring Athletes
Mike Huber had a 20-year career as a top consultant with Ernst & Young, Cushman Wakefield and KPMG. His focus was in the area of site selection consulting – helping major companies like Samsung, Time Warner and Bausch & Lomb find new business locations. He worked hard and made a very good living. But over time he became frustrated with the corporate rat race and began to ask, “is this the right career for me?” He went back to school, got a masters in Sports Psychology and became a mental performance coach. Today he works with middle-school and high school athletes helping them improve their mental fitness and game performance. Mike took a major cut in compensation to launch Follow The Ball, his new consulting practice. But he is so much happier in his new line of work.
14 minutes | 4 months ago
Single Mother & 16-Year-Old Daughter Launch "One Hot Cookie"
Bergen Giordani was a single mother working a full-time job during the day and bartending at night in her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. It was tough road. So back in 2013 and with the help of her then 16-year-old daughter Morgen, she opened a retail dessert shop called “One Hot Cookie.” She put all of her savings, $2,500, on the line. The mother-daughter team have proven to be a formidable partnership. And in the age of COVID-19, they have dramatically expanded the online portion of their business shipping both cookies and a “do-it-yourself” cookie decorating kits all over the country. If you’d like to sample their cookies and perhaps order a “One Hot Cookie at Home” decorating kit, I’d encourage you to visit www.OneHotCookie.com. Of course, you’re also welcome to drive to Youngstown, Ohio if you want a hot, gooey, chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven. Special thanks to Kerry Hannon for suggesting this story. Kerry is the author of “Never Too Old To Get Rich” which includes a profile of Bergen and Morgen. She is an amazing writer and great friend of Second Act Stories.
25 minutes | 4 months ago
Best Of 2020: Fraidy Reiss' Unorthodox Second Act Story
As we start the new year, we’re pleased to share the episode named by Second Act Stories listeners as the “Best of 2020.” Fraidy Reiss’ story is among the most inspiring tales we’ve profiled on the Second Act Stories podcast. Part of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Fraidy was married at the age of 19. It was an arranged marriage to a man she barely knew. He demonstrated a violent streak within a week of the wedding punching his fist through a wall and threatened to kill her. Over the next twelve years, she feared for her own life on a daily basis. But she eventually she found a way to get a college education, achieve financial independence, divorce her husband and escape with the custody of her two daughters. Today, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last, the only organization in the United States dedicated to ending forced and child marriage through direct services and advocacy. Want to learn more about Fraidy Reiss and Unchained At Last? Check out her TED Talk on YouTube or visit the Unchained At Last website. Fraidy is also featured in Bruce Feiler’s book “Life Is In The Transitions” (which is how we first heard of her) and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s “The Book of Gutsy Women.”
18 minutes | 5 months ago
A Navy Veteran Launches A Winery (And Yes, It's In Cleveland)!
Right after high school, Destiny Burns enlisted in the armed forces as a cryptologic officer. She had an exciting, 20-year career traveling the globe with the Navy. And when she retired from active service, she settled down in Northern Virginia and worked for a range of defense contractors. But in her early 50s and after a divorce, she decided it was time to move back home to Cleveland, Ohio and launch her own business called the CLE Urban Winery. CLE purchases all of their grapes from California and Washington but the wine – about 50,000 bottles a year – is made in Cleveland. “Good Wine Made Fun” is Destiny’s mantra. Launched in 2016, the CLE Urban Winery was growing and thriving until March 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic forced a three-month shutdown ("it was like a dagger to the heart") and continues to challenge her business on a daily basis. Despite this difficult environment, she couldn't be happier running her own company. Special thanks to Kerry Hannon, author of "Never Too Old To Get Rich," for sharing this story idea.
20 minutes | 5 months ago
Goodbye Executive Recruiting... Hello Furniture Making
Sheldon Myeroff is a true entrepreneur. He launched Direct Recruiters, Inc. at the age of 31. And over the next 37 years, he successfully grew the business into major executive recruiting company. In 2011, he began an exit plan from Direct Recruiters – turning over the management of the company to a group of partners. And that’s when he installed a rather elaborate woodshop in his basement. And over the past 7 years, he has turned a hobby of work working and furniture making into a booming business called Chagrin Valley Custom Furniture. Success has come from specialization with a focus on designing, building and selling custom-made river tables. A "river table" is two pieces of natural wood with a river of epoxy resin flowing down the middle. That’s become 80% of his furniture making business. He is now turning the day-to-day operations over to a 32-year-old mentee named Zach Schulte (who we’ll also hear from in today’s episode). Click here for a look at more river tables and other wood products produced by Sheldon, Zach and the team at Chagrin Valley Custom Furniture.
