Changing the Rules

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Changing the Rules
Host Ray Loewe, “The Luckiest Guy in the World” believes each of us is a unique individual. Understanding and capitalizing on your uniqueness gives you the ability to personally design your own life and live it under your own terms. --- When you design your own life, you escape from all those rules imposed on you by everyone else, their rules, the rules that are holding you back! You create new rules, your rules, rules that give you the freedom to be you and allow you to flourish! --- Join our expert guests as they give you the insights you need to clarify who YOU are & what YOU want. Join some of “the Luckiest People in the World” who are currently living the lives they personally designed. Hear their story & how they did it. They will absolutely inspire and motivate you.
Wed, 24 May 2023 14:25:56 +0000
E142: Queen of Reinvention, Guest, Ang Onorato
Ang Oronoto, a "Personal Success Coach," helps people reimagine and reinvent themselves. "Our lives are a made up of individual spokes in a wheel. Unless you are constantly re-evaluating all of these spokes - your wheel won't roll and you are in for a bumpy ride!"
Wed, 24 May 2023 14:25:56 +0000
B11: The Impact of Health on Planning Our Lives - Random Thoughts
Health often negatively impacts even the best of plans. It is possible to plan around health issues.
Wed, 17 May 2023 13:53:23 +0000
B10: Retirement Should be Retired - Random Thoughts
Back in 1935 the US Government set normal retirement as age 65 as part of Social Security. But today the average male retiring at age 65 is expected to live for 18 years, only 10 to 15 of which are active. Retirement is often defined as "ending one's career in order to do what we want and enjoy life. So why do we wait so long to have so little time to enjoy life. Let's introduce the concept of "the Great Transition," going from where ever we might be today, to doing what we want and enjoying life ASAP.
Wed, 10 May 2023 14:02:33 +0000
B9: Mid-life Crisis - Random Thoughts
Everyone needs a mid-life crisis on a regular or irregular basis. A mid-life crisis gives you a chance to re-orient your thoughts about yourself: What's your purpose, what do you want out of life, and what value are you bringing to others? Some coaches we've talked with recently think a mid-life crisis every 10 years or so would be a good thing, others think more often is necessary. Here's to YOUR next mid-life crisis!
Wed, 19 Apr 2023 14:03:54 +0000
E 141: Self-image is the Key to Human Behavior, Guest, Dr. Paul Glat

Dr. Glat's Website:

Wed, 12 Apr 2023 16:17:15 +0000
B8: The Penguins - Random Thoughts
Listen to this episode of Random Thoughts and you'll never think about penguins the same way again. They traveled to Antarctica to experience the adventure but they put off taking the trip until they felt financially more secure. Now they have all the time and money they needed but they couldn't walk up the hill to see the penguins.
Wed, 12 Apr 2023 16:12:35 +0000
E140: Exploring Who You Are, Guest, Tammi Brannan

Tammi's Website:

Wed, 5 Apr 2023 13:53:18 +0000
E 139: Exploring Your Unique Ability, Guest, Kim Butler

Kim Bulter's Website:

Strategic Coach:

Thu, 30 Mar 2023 13:46:10 +0000
E138: The Book of You, Guest, Sarah Brown, Ph.D.
The week Ray talks with returning guest, Sarah Brown, Ph.D. She shares that knowing who you are, before you Change the Rules or Change the Game can head off frustration and improve the outlook for making changes to your life.
Wed, 22 Mar 2023 13:46:07 +0000
B7: The Old Airplane - Random Thoughts
It was old. It should have been retired. But it was repurposed based on its strengths. It found a new mission. It became not only useful, but perhaps, the very best there was.
Wed, 22 Mar 2023 13:42:14 +0000
E137: Getting Unstuck, Guest, Bill Hughes
Sometimes people become stuck in difficult situations, such as jobs and relationships, and they struggle to find a way out. Despite their best efforts and reasoning skills, they cannot seem to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. This can be frustrating and demoralizing. Bill Hughes, an experienced Life Coach, discusses solutions that lead to getting unstuck.
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 21:48:28 +0000
B6: Understand your uniqueness, before you try to "Change the Rules.," - Random Thoughts
Each of us is a unique individual. Exploring that uniqueness, before trying to "Change the Rules" can head off frustration and improve results. In fact, embracing their own uniqueness is what truly defines the Luckiest People in the World. It's what gives them the freedom design and live their own lives, their way and become fulfilled and happy.
Mon, 20 Mar 2023 21:45:47 +0000
B5: Changing the Game - Random Thoughts
What does it really mean when we say change the rules? How does changing your environment change the rules? Sometimes changing the rules isn't enough, you need to change the game and maybe even create a new game.
Wed, 1 Mar 2023 15:32:38 +0000
B4: Pittsburgh for Dinner - Random Thoughts
For the Luckiest People in the World, expanding a routine event; creating a larger, more expansive event, can seem frivolous, But it can stimulate excitement and open new areas of the fascinating and motivating. The strategic by products can simply be amazing. Think Bigger, Enjoy Life!
Fri, 24 Feb 2023 19:39:01 +0000
E 136: Sometimes Life Happens & You Have to Make Changes, Guest, LeAnn Pugh
When circumstances change, ie life gets in the way, how do you redesign your life? LeAnn Pugh talks about how she reached into her toolbox of past skills and applied them to find a solution and be able to work from home to accommodate health and family issues.
Wed, 22 Feb 2023 15:05:13 +0000
E 135: Google to Independent Community Bookstore, Guest, Julie Ross

Julie's website:

Mon, 6 Feb 2023 15:18:51 +0000
B3: Following the Fascinating & Motivating - Random Thoughts
After recording over one hundred episodes interviewing other people on how they Change the Rules, Ray answers the question; "How does he Change the Rules?"
Wed, 1 Feb 2023 14:47:03 +0000
B2: The Waitress - Random Thoughts
Ray Loewe recalls a story of a waitress wise beyond her years. He reflects on the importance of taking responsibility for everything in your life. Only then can you fix those problems you'll confront as you journey through it.
Wed, 25 Jan 2023 19:28:12 +0000
E 134: Taking Both Forks in the Road - Part 2, Guest, Eldon Gemmill
This week our guest host Dale Johnson continues his interview with Eldon Gemmill. Eldon has embraced many elements of a traditional lifestyle. However, he also loves to include adventure into his life. This episode covers a mountaineering expedition in Arctic Canada and a canoe expedition exploring blank areas of the map in South America.
Mon, 23 Jan 2023 14:58:56 +0000
B1: Artificial Intelligence, - Random Thoughts
This week Ray talks about a new piece of artificial intelligence software and the amazing answers it gives to questions. In this case, Ray asked: "What are some of the barriers to designing your own life?" Listen in for the answer.
Wed, 18 Jan 2023 16:07:34 +0000
E 133: Taking Both Forks in the Road, Guest, Eldon Gemmill
This week our guest host Dale Johnson interviews Eldon Gemmill. Eldon has embraced many elements of a traditional lifestyle. However, he has changed some rules so that he can still incorporate adventure into his life. When we talk about adventure, Eldon has taken that word to a different level.
Thu, 12 Jan 2023 16:45:33 +0000
E 132: Helping Kids Get to College, Guest, Rick Paine

Rick Paine's company: American College Connection

Rick Paine's website:

Wed, 4 Jan 2023 15:06:02 +0000
E: 131 Who will Advocate for You?, Guest Don Doolittle
Who will advocate for you when you can't advocate for yourself? Who will make decisions on your behalf if you aren't able to? Three parts to this decision: how do you choose the people who will look after you in an ever-changing environment; how do you empower them to get the information they need; how do you give them the power to act on your behalf - the documents and the possession of the documents.
Wed, 21 Dec 2022 15:22:24 +0000
E: 130 Let's Not Play Small, Guest Dawn Ritter-Fischer
Guest host Dale Johnson interviews Dawn Ritter-Fischer whose motto is "Let’s Not Play Small". Dawn is a solo female nomad traveler who changes the rules and travels the world capturing hearts and minds while getting to know her own.
Wed, 21 Dec 2022 15:17:17 +0000
E: 129 Stages of Imagination, Guest Jim Comey
Wed, 14 Dec 2022 15:33:10 +0000
E: 128 Floods, Airplane Crashes, & Nuclear Disasters, Guest John Comey
This week Ray talks with John Comey. John's career took him from member of the news team of a major tv network affiliate to spokesman and strategist for Pennsylvania's emergency management agency.
Wed, 14 Dec 2022 15:31:41 +0000
E: 127 Valley Forge Scholar and Author, Guest Nancy Loane
Dr. Nancy Loane discusses her book, Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment, published in 2009. After a career in education, Nancy took a job as a Seasonal Ranger at Valley Forge National History Park and fell in love with the park's story. This led to her book and to another one she's now working on.
Wed, 14 Dec 2022 15:13:49 +0000
E: 126 Reverse Engineering the Photo-taking/Organizing Process, Guest Bonnie Shay

Bonnie's Website:

Bonnie's YouTube Video:


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:20

Hello, everybody, and welcome to Changing the Rules. You know, Changing the Rules is about the fact that we're all given too many rules in life. They start with our parents, and then the schools, and then the church. And before we know it, our lives are cluttered with rules. And rules do two things: they tell us what we have to do, and what we can't do. And the next thing we know, we're living other people's lives and not our own. So Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple said, when you're living your life by other people's rules, you're not living your life. And we represent here the luckiest people in the world who run off, design their own lives and live them under their own terms. And we have one of those people with us. Bonnie Shay is a person who I've known for a good number of years. I won't tell you how many because I met her when she was very young. She has a company called Mariposa Photo Organizing, and she does some really unique things with old photos to organize them for people. So Bonnie, say hi to everybody.

Bonnie Shay01:34

Hello, everybody!

Ray Loewe01:35

No. Hi, everybody. See, there you are, you're breaking the rules already! So tell us in a minute or two, what you generally do for people and how you've specialized over the years.

Bonnie Shay01:51

So I have helped my clients with their photo collections, and I've narrowed it down to the printed photo part of their collections because that's what I love doing. I just love tangible photos. And to me, Ray, those photos are at the highest risk of a: being lost or damaged in the natural disasters that we unfortunately have or a fire a flood. But also, I feel like the printed photos, since they typically are of older nature, I want to make sure their stories are told before the people behind the stories that know the story, aren't here to tell them. Because I'm all about someone being able to share their photos and leave a legacy with their photos.

Ray Loewe02:36

Cool. Okay, so I'm shutting you up here. So, I actually have a hidden agenda, and I'm gonna get to what I want to get to. But first, when you go get a new client, you're picking up a box of photos.

Bonnie Shay02:55

Well, I'm gonna have to correct you, Ray. It's not a box of photos. It could be 17 boxes of photos, but you're right.

Ray Loewe03:03

Okay, so typically, why do people hire you? They have these boxes of photos, what do they want out of it, where are they going with them?

Bonnie Shay03:13

So when a potential client reaches out, basically, they are overwhelmed with their lifetime of printed photos that are in lots of boxes and albums. And they just haven't looked at them most likely in a long time, because they've been probably hiding around in their whole house in different places. And so my clients are stuck, they don't know what to do, they don't know where to go with their printed photos. In their mind it is like this big mountain of photos, and they don't know how to attack it. It's basically a big mess, and I don't say that in a critical fashion. But if you're a boss, and the boss says they're in various states of disarray or order, and what do we do with them? So I basically come in and lead the clients through what I call my curation process, because we want to make sure this treasure of photos are in a state that are going to be shared, and managed, and fixed from any disaster.

Ray Loewe04:07

Okay, let me interrupt for a minute because I understand safe, you know, you want them to endure, and some of these are fragile. But what I'm really interested in here is what are people trying to do with these photos at the end. Or is it capturing stories? Is it just capturing images? You know, where are they going?

Bonnie Shay04:35

For me, it's all about the story, which is what these people want. It's the photographic story, but we want the text as well. And who is in the photos? Because basically, these clients want to leave this story to their kids and their grandkids. And it's their history. It's their family history, and it brings back memories and discussion topics because it's fun to see these old photos to talk about, oh, what happened back then? Or who was that? Oh my gosh, Mom, I've never seen you when you were 10 years old. That's you at two years old. So it's really good storytime that can be shared when the photos are available.

Ray Loewe05:17

Yeah, I can tell you right now, our engineer Luke is sitting here cringing that somebody would see a photo of him when he was two years old. Right? Okay, so back, you have a process for dealing with this. Take us quickly through the process so people know what you have to do. But then I want to come back and focus on the result and how when we take photos, we can make sure we get the results that we want.

Bonnie Shay05:42

Absolutely. So the basic process is a: you gather all these photos together, b: we want to put them in a general chronological order. And we're not going for perfection, but we like to see our stories played out over time. And then you want to edit them so we get a reasonable amount of photos that we're gonna eventually scan so that we can have them digitally. And I want to emphasize, and I'll probably say this several times during our podcast, Ray, we want to focus on quality, over quantity. Because even if we magically organize 30,000 photos of the printed photos, they're still going to be overwhelming. We want to get the highlights, the best of the best stories, and each photo needs to tell a story. And let me share one quick, or two quick ideas of how people can know what's good, and what's not when you're in the editing phase of looking at your photos. Number one, if you have a picture of the Eiffel Tower, that's the Eiffel Tower. To me, that's not memorable or meaningful, because any of us could go on the internet now and get a picture of the Eiffel Tower. But if you were standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, that makes a story that tells us, oh, you were in Paris.

Ray Loewe06:55

And I'd ruin the picture.

Bonnie Shay06:58

We'll talk about that later, Ray. You didn't break the camera, though so, we're okay. And then number two is we don't have to perfect photos. So when I tell my clients I'm editing your collection without their help, maybe because they're not able to help me, and I see a picture of a three-year-old with a chocolate covered face. Some people would say, well, that's a terrible picture. It's a mess. No, no, no throw it out. And I want to say no because maybe that was the child's first chocolate ice cream cone and there's a story behind that photo that we want to tell and preserve. So, it's all about storytelling in pictures that we want to have our quality, but they don't have to be perfect. And one other thing I want to suggest to people if you're going through your own printed photos, we remove duplicates, we remove redundant photos, we reduce and remove poor quality photos. Like if it's blurry or fuzzy. And we have better pictures than the blurry, fuzzy version. So it's all about editing. And then the end result is we end up with a much smaller quantity of photos. But we have meaningful stories, photos that can tell your story. And my clients are thrilled and relieved when we have a curated collection. And they don't have these boxes and boxes and boxes.

Ray Loewe08:19

Yeah, and sometimes people don't even know who the people were in these photos. So some of your job is trying to identify people. Trying to track them down and trying to put together the stories. Sometimes after the people that are involved aren't here anymore. Good luck.

Bonnie Shay08:39

Right. And Ray, this time, what I'm trying to help my clients avoid is getting to the place where they don't know who's in them.

Ray Loewe08:46

All right, so here's where I want to go. And we can come back to your processing techniques, and I can attest the fact that you do wonderful things for people who get to the state in life where they're trying to find meaning in their past and have a mess on their hands. So, what I want to do is we're coming out of this COVID thing now and I'm starting to think again about traveling. I'm starting to get my camera out and clean it it up a little bit and make sure I have all the cards and the lenses and that they all work and all of that stuff. And one of the things that I've realized in the past is that I love being out taking pictures. I don't love so much sitting at home in front of my computer and processing the bad photos that I took. And I also have had a change in thought of where I'm going. My past was to go to the jungle in Africa, or the Galapagos Islands and capture these portraits of animals that were unique and different, that I could hang on the wall. Now, in a sense, that's a story. But, what I'm more interested in now is taking a trip and saying, okay, tell me in six photos, what this trip was all about. So what I want to do to you here and I do mean do to you is because I want you to rethink and reposition yourself. If you're on the other side of the lens, and I know you have experience here, because you grew up in a family of photographers, we won't go there right now. But tell me how to rethink. I'm planning a trip. So how do I spend less time in post-processing? How do I get the photos I really want? How do I think through what the stories are going to be? So that if I went to you afterward, you'd look at me, laugh at me, and say it's done. So impart your wisdom. Go ahead. You have 14 seconds.

Bonnie Shay11:10

Exactly right. So, a few thoughts I want to share with you and with your listeners is that being overwhelmed with too many photos is not a comfortable position, whether they were printed or digital. So once again, I want to say quality over quantity. So we're not about shooting off 30 photos of the same thing. We want to be careful, so overwhelm is what we want to avoid. Also, I want to help you prevent the clutter before it happens. So that's why we're going through this whole process, that you won't get home at the end of the trip and have 10,000 pictures. And then I want to give you credit Ray, because when we were doing our pre-plan call on this, you said, let's call this photo organizing in reverse. Like we're planning ahead, so you don't have this mess at the end of a trip, which, to me having a plan is the best place to be in life in general. And if you can practice that plan repeatedly, you'll get even better at it. So let's talk about my thoughts about planning ahead for a trip, and how you're going to get this photo essay. So in my mind, think about who is your audience? Are you your audience? Or your spouse or your kids? Or grandkids? Who would be your audience that would enjoy this photo essay? And where am I going, you know, maybe you're just going down the street, or maybe you're going to Morocco or Africa. And you could do some research on where you're going so you can get a sense of what you might see. So you're not just surprised when you get off the plane. And you've got to stop number one, it's like, oh, I didn't know I was gonna see this kind of place, you could do some pre-planning. So another concept is to keep in mind what photos not to take. So I already mentioned the Eiffel Tower idea, right? But keep that in mind. Because if you get home with 20 pictures of the Eiffel Tower with nobody in front of them, that was a waste of your time and storage space. So think about what photos you want to be careful of not taking. General scenery is basically what you don't want to take except a few environmental pictures because you want to remember where you were or what city. So if you need to take a picture of something that reminds you where you were if you're on a 10-day cruise, that's helpful. But a specific thing that I think is also helpful if you want to keep up to date with your photos as you're taking them. So let's say you're going on a 10-day cruise. How about at the end of each day, before you go to sleep at night, you go through the photos you took that day and do some light editing. Let go of stuff that's obviously garbage or redundant, or it didn't come out the way you wanted it to. But once again, you're helping yourself get home at the end of the 10 days and not have the 10,000 photos. You've curated them along the way. And I already said this, but practice makes perfect. So by editing each day, you're getting a better flow and a better sense of what you're getting and what you want at the end of the day.

Ray Loewe14:32

Okay, so I've been thinking, this is trouble. So one of the things that I found is that if I'm going to a city that I've never been to, there are websites available of photographers who have taken pictures in the city, and I found some of them are pretty interesting because they can show you where to stand to get the best picture. Or where to capture the best light to highlight something. So if I want a picture of the Eiffel Tower that I'm going to consider a fine art picture, I'm going to hang it on my wall, and I want to make it mine, the perspective of it needs to change. And so otherwise I could go by the picture of the Eiffel Tower. That's what you're telling me? Right? I think I think the second thing is, you really have to think about whether or not it's something you want to hang on the wall, or whether it's something that you just want to put down in front of somebody and tell a story. Now, remember going over to people's houses that have just gotten back from a trip and you see 47 million slide photos of ugly pictures of ugly people. So again, you're saying you avoid this by just cropping every day, get rid of the especially the blurred images and the stuff that's there, get rid of it, focus on the quality? Focus on what are you going to do? Are you trying to tell the story of trying to hang something on the wall? Any other things that you can think of?

Bonnie Shay16:12

Yeah, so let's say you're having a family trip, and you're taking grandkids and kids and relatives and siblings. You're going on maybe a family reunion. And so you might want to do some post pictures because you want to get a whole group shot. I also want to give people the concept that when I'm going through my client's photos, the post stuff is not as interesting as the candid photos. Yes, posed, you are getting the people you know but there's not much emotion with somebody looking at the photographer straight in the eye and smiling when he says they cheese. So think about candid photos, it sort of is in line with your idea of maybe a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but do something different about it like an angle or take it when it's sunrise or sunset. It's not just the perfect Eiffel tower that everybody else has seen. But candid versus posed is a great differentiating factor and what you're going to get quality with. My other suggestion is for those of your listeners who have printed collections, and maybe they haven't worked on them, but you are planning a trip in the near future that you want to go and take your phone, your digital camera, I would say a good little homework assignment for practice is to go through your printed photos just lightly. Don't try to curate them right there. But look at them and see what kind of pictures generate emotions, especially pictures from your past, the story that you're loving to see in your photos, and that might just give you some good insights, and some good emotions that you can take towards the future of taking your own photos and making these valuable and meaningful photo essays.

Ray Loewe17:58

Cool. Okay, I think you helped me think through some interesting things. I mean, I'm really excited about getting back in the photography world. I haven't taken any pictures the last two years. And I think you're absolutely right, think of the pictures that have meaning. Think about how you want to pose them. Do a little homework. Think like a photo organizer in reverse. Right? All right, so Bonnie Shay, Mariposa Photo Organizing, we'll put her website up on our notes later. If you have these boxes of photos, Bonnie is a great photo detective, she can feel the paper that it was taken on and know when that picture was taken, she can find a face in that photo and then find those faces in other photos. And, Bonnie, thank you. I know I put you on the spot because this isn't what you do. But I think it will help us a lot to think about what we're taking before we get to that stage where the memories are made. So any final comments from you before we bail out here?

Bonnie Shay19:10

No, what I'll say is I'll also give you a link to a YouTube video that I was part of that people if they want to know more about printed photos and need a little more instruction. I'm happy to share that you can just go on and see. You know, I talked about the process in more detail, which, as we already talked about digital, but the curating a printed collection and digital collections are parallel processes. They're just different formats. But I think it could help people in general as well.

Ray Loewe19:38

Sure. So send me that link. We'll post it on our podcast and thank you for being with us. And Bonnie Shay, Mariposa Photo Organizing, you know that Mariposa is too long a word. I understand it's a butterfly. Okay, and you're a flighty person. But other than that, have a wonderful day, and Luke, sign us off, please.

Outro 20:02

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 30 Nov 2022 14:51:05 +0000
E: 125 Fun Facts about the USA, Guest Carol Patton

Carol Patton's Website:


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Welcome to the luckiest guy in the world podcast called Changing the Rules. We're sitting here today in our brand new podcast studio in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. We have a revisiting guest, we have Carol Patton, who was a freelance writer all of her life. We're going to get to her in a minute, and she's going to talk about her project that she's working on. But we're going to do something else today. We have Luke Cagno sitting at our board and we just decided that we're going to pull him into the podcast today because Carol is going to ask me a bunch of questions I don't know the answer to. And I don't want to feel stupid all alone. So welcome, Luke. And Carol Patton out in Las Vegas, how's the weather out there today?

Carol Patton00:59

It is beautiful. No more wind like it was yesterday. Thanks for having me.

Ray Loewe01:16

Okay. So first of all, let me say that Carol was a freelance writer for most of her life, and she changed, kind of as the industry changed, and she picked up a project that is immersing her in life right now. And let me remind you, if you want to know more about Carol, she was on one of our earlier episodes. If you go through our files, it happens to be Episode 84, and she was on in September of 2021. So, Carol, we're all a year older now, and maybe wiser, maybe not. So say hello to everybody.

Carol Patton01:54

Good morning, everyone. Or I should say good afternoon, depending where you are in the country. It is a pleasure to be here, we are going to have lots of fun today.

Ray Loewe02:02

Cool. So the MO project is what life is all about for you right now. And you know, you're so lucky to have a project like this because I don't think people have a project that can drive them and can be as interesting as this one has turned out to be. So give us a quick synopsis of what the MO project is all about and what you're trying to do.

Carol Patton02:27

Sure, many years ago, I started writing a children's story about a dog and a bird that finds a key attached to a key chain that says Florida, they don't know where Florida is. So they travel on top of a delivery truck without the driver's knowledge to every single state in the country, and they learn things about every state. And the story teaches them a little bit of geography, history, cardinal directions, but most importantly, it's fun. And how this project started was it sort of took on a life of its own, because I started discovering so many fun facts and interesting things about every state. But I could not cram them into each chapter. So I started expanding the book, which is called The Adventures of Mo. And now it's a project, it has many legs and arms and attenae. And so now I've written state blogs, more than 20 so far, with all of these interesting facts and bits of trivia that people might be interested in learning about.

Ray Loewe03:33

Now, before we go into the actual triviality stuff over here, this project has taken you into a whole different lifespan, because you go out now and you talk to kids in schools, right?

Carol Patton03:46

Yes, I've done over 16 presentations so far.

Ray Loewe03:50

And your goal here is to get kids interested in learning about the United States and about life. And what else?

Carol Patton03:59

Well, I want to get them first interested in reading and writing. Many kids, you know, second or third graders, they find it boring, they'd rather be playing a video game or outside. So what I do is I talk to them about how writing and reading can be fun. And I use The Adventures of Mo as an example, I do a guided imagery of one of the chapters, and they have a lot of fun, it's very interactive, and that sort of gives them a sense that writing is not just writing your ABCs. It's not boring, it can be a lot of fun. So that presentation seems to go well in elementary schools and for your listeners, if anybody wants to use me as a speaker, it's free. Just contact me and I'd be happy to do it over Zoom.

Ray Loewe04:46

We will give everybody your website so that they can find you at the end of this thing. But you know, as we've been talking over the last year, I started thinking about some of the stuff that you're doing and I used to go out and give a lot of presentations as an adult. And I just started thinking, wow, when you go into a different state, it's really helpful if you can talk about the city or the state that you're in and give some facts that you learned, it kind of breaks the ice. And all of a sudden, I found out, wow, you've got a resource here, for adults who do this kind of thing. And then the other side of that is, grandchildren come into play. When you're a grandparent, and you're trying to bond with your grandchildren, wouldn't it be great to have some fun things to talk about at the beginning of a conversation? Or even better if you're taking a road trip with your grandchildren, to be able to talk a little bit about some of the things that we're going to see and we're going to find out, and so that's the background. So let's start here because we've got tons of these things and we're going to ask me some questions that I'm not going to be able to answer. That's why Luke's here, so I don't feel so bad. So do you want to start with what adults might do with this thing?

Carol Patton06:11

Yeah, I picked two states. One state was really interesting trivia that may be more appealing for adults. And the second state the trivia may be more appealing for kids. But you can go on the website, and you can decide for yourself because obviously, it just depends on the age and your interest level. So okay, Luke, and Ray, tell me what state does this happen in. There's a small town that is called Earth. It's probably the only place on this planet that is named Earth. Do you know the state?

ay Loewe06:46

I have no idea. Luke, you got anything?

Luke Cagno06:48

I can't remember if we talked about this earlier or not. But I can't remember. I think it was Idaho.

Ray Loewe06:57

No, it's got to be a southern state because only southerners would think this way. Right? Okay, so give us the answer.

Carol Patton07:03

Okay, well, these three trivia are all from the same state. So let me give you the other two and then I'll give you the answer. According to state law, all thieves must give authorities a 24-hour oral or written notice of their intended crime before committing it. Apparently, this was supposed to help reduce theft. And apparently, you've got to comply with the law before you break it. That's the second stat.

Ray Loewe07:30

All right. Give us number three.

Carol Patton07:33

Number three, in 2014, there was a small town that voted to reschedule Halloween to October 30th because Halloween conflicted with the local high school Friday night football game.

Luke Cagno07:51

This all sounds like something Texas would do. Is it Texas?

Ray Loewe07:57

We know you cheated because we know you got the answer earlier but you sound good now anyway. Okay, so if I were going to Texas and I wanted to give a speech and I wanted some fun facts, how would I find these on your website?

Carol Patton08:10

Well, you go to the website and go to the footer or the bottom of the website on any of the pages, and there's a footer it says blog, just click on that. Right now 20 State blogs reposted, 30 are completed, we post one week. And I will complete all 50 states, I just haven't done it yet. But you can at least get a lot of rich content on about 20 states right now.

Ray Loewe08:36

Okay, have you got it got any other examples of things that I as an adult would want to know?

Carol Patton08:42

Yeah, you've got to hear this. Do you want me to tell you the state? Because the story is overwhelming.

Ray Loewe08:49

Yeah, so tell us the state and tell us the overwhelming story.

Carol Patton08:52

Okay, this happened in Idaho in 1914. There was a six-year-old girl named Mae, and she was actually mailed from her hometown to where her grandparents lived. And back then, it took many hours by car to drive there. Her parents wanted to send their daughter to visit her grandparents but the train fare was too expensive. However, they discovered that they could mail a package up to 50 pounds for just 53 cents. And guess what. Mae only weighed 45 pounds. So her parents got creative, and they purchased 53 cents in stamps, attached them to her coat and they mailed her and apparently, the post office had to honor that. She traveled the entire distance. It was from Grangeville to Lewiston in Idaho. And she traveled that distance in the trains mail car, and she was safely delivered to her grandmother's home by the mail clerk on duty. So I guess this maybe the first and last time a person was actually mailed, I don't know.

Ray Loewe10:03

I've got two comments on that. Where does child abuse fit in here? Although she was delivered first class, and you know, maybe it wasn't. And then the second thing is trying to figure out what the post office would do today. Do you ever track a package and find out it starts in Idaho, goes to Cleveland, and then someplace in Florida before comes back to Idaho again?

Carol Patton10:26

Yes, but you know, at least she was the only person in the truck at the time. She wasn't crammed in a seat like you are in airplanes. So she may have had a more comfortable ride, I don't know.

Ray Loewe10:37

Where do you find this stuff?

Carol Patton10:41

It's all out there. It's all out there on the internet. I do a lot of research. As a journalist, I'm used to doing research, so I know how to conduct it. But you just contact a variety of sites, you look under state facts, tourism, kids facts, there's a lot of websites that focus on that. And there's probably 10 sites that I traditionally go to, just to see what they have, and then see what else is out there. So this is how I find it. You know, it can be a couple hours worth of work easily. But it's fun.

Ray Loewe11:13

But you've got it now on your website, under a State blog, and I can find it. Okay, so let's take a different scenario here. Suppose I'm a grandparent, and I'm going on a road trip with my grandchildren. Pick a state that maybe we're going to go to and how do we get our grandchildren fascinated, motivated, and amused about where we're going?

Carol Patton11:39

Sure. I'm sure grandparents and parents are tired of hearing are we there yet? Right? You hear that 1000 times. And I know a lot of parents play the license plate game, how many cars have different license plates? Well, here's another game you can play in the car and your kids can actually learn a lot. For instance, I'll give you the kids state that I chose. This state has a city called Santa Claus. And every holiday it receives over half a million letters at Christmas time. You know, the city says that it responds to each letter, doesn't necessarily honor the request, but what state is the city in? A kid, I think, would be interested in hearing that. The same state also has a park called Wolf Park. If you make a donation to this park, you can get kissed by a friendly wolf. Parents may not be so enthusiastic about that, but the kids would be. And I know a lot of kids play baseball. Where was the first pro baseball game played? It was played in this state all the way back in 1871. So those are the kinds of things that the website has, the kinds of trivia, some are for adults and some are for kids. But you learn and have fun all at the same time. So do you know what state that was in? All three of those?

Luke Cagno12:56

It's got to be in New York, right?

Carol Patton12:58

Nope, 49 more to go.

Ray Loewe13:02

Yeah, I have no idea. So tell us because I don't have time to go online right at the moment and find the answer.

Carol Patton13:10

Indiana. They have Santa Claus, Indiana Wolf Park is in Indiana and again, the first pro baseball game was played in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 4, 1871.

Ray Loewe13:24

Okay, let me reverse this a little bit. And one of the things in prepping for this is you did send me a list of these fun facts. And let me just read one and you can comment about how it fits into the whole thing. So you had one down here. Speaking of adventures, have you ever heard of a Bronco Charlie? So tell us about Bronco, Charlie.

Carol Patton13:52

It's the Pony Express. Kids learn about the Pony Express, I think in third grade, if I'm not mistaken, but they know all about it, when I go and do the presentations they know. And this is one of the presentations with guided imagery. I say close your eyes, imagine you're on horseback. There's no cell phone, there's no hotels, no TV, no road signs. And you've got to travel a full day as fast as you can to deliver this mail. And so we get into that what would it feel like? Would you be afraid? It could be raining, it could be snowing, it wouldn't matter. You could be really hot. And so they really get into this. And Bronco Charlie was the youngest Pony Express rider. So I asked them how old he was. And I'll get responses anywhere from 2 years old to 82 years old. But Bronco Charlie, I'm gonna say he's 11 and a half. He was 11 and a half because some websites said he was a 11, others say he was 12 so we'll split the difference. So he was 11 and a half. So they love learning about that stuff. And you can make it fun. It's fun for parents and fun for adults.

Ray Loewe 14:59

Okay, Here's another one that you put on your list. Every summer, 550 glass balls are hidden on a US island for tourists to find and keep. What's the name of that island and where is it? And if you don't know, I have the answer here that you fed me earlier.

Carol Patton15:20

Yes, it's Block Island in Rhode Island. And there's an artisan community there, they make these beautiful glass balls, and they hide them all over the island. And they're numbered. So when you find them, they ask you to report the one so they can check the number off and you get to keep them. So one of the stories is about dogs on a hunt to find these glass balls. So, you know, I know some people who've been to Rhode Island, they've never even heard of this. So I'm finding things that are some of them are common, some of them are not. Can I say the one about Michigan, Ray?

Ray Loewe15:59


Carol Patton16:01

Okay. Michigan is the only one in the world that has a floating post office. It's located on the Detroit River, and it's called the J. W. Westcott. I think it's the second. And it's the only boat in the world that delivers not only mail, but packages, and also pizza to crew members stationed on ships that are traveling on the river. The boat is an official Postal Service mailboat, it even has its own zip code. It started doing this since 1952.

Ray Loewe16:37

So do you have to put stamps on the pizza?

Carol Patton16:41

You know, all I can say is I think Uber and DoorDash are in trouble. I don't know.

Ray Loewe16:46

All right. So we're not going to go through all of these because we want them to go to your website and look because that's where you can really get into this. But which state elected the first female or woman to Congress? And I have the answer so you don't have to look it up.

Carol Patton17:07

Well, I have the answer too, but that I'm going to leave that up to you to say the answer.

Ray Loewe17:11

All right, because Luke's not going to know this one. It's Montana.

Luke Cagno17:14

I was going to say Ohio.

Ray Loewe17:15

Well, Ohio is known for a lot of things in here. Did you have any of these that you picked up when you were cheating and looking at the list?

Luke Cagno17:23

No, I didn't get a chance to read them all.

Ray Loewe17:25

Okay, well, that's good. So that way you don't cut into my time over here.

Carol Patton17:30

What about Wyoming? You got that one?

Ray Loewe17:35

No, but go ahead.

Carol Patton17:37

Which state had, well we know it's Wyoming now, but which state has a dirt landing strip reserved for people from Jupiter? It's called the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport.

Luke Cagno17:51

Has it been used?

Carol Patton17:54

If it has, nobody's telling us.

Ray Loewe17:57

You're kidding me?

Carol Patton18:00

I am not kidding you. I'm not kidding you. So they actually have a dirt landing strip. And I think people from Jupiter, I think they're called Jovians, I'm not sure, I could be mispronouncing that.

Luke Cagno18:11

I think that's right.

Ray Loewe18:13

Okay, so just a quick rundown of a couple others that are here. Which state invented 911? And I know the answer to that is Nebraska. Last place in the world I would have expected this to happen. And one other one from here. The state nicknamed the mother of presidents. I kind of knew this one because I grew up there. But Ohio, and it's because there are so many presidents that started their life there. So what are some of the creative things that we can do with this? We can teach kids fun things about history and about learning and about doing research.

Carol Patton18:59

Yes. This is a great resource for teachers, they can even play a form of Jeopardy in the classroom by using these trivia questions. They can do extra credit on exams. Teachers can be really creative with this stuff, that's just an example of some things they can do. And even sitting around the dinner table with parents and your kids. You know, if the conversation gets a little stale, you can mention any of these and it launches into a wonderful conversation.

Ray Loewe19:30

I can see this now. We're having pizza with our grandchildren. So which floating post office delivered this?

Carol Patton19:38


Ray Loewe19:39

I'll tell you I really got I got a kick out of this postage thing. I had been to Hawaii and I know you can mail a coconut from Hawaii to anywhere by putting a stamp on it, and you actually write the message on the coconut. But mailing your daughter or granddaughter I think that's a little much. All right, you got any others in here that will amuse us and enlighten us and fascinate and motivate us?

Carol Patton20:04

Yes. This city's name was decided by a coin toss. If I say the city, you'll know the state. So I'll give you the city in the state. It was Portland, Oregon. Okay. So it had the coin landed on the other side, what would Portland have been called?

Ray Loewe20:28

No idea.

Carol Patton20:31


Luke Cagno20:37

So then what would Boston have been called?

Ray Loewe20:40

I guess it would have been Boston, Massachusetts versus Boston, Oregon. All right, we only have a couple minutes. And we're going to sum up because we want to let people go and look for this. So first of all, give us the website that they're gonna go to again.

Carol Patton20:57

It's And then if you want to look at this trivia, scroll all the way down to the bottom to the footer, and you'll see blogs and just click on that. And 20 blogs are there already.

Ray Loewe21:14

All right. Give us a couple more of some of the more diverse things over here so we can leave people with examples. And then we'll sign off leaving people wanting.

Carol Patton21:25

Okay, where did the country's first train robbery occur?

Ray Loewe21:31

All right, Luke, this is up your alley, go ahead.

Luke Cagno21:35

The first train robbery in the country occurred in Indiana.

Carol Patton21:41

How did you know that? Were you related to the robbers or something?

Ray Loewe21:46

Yeah, it's right. So is that where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were or is it somebody else that pulled this off?

Carol Patton21:53

It's somebody else. I think they were called the Reno brothers. And when I heard that, I thought they were from Nevada, because of Reno, Nevada, but they weren't. And they stole something like the equivalent of today, a quarter of a million dollars, something like that. So it was a lot of money. Oh, here's one for the musicians out there. The last time the liberty bell rang was more than 150 years ago. What musical notes did the bell strike when it rang?

Ray Loewe22:22

All right, Luke is a guitarist, I'm non-musical here. I bet you have no idea what this is.

Luke Cagno22:29

I read the start of it, but I didn't get to the end of it. I'm gonna guess it's probably an A.

Carol Patton22:42

No, E-flat. E-flat.

Ray Loewe22:44

Now, who decided this? Was the bell made to do this or was this just what happened?

Carol Patton22:51

I think it's just what happened. I have no idea who decided to make it an E-flat sound or ringing in terms of an E-flat. But let's see if I have any others. Okay, in the 1800s, dozens of shipwrecks happened between Alaska and a chain of US islands. Can you guess the name of these islands?

Ray Loewe23:17


Luke Cagno23:18

What islands are there around Alaska?

Ray Loewe23:21

Well, I don't know there's Hawaiian Islands and there's the Marshall Islands. And I don't know what else.

Carol Patton23:29

Ever hear of Devil's Peace islands off of California's coast? That's where they are, between California and Alaska. Dozens of shipwrecks happen. I think they're called Farallon Islands too if I'm pronouncing it correctly.

Ray Loewe23:42

You know, there was one other one on here that I thought was interesting. And that had to do with there is a state that if you stand anywhere in the state, you're within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes.

Carol Patton23:57

Yes. Anywhere you stand in the state. And that's my home state.

Ray Loewe24:02

Well, it makes sense if you look at a map, and I think this is what you're trying to do is get kids to look at a map. Because when you look at the state of Michigan, you got all the Great Lakes around. So it's got to be Michigan, right?

Carol Patton24:14


Ray Loewe24:15

All right. We're nearing the end over here, give us two or three quick in succession, and then we're going to leave people to do the research on their own.

Carol Patton24:25

Okay, I'll give you two more only and they can be good for kids or adults. Only one state capital has three words. Which state? Only one state has one syllable, which state? And let's see what else. Which state had the most men sign up to fight in the Civil War? Like I said, I have tons of these. And how many of you know the names of the four US presidents whose faces are carved into Mount Rushmore? Not everybody knows that.

Ray Loewe25:01

All right, let me guess at that. It's Roosevelt, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

Carol Patton25:06

Okay, you get the prize.

Ray Loewe25:09

Well, I've been there. But you're right, you wouldn't really know that. Okay, so kind of let's recap, because we can go on and do these for a long time. And, and one of the reasons I knew Carol could do this is we meet for virtual cocktails every Thursday afternoon, and Carol comes up here, and we will not let her escape the afternoon without giving us a few of these. We call them factoids instead of fun facts on the air and she always amuses us with these. But again, let's just kind of recap about the purpose of The Adventures of Mo. It is to get kids engaged in reading, writing, learning, right?

Carol Patton25:54

Learning about the country, the amazing history, and geography of this country.

Ray Loewe25:59

Okay. And anything else you want to say before we sign off?

Carol Patton26:04

Just try a chapter. Or if you don't, go on and look at one of the blogs, because the blogs have a lot of information about history, about fun stuff. It could be anything. Ghost stories, for instance, and I can't I'll be the one without the answer. What state has the most registered ghost towns in the country? You'd be surprised. I'm not gonna give you the answer.

Ray Loewe26:30

All right. We're leaving that wanting. So, Carol Patton, thanks so much for being with us again. As you do more research and you get more of these fun facts, we're going to have you back again, just because the world needs to know these things. All right.

Carol Patton26:47

Absolutely. Thanks. That was fun.

Ray Loewe26:48

Okay. So the adventures of Mo, we'll write this out in our notes so that you can find the website. And Carol, thanks so much for being with us on Changing the Rules again, and Luke, sign us off, please.

Outro 27:04

Thank you for listening to Changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 9 Nov 2022 14:54:26 +0000
E: 123 Life After Work, A Golden Opportunity, Guest Bill Adams


Intro 00:04

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Bill Adams00:15

Welcome, everybody. We're sitting here this afternoon, actually, it is afternoon, but you're not supposed to know that. And we're in our brand new studios here in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. And we have a great engineer here, Luke Cagno, who's running our soundboard and who's going to make us sound great. And I have a really exciting, intriguing guest today. And his name is Bill Adams, and we're going to come back to him in a second. I want to remind everybody that the luckiest people in the world are people who create their own lives, design them personally, step into them and live them under their own terms. And unfortunately, we have rules that are given to us by people all throughout our lives. Our parents gave us rules. The church gives us rules. The schools give us rules, our jobs give us rules. And the problem with rules is that rules either have to be followed, or they're things that we can't do. And I think it was Steve Jobs, the president of Apple that came in and said, you know, if you're living your life under other people's rules, you're not living your life. And we have a really great guest today, who I think is pretty good at breaking the rules, or at least changing them and making them do what he wants to do, Bill Adams. And before I let Bill Adams talk, let me give you a couple of key points about his life. And Bill, you can correct me if I'm wrong on these. So, Bill Adams guided Armstrong World Industries through some of the stormiest years in its 134-year history. He's a native of Dubuque, Iowa, he joined Armstrong in 1956, as an advertising copywriter. He became chairman and president in March of 1988, just as the booming economy of the 1980s was about to stagnate, and he found himself coping with a harsh business climate that shoved Armstrong into unprofitability. He led the firm's successful defense against takeovers and brought them back to profitability before he actually retired in 1996, I believe. So, for those of you who don't know Armstrong, it was a public company, it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and it was a $2 billion company with 10,000 employees. And so we have a gentleman here who managed a good-sized company and Bill Armstrong, welcome to Changing the Rules. Thanks. Good to be here. Okay. Now, I described you originally as a hard-charging business executive, and you corrected me on that. So take a minute and tell us about your management style because I think it's important in the way you think, Well, I didn't object to, I want to modify the idea of hard-charging, there is this image, the CEOs are almost like commanders on a bridge, who are saying do this and do that. Your role really I leading an organization. First of all, I think is to have the longest planning view of anybody there. Where are we going, essentially the key choosing and trying to shape the organization to compete in the right markets against the right competition with the right offer. And then you got to think about the structure. Do you have the, you know, the financial structure, the employees structure, the ethical structure all the way through? So it's not so much hard charging is it is, I think, essentially finding out where you can make a difference. I'll say this, the decisions that are brought to you which you often share with the board are not the easy ones they've been taken care of. They're the tougher ones, the toughest one of all have to do with people. So I'd like to look at that job has being a lucky one for me. I got there because of good luck, which I won't get into now. Turns of events which worked out in my favor, but I like to look at it as being one who serves the company to get where it wants to go.

Ray Loewe04:29

Okay, so now let's get into what we really want to talk about. We've established your credentials over here and what you've been able to do. But you're also an expert, I'm going to use a bad word, at retirement, because you've been retired for how long now?

Bill Adams04:47

Little over a quarter of a century.

Ray Loewe04:49

Okay. So you hate the word retirement as much as I do. So what's the substitute word?

Bill Adams04:56

Well rewirement, I think you're rewired. Let me point out when you're in any part of the organization, you could be a plant manager, you could manage an accounts payable department, you have to use your time well, that's the thing where you're showing your stuff. In a company like Armstrong, you have all the financial resources, you want the human resources, the thing you got to do is decide how best to spend your time, where you're gonna make a difference. So you're very careful how you're using that time. And then all of a sudden, you're no longer employed. And you can put that time to any use you want to. People who study this say one of the very first things that people retired realize is: I'm on vacation, and I'm on vacation next week and next month, which means I really can choose what to do with my time. Other times it was chosen by others. So the question is, what are you going to do it and Ray, I think there's so much written about preparing for the financial side of retirement, I think maybe it would be of service to people approaching retirement if more were written about what are you going to do with the last third of your life Adult life. And do the math. Let's say you retire at age 62, you live to age 85, go do the arithmetic. And let's suppose that you become an adult at 18, rather than the arithmetic, you're going to find the 1/3 of your life in this non-employed period. Now there are some who retire from their main vocation and go into something else, small or large. But essentially, I think that's the feeling in the planning probably is, what am I going to do with this time? What am I going to pursue here? And right alongside of it, what am I going to do to help others do what they want to do?

Ray Loewe06:51

Okay, I should ask, I shouldn't ask you the question, I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do. I made an observation about you a long time ago. And we've known each other for a little while, but not an extended period of time. But I think Bill is a person who really follows what fascinates and motivates him. And I think that that's one of the things that has driven him during this period of rewirement. So talk a little bit about some of the things that you've done. And how long do you continue to do them?

Bill Adams07:26

Well, a lot of it is just personal pursuit rather selfish. That sounds neat, I'd like to be part of that. I played golf ever since I was 12. And I played a lot of tournaments. And I've always been fascinated by the role of the golf rules official. Many people don't realize that the golf rules officials, they're not to exact penalties on people but to prevent them. to help the golfer not make mistakes, you know, and you know, you help the guy who hit a ball into the creek, determine where he places the next shot. So I went to this PGA rules school and qualified at a very difficult three-hour exam, and then went out of the course, working with other rules officials, and I could use the grand term giving back to the game. But no, I give it to me, I've been fascinated with how this works and how much there is to learn about golf rules officials. Now for how long? I did it for seven years until I didn't want to do it anymore. There was no more fire in the belly. You know, you drive into the sun towards the greater Philadelphia area seven in the morning, and you drive back into the sun coming back to Lancaster. And that's when you stop. And I don't know if that's a principle, but it's one that I think might help as people think about this. I don't think I want to start this because I don't want to do it for a long, long time. You don't have to. You're not drawing a paycheck, you know, to be in a particular job, you can simply say, I want to do this until I don't want to do it anymore. If I could use another example of, in the early period, I went down to the University of Tennessee and taught if you will I call it that in the MBA graduate school. Actually, I went down there and I found myself learning more than teaching. Never mind how I got connected with that. But what I found with that was what I really wanted to was pursue an engagement with younger people, college-age people with a faculty, it was a brand new experience for me. And then there came a time when I just ran out of steam and said thank you very much, I won't be doing this anymore. That by the way were short stints, two to three weeks at a time twice a year. But it was just a great experience. And as I said I learned so much In doing that,

Ray Loewe10:01

You know, let's back up a bit, your family has always been important to you. So describe your family, and then talk a little bit about the time you allocated your family during your work experience.

Bill Adams10:15

Well, we have four children. And they have spawned 10 grandchildren right at this point. I married Susan Cole, who I met on a blind date in 1954. And we've been married for 65 years. And when I talk about my family I've got to start there, because when I was in our international operations, I was going away for three weeks at a time. And here's Susan home with four kids and all the things that have to do with it and she ran the household, she kept the family together. As far as my own time, I tried to put in a rule, if you will, changing the rules, okay? From midnight Friday, until four o'clock Sunday, I'm doing no business. I'm not opening the briefcase, and I'm not sure I could do that in today's role or social media, here, but I could then. And it may be a matter of going back on the office phone Friday night and finishing up some things. But it enabled me to really set aside that time and do lots of things with our kids and for our kids. Everything from going to rock concerts to going to baseball games with my son. And yeah, family was important. I have to say if St. Peter taps me at the pearly gates and says, what did you accomplish down there on earth? I want to mention the family first. Armstrong. yeah, that's in there, rewirement is in there.

Ray Loewe11:42

Okay, and that's still part of your life, right? You know, so what do you do with your family right now, as part of your requirement concept over here?

Bill Adams11:51

Stay in touch with them, it's so easy to do it now. I just looked today on WhatsApp at a posting from our granddaughter who two weeks ago went to Botswana with the Peace Corps. Now, there was a time years ago you wouldn't hear from him for two years. So we're staying in touch. We gathered 30 of them to play a lake at the Adirondacks in July. And that was 30 out of 34 of our extended family. So you know, we're working going with them. And you know, often you'll hear someone say they retired and spend time with her grandchildren. While I want to spend time with all the kids and watch them develop. You know, last week, our only son or third of the birth order turned 59. Now I thought woah, I can't have kids in their 60s. But I do and they're fascinating people. I will mention this too. I spent a lot of time in our international operations and got to go to a lot of neat places on somebody else's money. But one of the things we pursued in this requirements, Susan I did, was to go to cities and places with an entirely different view. I probably went to London, I think I counted one time, 50 times in my business career. But then Susan I would go back to London and rent a flat, or apartment or furnished villa for two weeks. And just decide every day, what do you want to do, it's raining, let's stay in, you know, sit by the coal stove and if you know, let's choose this, let's go to Stratford upon Avon and see a Shakespearean play. And that was a neat way to kind of indulge your interest and pursue what interests you. And so we've been traveling to South America, Italy, you know, all around the world, in fact, went two months ago to Iceland, which was on our bucket list. And that's part of being one of the luckiest guys in the world, to be able to have the financial flexibility to do that and to have the good health at age 88 to be able to do that.

Ray Loewe14:00

You know, you're still a young guy, though. Long as you think young, you're still a young guy.

Bill Adams14:05

Well, yes, but age has a limit.

Ray Loewe14:06

It does and so let's talk about that briefly, not so much from a negative standpoint, but one of the things I think we have to know is age does create problems. And I think the luckiest people in the world get around them pretty fast. So I think you've built that into your picture to a large extent. Talk to me about aging. Well, when you when you're an octogenarian things go wrong, and they do when you're in your 60s. I never thought I'd be, you know, wearing hearing aids and they're very helpful. I've had three operations on my right eye. Thank goodness, I have cornea specialists at Hopkins that know just what to do, very lucky on that. But it hasn't slowed you down.

Bill Adams14:58

Yeah, of course, it's slowed me down. But it hasn't propped me down thank God in a wheelchair, you know, I may hit that sometime. But things you know you just accommodate to it. This is the first year since I was 12 years old that I have not played a full round of golf. I played some nine-hole golf. And part of that's a physical limitation and a part of it was because of an injury from a fall. And that's one thing I developed now is the ability to fall down. I'm very good at it. And you'll see when I came into the studio, I came in today with a cane, this is not a good day for my balance.

Ray Loewe15:41

So okay, so let's go back to these people now that are entering the best third of their life or the last third of their life or how you want to put it there. You've had an interesting viewpoint in the way you've looked at this. So what is it that you would tell people to do? I mean, forget the basics of you know, stay healthy and get financially secure. Get into the stuff that makes life rich and enlightened.

Bill Adams16:13

Well, I loath to give a general prescription. But I can comment on a few things from my own personal experience and some of the things I've watched. But people are so different in their outlook on life, their interests, their financial situation, their health, their family relationships. So to say now, here are the three principles for happy retirement. No. I do say from my own experience, I've learned to be a little selfish maybe. As you come out of this vacation period, hey, I'm no longer working, I'm on vacation this week, and next week, and next month. Pick out the things that really interest you and I think you should get the greatest satisfaction out of things that interest you that help other people. Or you can go in and serve and literally, I'll mention for example, Susan, I for a couple of years, helped serve breakfast five days a week to the people of food insecurity, who were coming to First Methodist Church. I really took an interest in the bright side Opportunity Center down southwest Lancaster helping raise money for that. To provide a place where kids and adults in the southwest sector of Lancaster could come for everything from after-school classes to physical fitness and things like that. I think the greatest satisfaction comes where you'll be able to help others. Well, you know, I think this is a good place to stop, though I think what I got out of this is that you have to keep an open mind, you have to follow what fascinates and motivates you, you have to do what you want to do until you don't want to do it anymore. But you always have to do something. Yeah, let me add if you could a capstone to this. And that's my faith. I really believe the universe is unfolding as it should. And I'm a basic, incurable optimist. I think that helps a lot here. And part of it is God's in charge, it may not seem like it sometimes. But I am aware of that. And I realized my weakness and the strength I can gain from my faith through all this. So when things go wrong, that's okay. You were not guaranteed about a bed of roses. And you've got some higher power to look after you and to aspire to. And I think that's awfully important.

Ray Loewe18:51

Well, you know, thanks so much for sharing your thinking, your wisdom, your experience with us. And we've been talking with Bill Adams, and I think we're done. I think we've reached a good spot in how to think about this world of the last third of your life or however you want to look at it and Luke, why don't you sign us off and we'll be back next week with another guest.

Outro 19:18

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 23 Sep 2022 13:23:15 +0000
E: 122 No Ordinary Soldier, My Father's Two Wars, Guest, Liz Williams


Intro 00:04

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:20

Welcome, everybody. And thanks for joining us here at Changing the Rules. We're lucky enough this morning, we're sitting in our brand new podcast facilities in Willow Street, Pennsylvania, we have our super engineer Luke Cagno sitting here at the board. And he's the person who makes us sound good or not. So, I have to kind of behave when he's around because he can do damage to me. And we have a great guest today. But before we get into our guest, let me remind everybody that the luckiest people in the world, and that's what this podcast is all about, are people who take control of their own lives, redesign them to meet their own specs, and live them under their own terms. And the name of our show, Changing the Rules, is all about the fact that the luckiest people in the world managed to handle rules really well. You know, all our lives we're thrown new rules. Were given them by our parents when we're born. The church comes in and gives us rules. The schools give us rules, our jobs give us rules. And the next thing we know, we have rules all over the place and rules do two things. They tell us what we can't do and what we must do. And Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, the big Apple guy, came up with a statement a while ago and he said, you know, if you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life. So we have a young lady today who is certainly changing the rules. She certainly has a fascinating life. And the real interesting kind of summary that I'm going to start with is that she's going to tell you that her life, all of her life was preparing her for a unique opportunity that she didn't know was going to come. But when it came, she had all the pieces together based on her life so that she was able to take advantage of an opportunity. So Liz Williams, welcome to changing the rules. Say hi to everybody.

Liz Williams02:21

Hi, thanks for having me, Ray.

Ray Loewe02:23

Okay, so let's start a little bit with your background as you grew up, where and how many family members did you have? Tell us a little bit about your background.

Liz Williams02:33

I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, which was a wonderful place to grow up. I had three sisters, two parents, my father worked nights, my mother worked a lot, and back in those days of the 50s and 60s, mothers didn't work that much. But she did work as a secretary. So I had two working parents, adored all my sisters. I lost my older sister, April, in 2008, which was a devastating blow but I still have two younger sisters. And it was a great place to grow up.

Ray Loewe03:05

Okay, so you had a relatively happy life growing up. And you went away to college, right? And where'd you go to school?

Liz Williams03:11

I went to Shippensburg State, which is a state college here in Pennsylvania, loved Shippensburg.

Ray Loewe03:16

And what did you major in?

Liz Williams03:18

I majored in urban studies, my father had died. The September I left for college, my father died. So I had to pick a major that I thought would be very, very practical. I picked Urban Studies, which was kind of an up-and-coming thing. City planning, that kind of thing. So that's what I picked and I enjoyed it. It was part geography, part political science. And I loved it, I loved all my college.

Ray Loewe03:47

Okay, and then you went into the workforce, and basically give us kind of a short version of what kinds of things did you do? What skills did you use in your jobs?

Liz Williams03:59

The first job where I worked for my County Planning Commission, which was Delaware County, and again, in suburban Philadelphia, I did a lot of actually going to meetings, local meetings, and so forth. And I realized when I was doing that, I love to write. That was the only thing about that job that I really liked. I found after about two and a half years, I was like no, I don't think this is for me. But I did love the writing and I never forgot that. One thing that I did do there that I enjoyed was we, myself, and the librarian there at the planning commission, they actually had a library in there because they had so much materials to store. We came up with a county library plan for the county and it was one of the early library systems. Up until then, local towns just had their own little libraries. But this was a county-wide system where you get a library card at one library and it's good for all of the libraries there. So we did the foundation for that. So that was something I was proud of there. But I would say after about three years, I followed in my older sister's footsteps and I became a flight attendant.

Ray Loewe05:18

Okay, now we're getting into excitement. Right? Okay, so the early years basically gave you the tools that you needed to write

Liz Williams05:28


Ray Loewe05:29

And kind of taught you what to do, right? But also didn't give you any excitement in your life?

Liz Williams05:36

Not much.

Ray Loewe05:37

All right. So now you're a flight attendant, you're a woman of the world. So who did you fly for? Where did you go? What did you do?

Liz Williams05:45

I flew for Piedmont Airlines, which was based in Winston Salem, North Carolina. It was a regional airline for the South. It grew to eventually fly overseas. But I only flew for seven years, I'd had enough after seven years, but it was fun. I met great friends. I did get to see some of Europe, some of South America, some of the Caribbean, in my 20s, which was kind of unusual back then. Not that many people got to travel that much at that age, so it did make me meet a woman of the world, actually. And we flew for very little because we had discounts. Sometimes you'd fly for free. Sometimes you got moved to first class for nothing. So that was great. But as I say, after about seven years that kind of got tiresome too.

Ray Loewe06:37

Okay, so who did you meet on your flights that were interesting stories?

Liz Williams06:41

Oh, I had John McEnroe, once, who was truly rude. He wouldn't put his tennis racket in the overhead bin like he was supposed to, insisted on it going in the hang-up closet for the garment bags. And you know, I wasn't going to argue with him. I just wasn't going to get into it with him, because maybe he'd report me to the management or something, you know. So I didn't do that. And I had Lynda Bird Johnson, who was pregnant at the time. With her, I think it was her third child, and I never had children. So I never understood why you'd want to have three children. And so I actually said to her, are you pregnant again? It was rather rude, but you know, it just kind of came out. And I also had General Westmoreland on there who was very quiet, he had not done so well in the Vietnam War. And I don't think he was, you know, a very popular person. So he kind of sat to himself, but we all knew he was. But mainly, you know, the bulk of our customers were Southerners. And when I went to flight attendant training, I was from Pennsylvania, so I was the only one from the north and I was the token Yankee. I had never been referred to as a Yankee before and it was a little daunting, but you know, everyone was lovely. They weren't mean to me or anything was just an odd situation to, you know, realize that, oh my, they're different. And I'm different to them. And, you know, they still kind of think like that, but as I say, they were lovely.

Ray Loewe08:20

Yeah. So anyway, the first part of your life, you had a fairly happy childhood, you know, moving along got a good education and a sequence of jobs that taught you writing. And then you became more of a woman of the world out there. And then something happened. So let me read this for you. You're an author, you've written a book. And this is where we're going here. And the intro to your book over here is as a young man from a gritty Pennsylvania mill town enlists in the Army Air Corps, and heads to Hawaii, the paradise of the Pacific. There he and his buddies defend a O'ahu while it explodes and burns in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the worst surges, his bombers squadron ships out to primitive Pacific outposts amid air raid, stifling heat, outbreaks of tropical disease. He clings to sanity through letters that he and his wife share. Letters found years later saved in the attic. A poignant event, wasn't it?