22 minutes | 6 months ago
A Magazine Writer Finds New Life As A Funeral Director
For more than 30 years, Amy worked as a writer, both on staff and on a freelance basis, for a wide range of top magazines. But when her father passed away in 2009, his funeral had a profound impact on her. And in relatively short order, Amy enrolled in mortuary school to become a licensed funeral director. Ten years later, Amy owns and manages Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in Brooklyn, New York. Profiled in The New York Times and range of trade publications, she has built a name for herself as an advocate of green and sustainable practices within the funeral industry. And her work as a writer continues via her blog “The Inspired Funeral.” Special thanks to Bruce Feiler, author of "Life Is in The Transitions," for suggesting this episode.
23 minutes | 6 months ago
Leaving Advertising Sales To Become A Hypnotist
What most of us know about hypnotism comes straight from Hollywood and involves swinging pocket watches and devious characters reciting the words “you are getting sleepy.” But Lisa Ludovici operates very differently. She is a certified medical support hypnotist and is almost always brought in by a doctor. Frequently, they turn to Lisa when every other path to healing has failed. Jackie Kotler is a case in point. She literally broke her back in a cliff jumping accident in the Dominican Republic. A difficult operation was followed by an even more difficult recovery. Traditional methods failed and Jackie tried acupuncture, alternative medicine and a psychologist without success. As a final "Hail Mary" effort, her doctors then turned to Lisa Ludovici and hypnotism to successfully heal her. Lisa made the transition to hypnotist from a series of high-powered jobs in the world of advertising sales working for companies like America Online, Microsoft and Time Inc. Click here to learn more about Lisa and her practice in New York City. Special thanks to Bruce Feiler and his excellent book "Life Is In the Transitions" for bringing Lisa Ludovici to our attention.
18 minutes | 7 months ago
Sweet Story: Like A Nurse & Pilot In A Candy Store
Robin and Carl Mennie opened River Street Sweets-Savannah's Candy Kitchen in Asbury Park, NJ on July 2, 2020. It’s an amazing shop filled with freshly-made pralines, rice krispie treats, loggerheads, chocolate covered pretzels and more – basically any sweet item you could ever want. This franchise business is a leap for both of them. Robin worked for 20+ years as a nurse practitioner with a specialty in cardiology. Carl was – and still is – a pilot with American Airlines working mostly on international flights. The business is really a family affair with all four of their children helping in the operation. It’s a sweet story but it’s certainly not an overnight success. It took over three years from their first meeting with the Strickland Family, the owners of River Street Sweets-Savannah's Candy Kitchen, before the sale of their first praline in Asbury Park. And, of course, they had the challenge of opening a new store in the middle of a pandemic. Click the link to learn more about the company. And if you find yourself in Asbury Park, NJ, I hope you'll give Robin and Carl a visit. And you'll feel "like a kid in a candy store." Special thanks to my friend Paul Kaplan for suggesting this story.
24 minutes | 7 months ago
She Escaped A Forced Marriage & Now Helps Others Do The Same
Fraidy Reiss' story is among the most inspiring tales we’ve ever profiled on the Second Act Stories podcast. Part of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Fraidy was married at the age of 19. It was an arranged marriage to a man she barely knew. He demonstrated a violent streak within a week of the wedding punching his fist through a wall and threatened to kill her. Over the next twelve years, she feared for her own life on a daily basis. But she eventually she found a way to get a college education, achieve financial independence, divorce her husband and escape with the custody of her two daughters. Today, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last, the only organization in the United States dedicated to ending forced and child marriage through direct services and advocacy. Want to learn more about Fraidy Reiss and Unchained At Last? Check out her TED Talk on YouTube and visit the Unchained At Last website. Fraidy is also featured in Bruce Feiler's book "Life Is In The Transitions" (which is how we first heard of her) and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s "The Book of Gutsy Women."
27 minutes | 8 months ago
Lifequakes & Life Transitions: 27 Minutes With Author Bruce Feiler
Bruce Feiler is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers (including Walking The Bible, The Secrets of Happy Families and Abraham), the presenter of two prime-time series on PBS and the inspiration for the NBC drama series “Council of Dads.” He’s also presented two TED Talks viewed by more than two million people. It’s an honor to have him on Second Act Stories. We sat down in the backyard of Bruce's townhouse in Brooklyn for a socially-distant interview focused on his latest book Life Is In The Transitions: Mastering Change At Any Age. It is a highly-relevant book for anyone exploring a second act and we've happily added it to our "Best Books About Second Acts" resource page. For more on Bruce and his work, here's a link to his website.