Liz Williams09:30


Ray Loewe09:31

All right. And here's where your life came together in something that is significant, and I know it's truly meaning to you, so tell us the story and fill in the details.

Liz Williams09:46

You set me up terrifically here, Ray. After seven years of being a flight attendant, I actually well, it was probably after six years, I started working at a part-time job. Because as a flight attendant, you have a lot of time off, you probably only work three or four days a week. The other days you're off. So I started working part-time at a printing company locally there based in Arlington, Virginia. And I always excelled in English. And I knew that I had loved to write. So I thought, well, I'll do this part-time, it'll be fun. So basically, I was just finding mistakes. But that job led me to look more seriously at my career and find something in writing and editing rather than being a flight attendant. So I did. So I ended up working for well, in Washington, they were known as beltway bandits. They were trade associations or organizations that would have contracts with the federal government. And they would write proposals and so there was some proposal writing I did for a couple organizations, then I went to work for a trade association. Then I ended up working for the federal government, I worked for the General Accounting Office, which is now called the Government Accountability Office, and the Congressional Budget Office. And in those jobs, I basically wrote and edited reports that were read by the public, they were ordered by a congressperson to investigate or study a program that was already in existence. For example, healthcare for the military, or a welfare program, something like that, they wanted to see where taxpayers' dollars being used to the best advantage. So a lot of the people employed by both GAO and CBO, Congressional Budget Office, were auditors, or economists, or technical experts in some way. So they would collect the data to study these programs. And then the writers and editors such as myself would come along and, you know, make it a finished product, make sure it was organized well, make sure the message was right up front, make sure there weren't spelling or grammatical errors. Because those kinds of errors would undermine the report, they really had to be perfect. And I became a tremendous expert in grammar, I know everything about grammar. And I enjoyed that, it was in a way an organizational task, deciding what goes where, and how it should be presented. And I loved it. I loved my work in Washington, I really enjoyed it a lot.

Ray Loewe12:42

Okay, so how did this get to the letters that we found?

Liz Williams12:47

Okay, I did diverge a little bit.

Ray Loewe12:49

Well, that's okay.

Liz Williams12:50

Okay. Well, in the early 2000s, my mother downsized, and I helped her clean out her house, and she found a big box of letters from my father in World War II. And she said, do you want these? And I said, yeah, I do. Because by then I had become a pretty good writer. And I looked at them, I said, you know, that's going to be a book, I want to write a book and that's what it's going to be. And when I first thought of the project, I thought, well, it'll just be a straight nonfiction book, it'll just be letters. But when I started reading them, they were very substantive. My father was an excellent writer. And my mother was a good writer, too. Now, he had saved her letters that she wrote him and sent them back to her for safekeeping. So I had a very rich collection, I had both sides of the correspondence. And I started reading and I thought, you know, I think this is really a story, it's not just going to be a collection of letters. So the book turned out to be a war story, a love story, and my story of getting to know my father. Because as I mentioned earlier, he died when I was 18, I really didn't get to know him like you would get to know your parent as a young person. And in the course of my research, I discovered that my father was most likely a gay or bisexual man. So I don't share this with most of my readers because it's rather the climax of my book. And I refer to it as a secret most of the times I talk about my book when I give a talk about my book. But for your audience, Ray, I'm gonna go ahead and just say what it is because there are no WWII stories out there that I know of, that have a gay theme. And I have one. And I don't know for a fact the trail was too cold to really track down men who had known my dad as a young man to really confirm this. But the fact is, I asked my mother about it. I asked my older sister about it, who, as I mentioned, passed away. And she's the one that really tipped me off about it. She said, you know, I interviewed her for the book because she knew him better than my other sisters or myself because as I say, he died young. She said, you know, I think looking back, I think Daddy was gay. And as soon as she said that, I was having an epiphany. I literally looked outside through her window at the leaves on the trees and they became well defined. That was the nature of the epiphany because so many things made sense when she said that. How he was so fixated on the fact that I shouldn't be allowed to wear bangs, so fixated on our hair, what we wore. You know, he had four daughters. There's one other book that I know of on the market. It's called Fun Home, that a young lady wrote who she had a father who was gay. Now, she didn't know it as a child that her father was gay. But she became aware of it because actually, he kind of preyed on young boys, which my father didn't do anything like that. So she came from a lot of dysfunction. But her book became a Broadway play and won a bunch of Tony Awards. But it doesn't have anything to do with World War II. This does, there were, according to my research, at least 40,000 men in the military in World War II who were gay, there were probably more. They did conduct tests and screenings to eliminate those kinds of men, so they wouldn't get in the service. But obviously, they didn't succeed in eliminating all of them. And a lot of them served like my father with a lot of dignity and honor and sacrificed a lot for our country. I think that should be recognized.

Ray Loewe17:10

So here you are, all of your background kind of culminated in this opportunity. And when it occurred, you knew what to do. And the book that you wrote is No Ordinary Soldier: My Father's Two Wars. Right?

Liz Williams17:28

That's right.

Ray Loewe17:29

You won an award for your book.

Liz Williams17:32

I did. In 2018, I submitted it to, I think, three contests. And one of them I placed as a finalist, there was one all-time winner, let's say top winner, and then there were two finalists in the genre, which was military history that I entered. And the award was the 2018 International Book Awards Contest, which is a contest that Publishers Weekly does recommend that authors enter. So it is a reputable contest. And I was just thrilled by the award.

Ray Loewe18:02

So let's kind of think about this. Well, first of all, you have a book out there, and everybody should buy this book, right? Just because you wrote it, and it's available on Amazon.

Liz Williams18:15

It has five stars.

Ray Loewe18:16

And what we'll do is we'll put a listing on our podcast notes when we're done so that people can find this. But I think the thing that's really interesting about you is how your background enabled you to be prepared to do something. And, you know, from knowing you, I think you consider yourself one of the luckiest people in the world because you've taken this career that was diverse pieces. And you're a writer.

Liz Williams18:45

I am a writer.

Ray Loewe18:46

And that's what you are going to be from now on. So, cool. So do you have any closing comments before we sum up?

Liz Williams18:55

I just want to thank you very much for having me, Ray, it's been a pleasure.

Ray Loewe18:58

Well, we've been talking with Liz Williams. Liz is a person who has written a book, an award-winning book, and it's available on Amazon through Kindle anytime you want to read it. And it's a war story. And it's not fiction. It's true, but it's how do you describe it?

Liz Williams19:21

It's a creative nonfiction book. It's actually a hybrid. It's a combination history memoir, and what they call creative nonfiction. In other words, it's a true story, but I use creative techniques such as metaphors, similes. It's a good read. It's not boring.

Ray Loewe19:38

And you're gonna make it into a TV series at some point, right?

Liz Williams19:41

Ken Burns, if you're listening, I'm available.

Ray Loewe19:44

Okay, so thanks, Liz for being with us. You're certainly one of the luckiest people in the world and you found your way to doing what you really want to do. And thanks for being here. And Luke sign us off, please.

Outro 20:01

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Thu, 22 Sep 2022 19:53:03 +0000
E: 121 Living a Happy Life and a History of Sports, Guest, Ying Wushanley


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:19

Good morning everybody, and welcome to our brand new studios in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. And we have our super engineer today, Steve Wright. And I like it when Steve is on the board, because he's a fellow swimmer, and he somehow boosts my energy level when he does this stuff. So we're gonna get a super performance, and his job is to make us sound good at the end. And I want to remind everybody that the purpose of our broadcast is we talk to one of the luckiest people in the world each week. And the luckiest people in the world are those people who take control of their lives and take control of the direction and live their lives under their own terms. And we call the show Changing the Rules. And you know, throughout our lives, we're given all of these rules by everybody else. Our parents give us rules, the school gives us rules, the government gives us rules. You know, everybody is out there telling us what we're supposed to do and what we're not supposed to do. And I think it was Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, who came in and said, you know, when you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life, you're living somebody else's. So we have a gentleman today who certainly is one of the luckiest people in the world. And you're going to find out that the luckiest people in the world are also the most interesting people in the world. And Ying Wushanley, and what a great name. And you're gonna get the history of his name, too, as part of the process over here. And I met Ying in a swimming pool. He's a fellow competitive swimmer, he's a very, very good master swimmer. And we met him not too long ago when we were trying to qualify for next year's Senior Games. And I found out that Ying is recently retired as a full professor from Millersville College and he is embarking in the next third of his life. And he's going to be doing some exciting things, but he's done some really exciting things in the past. Ying has been an expert on the history of sports and his journey is an incredible one. Ying, welcome to Changing the Rules. Let's start with your expertise, is that alright with you?

Ying Wushanley02:46

Sure, yeah. Well, thanks for having me on the program. My expertise, I'm a trained sport historian. Most people have never heard of a historian who is focused on sports, but there are many out there.

Ray Loewe03:08

Well, let me start with a couple of specific questions. You know, one of the things that we deal with all the time in sports are the Olympics. Okay. And we had a conversation earlier and we were talking, I was under the impression that the Olympics have changed. That we went from being an amateur sport group over here to very much today professionals taking over the sports and I found out that's not true, is it?

Ying Wushanley03:37

Not in ancient time, the ancient games were the athletes were what we term as true professionals because they do their best and they will make a good living based on their athletic prowess.

Ray Loewe03:57

So the ancient Olympians were paid in fact?

Ying Wushanley04:00

Yes, paid big time. Yeah, like tons of olive oil, or free meals and they could dine everywhere. That's, that's pay. Well, they may not have gotten the currency also, but the name recognition will enable them to live a very wealthy life.

Ray Loewe04:23

And that has gone on for almost forever, right? When we started the modern Olympics, when did the modern Olympics start?

Ying Wushanley04:31

The game, the first game actually took place in 1896. But in 1894 the International Olympic Committee was formed. At the time, there was an idea of amateurs because it was supposedly based on the ancient idea of amateurs, even though in reality there wasn't such a thing. But it was based on a bunch of social elite who wanted to create this upper-class idea of amateurs. Meaning you don't play for money, you play for the love of sports.

Ray Loewe05:11

But the only way they could do that is because they were part of the wealthy elite, and they had the money to be able to train and do whatever.

Ying Wushanley05:16

Yeah, who can afford to be a very good amateur athlete if you don't have money?

Ray Loewe05:20

Okay, so now we can understand where we've gone all of these years. And today, it's very much not the amateur that rules the Olympics.

Ying Wushanley05:30

No, because the amateurs won't be good enough to compete there.

Ray Loewe05:34

Okay. So, while we're on the subject of the Olympics, I often wondered, why would any city in their right mind want to sponsor the Olympics? I mean, do they make money doing these things?

Ying Wushanley05:47

Well, it's for recognition. Politicians would like to bring attention to their corner of the world, especially say if you're from Brazil, from Australia, and how do you bring people to your corner of the world? So using Olympic Games as a major attraction, of course, certain cities have benefited financially, but many cities don't. And that is why today because the bidding is so expensive, many cities decided to quit because after all if you have more than 5 or 10 cities bid, only one will be chosen. And the preparation will cost so much money. And eventually, you're still not chosen and you've wasted a lot of money. Even the chosen ones, not too many of them make a big profit. But on the other hand, it's hard to measure because the legacy will be there, you had the honor to host the Olympic Games.

Ray Loewe06:57

So national pride comes into play. Okay, so that gets me into the next question. And again, I had the ability to talk to you about some of these. So I sound smarter, knowing the right questions than I actually am. But, let's talk about national anthems and sports and give us a little insight into the importance of national anthems. You know, we've all gone through this change and what's going on where athletes now rebel against national anthems? But there's a history here and a tradition. So, why do we play national anthems? What goes on, what's the importance of all of these things?

Ying Wushanley07:42

Well, it started as an accidental event, I think, during the 1918 World Series of baseball, and after the seventh inning stretch that the band, they played some music, including the Star Spangled Banner, which got spectators excited. And the manager or whoever the organizer was figured out for the rest of the series, we're going to start playing that music to get the fans involved. And that was the beginning of that tradition. And traditions, sometimes they're welcome, sometimes not, including many of the baseball franchise owners, they decided, you know, we're here to play sports. Why do we have to play music? You know, it makes sense at the championship to play it, make it more formal and more, respectful. But for every game to play this does not seem right. Well, you know, the baseball history as well as American sports history always goes along with the time. And oftentimes we have nations in war and patriotism plays very important role when you are in the war. And somehow we always need patriotism, patriotism would be something that the national anthem will symbolize and epitomize our national unity. So, that became a tradition first in baseball, then in other sports. But for many, many decades, it wasn't that big a deal until, I think more recently, the Persian Gulf War, the Desert Storm operation in 1991, then of course, the 911. 911 after 2001. With artists like Whitney Houston doing a rendition of the national anthem, it became so popular at the time, it was ranked in the top 20, and the second time in the top 10 of the most popular charts. So, it's very common then from an outsider's point of view, it seemed to be very strange because we can understand playing the national anthem at the Olympic Games, when you play against Italy, against France, against Japan. So, both team's national anthems will be played. But here in this country, every sporting event, even at high school level, or even, you know, little league baseball, there's always the national anthem. And oftentimes the media likes to portray it as every time we play sports, we honor the people who protect our freedom because we have the privilege to enjoy the freedom we can play sports. Some of my students say that other countries don't have this freedom, which is quite naive.

Ray Loewe11:04

Yeah. Wow. I mean, you know, you don't think about these things. And I guess this is the advantage of being able to study sports and of being a sports historian. I'm gonna want to talk quite a bit about this Title 9, because I know that you spend a lot of time writing about that. But before we do that, let's backtrack and let's talk a little bit about your journey here, which I think is an extraordinary one. So you grew up not in the United States, you grew up where?

Ying Wushanley11:35

In China, in the People's Republic of China, the mainland China. There's another China called the Republic of China, but the Chinese government, Mainland China does not recognize it. That's why there was a big fuss about Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan recently, because communists believe it's part of mainland China, even though in reality it isn't.

Ray Loewe12:04

So you grew up being raised by two women, is that correct?

Ying Wushanley12:10

That's right, mainly because my father was a high military officer, officially. And in the nationalists coming down, you know, you heard of Chiang Kai-shek, who was the head of the nationalists before 1949, when the Chinese Communist took over China, the mainland, so the nationalists fled to Taiwan, which is where they still are until today.

Ray Loewe12:42

Okay, and so your father basically was put in jail because he was on the wrong side?

Ying Wushanley12:48

Yeah, more than 32 years altogether from 1950 to 1985.

Ray Loewe12:56

Wow. Okay. And you were raised by two women, and what was the effect that they had on your life? I mean, here you are, you're very much into sports, you're very much into things that you would think Dad would do, right?

Ying Wushanley13:10

Yeah, that's right. Even though my dad was quite athletic, but my mother was much better athlete. I would say she is all an around athlete and in almost every sport, she could get her hands on. But she even flew glider in late 30s and early 40s, so at the time that Amelia Earhart was flying around the world.

Ray Loewe13:36

Okay, so you grew up, you went to college in Shanghai?

Ying Wushanley13:42

Yes, that was after the Cultural Revolution ended, from 1966 to 1976 under Mao Zedong. And there was no college in China for 10 years officially. Not the normal university. The university was running but the students were not academically selected. But Deng Xiaoping in 1977 revived higher education. So I, at the time I was working out of a state-run farm in the outskirts of Shanghai. So I had the opportunity to take the entrance exam and became the first member of a first class of university students. I was playing soccer before I went to the farm, but because of my family's political background, I could not continue.

Ray Loewe14:36

Okay. So you when you got your degree, or what did you major in Shanghai?

Ying Wushanley14:42

I majored in physical education at the Shanghai Normal University and then after graduation, I started teaching as a physical education instructor at the Shanghai Foreign Language School. It's quite a prestigious school in Shanghai, in China today, it still is. And after six and a half years teaching there I came to the United States.

Ray Loewe15:09

All right, so what motivated you? You know, how did you get here?

Ying Wushanley15:13

Mostly I was trying to escape the political persecution directly or indirectly because of my family's background. And my brother, my older brother, was at the time the leader of the pro-democracy movement in China.

Ray Loewe15:30

Okay, well, we'll catch up with your brother in a minute. Okay, so you came here, and you went to the West Coast of the United States?

Ying Wushanley15:38

Right, I was admitted by three institutions. Washington State University, Chapel Hill in North Carolina, and Purdue. But the Washington State admission came first and I grabbed it right away. I didn't care which school I was going to, I'm leaving China. That was most important for me.

Ray Loewe16:01

Okay. And you were here, now your mother, your aunt, the rest of your family is still back in China at this point in time?

Ying Wushanley16:08

Yeah. That's right.

Ray Loewe16:09

All right. So here you are, you're on the West Coast and you picked a major, and what did you choose to major in to get your Master's degree?

Ying Wushanley16:16

Masters in physical education, the focus on sport administration at the time it was called.

Ray Loewe16:22

Okay. And you were saying you had a friend there that caused you to then move to Pennsylvania?

Ying Wushanley16:28

Pennsylvania, Penn State, I was admitted as a graduate doctorate candidate.

Ray Loewe16:36

And you came here and you're still in education, still in physical education to a large extent, but you're also majoring in sports history.

Ying Wushanley16:46

Yeah, the department is Exercise and Sport Sciences. But my focus was history of sport and physical education.

Ray Loewe16:57

Okay. So now you are a doctor. Dr. Wu at the time. Were you married at the time?

Ying Wushanley17:05

No. We were married in 93 when I was still at Penn State,

Ray Loewe17:12

Okay. Now, to show everybody what a renaissance man you are here and what an equal rights person you are here, let's talk about your name and talk about your bride and talk about what happened here.

Ying Wushanley17:25

My wife's name was Geraldine Shanley, my name was Ying Wu Woo when we met and before we got married, though when we got married as well. But we became naturalized and became American citizens in 1999 and my wife in 2000. And when we did the official paperwork and we had the right to choose, to decide our name, so we chose on these names. Actually, our first daughter was born with the name we decided so we created a new name, Wushanley. Shanley is Irish and from the county Leitrim, and Wu is a more common Chinese name.

Ray Loewe18:16

Okay, so how many Wuhanley's are there now?

Ying Wushanley18:20


Ray Loewe18:20

There are four of you in the whole world.

Ying Wushanley18:22

That's right. Yeah, my wife and me and our two daughters. Yeah.

Ray Loewe18:27

Okay. Well, this will explain to a large extent why you spent so much time talking about women's sports and Title Nine and, and getting into all of that stuff because we have with us a true Renaissance man here, ladies. I mean, you're gonna want to know this guy. But talk to us a little bit about Title Nine, what it did for women and what it didn't do for women.

Ying Wushanley18:51

Okay. Well, Title Nine we should know, this year is the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title Nine of the Education Amendments of their act in 1972. So it's the 50th anniversary now. What Title Nine intended was to eliminate all kinds of the sex and discriminations in education activities where the institution received federal financial aid. So for example, Millersville University, not Millersville College anymore, receives any form of financial aid from the federal government, that law applies to Millersville. Basically, most universities and colleges in the country need to be in compliance. The intent of the Title was to change history in terms of opportunities previously and think about in your time even more that not too many women got the opportunity to go to law schools, to engineering schools, to medical schools. But nowadays, if you look at, it's almost half half, and that's the biggest intension. Now, most people think on Title Nine as related to athletics, so I will deal with athletics. Probably it wasn't even in the mind of the people who proposed that law, but it became manifested in athletics, because discrimination in terms of ability, you know, athletic sports is most reflective in terms of how one is discriminated. Well, we have separate men's and women's sports teams or competitions for good reason. Because physically or physiologically, there's a significant difference, you cannot compete together. If you put them together, then not too many women will make the men's team, at least as of now, because the ability. And that's why Title Nine affected college athletics the most. What did it do? It did a great thing to women's athletics because for example, the University of Maryland before Title Nine, the budget for athletics was like 99% went to men's and 1% went to women's if that much. Today, the budget probably is still not equal, but much closer. The program for example, at Millersville, we have probably 21 or 22 teams, and 12 - 13 - 14 are women's teams, for the reason of having equal or close to proportionally the ratio that represents the student body because Millersville is probably 53% women. So the good thing it did is it increased the opportunity for women to compete in college sports. What it did in terms of what perceived as damage to women's control of intercollegiate athletics is because before title nine women had total control of their entire women's college sports. It was separate from the men's, men's under the NCAA, women's under another organization called the AIAW Association for Women's Intercollegiate Athletics. And now, after Title Nine, the NCAA started to offer opportunities to both men and women because most institutions didn't want to have within Millersville, for example, have a separate department athletic department for men, for women have different rules. And the different rules is the problem. You can be sued for not treating your students equally. So after Title Nine, most universities will merge the departments, men's and women's, into one. And you can guess easily if those merge, who would be the athletic director most likely. Because men used to have this and just our society is still a male-dominated society, even today. But then women did not have control anymore, because, before Title Nine, they had total control, they don't have to deal with men, they will not allow men to come into coach or to be the director. Now, Title Nine says you cannot discriminate anyone. And the people often think, you cannot discriminate anyone, you cannot discriminate against a woman, you cannot discriminate against the man either.

Ray Loewe23:56

But it's changed the way sports laid out because today you see the big colleges, universities dominating women's sports. I remember days back when we had a little school right outside of Philadelphia over here that just absolutely dominated women's basketball.

Ying Wushanley24:14

Yeah, Arcadia University. Yeah, they won the first two national championships on the AIAW.

Ray Loewe24:22

So, you get some good things and you lose some good things.

Ying Wushanley24:25

Well, it depends on how you see it. The AIAW wants to have combined organization, have 50-50 share of the power. The NCAA being it's so dominant in terms of its tradition, power, and its financial resources, they wouldn't want to share. I know it's not right but it's also kind of logical and you can understand a big company merges with a small company and all of a sudden these two companies have to share exactly the resources, probably it won't happen.

Ray Loewe25:02

All right, unfortunately, we're getting near the end of our conversation here. And I want to get back to one more important thing in your life. I think what you've been able to show us to a large extent is, here you are, you're in China, a place that you want to get out to. You came to the United States, we can almost say you escaped, right? And, you built a life for yourself that's exciting, along things that were enjoyable to you and interesting. And if Ying can do this, the rest of us can do this, too. We just need to know where we want to go and what we want to do. But there's another element here that I want to make sure everybody knows about, and that's your brother. So, your brother stayed behind in China when you left? And what was he involved in and what happened to him?

Ying Wushanley25:56

Well, he was involved in the pro-democracy movement in China, started in the late 70s. And he became a leader once he got involved. So he's devoted to human rights and democracy in China. Of course, it wasn't easy. But he was detained, put into prison labor for four years from 1980 to 84. And I came to the States in 1988. At Washington State and Penn State, and then I started teaching at Ithaca College. And, you know, my mother died in 89 unfortunately. And my father was living with a relative after he was released for various circumstances. So my brother was the only one, the only person I really know, and I was concerned about his well-being. So I said, you can continue your pro-democracy movement. But I feel much more comfortable if you can come to a country where you have more freedom to do it. And so I don't have to have nightmares every night. So he agreed to come. So in the summer of 1994, just about when I was going to start at Ithaca College, he decided to come. I enrolled him in the English program for second language, foreign language at Penn State, then he hopped onto the plane, but did not arrive in JFK where the local media, or the Chinese media, was waiting for him because they knew he was coming. So he disappeared. And for 11 days, we didn't know his whereabouts. He did not hop onto the Korean airline where he was supposed to board. 11 days later, the Chinese authorities admitted they had him just for interrogation, didn't want to let him go, just because there are some unsorted issues. I started campaigning in the State College with my advisors, families, and friends, and it became an international campaign to rescue him. Eventually, the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton, and every senator was involved. Hundreds of representatives involved in terms of demanding, writing letters. Media like the BBC. Reuters News, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, I remember all those media interviewed us reported. I made it big just because I know what happened in China for political prisoners, they can disappear and you never find out where they went. I wanted the world to know so that he wouldn't disappear. And that seemed to have worked and I was told indirectly that I should not continue this campaign because it wasn't good for the image of China. I said, all I want is for you to release him and I will stop my campaign. And 50 days later, they sent him onto a United Flight and told him never to go back to China again. And he hasn't.

Ray Loewe29:27

And he lives now, he's on the west coast in the United States?

Ying Wushanley29:31

Oakland. Yeah.

Ray Loewe29:32

And a happy ending.

Ying Wushanley29:34

Yeah, he's okay. He still lives happily there. Well, he lived in Ithica for a while, but after the first winter, he figured that's not what he liked. Because he had meetings in San Francisco, he liked the weather they had. So he likes comfort as well.

Ray Loewe29:49

Well, you know, thank you for being with us. You know, we're over our time limit so we're going to have to end this but again, Ying Wushanley, a Renaissance man, one of the few people you'll ever meet that combines names with his wife. And thanks for sharing the history of sport with us, and I can see why you get excited about it. And we'll continue to see you in the swimming pool. And just, you know, thanks again for being here. You're obviously one of the luckiest people in the world. And thanks again. Steve, sign us off, please.

Outro 30:32

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 14 Sep 2022 20:47:39 +0000
E: 120 Walking the Camino Santiago, Guest, George Mowrer


intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:19

Hello, everybody, and welcome to Changing the Rules. We're sitting here in our nice, new podcast studio in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. And we have our engineer Luke Cagno over here, who's going to make sure that the sound quality comes out. And I'll give you his number later, if you're not happy with that. And we have a guest today and this guest is going to be a little different. He certainly is one of the luckiest people in the world. And let me remind everybody that the luckiest people in the world are those people who design their own lives and live them under their own terms. But we also call this program Changing the Rules. And one of the things we found is that the luckiest people in the world handle rules well. You know, we have all of these rules that we've been given, they start out when we're born, parents give us rules, then the church gives us rules and the schools give us rules and our jobs give us rules. Before we know it, we have all these rules and rules, do two things. Don't do this, or you better do this or else, right? And I think it was Steve Jobs, the president of Apple who came in and said, you know, if you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life. And we have a guy here who I think most of us would say, changed the rules. So, George Mowrer, George is a certified retirement Coach, did I do that right, George? And he's got his own firm, it's based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and he's been helping people trying to figure out how to run the last third of their lives. You know, basically, life after work is over and how to get the most out of it. And, George, before we get into the actual thing we're going to talk about here, talk about what happens in the last third of your life, how many days do you get to do whatever it is you want?

George Mowrer02:17

I mean, it depends on how your health is or whatever. But I love to look at it, maybe in terms of weeks, but if you have 30 years, that's 1500 weeks of your life to do what you know, whatever you want to do. So it's a good idea to have a plan for it.

Ray Loewe02:34

Okay, so you did something that I find absolutely fascinating. It's not necessarily for me, but maybe I'm reconsidering it. You hiked the Camino Santiago. Okay, first of all, what the heck is the Camino Santiago?

George Mowrer02:53

Yeah, so it's a very quick, 32nd history, James was one of Jesus's apostles, after Jesus died and was resurrected and did all that, James, his mission field was that Spain, that Iberian Peninsula, that's where he went, Spain where Spain and Portugal is today, he did his thing, he made a big difference there. He went back to Jerusalem, where he was killed. And his remains were then, in honor of him, were shipped, literally shipped, to where Santiago is, and they're buried in the crypt of the church in Santiago. And so for 1000s of years, or about 1000 years, people have been doing a pilgrimage in James's honor. Everyone is moving towards Santiago to honor him. And so that's the very quick history.

Ray Loewe03:48

Okay, so, although it started on a solely religious basis, it's not necessarily totally religious today, although I'm sure some people do look at it as a religious thing. But you went and you joined a group of people, a throng of people. I don't know how you wanted to characterize it. And you hiked this. So first of all, tell us a little bit about where you went and how long was this?

George Mowrer04:13

Yeah, so I did what's called the Camino Frances, which is the traditional, the most popular of the caminos. There's multiple caminos in Spain, they all end up in Santiago. But I did the one that most people know about and it starts in actually a Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, which is at the very bottom of France, right as the Pyrenees Mountains start and, so it's about 530 miles to Santiago across northern Spain.

Ray Loewe04:45

And this took you how many days to do?

George Mowrer04:48

So I did it, I hiked for 38 days. I took four rest days in there in some of the bigger cities, Pamplona, Burgos, Leone and then Santiago some rest days. I actually continued on the hike to what's called Finisterra, which is, in the olden days was known as the end of the world, which is where the ocean is. It's just an additional three days of hiking on the back end of it. You know, what the heck while I'm there?

Ray Loewe05:14

Okay, so how many miles a day are we talking about?

George Mowrer05:17

Yeah, so I think on average, I was between 12 and 15 miles a day.

Ray Loewe05:22

Okay, so you get up in the morning, and what was the typical day? What did you do?

George Mowrer05:28

Yeah, typical day, probably alarm would go off around 630, I just gotta get up. Simply put my sneakers on, stick my backpack on and start walking. We'd probably go about five kilometers, then stop somewhere in one of the cafes for breakfast. There's the cafe, like, every five to eight kilometers, I'd stopped for breakfast, and then I'd walk another 10 kilometers or so, stop for lunch, maybe have a beer, you know, because you can do that. And the beer and the wine is pretty cheap there. And then maybe another four or five kilometers to where I was arriving, which was usually about two o'clock in the afternoon. I'd find my accommodations for the night, maybe take a shower or maybe a brief nap, I'd walk out to the cafe that was right outside the door and reconnect with other pilgrims that were on their way along the way and hang out there. 6:30, maybe eat dinner, and 9:30 or so go to sleep, and hopefully sleep well and start the whole thing over the next day.

Ray Loewe06:29

Now when you did this, did you do this on your own? Did you do this with a group? What?

George Mowrer06:39

Yeah, so I mean, I very purposely wanted to do it by myself. I didn't want anyone to go with me, I wanted to experience the Camino as a solo hiker. Of course, what happens on the Camino, to everybody, is the relationship piece happens. And, you know, so as much as I started by myself, I probably had interactions, significant interactions, with 50 or so people, and of those 50 people, there are about 25 that became pretty close friends that I still connect with. And then of those 25, 10 probably about 10 people that I feel like I've known my whole life, and that I will continue some kind of relationship with moving forward - have and will continue moving forward. It just blew me away the relationship piece.

Ray Loewe07:31

Now were these people English speaking? What, you know what, what goes on there?

George Mowrer07:39

Yeah. So, I mean that the language of the Camino with quotes is English. Although the locals, I was very surprised that English is not spoken by many of the people along the way. You know, one would think you're in the hospitality business and the cafes and the hotels and stuff. But that really isn't the case. But along the way, English was, generally, the language spoken. The people I hung out with were from Australia, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany. The German speak English really, really well so I was greatly rewarded by that. And obviously, people from the US and Canada were there as well.

Ray Loewe08:24

Okay, so you can do this in a number of ways. But, generally speaking, you had a starting point and a stopping point every day. So you did have a plan to get through there. And you knew about how long you were going to walk and you kind of knew when lunch and dinner was going to be. You just didn't know who you are going to see or meet along the way?

George Mowrer08:42

Yeah, well, I mean, and there were definitely periods of time where I was hiking with a group of people. And then there were times when like, I'm sort of an ambivert. I'm partly introvert, partly extrovert. I like time with people but I also valued and loved walking by myself a bunch too. So I tried to make sure that that discipline was all the way through my process.

Ray Loewe09:08

Alright, so how much did you organize this to begin with? Like, did you go with a tour company? Did you show up at a spot and start walking? What do you do?

George Mowrer09:18

I think for the most part, I read, I had a guidebook that I had read or looked at ahead of time. I follow tons of Facebook groups. I did this May in June of this year, of 2022. And there's a Facebook group of people doing the Camino Frances, May, June 2022, with about 1,000 people that are part of that group. So, lots of insight, lots of things I learned just following that Facebook group. I love the memoirs. I probably read four or five of those that kind of gave me some good ideas of things to do, but I was not part of a tour group. I had my backpack and my sneakers and my walking sticks and just started walking. And I knew that you follow a sign, you follow an arrow the whole way.

Ray Loewe10:04

Follow the yellow brick road.

George Mowrer10:06

Yeah, or the yellow arrow or whatever.

Ray Loewe10:08

Interesting. Now, when you go on this thing, you can go low budget or you can go high budget, can't you? So what's the difference? What happens? What did you do? And then what do other people do?

George Mowrer10:23

Yeah, I mean, the accommodations can be anywhere from six or eight euros a night, which is kind of a dormitory kind of a setting. There's public ones, there's private ones, where you're going to pay, you know, 12 or 14 Euro per night. I spent a lot of nights in those, but there's pensions, there's guesthouse, there's hotels, you know, all the way up. I think I ended up just from a financial standpoint, I ended up, believe it or not, including food about 83 bucks a day is what I averaged spending over the time. So you can do it for less and obviously, you can do it and spend more. I did not use a tour company but people do do that. I just, you know.

Ray Loewe11:13

So, if you want to do this and not have the same experience, you can have somebody pick you up at the airport, they book the hotels for you, they tell you where you're going to stay, they tell you what the restaurants are. And they send somebody along in a van and make sure that you don't fall on your face and get hurt, right?

George Mowrer11:29

You can probably arrange for something like that. Correct.

Ray Loewe11:32

And that was not you. You did it more on the lower budget kind of a thing, interspersing some luxury along the way?

George Mowrer11:41

Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure lower budget, I didn't do that. I mean, there are people that spend a whole lot less. I mean, I wanted to make sure I had the full experience of that. I did not have my places arranged ahead of time. I usually, a day or two, looked at okay, I want to go there tomorrow, I want to go there the next day, and then I might make reservations for those. But you know, it also depended on the people around me. You know, we did spend a lot of time together. And so, where are you guys going, you know, that kind of a thing.

Ray Loewe12:16

Okay, so why did you do this?

George Mowrer12:22

Well, I'll tell you, I mean, there's a movie called The Way. And of your listeners, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez star in the movie. And it is about this journey that I did. And I saw that movie and I'm like, that's it. That's it. I want to do that. And then my church, back in 2017 did a mission trip, where we hiked as a group of about 12 people. We hiked for a week, and then we served in one of these albuquerques, or these dormitory kinds of places. We served for a week and just in that week, I'm like I want to do this. As soon as I can do this, and I can make my budget work, that's when. And literally, this year was the first year that it could happen. And my wife gave me her blessing. And I said goodbye.

Ray Loewe13:15

Okay, so how do you prepare physically for this, if you want to do this? What do you have to do? Do you need to be in shape?

George Mowrer13:23

You do. I mean, you're walking each day. What I'll say is I chose to go at this kind of this 12 to 15 mile but for people that might not be as in shape or want to do it, but they don't think they can do that. So okay, so you do five miles a day, six miles a day. It doesn't matter, you know, it's going to take you longer, or you don't go as far but your level of being in shape shouldn't dictate whether you go or not.

Ray Loewe13:57

Okay, so I'm sure you met some wonderful people and you've got some great stories, so enlighten us a little bit here.

George Mowrer14:06

Yeah, so a good story. One of the Albuquerque's. One of the things I wanted to do in my own head was, I play guitar, and I thought wouldn't it be cool to be among strangers or whatever and play guitar sometime. And one of the people I was hiking with knew that I played guitar as well. I'm a little bit shy like I don't want to just pull out a guitar and start singing. So there were about eight or ten of us around the table. A couple Germans that spoke English but a lot of French people that did not. And we finished up dinner and one of the people next to me said there's there's a guitar in the other room. I'm gonna go get that guitar and bring it back and we're gonna sing. And I'm like, fine, okay, whatever. So she went and got the guitar, brought it back. I pulled up an app on my phone with lyrics and chords and we started to sing songs that everybody around the table knew. It would be like Cat Stevens Wild World. And we did some Beatles songs and everybody knew the songs. And here we were, we couldn't speak the same language. But yet, we were all singing together. And the coolest part of it was at the end of it, we did about five songs, I'm like, I'm gonna end on a high, I'm not going to keep this thing going all night. Then one of the French guys reaches across as if he wants to guitar and we hand him the guitar, and this guy starts playing now. He wasn't playing a chord, like ripping chords, let's sing songs. He's more of a delicate, and he's playing like Pachelbel Canon and you know, things like that. And we're like, oh my gosh, the language of music, has brought us all together. And that the coolest thing about that is after it was over, one of my German friends came up to me and he said, George, this has been my favorite night on the Camino. And that is what it's all about, where relationships come together like that.

Ray Loewe16:13

All right, when you walked along here, how many people did you see that were in groups? How many were singles? Who are the kind of people? You know, one of the reasons specifically is were there single women that you met along the way that do this? And was it safe?

George Mowrer16:32

Well, it was certainly the question of solo hikers. I mean, many start out as solo hikers but very quickly, come together. There's a phrase on the Camino, your Camino family, where people come together and they just form relationships and as a family, or as a group, they spend time together. But at the same time, there's people that want to be by themselves the whole time, male, female, it is a very safe kind of setting or whatever. But I ended up interestingly too, which my wife doesn't love, is I ended up with four other single women that I spent a lot of my time with. And these are four amazing women, I posted some pictures on my Instagram. So, people that were interested, they could follow along and see that. And my wife, I talked to her one day, and she said, so those are your peeps. I said yep, they are, they're pretty amazing, pretty amazing people as well. And I still stay connected with them to this day, which was lovely.

Ray Loewe17:34

Okay. Any other stories you want to get in before we move on here?

George Mowrer17:39

Move on, you know, if something comes up, I'll share.

Ray Loewe17:41

Okay, so again, you did this. I think you told me when we were rehearsing for this a little bit, you did this because you wanted to experience the kind of life that you're telling other people in your coaching job to do. Okay. So would you like to elaborate?

George Mowrer18:00

Yeah, I mean, I think the most effective thing I can do as a coach is live my life exactly what I'm trying to encourage them to do. I'm recently retired from my 35 years in the insurance business, vocational career. And this is a direction that I'm moving. I'm in about three years into this retirement coaching. And people are watching me. How can I tell people to do stuff that I'm not doing myself? And, you know, the Camino is just one example. They think I'm crazy that I'm doing this.

Ray Loewe18:32

Yeah, I think you are a little bit too, but it's intriguing.

George Mowrer18:34

Yeah. I'm breaking the rules, you know, that's what it's about.

Ray Loewe18:37

So, would your family go along on this excursion? Would you do this again?

George Mowrer 18:44

Well, I mean, good question. I do plan on doing it. I mentioned earlier there's multiple caminos and from what I understand, on the Camino Portuguese, there's a particularly beautiful part of it that goes from Porto up to Santiago and is supposed to be incredible. And I would love to do that again next year. I'm not sure my wife this is her thing to do. And she's given me her blessing for me to go do it. But I will say that I talked to my son who lives in Berlin, Germany, and if he can make it work with his job and stuff, now it we it may not be next year but there may be a future year that we actually do this together. So I'd love that. But I'd love to do it again by myself. I don't really care.

Ray Loewe19:29

I'm getting the idea this is not something you would do with a tour group because the tour group is fixed and what you really want to do is you want to explore the new relationships and you want to meet people from other cultures and things like that. Do people just walk this? Do you see bicycles? Anybody riding by horseback?

George Mowrer19:52

Good question. Bicycles. There are a lot of people that do this on bike, maybe there's a little bit less. They can do it quicker. But yeah, bikes are very popular, a little bit annoying. But there are paths, bike areas around some of the mountains, and things that we go over. I saw a few horses. I actually saw a guy with a donkey. He had walked his donkey to Santiago and he was walking back. And I don't remember where he started, but it wasn't Spain and it wasn't France. He may have started as far back maybe as Italy or somewhere like that to hike in. So, only a little bit of that, almost everybody was walking though.

Ray Loewe20:39

Okay, so you're gonna meet new people. What about the relationship with the locals though? And stuff like that? Is this something they're for?

George Mowrer20:48

Yeah, I mean, the locals, not only do they love the pilgrims, which we are called, but it's become a pretty significant part of their economy. I think when I think about Northern Spain, it's wine and farming and then pilgrims. We are in the top three economic drivers for that place. And I think, pre-COVID 2019, I think there are about 350,000 pilgrims that did the Camino in one way or the other that ended up in Santiago.

Ray Loewe21:20

Okay, so we're near the end of our time. What do you want to tell people to do? You know, obviously, you're going to do this again, you enjoy this, you got a lot out of the experience. Any final remarks you want to make?

George Mowrer21:36

I mean, for me, it was the most unique thing I ever did in my life. For me, for the first time in my life, literally, I had nothing on my calendar and no responsibility to anybody. So, it gave me a glimpse of what life could be outside of my normal life, and experience something new and amazing. And, you know, obviously I'd say yeah, hike the Camino, you should do the Camino, anyone can do the Camino. Or you know, people in wheelchairs have done portions of the Camino, it is possible to do with, you know, with proper planning. But it is an incredible, unique thing. So I encourage anybody to do it if they're interested in doing it.

Ray Loewe22:20

I think it's a phenomenal experience. And it's one I never heard of until recently. And now all of a sudden you talk to one person about this and you find there are other people hiding in the woodwork that have done this or are wanting to do this. So you know, thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and let me think about this a little bit and maybe we'll have you back and we'll continue and go into the next Camino and see how that works out. So join us again next week. We're going to be back with our engineer Luke again and Luke why don't you sign us off.

Outro 22:58

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 9 Sep 2022 14:22:05 +0000
E: 119 Planning Based on What You Value Most, Guests, Geoff Boyer & George Mowrer


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Geoff Boyer00:19

Hello, everybody, and welcome to our podcasting studio here in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. And I'm sitting here with my engineer Luke Cagno. And I've got two magnificent gush, they are two of the luckiest people in the world. And before I let them talk, let me define what the luckiest people in the world are all about so that you can focus in on why they are who they are. So, the luckiest people in the world are people who figure out what they want their lives to be like, they actually design them to their own terms, and then they step in and live them under their own terms. And people who do that tend to be happier, they tend to have a sense of direction. It's not an easy thing to do. But one of the things that you're going to find from today is it takes some planning to do that. And we're going to focus a little bit on visions and planning. So today, I have my two guests, Jeff Boyer. Jeff is a longtime friend, which means he's almost as old as I am. And Jeff has been in the financial advising business for a long time. And he's also been in the banking business, he started a couple of community banks, and he's still active there. And although he has sold his financial planning business, he's still active as an advisor in an advisory role there. So he's a perfect person to talk to us about where the money's gonna come from to do what we want. Our second guest is George Mauer. Okay. And George is a certified retirement coach at Nextgen Retirement Coaching, and he focuses on the non-financial areas of life. Okay, so I'm going to start out and pose a problem with a story. And then you guys are going to come in and tell us how we solve this problem. So welcome to changing the rules. So years ago, I'm a competitive swimmer, I still am, and I went down to our National Senior Games Championships, they happened to be in Birmingham, Alabama, and I did my swimming thing. And I'm wandering around afterward, talking to people, and I meet this guy, and he's carrying six medals around with him, five of them gold and one silver. The silver one is the important thing. And I later found out that John won his six medals in the 100- 104 age group. And at age 103, John's medals were in the shotput, the discus, the hammer throw, the javelin, and he launched one crummy event to 101 year old. So there's more than one in the age group, okay. And this caused me a great deal of concern because I started thinking, well, what if I'm lucky enough to live to be 100 years old? And more and more people are starting to do that today? Well, if that happens, what do I want my life to look like? Am I going to be like John here out having fun with his friends? Or am I going to be sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home because I don't take care of myself. And the next thing is, if you retire at age 65, which is still kind of a normal way of thinking about things, and you live to be 100, that's 35 years. And what are you going to do with your life? I think it's easy to waste it. I think it's easy not to have enough money to do what you want to do. So now we got to get to the plan. So, Jeff, I'm going to put you on hold for a minute. Let's start with George over here. George, talk to us about the meaning of life and what do we do?

George Mowrer04:09

Oh, wow. Well, thank you for that wonderful introduction. I would say, I mean, the thing that I get pumped and excited about is that, as you said, we could have as much as a third of our life ahead of us in our retirement years. So, a third if you even think 30 years, that's 1500 weeks to do whatever we want to do. And you know, I think, you know, my friend Jeff here, we were talking before, he had a wedding this past weekend, there was so much planning that went into one day of that wedding, and I'm thinking people do not do that kind of planning for their retirement as much as that went into that one day. So, you know, again, the planning is, as you kind of alluded to, is the key.

Geoff Boyer04:59

Well, let me post something here. Because when I got out of business school, we were all told to do 25 and 30-year plans. Well, people don't do that anymore. You know, and the biggest complaint I get about planning is people say I had a plan. And then we had COVID. And my plan was out the window. So why did I bother planning in the first place? And yet, if you don't plan, you're going to waste time, you're going to waste your life, you're not going to have the resources to do what you want. So how do we cope with that?

George Mowrer05:31

I mean, I'm not sure a 30-year plan, I think more than a plan is to have a vision for what that next chapter of your life is going to be. I love the idea of sort of 10 years at a time, you know because we have our health and our health is going to change over the years. That's one of the considerations. So I don't have a 30-year plan, but I have a plan. And I live my life that way. And I do feel like one of the luckiest guys in the world.

Geoff Boyer05:59

Okay, so let's bring Jeff in here for a minute. So, Jeff, we have George here, and he's got a 10-year plan. How do we structure the money to deal with that plan? And let me pose something here. I know, I had a bucket list when I retired, and I went through that bucket list pretty fast. And every time I checked something off the bucket list, three new things came on. And where does the money come from? Because if you're retired and on a fixed income, how do you cope with those things? And if you live in an ever-expanding life, what do you do? So talk to us, tell us the secrets of life? Well, thank you, Ray, I think you put a keyword there, and the word was bucket. But I would say rather than bucket list, I would say buckets of money. If you take if you want to plan and you have to plan or you're not going to get where you want to go. A bucket that has cash in it, a bucket of short-term investments, a bucket of long-term investments, with greater risk can help you get through any COVID situation where the markets go down and people are concerned. If you're dealing from cash, you're not playing with your investments, you're not taking money from a declining bucket. But rather that bucket is going through the valley and back up the mountain. You know, in the future, at least that's what history tells us has been done and does consistently. Okay, I want to come back to you with another thing. But let's go back to Georgia and throw another thing into the woodwork here. That's the wrong word. But whatever it is, I mean. So, George, we're thinking that maybe we'll live 30 years. What if we don't? We don't know, we have no idea how long we're gonna live., right? Okay, so how do you plan? How do you plan for the long term and the short term here and the contingencies both ways?

George Mowrer08:09

I mean, from my thinking, the most important thing to do is figure out what is most important for you right now. And it's not necessarily a financial thing. It's what do you value? What do you value most? And in kind of building around those, what is most important for you, and from there plan. And the plan may be financially driven, it may not be, it might be serving. There's things that you value, that for you to live the best life that you can you're living into those things.

Geoff Boyer08:40

Okay, when you coach somebody or talk to somebody, how do you determine or how do you get them to understand what their values really are? Because I suspect a lot of people don't think consciously about this.

George Mowrer08:52

Yeah, good question. I think when I'm working with somebody, I want them to figure out what they value and what they want to value or what they long to value as they move forward. And I take them through a three-question exercise. And light bulbs go on when I do this. The first question I'll ask them is what do you want your ideal retirement to look like? What's a typical day? What's a typical week? What's the perfect retirement looks like? And then they can name like I would you know, golfing and traveling and visiting friends and blah, blah, blah. The second question I ask is okay, you go to the doctor, and the doctor tells you you have five years to live? Now, what does your perfect retirement look like? And that usually takes people back but now they have five years to deal with. So then they can relook at that. Often their vision for their retirement at that point is not quite as crazy as the unlimited one but it still is fairly consistent with that. And then the third question, and this is one gets them, is you go to the doctor and the doctor says, oops, I made a mistake, you have 48 hours to live. And so it's no longer a matter of what you're going to do with that last 48 hours. Now it's a time of reflecting on what are your regrets. What do you wish you did? What are the things you'd love to do one more time, and all of a sudden out of that conversation, values, and what really is important begin to emerge from that? And then those values become the foundation, whether you have five years, 10 years, or 30 years ahead of you.

Geoff Boyer10:34

Okay, getting back to Jeff here. Because somewhere around here, whatever our life is going to be, we have to know that we have enough money to be able to do it. Okay. And one of the things I think that we have to do also is allow for contingency. So what if we only have 48 hours left to live? And what if we have this pile of money left over? You know, what's the plan for handling that too? But the question I really want you to ask is, how many financial advisors get into this kind of conversation about truly, what is it that you want your money for? What do you want to be able to do with it? And how do you do that? I think more today than in the past, financial planners are looking at some of these issues as to what's the point of the money. And, you know, in our practice, you know,my meetings are usually two hours long. One hour for finances and one hour for what are you doing with the rest of your life, and then trying to integrate the two of them. To an extent, it depends on how much money you have and what your aspirations are. If you have lots of money, it makes it easier, obviously. But if you have lesser money, you've also got to throw in how much of it do I want to leave children or charities? Or whatever? Or do I want to spend it all? And it comes down to building a plan, it comes down to saying this is where I am, this is where I want to go. What are the strategies that we're going to use to get me there? Okay, let's stay with Jeff here for a minute. And let's bring values in the equation. One of the things that George brought up as he started talking a little bit about what are your values and especially if you start thinking about a long life, and then a lesser long life, and then maybe a very short life, I think your values come into play. So how many people really understand their values, from your perspective? I think most people would say that they do. But I'm not sure they really do. Because, as you said, values change as times change. We used to always think that people would grow their assets, and then spend their assets down on a given line. But in reality, we've learned that people spend more, let's say in their 60s to 70s, their go-go years, to their 70s, the 80s when they spend less in their slow-go years, to the last part where they spend more because of health issues in their no-go years. So go-go, slow-go and no-go. Okay, I think I might be able to focus in on that a little bit. All right. So we got some interesting ways of thinking about things. And let me toss out another idea that's come up occasionally. And this idea of practice retirement before you retire. So how do you know what you want to do? You know, here's one of the problems, most of us face something that we call Cliff retirement, I guess that's a good word for it. You know, here you are, you work like a dog, you're slaving for other people or maybe slaving for yourself or your clients or whatever it is, and you hit this magic year or whatever it is. And you leap off the retirement cliff, and you have nothing to do. How do you how do we deal with that? How do we plan for it? So which one are we gonna start, raise your hand here. I had a client who was in that situation. And when I met him, I asked him what his goal was for retirement. He said, I'm going to sit down on the porch and put my feet up, I'm going to watch the neighbors go to work and mow the lawn and all this kind of stuff. And I'm just going to enjoy myself. And I said, okay. I said, when will I be meeting your wife? Because if you do, that statistics tell us that within seven years, she's going to be our client. And it's a hard thing to say but it's very true. You have to have an idea of what's important to you. What do you want to do? I met a guy the other day who seeds envelopes for charity. He puts five bucks and leaves it on a park bench to see who will pick it up, read the note on it and add to it or take it. This is something he's wanted to do; he's very wealthy. But he does it because he wants to help others and help teach them to add a little bit to the pile and eventually give it away. The whole idea is, that's his purpose. Okay, go ahead.

George Mowrer15:29

I mean, what I would add to it is, I think if suddenly someone finds themselves retired, it happens very quickly, I think initially, people love it. There's this perception of retirement as being a perpetual vacation, they're like, finally I have no routine in my life, and I can go golf, and I can travel and do all that. But that goes, six months, maybe a year, and then all of a sudden, reality starts setting in where all of a sudden, like routine, they longed for routine, and the routine is gone. Routine, identity, relationships, purpose, those things start, purpose less and less starts showing up. And then that's when the reality starts hitting that, oh, I need to do something about this.

Geoff Boyer16:15

What about the trap of getting into retirement, getting busy, and then finding out all these things that you're busy with don't have the meaning that you want them to have? When do you find out that's true? And how do you fix it? And how many people do this and whatever?

George Mowrer16:41

I mean, that's where planning comes into play. I love working with people even before retirement or that initial period after retirement has started because without the plan, you will start going down a path where you're just wasting a bunch of time. Eventually, you may start volunteering and doing things that give you purpose and meaning. But I'd much rather not waste that time and help people move right into it.

Geoff Boyer17:07

Okay. All right. Words of wisdom. So here we are, when do we start trying to get this plan together in a practical sense? So, Jeff, you're with your financial planning clients over here, when do you get them to start saying, you gotta meet George, or you got to meet somebody like George because you got to start thinking globally about what you really want to do. And then how do you know? How do you know what you really want to do? I think that if you take it to the financial side when you start working, is when you start looking at what am I trying to build? And how am I going to build it? And how much am I going to put aside for me 50 years from now, because time is your greatest ally, by far. The retirement side, I think for most of our clients, happened in their early 50s. Some of whom said I want to be retired by 55, some of whom said I'm going to work till 65-75, whatever. But in each case, it was okay, how do we partition? How do we define? How do we do a lot of what George is doing? You know, I think probably more after the fact, when the person has retired. Cliff, if you will, to use that word, retirement is an awfully dangerous thing. It doesn't work for most people. I mean, when I decided to sell my practice, it wasn't to stop working. It was to transition and focus on a bunch of things that I had not had time to do before. If a person can define those things that are important to them, and then start building that schedule if you will, that calendar that says what am I doing the first week of retirement? What am I doing a year from now? In that same week, so to speak, it's going to be very different.

Ray Loewe19:07

Okay, so transition planning is what you're talking about here. Let's get rid of this word retirement. I really don't like it. And you know, the pure definition if you look it up in the dictionary, retirement means to take out of use. And I hope I don't get taken out of use.

Geoff Boyer19:27

Could I use another word? It's called retirement. It's taking a look at where you are, what you've learned over your career, transitioning it into another direction, and refiring what works for you and what works for others. You know, let's get back to George's questions because I really think this is the key and I think if we could get somebody to seriously ask these three questions. What were they again, give them to us and give the thoughts behind it.

George Mowrer19:58

Yeah, so I mean, the first one is what's the perfect retirement look like for you? Then the second one's if you only have five years to live now, what does the perfect retirement look like for you? And then third one is, you only have 48 hours. You're not going to live any retirement, what do you regret? What are your regrets? What do you wished you did one more time? And that's where the values start emerging out. And a plan can then start. So for me, Ray, the values, that's the foundation of the plan. That's the beginning. From there, then it's like, so when you're not at work, what's important for you? That's the values, that's what that answers. When you're not at work, who are you? That's an identity kind of a thing. So who do you want to be in this next chapter of your life? I don't like the word retirement either. That's why I use next chapter. You know, and if you want to do those things, what kind of health do you need, because we may live to be 95 but we may not be very active. You know, our go-go years could be short. Health is a big deal, relationships are a big deal. And the financial obviously is a big deal.

Geoff Boyer21:11

Okay, so let me try and sum up what I think I learned from both of you. So what I got out of Jeff, you're gonna laugh at this? Go-go, slow-go, and no, go. Yep.

Ray Loewe21:21

All right. I think they're critical concepts. And if people understood them, then they would understand some elements of what we're going to face in the future. Do you want to add to that at all, or any comments on that?

Geoff Boyer21:36

I think you know, obviously, if you're a very active person, you're going to have a longer go-go period, unless you have a health issue. But I'm reminded of my 100-year-old grandmother who told me that at three o'clock every afternoon, she and two of her friends in their late 90s used to go down to the health care facility to visit the old people. Point being at 100 years of age, she still didn't consider herself old. Well, it is a frame of mind, isn't it? It is absolutely.

Ray Loewe22:11

And it's a frame of mind that's easier if you're financially prepared and if you have a plan of what you want your life to look like, I think that's what we're saying here. And George, what do you want to sum up with? I mean, you know, we've got these three time periods to ask questions for. And I think if more people did that, they'd have a better idea of what's really important to them. So what other comments do you have to make?

George Mowrer22:38

I mean, to me, it's about you have 1500 weeks ahead of you in your life in these retirement years, and how best to those. At 168 hours a day, how best to use those living in a way where you are getting life out of that. And I get really pumped about that time to do whatever we want to do. I get pretty, pretty excited as you can tell.

Geoff Boyer23:06

Okay, so I think this is a good place to kind of end this podcast, and I'd like to leave two caveats. I think we all need two kinds of people in our life, maybe you can find them in one person, but probably not. I think you need a George to help you explore what's really important to you without thinking about the money. But then I think the second thing that you really have to do is once you have that plan in place, once you have that vision in place of what you want, and how it might change, then you need to put the money piece in because a lot of what you're going to want to do is going to require money. And you have to take into account if things change, how is that money piece going to change? And that's where your financial advisor like Jeff Boyer comes into play. All right. Let's sum up and hopefully, we haven't solved any problems for people, but we've raised a lot of questions. All right. So join us next week when we'll have another exciting guest and who knows what problem we'll take on at that point. And Luke, would you sign us off?

Outro 24:19

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Thu, 8 Sep 2022 13:44:23 +0000
E:118 State of the Art Memory Care, Guests, Jeff Kenderdine & Lauren Renehan

For more information:


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world,

Ray Loewe 00:19

Good morning, everybody. And you're gonna see why I'm one of the luckiest people in the world because I have two incredible guests here. But before I introduce them, and they think they're the luckiest people in the world too, I'm going to have to kind of subvert them a little bit today. But let me comment on what we mean when we talk about the luckiest people in the world. The luckiest people in the world are those people that we all want to be. They're the people who take the time to redesign their own lives under their own terms. And then they step in and live them under their own terms. And we titled our show, Changing the Rules because the luckiest people in the world handle rules really well. You know all through our lives were saddled with rules. Our parents gave us rules, the church gave us rules, our schools gave us rules. Then we go to work, our jobs give us rules. And I think it was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who came up and said, you know, if you're living your life under other people's rules, you're not living your own life. So, the luckiest people have figured out what to do about rules, we all need them. But the secret is to live on your own terms. So, we have a subject today, it's a little bit different than what we usually do. You're gonna see that the people we're talking to are two of the luckiest people in the world. But we're going to talk about a topic that bothers us because it's something that gets in our way of being lucky. And we have to figure out how to deal with it. And the topic is memory care. And I have two wonderful people here. I have Jeff Kenderdine, Jeff is the Executive Director for the Foundation at Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation. And we have Lauren Renehan, Lauren is part of the Charitable Foundation also. But we really want to get into her background, because she has a lot of experience with this whole concept of memory care. And let me start by posing something, and I'm going to direct this at Jeff to start with. This whole issue of people having memory issues is growing exponentially. So, what do we do about it, you know, give us some idea of what we're facing.

Jeff Kenderdine 02:45

Sure. It's one of those things, that's a little bit of a double-edged sword, because advances with heart disease, advances in cancer treatments, etc, enables people to live longer and increase that health span, just the quality of life during that time being alive. Unfortunately, that results in more and more people being diagnosed with dementia. So in essence, if you live long enough, you're going to be impacted by dementia in some way, shape, or form, either personally with yourself, a loved one, a spouse, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, and it will impact every single person's life in some way, shape, or form.

Ray Loewe 03:28

You know, and you were telling me earlier, there's another aspect to that, and that has to do with caregivers. You know, we're having trouble getting people to take on certain jobs these days. And so the environment that you're in as a caregiver may not be the best environment as a caregiver to be in, is it?

Jeff Kenderdine 03:46

No actually, and Lauren can touch on this specifically from her prior career before coming into the Foundation, but my life has been impacted by dementia as well. So, my father had dementia, he since passed. But that was my first exposure to dementia. And like most, I knew nothing about this disease. And as a caregiver coming in, you're faced with the reality of, you know, a weaning cognition and being able to interact with your father as your father, that changes. And also the ripple effect on the entire family and even financially. And actually, that's the reason why I'm here at Willow Valley Communities is because of what we intend to achieve and make that difference.

Ray Loewe 04:32

All right. So Lauren, speak up. You have hands-on experience here. So you were in the memory care awards, were you not?

Lauren Renehan 04:43

Yes, I was. But you know, my career and my adventure through dementia started way earlier. So, I was lucky enough to know my great grandparents, my grandparents, and they lived to be well into their late 80s and even 100. But to Jeff's point, they all experienced dementia. So my first encounters were about 20-plus years ago. And it, you know, it guided my career path. My father was always working in the funeral industry, so I was raised there. I have a natural propensity toward older adults and the geriatric population and just end of life in general. So, I went to school to earn my Bachelor's and Master's in Social Work, because I thought that would give me the most opportunity to help the most people and really be that change agent that I wanted to be. And that led me through hospice and adult day service and eventually to Willow Valley, where I was the social worker in personal care, specifically Cedarbrook, our memory support community, for six years or so. And, I think my experience there is really what shaped my desire to change the rules around Memory Care. My dad had a stroke about 12 years ago now. And that occurred back when I was in high school, so all the while that's been on my mind. And we're starting to see my dad's memory and he's starting to see changes in that. And you know, what really hits home is when you are in those hallways, and in the traditional memory care model, there are the metal doors that are locked all the time, you enter a code to get in or out of the building. And I vividly recall moving this one resident in and her daughter was just in tears. She called me, we had the room all set up with her personal belongings, the nurse and I were ready; the daughter had taken her to lunch and brought her back to the front of our memory care building. And she calls me and she's just hysterical. She says I can't get mom out of the car. Because her mom knew exactly what was going on, you know, she was aware enough to know that she was moving, but so cognitively declined enough to not realize that she had some, you know, limitations that needed some supervision and assistance to get through her daily routine. So the nurse and I went out, and it probably took us two and a half hours that day to get her from the car into our garage and a little bit settled. So we went home with a number of bruises that day, trying to fit her into this mold that we've created of, you know, medical model, not so person-centered care. And I think, you know, couple that and similar experiences telling families, they have to move their loved one to our memory care, secure environment, with the experience of my dad and knowing that this is not what I want for him as he progresses. That's where, you know, we took the opportunity, Jeff and I working together, to really shape or reshape the way that the conversation occurs around memory care and what we're doing here at Willow Valley.

Ray Loewe 07:42

Yeah, now you use when we were talking about this before we got on the air here. You mentioned a word that really disturbed me. And yet it's probably so true, you know, the current model, we're basically warehousing our mentally handicapped people. And I don't want to be warehoused, you're not doing that. I'm gonna be with that lady, I'm sitting in the car, you're not getting me out. And it's gonna take a lot longer than two and a half hours. So how do we deal with that? Because we have to have a place where people are safe. And I think, you know, as a son or daughter of a parent who needs help, you know, the first thing we're concerned about is making sure that person is cared for and making sure that they're safe. But that's not enough, is it?

Lauren Renehan 08:32

It's not enough. If we want to be, you know, person-centered, focused on the individuals, we really do need to change the standard for that. We did as you say, we used to warehouse people. You know you develop dementia, you move into these sort of alms houses, and people don't visit. It's a stigmatized place. And we have those repercussions of what we did before to people still existing through how this medical model is shaping people's perception of what we do today.

Ray Loewe 09:04

Okay, now, one of the things I'm excited about is I live in a wonderful place. It's called Willow Valley Communities. Okay. And Jeff and Lauren are part of a Foundation here. And we have a three-part program to build something better in the memory care area. And Jeff, why don't you take a minute and talk about the three parts of this and why it's so important to have the three parts and have everybody involved, not just the caregivers.

Jeff Kenderdine 09:34

Sure. I think one of the things that we touched on here is really, you know, everybody wants to be treated with respect and dignity. And, oftentimes in the more traditional clinical settings, that's removed, and simple things of freedom of choice. And we have a phrase that we like to use, it's called room to roam. So in this arena that we're talking about on our memory care campus is seven acres, which is secure, it's safe. And it provides the ability for the residents there to freely move about, from their small household out into an outdoor courtyard and so forth. But the key difference is that they get to choose that. And, again, Lauren had mentioned about this being what we'll call the habilitation model, rather than a rehabilitation model. This is less about treating the disease, per se, and more about treating quality of life. So that is really where we're focused on the environment as therapy. And that has been evidence-based to really have a positive impact on individuals living with dementia on their quality of life. So the three components you reference, Ray, were the residential or are the residential component, the support component, which is all around supporting the caregiver, and we'll touch on that. And then the third is really about some of the advances that, because of the partnerships that we're going to have here, through research, through education and training, because of that ripple effect, in particular, with the broader community and the caregivers out there.

Ray Loewe 11:23

You know, let me interrupt for a second because I want to make it clear that some of this is available now. Some of the state of memory care is awful today. So, where you go to put parents or yourself or whoever it is that needs the care is all over the place. But the model that you're building where you are is absolutely incredibly new. So, let me shut Jeff off and go to Lauren over here. And tell us a little bit about some of the things that are being built into the model. I mean, first of all, what's this place gonna look like versus what places look like now? And then we'll come back and talk about technology.

Lauren Renehan 12:08

Sure. So, historically, what we have done is long hallways, hospital-type setting, and in some personal care homes, assisted living nursing homes, what you'll find is still two to four people to a room. And what we've learned through our research and planning for this project is that that's not going to be an option moving forward. People who are operating from a place of late adolescence, early adulthood, didn't have roommates, you know, they were getting married, they were living with spouses or partners for 40-50 years, and it wasn't natural to have a roommate. So, in this new memory care center, what you're going to see are all private rooms, private bathrooms. An upcharge is not existing for those, you know, how can we charge someone more simply because they have a certain diagnosis that really necessitates them having a room to themselves, where they can have their personal belongings, bring things from their past, you know, to decorate the walls and the rooms. And, as Jeff said, this room-to-roam concept, what we have found is, these long hallways are not conducive to memory support. So people who are not any longer oriented to you know, person, place, time, location, any of that, look down a long hallway, they see a door, and they try to what we call exit, seek or elope from that environment because they don't understand why they're there. And we're going to remove that feeling of distress by creating hallways that you know, have natural curvature, they're continuous. So when you walk down the hallway, it's not a door at the end, it's maybe a room that you could possibly go into. And then you turn the corner and there's another room. So what we've done with our existing locations, as you mentioned, is you know, we are changing the script now. So, in Cedarbrook, we do have sort of like a figure eight or a clover, if you will, of hallways that branch off into different halls for rooms or for dining or for outdoor exploration. So, that's what you'll see at the Memory Care Center. And it will be 14 households of 10 people each. And Jeff's really great at describing that greenhouse model that we will employ over there.

Ray Loewe 14:20

We can let Jeff talk, it's okay. All right. So Jeff, tell us about this.

Jeff Kenderdine 14:28

Again, back to the concept is trying to create as normal of life as possible and to make those connections to their lives prior to dementia. So, one of the things that we're deploying here is a small household model. So, like Lauren said, there are 14 households, 10 residents each. Private bedroom, private bathroom and things like you and I have in our homes: living room, dining room, screened-in porch, a patio, even a den. So those things are the types of things that you would experience in your quote-unquote, normal life every day. So, part of that small household concept is just to make those connections back to their lives before dementia and that cognitive impairment set in. The other aspect is, we have a commons building, which we often refer to as the town center. And again, that's designed to create that normalcy that connection to their lives prior to dementia. And it has aspects like in a village center, a town center with a grocery store. You know, you think about a grocery store, and absolutely, everybody in their lives has been to a grocery store at some point. So that's normal, they can go there, get some apples, bring them back to their home, which has a kitchen, and bake an apple pie. So, it's engaging all of those senses, the smells, the tastes, and just being part of making the pie. And as people learn their preferences, and so forth, again, the quality of life improves for that family, that family of 10. And, you know, if I'm trying to give you coffee, and you're not a coffee drinker, but you can't tell me that, that comes out in frustration. So the more we know and learn each other's preferences, the better quality of life for everyone.

Ray Loewe 16:29

Okay, so we're gonna get this setting that's very normal. And, my understanding is I can go outside too right, and when I go outside in a controlled environment, where I'm safe, but I can be outside, I don't have to be inside. So that gets rid of a lot of the frustration that people have, right?

Jeff Kenderdine 16:51

That's right.

Ray Loewe 16:51

And I would guess that it gets rid of a lot of the apprehensiveness of people coming to visit their loved ones who are in an environment because now it's a fun, to the extent that it can be, environment. Right?

Lauren Renehan 17:06


Ray Loewe 17:07

All right, Lauren, we'll get back to Jeff again, because he wants to talk, but I'm not gonna let him. So let's talk a little bit about the technology pieces here. Because, again, you were saying that, you know, a caregiver might have to interrupt somebody several times a day and take blood pressure to make sure they're healthy and things like that. Well, you've got some tricks up your sleeve now to get around that too. Right?

Lauren Renehan 17:30

We do. Technology is always advancing and this campus, which what's going to make it so incredible is how expensive it is, it's going to be seven acres. And you know, 140 residents, if you do that math, how do you keep tabs on where everybody is, at all times and what they're doing. And the fact of the matter is, we won't. We'll have technology do that for us. So picture like a Fitbit or an Apple watch something to that extent, and that is doing a lot of the monitoring for us. As you mentioned, it's really not quality of life to stop someone and take their blood pressure to get parameters before we administer their blood pressure medication. That's not something that was done in their early life, perhaps. And it's not something that we want to continue to do now for fear that it may trigger something negative for this person and certainly diminish their dignity. So, technology would monitor you know, where they are, are they sitting or standing? How long have they been outside, given the temperature of their of their environment? When's maybe the last time they took a drink if their hand was up above, above their shoulder per se? What is their blood pressure, what's their heart rate, what's their body temperature. And all of this sort of biometric data is captured, it could be automatically documented, giving the nurses more time to do person-centered care and therapy versus, you know, the documentation that they spend 80% of their time doing. And that, again, frees up the staff. So expansive campus, that's one thing that we're going to do to improve care. But we're also incorporating technology in some other ways. As Jeff said, the environment is really designed to be therapy in and of itself. So, the lighting that we're taking into consideration, it will have a lot of natural lighting, so that people's circadian rhythm you know, acclimates to what it should be, trying to eliminate some of those sundowning features you may have heard of, with some people living with dementia. So that comes across in the roofing structure, but even so much is lighting in their bedrooms. You know, they have pressure-sensitive flooring now or pressure-sensitive socks that you put on people so when they get out of bed at night, it turns on a tiny nightlight, they don't have to remember to turn on the nightlight which we know will not happen with dementia. But you know, everybody gets up in the middle the night to use the restroom and these sort of technological advances will take care of that for us. You know mitigating the risk of falls, helping them to navigate and maintain independence so it's not you know, pressing a button for the nurse to come help you. They're still able to function independently and do those tasks by themselves. Things such as music, you know, maybe there are buttons on the wall for the mood that that person is experiencing. So maybe when they're happy, they, the nurse or their family member coming to visit can press a button on the wall, and it plays a list of their favorite songs that bring them joy, or it presses a button for reminiscence, and it brings them back to maybe their wedding song. And all of these things would be captured at the time that they move into independent living. So you know, it has their input from when they're higher functioning cognitively, it has their family input, friends, and it's something that they can, you know, update and change along the way to match their preferences so that by the time they get to the Memory Care Center, and they're operating at a different place, from a cognitive standpoint, we're able to fill in the gaps where they no longer can. Keep bringing them joy and therapy through the environment.

Ray Loewe 20:58

So how much of that is now and how much of that is the future?

Jeff Kenderdine 21:05

It's actually, it's a little bit of both. Because of what we've learned in the research side of things, in order to really come up with this overall plan, we were able to incorporate some of those advancements into the expansion and renovations of our current Memory Care Center called Cedarbrook. And probably the best example of that, beyond eliminating the straight long hallways, it's now has curvature so you can walk and walk and walk is our garden room or greenhouse. And in there, the residents in our Memory Center are able to tend to the plants and certainly, it's all edible, just in case. But it gives them purpose and gives them meaning.

Ray Loewe 21:50

Yeah, so the Fitbit that Lauren was talking about how current is that? Or is that something that we're not gonna see for 10 years?

Lauren Renehan 21:58

If we wanted to see it now, we could, but those are sort of the partnerships we're working with, as far as you know, universities and things who could create those widgets for us to be specific for our needs and our environment.

Ray Loewe 22:11

Okay, so now let's change the tenor of this a little bit because there's all kinds of memory care out there. Okay. And to some extent, you get what you research and you get what you pay for. And let's talk about your project, specifically here. Now, you have pretty much a state-of-the-art memory care going where we are, okay. But you have this project that Lauren was talking about with the single rooms, the 10 rooms to a group or their own private dining room, the street scenes and things like that. And that's in process of actually being developed now, where you are. So first, is there a website so the people who want to know more about this can tack on and look at it?

Lauren Renehan 23:01

Yes, is our Foundation website. And that's really where we're hosting a lot of the information surrounding this future Memory Care Center. So if people log on to there, there tabs at the top, the about tab goes to opportunities for giving, and you can click on memory care center right there and learn about everything.

Ray Loewe 23:24

Okay, so if I want to find out, and we'll publish that so that people don't have to remember that, we'll put that in our podcast notes. And going back to Jeff over here, I know, the way that you're putting this together is fascinating because you have three partners in funding this thing. And at first, that bothered me and the more I got to think about it, the more I got that being part of this involves being part of it. So talk a little bit about what you're trying to do and when this thing is going to take place at Willow Valley, or at least as best you can.

Jeff Kenderdine 24:00

Sure. The overall project budget, if you will, is $50 million. And Willow Valley Communities is putting in $30 million of its own resources. And we often get asked, Willow Valley Communities is a 501c3 organization and we get asked often that well, why can't they just build this on their own? And the answer is they could build a Memory Care Center, $30 million Memory Care Center, but it wouldn't be this memory care center. And the beauty of you know, our involvement as a Foundation is we get to bring philanthropy to make this possible and make it happen. And the difference is it's not imposed on everyone like a tax, or an increase in fees. This is truly, like the word philanthropy implies, this is a choice because people care about it. They care about the impact that it's going to have. And our job has really been just to have individual conversations like this, group conversations and educating people about what this means, and the impact that it's going to have for not only themselves, their friends and family, but future generations. And the response we've had has been absolutely amazing.

Ray Loewe 25:17

I'm excited about it. I mean, this is going to be me at some point in time in the future.

Jeff Kenderdine 25:23

It's going to be all of us.

Ray Loewe 25:23

And being able to contribute and help in the design and the building of this is great. And you've marshaled outside help to do this too. And in the form of matching stuff. So good job, whatever it is you're doing, keep going it. All right. We're near the end of our time so let me ask Lauren first, do you have any closing comments or anything that we didn't say that you think we have to address?

Lauren Renehan 25:49

I think if people get the chance to watch the little video that's on our website, they'll learn so much about the amenities that will be there. So, not just the grocery store, like Jeff mentioned, but a bistro-like a sit down restaurant, an indoor stage, that courtyard is going to be the size of a football field. So things like that to create that normalcy, where it's no longer appropriate for someone living with dementia, or no longer comfortable rather for them to go out into those public spaces as their world begins to shrink. That's really going to be key to changing the conversation here and reducing that stigma so that all of those generations and friends and family are coming to visit. The other thing I think is so important is the caregiver support that Jeff touched on, and we will have an adult day service where caregivers can come and bring their person living with dementia to enjoy the amenities of the Memory Care Center. And so this isn't so much about what it's going to do to change the lives of those living with dementia at the center. But for all of the caregivers, you know, across our community and county and state and region to come in and get some education and have a little bit of reprieve from what they do on a 24/7 basis.

Ray Loewe 26:58

Yeah. And Jeff, final comments?

Jeff Kenderdine 27:00

Yeah, I believe the one thing I think is important for the audience to understand is that they're not alone in this. As a caregiver, it felt very lonely and I had no idea about how to interact with my father with dementia and knew nothing about it. And oftentimes, it's the health of the caregiver that really suffers, that they wind up saying, I just can't do this anymore. And then they move to a Memory Care Center. But this really starts to remove that stigma associated with dementia and enables that conversation. In fact, because of this project, we've had countless conversations with individuals that have been touched by dementia in some way, shape, or form. And there's a lot of fear associated with it, family members, caregivers, and we really want to be the hub for training, providing the support that they need, and really just to lighten an otherwise dark journey. And this is all about creating those moments of joy, moments of happiness, where the family members come, the grandkids come and they want to visit in our sit-down bistro restaurant. You know, where do you see that in a Memory Care Center?

Ray Loewe 28:15

Well, you know, thank you both for your comments. I think it's very helpful for us people who think we're the luckiest people in the world and know about this because this is going to get in our way and it's something that we have to figure out how to get around. And the technology is there, the thought is there. I think it's a wonderful project. So thanks for being with us and Bill, sign us off.

Outro 28:40

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 10 Aug 2022 13:53:33 +0000
E:117: Characters, Plots, and Settings: What Makes A Thriller Writer Tick? Guest, Don Helin


Intro 00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Well, good morning, everybody, and welcome to "Changing the Rules." We have an incredible guest today and I'm incredibly excited about doing this conversation that we're going to have, and you'll understand in a minute. But, I did want to take a minute and talk about the fact that I'm changing the rules. We try and talk to one of the luckiest people in the world every week. The luckiest people in the world are people who kind of design their own lives, figure out what they want to do and then they step into their personally designed lives and live them under their own terms. You're going to see that Don Helin, who is certainly one of those people today, and he does that. We also named our show, "Changing the Rules." One of the reasons for that is the luckiest people in the world only rules. But, they need to sometimes take all those rules that have been given to them over the years by the church, their parents, their schools, their businesses, and everything else. In this case, the military, okay, and try to sculpt them to fit their own lives. According to Steve Jobs, when you live your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life. All right. So, Don Helin, on military eye, travel writer, lobbyist, and award-winning author. Good morning, Don.

Don Helin01:48

Well, good morning, Ray. It's great to be here.

Ray Loewe01:50

Did I miss anything in your background here? I think we got the highlights, right?

Don Helin01:53

Yeah, the luckiest guy in the world because I'm married to Elaine Howe, and she's probably one of the sweetest people in the world. So, that makes me pretty lucky.

Ray Loewe02:00

So, when we were preparing for this interview, I started talking to Don. Don is an award-winning author. Let me just give you a partial list of his books, Twins, Roof of the World, Long Walk Home, Angels Revenge, Secret Assault, and The Kingdom Come. I'm sure I left some out. You know, I was looking at Don's website yesterday and kind of a reviewing for this meeting. All of a sudden I see on there, one of my all-time favorite authors (that I've read, every one of his books) is endorsing Don's book, Twins. A guy by the name of John Lead. Let me read one of his quotes real quickly, "Terrifying tale that is flawlessly constructed." This is what we're talking to this morning. Before I let you loose here. The reason I'm excited is I've always wanted to get into the head of an author that I really like and try and figure out what makes him tick. Because how in the heck do you get these plots? How do you get these characters? They got to come from some creative mind from somewhere.

Don Helin03:15

Okay, you got most of them. You're absolutely right. I'm lucky because I started out with my books, and I created a character. My character is Zack Kelly. He's an army colonel that works for the President's National Security Adviser. When I was learning the trade, I happened to be mentored by a guy named Lee Childs. Lee has quite a character that he's used over the years. So rather than having a different character, each book, I've learned to live with Zack Kelly. Zack has a small team that work with him on the President's National Security Advisor. That team is to help the National Security Advisor cut through bureaucracy, which there's plenty of in the military. When something happens, he doesn't wait and go through five different layers. He sends somebody out to see if he can figure out what's going on.

Ray Loewe04:22

So, what comes first when you write a book, the character or the plot?

Don Helin04:28

For me, it's the characters, pretty much ongoing. But, you've got a whole lot of other characters and it's the old saw of what's more important, a plot or a character. They both have their place. Also, when everybody's making this argument, they forget all about the setting, because you have to put your character someplace that the people can see and can enjoy. He has to show he can live someplace

ay Loewe04:59

Alright, let's go back half a step here, you have your character that you've developed over time. So, I'm sure going forward, a plot comes after the character. Let's talk about what it took to develop this character, and how do you have to think about a character? You got to know this guy inside out, right?

Don Helin05:21

Yeah, I was really fortunate, I had gotten probably about three books with Zach. I was never quite comfortable about him. Then, I happened to attend a writers conference and at that writers conference was a creative writing professor from Berkeley. He said, "What you have to do is develop a bio, for each one of your characters, not just your lead character, but your villain, and all the key people. Because, you know, some people think, well, I'm going to make this awful villain. The villain is, and all your characters have to be some good and some bad. So, what I did, there's three areas that we develop for that character, one is a physical, second is a social, and third is a psychological. By the physical, we're not saying how important it is or how tall he is. What is important? If he's a little guy, what did that due to his development? Was he bullied? You can kind of take his physical characteristics and say, "Hey, how did that help him or hold him in developing?" Suppose Barbra Streisand, couldn't sing? How would her life have changed? So you take the physical traits and then you take where they grew up. You know, were they private school in New England? Or were they in PT 104 In New York City? How would that develop? Then psychological, for example, my hero, Zack Kelly has a very moderate case of post-traumatic stress disorder, which once in a while, he's out doing some, and he starts having a problem. So, these are the things that make our character human. By developing a bio for each one of those characters, I don't fumble on what they would be because what we're trying to do is develop motivation. In other words, what you want to do is develop your characters. For example, you got your heroes, Zack Kelly, and you got the villain. Each of them are motivated based on what's in their bio motivated to do something. When they're both motivated, and they're motivated in the opposite direction. What happens? You've got conflict. Conflict is what makes the book.

Ray Loewe07:57

Yeah. So, are you Zack Kelly?

Don Helin08:02

Am I Zack Kelly? I'm asked that a lot. I would have to say I'm not as good-looking as Zack Kelly. I don't have as many friends as Zack Kelly, as far as ladies that think he's... I'm not quite the athlete, that Zack Kelly is. Because, I think they always say in the bios, your characters are kind of dramatized to be special. Because, if you make your hero, just kind of an average guy, he's not as exciting as if he's an interesting guy.

Ray Loewe08:37

Yeah, I'm sure. So when you came up with Zach Kelly, how much of that came out of your experience being in the military? How much of it came from research that you did? How much of it came from just seeing people on the street?

Don Helin08:53

It's hard to say what percentage, but it's all involved, you know, because Zach, for example, is a single parent. That's what makes him human. The first two books, Zach did not have his daughter living with him. But his wife ended up in trouble. So, Laura came to live with him. Now Zach is while he's out saving the world someplace and doing all the stuff he's been writing about. He gets a phone call, Dad, you're supposed to be here. You're coaching my soccer team, Dad, come on. That's reality, and everybody can kind of live in that story. So, guess who's got three beautiful daughters who have been through that? So it's kind of growing on me. Things that have happened to me. Things I learned in the Pentagon, and things I've just picked up along the way.

Ray Loewe09:53

So your characters actually evolve and change? Okay. What about some of the other characters? You ever just meet people on the street and find out all of a sudden, you know, their character in your book?

Don Helin10:05

I think the best one... I'm glad you mentioned that. Elaine and I were up in Canada, we always love to go into bookstores. We were sitting there and my wife's an artist, so she always has her camera with her and this guy comes in, and he's got orange stripe down the center of his head. He's got your earrings, a nose ring. He's got the black boots and all that. I said to Elaine, I said, "Can you get his picture for me?" She said, "Sure." What she does, since she never wants anybody to know she's taking their picture so she will hold up the camera and then she shakes the camera. I say, "What's wrong?" She says, "I don't know." Well, she's got four pictures of the guy. So what I did is, I took him home in a picture. I put them in this file that I have of people. One day, Zach is up to his neck at the Pentagon and he comes home, and he pulls up in front of the house and Laura is up his daughter, his 18 and a half-year-old daughter is up talking to this guy. What does this guy look like? He's got an orange stripe on his head, got earrings, and nose ring. Zack walks up and Laura says, "Dad, dad, I want you to meet Rodney Barnes. Rodney is the lead guitar for the evildoers. I met him six months ago and I I know he's not your kind of guy. But, Dad, I hope you'll go to one of his concerts with me because I'm all excited for you to get to know Rodney because I really like him. Zach looks at Rodney. Rodney? Yeah, man, that's me and that goes on from there. See, there's a cliche character that ends up there. What is Rodney really like? You don't find out for a while. So, you got to buy out on Rodney. If I want to be in one of your books, I have to have orange hair. Is that what you're telling me? We have to know enough to make you an interesting character and make you believable.

Ray Loewe12:27

Okay, so these BIOS continue. How many pages is Zach's bio at this point right?

Don Helin12:34

Right now it's about almost two pages.

Ray Loewe12:38

Let's switch a little bit because another part of a book is the plot. Where the heck do these come from? Where do they come from?

Don Helin12:49

Ray, they're everywhere. It's a matter of looking. Let me just tell you, my fourth book, Long Walk Home developed when I was up in New York. It turned out that I would go to thriller fest every year and the Grand Hyatt Hotel where thriller fest had the program, had a special discount. They said we'll give you a big discount, it's only going to cost you $230 a night to stay in the hotel. I'm lucky because I'm retired military. So, the Coast Guard has a guest house on a side island. I thought well, what I will do is just stay at the guest house, then every morning on Staten Island, then every morning I would catch the Staten Island Ferry. We would take it across, then we get the Metro and buzz up to the program. You know, what a thriller writer is always looking for is two little words. What if, What if, one day as I was riding across on the Staten Island Ferry, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and flying around. Then, all of a sudden, I thought what if somebody hijacked the Staten Island Ferry. Then I said, "Why would anybody do that? Who would do that?" From that question, developed Long Walk Home, when the Staten Island Ferry is hijacked where Laura is on it. That's the story that gets you going.

Ray Loewe14:40

Cool. Okay, so obviously you're a creative guy, you're observant. You've got some background that filters into your books and stuff like that. But, you know, when we were talking, one of the things that you really said is that you don't do this alone. Okay, that you've been involved in all these writing associations, and you have mentors. Why don't you take a minute and talk about a couple of your mentors and how they impacted what you do? Because we probably have some people up there, who all want to write that great novel, and have no idea how to begin.

Don Helin15:13

I'm so lucky, I've been an active member of PEN writers, which is a statewide writers group. In every conference, they always have what they call, a new writer can bring in just the first two pages of your book. Then, seasoned writers, they have agents and editors who will read it and give you feedback. I felt so good about these two pages. I thought, oh, man, these are wonderful. My writer, who was Nancy Martin, who has written something like 50 novels, and I thought, oh, man, she's going to love it. And of course, you know, what happened? She tore it to shreds, you know. So I limped out of there and then I went home and I started to think. Let me think, now, I have not written any novels yet and Nancy has written 50. Is there a chance, she may have some idea of what she's talking about? So I took her advice, I worked through the book again and that became my first published book.

Ray Loewe16:21

Okay, so these are not self-published books. You actually have a real agent, a publisher, and everything else. So how did that come about? Because most people don't have that when they start?

Don Helin16:34

What you do is... There's a big fat document called "Writer's Market." You can get it at every library and every bookstore. You go in, and you start going through it. You say, okay, go to thrillers, who are all the publishers that publish thrillers? Who are all the agents that help you with that? You go in, and you start sending out letters, and you become this guy that keeps getting all these turndowns from publishers and agents and editors. You know, until one day, you get what is called, we call "The Call." The call comes, and it's, "Hi, Don, this is Shirley and I'm from Medallion Press and we'd like to publish your book. That is the call!Of course, then I got another call because I published it. That was my first novel and I had a second one all set when I got another call. They said, "We're sorry, but we're discontinuing our mass market line. We could keep publishing you as an e-book, but not as a mass market." I said, "How would that work?" I looked at Elaine, she looked at me and I said, "So, we started all over again, with sending out those letters and all that sort of stuff."

Ray Loewe17:53

So, a lot of it comes from hanging out at these writers' conferences and meeting people. Talk a bit about the mentors, because you had Lee Childs. Lee Childs is another guy that I read extensively. So again, your book just went up on the list and more. I only have one book, and I think I'm going to dump it and go to yours. Let's talk a little bit about mentors. How do you get them? What happens? How do they affect what you do?

Don Helin18:18

Yeah, it's the group that you join. I joined International Thriller Writers and they have what they call "The Debut Authors Group." Now, you have to go after it, you have to go sign up. Then, they meet like, once a month, and everything that they do is online, because you have people in all the countries, all the cities throughout the United States. Lee is the coordinator. Lee was our coordinator and then he would bring in John Bland, and all these other wonderful writers. Each one would talk about how to do setting and how to write a bio, and how to do all this sort of stuff. It was so helpful. That was really it plus you met people who could help you, who could give you blurbs, who could do stuff like that. So, I think, between 10 writers, and International Thriller Writers, I got so much help. Now, what I'm doing, I'm also a mystery writer for America. They have now a mentor program. So, I'm a mentor and there's not much I can do for lead trials. There's not much I can do for Nancy Martin, who now has over 100 books, but writers pass it down. You know, my job, I think now is to help writers coming up through the system.

Ray Loewe19:46

Outstanding! So you got your bio of your characters, you got your plot, but you also have to be a politician because you got to show your book and you got to position the right way. Take a minute. We're almost at the end of our time. Take a second... What kind of advice would you give to people who are those aspiring writers out there? Do you just put it aside and say, I can't do this? Or how do you get motivated?

Don Helin20:13

Well, what do you want to do? See, a writer has to have two personalities. One, writing is an art, I always tell new writers, writing is an art. The publishing is a business. I spend probably half my time writing, but I spend the other half marketing. That's why I have a website that people can go to. I'm very active on Facebook. I'm very fortunate, that my publisher is very active. We now are on Zoom. We have a whole program called "Zoom into Books," and monthly we'll do a presentation. Then they'll say, "Hey, if you want Don's book, you can go to his publisher, and just pick it up." She's got a number of my signed things that she can paste into the book, so you can get a signed book.

Ray Loewe21:10

Well, I'm not sure I'm met my goal here. I think I'm partially into the head of an author here. Okay. You certainly have had a fascinating life. You've certainly, your processes are extremely interesting. Thanks, for people that are listening, and who can take some of your advice. Do you have any final comments you want to make before we sign off?

Don Helin21:30

No. It's just that I have really enjoyed learning to write. But, the one thing that I would say is "Don't Give Up." Most people will start, they have that great idea but get in the middle of it, and you get to what I call the saggy middle. You look at this saying, that's no good, it'll never sell, it's terrible and you quit. Don't quit! Keep writing and even if you're not crazy about it, get through. Because I ended up going back through my book editing probably 15-20 times. So the first one, that first time through is not that great. And it's not. But you know what, you can make a great by working hard on it. I have a number of readers who helped me, who give me good ideas, and you know what, right, I listened to them. I learned through Nancy -- I listened to them.

Ray Loewe22:28

This is why Don is one of the luckiest people in the world. With that, I don't think there's anything more to say except your website, which is Okay, d o n h e l i n and we're going to post that on the notes when we publish your conversation here. So, people can find out where to get a start to meet you. And Luke sign is off.

Outro 22:59

Thank you for listening to "Changing the Rules." Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 3 Aug 2022 13:40:56 +0000
E116: Traveling the World to Find GNH (Gross National Happiness), Guest Kim Schaller


Ray Loewe00:02

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world. Good morning everybody and welcome to our new podcast studio in Willow Valley, Pennsylvania. And we're here with brand new equipment, we have an engineer with us, Steve Wright, and Steve's at, I guess you call it a keyboard. Steve, I don't know what it is, but you manipulate things to make us sound better. All right. And I've got a great guest today. But before we get into the guest, I want to go back and mention the luckiest people in the world. So, the luckiest people in the world are those people who design their own lives, and then step into them and live them under their own terms. And you're going to see today that Kim is definitely one of those people. And the name of our show is Changing the Rules. And you know, all through our lives, we've been fed rules. We got them from our parents, the schools came in and threw new rules at us, then our jobs throw rules at us, the church thows rules at us. And in between, we've had other people that throw rules at us. And I think it was Steve Jobs that said that if you live your life by somebody else's rules, you're not living your life. And if you think about it, rules are meant for two things. They either tell you what you can't do or what you have to do. So, the luckiest people in the world are pretty good at sifting through those rules and changing them to make them fit their lifestyle and the lifestyle that they want to have. So today our guest is from downtown Lititz, Pennsylvania, about 10 miles away from here. And there are four themes that she mentioned to me when we did our pre-interview. So here's what they are: Chocolate is a recurring theme in my life. All right. Adventure travel is a recurring theme in my life. I make my choices so that I can be happy. And last but not least, I love my life. So, Kim Schaller, I hope I pronounced that right, is our guest today. And Kim say hello to everybody.

Kim Schaller02:39

Hi, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you.

Ray Loewe02:42

Okay, well, you've had an exciting life. And I think what's going to happen is after this is done, everybody, first of all is going to know you're one of the luckiest people in the world. And then second of all, they're all going to want your life. So let's talk a little bit about going back. You worked many, many years for Hershey, right?

Kim Schaller03:02

I did, 31 years.

Ray Loewe03:04

31 years. So there is chocolate in your life, right?

Kim Schaller03:08

There is chocolate in my life for sure.

Ray Loewe03:10

And now you live in a condo, which is in what?

Kim Schaller03:14

In the old Wilbur Chocolate Factory. So I worked for a chocolate company and I live in a chocolate factory.

Ray Loewe03:19

And I would bet that somewhere between you eat chocolate too?

Kim Schaller03:22

I do.

Ray Loewe03:23

Yeah, isn't that wonderful?

Kim Schaller03:24

You know, I think when chocolate is around you, I'm just sort of immune to the lure at this point. It's there, but I do enjoy it.

Ray Loewe03:32

Okay, so you've had those two things, and then at this point in your life, your life is composed of being on several advisory boards, we're not going to take the time to talk about all of them. But you're active, you keep your mind active and stuff like that. But what we really want to talk about is the adventure travel that you are doing. Okay, and I think this is what. I'm searching for a word here, but this is what Kim's life is all about. And I think the first thing to start with is you're single, right?

Kim Schaller04:08

I am. I was married 26 years, but I'm single now.

Ray Loewe04:11

And you don't let this stop you from going anywhere.

Kim Schaller04:15

No, I don't.

Ray Loewe04:16

So, everybody out there that's single, get rid of the barriers right now. There's no excuse.

Kim Schaller04:22

Especially single women. I think a lot of women don't want to do that. There's a definite risk and there's fear. But you just have to do it.

Ray Loewe04:30

And you don't really travel alone. I mean, you leave alone, you're by yourself, but you join groups of people. So you're not alone. And there's some structure there and you get to meet a whole bunch of people that you didn't know before.

Kim Schaller04:41

Right, I'm into active travel. So I've traveled with companies that do hiking and biking and multi-adventure trips all around the world. I start out alone and I will usually visit the country for a couple days on my own before the trip actually starts. And then I meet all kinds of interesting people. The trips range from 10 to 20 people and we bike and hike and kayak. And so I love it. I love it.

Ray Loewe05:05

Okay, so give us an example of someplace you've been recently that excited you?

Kim Schaller05:10

Well, I'll tell you what. I mean, I figure I'm 64 years old, I've got plenty of years ahead. And I have spent quite a bit of time in Europe. But these trips, I go to places that really scare me, I go, the further away, the better. So I've been to Patagonia, I've been to Bhutan, I did the Mont Blanc circuit and France and Italy and Switzerland, Iceland. I go places that I know, the older I get, and I know courage is going to be a big thing as I get older, so I go to the places that scare me now. So that's been my sort of philosophy on travel.

Ray Loewe05:42

And, you know, we met some people in Antarctica a long time ago in and the story that I remember the most is, we used to go out every day on an excursion. And one day, the people we had dinner with the night before just didn't go out. And I cornered them at lunch. And I said, where were you this morning? They said, well, we looked at the hill we had to walk up and we didn't think we could make it. And that's been a lesson that has stuck with me. They came back and said, you know, we put off this trip until we felt stronger financially. And now we feel really strong financially, and we have the time available, and we can't walk up the hill.

Kim Schaller06:19

I know. Exactly. That's a great illustration of what I'm talking about. We've gotta do it now.

Ray Loewe06:24

Okay, so give me an example of the kinds of groups that you might travel with. And you know, where do you find these things? How do you get the idea for your next trip?

Kim Schaller06:32

Well, the biggest company that I've worked for is Backroads. And they're headquartered in Berkeley, California, and you just got to And there's trips literally all over the world with all different difficulty levels. So if you're looking for a simpler kind of hiking trip, you do that, but the challenging ones right now are the ones I've been going for. So it keeps me fit. It just keeps me realizing that there's a big world out there. Well, COVID really screwed with me though. I had to cancel two trips during COVID that I was really excited for. But backroads I would really recommend people take a look at that.

Ray Loewe07:07

Well, I would bet you didn't cancel them, you postponed them.

Kim Schaller07:10

I postponed them. But yeah, Machu Picchu was one of them that I was really looking forward to. But it is postponed. Exactly.

Ray Loewe07:18

So when you go on one of these trips, and they say there's hiking on it, how far will you walk a day when you do these things?

Kim Schaller07:25

Well, it depends. Like a challenging trip, you could hike, I don't know, 15 miles a day. But the challenging part is the elevation, the elevation gains. When you did Mont Blanc, we were doing elevation gains of 4,000 feet a day. So you hike up 4,000 feet and down 4,000 feet. So it was the elevation that really gets me, not the distance.

Ray Loewe07:46

So, for you, you know you have to be in shape. But you're telling us also that if you're not in as good shape as you are, there are still trips?

Kim Schaller07:54

There are still trips.

Ray Loewe07:54

Yeah. Okay, so let's take a couple of examples. Now you were talking about Bhutan? Land of Happiness. So give us a couple minutes here.

Kim Schaller08:07

Well, that was one right after I retired, I retired seven years ago. And happy had always been part of my career. I worked for Hershey, and if people know, Hershey Park happiness or Hershey is one of the key brand attributes of Hershey. So I was fascinated with this whole happiness concept. And I heard about Bhutan, where they measure the citizen's happiness versus gross national product. They're less focused on economic factors and more on lifestyle and wellbeing. So that just really intrigued me. So I went there. It's a little tiny country of about 800,000 people between China and India. And it is just a fascinating place. So that's where I went.

Ray Loewe08:49

So when you talk about fascinating now you're mingling with local people, right? And so what makes them.. why are they happy?

Kim Schaller08:57

Well, because they understand that the leadership of the country puts their happiness ahead of economic development. So nature, which is their key, natural resources is the key to Bhutan's success. 70% of the country is still forested. Tourism is a big aspect for them, but they are really trying to manage the level of tourism so life doesn't change too dramatically.

Ray Loewe09:21

You mean, they are actually leaders that want to make you happy?

Kim Schaller09:25

They are leaders that focus on that.

Ray Loewe09:27

Okay, you find some of them for us?

Kim Schaller09:29

Exactly. And they measure it, every two years, they do a survey of the population to see how they're tracking with happiness. And I'll tell you, they're not the happiest country in the world, like Finland and Norway score higher, but they're working at it, which is what I believe is progress.

Ray Loewe09:47

Okay. Now another one. This is one I've always wanted to go to, and I've been on the fringes of this one but Patagonia. So I was down at the bottom of South America, Ushuaia you know, it's kind of where you enter one way to Patagonia but what's Patagonia all about? What do you do when you're there?

Kim Schaller10:07

I hiked. I mean that's basically what did, I hiked. But I was telling you before the best thing about Patagonia is you're in the same time zone it get on a plane and travel 15 hours south but you still don't have to adjust to a different time zone. So you can literally hit the ground running when you get there. Which is what we did, hit the ground hiking.

Ray Loewe10:27

Okay, now you're saying you hiked but you know, when you take these trips that you take, they do portage luggage and things like that. I'm not carrying my two suitcases.

Kim Schaller10:39

Let's be clear. I am not into getting in a tent and sleeping overnight. No, we stay in beautiful hotels unique to the regions. But no, you get in a van and they take you from trailhead to trailhead. And I'm not carrying my bag so we should be clear. I don't want to mislead anybody.

Ray Loewe10:56

Yeah, especially older folk like me. You know, I'm into hiking but I'm also not into camping. You know, my idea of camping is at least a Marriott.

Kim Schaller11:07

I need a bed. Yes.

Ray Loewe11:10

All right, so what enthralled you about Patagonia? Why would I want to go there?

Kim Schaller11:15

I think it truly felt to me otherworldly. It is so spectacularly beautiful. We spent one day just hiking on a glacier, which I think everybody at some point in your life, you need to experience these kinds of things.

Ray Loewe11:29

And Patagonia is where? It's the southern part of Chile?

Kim Schaller11:34

We actually were on the Brazil on that other side, the Argentina side, but we saw the Chilean mountains and they said over across that ridge is Chile. So yeah, we were right there.

Ray Loewe11:45

Okay, how's the wine in those areas?

Kim Schaller11:47

The wine is great. The food is great.

Ray Loewe11:50

We have to get the important things. You know, our engineer is sitting here, thinking you know, hiking is okay. But you know a glass of wine at night is a necessary part of things.

Kim Schaller12:00

And that's the camaraderie and that's how you build the relationships at night to sit and have a glass of wine and just reminisce about your day.

Ray Loewe12:06

Okay, talk about Iceland.

Kim Schaller12:08

And Iceland is so easy to get to from the northeast. I mean, I think if you live in California, it's a whole different thing. But you're there in a quick number of hours, direct flight into Reykjavik. And it was also like the otherworldly places, places that just don't look like anything you see in the US.

Ray Loewe12:27

So I have been to Iceland. And one of the things I remember this is not going to be one of your highlights. There's actually a Pizza Hut in Reykjavik.

Kim Schaller12:35

And there's a McDonald's too which is mortifying.

Ray Loewe12:38

And well, I stay away from that. But we finally got to the point where one night we just had to have a pizza. So we go to this place and the pizza is different. You know, and if you think about it, the pizza is heavy in cheese, light in tomato sauce because goats and cows are readily available but tomatoes? Trying to grow those in the northern climates doesn't work.

Kim Schaller13:00

No, it's all hothouse. They grow everything there.

Ray Loewe13:03

So I take it you have not done the Pizza Hut?

Kim Schaller13:05

No, I have not. I ate and, don't judge me, but I did it because when in Rome, I ate whale, I ate puffin, I ate horse. So, I felt the need to try the things that were to that area. So I tried them. And I'm still here. I did feel bad about the puffin though. Those adorable birds are just everywhere. And I ate one.

Ray Loewe13:31

Okay, I'm gonna let that just kind of sit and dangle here. You know, it's a shame you're not passionate about this travel. Okay, so where else have you been that we have to talk about, and then where haven't you been that you're going next?

Kim Schaller13:48

My next trip is Morocco. That's coming up in the fall. I'm gonna go to Morocco and go to Casablanca, which I'm really excited for. That will be the pretrip, but just hiking out into the desert in Morocco and riding a camel and so that's coming up. I've been to Costa Rica, I've been to Belize, Cartagena. I really like South America, that seems to be a place where I have a lot of interest in.

Ray Loewe14:12

Now what causes that? Just uniquely you think?

Kim Schaller14:18

I don't know. I think maybe I have this sort of anti-Europe thing at this point. Because I feel like I can go to Europe easily as I get older, but I want to go to the places like I was in Columbia, South America. And it's kind of a pretty scary place when you're going through the forest and not knowing what's going to be around the next corner. So it's a fear thing. I'm just, I want to conquer those, and then I feel like I can go to the tamer, calmer, more civilized places.

Ray Loewe14:46

All right. I'm thinking here, you've got my mind going a mile a minute, you know, and I thought I'd been to a lot of places but you've been a lot of places that I haven't been to.

Kim Schaller14:58

That was the goal when I started my travel and again, I didn't start this until after I retired. Because I was like a lot of people, I was a working person, raising a daughter, doing all the more traditional vacations while raising her. You know, Disney World, Turks, and Caicos, Jamaica, like all the things that other people do.

Ray Loewe15:18

Now, how do you stay in shape for this? I mean, do you actually have to a workout routine so that you can take your trips?

Kim Schaller15:24

I do. And I have a big dog, I have a golden retriever, who it's required daily walking with him. So, I do a lot of walking. I bike around Lancaster County, which is just such a beautiful biking destination, but I do have an E-bike. So, full disclosure, I have an E-bike. Just because I want to protect my knees, and I love biking.

Ray Loewe15:46

So okay, let's get into some advice here. So, I think I know that when people listen to this, they're gonna say, oh, my God, where did this lady come from? You know, how did she do this? Why? Why did she do all of these things? So talk a little bit about, and you can structure this towards single females if you want, or you can structure it towards anybody. What's important when you think about your future and how you're doing this, why do people want to get out? How do they get out? What are the things that they have to do?

Kim Schaller16:14

I think, for me, as I said, I was married for 26 years. I just have complete freedom right now. I don't have to compromise. I don't have to share and this might sound like I'm so selfish, but I am just loving this stage of my life. Doesn't mean I want to be alone for the rest of my life. But it just means that I really love the opportunity that I have to do what I want, when I want.

Ray Loewe16:46

Okay, the first trip that you took alone, where was it to?

Kim Schaller16:50

I went to Sevilla, I'd hiked from Granada to Sevilla in Spain. That was my first one.

Ray Loewe16:56

Go to lady.

Kim Schaller16:58

No, I don't think that and I don't think I'm extraordinary in any way. I think this is within every single person. You just have to do it. Because we've got one chance here, we're here once. So if we don't do it now, I don't want to be at the end of my life and just wish I would have done things.

Ray Loewe17:18

Okay, I think that's probably a good place to stop. But we're not going to stop there. I've got one more question. So if you're looking at the world, how many countries do you think you've been in?

Kim Schaller17:29

I don't know. I haven't counted. I need to do that.

Ray Loewe17:32

And how many continents? What continents haven't you been on yet?

Kim Schaller17:37

I haven't been to Australia. I haven't been to New Zealand. I haven't been to Soviet Union. I haven't been there's been a lot of places I haven't been, truly.

Ray Loewe17:48

So, you're gonna live to be 140 years old. So you can get these all in.

Kim Schaller17:52

I'm gonna try.

Ray Loewe17:53

Yeah. And I think that's one of the big lessons that I'm gathering from you is that it's a really big world. And if you want to see any of it, you better get off your tail and get moving too.

Kim Schaller18:03

And get over the fear.

Ray Loewe18:04

All right, we're about out of time. Any last-minute comments before we sign off?

Kim Schaller18:08

No, Ray. And you inspire me too. I mean, you really do, people like you, people need to be listening to people like you.

Ray Loewe18:16

Okay, well, that's a commercial and we'll get you on the social media channels soon. And you can do that. But, you know, thanks so much for being you. And thanks for being here. Because, you know, the luckiest people in the world design their own lives, whatever they are. And in your case, it's obviously built around travel, and it's built around staying fit and healthy. And thanks for being a role model that you are and we're going to have to have you back after the next adventure just to catch up. All right. And let's, let's finish with one thing that emphasizes and I got this from a book a long time ago, and that is that there's no such thing as a bad trip. Only a good story.

Kim Schaller19:00

So true.

Ray Loewe19:01

So, Steve, sign us off, please. Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Thu, 21 Jul 2022 20:39:47 +0000
E115: Up, Up, and Away, Guest, Mary Ann Steinhauer


Intro 00:02

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:18

Hi, everybody, this is Ray Lowe, and welcome to Changing the Rules. You know, this week we're going to do something a little different. We also have been recording podcasts on another network and we had one the other day that is just so good. And it just fits so well with the Changing the Rules network that I have to make it available to you. So, we're going to be talking with a young lady by the name of Marianne, and rather than make a lot of comments, let's just listen to our podcast. Welcome to the willow Valley podcasting channel where exciting podcasts are created by Willow Valley residents, for Willow Valley residents, and about Willow Valley residents. And good morning, everybody. My name is Ray Loewe, and I'm a member of the podcast club here. And I want to welcome everybody to our brand new podcast studios here at Willow Valley communities. And we have an exciting guest today. All right, so I need to kind of set the stage for this because Marianne is on the staff here. She works here; her full name is Mary Ann Steinhauer and I met her because she was running the concierge desk over in the north building. And she was indispensable to me. You know, first of all, she had all my packages and, unless I behaved, I couldn't get them. And second of all, whenever I needed some information about where to go or where something was going on, she's the person who had it. But then the surprise came because I found out that Marianne has hidden talents way beyond what she was doing. And I found out, and I don't remember how the conversation came about, and Marianne, you can fill us in, but I found out that Marianne pilots hot air balloons.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 02:09

It may have been a reference to how I was so full of hot air. And I just jumped right on it.

Ray Loewe02:16

Well, whatever it is, it just changed our whole relationship because I've been fortunate enough that I have been up in a hot air balloon. I've been in a chase car chasing around at other people, who were in a hot air balloon. And I was lucky enough to be at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, where 800 balloons went up in the air at one time and the sky was filled with color and it's absolutely spectacular.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 02:43

It's an amazing event.

Ray Loewe02:45

And then to find out Marianne here actually pilots one of these and so let me ask you a couple of questions before we get into hot air ballooning. Hot air ballooning is only part of Marianne, Marianne actually has a master's degree in elementary education. She has a master's degree in library science and she has been an author of a number of publications. And the other thing that I found interesting in your background is you actually took graduate studies in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. So, why did you do that? And what where did that take you?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 03:25

Well, I've always been fascinated with folklore, folk life, and also storytelling, and what a magnificent place, you know, to be studying that, you know, it was just absolutely amazing. So it was a graduate program for older people because I had already done my other education work. And I just lapped it up. I mean, I just got really, really excited. You know, I'm interested in what people consider really important to continue their traditions and their culture, and it's all through performance and storytelling, the oral tradition, and all of that, that is really, you know, I'm a storyteller.

Ray Loewe04:17

All right, now we're going to have to do another podcast some other day just on that because I think that whole area is phenomenal and, you know, everybody has a story.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 04:28

I believe you're right.

Ray Loewe04:29

Everybody has a story. And the secret is to get it out there. And you know, you're never going to get the story if you don't talk to people. And ever since I started talking to Marianne about what she loves and what she's passionate about, it just makes me have more fun when I go down there. So thank you for that. And let's start with a really important question. So, why in the heck did you ever get interested in hot air ballooning?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 04:59

Wow. The first seeds were planted back when I was teaching at the lab school at Millersville University. And I was with the children out on the playground. And low and behold, here through the sky, we see this beautiful, hot air balloon. And not only did we see it flying, we noticed that it was coming toward us. And it ended up landing in the playground, at the playground. And I, of course, I had all the children were like all excited. And then I had to tell them, you know, you got to really be careful about this, but I was beside myself, I was more excited than they were. And it turns out that, you know, we managed to get safely around the balloon. And what happened was the pilot was stopping to get refueled. Because typically, and I, later on, found this out, that you can fly just so long before you have to stop and get more fuel. And so they were waiting for their chase vehicle to come with more fuel. Okay, so we didn't know this. But I was just I knew right then in there that I really wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. And I said to the children, I'm going to do this someday. And this was back in the 70s.

Ray Loewe06:12

Okay, and, you know, you talk about dancing with the wind. And that's how you feel when you're in the balloon, isn't it?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 06:18

Oh, absolutely. You know, people always ask, like, how do you steer the balloon? Well, really, you are dancing with the wind. And sometimes you, you know, you'll release it. First of all, you have to check the weather. But then you release this helium balloon to see which way the winds go. But then once you're up there, you know, you can take a turn, just because the wind says this is where you're going to go. And I know with the British people, they usually have a can of shaving cream. And when they're in the basket, and they're up aloft, they do a doppel of shaving cream to see which way it goes, then they can tell which way the lower winds are. Now you don't know about the upper winds. But you know, you can start to climb, and you sort of park there and you see where that takes you. Does it take you right? Does it take you left? And, I never had a can of shaving cream, I just spit out of the side and that worked.

Ray Loewe07:18

So that's kind of how you control the balloon, you control it by going up or down and finding the wind that's going kind of in their direction you want.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 07:26


Ray Loewe07:27

So that's why in Albuquerque at the balloon festival, they have these two levels where the balloons go one way at one level and they go up to another level and they go the other way. Is that what goes on?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 07:37

Absolutely. That's what happened. They are dancing with the wind.

Ray Loewe07:41

Incredible. Okay, so how does one get a license to pilot one of these things?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 07:48

Well, first of all, I spent a lot of time as a crew chief. Because my husband at hell she, at the time was very, very interested. He wanted me to take fixed-wing flying lessons. And you know, after the fourth lesson, when I had to stall the plane in the sky, I said, this is not for me. I think I would prefer being in the basket surrounded by this wicker. And I would rather be in a balloon. So, what does it take? Well, I did a lot of crewing and of course, you know what that's like, you have to chase the balloon. And you have to make sure that you handle landowner relations when you're on the ground. And also, you have two-way radios and you let them know, you know that there's there's a field that of course, they can see where the field is. But you sometimes have to clear permission. So I did a lot of crewing. And I would get thrown in the basket every now and then in fly. And I thought you know, I can do this. And before I knew it, I had like 100 hours in the balloon. And I took okay what do you need. And it's not just having the hours you have to be pilot in command, you have to know how the workings of the balloon are. But you also have to take a written test. You have to take an oral test. And just like a driving test, you have to take a test with an examiner, a federal examiner.

Ray Loewe09:14

Oh my. So, do you have to parallel park too?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 09:17

No, but I'll tell you what, you know, one of the things that's an absolute no, you don't want to land where there are horses, and you don't want to land in the middle of cows or any kind of livestock. The Federal examiner that I had for my test, you know, my driving test, and no, I didn't parallel park, but he said why don't you just land here? And I said I'm not landing there. There are cows there. You know, I'm not doing that. And while you know he's talking to me about where I should be landing he was testing me out to see if I could take off and land and do all that. He was messing around with the tanks he was turning the valves of the tank saw. And I looked at him and I slapped his hand and I said, stay away from that! You know, because he was gonna knock my pilot light. But he wanted to see if I was attentive to it. You know, if you have passengers, a lot of times they're touching all kinds of things. And that's a no no.

Ray Loewe10:20

So what do you do when you land someplace like in a farmer's field? That's where you become a diplomat, right?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 10:26

Yes, absolutely. And you hope that your chase crew has already, you know, set up, of course, I did that a lot. But if I was the pilot, you know, you wanted to make sure that it was okay. And most of the time, people love to have you there. And occasionally, we'd stop at an Amish farm. And the Amish men would hop in the basket and we'd give them the second leg of the flight. You know, we'd let them fly and they could see their land. They could see their handiwork in a way that they never could before.

Ray Loewe11:00

You know, you are a storyteller, aren't you? Okay, and what a great story. And you know, when I went hot air ballooning, the one time I was up in a balloon, we had a bottle of champagne with us. And, a basket with foods so that if we landed in a farmer's field, you know, we could we could have like a picnic and celebrate?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 11:00

Yes, well, yes. I know, when flying in France, they really love to have the wine and the champagne. But you have to understand that if you're the pilot, there is no alcohol, from you know, bottle to throttle. And you only have that once you land. And you have the food and the party and I love that part of it, too.

Ray Loewe11:44

Okay, so before we get into some of your adventures, I know our listeners are gonna want to know what one of these things cost.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 11:54

Well, when people asked me that, I mean, there's more than just the balloon, there's a basket and the tanks. And then there, the beautiful, artistic piece. It's called the envelope. And it's made of ripstop, nylon and some fireproof, you know, portions of it, where the flame goes. To answer your question, I always say it is like the cost of a car, like a luxury, nice luxury car. And the thing is, once you have the basket and your tanks and everything, you can fly with the envelope for so long. After how many hours you get on it, and over time, because it's heated up a lot, and it's put down and it goes through a lot, it gets porous. And so you know, a new balloon is really tight, like a new car. And you could always just change, you know, just get a new envelope, design a new envelope, and that's another cost, but you also need a chase vehicle. You need a fan to put cold air in. You need radios. You need little helium balloons. There's all kinds of equipment that you need before you even go out to a launch field and start the inflation.

Ray Loewe13:18

All right. So tell me you had to design your balloon at least once in your life. So when you design your first balloon, how do you design it? Would did you put on it?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 13:28

Well, first of all, we started out with a used balloon that had quite a few hours on it. And we knew that it was going to be good for us to learn how to fly and to have our instruction. But when it came time to actually designing our envelope, my husband really felt that we were flying in Lancaster County. So he designed a map, an outline of Lancaster County, and it was a yellow map and he had a red rose in the center so that people knew we were from Lancaster County. And then on my side of the balloon, I asked that they do the flying horse, Pegasus, which is a beautiful white flying horse. And whenever I'd see her coming up over the hill, you know, people would see this beautiful Pegasus, and Pegasus is definitely a symbol of inspiration and creativity. So it held a lot of meaning for me.

Ray Loewe14:23

Alright, I think you're more than a storyteller. I think you're a poet too. Okay, I mean, it's great. I can just see having so much fun with this. You know, first of all, being aloft is quiet, you know, except when that darn blast of propane takes off. And you just get these magnificent views. You know if people that are listening to this have never been up in a hot air balloon, you have to do this at some prime in your life. And you also have to be in the chase car because that's an adventure too.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 14:55

Oh, it is, it's a lot of fun.

Ray Loewe14:56

So, let's talk about some of the great places you've been, and let me give a list that you gave me, and then you pick the one that you want to talk about first. Okay?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 15:05


Ray Loewe15:05

So you were in Austria flying in a balloon, you were in Costa Rica, you were in Spain, you were in Japan, you were in Leningrad. And then who knows where else in the United States you've been. All right. So pick one, and tell us what the appeal was, what the adventure was, and be a storyteller and a poet.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 15:25

Well, let me tell you. Oh, my goodness, alright, you mentioned Albuquerque, and I'm going to tell you about a time we were flying in Austria, and we didn't have our balloon, a lot of times, there's a network of balloons, ballooners, balloonists around the world. And so if we would be invited to fly in a particular country, there would be balloonists who would lend us their balloons, and then they would come to the United States, and we would reciprocate. So, it was a very, very nice thing. So we were in Austria, we were flying this particular balloon. And we were going over cows and churches and whatnot. And so I thought, well, let's see if we can just land here in this churchyard. And we came through and landed there and all of a sudden, I hear this brass music from a brass band. And I'm thinking, where is that coming from? I mean, this is a church, and out comes this band of Austrian brass trumpet, trombone, and tuba players, and they are serenading this balloon. You know, they were so excited. And they said to us, oh, you know what, we want to come to Albuquerque, you know, and I'm thinking yeah, well, we were rarely at Albuquerque, you know? And I thought, yeah, right, I will never see them. And so later on that year, we were in Albuquerque, and I was there early early morning. We get started at four o'clock in the morning, and we're out in the field. And of course, there's all these stands that are selling breakfast burritos and whatnot. And there are tents set up. And all of a sudden, I hear brass music coming from one of the tents. And lo and behold, it was the brass band that greeted us when we were in Austria. And they recognize me and I recognize them. And it was like a grand reunion.

Ray Loewe17:22


Mary Ann Steinhauer 17:23

They were they said they were going to come to Albuquerque. And they did. They did.

Ray Loewe17:27

Alright, we're getting near the end of our time, but pick one of the other places that you've been, and tell some other story.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 17:35

Well, I'll tell you, I should talk about Costa Rica, because we were friends with the Minister of Trade of Costa Rica, and his job was to bring new businesses into Costa Rica. And this was a number of years ago, he contacted the ballooning company that made the balloons in the United States and his name was drawn Luis Escalante and he was definitely interested in getting more flights from Florida to Costa Rica from American Airlines. So he thought it might be a great idea to have a balloon that had the American Airlines logo on it, it would be great publicity. Well, my husband and I and our girls went to Costa Rica on two occasions. And we were in charge of teaching Don Luis how to fly this balloon. It was designed and it had the American Airlines on it. But I mean, what we saw, while we were there, the people were so friendly. There was flowers and beautiful plants everywhere and macaws flying in pairs. So I would see things like that, you know, and I thought, oh my gosh, this is really fantastic. Anyway, we came to the point where the training had gone so far, and it's time to do a solo flight. So Don Luis had to do a solo flight. Now you have to understand, his father-in-law also had a sugar plantation. And so we were flying, and actually over the plantation. And I, you know, I said, Don Luis, you can do this solo flight. This is really good. You know, I was on the chase vehicle. Ed was there, you know, so there we were, and he's getting ready to come in for his landing, actually on the plantation. And I thought this was really wonderful. And then all of a sudden, I hear the clanging of the tanks in the back of the pickup truck. And I looked at the power lines, and I saw that they were undulating. And so finally he landed, and the earth started to move. We were having an earthquake. I couldn't believe it. I mean, it actually happened at that moment when he was landing. And I said, Don Luis, that was a hell of a landing! I could not believe it!