18 minutes | 8 months ago
After A 50-Year Hiatus, A Return To The Courtroom
Kiku Mehta was born in 1937 and grew up in the Gujarat Province on India. He was trained as a lawyer there but emigrated to the United States in 1964. When he arrived here in the US, he set aside his work as a lawyer and went to work as a social worker for Children's Services Inc. in Philadelphia. It paid the bills and helped him and his wife Kira put their three daughters through college. He stayed with Children's Services for 51 years. But when the organization shut down in 2017, Kiku was out of a job. With the help of his youngest daughter and a family friend – both lawyers – Kiku want back to school to complete 41 continuing education credits and pursue the reinstatement of his law license. And today at the age of 83, he now practices immigration law in Philadelphia at the law offices of Stanley J. Ellenberg. Kiku Mehta's advice to others considering a second act: "Do it to help people. My background as a social worker helped me to do it that way. So, money is the last thing on my mind. I joined the law profession to help people." We learned about Kiku's story from a terrific article, "He Returned To The Courtroom At 82 For A Second Act As A Lawyer" in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Special thanks to Mari Schaefer for her excellent reporting.
22 minutes | 9 months ago
A Revolutionary Change: How A Financial Planner Became Benjamin Franklin
We first read about Terry Kutz in a terrific article in The Wall Street Journal. Terry had a long career as a financial planner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But as a hobby he had become involved in revolutionary war reenactments with a group called the Northwest Territory Alliance (NWTA). And one day an organizer asked him if he’d be willing to play the role of Benjamin Franklin at an event they were putting on. In retirement, his work interpreting Ben Franklin has become a part-time occupation (or what his wife now calls a full-time obsession). He’s participated in dozens of historical re-enactments and events as a historical interpreter. When we met him at his home in New Berlin, Wisconsin, he came in full historical costume and wearing bifocals – which of course were invented by Ben Franklin. Click here for more on Terry and his work as a historical interpreter. The bulk of today’s episode focuses on Terry and his second act. But we'll start by going back to 1776 for an interview with one of America's founding fathers.
22 minutes | 9 months ago
Out of Africa: An Executive Recruiter Launches "American Rhino" Clothing
Chris Welles was a 46-year-old executive recruiter in Boston, Massachusetts. He was happy in his job and he had no plans for a change. But in 2008 he took a summer vacation with his wife, four kids and two other families to Kenya. And the trip completely changed his life. Today he manages “American Rhino,” a growing clothing brand with a retail and online presence. The company sells shirts, pants, sneakers, canvas bags and now face masks. All of the manufacturing takes place in Africa. And 10% of our every purchase goes directly to supporting wildlife and land conservation in Kenya. The products that American Rhino produces are truly outstanding. Kikoy is a wonderful breathable fabric that has the feel and look of linen. Please visit www.AmericanRhino.com and check the shirts, shorts, canvas bags, sneakers and more. And remember 10% of every purchase goes back to Kenya to support wildlife conservation.
20 minutes | 9 months ago
Conversation With A Contact Tracer: A Look At America's Fastest Growing Job
We depart from our traditional format with this episode to offer a glimpse inside the world of contact tracing. This is the fastest growing job in America, with the need for an estimated 200,000 contact tracers to track infections and protect the U.S. population against the advance of the COVID-19 virus. For those in our audience who may now be unemployed or simply looking for a new challenge, we thought it would be interesting to learn how the job works and the qualities needed to excel in this role. We connected with Daniel Okpare, a 30-year-old masters student in New York University’s School of Global Public Health. In addition to getting an advanced degree, he is on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Program. He was previously profiled in The New York Times. One point of clarification...many of the contact tracer positions focus on connecting with individuals infected by the virus by telephone. Daniel’s job is that of a “community engagement specialist.” He goes out into the community to meet with individuals that can’t be reached via the telephone. He typically conducts 4-6, face-to-face interviews per day. Interviews take place in the doorway of the infected individual's home and run for 20-30 minutes. We regularly celebrate the doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and paramedics helping to combat the COVID-19 crisis. It's to add "contact tracers" like Daniel Okpare to this list of healthcare heroes.
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