Ray Loewe20:03

So welcome to Adventures in Costa Rica. And, you know, we're gonna do another one of these if I can get your attention later because the stories can go on I'm sure. Okay, but before we sign off, your daughter is also a hot air balloonist, isn't she?

Mary Ann Steinhauer 20:19

Oh, yes, my older daughter, the younger daughter never really cared for it. But the older daughter definitely took to it. And she's highly competitive. She actually competes all around the world right now. I mean, she lives in Colorado but she was in Lithuania, she's qualifying for the Women's Championship. And I think it's going to happen in Australia.

Ray Loewe20:45

You know, when you compete, what does that entail? Because you don't have control over where the balloon is going.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 20:51

No, but you do map your course. And there's always a big x at one of the fields. And the whole idea is to be able to fly over that X in your balloon and toss a beanbag that has your balloon number on it. And the closest you get to the center of the X, you're definitely you know, the winner or you get the ranking. But there's also a hare and hound. So there's a hare balloon that leads the way and whoever can fly closest, and land in the same place that the hare does, the Hound is the winner. I mean, so there's those kinds of competitions.

Ray Loewe21:40

So who knew, right? So again, you know, we're at the end of our time and Maryanne Steinhauer has been our guest, and she's opened up this whole world of hot air ballooning to us and she's available, stop at the North desk some time and if you're lucky, you'll see her.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 21:59

I do want to read one thing as we close.

Ray Loewe22:02

Okay, go ahead.

Mary Ann Steinhauer 22:03

That is called the balloonist prayer. The winds have welcomed you softly. The sun has blessed you with her warm hands. You have flown so well, and so high that God has joined you in your laughter and then gently set you back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Ray Loewe22:24

There's nothing more to say. So Luke, sign us off, please. Thanks for listening. And be sure to listen again next week. And every week when we'll have another exciting guest. I hope you enjoyed this. This is something we're going to do from time to time, and I think you can certainly see why our guest is one of the luckiest people in the world. So listen again next week and, Luke, sign us off.

Outro 22:58

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 15 Jul 2022 20:21:18 +0000
E114: Everyone has a Story, We Just have to take the Time to Listen, Guest Sky Bergman

Guest: Sky Bergman

Sky's Website:


Intro 00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:18

Good morning, everybody. My name is Ray Loewe, I am the luckiest guy in the world. And I'm sitting here with Luke Cagno. Luke is our engineer here and in our brand new studios in Lancaster, actually in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. And we have an incredible guest today, she has been with us before, and we're gonna get an exciting update. But before we get there, I want to remind everybody that what we try and do on this podcast is to interview one of the luckiest people in the world every week. And the luckiest people in the world are people who take control of their lives so that they can live them under their own terms. And when they do that, they're happier, they're more fulfilled, and they just seem to just never want to retire. They just keep going on and on and on and on. And the name on our show, changing the rules as a component of that. Because all through our lives, we're saddled with rules that everybody else gives us, our schools, our parents, our teachers, our jobs. And, it was Steve Jobs I think that said, you know, when you're living your life under your own under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life. And you find that the our luckiest people in the world changed the rules to make it work for them. So this morning, I want to welcome Skye Bergman. Now Sky, used to be a professor of film and videography. She's going to give us an update on what happened there. She came out with an exciting film that was a complete success. And she's going to tell us a little bit about that. And then she's going to tell us about a new project that she's working on that we're all going to get excited about. So Sky, say hello, and give us a little background about what's going on in your life.

Sky Bergman02:10

Hey Ray, thanks so much for having me. And it's really nice to be back on the show again. Great. So yeah, you know, I'm was lucky enough by as you mentioned, I was a professor of photography and video at Cal Poly State University. I taught photography for 30 years, and this past December, I decided that I was going to retire from that job not retire altogether, but retire from that job. So it would open up a space for me to have time to do all these passion projects that I'm working on. One of which, of course, was a live life film, which started with my grandmother, who at the age of 100, was still working out at the gym. And I was looking at approaching 50 and trying to figure out who my positive role models were going to be. And of course, there was my grandmother right in front of me. And I spent four years interviewing 40 people that were 75 and older with a collective life experience of 3000 years and put a film together called lives well lived. And it has as you mentioned and very successful, we had a great theatrical run with it, it's airing on PBS now. So if you're a PBS Passport member, you can find it or you can actually on Amazon and iTunes and on shop PBS it blows my mind. Because here's this little film that started with a love of my grandmother and has done super well. And you know, really, since then, I think one of the things that I really have wanted to do and become an advocate for our intergenerational connections and projects. And for me, I was lucky that I had my grandparents that were around me, I lived with my grandparents for a while even my great-grandmother was alive for many years until I was 19. I had her in my life and I kind of took for granted that I had this wonderful intergenerational connections and ties. And many, many people don't have that. And so that's kind of become my passion is to connect generations through share stories. And I'm really pleased that PBS Learning Media now has a whole learning module up for K through 12 teachers that they can plug and play into their classrooms using some of the snippets of the lives well lived film, and a whole you know, curriculum of how they can Cal students can connect with older adults. And the more that we do that the better the world is going to be. So I'm really pleased with where things have gone.

Ray Loewe04:33

So So let's back up a little bit because I think it started with this film that's what allowed your passions to escape into the world. Okay. I know from the last interview that we did with you, I got one really strong thing from you. And that let me quote you on this and maybe it's not an exact quote, so you can correct me but basically, you said most of us like to believe that the human race has come a long way over the past century. And in one respect it has, but in another respect, what we've missed over the last 100 years is we're not talking to our older generation and capturing their wisdom and their values. And you know, when you did your film, and by the way, if you haven't seen Sky's, film, you need to do this. It's not a real long film, and you just not need to see it, because it will lay out for you. Not just through Sky and her vision through the camera, but through the lives of other people that believe in living life. And we need to start to capture this wisdom from people. So I remember, well, let's go back and talk about the film because it was successful. It was aired on PBS, it's still there. It's in all of these other places. But one of the other things that happened if I remember right, is you got hit with this, the film was released in the middle of COVID.

Sky Bergman06:04

Yeah, it well, we had our theatrical release before COVID. But then we were doing our community and educational screenings right in the midst of COVID. And what was wonderful was that we were ready to do virtual screenings and have virtual q&a. And in fact, I think that COVID, because of the issues that were facing older adults, and because of you know, that was certainly in the news that COVID was really affecting older adults, that's primarily really the biggest, I guess, group that were being affected in was the older adults. And so it became an issue that was to the forefront, like, let's talk about the stories of these older adults and the people that were losing and what that means and that generation. And so really, you know, the world became very flat during COVID. And people were very willing to do and meet through Zoom through Google meets and online and a way that didn't happen as much before. So I was busier than ever. And then I had been working already doing intergenerational projects, with universities and high schools and older adults, either senior centers or assisted living facilities, and was lucky enough that I had a colleague at Cal Poly, who Sarah Bartlett, who was teaches the psychology of aging class. And we've been doing this projects together for over a year at that point. And we pivoted very quickly to do it online. So we work with Senior Planet, which is part of AARP, and made it happen made these connections happen, even though everybody was shut-in. And it was probably more important than ever, because, of course, the two groups that were the loneliest during the pandemic, were older adults and students. And so we brought those two groups together. And what a gift that was for both groups of people.

Ray Loewe07:54

Yeah. And it allows you to be international all of a sudden without getting on airplanes, right?

Sky Bergman08:00

Yeah. Which is pretty nice, especially these days of their travel.

Ray Loewe08:03

Yeah. Now, if we go back to our last discussion a little bit, one of the highlights that I picked up again, you were talking about one of your students, James, and I think I'd like you to talk about it again if you're willing to do that because it has to do with how do you talk to our elders? So

Sky Bergman08:24

Sure, yeah, well, so when I would, when I would interview the people for the film because I'm a teacher, I would always try and take a student with me more just to kind of learn from that experience. And I had this one, student assistant, his name was James, really sweet young man. And we interviewed two people in one day. One of them was Lucky Willie, for those of you that haven't seen the film Lucky Willie is vivacious. He makes he was a practicing pediatrician for 50 years in this town, and then made Mr. Ellis for his daughter's deli fresh rolls every morning, and really amazing guy. So we went over there and interviewed him. And, of course, he just is so funny. And we were laughing. We had a great time. And James and I went out to lunch afterwards. And James said to me, in all seriousness, wow, I didn't realize that older people could talk so much, you know, just kind of struck me because like I said, I grew up with my grandparents. And of course, they can talk a lot if you listen. And, and I said to him, Well, James, Don't you have anyone in your life? There's an older adult, and he said, Well, I have a grandfather, but you know, we really, he doesn't live near me. And we don't see him that much. And we don't really talk and it just so happened that it was right before Thanksgiving, and he was getting ready to go home. And of course, the whole family was gathering including his grandfather. And I said to him, James, your homework assignment because he was still my student at the time. Your homework assignment is I want you to take these questions that we just asked like Lucky Willie, and I want you to ask those questions of your grandfather. And it was so wonderful, he came back from that trip, grinning from ear to ear. And it was, you know, he didn't know how to open up that dialogue with his grandfather same thing his grandfather didn't really know how to how to communicate. But having a framework of those questions, it was so wonderful. And it allowed them both to open up and have a relationship that they really never had before. And so that's one of the things that we do when we do these intergenerational projects is we give the students and the older adults a framework of questions to start from, and then where they go off from there, and what tangents they go on is fine. But I think, in doing that, what you realize is that, you know, all the students will say, and the older adults are, they have far more in common than their differences, and the only differences really their age. And I think that like with any stereotype or any ism, you know, you can have that stereotype or that ism until you meet somebody from that other group. And then once you have a friend in that other group, those stereotypes and those isms start disappearing. So I feel like in many ways, what we're doing with these intergenerational projects is really combating the stereotypes of ageism, one story in one connection at a time, and ageism works in both directions. There are older people that have stereotypes about young people and vice versa. So it's really lovely to break down those barriers and to bring those two groups together,

Ray Loewe11:18

ya know, do you have those questions on a website or something like that, or some of them so that people can get started and having conversations?

Sky Bergman11:26

Absolutely, there is a place on our website that's called shared stories. And I should say, our website is Or if you just Google lives well lived, it'll be the first thing that comes up. And there's a place where people could actually share their stories. And the questions are there because I realized I had to stop interviewing people at 40. Or I would never have gotten the film done, how I wanted to be inclusive, and continue collecting people's stories. There's also if you go to the take action part of the website, there's some information about the intergenerational work that we're doing and a discussion guide for the film. And in that discussion guide, there are the questions as well.

Ray Loewe12:01

Okay, so let's talk about this new project because this is where your passions are going now, are you going to make another film first?

Sky Bergman12:10

Well, I do have an idea for another film because I love the intergenerational connection. So I did make a short film, which I'm trying to make into a half an hour film, hopefully for PBS as well, which is called mochi suki. And it's the tradition of that Japanese have of making mochi to bring in the new year. And I love there's a family here actually Suzie, who's in my film, her family gets together every year. And they make Mochi. And it's like 150 people, all different generations. And I love that idea of tradition, stories, and food all coming together those things are so wonderful. So that might be the beginning of a new series where I talk about different foods and different cultures and how they come generations come together through that. But of course, I'm still working on, you know, doing these intergenerational connections through the Lives Well Lived film. And now I'm writing a book, which will kind of be a companion guide to the film, and also talk about how you can bring these intergenerational projects to your Community Corporation educational institution. So that's, that's keeping me pretty busy these days.

Ray Loewe13:15

Okay, so let's take a minute and kind of define for us what this intergenerational project is. I mean, that's, that's a big word. And I have no idea what the context is. So kind of, you know, set set a stage, what are we talking about?

Sky Bergman13:30

Sure. I mean, there's lots of different intergenerational connections and projects that happen. The one that we've been doing with the film, is that we show the film to a group of older adults into students so that they can view it together. And then we have kind of a discussion afterward with that group of students and older adults. And it sets a framework of, first of all, the older adults think, wow, this could be interesting to tell my story. And the students think, wow, this can be interesting to find out about the story of these older adults. Because in the film, you see people that are at a younger age, and you see them throughout their lifetime in their history. And I think that that really helps to put it into some context. And then the students and older adults are given the questions that I used, I had 20 questions that I asked everyone in the film as a starting point. So they're given those questions to use to get to know each other, they meet three or four times during a period of either a quarter or semester, depending on the educational institution. And then at the end, there's a big wrap party where the students talk about what they learned the older adults too, do as well, but the students really have to put together kind of like a memoir and something to give to the older adults. So it's a big wrap party at the end. And it's just been such a wonderful project. I mean, I would say that there are a number of students and older adults that stay in touch after this project. In fact, I just heard from one of the older adults that a student who had just graduated reached out to her and said, wow, you have no idea just graduated from college. You have no idea what an impact this project had on me and my career and let's stay in touch. You know, that's so heartwarming to know. Because we as teachers don't always hear that so it's nice when we find out that these things keep happening and that those relationships last beyond just the confines of a classroom or the time that's satisfied.

Ray Loewe15:10

Yeah. Now you had the opportunity to interview your own parents or your father as part of the film, too. And, why don't you tell us what you want to tell us about that?

Sky Bergman15:20

Yeah, well, so my dad recently passed away, as Ray knows that he had a massive stroke. And he was a practicing geriatric physician, right up until the day before he had a stroke. He was 79, almost 80. And, you know, it was great to interview him, because one of the questions that I asked everyone is, what do you think about your own mortality? And I think, as a daughter, it would have been a little bit, I would have felt a little awkward asking that question. I think in this society, we really don't talk about death or dying or mortality. But in the context of being an interviewer, it felt natural to just ask that question. And, honestly, my dad, and I had one of the best conversations that we've ever had. And when he did have a stroke, and things were happening, rapid-fire, I knew what his wishes were, and it made it much easier to go through that moment in time. And I think what a gift it was to both of us, that we have that conversation, and that his wishes were very clear. And, you know, I knew what was happening was okay, and it just, I think, the more that we can have these conversations, and the more that we can ask people questions, the better. And one of the questions I asked everyone was, do you have any regrets? And the biggest regret that people had, was not asking somebody a question who had passed away. So don't wait, because we think we have all this time and it can be gone in a fleeting second, I feel so grateful that I have that interview with my dad. It's just, you know, precious.

Ray Loewe16:42

Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Because I know it's an emotional issue. But I think it's so important because we don't talk to our parents especially. And, I regret, I never knew my grandparents, I never talked to them, I, I didn't even spend the time with my own parents to really find out who they are. And they're not here anymore. And I can't do that. So I think the importance of the work that you're doing about talking to other people is just so so important, and especially with your family. So again, thanks for sharing, any other comments that you want to make about the work that you're doing and where you're going, and what you hope to achieve?

Sky Bergman17:22

Well, I would just say to everyone out there, most importantly, everyone has a story to tell if we take the time to listen, we are so often on our devices, and not paying attention to each other and just put the devices away and really listen and talk to your loved ones. Talk to people, you know, reach out to people of different generations, make those things happen. I think that that's so vitally important. And if anyone is interested in reaching out to me and finding out how they can do a screening, or set up an intergenerational project, my email is, or you can find me on the website. Again, that's And, you know, very accessible and very willing to help and, and look for my book, which I hope will come out in May of next year. Maybe you'll have me back on when the book comes out. We'll do something made for Older Americans Month in 2023.

Ray Loewe18:17

And thanks so much for sharing because this is so important. And one of the things we don't do is we don't talk to people. So thanks again for sharing. Thanks again for being with us. And Sky, thanks again for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Because you certainly are following your passion. And you certainly have found a way to make it happen, haven't you?

Sky Bergman18:38

Absolutely. And I would say to anyone, you know, follow your passion. And also when you're working on a project and more personal the word universal, who would have thought that something that started out of a love of my grandmother would end up on PBS. And so you know, don't let those voices in your mind when you're working on a project. Go for it. Just go for it. You never know where it will take you

Ray Loewe19:00

and thanks so much for being with us. And we'll see you again when the book comes out guaranteed. All right, have a great day. And thanks everybody for being with us and Luke signing off.

Outro 19:12

Thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 8 Jul 2022 16:59:45 +0000
E113: Bringing History to Life through Cartoons, Guest Patrick Reynolds


Intro 00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Patrick Reynolds 00:11

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to changing the rules and we have an incredible guest with us today. But before we let him on the air, I want to give you a little background, you know, we try every week to interview one of the luckiest people in the world. And the luckiest people in the world are those people who don't let everybody else control their lives, they figure out what they want, and they somehow figure a way to go do it. And you're gonna see how our guest meets those specs today. And the other thing I wanted to comment on is the name of our show is changing the rules. And the reason for that is all through our lives were given rules by everybody. Okay? When you start, your parents give you a set of rules. And then the schools give you a set of rules, and the Church gives you a set of rules and your boss gives you a set of rules. Before you know it, you got so many rules. And What rules do is two things. They tell you have to do this, or you can't do this. So the people who are independent and who become the luckiest people in the world have found a great way of changing the rules so that they get the freedom to be themselves. And today we have with us a young man, Patrick Reynolds, who is I think the best way to describe him is a historical cartoonist. So Patrick, say hello. And you can tell me that I was wrong and how he described you. Oh, hello, Ray. That's kind of accurate. I have a cartoonist that does historical subjects of places or people that you've never heard of. Or if you're familiar with them, something about them that's never known.

Ray Loewe02:01

So you found the interesting way of doing things. So you weren't always free to be you though. Warrior. Correct. So let's go back a little bit. When you are early in your life, you realize you had this flair for cartooning? Is that correct? Right. When I was a kid, and you developed it and when you had a chance to go to college or trade school, or whatever it is. You went to learn how to be a better cartoonist first.

Patrick Reynolds 02:27

I wanted to be an artist. And my hobby was artwork, okay. It would be great if I can make a living out of my hobby. So I made that decision to be an artist and I had a mentor, if you will in my hometown, who was a very accomplished artist, and I asked what's the best art school in our country? I can go to what I'm missing a beat. He says Pratt Institute, little known to me that is in the middle of Brooklyn, New York right next to the Bet Sty neighborhood. Okay. But you got through that you live through the experience. Okay, so, so early in your life. Okay. When you came out of Pratt, what did you do? I became an art director for an advertising agency in Scranton. It was sort of like getting my master's degree if you will. There's the whole thing. We can't hire you unless you have experience. So how can I get experienced? So this was it. So I stayed there a year and then I became an art director at an ad agency in Harrisburg. And I worked there for a year and then finally, the draft board caught up with me and says, you're not getting any more deferments. You have two months to make a decision. Otherwise, we will draft you. So I went in the army.

Ray Loewe03:49

Okay. And interesting. You were in intelligence in the army. Correct, Right. And it tells you something about cartoonists, doesn't it? And, you did some really interesting things. You did some aerial surveillance, and, you know, make a long story short, I understand you want up to the Bronze Star. I understand you left the Army Reserves as a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Right. Right. So this was a big part of your life. And I know you were telling me some stories when we were kind of prepping for this about how you actually wound up doing some drawing while you were doing this stuff. And, putting Mickey Mouse's on the flags just to keep yourself entertained and stuff like that. But rather than spending time there, I want to go on because I think the rest of your career was just absolutely phenomenal. I don't want to spend the time there. So you left the army. Right, and what did you do?

Patrick Reynolds 04:45

I got a job as an artist up in Schenectady for General Electric. I always want to say generous electric But General Electric. And that got me back on my feet in the art business. This. And from there, I became advertising manager of the host farm here in Lancaster. That's how I ended up in Lancaster.

Ray Loewe05:08

Okay, now I understand host farm is significant because you learned two things there that took over your career, right?

Patrick Reynolds 05:16

Oh, well really one thing from the my boss, I still have to make up the rate brochures to tell what it will cost to stay there for at a particular holiday. And I would add matchups and what's going to cost with the type of room. And then I would get it printed out and bring it to my boss, the manager. And he'd look at it. And he'd say, I want price to visit idiot-proof. idiot-proof, what are you talking about? He says, I want it so that any idiot can look at this and not have any questions, they'll understand everything you're trying to tell them. And that became one of the keys to my writing style. Okay. And there was something else that came out of there a while ago, I'm not going to match it up correctly. But it had to do something you didn't know, oh, I worked for the after I worked for host farm, I got a job as the public relations Information Specialist for the state tourism bureau where we promoted tours around the country. And I would look at what other states are doing. And I figured I want to do what they're not doing. And 1973-74 Halloween time. And I came up with a concept of, of a tour of haunted places in the state of haunted places you can visit. And the story got picked up by the New York Daily News front page of their travel section. And a couple of months later, I met the editor of the Travel section. I said what did I do, right? And he says, you told me something I didn't know. So when I came up with my cartoons, I decided to do with a one on Pennsylvania. And it would consist of stories from history that people never heard of, or even thought about.

Ray Loewe07:17

So here we are, we're doing something we didn't know. And the cartoons gave you a medium to make them idiot-proof. Right? Well, welcome to your own world, Patrick. So this led you on a career so so go back. And there was a point in time when you took off on your own because I think you got fed up with the bureaucracy. And you had this creativity that you wanted to run but I think you told me a story of that dealt with the bicentennial. And taking off to Boston and seeing something about Yankee something or other in the newspaper. So amplifying in that.

Patrick Reynolds 07:57

I was a member of the Society of America travel writers. And we had our convention in 1975 in several cities, and one of the first one was Boston. And on Sunday morning, right after the that previous Saturday night, I was in my hotel room and I watched this TV show you just came on Saturday Night Live 1975. Anyway, the next morning, I pick up the Boston Globe, and they had a cartoon, it was on their front page called Yankee almanac. It was a whimsical treatment of Massachusetts Bay Colony history for back in the 1600. And I said that is the coolest idea ever seen, I could do something like that for Pennsylvania. And at the time I was bucking for promotion to be our director of my bureau. At the time, I had delusions of grandeur. And so I did three of them. And one of them had to do with the July 3 and three significant events and PA and places that you would visit such as Gettysburg. Another one was on the mammoth fossil found in Pennsylvania, which is on display at the State Museum, on and on. So I did these three gave them to the higher up and didn't hear from them. And then what they did was they hired a guy from Virginia for the job that I wanted. And I thought I'm not long for this job. So he came to me and said, the powers that be were impressed by your comic strips, how long is it going to take to do one of them things? I said to myself, I'm not going to give this to the state. I'm keeping this for me. So I said four days a week, you know, wow, that's a lot to do. I said, Look, you're the boss. I'm going to do what you direct me to do and what you want done, I said but I'd like to do this on my own time. Therefore, I'd like you to get a letter of understanding from the powers that be that I can do this on my own time and sell it to the newspapers. And next day come back with a letter of understanding. And that's how it started. For there, I marketed to all the newspapers, I can in the state, I ended up getting picked up by 20 newspapers. But none of them were in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, one of these papers now became a Pittsburgh paper. But that was long, many long years later. So I did that for a couple of years. But still, I got I had time. Oh, after that cartoon started, it took me two years to leave my state job, because I came out with books on it. And the books sold fantastically, which I printed myself, by the way. And so after two years, I forgot I could make this on my own. So now you emerge as one of the luckiest people in the world. Right? Exactly. Because now you're doing your passion. Right. And there are two passions that I detect. One is cartooning. And the other is these historic events that you pick up. And you can make come to life for people, right? As if you're there. And you could do this and figure out how to get paid for it without putting up with the bureaucracy of the state of Pennsylvania, or somewhere. Exactly. Great. All right. So now we know why you were dealing with the luckiest people in the world. So over the years, what are some of the best topics that you uncovered? You mentioned the haunted houses, but what are some of the other ones that you found fascinating that you were able to turn into comics so that everybody could understand they were idiot-proof? And we tell people something new? Right, right. Well, sometimes I try to tie them in with a current event. For example, January 6, last year, the raid on the US Capitol, I got an idea of a different type of a mass gathering in Washington, one of the first ones and that was the Bonus Army that took place in 1932. What the bonus was, was Congress passed an act in 1924. That gave a bonus to every soldier that served in World War One. And that bonus was going to be paid in 1946. So at the time, in the 1920s, people were making a living, it was a great time. And then the Depression hit. Now, half these veterans, several million of them are destitute, their farms are being repossessed by the banks. So Washington had to do something. We need that money now not 1946. So Wright Patman from Texas voted in favor of it, but no one went along with it. The House passed, the Senate wouldn't. So a couple of guys, one guy in particular in Oregon, decided to march on Washington. So how are they gonna get that had no money. So what they did was they hitchhiked or they hop on freight trains. And they got as far as and this made the news. So other veterans from the rest of the country said we're gonna do the same thing. So they started hitchhiking and train hopping, trying all converging on Washington, DC, eventually, 20,000 veterans showed up and waited for the pressured Congress to and they're very organized, by the way, since these are military. And we're gonna stay. The chief of police got them to stay in some of the abandoned buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue because PA Avenue was being rebuilt. So what it looks like today. So where do you find this stuff? I read a lot. Okay, read a whole lot. And by the way, I've been doing this long before the way hadn't Google and stuff like that. Okay, so give me another example. So that's something I didn't know. Okay. And I think I understand it. So give me something else. Well, I got I gotta tell you the kicker on the Bonus Army, okay. They Congress voted against it. And it was dead. So half the veterans left DC the other half stayed there. And most a lot of them settled in in camps, and Anacostia, which is across the Anacostia River, and, and several many 1000s were there and he built their own shacks. Some of them lived out of their own jalopy cars. And when they refused to leave, President Hoover gave the word to his Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur to get rid of them, and General MacArthur along with his, Adjutant Major Dwight Eisenhower, when it's action, and they organize the two troops of squadrons of cavalry, and a one, two battalions of infantry to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and just kick everybody out. The infantry carried tear gas. The cavalry carried sabers. Commanding one of the squadrons was Captain George Patton. They eradicated everybody and he ended up burning all or setting fire to all the stuff at Anacostia. So it ended in a disaster. And when this hits the news, Franklin Roosevelt in his home in Hyde Park was the Democratic candidate for president that year. He just sat there told his aide, we don't have to campaign anymore. Wow, just lost it. Wow. So this is the core kind of story that you tried to tell in your publications. Is that right? Right, right. Okay. So, unfortunately, we're getting near the end of our time, and I want to hit something because you're kind of at the end of your publication experience. You told me you're going to retire. I don't believe that. But we'll assume that you're correct for the moment. What are you going to do and writing about your life and your history? And you I think you said that we're for events, you're gonna have to give us a short version here. But go ahead. My editors asked me the question, are you gonna do a special goodbye, and I says, Look, I not only write history, but I've lived through force. I consider four significant events in American history. The first one, I was a senior at Pratt, I was given a freelance job to help this woman in her business. Her name was Melee Dufty, a renowned civil rights leader, who owned a booking company for burlesque acts in black burlesque theaters across the country. And she needed someone to work on her book, which is a page-by-page bio of each person, I had to do the lettering on it. So I can free her up so she can make phone calls all over the country to bus companies. And these bus companies were gonna meet at churches, black churches throughout the country, and carry people to Washington DC for the 1963 march on Washington. At one point, I asked her the dumbest question in my life. I said, Do you think you're gonna get many people to show up? She says you'll see. And that summer 1000s I think over a million people showed up to listen to Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. Then during when I was in the Army active duty to participate in the Tet offensive of 1968. As a reservist in the army, I was activated to my company was activated that I commanded to take part in the rescue mission of from Agnes, the Agnes flood that day to Pennsylvania. And the last one was after the TMI accidents. I got a phone call from the public relations director of TMI. That's Three Mile Island Right Three Mile Island, the nuclear plants. And the what happened was the nuke the core of the one reactor virtually melted. And he called me and he says, are you comfortable with coming onto TMI? I said are you going to pay me? I'll be there. The job I had was to interpret engineer schematics, which I had experience in before, and making them into illustrations of these tools that they're going to use to break apart the core, and then pick up the pieces. I did maybe a dozen of these things. And they made a video out of it. And they never used the video because they've decided not to go into the core at all. So there's the fourth TMI accident.

Ray Loewe19:21

Okay, so amazing. Okay. And, you know, all I can say is welcome to the world of the luckiest people in the world. You're there, okay? We're going to have to do an encore to this because I just see the list of stories here. You can go on and on and on forever, probably. And I think the lesson that we hope people learn is, you know when you get frustrated in your career, you know, think find that key, find how you can use your passion and go off and become one of the luckiest people in the world. And, Patrick, thanks so much for being here. And Luke, sign us off and we'll see everybody next week. week

Outro 20:03

thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Thu, 30 Jun 2022 16:00:27 +0000
E112: Medical Advancement in the Diagnosis of IBS, Guest Dr. Mike Stierstorfer

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer Website:



Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Good morning, everybody. And welcome to changing the rules. Changing the rules is a weekly podcast where every week we try and highlight what we think is one of the luckiest people in the world. So the luckiest people in the world are people who redesign their own lives, under their own terms and live them the way they want. And they're usually people who think outside of the box when they address problems and issues. And they don't, they're not constrained to the rules of life. You know, one of the things that we find is that all through our lives were given rules that we're supposed to live with. And we're given them by our parents, and then by the schools. And sometimes we get saddled with so many rules that they become barriers to doing what we want to do and what we need to do. And we have with us today, one of the luckiest people in the world, and you're gonna see that he just attacks problems in an entirely different way. He doesn't let himself be constrained by the norms. And because of that, he has successes that other people don't have. So, Mike, Mike Stierstorfer did I pronounce that right today, Mike? You did. That's amazing in itself. Okay. But welcome to changing the rules. And let me give people a little background on you. I found out something unusual. I live in a little town called Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And I asked Mike if he had heard about it. Then he said, Well, I have to go to school there. He went to Franklin and Marshall. So he knows more about this place than I do. And then he went from there on to Temple to get his MD and set up his own practice as a dermatologist, which is really interesting, because of the work he's doing is an entirely different area. And he's been on the staff at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital for a long time teaching interns, teaching residents, is that correct? Mike? Dermatology residents? Yes. Okay, so so he's got incredibly great credentials for what he's doing. And so let's start off, Mike with an event that occurred, I think, was on July 3, 2008.

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 02:39

That was the exact day that it happened. And I remember it so well because it was a beautiful day, the day before Fourth of July. And I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. And within an hour or so after lunch, I started getting an upset stomach, some nausea, and belly pain. And I assumed it was from something I had just eaten and that it would go away by the next day like things usually do. Turns out those same symptoms persisted for the better part of the following year, accompanied by some other symptoms that pretty much qualified for criteria that are used to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. And that's where everything started. That day, I remember it well, because that night I was walking around, everybody's having a nice time and I'm walking around with an upset stomach, not too happy that I was missing out on all the fun.

Ray Loewe03:35

Okay, so let's take a minute and talk about this thing called irritable bowel syndrome. It's not it's not something we enjoy talking about on the air. But it is a problem that many, many, many people have, and is not easily diagnosed and solved. So give us a little bit of the background and then we're gonna go into some of the unique solutions that you've been able to come up with.

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 04:01

Yes, so irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common. It affects 10 to 15% of Americans or 30 to 45 million Americans. And over 50% of those people with IBS report that foods aggravate their symptoms. It's been felt to be what's called a functional disorder. In other words, one of the in which there's nothing physically wrong. There are several criteria that make up the diagnosis of IBS. You have to have belly pain at least once a week for the past three months, once at least six months prior to that. And it needs to be accompanied by things like onset of the symptoms being associated with changing the way your stool looks either looser or harder. Also, or accompanied by the pain getting better or worse with a bowel movement and also, the bowels moving more or less frequently. Um, upon onset of the symptoms, so there's very strict criteria that are used to make the diagnosis.

Ray Loewe05:06

Okay? And the cure for this is a traditional process is you go to a gastroenterologist, and they have a process for diagnosing this, which is not necessarily the most pleasant thing in the world to go through right?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 05:20

Yeah, they pretty much want to rule out other things that could have a more detrimental long-term consequence to your health. They want to rule out things like inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, things like that even colon cancer. So they want to make sure you don't have that. And sometimes they can do that just clinically by asking you questions and examining you. But often these people go through a lot of testing with various types of scopes, and blood tests and radiographic tests, even CAT scan. So there's a lot often that goes into the evaluation before they come to the conclusion it's just IBS. I shouldn't say just IBS, because it can be a serious problem, too. Yeah.

Ray Loewe06:04

So so here you are in an entirely different field. Okay. And unfortunately, you're having these symptoms. So what happened here? What did you do you know, what's the new way you look at this thing?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 06:21

So for the better part of the year, I had these symptoms, I had the big evaluation that didn't find anything. And finally, about a year later, I was trying to determine whether foods are playing a role I avoided gluten, I avoided lactose things that are known to cause GI issues. Nothing helped about a year into it, I got a lucky break, really, I ate Indian dinners at the same restaurants twice within a week of one another. And both times, my symptoms flared up severely worse than normal, but they're the same kind of symptoms I was usually getting. So I knew it was something in the food I was eating for the first time. And I knew it wasn't the Indian spices because I in general, don't eat them that often. And I was having these symptoms, on average, probably half the days. So the thing that I thought about because it's in pretty much everything we eat unless we're intentionally trying to avoid it was garlic. So I just stopped eating garlic. And literally the next day, my symptoms were completely gone. At that point, I felt that this had to be a new allergy to garlic because you can become allergic to something at any point in time, it doesn't have to be something new, repeat exposure, you could come allergic to it. So I set out to try to determine what type of allergy this was. I didn't really know much about IBS, I wasn't really interested in GI as a medical student, I'm a dermatologist. So I first tried a blood test that would look for a peanut type allergy, which everybody's pretty familiar with. And that test was negative for garlic. That's the same kind of test that the allergist says with a prick and scratch test. So that's called a type one allergy, that was negative, I still was convinced it was an allergy. And in Dermatology, we do a type of allergy test called a patch test, frequently for people who have a rash called eczema and we suspect that their Eczema is being caused by something that's touching their skin, in other words, an allergic reaction causing their eczema type of rash. So that's a different type of allergy than the peanut allergy completely different. It's called a type four allergy skin kind of allergy just causes poison ivy, and I decided to do a patch test on myself to garlic. And the patch test was positive I got a red itchy spot on my skin after leaving the garlic there for two days. So my thought at that point was likely the same type of inflammation I was getting in the skin from the patch test from the garlic was occurring in the lining of the intestine when I ate any foods containing garlic. So another point I should mention is that until the early 2000s IBS was felt to be something where there was nothing physically wrong. But in the early 2000s, inflammation has been identified and a lot of people with IBS, both with biopsies of the intestine and with blood tests that show that there's inflammation going on in the body. So most of the time though this inflammation, they don't know what's causing it. So my thought was likely this allergic reaction caused by the garlic in the intestine was causing inflammation causing the IBS symptoms. At that point, I wanted to figure I wanted to find out who else had looked into this. So I googled it and I found that no one ever investigated patch testing the foods for irritable bowel syndrome. So that's when I started with the research on it. I've done several clinical trials now that have been published. And the conclusion of these studies was that by identifying specific foods not just garlic-like but because to overwhelm 80 things now was in the studies up to 117 or 120 Different foods, that over 50% of people we test get either moderate or great improvement in their IBS symptoms by limiting the foods that they identify are identified by the patch testing. So this was completely new information. If you ask the gastroenterologist about food allergies, and IBS, they say they don't play a role. And the reason for that is that it's been taught to them because of other studies that have looked at type one food allergies. And there's another type of allergy called a type three allergy to but those types of testing are not helpful for IBS. So it's ingrained into gastroenterologists that food allergies don't play a role with IBS type four allergy testing by patch testing had never been done for IBS before. So essentially, those prior studies looking at the other types of allergies were like, barking up the wrong tree looking for the wrong type of allergy, you wouldn't be able to check my garlic allergy by doing a type one allergy test.

Ray Loewe11:06

Okay, so now we have a whole new series of ways to investigate a problem that people had. Now there. First of all, let's talk a little bit about your successes here. So you are telling me when we did our prep call about an 11-year-old girl that you had some success with. And once you go through that particular description, and let's find out what happened.

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 11:35

This was one of the most gratifying experiences I had using this testing. This girl was missing school two or three days a week. And her mom somehow learned about this testing that I was doing. And later, she mentioned that she didn't really think it was going to help but she thought I tried she tried anyway, because it was such a desperate situation. And this girl was allergic to benzoyl peroxide, which is used to bleach flour and some cheeses. And she was also allergic to something called pining alpha, which is a naturally occurring chemical that's found in parsley, carrots, parsnips, and celery. So these allergies were identified, she went on to eliminate those foods from her diet and she's 100% Better, she hasn't missed a day of school. And her mom said that when the girl gets sick, she would make her vegetable soup with all those vegetables. And she said I was poisoning my daughter. So yeah, this is an example where like, for me, it was, I was lucky because it was garlic. It was something I could figure out by the process of elimination just from what I had eaten and what I knew I didn't eat that often. But something like pining alpha, you would never be able to figure that out just by the like elimination diet or process of elimination. So this is where the patch testing really becomes useful.

Ray Loewe13:01

Okay, so so we have uncovered largely by chance, because you were the patient, right? You had a series of issues, and you wanted to solve them for yourself. So how does this figure it out into where the medical community is going with taking care of IBS?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 13:23

Well, this is really very early. We're just trying to get the message out there to doctors and to patients about this. That's not an easy task. The goal is that eventually, we hope that the first thing that we've done with people with IBS is this patch testing before subjecting them to all these invasive procedures and radiographic studies where they get radiation and not to mention the cost of those procedures and then putting them on all these different medications that may or may not help at some are quite expensive. Some of them are up to $1,000 a month. So we feel that this testing should be a first-line option for patients with IBS. It's a very simple solution, it identifies specific foods, it's much easier to typically avoid foods found here than doing something like the low FODMAP which is a popular diet for people with IBS, which is very difficult to fall involve lots of different foods here with the patch so you can avoid one or two specific foods or three or four whatever we find and potentially get better. So the goal is that this will be a first-line option for people with IBS and save them a lot of aggravation, testing, and treatments that don't work and expense that goes along with it.

Ray Loewe14:43

and this isn't stuff that has to go through FDA approval and stuff because the tests are, are approved. It's just a question of getting the medical community to look at this as an option for treating and cure, right?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 14:57

So the tests are done with what are called compounded allergens and compounded. And these are considered medications by the FDA So, but because they're compounded, there are a set of guidelines using compounded medications for patients where they don't actually have FDA approval, they have to be prescribed for a specific patient and a patient's name. And they have to the manufacturing of these allergens has to be done by a licensed compounding pharmacist following what are called USP guidelines. So it's accessible to properly licensed doctors and other providers now, as long as they do it in a specific patient's name.

Ray Loewe15:41

Yeah. And what percentage, you know, IBS is caused by a whole lot of things, right. But when you look at the kinds of things that you're trying to address here is do you have any idea of what percentage of the IBS community or what communities are the wrong word, but,the problems that can be fixed by this?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 16:04

Well, yeah, you're right. IBS probably is caused by a lot of different things. But our studies have shown that a significant percentage of these people have these food allergies. In my studies, within the patients who have long-term follow-up, were getting an eight to 10 improvement on a scale from zero to 10, of about a third of the patients and moderate improvement or five to seven on a scale of 10 and another 25%. So I don't know the exact number, but I would venture to guess that probably at least 25%, if not higher than that conservatively, have food allergies that are contributing are completely causing their symptoms.

Ray Loewe16:43

Well, cool. You know, we're unfortunately, we're near the end of our time already. And I find it fascinating to talk to people like you because you think outside the box. And that's why you are one of the luckiest people in the world. You're not constrained to normal things. You know, you're thinking outside the box, and you're making progress. So where are you going to go from here? What's the next step?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 17:08

Well, I do, I do want to just follow up on that comment, right. And I do feel in a lot of ways that I have been extremely lucky to make this discovery really was a very lucky setup circumstance, I pretty much followed my nose. This was not an epiphany that I came up with. But it involves a lot of luck. To make the discovery IBS has been described since 1944. And no one ever before recognize this connection between this type of allergy type four food allergy detectable by patch testing and IBS symptoms. So the luck involved. The fact that first of all, I developed irritable bowel syndrome, some people may call it bad luck, but in a lot of ways, for many people with IBS, it was very good luck. And even for me that I was able to find something that relieve my symptoms. Also, it was lucky that it happened to be garlic and that I ate those two Indian dinners within a week of one another was able to make the connection to garlic was also lucky that I was a dermatologist and I had the tools and the knowledge and the resources to pursue this further. And was also lucky that it turned out to be a type of allergy that in Dermatology we deal with all the time, like for allergies, for allergic contact dermatitis. So there was a perfect storm of circumstances that created this lot that involve that enabled me to make this what I feel is a significant discovery in medicine.

Ray Loewe18:35

Yeah, but it takes some knowledge and it takes some effort and it takes some you got to follow the luck. Otherwise, the luck never materializes. So, you know, thank you so much for being with us. If people want more information, where can they go to find out more about you and more about what you're doing? And we'll post this, by the way in the notes on our podcast, so they'll be able to see it. But where do they go?

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 19:01

Thank you. There's a URL. It's And patients will be able to get and doctors get a lot of information there. And if they have questions beyond that, our contact information is available there on the website. So we're very happy to talk to anybody who'd like to discuss this further.

Ray Loewe19:24

Oh, cool. Well, thank you so much for being with us. And continue your great work. And maybe we'll uh another six months or so we'll have you back again. And we'll find out what's happened and where the progress has been. So have a great day. And thanks so much for being with us.

Dr. Mike Stierstorfer 19:41

Thank you very much.

Outro 19:45

Thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 24 Jun 2022 21:44:50 +0000
E111: Cherishing Memories of Lost Loved Ones. Guest, Alexandra Koys

Alexandra's Website:



Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:18

Good morning, everybody. This is Ray Loewe. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world today because we have a wonderful guest. We're going to welcome her in a minute to Changing the Rules. Let me remind everybody that through our lives, we are saddled with rules. They come from everywhere they come from our parents, they come from the schools, they come from the church, they come from jobs. The next thing you know, we have rules and rules tell us, you're allowed to do this, or you're not allowed to do that. So you don't get any freedom out of rules. So the luckiest people in the world are those people who have figured out how to choose from this set of rules that we've been put together and choose which ones work for them, and which ones maybe they want to get around. Every week, we feature one of the luckiest people in the world. We have one today and Alexandra Koys is one of the luckiest people in the world because she has designed her own life, and she's taking control of it. She's living it under her terms. So welcome to Changing the Rules, Alexandra.

Alexandra Koys01:28

Thank you. It's great to be here.

Ray Loewe01:30

You're out there in the sunny city of Chicago. Right?

Alexandra Koys01:34

That's right.

Ray Loewe01:36

So you have an incredibly interesting background. But it was rather mundane, in the early years, you were doing what you were supposed to do, weren't you?

Alexandra Koys01:46

That's right. So it was quite different from the entrepreneurship path that I'm on now. So I started off studying foreign service at Georgetown University in Washington DC, you know, more traditional path that I'm on now. Right out of college, worked for Deloitte Consulting, doing primarily government work for a couple of years. And after that, I kind of followed the path to Blue Cross Blue Shield. At the time, the Affordable Care Act was being implemented and there was a lot of regulatory and operational work to be done in healthcare. I liked the field and liked the work I was doing, so I made the transition from Deloitte to Blue Cross Blue Shield. As you can see, I was kind of someone who took things one step at a time, followed where the path led me, and where the opportunities that were open to me, went. Someone who was very comfortable working in large organizations, having a stable steady job, a predictable role. Someone who is comfortable operating as one piece in a very large puzzle. A couple of years ago, as you mentioned, I took control and sort of dove into the world of starting my own business. So that has been quite a change, but an exciting one.

Ray Loewe03:16

You had salaries before, and now you don't have salaries, right. But that was a clue here. See, when you studied foreign service, we knew maybe you didn't know, but we knew you're going to be a spy. We knew you're going to take off on your own, it was just a question of time. So we had an event that occurred. The interesting thing about the luckiest people in the world is usually they start in a mundane kind of a thing. And it's not that they hate where they are. It's just that there may be a "I'm not excited where they are". And then something happens and that event creates an opportunity. So tell us about that.

Alexandra Koys03:58

Yeah, I would love to. For me, the spark for making the switch was an experience I had that prompted me to start my business. My business is in the funeral services industry. Were in the business of creating celebrations of life and transforming the traditional somber funeral home, or somber funeral service into an uplifting celebration of life. The spark for doing that was my uncle passed away. It was about five years ago. He was the type of guy who was always the life of the party. So the traditional somber funeral environment didn't feel like the right place to gather for him. My family and I gathered in his favorite restaurant and we had more of a celebration of life. But that was a lot of planning to take on, while we were grieving. It occurred to me after that experience, I realized that there really weren't services out there for families who were looking for a non-traditional environment or experience to celebrate their loved one. So I created that service.

Ray Loewe05:14

Most people don't think about this, they don't plan. I've had two interesting events that kind of play on this. I was at a memorial service not too long ago, and it was a pastor of a church. He was a friend. He died over the age of 100. I didn't know this, but he had planned his own memorial service. He had decided which hymns were going to be played, he decided who was going to be the singers in the group, he decided on everything. It made it a whole lot easier for his kids because everything was thought out in advance. The second thing is, I live in a place right now, it's a senior citizen community. A lot of people are here because they wanted to make their health care choices so their kids didn't have to make them. It's a similar kind of thing. All of a sudden, somebody gets sick, and everybody's got to run around and figure out what to do with us? I find what you're doing amazing. I never really thought it through. It just makes sense to do this. Tell us a little bit about how you help people plan. Then tell us about some of the events that you've created and how you do that.

Alexandra Koys06:36

I would love to. I love that example that you gave about your friend who planned his own funeral, memorial celebration. Talk about taking charge of your life. That's really defining your legacy when you pre-plan for yourself and define how you want to be remembered. So I love that. That's exactly what we work with families to do. We help them curate and design their own celebration of life experiences unique to their life, their identity, and their values. So I'd love to give a few examples of things that we plan to help paint the picture of the variety of services that we help bring to life.

Ray Loewe07:21

Before we go there, go back a little bit. When you are doing planning, are you doing planning with the relatives of a deceased person? Are you doing planning with the people that haven't died yet, and are thinking ahead?

Alexandra Koys07:34

It could be either one, some families approach us after a loved one has passed away, and others approach us wanting to pre-plan for themselves.

Ray Loewe07:43

Okay. All right.

Alexandra Koys07:46

To give a little bit of background about what our offerings are I mentioned a little bit earlier. We're in the business of transforming the funeral into an uplifting celebration of life, and we help families gather in non-funeral home environment. We offer an array of packages that help people gather in parks, theaters, museums, and live music venues, and we help them curate a unique celebration and a unique ceremony that celebrates who they are; which is often a unique fusion of their personal identity, cultural identity, and spiritual identity. Some of the ways that we've done that in the past, and one that comes to mind from a recent service. We planned a celebration of life in a local history museum and this was for a woman who loved art, culture, and history. We created a museum exhibit focused on her life. We brought dozens of items from her home into that exhibit. Furniture, she painted journals that she wrote in, clothes she wore, pillows she sewn, photos from her life. Each item had a sign next to it just like you would experience in a museum gallery explaining the significance of that item in her life. Another example is we've held a number of ceremonies in local movie theaters. We like to say that these are for larger-than-life personalities fit for the big screen. The guests are sitting in theater seats instead of sitting in funeral home chairs. The speakers are at the front of the theater giving their remarks while photos and videos are playing on the giant movie screen behind them. We've also done outdoors celebrations of life for people who loved the outdoors or want to be surrounded by the peace or the beauty of nature to honor their life. Those have sometimes involved; balloon releases or waterside ceremonies. We've done some really beautiful things that really helped surface the unique elements of the person who passed; their identity, and how they or their family want to remember them.

Ray Loewe10:08

You have a wide range of things here. Somebody can plan this thing relatively inexpensively, and have a party in their backyard in a sense. Or I hate to even think what it might cost to rent out part of a museum to display all of your work, but I'm sure that I don't have the budget for that one. But some people do. Okay. Yeah. I think it's interesting because it's the final thing you do. Otherwise, you're remembered as a date on a gravestone, right? So here's a chance to go wild. How did this idea develop? Go back to the death of your uncle a little bit. I understand that your mother needed help and taking control? So you got involved much more than you normally would have? How did you envision what you wanted to do? What was kind of the brainstorming that went through?

Alexandra Koys11:13

I was really thinking about what would my uncle have wanted? What is the atmosphere he would have wanted? Who are the people he would have wanted around him? What are the hobbies, passions, interests, beliefs that he had, that he would want to be remembered by; because, the alternative, what a lot of us are used to thinking of a funeral is, dressing in black, standing in a funeral home room, standing in a line and talking in hushed tones, and that didn't feel right. For his memories, we wanted something that he would have enjoyed if he were there, and he would have been glad to be remembered by those things.

Ray Loewe11:57

There's two parts to this, there's the planning piece, where you got to sit down and visualize who this person was, and what's appropriate for them. Then you gotta go out and get the venue, and get the space, and set it up. Right?

Alexandra Koys12:14

That's right. For our particular offerings, we have some preset and pre-ready to go, venues that we work with regularly. If they feel right for a particular family's gathering, or sometimes we develop custom experiences for families that want to create something from the ground up.

Ray Loewe12:36

So if I were going to plan my own memorial service, what are the things that you would coach me to think about?

Alexandra Koys12:46

First, whether we're working directly with an individual, or whether we're working with their family. We always start off with an open-ended question, tell me about yourself, or tell me about your loved one. What comes to mind for different families is a little bit different. For some people, it's the love for their career. For some people, it's the love of their family. For some people, it's aspects of their personality that they want to bring into play, or it might be a hobby. Different families have different experiences or different elements of their loved one's identity that they want to surface. So we always start off by getting to know the person whose celebration it is so that we can then take those and curate experiences or create events that celebrate those unique aspects of their personality.

Ray Loewe13:43

Then once you get this planning done, and you figure out what this concept is going to be, then you got to start to put together the pieces. If you pre-plan this, how does one do this? They sit down with somebody like you, get the plan set now, who knows when we're gonna die? Hopefully, it's a long way away. What do you do to pre-fund these events? Do you not worry about the actual event, you just kind of leave the instructions and then dump all this on your kids? Or what do you do?

Alexandra Koys14:18

That can actually be done either way, when it comes to pre-planning, there are some people who choose to just complete the planning portion now and leave the actual implementation of the plans, and the payments of the plan, for when they do actually pass. As you mentioned that could be one year, five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road, none of us really knows. Or there are some people who do choose to pre-fund the plan so that they have that money set aside already. As you mentioned it doesn't have to be something that is a stress to the family members when someone does pass away,

Ray Loewe15:04

So you have a website, and people can go to this website, and you have all these examples of things that you've done. So what is the website for everybody?

Alexandra Koys15:13

It is At our site, as you mentioned, there are examples of both our in-person celebrations of life. And we also have examples of our virtual gatherings. So another interesting thing that we do is we also help families gather virtually, this was something that started during the COVID era. But we're still seeing even as things open up, a lot of families choosing to gather online for that ceremony and for that celebration, because so many people, so many families are spread out across the country, or even around the world. So virtual tends to be a way that those types of families can come together in community for healing and for celebrating their loved one's life. We also hear that virtual can sometimes be a more manageable planning and gathering experience for people who are juggling multiple things. I had one woman, one client say to me, I am trying to work a full-time job, be a mom to my kids, bereave my dad, and I need help with this. The idea of doing this virtually is something that feels more manageable to me than in person. So that's another example that you'll see on our site of services that we can offer.

Ray Loewe16:44

Now you've built this business already, you have eight people that work for you now. So you're doing this for lots of people. That's where we are now. I think it's a great thing for people to think about. What about the future? Where are you? Where are you going with all this? What's the dream, what's the plan, what's going to happen?

Alexandra Koys17:05

The dream is to create the next generation of the funeral industry and to make Lighten the gold standard for what it means to plan and hold a celebration of life for a loved one. There are two ways that we're doing that. One is awareness. Two is modernizing the planning experience on the awareness side; it's about educating families and raising awareness that the funeral home isn't the only option. If that doesn't feel right for you, and you're looking for something more uplifting, there are options for you. On the second side of things, we're modernizing the planning experience. We do that with a blend of personalized care and innovative technology. So we currently have an online planning portal that allows families to make arrangements from the comfort of their own homes at any time that's convenient for them. We also offer video conference consultations and planning sessions. So that families don't have to come to an in-person environment as the traditional industry is run, they can plan at the place, in the time that's convenient for them and still have the guidance that a professional planner can offer.

Ray Loewe18:18

Well, it's a very interesting way of looking at a phase of our life that we're all going to enter at some point in time. You're a perfect example of one of the luckiest people in the world. I think you've showed the enthusiasm of doing something you love to do, something you're excited about doing. Thanks for being with us. Unfortunately, we're at the end of our time here. We're going to have to have Luke sign us off. But thanks again for being with us. And again, the name of your website is

Alexandra Koys18:51

Ray Loewe18:53

People can get in touch with you through there, right?

Alexandra Koys18:55

That's correct. Our phone number for those who are phone friendly is 312-373-0847.

Ray Loewe19:01

Okay, thank you so much for being with us.

Alexandra Koys19:04

It was great to be here. Thank you.


Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Thu, 9 Jun 2022 22:35:00 +0000
E110: Retired but Still Ministering, Guest Phil Schwab



Welcome to Changing The Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives and advice on how you can achieve that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:18

Good morning, everybody. We're here in our brand new studios in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. We're here with our engineer, Luke Cagno. If Luke weren't here, this thing wouldn't come off. We have a special guest today that we're going to introduce in a minute. But I want to take a minute before we start and remind you of why we're doing these podcasts. Every week, we try to interview one of what we think are the luckiest people in the world. Now, the luckiest people in the world are those people who have pretty much-taken control of their lives; they live them under their own rules, based on their own purpose and what they want to accomplish. When they do this, it allows them to live the way they want to live. They live more exciting and more fascinating lives. So we're showcasing somebody every week with a hope that maybe those of you who are struggling to find where that is for you. You'll find a role model here. And again, the name of our show is Changing The Rules. One of the things that we find is that the people who are the luckiest people in the world deal well with rules. You know, we're filled with rules, right? Our whole life. When we're born, our parents give us rules. Then the church gives us rules. Then the schools give us rules. And before you know it, we have all these rules that are trying to determine what it is that we do. It was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, that came up and said, 'if you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life'. So there's a time when we have to sift and sort through these rules and decide which ones are going to be important and which ones are going to be the guiding principles for us. We have a young man here, I emphasize young, who has been all over the world, and who has certainly find out found out what's important to him. I want to introduce Phil Schwab. I met Phil actually in a swimming pool, believe it or not, and Phil is a fourth-generation missionary. So Phil, say hi to everybody. Tell us a little bit about being a fourth-generation missionary.

Phil Schwab02:34

Hello, everybody. My grandfather was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and taught a men's Bible class and did ministry for many, many years. Then my father after being in the Navy, just four years, he went to Japan with my mom. By then I was I was around. So the four of us, my younger brother, and I, and my mom and dad went to Japan in 1948. So I grew up there.

Ray Loewe03:03

So you were kind of preordained with where your life was going to go early, weren't you? You had you had a lot of direction.

Phil Schwab03:04

Yeah, that's right.

Ray Loewe03:04

Tell me a little bit about your early life in Japan. I think one of the things that you mentioned during our pre interview was that missionaries were very welcome to Japan after the end of the Second World War. So tell us a little bit about that, too.

Phil Schwab03:32

Well, the atmosphere in Japan had changed a lot after they lost the war to America. And it's like they were thinking, hey, you know, maybe the American God is stronger than the Emperor and all of our worship of Shinto and everything like that. So General MacArthur said to have made a request that 1000 missionaries come to Japan because the doors are wide open. So I think that's what you're referring to. A lot of people that were in the military, and fighting the Japanese, they had a heart to go and reach their enemies with the gospel. So that's my dad. That's what Dad and Mom did.

Ray Loewe04:22

So you were dragged along at this point, you're not old enough to make your own decisions, right? At age three. You were actually born in the United States?

Phil Schwab04:31


Ray Loewe04:32

You're a US citizen that was born at a Naval Hospital. You moved to Japan. So I think obviously, Japanese is one of the languages that you speak.

Phil Schwab04:43

Well, I picked it up as a kid. I was three and for two or three years in the neighborhood, I played with Japanese kids. Then I taught English later when I was in high school, and it ended up that my students, who were university students, they taught me more Japanese and I taught English. Because I had to explain a lot in Japanese. So I picked up kind of a little grasp of Japanese, which I still have, but it's very informal and conversational.

Ray Loewe05:11

I bet you can get along pretty well over there if you have to. So the first 10 years, or maybe a little longer of your life, was living in Japan. One of the things that you mentioned is that you learn to love the Asian culture.

Phil Schwab05:29

Yeah, well, it's almost like wherever you grow up, you tend to appreciate your surroundings and so forth. Here I was, most of my time with Japanese people riding Japanese trains to go to school, it was an American school we went to, so I grew up knowing English. But surrounded by Japanese, and of course, Japanese are very serious people. Kissinger once said that the Japanese are people that have no sense of humor. It's a very serious society. So I almost grew up being very serious, but I somehow overcame. I appreciate having grown up in Asia.

Ray Loewe06:11

So this set a structure for where you're going to go in your life. We talked briefly about your choice of college and where you went to college. So what formulated all that?

Phil Schwab06:28

I was having to make a choice, of course, and I was offered a full scholarship to a liberal arts college. At the same time, I felt I should start preparing for the ministry because that was what was on my heart. I wanted to be maybe going back to Asia or somewhere. So I chose to go to a Bible college where I graduated with a bachelor's degree with a Bible major. That's where I met my wife, actually. Okay. My wife is a missionaries kid, too. Her parents were missionaries of Bolivia. I was talking to her this morning and she said, [well, actually, we're both third generation. And then our daughter is a missionary in England working with young people.] So she was saying, 'I'm a fourth-generation too!.

Ray Loewe07:17

So we need to get her in here. We'll get the whole South American approach later. So you're done with college now? How did you decide what you want to do? How did you formulate your plans? Where did you go?

Phil Schwab07:32

Well, I actually went on to graduate school, a seminary graduate level. When I was there, I met a lot of Chinese that were overseas students. My roommate for a couple years was from Hong Kong. We got along very well. I don't know as long as time went on, I thought, Man, I, I relate well to these Asians. And if possible, I like to go back to Asia.

Ray Loewe08:00

And you did.

Phil Schwab08:01

I did. We did.

Ray Loewe08:02

So where did you go now? You were married by this time and everything. So where did you wind up? And? Where did you wind up? Let's start there.

Phil Schwab08:11

We wound up in Taiwan. I was interested in a ministry with Chinese people. So we wound up in Taiwan with a daughter, three months old, and starting language study in Taiwan. So we studied Taiwanese full time for two years, part-time for two years, and got going on that Asian language. And then later, 10 years later, we studied Mandarin as well and spent two more years. Anyway, that was our start. We had to learn culture and language.

Ray Loewe08:48

So we have you down with four languages. We have some Japanese, and then Taiwanese, and then Cantonese,

Phil Schwab08:57

Actually Taiwanese, and only two sentences of Cantonese, and Mandarin. I like to tell friends you know, I've been in Asia so long now my English have some problems.

Ray Loewe09:09

We have English too. So when somebody becomes a minister or a missionary, what's the process? I mean, you just don't go to a foreign country and say, 'Here I am. I'm a missionary'. Do you get a sponsor? How do you do that? What what happens here?

Phil Schwab09:30

No matter what, how you go out, who you're with, you have churches behind you; whether you're with the denomination or you're in a big program with the denomination. In our case, our mission is interdenominational, which means that we have churches, from different connections that supported us. So you've got the church, sending you out basically; but, then you need to go through an organization that can lead you, and train you, and also accept you in the first place. Well, actually the church is fun to you. But the organization has work going on in that country. So they have a program going. So you come there, and they help you get the language and then get into ministry. So it's a combination of the church and the sending organization.

Ray Loewe10:26

So here you are in Taiwan now, what was your primary mission once you got to Taiwan? And what were your responsibilities?

Phil Schwab10:37

Well, twofold. I for a number of years, we were in what we call "church planting", which means starting new churches, and Taiwan, which is only 2%. Christian, today, maybe a tiny bit more, but there's a need for as we looked at it a need for churches. So we did that. Then toward the latter time, latter part of my time there, they elected me as field chairman. So I was responsible for about 60 people for a few years. Those are the two things I did.

Ray Loewe11:12

Then you were in Taiwan for 23 years. What caused you to go on next? Because next was Hong Kong.

Phil Schwab11:19

It was. The year was 1996. Our organization realized that there were a lot of openings in China at that time. I mean, China was wide open. It just happened to be really wide open at that time for people coming in to do medical work, educational work, other kinds of social work, working with tribal, poor, tribal people, all kinds of things. So our mission asked me to be kind of the point person, and the good place to be a point person was Hong Kong. I was trying to help teams get started in China. That's what I was doing for four years after we left Taiwan.

Ray Loewe12:07

Let's go back to these two places that you've been. When you look at your experience in Taiwan, is there any particularly thing that stands out as a memory, or a tragedy, or a benefit, or anything that you want to talk about?

Phil Schwab12:26

Well, you mentioned a tragedy. That's because I've shared with you we did face a tragedy.

Ray Loewe12:33

I cheated on that one a little bit.

Phil Schwab12:34

Our son Brian was 15. He was in the American School. He was a freshman in high school and doing very well in English. Of course, it was Americans school. But also, he was one of the best students in Chinese. He took Chinese as a foreign language. Just a regular kid, you know, he liked soccer and so forth. He was in a dormitory because we were living three hours away from the school. His dorm dad planned an outing, a camp out by a river. Some of the dads were there, and some of the teachers, and so the guys were swimming at one stage along the way. The people in charge didn't have any safety equipment, just plain old, what he called life preservers, and all that kind of stuff. Because this is like 30, 32 years ago. So, unfortunately, Brian jumped into this river along with some other guys. It had been raining for three weeks and the river was very swollen. Somehow he, he got swept away, and we were too far away to actually rescue him. We lost him and didn't find his body really for a week. This is a big thing, not only for us, but for all his friends, and colleagues that we've had there in Taiwan.

Ray Loewe14:17

You took a tragedy and you're doing some good things about it. I know you have a campaign here to improve safety equipment, to make sure that that doesn't happen again. This an extension of your being a missionary, I think to a large extent. So anything else you want to say, that unfortunately, you have this in your life?

Phil Schwab14:41

Yeah. Excuse me. We have a daughter and a son. Brian and then Beth Ann was two and a half years older. If I could focus on the main thing that I faced in this situation was being able to forgive the school and the people that planned this thing. And basically, faulty planning, allowed this to happen, allowed the accident to happen. So I had a challenge with this. Just a simple word forgiveness, being able to forgive the school and it all happened internally. No, they didn't know I was struggling with this. But one guy was on the staff of the school said you should sue the school. And I just very simply said to him, you know, the Bible says Christians don't sue Christians. And it was a Christian school. And it was not intentional. But nevertheless, this was a struggle for me. I told God at one point, I said, I feel very bitter and very hateful here. But if you can change me, I'm willing to be changed. One day, as I was out walking, I realized that I had been changed by God. I never had any problem with the bitterness and the hatred and all of that for the next 32 years till today. And it was a miracle.

Ray Loewe16:10

So let's take a different approach here and go back because one of the things that we've found about all of the luckiest people in the world is one of the mindsets that they have is, is the fact that they work real hard to find their sense of purpose. I think yours might have been a little easier, because it was kind of you were born into it, to some extent. So what is your sense of purpose in life?

Phil Schwab16:35

When I met you at the swimming pool, you asked me the same question. It kind of shocked me, I don't have people just saying, what's the purpose of your life? You know, the first time I met you, you know? I said I'll tell you, I'm a minister. The Catechism says, the purpose of mankind is to love God and enjoy him forever. That's the purpose of my life.

Ray Loewe16:58

It's helped you make decisions along the way as to where you want to go, how you treated your son's death, and everything. It's interesting exploring lucky people for a long time. It's amazing how many people have no sense of purpose or can't define what their sense of purpose is. So when you can do this, and when you can get a handle on it, it certainly allows you to live your life in a more fulfilling way. Let's go on here because there's more to your life than we've had so far. We're in Hong Kong, and now we're going over to China. Where did you live in China and tell us a little bit about the China experience?

Phil Schwab17:42

If you look at a map of China, and I like to call it the New England of China because China sticks up just the way the United States does. So we lived in a city called Harbin, H-A-R-B-I-N. A lot of people call it "Ice City", because it's below freezing almost half of the year. They have this big Ice Festival there every year. It's very famous. This is a long story, but this is where we ended up. We felt like people were interested in learning English, they were interested in medical teams, various social services we could provide. So a team of us, five couples, ended up in Harbin. I was there with part of that team for almost 10 years. And I liked it. You could ask the question: 'You've lived in all these places? Which place did you like best?' Well, I liked China best because the people, at least in that area, more disconnected from Beijing, the big cities. They weren't spoiled, like people we've been with other kinds of Chinese that were kind of wealthy and kind of first worldy. This area, they were just wondering why we had come all this way and all that stuff. They were very easy to get to know and so we established friendships that have lasted till today. In fact, I'm on a Zoom meeting once or twice a month right now with some of the guys we got to know there. I call one pastor there about once a month to and have a long conversation with him. So here I am. We left there in 2008. And here I am, all these years down the road. These are friendships that really meant a lot to us. These are people that appreciated our being there. It doesn't seem like any of the Hong Kong or Taiwan really necessarily appreciated our being there. Oh, another American big deal. But this that was the attitude of these people. So we just right from the word "go", we established close relationships and they were very good. They reached out to us. They were very open. So that was our favorite place to be.

Ray Loewe20:03

It's interesting you're still in touch. Yeah. 13, 14 years since you've been away?

Phil Schwab20:10

About 14 years. Yeah.

Ray Loewe20:12

So continuing with your life, you now came back to the United States, right? So you're in of all places, Washington, DC, that had to be a big letdown for you after all of these other places, right?

Phil Schwab20:27

In some ways it was, but in other ways, depends on what you mean, right? But we were invited, we were actually on loan to another organization, from our organization, to work in Washington, DC. And this organization's purpose was to minister to leaders in Washington, DC; so on the hill and in the Pentagon, and then also foreign diplomats. That's why we were asked to come, is with our background. And overseas for all these years, they asked us to join a team, a small team, to do various projects to help these diplomats to adjust in some ways. Also, if they were interested in studying the Bible. That's what we were really excited about doing that with them. But we were there for almost 10 years before we retired to our fourth country. My wife calls it Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And we love it. It's like country, we've been in all these cities. Now we're in the countryside, and we love it.

Ray Loewe21:40

Let's talk for a minute about being retired because retired by a lot of people's definition is you sleep late in the morning, you go play golf, you do crazy things like that. You're far from being retired. So what is it that you're doing now? And where are you? Where are you headed in the future?

Phil Schwab21:58

Well, I tell people, I'm retired but not tired. I was eager to, well, actually, my wife was worried about our moving here that I go get in my rocking chair. I wouldn't really know what to do with myself. But early on, we came to know the proportion of refugees here to the population is one of the very highest in all of America. So we ended up joining a team of people that were already working with forming welcoming teams for the refugees. We're starting a church that's trilingual. Actually, whatever is said in English is translated into Arabic and sometimes into Russian. This is moving along. But we're also developing welcoming teams that help families get settled, find jobs, learn to drive, all of these different things, that get the kids in school and all of that. I've taught a couple, a new family. They came with three kids, beautiful family from Syria. But what happened was the husband was ganged up on back in Syria. They hopped on him, took him away, and didn't give him anything to drink for two days. When they gave him something to drink, they brought this big cup of what looked like water, but it was actually Clorox. He drank enough down to really ruin his system going down. The US government is really interested in bringing in some people who have serious physical conditions, and we have the facilities here to help people like that. So anyway, that's, that's his background. I've enjoyed teaching the husband and wife English, but in this case, I had to start with ABCs and helping them write their alphabet. So that's pretty basic. But the kids, this son, who's in fifth grade now, or I think he's in seventh grade now, he picked it up in about six months. He was quite fluent in six months. He would sit down with us, this couple that was just on the basics, and he would help us interpret and so that's one of the things I enjoy doing very much. There's other practical things like I've already said that we help in developing these welcoming teams.

Ray Loewe24:46

I could carry this on forever, but unfortunately, we're near the end of our time over here. I think our listeners are going to very easily see why you're one of the luckiest people in the world, in spite of the tragedy in your life. Because you found a way to deal with all of these things in a way that not necessarily make you happy but make you fulfilled. The track that you've been on is just absolutely fascinating, from China to Japan, or Japan, I guess to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When you start driving a horse and buggy over here, then we'll know you're in your next level of your career. Do you have any final comments that you want to add before we sign off?

Phil Schwab25:39

That's a good one, that's hard to do. I think every day, all the problems you face you accept as coming from, we say coming through the hands of a loving God is how I look at it. So we can accept whatever happens and deal with it because he realized that it comes through that grid and we can survive.

Ray Loewe26:03

Well, Phil Schwab, thanks for being a guest on Changing The Rules. Thanks for being one of the luckiest people in the world. At thanks for being you. Luke, why don't you sign us off?


Thank you for listening to Changing The Rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest, and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 31 May 2022 13:20:00 +0000
E109: What's your Next Act?, Guest, Ellen Quint

Ellen's Website:



Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Good morning, everybody. This is I think, a lively host, although sometimes I worry about that a little bit. But we're here in our studio in Willow Street, Pennsylvania, I have to get that right because we moved our studio from New Jersey recently, and we're here with our engineer, Luke, and Luke is going to make sure that all of this runs correctly, and that we have a successful podcast. So I want to remind everybody that the name of our podcast is changing the rules. And you know, all through our life, we're saddled with rules. And I remember growing up, my parents told me what to do. And then the church told me what to do. And then my school teachers told me what to do. And then I went to work and my job, people told me what to do. And there was a quote by a very interesting guy by the name of Steve Jobs. And you know, who we know from Apple his Apple career. And he came up with an interesting quote, and he said, you know, if you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life. And so what we're introducing here in our show is some of the luckiest people in the world. And one of the things that the luckiest people in the world do really well is they sift and sort through the Bank of rules. We all have rules, we know we have to have rules. But sometimes we have to get rid of some that get in our way. Because rules tell us what we either have to do or what we can't do. So the luckiest people kind of sift and sort and make their own rules and make them work. And what we're trying to do here today is bring in another one of the luckiest people in the world as a role model for people who want to take control of their lives and live them under their own terms. So today, we have Ellen Quint, and Ellen, say hello to everybody. Hello, everybody. Okay, and Ellen has a company called next act unlimited. And we're gonna get into that a minute in a minute. But Ellen has a really great story. And it's very typical of what the luckiest people in the world go through. Because we know in life that nothing works the way we want it to work. And so the luckiest people in the world have found ways to constantly reinvent themselves, to stay on the track to keep themselves happy and engaged, and doing wonderful things for wonderful, wonderful people. So, Ellen, you're on? Why don't you tell us a little bit about your history and where you're coming from? And then we'll move forward.

Ellen Quint02:49

Sure, why don't I start with now, where I live, which is in, I'm actually talking to you from Morris County, where we have a weekend house, which is now our full-time house since COVID. Where I live, I live with my husband of 43 years. I'm the mother of two boys who are hardly boys anymore. Who blessed me with three wonderful grandchildren who are the light of my life. And just to provide your listeners with a visual because this is a podcast, and they cannot see me when I was young, and people used to ask me, What do you want to be when you grow up? I would always say five feet. Well, honestly, I never made it to five feet. And now, unfortunately, I'm heading in the opposite direction. So my goal now and if you mentioned I'm now the CEO of Next Act Unlimited. Where through workshops and coaching, I help current and since the retirees build their next act, as a matter of fact, Ray I am recommending to all of my clients that they listen to this podcast because I think there are some wonderful messages even though your target audience is not necessarily totally mine, you can be for yours is for everybody. I think it's a wonderful resource. And then I will tell you one other thing, my goal, my vision is to become the Dr. Ruth for positive aging. And I think physically I kind of look like that. And so

Ray Loewe04:23

That's for a short person and a powerful body. Right. And with a powerful mind. That's great. Okay, so let's go back into history a little bit. So your career started somewhere and you did a lot of work, I think for nonprofits. So give us some history and then we'll talk about moving into the dark side.

Ellen Quint04:46

Right. So to go way back. I earned a master's in community social work and spent about 20 years in training and human resources for a very large national nonprofit. And it was an Excellent, very fulfilling career. But the organization was going through some significant changes. And so in 2000, I made the decision to look outside to, as you mentioned, to what I call it, the dark side or the for-profit world. As you and I discussed this in the side, this is an area your listeners might be interested in because we're working with retirees, people who have spent their lives in the corporate world, and now feel, okay, I want to give back, I wanted to take all of my experience and go into the nonprofit sector. It's not an easy transition. It's something I work with people on all the time. And there are ways to be more successful at it. And in fact, in this time of the great resignation, there are many more opportunities and possibilities. But that's an aside, maybe we can talk about that some other time. So back in 2000, there was a similar The reason I read that there was a similar work environment, a similar job market, and it was labeled the war for talent. And as a result, there was much more openness to consider someone like myself coming from the nonprofit world for the for-profit world. And being one of the luckiest people in the world. I was very fortunate to be hired in training by Deloitte, one of the large professional services firms. One of which you know well, they right because she worked for one of the big four.

Ray Loewe06:21

I did. Yep. That was part of the dark side. You're right. So go on, Ellen.

Ellen Quint06:26

It was probably the big eight set or the big 16. Even this is is? Yeah, one of the evidence. I feel like I'm one of the luckiest people in the world. And it was a great match. Every day, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge across the plaza of the World Trade Center to get to my office in the World Financial Center. And then 911 happened. And it was a beautiful, beautiful, I don't know if you remember, it was a beautiful, sunny, crisp day. Someone was coming to me my office, so I had to get there early. So I took the subway and I walked up from the subway. And everybody was standing there looking up at the World Trade Center buildings, and there was smoke debris flowing out flames flowing out. It was really like walking onto a set of a disaster movie. And I realized after that some of the debris because I saw pictures were bodies coming down. And I everybody was paralyzed. Everybody was just standing there looking. And I didn't know quite what to do. I decided okay, I'm just going to walk home. So I turned around and started heading towards City Hall Plaza towards the Brooklyn Bridge. And there was an explosion that shook the ground. And then everybody started screaming. And people were running everywhere. And I realized that it was the second plane had hit. I just kept walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and looked back. And now I saw that both towers were in flames with smoke coming out and billowing billowing smoke. And I was listening to my Walkman radio. I don't know if you remember the Walkman plugged into my Walkman, and was listening to the news. And the stories were crazy. Nobody knew quite what was going on. It was so beyond anybody's imagination. I kept walking home, got home, got up to my 10th-floor apartment. And I watched as the World Trade Centers disappeared in smoke in ash, they were there. And then a second later, they weren't there anymore. It was a profound experience that lasted a very long time because we continue to feel the repercussions of that. And personally, I felt the repercussions of that because two months later I was downsized.

Ray Loewe08:47

Okay, so you were up close and personal at an event that most of us are glad we weren't up close and personal with. And let's talk about your transitions from a couple of things. Because you worked from the nonprofit and a big nonprofit by the way. I think it was a Jewish Federation. Is that correct? The Council of Jewish Federation Yeah. So So you were heavily involved in a whole lot of nonprofit activities, you then went to Deloitte, a consulting firm, and did training for the things that you were good at, but a different career in a different environment. And then we had this event occur, and the event was not one of your choosing. So so how did you react at that point in time, because you had to reinvent yourself again? To keep going, what went on through your head and what happened?

Ellen Quint09:42

What I did was basically take some of the techniques that I've used with clients, which is to have them really take a look at what would be an ideal job to go for. Because I realized I really had a choice. I could go back to nonprofits and look heavily in nonprofits, I had a 20-year career doing that. Or I had a wonderful year working for a well-resourced, large profit organization, Which direction did I want to go in. And I realized that in my target in the center bullseye of my target was really that I wanted to work for a for-profit, well resourced, large organization. But the environment in New York at that time was really terrible. People were living with uncertainty post 911, I was again, being the luckiest person in the world was able to find a job in a large insurance brokerage, a large global insurance brokerage, I won't name it. But it was a great job title. I was executive vice president of learning and development. But it was a terrible job. And so a couple of months later, when Deloitte called me again and said, Would you come back and actually head the group that you left, I left as a manager, they want to come back and actually lead the group. I said, Yes. I said, Yes, I had to go. And I would be working again, adjacent to the World Trade Center. And at that point, it was a big hole filled with rubble. And I had to decide if I could go around that coal every day, and look out those windows and see what was there. But I decided, yes, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Because then I had a wonderful, exciting, stimulating 20-year career at Deloitte.

Ray Loewe11:31

And then we had COVID, all right, so what happened? What happened at the COVID stage?

Ellen Quint11:41

You know, there's that there's an author named Bruce Feiler, who has written a book that refers to these events as life quake. And that's really what it felt like, you know, all these things feel like major life quakes. So yeah. So June 2020, I got the call saying you are being downsized. I didn't leave until November of 2020. But in that time period, between June and November, I decided to take my focus to take the experiences that I had in screening and facilitation and development, and do something that I've been thinking about doing for quite a long time, which is to create my own practice, my own consulting business of next steps unlimited, as you mentioned, which is focused on helping current and soon to be retirees feels their next step.

Ray Loewe12:29

Okay, and give us if you wouldn't mind a rough idea of, of age here, because I think it's significant. You could have retired, right?

Ellen Quint12:40

Absolutely. I was thinking of retiring in November, December of 2020, when I'd be turning 68. Okay, so I was left with 67. And yeah, so and to be honest with you, I was super old for being at Deloitte, they had the retirement age of the partners of 62. So I was a real gray hair, which I didn't have back then. But I was gray hair in that environment.

Ray Loewe13:09

Okay, so So you had to reinvent yourself a couple of times here, you know, you had your original career, you went over to what we call the dark side affectionately because it really wasn't the dark side. And then you, you had these two major events. And, you know, what I find is the luckiest people in the world take these events, we have them. They're part of life, we can't get away from them. Whether it's personal sickness, whether it's 911, whether it's a COVID kind of a thing. And the world changes and every time the world changes the luckiest people figure out how to get around those changes and make the rules work for them. So congratulations on that. But what I wanted to get to is, you had a number of statements that you made when we were prepping for this interview that I'd like to get on the table. And then we can talk a little bit about the new book that's coming, where people can find out more about these things if they want. So let's start out with preparation meets opportunity sprinkled with grace. Come on.

Ellen Quint14:19

So Ray, you as the luckiest guy in the world to speak all the time to the luckiest people in the world must have a book full of definitions of luck, or what luck looks like. So for me, this is what love has always looked like. And it's been my guiding principle which is luck is preparation meets opportunity. And as I've gotten older, I have realized it is also sprinkled with grace. So it's all your work needs to work of some higher power. meets opportunity. And as I've gotten older and wiser and smarter I've also really added on to that my third agenda, which is a quote from Thomas Edison, which is that opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. And I have certainly found that to be true.

Ray Loewe15:22

Okay, now again, because time is getting short over here, you have come up with 10 principles that you use every day with your clients, to help them figure out where they want to go in life and how to help create other luckiest people in the world. So, so take a minute, let's just go through them, we're gonna have to go through them pretty quickly. And we'll understand we'll talk about your new book coming out. And this is where people are going to be able to really get into the meat of this, but let's start out with you are the CEO of you.

Ellen Quint15:55

Right, and by CEO, I mean, you are the chief, everything Officer of you. So, especially for people who have come from the corporate world, where they have had wonderful support that they don't even realize that they've had, all of a sudden, you are responsible for the whole ballgame.

Ray Loewe16:14

Okay, and you better deal with it somehow. Right?

Ellen Quint16:18

Exactly, which gets the principle to, which is get real and deal. And that involves with knowing your numbers. And that's not just your financial numbers. It's also your health numbers. So and you realize things change, just a quick, a quick story on that I always had low blood pressure, all of a sudden, at 67, I started having high blood pressure. So I had to really take all of these behaviors that I had gotten used to and now shift it. So it's really important to recognize that you change and you have to become very real about these numbers as they shift.

Ray Loewe16:57

Okay. And again, I'd like to probe into these but given our time constraints, I think what use it or lose it was next on your list.

Ellen Quint17:06

Exactly. And then that's to do with building muscles. And that's just not physical muscle. I consider luck, a muscle. And it's a muscle that you have to work on. Including a gratitude muscle and your mental and emotional and spiritual muscles. So you use it or lose it. But you got to work on them.

Ray Loewe17:24

Okay, so why don't you take it just give us the list of the rest of them so that we get them all in quickly. And

Ellen Quint17:34

I'm gonna do it New York City, New York quick, okay. So principle for downsize to upsize. Principle five, kill the loneliness before it kills you. Principle six. Pursue purpose to find fulfillment. Principle seven. Appreciate your time, affluence. Principle eight give give, but set boundaries. Principles nine, enjoy the journey, not just launch. And then principle 10. Plant seeds of gratitude, watch them grow your legacy.

Ray Loewe18:18

Okay, and if you do all of those, you're going to be one of the luckiest people in the world, Aren't you?

Ellen Quint18:24

Exactly. Exactly,

Ray Loewe18:27

you know, I'd love to spend the time to go into more of these, you know, I think I think we may have to have you back on another podcast? When do you think your book is going to come out and give us the title of the book.

Ellen Quint18:40

The title of the book is "The Top 10 to thrive practical principles to maximize the third third of your life". And as to when it is going to come out? Ray, you are working on a book, you know that there's a mystery involved in this?

Ray Loewe18:57

Especially today, right?

Ellen Quint19:00

So I would say in about a year. Okay, so

Ray Loewe19:03

you'll let us know, we'll have another session before that, probably. And we'll try and get closer to when the book comes out. Because I really want to know more about these 10 principles. They're tantalizing. And I can taste some of them but I'm not sure I understand them completely so so we'll come back and you know, just thank you so much for being with us and sharing a big part of your life with us. And your stories about the impact of COVID and the World Trade Tower, kind of a thing, and thanks for being one of the luckiest people in the world and sharing with us. So Ellen Quint. Next Act unlimited. We're going to list your website and everything in the podcast notes that we put so people can contact you. And just again, thanks so much for being with us and join us again and another week we're going to have another exciting guest and it will be another one of the luckiest people in the world, and Luke, sign us off


thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Mon, 23 May 2022 14:10:00 +0000
E108: An Ever Evolving Career, Guest, Dr. John Neely



Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Hello, everybody, and welcome to our podcast, changing the rules. We're here at our brand new studios in Willow Street. We're here with our engineer, Luke Cagn0, who makes everything work for us. And thank you, Luke, for being here. And we're here with a great guest today. But I want to give you a little background before we start on changing the rules. You know, throughout our lives we're given rule after rule after rule. It started with our parents, it went to the church and went to the schools and went to our jobs. And everybody's got rules that they throw at us. And some of them are pretty good rules, and we want to keep them and some of them become irrelevant over time. But we have this body of rules that we have to get through. And I think it was Steve Jobs that said, when you're living your life by other people's rules, you're not living your own life. So we encourage you to go through the rules and pick the ones that are really pertinent to you. And we have today one of the luckiest people in the world that we're interviewing, and we define the luckiest people in the world as those people who take control of their own lives, design them to their own specs, and then live them under their own terms. And Dr. John Neely is with us today. And John is a medical doctor. He started his career as a pediatric oncologist. And you're gonna have to define that for us John and welcome to the world of podcasting.

Dr. John Neely01:45

Great, thanks so much glad to be here. So you want to know about pediatric oncologist? Well, when I went to medical school, actually, which was up in Hershey, you know, when you go to medical school, you're exposed to so many different things. And I for a while thought about surgery, I liked orthopedic surgery quite a bit. But what really caught my eye was taking care of children. And when I realized that I wanted to become a pediatrician. And I was influenced by some of the patients that I saw who were seriously ill at the time. And when I did my residency out in Minnesota, it was one of the bastions of teaching for pediatric oncology. And some of the very first patients that I saw there were patients that had serious oncologic issues. But it just touched my heart when I saw these patients, and I realized, for me, I could do general pediatrics, it's enjoyable enough, but I wanted to do something really challenging. And back in the day, I was encouraged because we were curing about 50% of children with cancer, which meant, of course, 50% were dying. So it was still a somewhat challenging and can be very depressing. But now we're up to about 85 to 90% cure rate. Oh, wow. So we now can tell most families, your child has something serious, we have a game plan for how to take care of it. And the odds are really high that they're going to be cured.

Ray Loewe03:15

All right. Now you told me while we're prepping for this, about an experience that you had walking down the street one of these days, why don't you tell us about that? Because that puts it all in perspective, I think?

Dr. John Neely03:27

Well, you know, I think one of the advantages for me of staying in Hershey to throughout most of my oncology career was I took care of a lot of patients and, and I didn't move away. So the odds of my running into them, and some of them I've are close friends with were pretty high. So here I was two years. Well, just before COVID I was at the Fulton Theatre. And they were doing the one of my favorite Christmas plays about the Red Ryder BB gun. And you know, and all of that.

Ray Loewe03:57

Cleveland, Ohio, right, yeah.

Dr. John Neely03:59

And it was intermission. And suddenly this guy comes up to me, who has I think two or three children in tow young kids. And he was probably about 40 at the time. And he comes in introduces himself. And of course, I didn't recognize him because I hadn't seen him since he was about 12. And, but I knew right away who he was. And I had taken care of him with leukemia. And not only was he cured of this, but he you know, we think about can you ever have children after therapy and all that? Well, he's living a normal, productive life has at least three kids of his own. And he just came up and said, You know, I saw you over there. You haven't changed as much as I've changed, and he wanted to say hi and thank me.

Ray Loewe04:45

Wow, what a rewarding career. So so it was all worthwhile. But you haven't stayed there have you

Dr. John Neely04:51

No, and to get to kind of your thoughts about what do you do with rules? I remember because I was the chief of the division of pediatric oncology and a colleague in surgery came up to me at a meeting and he said, What what's your plan for, for advancing and I said, you know, I want to develop this program to the point that it has grown beyond my capabilities. Because I'm very good at patient care and, and some community things. But an area that needed to be spiffed up was research. And I said I want to work the division to the point where it needs somebody beyond what I can do. And that's exactly what happened, I became, I knew that somebody else needed to take over and I was getting very interested in other parts of medicine and leadership. And I made a decision to step down from the Division Chiefship, I still saw some patients, but I started to focus on other areas of medicine.

Ray Loewe05:51

Okay, so what are they? How did you ever divert your career? And then one of the things that is important as you go through this is that again, I mean, you exude luckiness. You're our definition of the luckiest people in the world over here. Because you, you follow what's fascinating and motivating to you and you make things happen. So what are these areas? How did you find them? And where are you?

Dr. John Neely06:17

Well, you know, it's an it's kind of like a pioneering spirit. Because I think one of the rules that I've had to struggle with is, because I was always told as a child, you can't fail, you have to get, you have to get straight A's, you have to do this and that. And I've set myself up in careers where there was a high likelihood of failing, because either it was something so innovative, that it wasn't the time wasn't quite ripe for it, or I grew something beyond my capability. So I wanted to move on. So it's been very difficult to say, Hey, I failed, that was a success. You know, that's an interesting thing to look at.

Ray Loewe06:55

Yes, it is, you know, and that's one of the things that I've learned over life, too, is that if you don't push yourself enough to fail, you're not learning. And I have two different kinds of days. I either have a great day, or I have a learning day, John. Okay.

Dr. John Neely07:10

That's the way I'm with golf to by the way. That's an impossible task. Yes. So I've kind of done two things since then I, you know, the way people advance in my career is typically they move to a new institution, and then they do the same thing again, you know, they may advance in their academic standing. But, you know, my opportunity would have been to say, I've done pediatric oncology here, now, I'm going to go do it at a different institution, or perhaps become a department chair, which is a different skill set. What I did differently was I decided to stay in the same institution, but to switch a career within that. So I got very interested in some of the things in medicine that I found to be short-sighted because we are trained incredibly well to take care of acute illness. So if you have a heart attack, or if you are in an auto accident, our health care system is the place to be it's the best in the world. But if you are struggling with a family history of heart disease, or diabetes, or there's a tendency to autoimmune diseases, we don't do a lot about the preventative aspects or looking at the whole body as to how they're going to respond. Instead, we throw pills at it. And that's just the nature of how we're trained. It's the nature of how we're reimbursed. So I've spent a lot of time trying to understand holistically how people can bring their life back into balance by having their different systems in their body optimized for function. And then, because my goal is people should, and we always talk about life expectancy as well, I am looking for what's called a health expectancy, I want somebody to live in a healthy, active, meaningful way to the very end of their life. And then they have a relatively short period of time where they may fail. But issues such as cognitive decline, or chronic heart disease, or chronic lung disease, are things that we need to spend more time trying to prevent.

Ray Loewe09:16

Okay, so where are we with this? What are we doing as a country? And what are you doing specifically?

Dr. John Neely09:23

Well, I've joined several different groups I've learned. I've done some certifications in what's called integrative medicine, some of which is very helpful, and some of which is not so well proven. And one of my goals is to help guide patients to these are things you can do that might really help and these are some things that you should steer clear of. So I've done that and then I've focused on a specific area of integrative medicine that's got a stupid name, but I can't figure in another name. It's called functional medicine. And, but the gist of it is instead of looking at systems like we look at in medicine, we you know, if you go to the doctor, they always do this review of systems. How are your eyes? Our your lymph glands? How's your heart? You know, and all of that the systems and functional medicine are? How do you take in the most nutritious food and digest and absorb it? What are the rules for what you should be eating and how you should absorb it and how you should protect your gut is an important part for nowadays is how do you feed and nourish your immune system so that when you are hit with something like COVID, you have the best possible chance of fighting that off. And then another area that is important is the environment. What are we doing with environmental chemicals and toxins and all that, that we have to detoxify?

Ray Loewe10:51

So where are we with that? And what kind of support do you have to do this kind of stuff?

Dr. John Neely10:56

Well, this is the uphill fight in a way because many of these things are looked at in medicine as Yeah, we know that's important. But we don't have time for that we don't have we're not trained for that. And so I've spent a lot of time and I still do teaching fellow faculty members, fellow doctors about some of the principles of holistic care as it fits into standard western medicine. Now I have some interest in things like traditional Chinese medicine, or Indian or Vedic medicine, I have work some working knowledge of it, but I am not a practitioner of those. But I can help people understand when they're approached with, with some questions about that. I deal a lot with the Amish, for example, who are wonderful people, they are very common sense. And they but they also are interested in natural approaches to things. So a lot of my work with them is saying, we have some things in standard western medicine that would help you but I want to help you with natural medicines that could help things go better for you and help you boost your immune system so we can work together and integrate care, you're going to be my new doctor here John. Well, that you know, that's why we were talking that a goal. Yeah, it's been, wouldn't it be interesting to do some podcasting on these types of topics or even lectures, so, and I'm a teacher at heart, okay, I you know, I'm in an academic medical center, I still love to teach. I'm doing some coursework here at Willow Valley. And that's,

Ray Loewe12:31

well, let's make a commitment to do that. But I want to probe into something else because you also talked a little bit about communication, and how to improve things. And I know you're doing some stuff here in terms of teaching people how to communicate better. So talk to me about where you're going there.

Dr. John Neely12:47

Well, that went back. And two ways with my medical career. One was, there's research out there that shows that the time between you go into a doctor's office, and they interrupt you, and don't listen is around seven seconds. So nobody ever has a chance to tell their story, their own medical story. And teaching doctors how to just sit back and listen and have the time to listen is so important. And the number of times in my holistic practice where I have somebody come in and start and I'm sitting there and starting to tell their story. And about five minutes into it, they cry. And they say you're the first person that has ever listened to me. So a lot of this is how do you practice listening? Now from the difficult conversation standpoint, that grew out of some of my teaching of leadership, what is the what are the principles of a sound conversation? What's the difference between a discussion, which by the way, rhymes with the same root word is percussion and concussion. So you can see that a discussion tends to be a back and forth, kind of a fight going on, like percussion or concussion, as opposed to dialogue, which in Greece means to flow through. So teaching how to listen and how to balance a conversation so that new ideas can flow through the group rather than just having a battle back and forth are the principles that I'm trying to teach.

Ray Loewe14:20

Okay, so here you are, you're in, I'm gonna say, a new phase of your career. I mean, you're phasing out of the oncology you'll never phase out of it. But you'll do less and less. And you've got the interest in preventative medicine, general health care, how do we take better care of ourselves, and this concept of dialogue, so where are we going with all this?

Dr. John Neely14:47

Well, you mean me personally.

Ray Loewe14:48

Yeah, we're you gonna take this?

Dr. John Neely14:50

Well, I do see that at some point, I will fade out I would say, I call it a glide path out of my career, although I still enjoy seeing my colleagues and seeing some patients. But that's becoming less and less of an issue for me, and I just see myself working with some of these other principles. Now, again, I am not so inclined at this point in time to spend day after day seeing patients, because I think might be, I would be better, my talents would be better served in some kind of a lecture type series, we're going to be perfect for broadcasting in some way or another. And then doing some small teaching, the idea of having good conversations, I'm currently doing it with a group of about 21 people here. I would love to see this applied to virtually anybody on the campus, including team members and administration so that we can all learn to converse together and learn together.

Ray Loewe15:52

So I'm going to change your name from Dr. John to Professor John over here. Okay

Dr. John Neely15:56

You can call me the professor like Gilligan's Island.

Ray Loewe15:59

Yeah, you know, unfortunately, we're at the end of our time, and we're going to have to do a repeat on this because I think any one of these topics we could spend a whole session on. And I really am kind of interested in this. How do you take better care of yourself? Overall, as opposed to just fighting the battle of here's a symptom, let's get rid of the symptoms. And so let's make a commitment to do that somewhere along the line. And, you know, I want to thank you so much for being here. I think your career is a model for people. And I think it's an important model. You know, here you are you had your career, and most people stay in that kind of a career forever. I mean, after all, you're a pediatric. I'm going to stumble over my pediatric oncologist over here. But you're not satisfied with that. And you're moving on to new things. And you're still a young man. And as we I bet in another 20 years, you're still going to be working on this stuff. To the degree I can, I will be cool. So thanks. Excuse me here. Thanks, everybody, for listening. We've been with John Neely and Luke why don't you sign us off and we'll see you all here next week. Great.


Thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Fri, 13 May 2022 22:20:00 +0000
E107: The One Woman Show, Guest, Candace O'Donnell



Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best lives, and advice on how you can achieve that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Well, this is the lively host, Ray Lowe, and welcome to our brand new studio in Willow Street, Pennsylvania, wherever that might be. And we've got a great guest today. But before we get into our guest, I want to remind everybody that changing the rules is about the fact that all through our lives we're given rules, we're given them by our parents, and then we went to school in the school gave us rules in the church gave us rules, and our jobs gave us rules. And I think it was Steve Jobs, the Apple guy who came back and said, You know, when you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your life, you're living somebody else's life. And we're lucky enough that every week we interview one of the luckiest people in the world. Now we have a definition for that. The luckiest people in the world are those people who take control of their own lives and live them under their own terms. And we certainly have one of the luckiest people in the world with us today. And I want to start out with a statement and you're gonna see why it's so important as we go through. You know, just because you reach a certain age in life doesn't mean that you have to retire and that you're washed up. And in fact, many people when they reach a certain age are useful. And sometimes they're outstanding, and sometimes they're even become the best there is regardless of their age. So I want to do is introduce today, Candice O'Donnell. You prefer Candice or Candy?

Candace O'Donnell 01:45

Candice? Candice. I think Candy sounds like a retired stripper at my age.

Ray Loewe01:53

Oh, well,

Candace O'Donnell 01:55

I go with Candace,

Ray Loewe01:56

you know, you'd probably do that well, too. But we'll get into that one. Okay, so So Candice has a really interesting career. And her background is she's raised four children. Okay, not a small feat. While she was doing that she taught English at Elizabethtown University, she has always been active in the theater. And then she got to a point where she had a chance to create some projects that were of interest to her. Okay, and a let's and that started later in life. So So let's, let's tell everybody how young you are.

Candace O'Donnell 02:31

I'll be at in about a month 27th two months 27 of June

Ray Loewe02:37

And you know, many people, when they reach these certain ages, say it's time to shut down? Well, not Candice. Okay, so tell us a little bit about these projects that you created. And tell us about them in general. And then let's get specific about the three specific ones that you chose to put into life.

Candace O'Donnell 02:56

Well, as you said, I've been doing theater here in Lancaster for maybe 25 years. I've done the Fulton I've done EPAC, my favorite role until I started doing this. This one-woman show was Driving Miss Daisy. That's a wonderful play with a fabulous message. But I guess it was about six, seven years ago. I started doing these one-woman shows I had done small skits for the anniversary of the Fulton 200 and 50th anniversary of people who had appeared at the phone, one of them being Sarah Bernhardt. And so I started I had done a little bit on Carrie Nation, the Temperance leader I had done Abigail Adams, but I started going in earnest into these one-woman shows. I had always wanted to do Mary Lincoln. And I hesitated on Mary Lincoln because it was such a tragic life. She was mentally ill, and she lost every single person that she loved. Every single person that she loved was taken away from her. And I couldn't figure out a way to get into humor in it. And so I kept hesitating, because I thought can I put in audiences through 70 minutes, 75 minutes of hell, her life was hell. And then I remembered one of her funny lines. When she first met Lincoln. She was the belle of the ball and he was a country bumpkin. And he came up to her and he said, Ms. Todd, I want to dance with you in the worst kind of way. And then she said, and then he proceeded to do exactly that. So that's where I got a little humor and I developed that. And then I decided to undertake Sarah Bernhardt an entirely different person. I go for a through-line with each of my characters. The through-line for Mary Lincoln was much madness is divinest sense, which is Emily Dickinson. And was it the track it was a fact that she was mentally ill. Sarah Bernhardt entirely different story, my throughline for her was Edsp ofs. Riojan was not ago not at all. And Sarah Bernhardt lived life on her own terms. She was a survivor. She invented the casting couch. She invented the PR agent. And she invented the cougar. She was amoral, rather than immoral. She was a tremendous survivor. She continued to perform 10 years after her leg was amputated. And incidentally, she did perform at the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster. And finally, I worked my way to Queen Victoria. I had had a strong interest in her for years. And the subtitle there is he was my all in all, Victoria is about her obsession, obsession with her husband, Albert. And particularly funny because they had nine children, she hated babies. You do the math, you put it together? Why did they have nine children? She hated them. So that's how I got into these. And I've really enjoyed them.

Ray Loewe06:03

Okay, well, I'm sorry, you don't have any passion for any of these at all. But you know, I think what does it take to do this? So let's go back to the first one to Mary Todd Lincoln. First of all, you had to make the decision that this was a character that you were going to bring to life. Okay. And so what did you have to do? I mean, because you wrote the script, right?

Candace O'Donnell 06:29

You I, it takes me about two to three years to research each person. And, but it's, it's amazing. Ray, the, the through-line comes to you almost instantly, at least it did to me when you see what the glue of this character is what you're going to emphasize. Now, another writer might not emphasize it. But then your research all falls into place. And

Ray Loewe06:56

okay, so you write the script, you're starting two years ahead of before you're going to deliver this Right, correct. And you got to go where do you find the background data on these people?

Candace O'Donnell 07:07

There, you're gonna really be surprised at this. It shows you what a low-tech dinosaur I am. I get it out of books. You've heard of books, B. O. O. K. S. I do not get online. Most people today would do their research online.

Ray Loewe07:23

Yeah. You know, we have our engineer here, who is college age, you know, and I think he's a digital book guy. Oh, is he? okay. Well, maybe not. Maybe he knows what a book is. Okay, You read books in college? Yeah, he did. Okay, so you dig in, and you've got two years of finding a character? Have you ever started on any and then found out halfway through that you couldn't get enough material and you killed the character?

Candace O'Donnell 07:48

No, I'm a little bit too cautious a person for that? I wouldn't. I'm usually interested in the character and know something about the character. And also I use films and plays as my sources too. I know enough about the character that I have yet to launch into one and thought, oh, no, this is actually a boring character. In fact, the more I researched them, the more fascinating they become.

Ray Loewe08:13

Okay, so So you start digging into this and you got this two-year process and you're writing your own script? Yeah. Okay. Which probably helps you memorize the script. Okay, and now you're going to deliver this. Okay, so how do you deliver this do you need to get sponsors for this as something that you go to somebody and do a trial.

Candace O'Donnell 08:38

I'm really glad you asked me that question, because it gives me a chance to pay tribute to Betsy Hurley of the Lancaster Literary Guild, and I haven't been asked that question before. She's the person who got me into the Ware Center with Mary Lincoln. Okay, and once those were very successful, and then I didn't have trouble getting into the Ware center after that. Most of them the more sellouts. My difficulty was COVID. You know, I had a delay of several well, all told this production was delayed four years because of COVID.

Ray Loewe09:16

Okay, so this is why Candice is one of the luckiest people in the world. I want you to think about this as our listeners here. Okay, so she took on a project several years ago, she knew it was going to take several years to do this. She ran into the COVID barrier most other people use as an excuse to quit, but not here. We were going to deliver this and we're gonna get into a couple of other things later as we go. So all of a sudden, Mary Todd Lincoln appeared on the stage, and you have a script. And do you have any plans to do anything with that script? Now that you've given the character life?

Candace O'Donnell 09:55

You mean Mary Todd Lincoln? Yeah. I've been asked to do a program here at Willow Valley and what I sometimes do with my programs, I'll do 20 minutes of Mary Lincoln. I'll do 20 minutes of Sarah Bernhardt. I'll do 20 minutes of Queen Victoria. I'm developing that now.

Ray Loewe10:14

Okay, so you've finished, Mary Todd. She's now alive. Okay. Yes. And now you sat there and you said, Okay, what's next? You didn't stop. Right? So how did you get the drive to go on to the next one?

Candace O'Donnell 10:34

I, because I'm an incorrigible ham. That's what my husband would tell you. Okay, that's where I get the drive. Okay, I have to admit it.

Ray Loewe10:42

Well, this is where the passion meets the excellence, though, so go ahead.

Candace O'Donnell 10:47

Well, that's what motivates me. But also, right, I really get passionate about these women. That's why I don't choose anybody that I don't admire. I see their foibles. We all have our foibles. But I couldn't do it fair, if I were doing man, I couldn't do Trump because I wouldn't, I couldn't admire him enough to do him, okay, I admire all these women. And the more I know about them, the more I see the hell they went through in various ways, and they triumphed over it. So it's not at all hard to motivate myself to do this. It was hard to keep the faith during COVID. With all the delays, like um, and of course, as you and I discussed, I'm getting older. So I'm wondering if I'm gonna go into dementia. Oh, and by the way, I'm losing my balance. I take the balance classes here at Willow Valley. So I won't fall down on stage. Okay. So you're wondering, you are wondering, is the body is the mind going to fail me. And you just sort of leap out in faith,

Ray Loewe12:00

but you didn't give up? And it worked. So let's talk about being queen. Okay. So I met you when you were going into this role of Queen of the empire Victoria. Okay. And, to tell you the truth, when I met you, I went to your performance with some trepidation. I mean, I'm sitting there saying, you know, can I sit through an hour plus of this? And I'll tell you, I was wrapped for 75 minutes, I don't think I moved in my seat, and to your little heart and to get me to do that. This is not me. I you know, so you know, you're an athlete. So you did something special here. And, it was a wonderful performance, and you brought this character to life. And I could just see in your eyes and your, the way you moved on stage that you are not you that don't you are Queen, Victoria. Okay. So let's talk a little bit about putting this one together. Because you had to start two years ago, you'd already done a couple of these. So you knew you could do it. Yeah. But now you started asking these questions in one of the things that you told me was about two weeks before you were gonna give this guess what, what happened?

Candace O'Donnell 13:12

Really, really nasty cough? And, of course, immediately tested for COVID. No, it wasn't COVID chest X-ray, is it pneumonia. And that was frightening I, people, I don't get frightened by performing because as I already confessed, I'm a ham I love to perform. But this cough frightened me. Because I was really terrified that I would not be able to deliver the performance. I was thinking of some other actresses I've worked with, but that was too late for them to memorize a 70-minute script. And I remember my daughter, saying, Mom, well, you may just have to give up on this. And she said I said, Well, I'm, you know me. I'm not giving up at this point. Don't you know my personality? And she said, Well, would you rather die mom? And I said yes. Yes. I would rather die than have to call Keegan my granddaughter was in the show introducing it. She's a temple, a student at Temple called Keegan and say, Keegan, we're not doing it. I would. So that was our big family joke. Mom would rather die than not do it so. As you know, you were there. Well, I was coughing right before I went out, I had to sucrets, I had tea. But now this, you said I'm the luckiest person in the world. And you are and I am and we are but that this was also a blessing. Because I absolutely believe this was God. I mean, I go out there and I'm not coughing. It's unbelievable to me, nor did I fall down on stage.

Ray Loewe14:39

And the show must go on. The show must go on. So I think this is a message that I want our listeners to get across. Most of us during our lives, put off projects that we want to do because life gets in the way. You know, here you were. You're raising four kids. You're teaching English. You know you're doing all of these things and then somewhere along the line, I think this germ woke up in your head and said, this has been there for a long time I have to do this.

Candace O'Donnell 15:09

Yeah. It's, it's, I think, if you have a particular passion, you almost have it from the womb.

Ray Loewe15:17

And it's never too late to do that. And even at your stage of the game, when you are worried about health issues and things like that, guess what? You know everything falls in place, it was no problem. You got it done.

Candice O'Donnell 15:32

I was flabbergasted by it myself. Oh, I want to say one other thing, because there were so many Willow Valley people in the audience, I had two very sharp audiences, you being one of the members of the audience, who were completely with me, and you can tell that when you step out on stage, you can feel the button. You know, Bruce Springsteen, performing as an exchange of energy between the audience and the performer. You can tell when they're with you, they were laughing ahead of my jokes. That before I got to my punch line, they were laughing. I thought, Oh, boy.

Ray Loewe16:10

Well, you know, what was the gift? Well, when we had to stand up and sing God, save the queen, and do the royal wave to greet you in there. I mean, you had us at the beginning. But I think this is a really good lesson for people because here you are. And I'm going to predict you're going to do another one. I have no idea what it might be.

Candace O'Donnell 16:30

My husband will kill me but yeah, we can all see I'm incorrigible.

Ray Loewe16:33

And the other thing that you're doing here is you're creating scripts, that maybe somebody else will do not as well as you do, but they'll do it at some point in time. And, and the research that you've done is just phenomenal projects. And I think you're to be congratulated for doing that. And I think it just makes you younger and younger and younger. So there all right, it keeps you going forward. Okay, so, unfortunately, we're near the end of our time here. So it's flies. Do you have any, any parting comments, any words of wisdom to anybody who wants to do these things? Or anything for the good of mankind?

Candace O'Donnell 17:12

Well, I just want to say I am hoping to eventually sell the scripts so that they will live on after me. Again, you may think I sound like a religious fanatic here. If you can get the guts to get out there and do it. Something in my case, I believe it was God, but something will see you through. Don't be afraid to try.

Ray Loewe17:39

And with that, I don't think there's anything more to say. So Luke is our engineer here at Willow Valley. So Luke, sign us off, please.


Thank you for listening to changing the rules. Join us next week for more conversation, our special guest and to hear more from the luckiest guy in the world.

Mon, 2 May 2022 14:00:00 +0000
Episode 106: Happiness No Matter the Circumstances, Guest Sarah Brown, Ph.D.

Podcast Guest: Sarah Brown

Sarah's Website:

Sarah's Online Course:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:19

Everyone, this is Ray Lowe, host of Changing the Rules. Changing the Rules is a podcast. We're now in our 100 plus episode about how people change the rules to live better lives. And every week we try and host someone who we think is one of the luckiest people in the world on our show. The luckiest people in the world, by our definition, are those people who redesign their own lives personally, to meet their specs. Then they step into them and live them under their own terms. The luckiest people in the world have a number of mindsets that they have to have in order to to take control of their lives. We're going to talk about a couple of them today because we have a great guest, Sarah Brown. It's actually Dr. Sarah Brown. We'll get into that in a minute. Sarah and I met each other several years ago and Sarah actually was a speaker at one of the conferences that I ran. Her comments about her "Book of You" just resonated so well with our audience that we wanted to have a chance to get back with her and find out what's changed over the years. Sarah is an executive coach. She is an author. She is a Ph.D. She has some interesting studies in her background. I think her undergraduate degree is, and of all things, mathematics. Sarah, is that true?

Sarah Brown02:01

That is true.

Ray Loewe02:03

Take a minute and tell us about your Ph.D., because I have no idea what you're talking about when we get to this. It's just good, right?

Sarah Brown02:13

So my Ph.D. is in a field called psychoeducational processes, which is a combination of group psychology and adult learning. The practical application of that in business is in the field of organization development or change management. In other words, how do we help people change as technology and work changes. And that's what I did for that. Talent management is what I did for the last 30 years of my career.

Ray Loewe02:44

Okay, so now you have changed your life, right? You went out on your own, you design your own life. That's why we know you're one of the luckiest people in the world. I think you're living under your own terms and you're doing some really good stuff for other people in the process of doing it. So I want to go back about three or four years to this presentation you gave us on the "Book of You". Tell us a little bit about why you designed the "Book of You" and what it does for people. Then we're going to get into the evolution a little bit later. So let's go back a few years.

Sarah Brown03:22

Okay. Well, the genesis of the "Book of You" came from a problem I saw in the last five years of my corporate career, I was managing director with Accenture. I was observing a phenomenon. Among my clients are inside Accenture, and other big consulting firms, and generally in my community. It was the vast number of mid-career professional women who were unhappy in their jobs. They couldn't answer the question about what would make it better. What did they actually want. And if you don't know what you want, you're unlikely to get it. So the problem that I initially set out to tackle when I retired from Accenture was coming up with the tools and the techniques to help people get very clear about what it is they want. The "Book of You" is designed to do that. It is based off of a world-renowned assessment called the Burkman method. It helps an individual identify their interests, their passions, their behavioral strengths, and more importantly, their motivational needs. In other words, what kind of environment allows them to minimize stress so that they can contribute their interests and their strengths to the greater good? That's what the "Book of You" is all about. It plays back for an individual, what his or her interests, strengths, and needs are. Then it embodies that in a coaching process that he or she can go through to actually get clear about what to do. How can you be happier and more successful in life, if you take into account what your passions are, what your strengths are, and more importantly, what environment will keep you out of stress? So the "Book of You" is basically a coach and a book, customized to you with information all about your unique personality, and some tips on how you can be happy, successful, and better understood, vocationally or in life.

Ray Loewe05:30

Okay, so I certainly understand that knowing what you want is the key to this. If you have no clue as to what you want, you're going to end up somewhere else, right? Now you take people through the "Book of You". Let's assume that you're always successful because you always are right. All of the people that do this, all of a sudden wake up one day, and they say, "I know what I want". So now, what do you do about it?

Sarah Brown06:02

Well, knowing what you want is step one, taking action on it is step two. So what I have put in place is how you can begin to take action on it and some tools. So if, Ray, if you go back to what fundamentally needs to be in place for anybody to change, it's three steps: awareness, motivation, and functioning capability. So the awareness piece is who are you? And what do you want? The motivation piece is getting what you want. Then the functioning capability piece are the tools to actually take action on it. So that's what I'm focused on right now is really working on those tools to help people take action to get what they really want.

Ray Loewe06:57

Let's go back to knowing what you want first. I think I have known what I want 47 million times in my life, because I think we have to realize that things change over time. It would be great if we didn't have this thing called maintenance in life, where we actually have to maintain things. So in your coaching process, or your design process, or whatever it is, how do you stress to people that, yeah, this is great, you figured out what you want. And guess what the world is going to clobber you in ahead a couple times. Some things are going to need to be changed. How do you handle that?

Sarah Brown07:36

Well, you handle it two ways. One is you be open to evolution around how you can bring your interests and strengths to new goals. So each situation you encounter in life is going to give you feedback on are you on the right path or not. Part one is being flexible enough in your goals that you can shift them. But doing so in alignment with what your interests and strengths are. Because if you pick a goal that is totally out of the realm of what you care about, you're not likely to be happy going at it, you might be successful, but you won't be happy. For example, if you don't like numbers, you're probably not going to be happy as a financial planner, you might be successful at it if you really work hard, but you're unlikely to be happy. It is being flexible on your goals and making sure they're in alignment with who you really are. Step two is taking action on it and dealing with obstacles, and obstacles are going to come up. It's just a part of life. The interesting thing about obstacles is that we can't usually tackle them on our own. It's building the support structure around us so that when obstacles come up, we can work them out with another individual who knows and cares about us; and figure out is it giving us feedback on we need to change our goals? Is it giving us feedback on we need a new path towards our goals? Or do we just need encouragement and resolution to keep plowing through that obstacle? So that would be my answer to your question.

Ray Loewe09:26

I like this word accountability that you kind of stuck in there a little bit. I know in my life, it's so happy, because it's so important because nothing happens if I'm not accountable to somebody else. Let's talk for a minute about the need for others because I think you said that you can't do this by yourself.

Sarah Brown09:50

Correct. It's been my experience that individuals don't actually get clear, really clear, about what it is they want. And don't find ways around obstacles in a really effective manner. Unless they work it out and talk it out with somebody that they know. Somebody that knows and cares about them. That's one of the values of the coaching process, but you don't need a trained coach to perform that function. You just need somebody who knows and cares about you, and can help you clarify, is this really what you want? And how do you address this particular obstacle? What is the obstacle telling you? Is it helping you to refine your goal? Is it telling you need to find a new path? Or do you just need encouragement to get through it?

Ray Loewe10:42

Okay, let's go back three or four years, we had this thing called COVID. Everybody's favorite topic, right? We had a lot of people who were on a path before that. What have you noticed has happened to the people that you coach or the people who read your book? In terms of this rather momentous change that took place and how did it affect the way they think about the "Book of You"? The way they think about their lives and about where they're going?

Sarah Brown11:19

COVID was just an obstacle that got in the way. It has helped people to reevaluate what they want. It has gotten them to reevaluate the path to get what they want. It has presented obstacles that they got to plow through with the help of everybody else. So I'll give you a case in point from my own life. It has not caused me to change my goal of helping and empowering women, that's really where I am still focused. But what it did do was to say, I need to do it more virtually. That enabled me and allowed me and pushed me to develop more virtual offerings. So I have virtual public offerings right now. I am doing virtual corporate training right now and my coaching was always primarily virtual. So that has enabled me, that COVID actually was the impetus to pivot a little bit my path towards my goal. It's actually been beneficial in that it serves my needs as well. I'm not real wild about traveling, so it has enabled me to really cut back on travel, which has been good for me. Now, the third point, figuring all of this out, I had to work this out with another human being. In my case, the other human being is my accountability partner, who I was actually meeting with virtually any way. I have met with her at 9:30 every morning for three years. And so I balanced all of these ideas as I was thinking about them off her and actually refine them.

Ray Loewe13:17

We had a positive change here. Wherever you sit, you're saying, Wow, COVID disaster, people are dying from this. That's a shame. I mean, we don't want anybody to die from anything. It really did cause us to assess the way we do business, assess what we want. So here's the book, have you changed fundamentally at all because of what you've gone through?

Sarah Brown13:39

I am in the process. I actually have completely updated the "Book of You". It has become even more robust than it was before. It still contains the detailed information all about you, but it is even more detailed. It still contains a 30-day process to work this through with someone who knows and cares about you. So it retains all of that, but I have made it more robust.

Ray Loewe14:11

You made a comment about your travel and stuff like that. Let me bring in another example. I had a young lady, who was a filmmaker, on our podcast a while ago. She rolled out a film this year. It was a film about aging, and it was good enough that PBS picked it up. It all started with her grandmother and said I have to get her on film because nobody will believe that this 97-year-old works out every day. So she did. In rolling out the film, she said the amazing thing about this thing with COVID was that I got this film rolled out all over the world; all over places where I just never could have gotten because of the cost, because people wouldn't pay to fly me at all. Yet we did these virtual rollouts. So when we think about the changes that occur, I mean, what do you see happening? Are we virtual now for the rest of our lives?

Sarah Brown15:13

I don't think we'll ever be going back to the degree of face-to-face, at least face-to-face that required travel that we had before. I think that's probably a good thing for the planet, a good thing for people. Travel for work is hard. It's hard work. And the more we can substitute virtual interactions like this, the better off I think we're going to be from that perspective. That being said, there are some losses in virtual and I don't think it is going to ever completely replace human one-on-one contact. But I don't think we're going back.

Ray Loewe 16:04

Let me digress a little bit here because I want to address some of the things that we have a book coming out. I want to thank you for being a contributor to that book. Let me tell everybody, what the contribution that you made, because it's such a small part of what you do, but it's so so significant, that it's incredible. One of the quotes that I put in there about you is that "the luckiest people in the world learn how to use their internal power to be happy, regardless of their situation". Take a minute and tell everybody how you become happy every day. Then let's build on this in a different way.

Sarah Brown16:45

One of the points that I make is that you don't have to completely change your circumstances in order to be happy. In fact, when I'm coaching women, I don't want them to go change their jobs, just to be happy, I want them to get in touch with what makes them happy where they currently are. That comes from real self-awareness and self-knowledge. So you get a lot of that from reflecting. You get a lot of that from reflecting on what's going on in your life and how it impacted you. I do a lot of that. You also get a lot of it by just getting still and listening. I have a daily practice in the morning of journaling. I journal what's going on in my life, how I'm reacting to it to see what insights come out of that. Then I have a meditation practice where I just tried to get very quiet and listen.

Ray Loewe17:54

If you listen to what you're trying to do for people if you can make people redesign their lives so that they're generally happy people, they're going to be generally happy anyway, right? I mean, if you're living your own life, what's not to be happy about it, except that little things get in the way. You have to be able to change your attitude every day and make sure that you understand where you're heading and stuff like that. One of the things that you indicated you do is you do a lot of thinking and introspection about who you are and where you're going. Any comments for other people about how to do that or why it's so important?

Sarah Brown18:34

Well, I have two comments about this. The first is on I find journaling very helpful because it gets it out of me and it makes it more concrete. It's it is a way for me to express what's going on with me. But like I said, I don't think anybody gets really clear about this until they voice it to another human being. So journaling is a step along the way, but expressing it to another human being goes a significant way. I'll tell you a quick story, Ray, about this. When Abraham Lincoln was working on the Emancipation Proclamation, he called a friend of his by the name of Leonard Sweat to come from Springfield, Illinois, so that he could bounce ideas off of him. They went up one side and down the other for hours with this individual, around what to include how far to go, what should be, who should be the target territories, and all of this stuff. At the end of that process, he said to Leonard Sweat, thank you very much. I have my answer. Leonard sweat walked out of the cabinet room and said, I never said a word. So what was happening is Abraham Lincoln was voicing it to another human being and getting very clear about what was in him; what were his ideas, how he wanted to move forward. It was important that he do that with an individual who knew and cared about him. But it wasn't so much the other individual, it was us voicing what's important to us. I think that's really important. That's why I built people into the coaching process in my "Book of You".

Ray Loewe20:23

All right, well, there's our nugget for the rest of our lives right there, because I think it's so true. When when you get a chance to talk through with yourself in the presence of somebody who cares. That's what you're saying, right? We're getting near the end of our time. There are a couple things that I want to kind of get from you here. So you've changed a little bit of what you've done. You haven't changed your goals, you haven't changed the vision of where you've gone, but you've changed a little bit by making your book have more detail. You've changed the way you've presented because you're doing much more virtual kinds of things. Is there anything else that's coming out in the way that you're working with people to help them understand who they are?

Sarah Brown21:11

Yes, I've developed an online course, actually, that takes people through this process of getting clear about who they are, and how to translate that into goals. It's another example of going virtual, and it can be done with or without the "Book of You" and it's available at That's another way that I've gone about adjusting to the change in our current situation and the opportunity that it presents to go more virtual.

Ray Loewe21:49

To keep it simple, Can we reach that through the "Book of You" if we go to Is that going to get us there?

Sarah Brown21:59

Eventually, it will get you there.

Ray Loewe22:06

Certainly, people have noted that; we'll put that in our notes so that people can find you. Any other words of wisdom that you have for people?

Sarah Brown22:22

It's as simple as the jingle Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. Let me decode that Row, Row Row Your Boat means you got to take some action on getting what you want. Gently down the stream is code for but it doesn't have to be hard work. If you're in line with your interests and your strengths and you're getting your needs met. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. Happiness is your key to whether or not you're on the right path. Life is spot a dream, and all starts in the head.

Ray Loewe23:02

Okay, Sarah Brown, Ph.D., coach, woman of the world, accountability coach, among other things. There's nothing to say after Row, Row Row Your Boat. Let's leave people with that thought. Thank you so much for being a friend. And thank you so much for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Thanks so much for following up with us. We're gonna look forward to hearing from you periodically to find out where you're going, and how you're helping people. So, thanks for being here, Sarah.

Sarah Brown23:33

Thanks so much, Ray.

Ray Loewe23:35

Okay, Jim, can you sign us off? Thank you.

Kris Parsons23:39

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 30 Mar 2022 13:39:11 +0000
Episode 105: "Boredom is Death," Guest Tammi Brannin


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lifely host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to Changing the Rules. You know, I don't know about this lively person piece that Christine keeps telling me I am, but maybe I am. Maybe we'll explore that in our with our guest today. The name of our show is Changing the Rules. There are two things that I want to comment on here. One is that life is filled with rules that we didn't come up with. And there's too many of them. Rules generally do two things, they say you can do this, or you better not do this. Right. As soon as somebody tells me that I can't do things, I get annoyed immediately. I start looking for way around the rules. One of the things that I've learned over the course of my life is that if you're going to live your own life, you have to live by your own rules. Now we do need rules. Many of the rules that we've gotten in life are great rules, and we need to keep them. But there are other rules that we need to change so that we can move on and do those exciting things that we want to talk about. One of the things that I do all the time is, I really make an important part of my life to follow is fascinating and motivating debate. When I wake up in the morning, I want to look forward to the day and say, "Wow, this is gonna be a great day, all of this stuff I'm doing, this stuff I'm excited about". It just gets me motivated. It's like these podcasts, I get to talk to great guests, and at the end of them, I am so psyched up and motivated for the rest of the week. And I have one with me today. And Tammy has been on our show before, in fact, a couple of times and she will be on again. Tammy Brandon is a coach. She is an entrepreneur. She's the inventor of the blueprint process. She has been an important part of my life. She's a fairly new addition to the people I know in my life, but she has really helped me hone in on what my purpose is and what I am trying to do. Tammy, thank you so much for doing that for me. I'm going to start you with a tagline and you're going to take off. "Boredom is death."

Tammi Brannan02:46

And that is your tagline, baby. I did not come up with that. You said that on our last call and like bells were ringing. Boredom is death. Do you remember why you said that on our last call?

Ray Loewe02:59

No, but I know when I was talking this morning about being a lively host. It's because I don't want to be bored ever. Boredom is the fastest way to get you in a rut, that is not a place a good place to be. So why did I say this?

Tammi Brannan03:17

I honestly don't remember either. But what I do want to talk about is what you just said, which is there are worst kinds of death than physical death. To me, this is a direct correlation. Boredom is the worst possible death. The reason why I think you say this, the reason why I think this is a philosophy of yours is because it fits with the luckiest people in the world. The luckiest people in the world, who as you identified change the rules, they do not want to go along with the status quo. What's usually done with the person down the street is doing, they want to make sure that what is in their life is fascinating and motivating. So as you mentioned, they're always waking up excited, energized by the projects they've got going on that day. How this relates to purpose is so fascinating to me. It is so cool to think that when you're pursuing your purpose, your God-given purpose, you are not bored. You're not obligated. You're not thinking, "Oh, I wish I I wish I had a different purpose." I had someone actually asked me yesterday, "can I borrow somebody else's purpose?"

Ray Loewe04:41

There's an idea. We can sell it to him maybe, right?

Tammi Brannan04:44

Oh, yeah, right. Maybe no, no. That's what I told him is no, it just doesn't work because your purpose is actually lined up with all the tools you have naturally been given. The beautiful thing about that is you haven't just been given the ability to follow your purpose. You been given the natural fascination and motivation to follow your purpose as well, which goes to one of the biggest tricks I use when helping people identify their purpose. That's asking them your question, what is fascinating and motivating for you? And as you've identified, that can change.

Ray Loewe05:21

Yeah, and it takes a lot some time for people to figure that out. Let me make two comments to emphasize this. I remember reading a statement from the Gallup poll a while ago. I can't believe that this is true, but it keeps coming back and coming back. And that is 80% of the people in the United States, quote, hate their stupid job. I talked to a young man the other day on another podcast. John is 91 years old. He was talking about his life as a manager for the DuPont Company. And he said, the thing that hurt him most is when people came in and talked about how they were checking off their days because it was another day that was done. So pick up on this, and let's talk about how we avoid boredom, how we do this thing. And obviously, one is to truly understand who you are, and why you're here. Then that allows you to start talking about values and then build the life that you want to build. So you're the coach, Tammy, go ahead.

Tammi Brannan06:37

We both are actually, dear. You coach people how to be the luckiest people in the world, and you encourage them to do so. You do that by suggesting to them that it's a possibility. So I would say that's the 80%. I would say the bulk of the 80% when they're checking the days off on their calendar, just to say that another day is done, don't believe in hope. They don't believe that there's a possibility for a better way. Most moms, mostly because they see it around them. If 80% of the population of the working force feels this way about their job, then you can imagine that the people, most people around you that you interact with on a daily basis, friends, family, coworkers, whatever are feeling this way. So you get into this habit of thinking, Oh, this must be all there is. This must just be all I can do. I check my days off for the weekend, I checked my days off for vacation, I check my days off for retirement. So you're in a constant state of waiting and dissatisfaction.

Ray Loewe07:37

The other thing, comment that I get all the time is, when people are unhappy about their lives, they say that's why they call it work. So somewhere in here, we need to change this perception. Because you're right, I am a big believer that there are fascinating and motivating things out there. It takes a little work to find them. But when you find them, life starts to get exciting, it starts to be good. And the last thing in the world I want to do is be bored. Because every time I get bored, I get into trouble.

Tammi Brannan08:10

Right? Because you resist that death, you know, on some instinctive level that boredom is the worst possible death. So you resist that. You do that by mixing things up by changing the rules. That's what you encourage your community to do. I know we're going to be talking about your book later, but I know I've seen your book, and I know that it is a, let's call it, a pot-stirrer. It is the way to disrupt your current life, if it's in a rut, bump you out of that rut, and get you into a life that's fascinating and motivating. I so appreciate that. You've done that for the world.

Ray Loewe08:49

Okay, so let's go there. You're a coach for the day over here. Let's talk a little bit about what happens when people get bored. What can you suggest to them to do to kickstart their life to at least start a journey away from where they are to a promised land of sorts, right?

Tammi Brannan09:15

It is probably the scariest and hardest thing you'll ever do. I'm sorry. Because what you're doing is you're looking at disrupting a pattern. That always is very uncomfortable for us to change. Uncertainty is very uncomfortable. Basically what I'm asking you to do, what Ray and I are asking you to do, is jump into the unknown. There's no guarantee out there that things are going to be better. There's no guarantee that if you move from one job to the next that it will be a better job. A little bit. Something you can do to mitigate that risk is study yourself first. This is what I recommend of all my clients is to study yourself first, and not to be self-promoting, but the best process helps you do that. You actually do a better job of getting results when you have someone else helping you study yourself. But in the absence of the blueprint process, you can actually observe yourself in your current environment as boring as it is as predictable as it is. And you can identify the things that bring you energy, what people, what relationships, what tasks bring you energy. I actually have this tracker that I've put together to help people do this. I'm happy to give it to Ray's community for free. You don't actually even need the tracker, you can do this on your own. Just keep track of what drains your energy, and what charges your energy. And by self-study, you're enabled to start making some leaps outside of that rut, little small steps, little tiny experiments. You don't have to quit your job, you don't have to move across the country, divorce your spouse, you don't have to do those big major life changes. You can just do tiny little experiments. And watch what happens to the battery that is within each one of us. Is it charged? Or is it drained?

Ray Loewe11:08

Okay, let's talk about batteries. What did you mean by that? I mean, I certainly know what an Everready battery is or a Duracell. We use them every day. They do run out of fuel. That's usually at the worst possible time.

Tammi Brannan11:24

Yes. Perfect analogy.

Ray Loewe11:26

So how do you charge this battery? What are some of the activities that you can go through to juice them up?

Tammi Brannan11:33

It depends on who you are, and what your blueprint is, this is the best piece of advice I can give you. Everyone is charged and drained by different things. What's fascinating and motivating to Ray is not necessarily what's fascinating and motivating to you. Simple example I can give you, my dad loves to go fishing. His battery is charged by fishing. I, however, I get in that boat and in 2.3 seconds, I'm bored to tears. It doesn't work for me. Same thing at work, you could take this concept into your professional existence and your personal existence. I would do that. Your battery is charged and drained 24/7, 365 days a year, you can watch it and observe it no matter in what situation you're in, no matter whom you're with. The trick is to discover what does it for you. Now you can take someone like Ray, and you can ask Ray "okay, why do you get up every day? I'm fascinated and motivated and engaged in the projects that you're getting in today." He was fascinated and motivated about these podcasts that he was doing today. So you're like, Okay, I see that Ray's interested in podcasts and interviewing guests and talking to them about the luckiest people in the world. What could I do that might be similar to that? Maybe that would work for me. So maybe you start small by, you go out you find someone who's fascinated and motivating to you, interesting to you. You just have a conversation with them. You have lunch with them. Don't do a podcast, just have lunch with them. Gauge what did that do to my battery? Did it charge it? Oh my goodness, really? You got to pull up the clown nose now?

Ray Loewe13:15

Well, you weren't motivated enough to me. What can I tell you? It can be, on thinking about this while you're talking, it can be as simple as looking in the mirror. Changing your face will. We had a clown as a guest on our show when one of the things he talked about is that every time he dresses up in his different clown outfits, he feels differently. He looks for different things. And I think this is what you're saying. There are different times in our life when we need different things. I noticed one of the big times for people that we talked to a lot or this period of time when people talk about retirement. Retirement like I can't see why anybody gets excited about retirement anyway, because the word retirement means to take out of use. Who wants to be taken out of use? Who wants to think that way? Yet, I see people that leap into retirement with no thought of where they're going, no plan, and wind up being as unhappy as they were before. I see other people who don't leap in retirement, they keep going back to what they know and are afraid to change. So give us a couple of steps as to how you think about change. I mean, you were talking about this energy audit. What are some of the things that you thought about you today that would go on your energy audit, for example?

Tammi Brannan14:48

That's awesome. I love energy audits. That is a great phrase. Thank you. I'm going to borrow that. Alright, so for me what's fascinated and motivated, and by the way, this has worked for me since 2006. I've been doing what I'm doing today since 2006. So it not only was fascinating and motivating back then, it's even more so today because I've continued to study myself and refine what I do and who I spend time with. And yes, one of those people is right. So for me fascinating and motivating activities, and this is what I've been doing today is, I've been talking to people about their purpose. I've been talking to people about their spiritual beliefs, and how to use those two things and make their life better, both personally and professionally. That energizes me, it energizes me in a big way. So consequently, when I'm with people who don't want to talk about those things, I'm not that interested. I'm not that interested in the conversation. And so I don't I choose not to hang around people who don't want to talk about those things.

Ray Loewe15:56

And that's a big choice. I remember, this goes back many years. After my wife and I got married, and you meet people, and you invite them over for dinner. Then they feel like they've got to invite you back for dinner. Then you have to invite them back for dinner again. The next thing you know, you sit down one day, and you say, why are we doing this? People aren't very interesting. I think part of it is you have to be sensitive to the things that if you want to make a change, you have to actually change things. I think what you're saying is, you don't have to change big things, you can sometimes just change little things. I mean, phase-out of a relationship, if it doesn't suit you anymore. Go find a place where you're excited about the people that happen to hang out there. We started doing this about 20 years before I quote-unquote, "retired from my business", I started studying these luckiest people in the world. I started looking at what makes them who they are. I kicked myself several times, why am I doing this? Well, number one is exciting. Number two, these are people I actually thought I want to hang out with. So where are they? Who are they? How do you define that? And I find that that's one of the things that drives me a lot is the who? Not the what, it's the who? So let's talk for a minute about your blueprint process. Because I know it was helpful to me, I know the purpose of this is not a commercial. I know that you have a website. I want you to give us the name of the website.

Tammi Brannan17:45

Ray Loewe17:47

We'll put it up on our podcast. I know that you'll take a couple of minutes and talk to people who are interested in this. I think this is maybe one of the key places that we can kickstart change. You got to start a discussion with somebody, you've got to start on this idea of who I am, and why I'm here. Once that becomes clear in your mind, then it becomes easier to start moving forward. And it's not a real easy process and it's painful. Trust me, it was painful to me. But I kept coming back. So talk about where this blueprint process came from and what is your result?

Tammi Brannan18:31

It came from my desire to not be bored. I felt like a complete misfit in my life and I didn't know why. And so it was just a matter of studying, I believe that studying has to happen first before you make any change, you have to study yourself. How you show up in places to get that kind of knowledge that mitigates the risk of change. If you don't study first, and you're just changing here changing there, changing all over the place, you end up making way more of a mess than you need to. So for me, I started to study myself so that I could figure out where to change, what to change, and how to change. And I started to do that. One of the changes I made was, oh my gosh, I really want to do this for other people too. So that's what led me to put the blueprint process together. It is primarily a study program. We're studying you and what your blueprint is so that we know what your purpose is so that we can then apply that to your life both personally and professionally. That's how the blueprint came to be. and that's what I do.

Ray Loewe19:34

Okay, unfortunately, we're coming near the end of our time period. Before we get there if somebody wants to start thinking about themselves. I think you hit us with where's your energy level, we're going to be doing an energy level audit, and find out what excites you and what doesn't; but are there any other things that people can think about on themselves? Maybe not necessarily to make the changes, but to start to understand that they need to make the changes. And if they do, if they make them, they'll be happier.

Tammi Brannan20:07

And freakin deserve it. I think one of the biggest problems with the 80% that are dissatisfied with their life is, they don't believe that they deserve it. They don't believe they have a purpose. They don't believe they deserve happiness, joy. They don't believe they deserve to be fascinated and motivated by every single day of their existence. They think that you are somehow more special than they are. Consequently, they don't even strive to make a change or to believe in a life that's better. On some level, they've accepted that that's all they're good for.

Ray Loewe20:44

So let's talk about the book that's coming out. This is my commercial now. As we've studied the luckiest people in the world for so long, I started writing stories about them. Believe it or not, most of these stories come from this podcast. You're in the book, by the way. Whether you like it or not. I think the idea is that we took people from these podcasts that have interesting stories or interesting thoughts about how do they get lucky. John Freeman, for example, puts on his clown nose and it changes his disposition for the day. It could be as simple as that. But what we tried to do is lay out a motivating frame of people, we try to get into the seven different characteristics that the luckiest people seem to have all the time. They just keep coming back, and back, and back. Then we talked a little bit about a vision and a process to getting there. I think the vision is such an important piece, and you have to visualize yourself as being happy and contented, filled. That's where it starts. So any words of wisdom that you want to impart while you're still here before we shut you off and kick you off the air?

Tammi Brannan22:06

Because that's what's fascinating and motivating to you, isn't it? So with your book and the seven characteristics, I would just encourage people to get the book. Also to go into the book, recognizing that the seven characteristics of luckiest people that Ray will be talking about in the book are not seven characteristics of the luckiest people in the world that are somehow unobtainable by you. It's not like a movie, you go watch and then you walk away and say that was a nice experience. It's a movie that you go watch, and you walk away with seven things that you can now do in your life. The seven characteristics are mindsets that people can apply to their life. Right now today, and make themselves the luckiest people in the world.

Ray Loewe22:13

That's right, Absolutely, thank you for that. Because it's not about changing anything, but the way you think. These are things you have absolute control over in life. It's I mean, I don't care what happens with COVID. I don't care what happens with a war in the Ukraine and anything else in the world. You can always change the way you think. And you control that. All you have to do is focus on them. And by the way, just for note, our book is not out yet. Nobody can get it yet. Today, we're kind of doing a bait and switch kind of thing here. We're kind of setting people up so that they have to go on out and get this later. But thanks again for your comments. Any last-minute, Tammy, comments, and then we're gonna sign off?

Tammi Brannan23:46

I would just say without the book just yet, go listen to past episodes of this podcast.

Ray Loewe23:52

Yeah and go to Tammy's website and look at this blueprint process and whether you decide to go through it or not. I think the idea of take a look at what's there and start thinking about the changes that you can make in your life just by changing your mindset. Huge. Okay, Miss Tammy Brannon, thank you for being with us. You certainly are one of the luckiest people in the world. Every time I get a chance to talk to you, I get fascinated and motivated. So thanks for being you. And Taylor, why don't you sign us off until we got another podcast guest next week.

Kris Parsons24:32

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life, and how you can figure out how to do that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 22 Mar 2022 04:00:00 +0000
Episode 104: What's Right for You?, Guest Andrei Jablokow


Kris Parsons00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:22

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to Changing the Rules. This is your lively host Ray Loewe. No, I have no idea where that lively host thing came from. But we're going to have a lively guest, I promise you that. Let's talk for a minute about changing the rules and what we're trying to do here. One of the things that we found is that we are saddled in life by rules, everybody in the world seems to want to give us a set of rules. Rules are great because they add structure to our lives. We're going to come back and talk about structure later, in a little bit. But it adds structure to our lives. The problem is that rules get overwhelming and that there are too many, and many of the rules that we were given early in our life just aren't relevant to where we want to go anymore. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, has a comment that he made. He said, "You know, when you're living life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life, you're living their life." We interview people that we refer to as the luckiest people in the world on this show. And they're our role models for going ahead. These are people who have designed their own lives and are living them under their own terms. Or if they haven't completed that process, they're in the process of doing that. We're going to find when we talk to Andrei Jablokow. So let me introduce Andre and he's going to talk a little bit as one of the luckiest people in the world, about the process that he's been going through in his life and where he is. So Andre and I met years and years and years ago. He is not a stranger to our podcast, he's been on before. He's been on our television show before when we had that. Andre is a college professor of engineering. He is a coach and he has always been an entrepreneur ever since I've known him. What we're going to talk about today, is about his entrepreneurial bench here, where he's going, how he keeps his life interesting, how he fends off boredom, and where he's heading. So, Andre, why don't you start with anything else about your background that you want to put in there.

Andrei Jablokow02:54

No, that was great Ray. I think you hit on it exactly, that it's all been a journey. I've had an entrepreneurial mindset. If you study entrepreneurship in school, they think that it's all about coming up with new widgets. But entrepreneurship is a mindset. What I found, and I love people that are building things, and creating things and trying new things, and taking risk. I've used that myself to reinvent myself over and over again. Now, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work. You get misguided and off on the wrong path only to realize, what am I doing here?

Ray Loewe03:38

Well, that's the adventure and the journey and people don't realize this, everybody thinks that the luckiest people in the world just sit down one day, and they say, I'm going to redesign my life. And here's the way I'm going to redesign it. Then they go off and nothing goes wrong. We all know that everything in the world changes regularly. I often think how boring life would be if we didn't have these blips in the road if we didn't have to maneuver and change.

Andrei Jablokow04:08

I heard a long time ago that, let's say there were two types of people, there are river people and there are people that wander. The river people found out a long time ago, what they wanted to do, and that was their river of interest. And they got into that. There was nothing you could do to change them. My wife is like that. She decided when she was six years old what she was going to do and she's been doing it. It's incredible. Other people like me, I'm all over the place. Not sure what I'm doing from one time to the next, looking for my next adventure. It's just a different way of the world. They're both good.

Ray Loewe04:10

Well, let me comment on that because you're not as wandering as you think you are. I mean, you've been a professor of engineering for a long time. You are an important part in the lives of students who are trying to figure out what they want to do too. And, you know, let's talk about engineering for a minute. I think it's typical of you in a lot of ways. I mean, how many engineers wind up as engineers in life?

Andrei Jablokow05:17

Not most of them don't, most of them move on to something else. What they gain is a structured way of thinking, a way of solving problems. I mean, to me, life is solving problems. It's not all engineering. But you know, you're not going to do what's in the textbook, you're not going to do what's in class at any point. But today, or tomorrow, you're going to come up with something in your life, in your work, in your business, in your family that you've never done before. You've never seen before. But now you can lean on this to say, okay, how am I going to solve this problem? You don't just curl up in a ball and say, It's too hard for me, I can't do it. You say, Okay, bring it on. Let's do it. And that I think is fun.

Ray Loewe05:58

Okay, so let's talk about when I introduced you. I said, Professor of Engineering, and you're a mentor to kids there. But you've also done some coaching beyond that, why don't you talk a little bit about your interest in coaching? Because it's part of this. It's part of who you are.

Andrei Jablokow06:17

Yeah, it is. To me, I enjoy seeing the lights go on, and people, whether I'm teaching or coaching, or somehow helping them to see what their next move is what works for them. Should they continue on, supporting them, lifting them up, to believe in themselves enough that they can take action, in the direction of their dreams and in their goals? Whether that's the right one. They're gonna find the one right now and they're going to move forward in that. Sometimes when you get beat up in the world, and we all do, it's hard to keep going. Oftentimes, a coach supports a person but at the same time, enables a person to figure it out on their own, to move forward with the change.

Ray Loewe07:14

This all starts that most people have certain fundamental things that they want. So let's go back there a little bit. This is what everything builds on. This is why people are lucky this is because they don't just go off in random directions. There's some stuff behind us. So talk for a minute about what most people want.

Andrei Jablokow07:39

What I have found is, just in my experience, is that most people want to have some kind of purpose, some reason for why they're doing what they're doing, getting up. They want to contribute in some way to society; to even in their workplace, to do whatever they do, they want to feel like they're, they're important to somebody. They want to be able to add value, beyond just doing the work and getting a paycheck. Honestly, those types of people kind of bore folks like you and me. I want to know people that are actually creating value in other people's lives. In other words, helping them solve problems. But the other thing that they want beyond that is some ability to have some freedom. And most of the times when you start looking for freedom, you start saying, I want to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it, the way I want to do it, and so on. But what I found is that freedom doesn't come that way. Because you end up getting lost, and watching television and not doing anything. What I found, and working with my sons, and my wife, and so on, was that structure and discipline, ultimately would create the freedom. Here you go back to the rules, the thing you started up. Which rules though, are they somebody else's rules? Are they your rules and your terms? The universe works in a certain way, you're not going to be able to violate those laws, but to the degree that you can focus, have discipline, consistency, practice. You and I have talked about this lots of times before those kinds of structures are ultimately looking for freedom.

Ray Loewe09:26

Let me amplify that a little bit because I think this is the heart of the matter. We all need structure. We all need rules. But the important part is to pick and choose those rules. I think part of picking and choosing those rules is what are the rules that are going to be your guidelines to perform what you want to do. To live your life the way you want to live it. Then how are those rules going to build on your sense of purpose? How are they going to add value to your life and other people's life? How's it gonna help you make a contribution? One of the things that I have been thinking a lot about lately is boredom. It's one of the things that we want to figure out. How are we not going to be bored? How are we going to wake up every morning and feel fascinated and motivated, and really excited about where we're going in life? And when you can do that? You have a real niche on life as part of your design process. Let's keep in mind when we talk about this because people are gonna say, Well, you know, nothing's forever. And that's correct, nothing is forever, the things are going to change. But this is where you are not on your life. It's one of the pieces. Once people start to pick a direction, that direction weaves a little bit, but it doesn't change. It keeps you going.

Andrei Jablokow10:56

It actually doesn't matter which direction you pick, just pick one. So to the degree that you can focus on only the things that you can control, and go about improving yourself, what can you control? What can we control? I mean, everybody has been called a control freak, once or twice in their life, but what can you control? You can control your thoughts, your actions, your behaviors, how you respond to things, what you focus on what you eliminate, that is not necessary and not getting you toward your goal. Once you start focusing on those things, you'll start to see which direction you need to go. Then you'll have a basis for comparing whether or not somebody, some opportunity, something is right for you. You've got to have a solid foundation. The other thing that happens is that everybody wants to maybe have their own business, or succeed in the job that they're in, relationships, what have you. None of those things are going to change. You know this until you change yourself. It's a do-it-yourself project. When you get better, all of a sudden, your world gets better.

Ray Loewe12:07

So let's now get a little more specific. I know for a long time, engineering has dominated your life, and you're good at it. But obviously, there's something in there that's lacking. Right? Tell us a little bit about your life experience. What motivated you to take the steps that you're going to tell us about in a minute, and what are those steps, and where you're headed.

Andrei Jablokow12:32

So I went down basically the road that we've been talking about, and engineering has been good to me. I'm not sure I'm that good of an engineer, but I'm decent at teaching it. That's what I've been doing is teaching engineers, I think I've taught over 10,000 students now, which is, you know, that's a fair number. For me, what I learned was that the natural order of things is growth. That's whatever the whole world wants to just continue to grow. I've outgrown what I've been doing. I want to venture out and I want to have my own business. I want to get out of the drama that happens in most large organizations. So it's not that anything's bad. It's just that it's time for me to move on and grow. How would I do that? I've looked at several things, whether I work in financial services, or whether I am an independent coach or consultant or speaker, I love to be up in front of people, and so on. What I realize is that to have that kind of an operation, there's a lot of moving parts, there's a lot to do. There's a lot that I don't know, venturing out. When you've worked for somebody else, for so long, you did your one piece of the puzzle, not knowing all of the other things. So I tried to go out on my own in the past, met with some success, met with some failure. I think the fact was that I wasn't ready for it mentally and I didn't have all the pieces, parts. So I became very careful in looking at what was being offered, what opportunities were coming my way, and whether or not I could actually make that work.

Ray Loewe14:30

Can I interject? Well, I'm going to interject whether you like it or not, because that's who I am. I think it starts with thinking a little bit about two things are the basis. What am I good at? What are my skills? What can I do well? Then I think the third thing is how do I supplement these things to make them work the right way? Do those things that I don't do well, need to be done?

Andrei Jablokow15:00

It's those things that need to be done, that you don't do well and don't want to do that somehow have to get done. It's like baking a cake. You can put everything in the cake. But if you leave the eggs out, you're probably not going to get a cake. Right?

Ray Loewe15:14

I know you're not baking cakes, I suspect in your life, somewhere along the line, you're, not a bad cake baker. But we're going to go ahead over here and talk a little bit about the niche that you're exploring now? And what are the pieces of it? And why does it excite you?

Andrei Jablokow15:36

So I've moved in the direction of looking at a franchise. I looked into how could I leverage my background, my technical background in engineering? And what interests me? I love gadgets, and technical things, and toys, and playing with all sorts of computers and devices. How can I leverage that because it's a skill, and I'm good at that? I'm good at explaining things to people. I love teaching and interacting with people. I love working with people that are trying to do something interesting in their lives. So how can I create that? What I found, Ray is an interesting niche for me, which is home inspection. Now I'm beyond fixing a house; you probably don't want me to be working with the tools. I'm good at looking at things and seeing how they should be fixed. How they should be done, what's the right structure, whether it be mechanical, whether it be plumbing, whether it be structural, electrical, etc. I looked at that, and I go, Well, that's interesting, I could do that. But the further I looked into it, I realized what a can of worms, it is to try to do it on my own. I happened upon a franchise model for this, where now I can work with a company that provides me all the training. I need to get going on it. Ongoing training, marketing support, from eight different directions, support if I get into trouble or have a question, and air cover marketing. Now all of a sudden, I can focus on doing the things that I need to do all day to be successful, while I'm learning how to run a business and actually run the business.

Ray Loewe17:33

Let's backtrack a little bit, because I know one of the things we've got you excited about here are tools. I mean, this isn't your father's home inspection service. That's not what some of the things that excited you. Talk to me about roofing inspections, You don't have to climb up there anymore, right?

Andrei Jablokow17:54

Sometimes you do, it depends. If the roof is too high or too steep or made of some material, like tile, you don't want to go up there. If you don't know how to walk on a roof you'll ruin it, even if it's asbestos tile, or tar, or anything like that. So we use drones. So all of a sudden, I'm a drone pilot, I'm flying around on the roof, checking the chimney, instead of climbing up way up on a ladder. You can get a better view if you go up there yourself, but in the absence of that, you use a drone. Then I look for leaks inside of houses, right? But I can't poke a hole in the wall. So now I have this thermal, this infrared thermography camera. I can look at temperature anomalies, to see where the insulation might be not operating the way it should, or there might be a leak. I can't X-ray the wall, but you can look at it and say, Wow, without taking the wall apart, or just looking at the surface of it, you would have never known. This is all interesting stuff that goes back to my engineering, it's all heat transfer and radiation and all those equations.

Ray Loewe19:09

What about the mundane business side of things, you know, the reports, the stuff that I know, as an entrepreneur, you don't love to do?

Andrei Jablokow19:18

That's the beauty of getting in with a company who knows what they're doing is that I now have a report writing system. All I have to do is get the data, put it in, and outcomes the report. The other thing is the marketing, right? I don't care what kind of business you're in. Once you get a few clients, the tendency is to stop marketing and then you wake up one day and say I don't have any work. Some people like sales and marketing and well, others just don't, but it's a necessary evil if you're going to be the business owner. So how do you get yourself to do that on a consistent basis and have some accountability whether it be through a partner, in a coach, or systems to get you to do it, because it, it all has to work together. You can't just focus on doing the work. You've got to work on the business, not only in the business, you've heard that before.

Ray Loewe20:21

It seems to me that you have a model here that you built for advancing in life, maybe that's not the right word, but continuing the journey and making the journey worthwhile. So you've kind of looked at yourself, you've looked at the things that you're good at, you've looked at the things that you're not so good at. You realize that to move forward, you can't do this yourself. This is a mistake that most people make, everybody thinks that they're a rugged individual that they can do everything themselves. This is a world of strengths. And when you follow your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, you come out way ahead. So you've found this franchise model. And I think this is something that's a really good option for people who want to go off on their own, and haven't figured out how.

Andrei Jablokow21:15

I think it's a great thing to look at. What I found in all the things that I've tried before, I mean, it all looks good from the surface, it all looks easy. There's three things nobody tells you, they don't tell you. Number one, how much money this is going to cost. They don't tell you how much time it's going to take to learn it. And the third thing they don't tell you is the absolute avalanche of things that you need to study and learn and integrate and create and buy, and all of that, and it's a mountain of work to get something off the ground. I mean, it looks great. If you're listening, all the webinars and sales pitches, and so on. It's an incredible amount of work. And I don't think anyone person or two people could do it, it's huge. It's a lot harder than it was back in the day.

Ray Loewe22:03

So, unfortunately, we're getting near the end of our time. I think you've done some really good things for people who want to be lucky, or who want to figure out how to move into this luckiest people in the world thing. We'll get you back at some point in time. I think one of the other things is, if you offer the franchise mode, how do you choose the right franchise? What are the things you need to look at? How do you keep from getting ripped off and find the value in the system? But take a couple minutes and wind up by recommending to people who want to find the next phase in their journey. Any advice that you have for them based on your thinking?

Andrei Jablokow22:45

My sense is to really start getting their own act together and opportunities start to come. What do I mean by that? Get your health together, get your body together. Whether it's through eating right, moving correctly, reading books. Most people these days that aren't reading, there's so much to read and study all these areas. What interests you? Go investigate it, go meet somebody, interview somebody about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. And all of a sudden things start opening up for you. You know, some things look interesting to you, because you like to do them; like baking cakes, but that doesn't mean you want to do it all day. Most fun things look good for about a week or two. I wanted to drive a big truck but I don't want to do that anymore, right? So just go out and do something, do anything, go have a coffee with somebody. Come to Ray's group on Thursdays, and you'll meet some interesting people, and ideas will start to come to you.

Ray Loewe23:45

And forget the trucks, drive a drone instead. Right?

Andrei Jablokow23:48

Some people don't want to do that even. I think trucks are great. Some people love to do that. And I think they should continue to do them because they deliver all the things that we need. But you've got to find the thing that works for you.

Ray Loewe24:02

Well, Andre, thank you so much for being with us again on Changing the Rules. And we'll get you back again. There's a lot of wisdom that you've learned during your journey. And thank you for sharing it with us who want to learn. And we'll get you back again. Taylor why don't you sign us off here and we'll see you again next week with another great guest.

Kris Parsons24:29

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 15 Mar 2022 17:10:00 +0000
Episode 103: Get your Nutra Freak on, Guest Sally Winchell


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:14

Good morning everybody, and welcome, again to Changing the Rules. I know I always say this, but I'm told that repetition is a good thing. Changing the rules is all about the luckiest people in the world. The luckiest people in the world are, by our definition, those people who have looked at their lives and redesigned them to meet their own personal specs. And then they step in, and they live them under their own terms. Now when you do that, generally you have to be a pretty happy person because you're living on your own terms; you're living your life the way you want to live it. But one of the things we're going to find is that there are roadblocks that occur there. The luckiest people in the world have ways of getting around them. And they just have a way of staying lucky. One of the things that they're really pretty good at is the name of our program is changing the rules. I think it was Steve Jobs, the Apple guy, founder of Apple, who said that, 'When you're living somebody else's life, under their rules, you're living somebody else's life. So you got to change the rules and make your rules. And when you do that, you can escape and be you. So today I have a co-host. Our co-host here is a young man by the name of Dick Coyne. I ran into Dick Coyne where I lived, he's become a friend. I think he's a man about town, although he's gonna debate that a little bit. But he seems to know just about everyone that I would want to meet. He's been an invaluable help in putting together important connections for me. You're going to learn more about him hopefully in future weeks because we're going to try and con him in coming back and co-hosting more of these podcasts. He's going to introduce our guest today, Sally Winchell, who's a young lady that he introduced me to. You're going to find that Sally is definitely one of the luckiest people in the world. So Dick, say hi to everybody.

Dick Coyne02:28

Well, hi, everybody, this is Dick Coyne. And Ray, thank you so much for this opportunity. It's very exciting not just to be here to hear about Sally's story, but to be able to get in with you and learn via podcasting about so many people who are living life under their own terms. Like you say, Sally and I first met when we were doing volunteer work for Lancaster General Hospital with a mutual friend actually. And since that wonderful opportunity, she and I have become good friends. I'm so pleased about that. She is the Energizer Bunny at anything she does. She is a woman of great passion, great focus. And without hearing anything more about me, what I'd like to do is take a moment and kind of set a framework for our discussion today. Because Sally has a lot to tell us. First, Sally, I think what I'd like to do is have you tell us about your early life as an adult because it seemed to me that you had a textbook example; you an education, a successful professional woman, a wife, a mom, and then you got to the fork in the road, the epiphany. And then we're going to talk about since that point, where you are now about telling us a little bit about that early phase, please.

Sally Winchell03:59

I certainly will. But I want to thank you Dick and Ray for inviting me This is quite an honor. I'm humbled by anybody who thinks that my story is anything special. I just live my life and do my thing and have fun doing it.

Dick Coyne04:13

There you have it. Keep going.

Sally Winchell04:16

Oh, my early kind of years, born and raised in Lancaster County. And so I grew up here and pretty much normal upbringing. I'd say the Beaver Cleaver growing up. And I think the biggest influencer in my life as a young person was my father. He was a man who taught me kindness, service, energy, passion, and he wanted me to I think, and get out of Lancaster County. So he kind of set the tone for my education. He told me what I was going to do, where I was going to go to school. When I was in seventh grade, there were no options. The option was two things: join the Navy and be a Navy nurse, or you can go to McCann School of Business and become a secretary; because you can always get a job as a secretary. So I wanted to be a music teacher, I wanted to go to music school, but my dad said, there's no debt, I can afford this, and this is what you're going to do. So I chose the medical secretarial route, which is kind of fun, because it did actually serve me well. Then the other thing my dad said was, I want you to meet a Navy man and get out of Lancaster County. Basically, you know, to see the world, there's more to life than what you see here. So that's what I did. I mean, literally, my next-door neighbor went to the Naval Academy, he brought all the guys home. And they needed girlfriends, they needed people to party with. My neighbor gentleman said, Sally, come down to this party, blah, blah, blah, long story short, I married a naval officer, he went to the Naval Academy. We married in '78 and started traveling immediately. We moved to Guam for three years, and I was loving it, it finally got me out of Amish country. Nothing against that, but really, I'm the kind of person that always is looking for exciting opportunity. Not a risk-taker. I'm not like where I'm not going to do bungee jumping and crazy stuff. But I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world. I followed in what my father really wanted me to do. And it was great. I loved it. So we spent 11 years in the Navy.

Dick Coyne06:51

So after that, when did he leave the Navy?

Sally Winchell06:53

He left the Navy, he decided to become a chiropractor.

Dick Coyne06:56

Yeah. Is that part of the story?

Sally Winchell06:58

Yes, it is. It is part of the story. So we ended up in St. Louis. My ex-husband, now ex-husband, went to chiropractic college in St. Louis. Eventually, we moved back to Pennsylvania, which was my hometown, because, you know, kids coming along. So I think that it was exciting for me because we started a practice from the ground up in 1987. It was in a medical office that was no longer a medical office, in Terry Hill, Pennsylvania. Along with my ex-husband at the time, I had two babies; basically, we started a practice and built that practice from zero patients to 100 patients a day. It was quite amazing, actually. We worked really hard to do that, paid off our house. We were so in debt, but in that short amount of time, we really accomplished a lot by building this chiropractic practice and raising two children. So I was working in the practice raising the kids. And then probably the tragic part of that existence at that time was our son, who we adopted from Guatemala at six months. It was the probably the most exciting time of my life, because we wanted to have children and for many, many years that didn't look like it was going to happen. So we went down the adoption route, which was amazing and wonderful adopted our little son, Travis from Guatemala. And so, two weeks later, you hear this all the time, I became pregnant with my daughter, Kelly. So we had two babies. At that point I'm like, what am I going to do with two kids that are babies? I don't know how to handle this.

Ray Loewe08:50

We have an interesting thread of things going on here. What I'm reading from you is you escaped from Lancaster. Okay, good, bad or indifferent. I noticed you're back in Lancaster now. But that's okay. You escaped. You ran off with a Navy man, you discovered the world. You are living a life that glamour and a life that kind of kept you excited. Then all of a sudden you're back in St. Louis, you're the wife of a chiropractor. All of a sudden, you're building a business and you have the excitement of building a business. And then you have a couple of kids and now you're a mom on top of that. But at some point in time, what I'm detecting here is that you're you're not as fulfilled as you would like to be. And so why don't you talk a little bit about the dance studio that you started, and why you started it, and where that went. And then we'll get into the real exciting part of your life.

Sally Winchell09:50

That's great. Yes, so an opportunity came up for me to purchase a dance studio. I was teaching a dance class and a couple others studios, and again knowing my personality, it's like, that sounds amazing. There's an opportunity for me to have something that I could have and call my own. And that was very exciting.

Dick Coyne10:13

You know, Ray, one thing we haven't touched on, Sally, I think you've been a fitness and a dance enthusiast for much of your life. And so you didn't just decide, hey, I can teach dance in the studio. You had all the street cred to do that. Right?

Sally Winchell10:28

I did. I actually started taking classes in Guam. That's where I started. And it was with me the whole time.

Ray Loewe10:35

One of the things that comes out of the luckiest people in the world all the time is the fact that there are two things: there's your skill levels of things and then there's your passion. When the skill levels align with a passion, amazing things happen. And that's, I think, coming of where you are with the dance studio, right?

Sally Winchell10:55

Yeah, exactly. You're exactly right. It was an opportunity for me to call something my own and build it from the ground up. And that just is exactly what I wanted to do is have something that I could be successful at.

Ray Loewe11:10

And you were successful at it because you actually grew this thing, and were making some money at it, and doing well with it. But then on an event occurred, since time flies when you're having fun, I want to get to this event really quickly, and it's age 48.

Sally Winchell11:31

That is correct. Yep.

Ray Loewe11:33

So what happened at this magic age, that kind of topsy turvied everything?

Sally Winchell11:40

Well, it was January, right after Christmas, and you sometimes self-assess yourself. Since I'm a kind of a fitness buff, and a little bit of a freak about how I look, I looked in the mirror at 48, I remember it very well. And I didn't like what I saw. Looking back at me, I saw saggy skin, I saw kind of the aging process happen with my physique. And that just didn't sit well at all. It was very depressing. My husband at that time was in his office, and I went down and I said, this is not acceptable. I don't want to watch my body age like that and that whole 'dancer's body myth' is a myth. You can dance like crazy and never keep, that physique. I'm making this sound like I'm really worried about how I look. It's not, but for me, that was important. That was very important. So I hired a personal trainer, the very next day, and a nutritionist because I was not going to just watch this whole thing diminished before my very eyes.

Dick Coyne12:52

Was your husband behind you on that?

Sally Winchell12:54

Absolutely. He absolutely was, in fact, he was training with this person. He said, "Why don't you call to set up some appointments?" And I did it. So he was always very encouraging and supportive and encouraged me in my endeavors. And that's what I did.

Ray Loewe13:13

Again, there's a trend here. I want to take a minute and point this out because people tend to go along in life and their lives are pretty good. I think yours was a pretty good life, right? But all of a sudden, this event occurs. And it's, in some cases, it's tragedy. In this case, it's a very positive kind of a thing. All of a sudden, you made a change. And when you made that change, life got exciting. So tell us a little bit about what happened after you started getting into the fitness and started getting into some of the other things.

Sally Winchell13:51

Well, what was interesting was the dancing tied into the fitness because I was preparing for a ballroom dance competition eight months later, and I wanted to look killer in my Latin dress. I mean, I wanted to look amazing. And that was one of my motivations is to transform for that event. I started lifting heavy weights, eating well, changing my body, health-wise, as well as physique. I was blown away by the results. I'm like, this stuff works. I said to my trainer, "How long do I actually have to do this?" He goes, "How long do you want to be healthy?" And I said, "Oh, well, that would mean forever. Right?" So long story short, he knew that I was really excited about it. He asked if I wanted to become a trainer and work for him. So I had two things going on, training and a dance studio. Energizer Bunny for about two years, and I started to compete in women's bodybuilding at the same time. So ballroom dancing, bodybuilding, owning a studio, and being a personal trainer as well. So at some point, it was like, this is a lot to juggle. So I sold my dance studio in 2008, which was very sad to me because I loved it. And it was something, again, that I was very successful at. I was drawn to the fitness piece because I felt like I really wanted to help, especially older women, because I was one. Just be energized, and improve their health, and make changes in their health, and fitness picture. I just want to bring everybody with me.

Dick Coyne15:40

Well, you're doing that. Sally, it's clear to me that you're on that road. Where do you want to go? We kind of know where you are today. At a wonderful, diverse set of interests and activities. But what are you doing with it to get your message out? I know what works for you. But how about sharing your passion with other people? How's that going for you?

Sally Winchell16:05

Well, I can tell you, I like when you talk about the luckiest people in the world. That's how I feel. However the cards fell for me, it put me in a place to just be able to do exactly what I wanted to do for other people. So I was an independent personal trainer. I was realizing that clients do not get results in the gym, just by working out. They're like, well, where's those abs, I'm doing all this ab work, I'm pulling on cables, I'm running on the treadmill, but I'm not seeing the results of my labor. They're not getting the whole picture. Nutrition is 80% of our physical success. Going back to some of the things we talked about earlier, I wanted to be credible. As a trainer, you are allowed to give basic nutrition advice to your clients. But for me, I wanted to give them a lot more. And I wanted to be credible. So I got a certification in fitness nutrition so that I could be credible and give advice. And I started a company called Nutra Freak in 2010. In conjunction with training, now I had my nutrition side of the house going so I could really do more for people. My now husband was very instrumental in helping me develop Nutra Freak. As far as the brand, the logo, the marketing, the websites, the photography; he just was my co-founder we'll say in Nutra Freak.

Dick Coyne17:44

Well, I think partner sounds good.

Ray Loewe17:49

This is Ray, here again, I have to interrupt... Nutra Freak?

Sally Winchell17:52

Nutra Freak.

Ray Loewe17:53

Where does that come from?

Sally Winchell17:55

That's George's brainchild. He goes, "You love nutrition, and you're a freak about everything." We're sitting at Panera Bread on Fruitville Pike developing this business. He looks at me says "Nutra Freak". And I'm like, perfect.

Dick Coyne18:13

What is Nutra Freak?

Sally Winchell18:15

Nutra Freak is me. Nutra Freak is education. I don't sell stuff. I don't sell supplements and shakes and all that stuff. I teach people how to create a lifestyle of eating clean food, so they can improve their health and fitness. That's it. That's it in a nutshell.

Dick Coyne18:38

How do we find out about it?

Sally Winchell18:39

Well, back in the day, I had a website, I don't have that anymore. But I started doing corporate wellness. I started doing Lunch and Learns with big companies. Once you do one, your next one comes along. I do eight-week programs, grocery store tours, I worked at Yoder's grocery store. So I was developing Nutra Freak out into the world. And it became very successful.

Dick Coyne19:09

I hear a commercial side of that but I think that there's a community side to that as well. That you're sharing with not just on a commercial platform, but also sharing your passion in the community. Am I right on that?

Sally Winchell 19:25

You're absolutely right.

Dick Coyne19:26

Tell us about that a little bit, please.

Sally Winchell19:29

Well, I think when you talk about the community they're kind of your little followers. People who learn from from me, come to my class, has been to my Lunch and Learns talks, whatever. I call them my Nutra Freaks. Like honorary. They get a little certificate and then when I have another talk, I can say hey, Judy can you come and do a testimonial? Can you help?

Dick Coyne20:04

So you're getting disciples.

Sally Winchell20:12


Dick Coyne20:12

Yes. I think I even saw something in our local newspaper about Nutra Freak a couple of weeks ago. What's going on with that?

Sally Winchell20:20

Well, now here I am at Bright Side. People don't even know what that is. I am now the wellness director at Bright Side Opportunity Center, which is connected to a Bright Side Baptist Church. And the pastor at that time said, "Sally, we need you here." I want you to be the wellness director, we have a fitness center. And this is what our community needs is somebody like you to teach people how to be healthy. Anyway, accepted the position. And I've been here almost eight years. And so what was exciting for me is I can do Nutra Freak training; I can build this little community and the disciples in any way I want to, with a roof over my head, in one place. Not like as an independent contractor.

Dick Coyne20:30

So it almost sounds like you're kind of where you want to be.

Sally Winchell21:20

Oh, absolutely.

Dick Coyne21:21

According to your terms.

Sally Winchell21:26

Yes. What the most recent exciting thing that came down the road was Lancaster County Office of Aging came to me in October, looking for a nutrition program that they can offer to the entire community. They knew of me because I work with Senior Games, blah, blah, blah, I'm really active. And so they contracted with me for three years to teach the nutrition education programs for the county, which is amazing. So it's an eight-week program, happens to be at Bright Side. It's basically teaching people from week one through week eight, how to eat clean food, how to create that to be a lifestyle over time. Nobody is going to be a freak like me and change everything at once. Because that's what I do. You tell me asparagus and chicken, I'm going to do that.

Ray Loewe22:26

This is Ray Loewe butting in again. Unfortunately, we're nearing the end of our time framework. So let's sum up a couple of things here. Then we'll get closing comments from each of you. One of the things I like about talking with you here is that you're one of the luckiest people in the world in a little different way than a lot of other people are. There are a lot of people who quit their jobs and runoff and be entrepreneurs. And it's easier to control your life sometimes when you do that. But you were able to do this in a controlled fashion, you're in a community setting. You're doing good for the community. And yet you're living your life with passion with the skill levels that you've developed. I hope other people who are listening in, can listen to this and say I can do this. I don't have to run off and be on my own. I can find a way to do this. So with that, let me get Dick Coyne for a minute. We're about done. Do you have a closing comment that you want to make? And then we're gonna go to Sally.

Dick Coyne23:38

Well, thanks, Ray. I think this has just been a remarkable opportunity for me to learn. I've enjoyed it so much. And the reason I really wanted to do this is I am a big fan of Sally's story. I'm so glad that she has been able to share it with others in the future, and that this message will live. It's not a one-time thing. So people who are interested in Nutra Freak can come on to the luckiest site. They're going to hear Sally talk about what she loves to do and how to do it.

Ray Loewe24:13

Sally, any closing remarks you want to make here?

Sally Winchell24:16

Again, I just want to really thank you and Dick, for inviting me to do this. It's been exciting. Again, I'm humbled. I don't even get why it's exciting to anybody. Because it's what I do, you know, and I just tell people at the enterprise side, just show up. I got you, bring your water bottle, bring your sneakers, don't even worry. Just show up. And I'm going to take care of you.

Ray Loewe24:43

And with that, all I can say is wow. And thanks for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Taylor, sign us off and we'll be back in another week with another podcast.

Kris Parsons25:00

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 9 Mar 2022 05:00:00 +0000
Episode 102: The Art of Staying Lucky, Guest Bonnie Shay


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Good morning, everybody, and welcome, again to our weekly podcast, changing the rules. And just to kind of remind everybody that changing the rules is about the luckiest people in the world. And every week, we try and showcase one or more of the luckiest people in the world and talk about how they got there and how they maintain their status as lucky people. For definition purposes, our luckiest people in the world are those people who take control of their own lives. They design them to their own specs, and they live them under their own terms. That fits with our theme here of changing the rules because changing the rules is one of the things that the luckiest people in the world are really good at. They've learned that everybody tries to give you rules; but when you're living by somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life. It doesn't mean that rules aren't important. We all have to have structure in our lives, but we have to kind of pick and choose those rules that are going to be our roles. When you do that, you're living your own life. So with all of that in the background, I'm going to reintroduce Bonnie Shea and Bonnie Shea is coming to us from the magnificent city of Chicago again this morning. Good morning, Bonnie, how are you today?

Bonnie Shay01:39

I'm doing great, Ray. Thanks. I'm glad to be here.

Ray Loewe01:43

I'm glad you're here too. So first of all, Bonnie is a longtime friend. We've known each other for a long time, too many years to count. She's been on a number of our podcasts. She has been one of the luckiest people in the world ever since I've known her. She has found a way to stay lucky. And that's one of the things that we're going to talk about today. We're also going to note that Bonnie is one of the contributors to our new book that's going to come out hopefully in the next 60 to 90 days. The new book is called Changing the Rules. We'll give you details as we go through our podcast between now and the time it goes live. But Bonnie is one of the contributors in many, many ways to this book. She's been a role model as one of the luckiest people in the world forever. She's got several quotes in there, too. Last but not least, we'll get back to what you really do. Bonnie is the owner, the inventor, the founder, the chief cook and bottle washer of Mariposa Photo Organizing, a photo organizing firm in Chicago. Bonnie has always been in the business of organizing something, probably her kids to start with. So Bonnie, start with that one, right? Say, hi, and let's talk a little bit. You get in and feel free to get your commercial end of what you do, when you do, and how you do it, whenever. But let's talk a little bit about this journey that you've taken to being one of the luckiest people in the world. When I first met you, we were in a coaching program together in Chicago, and you're in the organizing business, but not specifically the photo organizing business. So tell us a little bit about how you got there how you chose to do this. And I'm sure it's based on what you're good at and what you're passionate about. But talk to us.

Bonnie Shay03:55

Absolutely. So back in 2007, my former husband and I decided to go our separate ways. And since we were having his business as our line of income, I was the manager of the photography business. He's a photographer. I came up with something that I was naturally good at which was being an organizer. I knew that was a profession out there because I knew about Nikko and that residential organizers were a thing. So one of my first clients that I worked with, you go room by room when you're a residential organizer, you're decluttering and you're reorganizing reclassifying stuff. We stumbled on this client's closet filled to the brim with photos, VHS tapes, DVDs, albums, you name it. And she said, Bonnie, can you help me with this? And of course, I said yes. Because I just spent 25 years telling people stories with event photography, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and I had the organizing gene so, I could mix those two requirements together be organized, and know all about photos. And I said yes. So right from the beginning, I decided to add photos as a specialty of my organizing business. After 10 years of doing residential organizing and photos, more and more photos, as the years progressed, I decided I'm done being a residential organizer. And not to knock my clients but I'm basically tired of cleaning up messes. I don't like messes, even though I like to clean them up, I'm done physically cleaning up, room and room of mess. So I'm only doing photos right now. I'm only doing printed photos because to me, those are the ones that are at the highest risk of being lost or damaged. We don't have backups of our printed like we do have our digital. So that's how I got to where I am right now, Ray. And I want to sort of allude to the quote, in your book that you used of mine, "It was all about being self-sufficient." I was raised to be self-sufficient, and that I had to do everything myself. And I had to be good at everything I did. We have very high standards of family. Well, I realized as I changed and hit different forks in the road in my life, being self-sufficient is not where it's great to be. Because you're not good at everything, you're maybe sort of good at a lot of things. But I'd rather be really good at something solid that I love to do, that I'm good at and that I'm passionate about. And so to me, that's where I've changed along the way to make sure that I'm doing what I love to do.

Ray Loewe06:39

Okay, show your satellite here. And let's go back because I think that people who want to be the luckiest people in the world, think that you do it once. And it's done. You and I know better than that. That's the same thing. It's true with your photos, isn't it? Let's talk about maintenance. Let's talk about change. Let's talk about the fact that if you want to be one of the luckiest people in the world, you got to stay on top of that, the world around us is going to change and you have to change with it. Not only is the world around us going to change, but we're going to get better and better at what we think we want to do. So talk to me a little bit about this change concept and how you've dealt with it.

Bonnie Shay07:26

So great, I have really good ideas about that. So one is because I'm genetically wired to be organized. For most of my younger life, I wanted everything to go as planned. I wanted everything to stay in a place. I didn't want to move because that sort of bread chaos in my mind. I wanted everything very well organized and structured. So surprises always threw me for a loop. Because I didn't want surprises. I didn't want things to change. So that's that. And then Ray, you shared a book with me called 1000 places to visit before you die, which is a great book. My favorite part is the introduction where it said something to the effect: 'There's no such thing as a bad trip, just good stories to tell when you get back home. Well, to me, I have taken that concept, it was such a gift and I keep receiving that gift. I've applied that universally to my life. It's not just about trips, it's about life in general; you went to the grocery store and it was closed, you didn't plan on it being closed. So you have to come up with another way around. So you go to a different restaurant, different grocery store. So it's universal. I've used that in my business, that expect change, not different or deflected or say you don't like it. Because sometimes Plan B is better than plan A and you don't know until you get to that fork in the road. So I think that's my sort of new way of not so new anymore of approaching life and accepting change. But stay focused on what I want to be doing. And make choices along the way with all the new information that you get every time you wake up.

Ray Loewe09:16

So before we get into your focus and your vision over here, let's go back to this change. You know, I think you're wired a little differently than I am. But I look at life as life without change would be really boring. You know, one of the things that you've had to do is you've had to change as different things derail you. Everybody does this. Most people have kids, guess what, kids get in your life and create changes, right? A Marriage, Divorce, gets in your way and creates changes. The world changes, we have wars unfortunately, we have diseases going on that change the way we have to structure life. So, talk to me for a minute about what happened with photo organizing, when all of a sudden you couldn't get out and get the photos.

Bonnie Shay10:11

Right. So luckily, I had a lot of backlog in my office of photos that I was working on, and they're all printed. But I made arrangements where I'd go, and I picked up the boxes and boxes of photos from my clients. And then we would work on Zoom. You know, I could show them pictures and say, "Hey, who is this?" So technology has been our best friend in this last couple years of extraordinary times. It allowed us to do more than we ever thought we could do before, outside of the pandemic. So that to me was awesome. I also, Ray, have sort of thrown away what I always thought that perfection was my goal. Perfection was where I wanted to go. And you know what, it's not all what it's cracked up to be. So I now say that I'm recovering perfectionist because perfection is not what it is, you want the best of the best, you don't want perfect, and don't be afraid of making a mistake. Right?

Ray Loewe11:09

Correct. When you start thinking about this journey that you've taken, and I think this is really important for other people to understand, the journey is not going to be smooth. You do have to make changes to the bumps in the road. And, and making those changes come from two places, I think they come from within you. But they also come from the people that you hang out within the support group that you have. So talk for a minute about the importance of a community, in supporting you and in your goals of photo organizing, and in supporting you as one of the luckiest people in the world.

Bonnie Shay11:48

So I'm a member of the photo managers, which is our industry association for photos. I've been a member for over 10 years. We have a very solid group of collaborating professionals worldwide, we're not just the United States and Canada anymore. We all share our ideas with each other. We're not so competitive; it's all about helping each other and collaborating. We have a conference. My annual conference is coming up in a couple of weeks, I'll be there in person, finally, again. And we have Facebook groups within this industry, and we have masterclasses, which we do retreats. So all through the year, we have different options to reach out to each other to ask for help or take a survey. Because especially technology impacts our world directly. And technology's always changing, you blink your eyes, and there's some new app or technological device. So that's a big community, Ray, that I'm a member of, and very proud of. We're friends. And we're professional colleagues altogether.

Ray Loewe12:49

And I think the point here is that if you're going to go on this journey of being lucky, and if you're going to design your life, and you're going to live it on your own terms, you need help. In other words, there are going to be times when the world crumbles. And you got to get back on track, and you got to get back on track pretty quickly. So somewhere, you have to have this support community; whether it's a technical support community, whether it's just friends that you hang out with, whether it's other people who are trying to do what you do, sometimes it's who your competitors are. But the idea is to bring you back so that you can continue on your journey. So and I think that that's a key part. Let's talk about your vision for a minute. Because when you started this whole journey 20 Some years ago, you had a vision of what you wanted to do. Now, I don't think that you've changed the vision, I think you've tweaked it, but talk a little bit about what's happened with his vision as you've gone through your story.

Bonnie Shay14:03

Well, my vision has always been there. And I think I've edited along the way. I haven't changed my vision, but I have edited it, or tweaked it, or narrowed it because I find rain. You know, this might be wiring, as you already talked about wiring can be different for different people. I don't want to do a whole bunch of stuff. I don't want multiple choices. When I wake up in the morning, I really want to go right to the niche of what I want to do and focus on that. Because that's where I feel like I'm really the expert, and I really do things well, and I love it. So I think my vision was that I always had to learn. I always had to do and love what I'm doing. I think a recent fork in the road is that I want to give back to other people who need some assistance, or resources, or are newer at this job than I am or are younger than I am. It's so rewarding to now be able to be helping others not just focused on what I needed for myself and what I needed to be successful. And you just get more because I learned from younger people now, instead of maybe always feeling like I was gonna learn from the older people in my world. I'm learning from any age person. And it's all good.

Ray Loewe15:25

Good. Okay, so talk a little bit about the role of podcasts in your journey here.

Bonnie Shay15:33

Role of podcasts has lots of perspective, a lot of characters that I love, that you're always gonna learn something new. And to me every day is a new day to be learning. Who cares how old I am, or how young I am, I'm gonna learn, you know, a lifelong learner. And then I might have heard that message on the podcast before, I might even have heard that specific podcast before. But sometimes repetition is the best thing. And when you hear it at the right time, it really sinks in and really gives you what you need that nugget of boldness and the nugget of truth or information. And I'm learning about new opportunities. And once again, it's taking our technology and allowing us to be so many places in this world without even leaving my house.

Ray Loewe16:27

I was sneaky about that because Bonnie is one of the regular listeners to our podcast, I wanted to get that in here. But you also listen to other podcasts too. Podcasts are a great way to stay involved to learn. And I think, you know, part of this process of being lucky is you got to have this continuing learning as part of it too. And one of the neat things about podcasts is you can listen to them in the car as you drive. You can listen to them as you exercise. They fit in a lot easier than sometimes reading a book.

Bonnie Shay17:02

I agree. And I'm gonna put it out there. I've told other people this, but I have to put it out on the airwaves because maybe it'll hold me accountable. I would like to do my own podcast. It's a conversation, right? We've talked about it, it's really a conversation. It's not so much an interview, or being a guest, or being all nervous, "Oh my gosh!". No, no, it's having a conversation about what you enjoy talking about. There might be an opportunity that I will do my own podcast on storytelling or something along those lines.

Ray Loewe17:37

We'll stay tuned for that one. Let's kind of finish up because we're getting near the end of our time over here. But I did want to bring up one other thing. And this is typical, the luckiest people in the world. You brought this up in a conversation recently. You know, you exude confidence. You exude passion about what you do. People naturally want to link to you and get involved with you when you have that kind of an attitude. You had a new client not too long ago. One of the things that happens with your clients, is they give you keys to their apartments when they're off in Florida, or Arizona, or other places. So what was the question that came up? And how did you handle it? And you really didn't need to handle it, I don't think.

Bonnie Shay18:26

Well, it was such a surprise. But it turned out wonderful. People find me on Google. It's not even a personal reference all the time that people call me and want to ask about my services. I offer a zoom opportunity to have that conversation when we first want to meet instead of just always on a phone. So it's a little more personal. This gal and I were speaking, and she lives in Chicago. She loved what I said and she says 'yeah, Bonnie, I want to hire you. Great. 'How about next Tuesday at one o'clock?', I said 'great and it's available on my calendar'. We have a date, she gave me her address, gave me all the details about parking. And then just about as we were to sign off of our zoom, she said, Bonnie, how do I know that you're legit? And I had to laugh at myself. Because I've never had that question asked to me because I know I'm a trustworthy person. But I praised her. I said 'Barbie, I get it, why you're asking it. You found me on Google'. But luckily, I was on zoom in my studio, my office and I could point behind me to the boxes and boxes of client photos that I have in my home where I work on them. Then I'm a member of the photo managers. Then I'm working with some other out-of-town clients who are not home when I work in their house. And that's all she needed to hear. We had a great session. Then at the end of this three-hour session in person, she says 'So what's a good next step? We're gonna be out of town for a couple weeks. Can you come and work in my home while we're gone?' And I said 'of course, I do a lot of my work on my own while working my magic'. So I was driving home after that session, I'm cracking up in my mind at first she asked me, 'How do I know you're legit?' And then she said, 'Bonnie, can you come into my home while we're not here and work by yourself.' And so it was just a fun story, a happy ending. And it gave me such insight into people, that they're being safe and careful. But then the minute we connect, I'm trusted, and I love what I do, and I'm working magic on their photos.

Ray Loewe20:31

Alright, let me sum up here. There's a lot that went on in this particular podcast. Here, we talked to Bonnie who's one of the luckiest people in the world. We talked a lot about how her life has changed over time. How, in fact, the luckiest people in the world don't just sit down and design their own lives and have it all come together all at once; that there's maintenance involved in this. But one of the things when you're living in the area of your passion, and you are in fact performing with items where your skill levels are high, everything comes together. And even this idea of asking for credentials is kind of second [nature]. If people feel like they have to ask that, but when you exude what you do, the way you do it, that's just kind of naturally taken care of. And it's one of the features of the luckiest people in the world that occurs. We're running out of time, but I just wanted to thank you again for being here. And you can go back and listen to Bonnie's other podcasts. You can reach her at Thank you for being one of the luckiest people in the world. And thank you for contributing to this book that's coming out. I think it's going to help a lot of people. And thanks again for being you. Taylor, sign us off, please.

Kris Parsons22:03

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how too! Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 1 Mar 2022 19:18:00 +0000
Episode 101: Everyone has a Story, What's Yours, Guest Rebecca Hoffman


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

I love that song, but it gets in the way sometimes. Good morning, everybody! Thanks for joining us on changing the rules. We have a great guest today, I'll introduce in a minute, but a quick comment on Changing the Rules. We're given rules all through our life. And I think it was Steve Jobs that came on and said, "If you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life". We have somebody here today with us, who lives her own life. Rebecca Hoffman, say, Hi, Rebecca. Hi, Ray. Rebecca has been on our show before, more than once; she is a really important part of my life, my career because she got me into thinking in terms of stories. So let me tell you, first of all, a couple of things: number one, we have a new book coming out, but our target date is about 60 days, somewhere around mid-March, or mid-April. We were hoping for the Ides of March, but we're not going to make the Ides of March, we're gonna get the Ides of April, or whatever it is. Rebecca is a chapter in our book. She has a chapter in our book because she exemplifies so much of what the luckiest people in the world are. It's the way she lives her life, the way she runs her business, and from talking to her, it's the way she runs her family too. Although, I think sometimes she thinks her family runs her. There are four things that I think about when I think about Rebecca and when they relate to the luckiest people in the world. Number one, she's really good with rules; she makes them work for her. Rules are part of her life. She's accepted those pieces of the good ones that she wants to take with her, but she bends them to make her life work the way she wants to. We can talk about all the things she did during COVID, that you if you really obeyed the rules, you wouldn't do. But she did and she did them with positive results. She also is really good at finding positive solutions to things. She doesn't put up with just saying "there isn't a solution". She digs until she finds what she wants, and she does this not only for families, but she does this for business clients too. I think that's the biggest reason that they hire her. She's also great at following what's fascinating and motivating. We're going to see that a little bit today when we get into this conversation. The most important thing, as far as I'm concerned, is I came back from Africa and I was talking to her about my experience. She just came back and said, "Wow, you have some great stories, package them into stories, put morals on them and become parables". I'll tell you, ever since she did that to me, it's changed the way to think about things. So we're going to talk a lot today about storytelling and about maybe the way we're going to push our podcast in the future. So anyway, Hi Rebecca, say something erudite.

Rebecca Hoffman03:41

Something erudite, right? Isn't that like the age-old joke?

Ray Loewe03:45

Well, I have no idea.

Rebecca Hoffman03:49

Well, thank you for having me, in your midst to talk about storytelling and luck.

Ray Loewe03:56

Let's start out with, one of the things you do is you write a column for a newspaper.

Rebecca Hoffman04:03


Ray Loewe04:04

I know because I heard this just before we went on air, that you wrote one on stories. So take a minute and talk about this column, you know, integrated into what you do for a living, and then tell us a little bit about this column. We'll use that to kind of bounce off the show.

Rebecca Hoffman04:24

The column runs in the Daily Herald newspaper, which is published in the Chicagoland area, and it's a popular newspaper; very well read by a really diverse audience, but they have a big interest in local business and that's how I ended up getting connected with them. I'm writing on the general area is small business, marketing, and communications. The truth of the matter is, and I say this all the time, a small business is like the lifeblood of every community; without it, you just have like mattress stores and cell phone stores, with all due respect to them. Small businesses are what made communities interesting. But small businesses need a lot of help because they don't have the budgets to do the kind of marketing that big companies do. So I write on topics related to small business so that they can be successful in their efforts. This week's column actually is about storytelling and business. The notion is that big fancy companies like Coca-Cola and lots of others tell stories, and then all of their marketing becomes memorable because of that. We see this with the Superbowl ads and we see this in a lot of places. When I write about things, I think I try to connect the dots. Storytelling is a human universal, I think that's what a cultural anthropologist would call it, means that people enjoy a story across all cultures, socio-economic groups, everything. And so, you know, you and I talk a lot about that, over the years, the notion of storytelling,

Ray Loewe06:01

And guess what, we're going to talk more about it today. So let me tell you a story. And I moved into a new community, it's an older-based community, it's a part of a continuing care facility. I have found it absolutely fascinating because the people that meet here, that live here, have incredible stories. Some of them have done incredible things like put spacecrafts on Mars, and been astronauts, and written novels and stuff like that; but even the ones that haven't done that have incredible stories. We interviewed, on a recent podcast, a young gentleman, he must be 91. I'm going to recap it real quickly. He was given a system from his uncle, who got it from a colonel when he left World War One, as a soldier. The "ABCs of Your Career" have driven this guy through a successful career at DuPont, where he became senior executives and ran a number of companies. What he's thinking about now is, he's got great-grandchildren, ages one and two, that he wants this story to be part of their lives. He's not sure that he's going to be here to do that. The podcasting world allows him to tell his story now. So let's build on that.

Rebecca Hoffman07:44

Well, that's very interesting and important because I think that gets at what psychotherapists talk about as generativity: the idea that we all have valuable information and experiences to share so that future generations can learn from it. Podcasting is a great way to impart wisdom and have it remain part of kind of a searchable, discoverable database. This fellow you mentioned, it's really wise to do that because whatever he knows, his great-grandchildren would surely benefit from. Beyond that, even we would, or other people. Whenever I hear about, you know, informal or formal systems that people have to achieve something, I want to know about it because I personally subscribe to this idea that I don't know everything. I always asked my friends and people I meet to tell me what I don't know. And I love that. I discover all kinds of things, you know, tell me what I don't know how to do. There's so much, just, I don't even want to waste time trying to figure it out. Just tell me and I'll go do it. Any topic.

Ray Loewe08:47

So tell me about your great, great grandparents.

Rebecca Hoffman08:52

I don't know a lot because my family was immigrants like so many. I have some information. I actually am in the process of conserving it and getting that material to a few different museums, and a research library that has an interest in this. My great grandparents were simple people who came here and didn't have much. But the next generation, they became scientists on one side of my family, and they were chemists. So they were early pharmacists when pharmacy was complex. Because my great grandparents were interested in the success of their children, as all people are, they saw to it that my grandmother in the 1920s was the valedictorian of her class at Columbia University; when women were barely even going to college and she was studying chemistry and became a chemist.

Ray Loewe09:44

What do you want your great-grandchildren to know by you?

Rebecca Hoffman09:47

Well, I think I would like them to know about life being complex and not that easy. I think this new generation, and one's beyond, presume that everything should be entertaining, and fun, and if it's not, it must be boring. Boring is scary to younger people. I think some of the most boring moments in my life are when I've had more interesting ideas, or futz around until something happened that was interesting. You have to be sort of comfortable in that space. So I think that you know, if I would be speaking to my great-grandchildren right now, I would say, embrace boredom, because that's where a lot of interesting things can happen.

Ray Loewe10:26

Okay, so that's what you're gonna say, that's what you would say now. And that's going to change over time.

Rebecca Hoffman10:32

Yeah, for sure.

Ray Loewe10:33

But how are you going to do that? Let's think ahead. What I'm getting at here is kind of a guideline for other people to think about. Okay, so you didn't know much about your great-grandparents? You want to know something about them, so let's assume that your great-grandchildren are gonna want to know something about you. What do we do differently here? How do we do this?

Rebecca Hoffman10:58

Well, I think it's all about documentation. Right? So podcasting is a form of documentation. Writing is a form of documentation. And I think, in a perfect world, we would all write down our wisdom, our experiences, because when you say what would I want them to know? Well, I would want them to know some broad constructs. But I also think there's some pretty good stories that they should know, too, that might be inspiring for them. Reaching back in time from me and even behind me. I think the hardest part is the discipline of documentation, which we all struggle with.

Ray Loewe11:31

Okay, so tell us one of those stories that you think would be great for your grandchildren. I'm really putting you on the spot now.

Rebecca Hoffman11:40

Probably the most basic aspect of my family history is that people can be very simple and have a really good life. It's a contrast. Right? We have a pretty deluxe life right now; we have everything we could ever want, to the point where if I'd like to buy somebody a birthday present, I sometimes struggle with it, because everyone I know has everything they ever needed. The act of honoring somebody, for a birthday, or an anniversary is challenging. When I look back on my family, I see people who worked hard, who they got lucky. You talk a lot about luck in your work, they got lucky, they had the wherewithal to leave Europe before World War Two, and come here. When they did, one half of my family settled in Chicago and the other half settled in New York City. These two families took root like all immigrant families kind of do and worked hard. The people were not necessarily super highly educated the way we think of it now; but I think the thing that I would say is there was a lot of adversity, there was a lot of decision-making being made. Out of that has come generations of people who are highly educated, successful, who find life really interesting. I would say I hope that my kids and their kids and so forth, don't become so blase, that they don't find life interesting, which is always the risk.

Ray Loewe13:07

So I find that's a really good example of something that, you know, it's not concrete, in a sense. And yet, it's a story that you want to tell. This goes out to people who sit there and say, I don't have a story to tell. Right? And you and I know they do.

Rebecca Hoffman13:29

Every single person does. I always tell my clients when I'm working, and I even say this, beyond that to friends, keep everything at the level of a cocktail party. When you go to a cocktail party, you don't talk about spreadsheets usually, you don't talk about calculations unless you're doing something really interesting in science. You talk about stories. Like when I get together with my friends, we end up laughing a lot, because we tell so many stories to each other, almost at our insistence, and it is so much fun. I mean, the stories that people tell are just spectacular. And I think that you know, the everyday person doesn't realize that necessarily; but the everyday person is also a person who if you give them paper and pencils and say draw something, they'll say I don't know how to draw. The truth is we all do. It's just kind of like a muscle that needs to be worked and storytelling is the same.

Ray Loewe14:21

We talked about podcasting is one way to do this, but I want to get into some of the others. The podcast is easy in one sense because you're just having a conversation with somebody, and it's being recorded, and then it's gonna sit in an archive somewhere; technically forever, although who knows what that means. Well, what are some of the other things that people can do if they're sitting there and saying, if you think about what you wanted to know about your grandparents, maybe that's the first guide as to what you want to tell the next generation.

Rebecca Hoffman15:02

It's a little bit like, and this is a hard thought to have, but like, what would you rescue from a fire? If you had 60 seconds to get out of a building and your things were in that building a house or an office? What would you say? Most people say photos, certain books, obviously the humans and the animals in their life; but I think engaging the senses is the way we can record memory and share that forward. Some people are watchers, some people are listeners, some people are readers. So the podcast gets it the listening; a video, or a short movie, or short films, get at the watching. Then there's reading; we write books, or essays and file them away, and maybe by extension into museums or research library, so it's discoverable through life. I have an uncle, he's since passed away, he had a beautiful life with my aunt. When he was, well, some years ago, he made a series of films about their life together. They are some of the most interesting documents of my entire family, they're on DVD. They had a really rich and beautiful life together that involved a lot of travel, and art, and some interesting adventures. He made these movies so that it was his way of making sure nobody would forget. As a result of that, nobody will forget and people will be educated. So I think, you know, a person can write their stories, and you can use workshops to write the stories. You can do audio like this, which I think is really fantastic, or you can make short videos to the extent that you have the resources to do it. I think it's a great thing to do. Well, you can do that with an iPad today. You don't need anything more than that. You really don't. If you need prompts, you know there's people who need prompts, and I'm not alone. It helps us have a discipline; you can look at Gotham Writers Workshop, you can look at StoryCorps. There's another one called Story Worth, which helps people write memoirs. These are really easy, very accessible platforms for storytelling of one kind or another, very engaging, and easy to use. If you feel that just having an a tablet or an iPhone is too vast, that helps people focus.

Ray Loewe17:28

Okay, there are a couple things that I want to bring up here and then I will invite your comments; because you'll shoot me down and tell me they're wrong. The first thing is, don't think that your family won't read them, or watch them, or listen to them. I heard a story a while ago about a young lady who wrote her father's memoir. He was dying. Years later, she walked into her son's room, her son was I think nine years old at the time, and found her son reading the book about his grandfather.

Rebecca Hoffman18:08


Ray Loewe18:09

So it doesn't get lost. It may get pushed around for a long time and sit on a shelf and collect dust, but there's a day when people are going to come out and read it. I think the other thing that we got to be careful about, this is on the technical side, is a lot of the media that we have goes obsolete. So for example, I remember the floppy disk drive, right? Yeah, I had a whole bunch of photos on those. I can't open them for anything anymore.

Rebecca Hoffman 18:38

I know.

Ray Loewe18:40

I think the other thing, and then I'll let you talk here, is people come up with photos of trips. They don't think about what the photos say. They throw them in a box and think somebody's gonna pick up the photos and understand what it is. But I think you do have to organize this a little bit for people. So now that I made these silly comments, Rebecca, talk to me.

Rebecca Hoffman19:04

Well, I think you're absolutely right. I think that that's why museums are interesting. When we go visiting in London, or New York, or Chicago, and you go to the art museums or the anthropology museums; I think of the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Great Bed of Ware, and all this portraiture of people from centuries past. The reason why it's interesting is because somebody is bothering to conserve history; and then they make some sense of it so that when you stroll those halls, you learned from it, or discover things that you couldn't even have imagined. And that's really interesting. Yeah, we can't just have boxes of stuff because I don't think it's fair to ask future generations to carry around cardboard boxes of stuff. I've experienced that myself with things that my parents have that are not organized, and it's super challenging to look at 100 and 150-year-old documents and have no idea how to string it together. You can sort of get an idea, tt's kind difficult. So yes, we do have to provide a context. And so you're right, the biggest challenge is the medium because the technology keeps shifting. And I'm told, you know, like, if you put things in the cloud that's going to be better; but that's even a big question mark. I mean, I think you probably need some blend of like print material and digitized material, and then you probably have to keep converting it to formats that people can use.

Ray Loewe20:23

The future generation, if they want to, will find a way to get it. If they need to. Let's talk for a minute about keeping this simple, because we're getting near the end of our time, unfortunately, which we always do while we're having fun. Writing your life story is a monumental challenge and I'm not sure that anybody really cares about the whole life story. I mean, I think they do in a way, but you talk about you go to your cocktail parties, and you get these snippets, and maybe the idea is an accumulation of snippets.

Rebecca Hoffman21:06

I think so, you have to play the role of curator of your information because it's true. You can't just have like a running feed of everything you did every day, although I do think that would even be kind of interesting if we could possibly conserve that. But we don't have that. So in terms of what to save, it's like, what are the big moments? What are the interesting experiences? What can we learn from bigger moments in our lives? There's some documentary filmmakers who, I see how their processes, they're like obsessive-compulsive about documenting everything; and then when it comes time to make the film, they make a lot of decisions about what goes into the film. And so, you know, there is this notion of the cutting room floor. I think every person, even the most amateur storyteller, or documentarian, about a family history, has to make those decisions. I think the probably you think about the births, the deaths, the big moments, who fought in what war. Tell that story. What was your family business like? What were the challenges or struggles your family overcame to be who they are? What are the great stories that, you know, a child would want to hear? That's the story to tell. Even when they're hard.

Ray Loewe22:21

We have to do this again because you just woke me up with a whole series of things I want to ask you about, we don't have time. The hint is, Sandy and I, we had to give a presentation here and talk a little bit about our travels. The thing that I found most interesting about our travels was who I met along the way and why they were important, why they stock. There's a whole litany of things that kind of raised questions about why I gravitate towards certain people, and what do I really want to know about my heirs. And it's not necessarily what their jobs were. That's important. But I want to know the character, I want to know who did what, and why they were funny, and stuff like that. Let's do this again and let's get into how you craft a story maybe? And what are the things to think about, but I think that the message I'd like to leave with people right now is that, just like you want to know about your relatives in the past, your kids and great-grandchildren are going to want to know about you. And they're not going to be able to find out if you don't put the data somewhere.

Rebecca Hoffman23:33

Correct. But it's, it's lost to history if you don't.

Ray Loewe23:39

So the idea here is to sit down and start to figure out how you can leave a legacy for your kids and start out simply. Small, right? I get that from you all the time. You always start small.

Rebecca Hoffman23:54

You have to. I had a teacher in high school who used to say, when you don't know what to do, do the first thing. And optimistic number one, number one, tell one story. Then you get momentum from those experiences.

Ray Loewe24:10

Let's continue on this later. Rebecca is a chapter in our book and is on storytelling, really; it's on the importance of storytelling, and the craft of doing it, and I'll tell you, she's so much enriched my wife that she's become kind of a significant mentor here today. I want everybody to have the chance to read about it and think about it because I think she can do in a few words of wisdom here for you, what she did for me. And we're all gonna become storytellers. Raka and you're the leader.

Rebecca Hoffman24:51

I think we have that as a native skill that's hardwired into all people. And the trick is not to be afraid to take a chance and tell a story in a more formal way.

Ray Loewe25:03

Cool. Taylor, we're at the end of our time. Sign us off. We'll be back next week with another great guest.

Kris Parsons25:12

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life, and you can figure out how to do that too! Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 22 Feb 2022 05:00:00 +0000
Episode 100: What is your Personal Brand, Guest Ashley Allen

Podcast Guest: Ashley Allen


Kris Parsons00:00

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Keeping with our intro here, this is your lively host, Ray Loewe, the luckiest guy in the world. Let me take a minute and talk about the luckiest people in the world. We have a guest today, who was one of them. The luckiest people in the world are basically people who take control of their lives. They design them to their own specs, and then they live them under their own terms. You don't dare get in the way of one of the luckiest people in the world because they won't let you. One of the things that they do well is they deal well with changing rules. We know that all through our lives, we're given sets of rules, were getting them more and more; little kids, we're given them by our church, our schools, our jobs. For the most part, they're good because they keep us under control. They give us a set of guidelines as to how to live. But sooner or later, the set of rules gets so big that is not relevant anymore. I think it was Steve Jobs, the Apple guy who said, you know, "if you living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life". So we have with us today, Ashley Allen actually has been with us before, and actually runs Acacia insights out of the Orlando, Florida area. She works with clients all over the world. She coaches them into some incredible concepts and helps them in effect live their life better, too. Okay, so Ashely, good morning.

Ashley Allen01:49

Good morning, Ray. It's just such a treat to be with you and thank you for having me here.

Ray Loewe01:55

Well, we have a bunch of things we have to talk about. I was coughing here this morning when we started. Ashely, of course, not being helpful at all, held up - what was that stuff over there?

Ashley Allen02:08

It's a wonderful product called Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief. So if you talk a lot, or it's used many times by singers. If you want to project that wonderful voice that you have, Ray, I want you to get some Entertainer's Secret.

Ray Loewe02:25

Okay, so I feel inadequate now and I will for the entire show. Thank you very much. But one of the reasons that we have Ashley here today is we're coming out with a brand new book, our target date is about 60 days from now, to have it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble networks and things like that. It's going to be called Changing The Rules. It deals with the luckiest people in the world, who they are, what they are. We've got a set of worksheets in this book that help you become one of the luckiest people in the world. We asked Ashley here because she has a chapter on our book, a whole chapter I might add, not a mini-chapter, a whole chapter. She's there because she is obviously one of the luckiest people in the world over here, and we wanted her to be here. So let's look at a couple of things here, Ashley. We're going to talk about fiddling in a minute, but let's start with why two of the mindsets of the luckiest people in the world that I think are most reflected by you. One of them is that you always tend to follow what's fascinating and motivating. Number two, and you actually help us create this and define this, is that everybody has a personal brand, whether you like it or not. The luckiest people in the world are very, very much aware of this brand and how they show up. So why don't you take a minute and talk about this personal brand a little bit and help us define it? Then we're going to talk about how you can lose it.

Ashley Allen04:22

Exactly. Well right. First of all, I am thrilled about your new book, I cannot wait to see it and I have thoroughly enjoyed your previous publishing's. So I just can't wait to read this cover to cover and really gain insight on all of the different mindsets that you're discussing. I think you really have perfect timing on this. When you think about the world and especially people who either are or who aspire to be the luckiest people in the world. This is really an opportunity for them to gain just incredible insight from you. So thank you for writing the book and I'm certainly thank you for letting me be a small part of it. We've been talking about, you mentioned personal brand, I think it is very simple as personal brand is who you are, as you said, it's how you show up. It's how others have observed you. It's how you interact with people. It's how you make other people feel. What I really appreciated in the work that you and I have discussed relating to your book is that it really has two components. It has the aspect of each of us as individuals, understanding who we are, the talents and strengths and gifts that we have, but also how we are perceived by others. Because to understand your personal brand, you really have to have that external perception. You have to understand how you are seen by others, how you are perceived by others, observed by others.

Ray Loewe05:54

You know, you mentioned that there's a distinct difference here. Let's separate that, knowing what you want, and knowing who you are, are different than knowing how you're perceived by everybody else.

Ashley Allen06:07

Absolutely. I think that that one of the really wonderful ways of understanding who you are, are through, you know, full well that I absolutely adore assessments and behavioral assessments, I think it's that aspect of taking time, give yourself that, that gift of time to reflect of time to think about who you are in what's important to you, and what's important in your life. Right now. We've all had just an incredible experience these last two years. I would imagine many of the people listening to this podcast, have done some reflecting, they've done some research. I believe that that aspect is so critical; but there's also wonderful resources you can tap, such as behavioral assessments, and those give us language behind our strengths, perhaps language that we wouldn't have thought of ourselves. Those great adjectives and descriptors and active verbs that describe who we are. Taking that time giving yourself that generous gift of time to reflect is so important in understanding who you are now, and then understanding how you're perceived by others.

Ray Loewe07:22

But let's talk a little bit about this perception stuff because it doesn't matter who you are, it really matters how you're perceived. You can have this great image of who you are, you can think you know, you're going in a grid in one direction, and nobody else agrees with you. All of a sudden, you aren't who you are. So can you give us a couple of examples of how perceptions change from what people think they want?

Ashley Allen07:56

Absolutely, and I think the notion since we're talking about changing the rules overall, I think it's important to note that our personal brand changes throughout our lives, think of who you were as an individual 20, 30 years ago was very different than who you are now. I think your values and those kind of foundational aspects are the same, but how you present to the world, how you show up to the world is different over time. There are things that are important to us now that perhaps were not important to us, even a few years ago, pre-pandemic, for example. So I believe it's important to ask others, again, it's that external perception and whether it's through kind of a formal assessment process, or as simple as asking others, how they would describe you, how do you show up? What are your strengths, a simple ask, and getting that information from people really gives you insight into how you are presenting yourself to the world, and to your family, and friends, and to others. That may be very different than how you perceive yourself. You also talk about ways that you can not reflect the positive brand that you want to reflect or do things that go against it. You think about consumer and product brands, it's about being consistent, it's about knowing what to expect, about having that personal connection, have that emotional response. Our personal brand just the same way. When we act in a way that is disconnected from that or is different from that, you can tarnish your brand, for lack of a better phrase.

Ray Loewe09:43

I'm thinking like right now the Winter Olympics are going on, and of course, I'm thinking about the Summer Olympics because I'm way behind. Okay, but I remember one of the swimmers, Ryan Locky, was his name and he was a superstar. He had this great image. It was a wonderful imagery, he actually gave his metals to kids as he won them, to encourage them and stuff like that. Then he went off and he ruined his brand in a matter of days. That actually just kind of knocked him for a loop. I think he lost his swimming, he lost everything, just because you do something stupid. So what are the things that people do that cause them to lose their brand? How can you be aware and how can you be on guard because it seems like you have to be on your toes 99% of the time.

Ashley Allen10:39

Well, and you do. And again, I think we all have those people with whom, we can show the good, the bad, and the ugly, those really dear members of our family, and those really amazing friends like you Ray that you can truly be yourself. You can have those moments perhaps when you're not at your best. But when we think of how we generally interact with others in the world, whether it's at work, or through our work in the communities we're involved with, or the activities involved with, you do need to be on your toes. If you think of it from a work setting, you're always interviewing, every meeting you have every interaction you have. You're interviewing either for the job you have or for the next job. So when you think about those behaviors, especially when you want to project and protect a positive personal brand, it is about consistency. It's about having people understand who you are and relate to them in a meaningful way. Things that can tarnish your brand. The example that you used with the Olympic swimmer is a perfect one. That's on the world stage. It happens in groups and in small ways. I remember a client that I worked with years ago, who phenomenal person, phenomenally successful woman. Great at her craft, a great manager, and leader of people. She had worked with me for about a year to really help elevate her emotional intelligence, her ability to be more empathic, more empathetic, and she did phenomenal work. She worked hard, you know, like an Olympic athlete, you train you, you consider your behavior, and you have those positive interactions with people. But one day, something happened at work. It was a tipping point for her. Instead of just collecting her thoughts, realizing she was possibly going to say something that she might later regret, or take a walk around the block, she very publicly and very loudly vented. Telling everyone her feelings in a matter of less than 10 seconds. She eliminated all of the great work that she had done before.

Ray Loewe13:01

Yeah, what do you do?

Ashley Allen13:03

I think in that moment, again, recognize when you are having those moments, when you believe that you are shifting from being who you want to be, to perhaps someone who you don't want to be. Just be mindful of that, be intentional about that, and recognize, should you stop a conversation? If emotions are high, or if you're in a conflict situation, things of that nature, just say, "I think we need to put a pause here, let's get back together and discuss this when emotions aren't so high, we all need a little bit of time". Recognize those moments. That doesn't mean you can't be have healthy debate or be passionate about something; but when we think about the values that we want to reflect, kind of clue yourself in on those times when you're going against the grain when you're going against that positive image that you'd like.

Ray Loewe13:59

Sure, sure. How do you train for that? I mean, you know, what, what can you do?

Ashley Allen14:04

I think it's heightened awareness. I think it's not just as when you are understanding who you are and who you want to be at, at this stage in your life and going forward. It's through heightened awareness. It's also you can have accountability buddies on this too. You can have brand buddies. You can have people who know you will and can give you positive feedback, or kind of give you feedback that is important for you to hear. I think personally, it's a way for you, yourself to just be in touch enough with who you are that you know when you are diverging from the personal brand that you want to reflect.

Ray Loewe14:51

Now, you know, I'm thinking about how easy it is to ruin all the work that you did, you know, it could be a Facebook post. Yep. Okay. It could be having too much to drink at a party and saying the wrong thing to the wrong people. Thanks for making me really concerned about this.

Ashley Allen15:17

I think we all want, we all want to show a wonderful range of emotions and again, be passionate about the things we're passionate about. But I think too, and again, this, oftentimes, we think of this in a business sense, but know your audience. Think about the person you're speaking with, to whom you're speaking, and understand and think about how your words are going to fall.

Ray Loewe15:38

Okay, so I think it's really important to put this whole thing in perspective here. I mean, we talk about if you want to feel lucky, if you want to be one of the luckiest people in the world, you're going to do a bunch of things. Number one, you're going to make the rules work for you. Number two, you're probably going to look for positive outcomes, you're going to try and make sure you're in a good mood most of the time. Then you're going to design your life so that you live in under your terms. Part of that though, it's not good enough to just say this is who I am, you got to look at how the world is going to look at you. I think the luckiest people in the world take their time to do that. Because nobody wants to have these confrontations later. Nobody wants to say, you know, I've worked so hard for this, and I blew it all by doing something stupid in a moment. We're gonna need to come back at this. At some point, I need some time to think about this. But of all the things I think I've done that are stupid, and I've done many of them, by the way. In fact, I'm probably the king of stupidity. I've just been really lucky that I haven't been caught here. I think that this whole concept of knowing who you are, and how you're perceived, and then protecting this perception is really, really critical. So let's change the subject because I want to get onto really important things. One of the things that you do is you take the edge off of thinking about aging, and you think about living. So you came up with two things on our last podcast. You were talking about the fact that one of the ways you keep from getting to be an old codger is you play a musical instrument, or learn to play one, or you learn a foreign language. So let's talk about that for a minute, then give us an update on where you are, and then let me lament what you've done to me.

Ashley Allen17:58

I love this. I love this. I was so hoping we were talking. When we spoke last time, I had mentioned that I believe the two of the best ways to preserve your brain health, as you go through the decades, is to learn a new language, second, or third, however many. And also, as you said, to play a musical instrument, I chose to learn to play the fiddle. I chose to learn this about six years ago. Well, no one told me how hard it is to play the fiddle. As I said last time, I have learned so much about myself. I've learned so much about learning, and about being new at something, and about being excited about something, and about failing at every level. But I also said last time, it is something that it's counterintuitive. You can be so bad at something but enjoy it thoroughly. That's still the case with me. I am a little better than when we spoke several months ago, but perhaps not a lot. But it is something that is a cumulative effort. It's something that you learn every piece by piece, note by note, minute by minute. I am absolutely thrilled to hear that this is going to mean adventure that you're going to take too, right?

Ray Loewe19:20

Well, I'm not so sure about that. So let me finish the story over here. So after you picked up the fiddle, I was talking to my wife, Sandy, and she thought it was a great idea. What she did is, she bought me a ukulele. That ukulele sat in a box for two years. It got moved from the old place to the new place and sat in storage for a long time. It came out here because we actually have where I live now ukulele club. We had entertainment the other day of 40 people who had no idea what they're doing. Playing ukulele and it was just an absolutely fun time because everybody was singing along. Everybody has smile on their face. So I was also telling this story to Sandy that I'm so bad at music that I failed recorder or flute when I was in elementary school. So this year, I got a recorder for Christmas. Yeah, I think that one's gonna stay in the box, but the ukulele is out. I'm pattern this after you because I think this is part of the perception I have of you. In this case, it's not necessarily of an accomplished musician, is a person who is having an incredible amount of fun with something.

Ashley Allen20:47

Oh, absolutely. The other aspect of it, which to me is so much a part of being one of the luckiest people in the world of lifelong learning, it's learning something new, It's taking a risk. If you were to hear me play, you know, it is a risk to listen. And it is, but it's just going in there learning for learning sake. It doesn't necessarily mean towards a goal, or qualification, or certification, or degree. It's just the joy of learning. But like you have understood with your ukulele ensemble, that it's also a community. It's the people that you meet along the way, when you start that activity when you start that goal. I've just been exposed to people who are phenomenally talented, and I have such a deep respect for what it takes to be that kind of fiddle player. Just learning step by step and it's humbling. It's very humbling. But I think every once in a while, we need to kind of have a little dose of humility. So I think that's a good lesson too.

Ray Loewe21:56

Well, unfortunately, we're nearing the end of our time here. I wanted to make sure that you came back on the show because you're such a critical part of our new book. You're a critical part of my life going forward. You're part of the luckiest people in the world community. I think everybody can see why when we talk about your passion about branding and being aware, and protecting your brand. Also talking about just joining a community and being a fiddler. So thank you so much for being with us. You got to come buy the book and read about Ashley. It's a wonderful experience in and of itself, it's worth whatever the books gonna cost.

Ashley Allen22:43

Well, Ray, as I said, at the very beginning, I cannot wait because I think that you are giving such a gift to so many people at precisely the right time. Your process for thinking about breaking the rules, of changing the rules, and understanding yourself, and giving people a distinct process. It's an incredible endeavor and an incredible gift. So thank you.

Ray Loewe23:11

Okay, well, Taylor, sign us off. And Ashley, thanks for being with us today.

Ashley Allen23:16

It's been my pleasure.

Kris Parsons23:18

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host, Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 15 Feb 2022 17:58:00 +0000
Episode 99: The ABC's of a Successful Career, Guest: John Thackrah

Podcast Guest: John Thackrah


Kris Parsons00:00

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Good morning, everybody. This is Ray Loewe, otherwise known as the luckiest guy in the world. And we're broadcasting remotely today we have Taylor, who's sitting in the Wildfire Studios. I'm at home doing this from my study. And our guest today is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And I'm going to introduce John Thackrah in a couple of minutes. But let me remind everybody that the name of our show is Changing the Rules. And through our lives have, we're given a whole lot of rules. And they start with our parents when we're very young, and then they go on to the schools, and then the church gives us rules. And then our jobs give us rules. And most of these rules have a lot of sense when they're given to us. But many of them become obsolete and get in the way, as we move through life. One of the things that rules do is they tell us what we can do and what we can't do. And if we live our lives by other people's rules, we're living their lives, not our lives. So we find this group of people that we kind of represents here, the luckiest people in the world, are pretty good at making the rules do what they need them to do as they go through life. And every week, we get a great opportunity, we get to feature one of the luckiest people in the world. And the luckiest people in the world are those people who design their own lives and then live them under their own terms. And you're going to find today, our guest does that exactly. And he's done it all of his life. And he's taken control of his life. And he's had a very, very successful life. So John Thackrah, John to say hi, first to everybody. Hi, Ray and thank you. Okay, so So John had a very successful life, mostly at the DuPont Company. And John is now retired. And we had a chance to talk the other day reflecting on some of the things that you know, he thought he did really well in his life. And he had a secret success formula here. So, so John, let's start out by talking a little bit about who you are, your education, and your family, your DuPont career. And one of the things I really want you to focus on is how you measured your success at DuPont.

John Thackrah02:44

Okay, I first Thank you, Ray, for this opportunity to talk about the ABCs of a career. I've been living with it for most of my life and using it for most of my life. So it's nice to have an opportunity to do a podcast on this subject. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, in the West Oak Lane area of Philadelphia. Very, very nice community when I was growing up there, at a wonderful time growing up there. I went to Germantown High School. And that's significant because, in 11th grade, I met a girl by the name of Doris Van Skiver. And we went together and did a lot of things together. And subsequently, in 1953, we got married. So that started a long and wonderful relationship. I went to Philadelphia Textile Institute after graduating from high school. And that's somewhat significant for me because my grandfather, two uncles, and my father all went to Philadelphia Textile School. It was located Broad and Pine Street down in South Philadelphia for 67 years. And in 1949, they moved out to Schoolhouse Lane and Henry Avenue and build a new campus. And we were the first class to go into that campus. They changed the name from Philadelphia Textile School to Philadelphia Textile Institute. And the reason being that they were able to offer a degree in chemistry. And that's the course that I wanted to pursue. So I went there after graduating from Philadelphia Textile Institute, I was I got an opportunity to work for the DuPont Company in the dyes and chemicals division of the organic chemicals department at that time. At that time, the DuPont Company was broken into a series of departments. And this was the organic chemicals department and in the dyes division of that department. Now dyes just for everybody's information are used for coloring textiles, paper, leather, all the things that we know carpeting. And it's a very interesting business that was a very big business in the United States, the fifth largest employer in this company was the textile industry up until about 25 years ago when it's really all moved off to China and other places in the world, unfortunately, because it was such a big employer. But I had a 42-year career with DuPont. And I started with a wonderful title, my title was a dye sales trainee. And literally what the company did was bring people like me into their operation, and then taught me a whole lot about the company because they didn't want me to go on the road and represent the DuPont Company without knowing a lot about the company, so if people wanted to learn something, they could ask me a question. And hopefully, I would have had an experience that would let them make the right contact inside the DuPont Company. My career, I sold direct sales of dyes, I was a tech rep for some time. And then I started to get some promotions and moved up the ladder in the dye business till 1979 When DuPont decided to go out of the dye business. And I was left kind of hanging on the line but was fortunate and able to get into the colored pigments business, which is related but totally different. The pigments, businesses in paints, auto paints, house paints, plastic colors. So it's a totally different business. I spent some time in that and finished my career and specialty chemicals, especially by the time I went into the specialty chemicals organization, the company had changed their structures, they had five strategic business units. And I was in specialty chemicals strategic business unit of the DuPont Company and wound up as the director of sales and marketing of that organization, which was a pretty wonderful job, a great career, my career took me all over the world to be all over the country. And I learned a lot about the world and the people in it.

Ray Loewe07:15

And thanks for sharing that. But talk a bit about your family and your kids. You have several kids, you got children, you got grandchildren, you got great-grandchildren, right.

John Thackrah07:29

That's just what I wanted. I was just going to take off on a back to Doris, Mary Doris van skiver, in 1953. And we had two children, and two wonderful children, and four grandchildren. And just last November 4th, my first great-grandson was born, which is really a wonderful experience. So my kids, I think did very well. They certainly heard about the the the ABCs of a career. But we were married. Doris and I were married for 67 years. And she passed away a year and a half ago here at Willow Valley. So that's kind of the background that I was going to give you about my family unless you want to know more about my kids what they're doing now and so forth.

Ray Loewe08:21

I think what we really want to focus on right now is you had a successful career. And obviously, you went through all the ups and downs of building a career. And it sounds to me like you had some pretty good direction along the way. But I know for a fact that you had a secret weapon here. Okay. And the secret weapon goes back to World War One. And uncle and somebody named Colonel Brown. I think so without divulging the ABCs yet because that's top secret. We'll get there. Tell us a little bit about how this stuff got into your life from World War One.

John Thackrah09:03

Okay, that's, I think, kind of a nifty story. My Uncle Al, my father's brother was born four years before my father in 1896. So he wound up in the First World War and went to France as enlisted man. And his commander was a colonel, a Colonel Brown. Colonel Brown was a really wonderful guy. He was the owner of a textile mill in Germantown. And so my uncle Al growing up in Germantown that kind of brought the two of them together. And they were over in France, and from the way, I was told the story when the war was over. Colonel Brown, being a good friend of my uncles said Al what are you going to do when you get back to the states and my uncle said, I have no idea. And Colonel Brown said that's a that's an unsatisfactory answer. And I'm going to tell you a little bit about what how you should be thinking. And he gave my uncle the ABCs of a career, that I have no idea where he got it or when he got it, but all we know now is it's well over 100 years old, been around for a long time, and has been useful for for for that whole time, and will be useful 100 years from now. So it works. You're a proven example that it works. Is that correct? Yeah. What happened was this uncle of mine, really a nifty guy, he never had any children. So I was kind of his adopted son and my Uncle Al and I spent a lot of time together. I'd go see him, he lived in the Onley area not too far from West Oak Lane, I got a chance to see him quite often. When I was getting close to graduating from Germantown High School, we had lunch together one day. And by the way, in 1944, he went blind, totally blind because of a detached retina. And so he, he had a seeing-eye dog by that time, and I took him to Morristown, New Jersey to get his dog. So I know a lot about Becky, his seeing-eye dog. But we were having lunch together. And he said, What are you going to do when you graduate from high school? And I said, I really don't know. He said, that's an unsatisfactory answer, I want to give you something to think about. And then he told me, what happened to him at the end of the First World War. He said I'm going to talk to you about the ABCs of a career. And he said, I hope this works for you, as well as it worked for him. As a blind guy, I always thought that was kind of wonderful for him to feel that way. But anyway, I think now might be a good time, if I just walk you through what the ABCs are.

Ray Loewe11:55

Okay, you're on go to let's start with the A's and that, and then we'll work to the C's.

John Thackrah12:01

Okay? A stands for all about you. And I find that it's very simple to say, and involves two questions. And the two questions are, what do you really like to do? And what do you really do well? And what my uncle explained to me was, you've been going to school for all these years, you run around the streets of Philadelphia, and you go on vacations, you things and when you're going to school, you think you're there to get grades, and that's all true. But the fact of the matter is what's going on is you're learning all about you, you're learning what you really do well, and what you like to do. And if you can really get a grip on that, it will be the best information you can have to lead you to, to a career choice. And this career choice is an extremely important thing for you to make. Because if you make the wrong one, it can lead to all kinds of problems. So this issue of what do you know all about you? And can you put it down on a piece of paper, what you really like to do and what you really do well? It's, it's a, it's a great thing to do, it will give you the clue to what kind of career you should pursue. So for me, we spent time that day talking about me, what did I really like to do? And what did I do well, and as things I told you earlier that my family was very much associated with the textile industry and the dye business. So the bottom line was, I was the kind of person that he at least said, I think you can sell. And he said, therefore I think you ought to be selling something either in the textile industry, maybe dyes, maybe chemicals, maybe finishes. But he has spent time in the textile industry, he went to textile school. And he said, I think that's a, I'd be a good choice for you. Selling is a wonderful career if you can do it. He said I think you have the talent to do it. I think you ought to pursue it. But you got to get an education so that you can sell, sell something that will be good for you and good for the company that you work for. So we spent that time talking and concluding that what he thought I should do. And that of course involves going to fill off your textiles to this new campus that was going to be located at Schoolhouse Lane and Henry Avenue. He knew a lot of people there. And so he certainly was going to help me a little bit and getting okay to go to go to the school. And then he went into, I guess two things that are important. One is what he said was the definition of success. I guess I'd like to read it to you so I say it exactly as he gave it to me. By the way, I took some notes that day was your good because it the whole concept laid inside me until I decided to write about it in the late 1990s. But success as he defined it was achieving a sustained high level of interest in your work and being satisfied and proud of what you do over a period of many years. So that's a very important part of the whole thing you could describe success is how high you go in an organization, how much money you make all kinds of different ways. But that was his definition that he got, from Colonel Brown. So we then move into the B's and the C's, if you'd like me to cover that.

Ray Loewe15:31

Yeah, let's do the short version of it because I've got a bunch of questions for you that I think our listeners are going to want the answers to. So give us the quick version of the B's and the C's.

John Thackrah15:42

Okay? Uh B stands for behavior. And what he told me is, you're going to face two kinds of behaviors for the rest of your life. One will be social, want to be professional? So you go to work, and you have all kinds of things that you get involved in, what kind of person are you everything from? Somebody asks you to do work? How do you behave when that happens? How do you deal with the people you're around? And when How do you handle the work that you're asked to do? And, and so in your working life, you're going to have all kinds of things you face, that will impact your behavior. And it will be extremely important, whether you're alone in your own business, or whether you're working for a large corporation, behavior becomes an absolutely a critical factor. And what he explained to me was, there will be people that there's no doubt they would, they will be better than you. But, they will hurt themselves because they will make behavior decisions that are not good ones. And whether it's drinking, or gambling, or all the kinds of things that we might think about, or are on the list of things you can get in trouble with, you need to be conscious of the fact that these things occur, whether you're outside your job, or inside your job. So be very much aware of the letter B for behavior. That's the short version.

Ray Loewe17:16

Okay, let's get into C's over here.

John Thackrah17:20

And see I found interesting, and that C stands for competitor, what kind of competitor you're going to be. And what my uncle told me was, the day you go to work, whether you like it or not, you're going to start competing. If you have your own business, you will compete with whoever your businesses competing with in the world you're working in, you're working for a corporation, to be all kinds of people around and you'll be competing with them. Your management will be watching you and seeing how hard you work. What kind of results do you deliver, when they give you projects to do all kinds of things that are associated, but the bottom line is you're competing. So athletes compete, try to win. And in business, you try to win in whatever you're doing in your business community. So being a good competitor means you want to be fair, you want to be good, you want to do what's right. But you want to win. And that becomes a very important part of your character. And, and a very important part of the judgment that management puts on you. And so I found that there was no doubt in my world, I worked for a very large corporation that I was competing with a lot of people and I recognized that some of them were better than I was in a lot of categories. But if I didn't get into some of the difficulties that I saw, some of them get into, it was certainly helpful for me. So there are the three parts of the ABCs all about you, your behavior, and what kind of competitor you're going to be.

Ray Loewe19:07

Okay, this is a great set of tools. And what you've also done is you sent me a kind of a PDF or an electronic document that summarizes all of this. And when we do our podcast notes and summarize, we'll put away that people can get a copy of this if they want. And this will allow them to get into the a's and the B's and the C's a little bit more. But there are a couple of things that you mentioned here that I think are really important. Number one, how many times in your life did the A-B's and C's did you have to go back into them because things changed and you had to reinvent yourself?

John Thackrah19:51

Well, that's a tough question over a 42-year career but I think probably I recognized how competitive an arena I was working in certainly when I was on the road selling dyes for the DuPont Company all over the east coast of the United States, it was a tough job and a very, very competitive job. What I think really struck me was when I got into some of the management jobs that I held, I had people reporting to me, and, and what happened was, on many occasions, and I, you know, I could talk, talk about these for a long, long time about details. But what was happening was people would come into my office, and say, I'm a Ph.D. chemist, I'm a research chemist for the DuPont Company, I hate it, I don't like what I'm doing. I would love to get into the marketing world, that's where I think I belong, or somebody else would come in and say, I really think I'm a financial person, I don't want to be selling. And I would have to deal with and listen to their story of what was always a sad story, they had gone to school, they got a degree, the fact that matter is, they didn't work very hard and all about you the A part of the ABCs, they got into education, because maybe somebody told them, they should be a chemist, or somebody told them they should be in the financial world. And they got into it and didn't like it. So now they looked at a large corporation. And saw what they thought was where they wanted to work, and came to me to see whether or not they could get transferred into where they wanted to be. So this really struck me because what it said to me was, how critical this A part of the ABCs is, and all parts of it are critical. But that's the big one. If you choose the wrong career path, right from the get-go, you're probably going to wind up like a lot of these people would say I come to work every day and just put an x on the calendar, I get rid of that day. And it's almost inconceivable to me because I can only say I spent my 42 years. And you know, I had bad days and bad trips and travel experiences, whatever. But all I can say is I had a fantastic career that I couldn't wait to get after I was really afraid to retire because I was having so much fun and enjoyed it so much. But because I was doing what I like to do, and that I could do well. And that's really the simple bottom line. And to hear these stories. What that led to was, after retirement, I just talked, I talked to every one of these people about the ABCs. It's unfortunate that you didn't learn a lot about all about you. And you pick the wrong path. So now we have to try to make a change. And we did, we made a lot of changes because it's good for the company. And it was good for them. An employer and employee was drawing X's on a calendar every day, when they go to work is a horrible situation. We want them to be excited to go in there and do the best they can to help themselves and the company. So those changes were made. And what that did to me was after I retired, I decided I didn't want to just let this thing drop and fade away. I'd write something about it. So I put the little brochure together that you're talking about. And I thought it was interesting. In retirement, I was a member of The Elks in Cecilton, Maryland, and showed it to a couple of guys that were in the Elks with me. And they liked it so much. We talked to these people in schools down there and Cecilton High School. They put one of these pamphlets on all the high school graduate seats when they were graduating all the graduating classes each year, they would all read this thing. The reason being they're all 17, 16, 18 years old, and they're making this critical decision, what do I want to do? What career do I want to pursue? This thing would at least make them understand how important it was for them to know about themselves. And, and so that that happened, and I doubt if it's still going on down there, but I certainly and in my retirement years, I've run across a lot of grandparents who talk about their grandchildren who don't know what they want to do for a living and I'd always give them a copy of The ABCs and talk about it. And it works. It's very simple. And a lot of people have sent me notes and letters telling me that they were stumbling over what they tried to figure out what they wanted to do. And now after looking at this, they took a hard look at themselves and have a pretty good idea what they want to do. So so that's kind of how it worked, and how it's been used. And it's been out there for a long time and at least I feel comfortable that it's and today getting a little boost also So through the, through your efforts to maybe find a few more people that might find this very important to them at a stage in their life while they're trying to make a career selection decision.

Ray Loewe25:12

Cool. Well, you know, unfortunately, time flies when you're having fun, and we're nearing the end of our time of it here of John. But we're gonna have you back because you're certainly one of the luckiest people in the world. And you raised several more questions I want to talk about later, and another podcast about how important the mentorship of your uncle was to you, and how important you were as a mentor to other people. Because I think a lot of this stuff you can't do by yourself. And I kind of have another secret for everybody because I think the real reason you're doing this podcast is you want to share with everybody else, but I think he had this great-grandson. And you want to get this message to him at some point in time. And I think it's a great message. And you know, the all about you. It really is everything, and people don't take enough time to deal with it. So why do you have we have time for a quick closing moment? Do you have one last thing you want to get across?

John Thackrah26:14

Well, I guess I would like to say that here I am, at age 90, retired here at the Willow Valley. And I believe it, the ABCs are still cooking in me because today I play golf, I shoot pool and I compete, I try to win. And I believe that's just a reflection of the ABCs that I still want to be a good competitor. I still want to I want to behave myself, of course old age makes you behave yourself. But I just think the ABCs are still with me. And every opportunity I can hear at this wonderful place that we live. I'm able to share the ABCs with a lot of people here who can pass it on to their family members. So I hope it continues to help people for a long time.

Ray Loewe27:00

Okay, so look at our podcast notes. Everybody we'll show you how to get a copy of The ABCs. And John, thank you so much for being with us today. You're certainly one of the luckiest people in the world. You have it together here, don't you? And Taylor, time's up joining us next week. We're gonna have another exciting guest and Taylor, why don't you sign us on please.

Kris Parsons27:23

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 1 Feb 2022 20:50:00 +0000
Episode 98: "Life is a Daring Adventure or It's Nothing." Guest, Dale Johnson

Podcast Guest: Dale Johnson


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Good morning, everybody. This is Ray Loewe. And I'm sitting at home in my den today we're doing a zoom interview with one of the luckiest people in the world. And, and before I introduce Dale, let me remind you that the purpose of changing the rules is to showcase one of the people that we think is one of the luckiest people in the world every week. And this is a person that you can use as a role model because they did things that help them take control of their life, and are helping them live things under their own terms. And we can learn a lot by listening to them. So today we have a young man, his name is Dale Johnson. And Dale say hi to everybody.

Dale Johnson01:01

How you doing Ray. Good to see you. And thanks for having me.

Ray Loewe01:06

Well, Dale, and I met at a place called Willow Valley. And we're going to talk about that a little bit. But let's go back and talk about Dale and build his background a little bit because Dale started with one of the most unusual careers that I have run into, and that is in college he majored in what Dale?

Dale Johnson01:29

I majored in geography.

Ray Loewe01:31

Okay, now, why does anyone major in geography and then once one majors in it? What does one do with it?

Dale Johnson01:40

Well, I got interested in geography because I had a wonderful teacher in the eighth grade in a geography class. And she was wonderful. And I had no experience as a child traveling. And I just loved this, this opportunity to look at all these wonderful places all around the world. And so when I got to college, I kept thinking, what am I going to major in? And so I thought that I would think about the classes I really enjoyed, and the geography class I absolutely loved. So I ended up majoring, and got a couple degrees, and was fortunate enough to actually have a career in it.

Ray Loewe02:20

Well, that's, that's pretty cool. You know, one of the things the luckiest people in the world do as they follow what's fascinating and motivating to them. And it's rare, though, that they follow that early in their career. And, you know, we have so many kids going to college today that just go into traditional degrees, and they really have no idea where they're going and they're not excited about life. And I think, Dale, you're, you're lucky there that you found the right place, and you moved forward. So where did you work when you come out with a degree in geography, what do you do?

Dale Johnson02:52

Well, at first, I really wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. Back in those days, a lot of people just majored in a lot of different things. And they weren't that concerned about their career. But I ended up doing a lot of land use planning, I did environmental protection work. But my specialty ended up being computer mapping and GPS, that sort of thing. Way before Google Maps ever existed? And now I kind of think about it. Having computer maps and GPS on your phone. It just kind of blows me away? Yeah. So I was able to actually have a long career in the field of geography. And then also my wife and I ended up for about eight or 10 years, we ran our own small, travel tour company. And that was a that was just fun geography.

Ray Loewe03:41

Yeah. Okay, so you took geography from the, not the corporate world, from the government world, largely, right?

Dale Johnson03:49

Yeah. A lot of it was government Yes. Yes.

Ray Loewe03:51

To now to the personal world of loving life and exploring places and doing things like that. So one of your mantras in life is never stop adding adventure to your life, I think, right? Isn't one of the quotes that you come up with all the time?

Dale Johnson04:08

Oh yeah absolutely. That's, that's, that's one of my, one of my, you know, my mottos? Yeah.

Ray Loewe04:15

So, so I think running a tour company does this, right?

Dale Johnson04:19

Yes, yes.

Ray Loewe04:21

So where did you go? What did you do? What kind of travel did you do? How did you keep this going?

Dale Johnson04:29

Well, we actually hooked up with a local college in the Baltimore area, Stevenson University. And we did travel study tours. So we would take students along, but we also opened it up to outside folks, and a lot of the outside folks liked the fact that there was a geographer on board, and there was a, there was an educational component to it. So we ended up doing tours, the American Southwest. That was our main tour, but each year we would try to add a new one. So we did Atlantic Canada. We did London and the English countryside, we did Paris and the French countryside. So we did that for about 10 years. And then after a while, we thought we'd rather do a little more traveling on our own, rather than going and taking 25 people and being responsible for them. So we kind of gradually shut it down. But it was a great experience for the 10 years.

Ray Loewe05:21

Okay, now you talk to me a little bit about the kind of travel that you and Christine did. It's Kirstine. Right. Right. Okay, she's, she's the better half of the organization. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So you were talking about the kind of travel that you did, where you really went to places and kind of stayed for a while because you felt this need to, you know, get more in-depth and things. So talk a little bit about what motivated that and how it worked out?

Dale Johnson05:51

Well, in 2006, right toward the end of my wife's career, she worked for McCormick, the Spice Company. So she got an assignment overseas in England for a little over a year. And about every two months, they could fly her home, or they could fly me over there. So other than Christmas, I would just end up going over there. But she lived in this marvelous little village, quaint little village, she lived in a house that was built in 1565, that had a thatched roof. So we loved it there. And we kept thinking, when we retire, we would like to go and travel, where we can stay in places for a longer period of time, add a little adventure, to your vacation, your travels, that sort of thing. So that's what really kind of motivated us. And for many years after that, we've looked at various mechanisms to go in and stay someplace for a longer period of time.

Ray Loewe06:47

You know, when we were talking and kind of our pre-interview here, you know, there there were a number of things that came up that I thought were absolutely fascinating, and, and they have to do with your philosophy of life. And this is why you're one of the luckiest people in the world, by the way, because the luckiest people follow what's fascinating and motivating. And they do it under their own terms. I think you've done this. So you were talking about, you know, never stopped any adventure of your life, you know, getting involved in activities off the beaten path. You know, you said something about you're fascinated also with the tiny little forks in the road.

Dale Johnson07:25

Yes, yeah. Yeah, there's all kinds of little things I, I do think back of, you know, how I met my wife, there was a little fork in the road, some things in my childhood that just send you off in totally different directions. But they're very, very minor little things that, you know, you think back and look at that fork. And you could have gone one way or the other. And those are always quite interesting. Yeah.

Ray Loewe07:52

But you made your choices, and then you live with them. And again, the adventure comes at, okay, yes. Yeah. Okay, so So there are two other things I want to hit before we go on to where you are now. And let's talk about the Zoomobile a little bit.

Dale Johnson08:12

I guess that's an example a little bit off the beaten path. I've always been involved in volunteer activities. And that was shortly after I retired. I started working for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. I actually worked for them for two years. But then it was kind of getting in the way of my travels. So they we've just switched over to volunteer status. And then I could have a little more flexibility with my schedule. But we had about 75 animals that we took out to schools and nursing homes, things like that. And every day you went out and you made people happy. And it was a wonderful, maybe the best job I ever had was that job. And you still it was a great opportunity. You still had to learn because you had 75 animals that you had to learn to be able to talk about. You had to learn how to handle them, things like that. But that was a little bit different, a little bit adventuresome, but it was just a great volunteer gig.

Ray Loewe09:08

So what was the most interesting animal you took out to the kids?

Dale Johnson09:13

Probably the penguins. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, they specialized in South African penguins. So we had several of those we took out people love them, but they were a little testy and a little unpredictable. And so we always had to be very, very careful with the penguins. So but people absolutely loved them.

Ray Loewe09:36

Okay, and how about dangerous?

Dale Johnson09:40

Oh, probably most dangerous were the parrots and the McCall's they were one of the last ones that you would get trained on. And you'd have to build up a little bit of rapport with them. But their bite, they could actually break a broomstick and they could cut a broomstick in half. So you had to be very, very careful in handling them and make sure you had a good rapport with them so that they never got mad at you.

Ray Loewe10:06

Cool. So how does one get a job like this? I mean, you know, you think and I'm excited by looking at your path here because you really do follow the adventurous. So you know, I mean, how does one all of a sudden take off and say, I'm going to travel the world? And do these kinds of things? And then how the heck do you get to running a Zoomobile?

Dale Johnson10:29

Well, some of them were just luck that when I found out through a friend, but he also did it. So. And he was retired. And so the two of us for many years, we did the Zoomobile. Together, we had a great time. And some of the other things I may discover, through the internet, I just started thinking about what I'd like to do. And then I just do some, some research on them. But there's a lot of wonderful websites out there that allow you to add some adventure to your travel. One of the early ones early on, that I got involved with was one called Help Exchange. And what you could do is you could volunteer through various organizations or farms, things like that, about 20 hours a week in exchange for room and board. So one of the things I did my wife and I, we ended up, back in about 2007, we ended up spending six weeks in Northern Ireland at a plant nursery. So we did a lot of work around the place there. And then we had plenty of time to go out and explore. And it was just outside of Londonderry in Northern Ireland. And that's a very interesting place in Northern Ireland with all the troubles that went on between the Protestants and the Catholics. But as an American, we got sort of a free pass, but being there for six weeks, you could really get an understanding, a little bit of understanding what was going on there, and an appreciation for it.

Ray Loewe11:56

Okay, so we have a pattern here, Dale. Okay, a really interesting pattern. So we start with geography, then we go into traveling the world and we travel in a different way though, we travel in places where we can really get immersed in these things. We get a vehicle that's filled with animals and we get to take them out into the world and have broomsticks bitten in half by parrots and McCalls, you know, this is not a normal way that people retire. But it's a way that people can think about retirement going forward. That adds spice to your life. And I noticed I got the spice from McCormick. Okay. We had to pull that in. Okay. And it's, it's really pretty cool. And you wound up at the same place, I kind of wound up this is a wonderful place hidden away called Willow Valley where we take another phase of our retirement life and say we're going to live here and keep the adventure going. Right. Okay, so let's talk about how, unlike many people who just sit on a beach or play golf, you're going forward here with adding value to other people's lives as well as yours. So let's talk a little bit about biking. And let's talk a little bit about here called the Lancaster Farm Trust.

Dale Johnson13:25

Yeah, once I arrived at Willow Valley, we mainly moved here because it was such an active community. There were just so many, many things to do. So we get involved in a variety of things. But also we've always been heavily involved in volunteerism. So one of the first things I did was to look at what we could do outside of Willow Valley because I wanted to get involved in the community. And I had known a little bit about an organization called the Farmland Trust. And what they do is they preserve farmland. And they were set up as a nonprofit to deal mostly with Amish farms that they would preserve. And Lancaster County is number one in the country in preserving farmland. And I actually knew that from when I worked in Baltimore County, I was also involved in farmland preservation. So getting involved in the farmland preservation was a way that I can bring my geography back in because it's very geographically oriented. I think about half the people at the Farmland Trust are actually geographers, so you're dealing with landscapes and land and things like that. So basically, what I do there is I go out and visit the farms that are required to have a visit once a year once they're put into preservation. So I do a visit just to document any changes that sort of thing. chitchat with the farmers, and again, most of them are Amish.

Ray Loewe14:47

Okay, and you get there by bike.

Dale Johnson14:51

Yes. I do. I do it by bike. I've always been into biking. And, in fact, when I was in Baltimore I ran a little program called meals on two wheels, where we delivered meals on wheels by bike. And I had about six riders, I worked on that program and kind of built that up. So when I moved to Lancaster, the gentlemen of Farmland Trust knew about that. He said, Have you ever thought about visiting the farms by bike? And I saw Yeah, I have. So he gave me the okay. And we figured out how to do it. And it's kind of nice. Now when I show up on the bike, I get a little, maybe a little credibility with the Amish showing up by bike as opposed to my car. Yeah. So it keeps me in shape. And I get to ride through the beautiful Lancaster countryside and the farmland. And you get a close-up look of what you're, you're helping to preserve.

Ray Loewe15:45

So so. So when you get to old to ride a bike, I guess you're going to go to a horse and buggy deal, right? And getaway. You know, one of the things that you're showing us it's really interesting, we've got a lot of people on here that talk about changing careers. And they keep working throughout their retirement. And you don't need to do that you can. Not that you're not working because you are okay. But you found a way of reaching into the volunteerism stage to keep your life interesting to add value to other people and to make things fascinating and amusing.

Dale Johnson16:23

Exactly. Um, I've always kind of thought volunteerism, you have two options, you can go out, like the Zoomobile, and do something totally different. And it's challenging because you're learning something new. Or you can go out and get involved in something where you pull in your skills from your profession. So I've done it kind of each way.

Ray Loewe16:46

Yeah, and you have this bevy of quotes that you gave me that drive your life, let me throw out a couple of them. Because I'm not going to expect you to remember them all. But life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Dale Johnson17:00

Yes, that's a quote by Helen Keller. And I love that one. And I have a capability to add quotes to the end of my email. So I have about 50 of them. Whatever the conversation is, I just put an appropriate one in there. But I always like to have some adventure. I'm not the kind that goes out and does adventure that's dangerous. It's a controlled adventure that I'm more involved in. And so that's a big part of my life and also my wife.

Ray Loewe17:29

Yeah, okay. Life is like riding a bike. You either keep moving, or you lose your balance.

Dale Johnson17:37

Yeah, you have to keep moving in order to keep your balance. And that's a very nice quote. Yeah, it just says it all. Yeah.

Ray Loewe17:49

That was Mr. Einstein, by the way. Yeah. And then you have one more. He had a lot of good quotes. Yeah. Yeah. For scientists, he did Okay. Yes. Yeah. All right. Let me hit one more in here that I just think is kind of a fitting way to kind of close to the end. And, and because I think it's what you're trying to do, in your own way. And this is a quote by somebody by the name of EB White. And it's I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and to enjoy the world. Yes, yes. Makes it a hard way to plan my day, doesn't it?

Dale Johnson18:28

Yes, yeah. And I think that's, that's been a big part of my life, and also my wife, we want to enjoy things in life. But we also want to be out there making the world a better place. So we've always been involved in volunteerism. And as we kind of move forward, we think about that more and more either through charity, or volunteerism now.

Ray Loewe18:51

okay. Well, you know, Thanks for being a leader here and showing us another way of doing things and approaching this whole world of retirement. I think the idea is that you've shown us, Dale, that there's a whole lot of ways out there that you can stay active. You can volunteer with organizations, you don't have to have your job, you can do this through volunteerism, it's exciting is intriguing. You know, you've got different ways of looking at traveling. And I think that that's helpful for those people that want to be one of the luckiest people in the world. And, and we define the luckiest people in the world as those who design their own lives and live them under their own terms. And thank you, Dale, for being one of the luckiest people in the world. And joining us today for this podcast. You've given us great insights.

Dale Johnson19:47

Great. Thank you very much, Ray Loewe. Appreciate it.

Ray Loewe19:51

Yeah. And we'll be back with another Dale, we'll never find another Dale but we'll be back with maybe a Christine or something like that Okay, but whatever it is Taylor sign us off and we'll be back next week with a great podcast.

Kris Parsons20:08

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host of Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 18 Jan 2022 18:37:02 +0000
Episode 97: Intention and Commitment Matter, Guest Marc Manieri

Guest Co-host: Marc Bernstien

Podcast Guest: Marc Manieri


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Morning, everybody, and welcome to Changing the Rules. Changing the Rules is a show that is designed to showcase some of the luckiest people in the world. And the luckiest people in the world. And our definition are those people who are going out and actually redesign their own lives personally, and then live them under their own terms. And when you do that, life comes together and everything works well. And part of that is being able to deal with rules. You know, we all have too many rules in our lives anymore, and they start giving us rules when we're little kids, our parents give us rules. The schools give us rules, the churches give us roles, our jobs, give us rules. Often our sponsors give us rules too, but we may have to stick with. And then the whole idea is if you wind up living life, by everybody else's rules, you're not living your own life. So one of the things that the luckiest people in the world do is they know how to deal with rules, and how to filter with those through those rules, and take the ones that are important to them that are going to make their lives worthwhile and wonderful. So we have two guests today, we have Marc Bernstein is back again. And, uh, Marc is our co-host today. And Marc is also introducing us to a contact of his and a good friend of his Marc Manieri. And Mark is just well-marked one of the luckiest people in the world. That's all I can say. And you're going to be fascinated when you see how his life has evolved, especially over the last few years, and what he's doing now to help with the lives of others. So first of all, Marc Bernstein and because we have two Marcs, I'm gonna have a tough time today. But Marc Bernstein is the author of The Fiscal Therapy Solution. 1.0. Did I get that right this time?

Marc Bernstein02:17

Excellent, Ray, you're getting it.

Ray Loewe02:18

It's a best-selling book. And it is a definitive guide to living your life from a financial perspective. But integrating all those other lifestyle things that have to be there, too. So Marc, welcome back to changing the rules and make whatever comments you want, and introduce us to Marc.

Marc Bernstein02:42

Always my pleasure Ray, as I said to you guys this morning, quite an honor to be with two of my favorite people in the world and one podcast. So it's pretty cool. You know, I've been a guest on this podcast. And we talk about, you know how we are all lucky in life. But we all know that luck isn't something that just happens to you. It's something that you make out of the circumstances you have. And there's a lot of great stories and Ray, you've had a ton of great lives of different people and what they've done with those lives. It's really a great podcast in that perspective. And I've learned a lot from your podcasts. And you know, when I sked Marc to be on the show, he's one in my mind was one of the luckiest people in the world to but I also know that he you know, he made his luck to, you know, and he'll tell you what, you know, he, he talks a lot about intention. And he'll talk about that, and how he took intentions he had from a very young age and created the life he wanted to have. And like all these stories, it's a fascinating story. Marc, I know Marc as a high-performing coach for high performers. And in fact, he's been my coach for the last couple of years. And through that we've also become friends and we've become, I've gotten to know a lot about his background. And Marc, as we started, like, do you just, you know, talk a little bit about your childhood where you grew up? Because it's vastly different circumstances from where you are today. And we'll get to that. But why don't we start with that with your background and kind of the things you saw as a child. And when you start remembering your first intentions about what you wanted your life look like?

Marc Manieri04:31

Yeah, that's great. First of all, it's great to be here. And I want to acknowledge you, Ray for founding this podcast and Marc for you being here. And I love the spirit of this. So thank you for having me. So, I grew up in Rochester, New York in a middle-class neighborhood. And my mother was a school teacher. My father was an insurance salesman. And one of the things that I learned and discovered early on was that money doesn't grow on trees. And that you, you know, we couldn't just go out and have whatever we wanted. Because money was, let's say scarce in my family growing up, and it came in fits and bursts. And it was an interesting lesson for me. And I didn't realize I was learning it at the time. But one of the things I certainly discovered later on in life is I want to create freedom in my life. So I'm really certain that while things were scarce, let's say when I grew up, it created a foundation for me to discover one of the things that's most important to me, which is freedom. And while money in and of itself, doesn't grant freedom, it contributes to it. And so I started to orient myself in a way where I could create in my life, and I discovered that having money was a way to create freedom in my life. And, you know, my life started to move along that trajectory. So more I could say about that. But you know, what, what else would you like me to say about it? Well, Marc?

Marc Bernstein06:20

Well, one thing is I, I love that you you brought up about perception of money and scarcity. And it's not a plug for my book. But in the book, we talked about people's relationship with money, and their thoughts about money and their conditioning about money. And some of the ways that you can sort of break out of that. I know that your business background, I believe, I don't know if it started there, but a lot of your early business experience was in the mortgage business. And I know that your brother was an influence on you. Very positive influence in a lot of ways. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Marc Manieri06:54

Yeah, that's great. So the thumbnail sketch of it is I got started in real estate, actually, before mortgage and I, I went to every single seminar and training I could get my hands on in Rochester, New York, and had a pretty good rookie year, you know, was a six-figure earner in my first year, and at the age of 22-23 years old, like that was a that was a lot of money. And what I started to discover is man, I'm so inspired by what I'm learning from all these individuals that were teaching me that, I decided I wanted to be the teacher. So I discovered a local real estate sales training firm, and I went to work for them. And I made a lot less money than I did in real estate. But I began to realize what my calling is, and what really resonated with me, and I love contributing to others. And I also love the sales process and discovered that I was pretty good at sales. So then I went to work for another real estate sales training firm. And in this firm, we were at our high point, we grew this company, from five people to 85 people from half a million in sales to 10 million in sales in five years. And we are coaching 1000 people, many in the real estate industry in many in the mortgage industry. And I was watching the growth of all of our coaching clients. Now I was on the sales side of the business. And I was watching the growth of these people. And now we're getting to around 2005-2006. And I was in charge of all the sales on the US side. And it was a Canadian-based company. And at some point, somebody turned the lights out, like the sales on in the US side, they just weren't happening anymore. And there was a lot of say, immaturity in our company. And I realized, and I looked at all of our clients that were making all this growth, and I realized, man, I got to hire a coach. So that's when I discovered coaching. And I hired a coach. And I realized that being a part of this company didn't align for me anymore. So I left I moved to Florida, and my brother was running a very successful mortgage company, and I got into the mortgage industry. And that's how I really got into the mortgage industry. Marc and nobody knew that the financial crisis was coming. So by mid-2007, that company didn't even exist anymore. And from that day, I've been self-employed ever since. And I went back to my roots of training and then eventually got into coaching and, and over the next four years from 2007 to 2011 like life was a real challenge. It was a real struggle. You know, I was attempting to create sales training and sales coaching clients in the mortgage industry, when in the state of Florida when 90% of the people were getting out of that Business. And you know, you say my brother has been an influence on me. Well, my brother was always a guy that was willing to take risks. And because of the way I grew up with some scarcity, I was always risk-averse. And I remember one day being broke. And, you know, just feeling like, what why is this happening? Like, there is more in me than is happening right now. And I was on the phone with my brother. And he said, and I was talking to him about wanting to just earn $50,000 a year, and I remember he, he stopped me cold. He said, Dude, you're not a $ 50,000-year earner, you're half a million dollars a year earner? What are you doing? And like that just woke me right up. And that started to shift my relationship with money and my relationship with my own sense of self and what I could go create in the world. And I started to take some more risks. And, and with that, I started to, you know, upgrade my prospecting and going out in the world and started to create more clients. It was right about that time when I hired another coach, who, you know, Marc Bernstein, who changed my life forever. And that started my trajectory, on a totally different path over the last 10 to 12 years.

Marc Bernstein11:26

So I just like to set that up a second, I know, Ray's gonna want to ask you about your life today, and some of the recent intentions that you've acted upon. But since you brought that up, Marc, let's talk about so I first met you through a company that you're a partner in, called on to core and of course, called create powerful, which was powerful in my life. And in fact, um, I'll be doing it again for the third time this year. It's, that's how good it was. And that kind of leads into your meeting with your current partner. And I, let's talk about that for a couple minutes.

Marc Manieri12:02

Yeah, well, I was starting to get some traction in my sales training business that I was, you know, just driving up and down the east coast of Florida cold walking into mortgage company offices and sitting outside of sales manager offices, and anybody who was willing to let me spend an hour with their salespeople, I would do that I would train them for an hour. And then I would invite them to work with me for three months or six months, or even a year. And then at the time, I had a friend who mailed me a book, and he said, You got to read this book. And I've always well, not always. Back when I got into real estate, became a voracious reader. And I had a stack of books on my nightstand, you know, a dozen of them. And he sent me this book, and every week you would call me and he said, have you read the book yet? Have you read the book yet? I said, No, I haven't read the book yet. Finally, a couple months later, I'm like, alright, I'll read your book. And I read this book. And it was like the authors wrote it just for me. It was exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right time I consumed it in two days, I'll never forget, it was called the prosperous coach. And I was so taken by it that the authors, I research the authors and I, and I realized, in my research, they were holding a four-day workshop, that cost a couple $1,000. That was across the country in LA, and it was five days later. And I knew I had to be there. So I called these guys and they said, I want to sign up and they said, it's full. I said, Well, you don't understand. I told him the story of how I read their book. And I said, I got to be there, they opened up another space, I flew across the country. And I was at this event for four days. And it was a really powerful event. And at that event, there was about 50 students in the class, I was one of them. And every time this one person in the crowd spoke, the whole room was like, Oh, my gosh, what did that guy say? That he should be up there teaching the class? Well, it turned out that that guy was coaching the two individuals leading the workshop who had authored the book, and that guy turned out to be a guy by the name of Brandon Craig. And I flew home, and I called him and I said, What does it take to work with you? What would it take for me to hire you as my coach? Because you know, you are doing what I want to do you have a thriving, coaching practice. And I want that and I'm really struggling over here. And he told me what it takes to work with him and somebody had to pick me up off the floor because it was more money than I made the previous year in total. And so I went to my wife and I said, Hey, honey, I met this guy, and I think I need to hire him. And here's how much it costs and it's a lot of money. What do you think and She was brilliant. She said, Well, you're thinking about going to get your MBA. And you're about to spend $100,000 doing that. And that's a two-year program. And you could go be in debt 100 grand, and come out of that program and not have a thriving coaching practice two years later, you could spend almost as much money as that on this guy. And he's already doing what you want to do. And you could create what you want to create. So I'm behind you, whatever you decide. And that was amazing. And so I called him back. And I said, All right, I want to work with you. And he said that's great. Send me a check for the whole year to work with me, which you got to pay upfront. Because that's the definition of commitment that I learned. And I didn't have the money. But I went out and started to talk to people in a different way. Because I had already committed to working with him, I had to go out and find the money. And I ended up talking to people in my life and found four different people that were willing to invest in me. And that's how I came up with the money to hire him. And I hired him in the first year. And he taught me some key things around intention and commitment. And I ended up that year doubling my coaching business. And I hired him again. And then I doubled my coaching business again. And then I hired him again. And then I doubled my business again. And that was you know, how I really learned some key understandings around intention and commitment and leadership that has me, you know, teach those to other people today in the in the domain of high performance.

Ray Loewe16:42

Okay, my turn Marc. Okay. So so there are a couple things, you've told a great story so far, Marc about a couple of things. And, and this concept of, of commitment, and freedom, and drive, and the importance of coaching, okay, and, you know, I've met so many coaches, and they all have coaches. And it's interesting to me, okay, but that's part of what coaching is all about. It's like, we all need an accountability source. And we all need teachers, and we need to find them. But what I want to focus on is not that I want to focus on your spouse a little bit. I want to focus on some lifestyle changes that you brought into play. And the fact that you suddenly picked up then took 12 weeks off, and how you put that into your system, and then you moved all the way across country? And how did you do this and keep a business together? Because this is the lifestyle, I think that makes It's the freedom part of the money.

Marc Manieri17:47

That's right. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for the question, Ray? So when I turned self-employed back in 2007, my wife was a Canadian, she moved in she wasn't self-employed, she, she wasn't employable for a year. So she took the year off, and she found really great things for us to do. And she's amazing at that. And she's a traveler, and she said, Okay, you know, this is the lifestyle that we want to live. And I was always too frightened to actually leave my home office and go anywhere for any substantial amount of time because I thought I had to grind it out. You know, and I was at a time in my life when I had to grind it out. And that was fine. And I was grinding for several years. And finally, a couple years later, she said, Look, we created a life very intentionally where we could travel because we don't have to answer to anybody. She was self-employed as a writer, after she could work, immigrating to the US, and I was a self-employed leadership and performance coach. She said It's time to go somewhere. So I was like, okay, whatever. And finally, she came to me one day, and she said, I've booked us a house. We've rented us a house in the mountains of western North Carolina. We're going to Asheville, North Carolina, and I said what we are, she said, Yes, we're going and we went that one summer, and that grew to eight weeks, and then that eight weeks grew to 12 weeks. And from basically 2009 on we've now traveled every summer. And so you know, that has been a key part of our lifestyle Ray, and I've loved every minute of it. And it's been fun to get out and see the world we've we've traveled across the country we've done Austin, Texas, we've done Lake Tahoe, we've done Portland, Oregon, we've done Vancouver. And then recently we grew out of Orlando, Florida, which is where we were living for 15 years and Kristen being Canadian and the US seeing some of the world. I forgot to mention we did Europe as well as Australia. And we realize we want to live somewhere beautiful. So we decided to move our life across the country to Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, and we now live here full time.

Ray Loewe20:06

Okay, so there's, there's a message in here that you've got out to us, and I want to summarize it or have you summarize it. But it starts with this idea of intention. There's a piece in here that talks about, you know, money was important to you up to a point, but obviously, it's not all money because it's a lifestyle that's being able to go where you want to go and do what you want to do. Okay, so what's the message that you have for other people? How do you do this stuff? And I think it comes down to intention, and what do you want?

Marc Manieri20:44

Yeah. Well, intention, as I see, it, is having a real clear desire, and a clear aim on what it is that you want to go create. And, you know, one of the things that my now partner and coach, former coach, and now partner and mentor, Brandon says, is, is a great analogy. He says we're all, you know, like a boat. And if we don't have intention, we've got these two twin engines on the back of a power goal. We're all powerful individuals and human beings and creators. But without intention, we have no rudder. And we take all this power that we have inside of ourselves to create, and we just spin around in a circle. And intention is the rudder for our life, it's the thing that has us move in the direction that we want to go. And I love that analogy. And to be a boat without a rudder is really sad. Because man, we can do really special things, we could do anything that we want. And that starts with getting clear about it. So that's intention. And the second piece to it is commitment. And what I learned through my work with Brandon through the leadership work that we do, and that we teach is that commitment is to do what is necessary. Period, like, full stop, to do what is necessary to produce the outcomes in our life. And what that means is and it's going to sound so oversimplified is the only way we don't create our intention is if we quit, if commitment is the antithesis of, of quitting. So if we get a clear intention, we look into our life, we see what we want, and we just move towards it. And we're committed to never stopping, we can't not get that we can't not not get there, it will always happen. And, you know, I've discovered that in my life, and everything I've ever put my mind to is something that's been created. And I've seen that. And once people really understand this concept of intention and commitment, it's like, watch out, everything in life begins to change for them. So that's what I would say about intention and the commitment piece that goes with it.

Ray Loewe23:12

Cool. Okay, unfortunately, we're near the end of our time. So let's go back to Marc Bernstein for a minute. And, Marc, do you have any final comments that you want to say any final questions you want to get to our other Marc?

Marc Bernstein23:25

Over here? I'm just two things. One is, you know, I've worked with Marc. And when he talked about exactly what I've gotten out of it, I am now at the point in my life, where I was always a creator, I was always an innovator. I was always pretty good at my job. But I had a lot of things in my way, as many of us do, I had a lot of things that were blocking me out and that kind of thing. And the thing that he just talked about, about commitment being the antithesis of quitting is something I've learned. And just in the last couple of years, I've created some of the things you're aware of these forward focus forums and some other things I'm doing out of the blue and I look back on and said, Wow, that, you know, in a pandemic, out of nowhere, over the internet, you know, that you can create these things. And I now am a big believer that whatever I want to create, and whatever plan intentions are for the future will happen. My only question left for Marc, in terms of his own journey is what next? Do you have anything to say about what's next?

Marc Manieri24:32

Well, there's a set of intentions that guide me that you are aware of Marc, and there's four of them. And those are to make money to make connection. And by connection I mean, spending quality time with like-minded and like-valued individuals to make love and to make a contribution. And when I'm in those four intentions, that's what's next for me what that actually looks like, you know, I don't really know I let it unfold as it's supposed to. But those four intentions I've gotten really clear about and they've produced phenomenal experiences, and until they're going to change, then for now, I live by them, and they really work for me.

Ray Loewe25:29

And I think, you know, you summarize everything really well, there, you don't exactly know where you're going. And I think that's one of the problems sometimes is that people think they have to have this exact path. But what you need to have is the intentions you need to have your guiding principles in place, is that what we're talking about?

Marc Manieri25:48

Yeah, and I think the clarity of intention is defined by the individual, you know, I do put up a number in terms of making money, and I and I, so I have some specificity there, Ray, but you don't have to, you know, you know, it all lives within the individual. And so we could be specific, and specificity can really serve us at times. And other times, you know, if we just get clear about a guiding principle that can make a difference in our life as well. So there's no clear formula to it. And I think that's useful.

Marc Bernstein26:23

For Ray, I'll just mention, for those who are not, you know, as goal-oriented and don't want to be that specific about it. The book that I read, really, at the beginning, starting at the beginning, when I worked with Marc, that really influenced me, and I know it was an influence on him was The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. And that's such a miraculous story of, you know, just having an intention, basically a guy who just wanted to meditate, and everything that came out of that. So that's for anyone interested in that subject? I think it's one of the best books out there. And it's something that I keep going back to because it's a, and also is the book which was the prologue to that, which is called The Surrender Experiment. were amazing books on that subject. Well, well, this

Ray Loewe27:10

is great. Thanks to both of the Marcs over here.Mark Bernstein, Thanks for being back with us again. Marc Manieri, it's been a pleasure to meet you and to understand uh what's driving you and how you make life work for you. And I think you're very definitely one of the luckiest people in the world. You've got it together, you figured out what's meaningful to you. And thank you so much for being with us today.

Marc Manieri27:34

It's been my pleasure. Thank you, guys.

Ray Loewe27:36

and Taylor sign us off.

Kris Parsons27:40

Thank you for listening to changing the rules are a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life. Now you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 5 Jan 2022 05:00:00 +0000
Episode 96: A Look Back Through the Year, Guest Kris Parsons


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:13

Good Morning, everybody, and welcome to change the rules. This is Ray Loewe that quote-unquote, lively host, and Kristine kind of set me up with that. And we had a Christmas party last night, Kristine, I'm not so lively this morning. So you're gonna have to fill in for me.

Kris Parsons00:34

Yeah, too, too much, too much eggnog?

Ray Loewe00:36

Yeah well, I hope we always do better than eggnog. So So anyway, changing the rules is our show that's been going on for a couple of years now. And it is about the fact that we have to many rules in our life and rules, clutter our life. And rules allow us to do two things and only two things we either have to obey. And there are things that we must do or we can't do. Or the smart people in the world, the luckiest people in the world, change the rules so that they can create a life of their own and live it under their own terms. So last year, we had a great year, we talked to some incredible people. And Kristine Parsons of Parsons, PR Welcome to changing the rules and introduce yourself and then kind of kick-off by talking a little bit about what you thought we accomplished last year.

Kris Parsons01:39

Sure. Sure. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Ray. Yes, I'm Kris Parsons, Parsons, PR. I've been doing this since 2015. I did it before I met Ray. But Ray has given me some great pointers through the years on how to strengthen your sole proprietorship and small entrepreneur businesses because that's, that has its ups and downs with it and the luckiest people in the world always find a way to solve things. So that's what I learned. I do know we have done a lot. We've been very, very busy this year. And it's been a pretty crazy, different strange year, we, we've done about 95 this year, almost 100 episodes total of what you've done with changing the rules. And this year alone, you did 45. So this is our last one. We'll start up in January. But they've been fascinating. I was looking through some of the episodes. And I think we started out the beginning of the year, January of some very interesting people. One is a master barbecuer in Georgia, but he grew up in Africa, among wild animals and a lot of conflict in the country. So that was fascinating. And then we ended, I think, just last week with a woman who was a high-powered corporate executive, who live who lived the real high powered strong life. Now she's braving the world of entrepreneurism and doing her own business. And just some of the interesting things she's learned. It's really fascinating people, there's so many stories out there. And every day, I'm fascinated every week, actually, when we do this, to see some different things. And Ray, you do have a wonderful knack of bringing out things in people and we learn things about people that you would never even imagine by meeting.

Ray Loewe03:28

Yeah, so let me tell you what we're going to do next year. This is a prequel. We're not in the next year yet, but really quickly. Yeah. We're going to skip our 100th Episode, you know, changing the road, everybody has a 100th episode, sooner or later, we're not going to have one, we're going to go right from 99 to 101. So Taylor's got to figure out how we do that. Because why should we have a 100 when it's just what everybody else would do. So I found a couple of interesting things that came up last year, we did a series on this idea of where we're going to all live as we get older. And we had some people come in and talk about lifestyle settings. They talked a little bit about long-term care kinds of things, and the things that we have to make sure that we continue to feel lucky. And you know, one of the things that keeps coming out of this luckiest people in the world is that that they have a vision and a plan. Now the plan is not a 100% Guaranteed plan. It's a plan that allows for a lot of pivoting. But they have a sense of where they're going to go and what they're going to do and we found that people who don't think that way, all of a sudden run into roadblocks where things change and they have no idea where they're going to go and they waste huge amounts of their life. So um we talked a lot about that. We interviewed a number of writers last year and they were writers of different things. We had a young lady writing children's books, who based them on a dog that she had that died and we have the stories of Moe and, and how he traveled the United States. And this is all geared towards helping younger children get a sense of where they are in the country and getting a sense of directions.

Kris Parsons05:29

Nobody seems to know how to go anyplace these days.

Ray Loewe05:32

Yeah, we had a bunch of people who write on memoirs and telling their stories. So we had Donna Luboo, from Chicago, and she talks a little bit about the theater that she runs where people can write a five-minute story and stand up in a bistro and read or tell their story in front of a group. And it's amazing how many people come up with great stories and we had Clemence, a writer of memoirs, she helps people write their memoirs and things like that. We have filmmakers. We had a couple of them this year. We had Arielle Nobile She's a filmmaker, that filmmaker that talks about stories about America. And she was working about some exciting things about we're all Americans, why do we think we're different? You know, and interestingly enough, talk about people who break the rules or change the rules. I just got an email from her the other day, she just picked up and moved to Argentina. Wow, really? Yeah. So you know, you want to break some rules? Let's go. Right?

Kris Parsons06:49

Yeah, I'll go to Argentina. That's great. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Ray Loewe06:53

No, go ahead.

Kris Parsons06:54

No, I was just gonna say what also was interesting this year is there was quite a lot of pivoting, you know, because of this pandemic, which we're not totally out of yet. And that was fascinating to see. And I go back to what you said, having a plan that makes sense. Because they don't get flustered. They don't, you know, curl up, and, you know, don't know what to do and panic, they just find a way to pivot. And I think all of us, you and I included, learned a lot more about technology and zoom calls and how to communicate virtually to the point where I enjoy it more now. I mean, it's kind of nice to do things in your pajamas and not have to get dressed up all the time. But what I learned how to communicate differently.

Ray Loewe07:36

You know let's think about that a little bit. Because there are two major things that I learned out of doing these podcasts last year. Number one is that we're probably living in one of the most fascinating periods ever, of time. You know, we sit there and there's two groups of people, there were those that dwell on the kind of terror of COVID. You know, the fact that it's been awful. We've had uh 800,000 People die in this country. And yes, it has been an awful experience. But there's another group of people that have taken this. And they've just made it into one of the most vibrant periods ever. So I remember talking to Skye Bergman um Skye is a filmmaker from California. And she put together a film last year that aired on PBS. And it was about a whole bunch of people in their 80s and 90s. And how they talk about life. And one of the comments that she came up with is she said, you know, if we had been in normal times, I never could have introduced this film to all of the people I had a chance to introduce them to because I would not have flown to Europe to do a showing of the film. I would not have flown all over the country and yet with zoom, I was able to do these things. And a whole lot of people got the benefit of what I did that otherwise wouldn't. So I think again, the luckiest people in the world just think this way, and they it's one of the big things that I learned.

Kris Parsons09:22

I found it fascinating that I you know, I'm a little older. I didn't think I could do some of these things. And I could and now I feel a little bit more proficient than a lot of the technology and that's a wonderful feeling.

Ray Loewe09:37

yeah, you're fading out Kristine. Oh, I am. so talk into the mic.

Kris Parsons09:42

Okay, I'm talking into the mic. Can you hear me now?

Ray Loewe09:45

Okay, there we go. There we go. Just like that add, I can hear you now.

Kris Parsons09:48

You can hear me now. Like I just feel like I learned a lot more technology-wise than before. And it gives you a wonderful sense of confidence that now you can you know Master newfangled things.

Ray Loewe10:03

you know, and there's more to it than just the technology and just the fact that you know, we can do these things we run in, we've run into some people that have made changes, because of what we went through. So you mentioned Paula a while ago, and Paula is a perfect example of it. Here, here is a person who was successful by all means she's, she's a partner in a very, very large consulting firm. She's making gobs of money. Okay, she's generally excited about what she does. She's working on interesting things. And then one day, she sat back and said, you know, enough is enough. Yep. And I'm gonna make this change. And we're seeing people do this, you know, the Gallup poll people came out a long time ago, a couple years ago. I guess that's a long time. And they said that 80% of the people in the United States, quote, hate their stupid jobs. Now, I think hate is probably a little bit straddling that is a word. But I certainly have met a lot of people that are not totally happy with their jobs. Well, look at what's happening. In society right now, we all learned we don't have to go to the office anymore. So now companies are coming back and say, Okay, it's time to get back to the office and people are saying, No, I'm not going. Okay. And I'll quit my job if I have to. Well, you talk about exciting times, and about it and exciting opportunity to follow what's fascinating and motivating to you and to do what you want to do in life.

Kris Parsons11:46

Be happier. That's, that's what it's all about. What do they say? Nobody puts on your tombstone. You know what you did at work? They talk about the things you did that you enjoyed in life?

Ray Loewe11:56

Yeah. Okay. So I learned another batch of things here. Okay. And I'd like to hear your take on it. But let me kind of get through this. We have great stories all around us. All we got to do is listen. Right. So we did a series last year on storytelling. We had Bonnie Shay, come on and talk about photographs. We had Rebecca Hoffman come on and talk about the power of the story. And one of the things that Rebecca said in her interview, she said, I go to parties and I don't ask people what they do. I asked them, tell me a story. So I did that the other day. Sounds really stupid. But we were at a Christmas party. All right. And I'm sitting there and there's this lady sitting across from me and uh She's one of my neighbors. I hadn't really met her before. And I would guess she's in her 70s, 80s, maybe an older, but a vibrant young lady, and I said Jane, so what's your story? And wow was I impressed? So Jane has a 1912 EMF? No, I didn't know what an EMF was. But it's a car. It's a car. And you have to crank it to start it. Now, she's got a real car, too. But all of a sudden, we got into this great story about old-time cars. And I think I'm gonna get a ride in one of these. I can guarantee you that Jane will be on one of our podcasts, and we're going to talk about following what's fascinating and motivating and some of the things that you can do in life. And you don't get this if you don't ask the right questions to people. So at dinner last night, okay, I'm talking to a friend of mine. And my friend, Dick Coyne, said, come on over to my table over here, Ray, I've got a guy I want to introduce me to and I met John. John is well into his 90s. He is an incredibly lucid guy. He tells stories great, and he was telling us last night about his father, and how his father was getting out of the service in World War One. Okay. And a colonel came up to him and said, Al Al, was his father's name and, and I said, No, what's your plan for what you're going to do when you leave the service? And Al came up and said, Gee, I don't know. And the colonel came back and said, That's not an acceptable answer Al. Okay. And, and, you know, he gave out his ABCs of life. And I'm excited now to hear more about this. So I can guarantee you, John will be on our podcast in the future, and he's going to tell us about these ABCs and how He used it to structure his life and how we used it to help and help his kids and other people around them. And the whole idea comes back to if you don't have a plan, and you don't have a vision, you're not going anywhere. You're going to run around in circles. Right? That's listening to the stories is one of the things I learned. So what stories did you hear Kristine?

Kris Parsons15:23

I was also gonna I'm already jumping ahead with you saying plan is. So what is the plan for 2022? You know, we, we finished here this year. Very, very exciting. What what do we want to do for 2022 with changing the rules?

Ray Loewe15:39

You mean, you actually want me to have a plan, I don't have a plan?

Kris Parsons15:44

Hey, go back to John and get the ABCs.

Ray Loewe15:47

Well, yeah, it's true. So I think we've got a great plan going forward. So we also did a kind of a test this year, we had our first kind of coming out party.

Kris Parsons16:01

Yes, that was fun. We actually got an in-person event which we were very safe and careful. But it felt really good to get about what maybe 20 people together, I think.

Ray Loewe16:11

Yeah, so tell us about it because you did all the work putting it together.

Kris Parsons16:15

Yeah, it was great. Well, one of our people that we interviewed in 2021 was Jeff Lincoln of the Passero's coffee in Philadelphia. And he went through a real change because he has several stores in the Philadelphia region. And like every other city in the United States that closed down, and he had to pivot and figure out what to do. And he always had a plan. His plan as we go back to that was to strengthen his online business, sell more coffee online, get some more memberships going. And also to he has this great little package, it's a coffee adventure, where literally, you can send your loved ones or your friends a coffee package. And then you can get him to do a virtual kind of conference with everybody and you kind of do a coffee tasting. And so that was really fun, what he worked on in 2021. And then what we did is we got a couple of people together to go to his warehouse where he actually brews his coffee and his roastery. What did he name his roastery? What was her name? Lulu or something. He had a name for it. It was great. But we got a wonderful tour of this roastery in the heart of Philadelphia, really a lovely place. And we learned so much about coffee, all about the difference between organic coffee and non-organic and how you brew it and what you look for in the taste. We even learned that cream and sugar in your coffee were never for flavor. It was because they ration coffee during World War II. That's how

Ray Loewe17:46

It was so bad.

Kris Parsons17:48

Yeah, that was so bad, right? Because they had to weaken it and ration it.

Ray Loewe17:53

Oh, we learned we learned a lot about coffee. But we also learned we can actually have a coming-out party. Okay,

Kris Parsons17:59

right, cuz it was fun. And it was great to see everybody. And it was great to get everybody interacting. And even though the virtual stuff is really fun. And I think I still feel good about it. It still does not replace standing next to somebody talking one on one. It doesn't replace that. And we can't lose that because that is important.

Ray Loewe18:21

And nobody got sick. Nobody got sick. Because we use some precautions we were careful about we did and we're able to get back out. So what are we going to do next year? Well, we're going to try and have a little bigger one. Now we're going to plan something. More people. Yeah, we don't have the date yet. But I'm going to get a whole bunch of people to my new home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I'm finding this as an exciting little city and I'm anxious to share it with other people. And we'll be announcing the date of when we're going to do that. And obviously, we're taking precautions. You know there's a chance if this stuff goes wild, we may postpone it for a while. But the whole idea is we're ready to get back out. Do it carefully do it consciously. But I missed people.

Kris Parsons19:16

Yeah, yeah. There's also another big thing coming next year, right. You've been and I've been working on it for months now. What's the exciting news for the new year?

Ray Loewe19:28

A book you mean? Yes, your book. Okay, so hopefully, mid-March, early April, we'll be coming out with a new book and amply called changing the rules, by the way. And we're going to be talking about people and how they change the rules and live life in a better way. We have a whole bunch of stories that are coming out of a podcast that we're doing, and we actually have how to do it set of worksheets in there so that you can get your thinking in gear. And we talk a lot about the mindsets of the luckiest people in the world. And let me just give you two or three real quickly because I think that they're leading us to where our podcasts are going to go. So the luckiest people in the world follow what's fascinating and motivating to them. They don't get caught in traps. And we're seeing people now all of a sudden leaving jobs where they've been established because it's no longer fascinating and motivating. And it's time to get out and make changes. We're talking about people who know what they want. Now, knowing what you want is very, very difficult to do. But there's a process for it.

Kris Parsons20:46

That's in the book Yeah, kind of help people because we can't assume everybody has a plan. But this book really helps people take the step, just like a fitness plan, you start small with different exercises, we have like mental exercises to help you figure out what your plan might be, you might always have had a plan, but you were never were able to articulate it. And this book will help you we help

Ray Loewe21:07

You know, and one of the biggest ones and we're going to spend some time on it next year because I now have a great source of new people to talk to. But we're going to talk about how the luckiest people in the world stop worrying about aging and concentrate on living. That's great. And, uh, you know, that whole mindset of not thinking about getting older, you don't dwell on what you can't do anymore you dwell on what you can do and how you can do it, great. And it's exciting. So I think I think we've got a great um series coming up, we have the process of a new virtual or not virtual but a live friends conference, we have a book it's going to lay out the mindset of the luckiest people in the world and how they use them. It's a storybook, and or workbook. And we're going to meet a whole lot of new people. And we're going to bring back some of the older people who we wrote about in this book, to find out what's changing in their lives, and how they're coping with the change. And we all know that things are going to change. And we all know that when things change, we have to change the rules in our favor, to make sure that we stay with it all.

Kris Parsons22:28

And you have to almost you also have to kind of get over any fear of change. Because I think that that's what keeps a lot of people in quicksand, they're afraid to change. You know, if the status quo is comfortable, they like well, everything's fine, but change every time you make a change in the positive direction, it just enhances your life. And what's that phrase, I've heard that many times, you better get busy living or get busy dying, you know, I mean, don't think about growing older, don't think about what you can't do think about what you can do. And you'd be surprised at how much things come out. And that's what we've learned with these people, we, we encourage you to come and listen to the podcast, it's very easy it's long but put it in your saves things Lots it's a mouthful. But once you get it in your computer, you can always go back to it and listen to the episodes. When you're, you know, during the holidays, you have a couple of days off when you're taking your walk put on your headphones and iPods and listen to it. It's these stories are fascinating. And I guarantee you you will find a kernel of something that relates to you.

Ray Loewe23:36

Is that a colonel in the Army or the Navy, or kernel of corn?

Kris Parsons23:42

I sit and watch TV with the popcorn kernel.

Ray Loewe23:44

Okay, so So anyway, that's kind of a recap of where we've gone. And I don't know about everybody else. But I've been asked a number of times why I put forth the effort to interview people and talk to people and do the podcast. And it's because it's incredibly fascinating and incredibly motivating to do this. And one of the things that I encourage everybody else to do is get out there and find those stories that are surrounding you. And find a way to get them out. And the easiest way is telling the story. John, what's your story? Whatever it is, and you'll be amazed at how people are sharing with you. And you'll be amazed at the gems of wisdom and they're exciting and they're motivating. And you wake up the next morning excited about life. So that's what we're all about.

Kris Parsons24:38

More positive than saying tell me what you heard on the news last night.

Ray Loewe24:42

Yeah, we don't want to go there, these days do we. So anyway, we're gonna, we're gonna sign off until next year. We'll see you in January. And with an exciting podcast and we already have it laid out. We've got some great people coming in next year. exciting stories. New Events, a book, how to do this to help you put this together and make sure you listen because the people we interview are telling you how they did it and what they did. And I guarantee it will be fascinating and motivating. So Taylor, thanks so much, Kris Parsons. Thanks for being with us, and all of our people that are listening. Thanks again for supporting us the way you did. Yep.

Kris Parsons25:27

And have a happy and safe holiday. Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 21 Dec 2021 20:01:05 +0000
Episode 95: Making the Decision to Take the Step to Change Your Life, Guest Paula Adler

Podcast Guest: Paula Adler

Paula's website:


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your life, the host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:21

Good morning, everybody. And welcome to another exciting episode of changing the rules. And we have a great guest today, a great guest who has been successful all of her life, and then found out that even in a successful format, there was time to make a change, because it was time to make a change. We'll hear all about Paula Adler's story. I can't talk this morning. So let me remind you, first of all, that changing the rules, it is about the fact that all through our lives, we get rules thrown at us, they're thrown at us first by our parents, then is our schools, our church, our employers, you know, everybody has a set of rules that they want us to obey. And all of these rules are given to us. Because they're good at a time, you know, they serve a need and, and they offer us direction and stability and, and a way to make decisions. But one of the problems with living life under somebody else's rules is that eventually, you're living your life. And it's not yours, it's somebody else's life. And in order to live your own life and build your own life, you have to be able to look at rules in a positive way, you have to be able to change them, you have to be able to find out for you what's really right for you. And every week we interview another one of the luckiest people in the world. And the luckiest people in the world. Let me remind you are people who take control of their lives. They personally design them to fit their needs and their wants. And then they live them to the fullest under their own terms. So Paula Adler, welcome to changing the rules.

Paula Adler02:15

Thank you for having me. And every time you say living life on your own terms, I also have heard you say tailor the rules. And that's the way I like to think about it. Thank you for having me. I'm so thrilled to be here, Ray.

Ray Loewe02:25

Well, I'm excited because you're again, another one of the perfect role models. And so you and I have something in common. And if we go back far enough, I have to go back a lot further than you. We both worked for a firm called Price Waterhouse Coopers. And only when I was there, it wasn't Price Waterhouse Coopers it was Lybrand and Ross brothers in Montgomery. So I was there in the dark ages. But it was a great firm. For me, it served a really important need for me. But I came to a time when it was time for me to move on. So tell us a little bit about well, you know, before we get there you're not only a successful business lady, but you're a mom. Yeah, Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Paula Adler03:14

Yeah, I can. I uh, I have gotten very comfortable talking about that, because I encourage my clients to do the same. So thank you again for having me. So lets I always start with family. I am the mother of two amazing sons who live in New York City, ones in grad school right now. And one is an architect in New York who's getting married next year. So that is the thing that draws me the most my most proud. I don't want to say an accomplishment, because it's their accomplishment. But family is just really key to me. And so that's family. And so from a career perspective, I'll look at it in two pieces of my life, I am now a former never thought I'd say that managing director at one of the big four audit tax and consulting firms. You named it, it was Coopers and Lybrand, for me and then PWC. I spent over 33 years there in a variety of roles. I had a wonderful career primarily in the consulting practice and my roles crossed over human capital. I was in a strategy operations person, and then I spent my last, I guess, probably more than 10 years, I think it was 15 years in risk management, and had an amazing career. I would say other than my very first role for Coopers and Lybrand, pretty much every role that I had was one that was created. And so that was amazing. So the former managing director is the case today now and I smile every time I get to say this. I am a solopreneur. I'm a life and leadership coach. I own Paula Adler Coaching and Consulting and I market to women. My clients are men and women, but I market to women. My mission is to work with ambitious, outwardly successful women who have an inner knowing that there's more to life than the way they're currently living and here parenthetically I will say that was my story. So I work with my clients to create a vision for how they want their life to look, even if they feel like it's impossible, which is how I felt at the time. We gain clarity on what's standing in the way. And then we work on clearing the past so they can live a life and career that brings joy and where they feel valued and a sense of satisfaction without burning out in the process. So that's, that's who I am.

Ray Loewe05:24

Okay, so let's go back a little bit because obviously, you were very successful. You had the titles. You had the money. Okay, you add excitement in a career. Okay. You had prestige? And probably a lot more than that, but But what are the things that caused you to say, Okay, I need to make changes.

Paula Adler05:49

Yeah, I'm happy to share that. And, yeah, happy to share it. So how can I start with that a little history of what led up to my change, and then we can talk about the change itself. So as I said, I really had an amazing career, I spent the better part of my career in professional services, and I was operating in a really high pressure, high demand work environment, and I am a high performer, you know, and that's what I was always. And so I always strove to excel in every area of my life at home, with my kids, as a parent to, you know, my two amazing sons and then professionally, I say this humbly, I've got two CPA licenses, I spent over 33 years with my firm, I had outstanding roles, I valued my promotions and desirable income, as you said, and at the time, and today, I say this too, I describe myself as ambitious. I was definitely driven. I hopefully I was successful, I was really devoted to what I did, determined and resilient. So where things started to change for me is even though I long respected and appreciated my firm in my roles, it was often really hard to leave them at the door when I came home. And something I'm I want to share freely is I also walked the tightrope, tightrope of unexpected single parenthood, and then ultimately caring for my aging parents one right after the other. And so with all those things going on all those balls in the air, I was often left feeling, I really felt inadequate, I was juggling so many balls in the air that I felt like I kept dropping them all the time. And so what started to happen is, even though I described myself as I did, I also felt, I felt overwhelmed. I felt overworked, I felt anxious, I was stressed all the time, and I felt really stuck. You know, I look at it today. And with all those things happening. I know today that it's really that struggle, you know, the struggle that was inherent in that journey that I took, that has really most influenced where I am today. All those challenges that I went through it really they really prepared me and positioned me for what I'm doing today as a life and leadership coach. So I really do, I can still feel I understand what it means like the days are passing you by. And I felt like I was living every moment in a tunnel of responsibility. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, I had trouble setting boundaries. So I really know the toll that an inability to set boundaries can have on someone. And I also got to a point where I had a desire to make a change. I did not know what it was, but I felt paralyzed by fear. And so you know, I know that experience of being fearful of making a change. What I did learn ultimately, is that with the right support, it's really possible to walk through your challenges. And so that was the history of what led up to me considering a change.

Ray Loewe08:40

You know, I see a lot of that going on, at least in thought today. So we're getting a lot of people that because of this COVID experience that we've had being home, all of a sudden have said, I don't want to go back to the office anymore. I kind of like the fact that I can spend some time with my children. I kind of liked that, I can get up in the morning and you know, dress up from the waist up and do a zoom call and not have to worry about things. So what are the reasons? Excuse me, I guess that are going to cause people to make changes like this. And then how do you get this unstuck? You put on your website? A bunch of one-word kinds of things. So let me go through them real quickly. Actually, there are two sets. One of them was positive, driven, successful, responsible, giving, devoted, resilient, and determined. Yeah, there's another set that we'll hold back for later. But I think those are the things that describe you. I think they describe a lot of the people that you're working with now. But how does somebody that's there all of a sudden deal with this impetus to change it? Make it happen?

Paula Adler10:01

Yeah, yeah, I was that person for some years. And I remember just not even knowing where to turn and how to take a step. And I think I ultimately learned, you know, I'm a, I'm a producer, I'll say I was tied to outcomes, I was looked at by PwC, as someone to drive projects and get to a conclusion, and then drive the next project. And I could do that with my eyes closed. But I couldn't figure out how to do that with my own life. I just as I said, I felt stuck and paralyzed. And I have great appreciation for having worked at PWC. It was my home. But I think people get to the point as I did and this speaks for the clients that I have today. Sometimes it's just one thing that drives it, they get to a point in something they read someone they talk to, they just get to a point and want to put a foot in the door and just say, I've got to make a change. I don't know what it is, which is a lot of the clients that I work with some come with goals, some come with, I don't know what it is, I'm feeling stuck. I don't want to live like this anymore. They also have a great appreciation for where they are. But they know they need to change because that like me, they would watch every day go by and one year goes by and the next year goes by, and they might not have even been focusing on their values or living their life joyfully. They just these are my clients today, they are middle to high-level leaders in organizations who get to a point and COVID Absolutely has driven some of them more quickly than others to say I don't know what it is, I need to make a change, and I need some help. And that's what happened to me, I got to a point where I just said, I know I've got to do something. I can't do it myself. And that's when I started to look for a coach.

Ray Loewe11:47

Okay, so there's another list on your website. I love reading your website over here. So let me go through this list. Because this I think describes a lot of the clients that you're looking for now and a lot of the people that are upset so we have overworked. Overwhelmed, anxious, inadequate. I want to go back to that one. Guilty. I want to spend a little time on that one. Stressed and lost.

Paula Adler12:16

Yeah. All the above? Yeah.

Ray Loewe12:20

So so how do you deal with this? I mean, because here you are, you're making good money. And all of a sudden, you're looking at a change that might take you into no money, less money. Let's say no money, you got to support a family. You know you got to deal with this. And how do you deal with this feeling of inadequacy and especially the feeling of guilt? Yeah, you're back on.

Paula Adler12:46

Yeah, thank you so much. I all the above at different points of my tenure and throw single parent unexpected single parenthood in there. And, and then my, my dad, and then my mom aging who needed some help. It was just overwhelming. And I didn't know, I didn't know I got to a point. I didn't know what to do. But I knew I had to take a step. And so that for me that happened first in about 2017 where I started thinking about, Okay, I've got to make a change. I don't know what it is. And then I think I got thrust back into things. My mom fell, she broke her hip, I was in the middle of some acquisitions at work. But that's where the thought process started. And, and my clients and similar to me sometimes sit on that for a while. I think if somebody had said to me, Hey, I'm here to help you, I might have put my arms up in the air, I just felt like I couldn't get through my day and add anything else to it. So I think that percolated for a little bit for me for a couple years. And it was from 2000 to 2019, where I just kept feeling that need. And all of those adjectives you described about taking making a change about the I'll I can talk about later, the coaching I had in order to move through my decision to resign from the firm because I had a lot of guilt with that. But I did get to a point in 2019. And I just said enough is enough. And I don't know what I want to do. So I just decided the way I look at it as I put a foot in the door of my life. And I decided I was going to make a change. I didn't know where it would lead. Although I didn't feel this way at the time. I look back now and I say that it was really okay. That I didn't know. It's really about trusting the process. So I made a decision to take one step at a time.

Ray Loewe14:28

So you're a gutsy lady, Paula, how's that?

Paula Adler14:31

Well, I think I reached a limit, Ray? Yeah, I don't know. Maybe I'm looking at it now as gutsy but back then it was just like survival. Again, so much love for my firm and I had so many amazing experiences but I felt like me as a person that I wasn't developing learning a lot but wasn't developing. So I took one step. As a start. As I always say to my client's real change and during change happens one step at a time. And I decided to enroll in a Life and Leadership potentials course, just by the title in the description it drew me, I didn't know where it was going to go ultimately was part of a coach certification program that was run by AIPAC, the Institute for professional excellence and coaching, where I ultimately got my coaching certification. I had no desire at the time to leave my firm, my objective was really put a foot in the door of my life and determine what was important to me, I didn't even know it was important to me. I got into that there's three-module program over the course of the year. And I got into that program and got two-thirds through the coach training program, again, doing this for myself, and to be a better leader at PwC. A better coach, I got two-thirds through the program, and I walked out that second module, and all of a sudden, like, boom, something hit me, I started thinking about my history in the firm and in my life and thinking about all the roles that I had in human capital and strategy and operations and risk management and two themes, just boom to the top for me, they just rose right up, then one was developing strong relationships. And the other one was coaching. So across all of my roles that I had, developing strong relationships was so key to me, I ran a risk workstream around acquisitions. And when we acquired a company, the leaders coming into our PwC, rather large firm, I develop relationships with them. With any project that I did, I develop relationships across the US and Mexico globally, relationships have always been important to me, and they always will be. So relationships was a focus for me and coaching. And whether it was formal coaching at PwC, where I was assigned as the coach, or informal coaching, or even coaching our leaders, those two things rose to the top. And I at that point said, Wait, something's coming up for me here. And I feel like I'm starting to think about my purpose and mission. And I decided it was time to hire a coach and explore what was coming up.

Ray Loewe16:58

Okay, so you hired a coach? I did. You did. Do you still have a coach?

Paula Adler17:03

God bless her. Yes, I still have the same coach. Yeah. God bless her for her patience. Yeah

Ray Loewe17:07

Actually, you and I agree on something. I mean, I am a incredible believer in the value that coaches bring to the table. And they're all different, and they're different at different times. But I have been in coaching programs over probably the last 25 years, in various ways. And there's just a tremendous value in helping you get a handle on things. So let's talk for a minute about how your coach helped you get a grip on this. And then we're going to go into how you as a coach can help people ease this transition if they have this anxiety and guilt, and inadequate feelings on all of these things and help them get a handle on things.

Paula Adler17:51

Yeah, absolutely. And one thing for me, and I see it with my clients as well, you really need to be ready to do the work. And there are points in my career that I knew I needed to change, but I just wasn't ready to move forward. And that distinguished for me when I hit that point in 2017. And 2019. I was ready. I just reached a point of saying, and it wasn't one thing like that was the tip. The it wasn't anything that tipped the scales. It was just I got to a point where I said, I'm ready. I have one client who's a senior exec in a large financial services institution. She was on LinkedIn one day, she happened to see a post that I did. She looked at that post and booked into my calendar. And she had been thinking for a while I need to do something it was for her that one messaging that happened for me, I just got to a point and I just said, I'm watching life pass me by I don't know where to go. And I need to take a step. So I think you have to be ready for coaching. I had at that time when I went through the AIPAC program. And I reached that point two-thirds through the program where I just felt like what was rising to the top for me was that whole focus on relationships and coaching. That was the point at which I decided I felt like I had something to explore. And so I hired a coach who very much resonated with me, I saw a video of her and it just I knew I go with my intuition. And so I had, I had an inner knowing at the time as the way I'll put it that it was time for me, as you say, to tailor the rules, to be able to take my life in a different direction. And so with her help, and as I say thank goodness for her never-ending patiences then and today. We really dug in and explored and I had never looked at my values before. Looking at my values. What were my core values? I didn't have time for that. Like I just went to work, you know, and raise my kids and care for my parents. So we really talked about purpose and mission. I could do that strategically at work anytime. But it as it related to myself. I really never spent the time doing that. So we dug in we talked about purpose and mission. As I said relationships and coaching were the theme for me. We explored my core values, one of my core values today is joy, the top value is joy. And I had not thought about that before. So we looked at my core values and, and then I decided to start making some shifts and exploring. We also looked at all the inner blocks that were coming up for me and keeping me from stepping into my fears to make a shift. In my career in my life, I had a lot of guilt about leaving PwC as I said, I had a great career wasn't really running from something. But I was looking to run to a life that I felt I wanted to step into. So that's what happened to me. So about six months after working with my coach, I made the decision to leave the firm, to become a I say, a solopreneur and establish myself as a life and leadership coach. And when I finally spoke to I was a managing director, I spoke to the partner whose team I was on. I wrote a love letter to PwC about what my experience was, but I had a knowing that it was time for me to do something else. So that's how I got to the decision about leaving and establishing my own business.

Ray Loewe21:03

Okay, so let's do two things here. First of all, let's let's give your website right now where people can reach you and explore coaching if they feel they need this. And we'll put this in our podcast notes so that people be able to find this in writing and linked to you, so ahead.

Paula Adler21:25

Yeah, my website is Paula Adler Paula with an A at the end and Adler with a at the beginning. So today's together so Paula Adler One word,

Ray Loewe21:38

Paula Adler

Paula Adler21:40


Ray Loewe21:45

Okay, now Now, when you're looking for a coach, I mean, not every coach fits every person. And one of the things that you said in your comments here was that intuition drove you you just knew this was the right person. What were those things that that you would suggest to people when they're looking for a coach? How do they siphon through that and find people, because it is a very individualized thing is not?

Paula Adler22:11

Absolutely individualized. Yeah, and what I would, and I do say this to people who come my way, I suggest they speak to multiple people. As it turned out for me, I spoke to one person and I knew, I just really knew, I think I was watching her from afar. And what she said just resonated for me. So I had this inner knowing you know that she was the person that I was drawn to, but I do encourage people to speak with more than one person, get on, get on a call with that coach ask for their time I do what's called a discovery call with each person who reaches out to me. And I'm not tied to that outcome of where they go, I'm really I get on the call with them. And I advise people to do this, get on the call, talk about where you are now. Talk about where you'd like to be if you know, then talk about what's getting in your way. And then have a dialogue with that coach and see what feels right. I did those things well with my prospective coach at the time, and I knew that I wanted to work with her. When she and I first spoke, I wasn't ready to work. I was trying to figure out, I knew there were changes I wanted to make, I wasn't sure what they are. So it's not that you might sign up with somebody right away, you might need to work through some things first. So I knew after a few months that I was ready to make a change and I reached back out to her and story goes from there. So I'd say have a conversation be sure anyone you speak with gives you that time I call it a discovery call.

Ray Loewe23:35

Okay, so when you start with somebody, there's a discovery call. And that discovery call has to really get into what the issues are and to make sure that you feel comfortable with your coach. Is that correct?

Paula Adler23:48

Yeah, absolutely. I want to hear what's coming up for them. I certainly give a background but it's really all about that person. Where are they today? Where would they rather be if they know they don't always know, I didn't know. But I knew I wanted to make a change. I was at a point where I wanted to make a change. I didn't know what it was I wanted to explore. So make sure anyone you talk with as a coach gives you that time to hear you out and, and what's getting in the way of them taking things forward. And then after that, I share how I work with people in coaching. And then I really leave it up to them. Now I am not a high-pressure salesperson at all. I appreciated the fact that when I spoke to my what was my prospective coach at the time that she was not at all she got it she heard me say I'm not sure yet. And I knew a few months later that it was time to work with a coach. So I think you want to also find someone who is not going to try to push you into a corner to sell you a coaching package at the end that they're there to listen to you. And when you're ready, you're ready.

Ray Loewe24:48

Now we're unfortunately we're getting near the end of our time here and what I wanted you to do is to once you determine that the coach is right in other words once I decide that you're for me. Okay. What are you gonna do for me? Is there a process that you go through? Give us a quick idea of what happens.

Paula Adler25:09

How it is to work with me? You mean with me? yeah.

Ray Loewe25:13

what do we just sit and have conversations? Are there exercises that we do we, what, what are some of the things we do? Yeah, absolutely

Paula Adler25:21

Yeah, absolutely, I tailor my program to each of my prospective clients. So the first thing I do is a discovery call. And we talk about, as I said, where they are today, where they'd rather be if they know they most often don't know and what they think they need to address or resolve to move forward. So make sure a coach, whoever you may work with gives you that time, without pressure. What I do right now is I'll say a six-month program where we meet bi-weekly, people really need the time in between the calls, coaching happens on and off the call, I can remember having calls with my coach, and then we're I live near the Delaware canal, walking in the canal and just having things come up for me. So I do bi-weekly calls over a six-month period, and I tailor it to that person, we start out with an energy leadership assessment, I won't go into the details here. But it's really to try to understand where that person is right now and what's coming up for them and what's getting in their way. And I also do a values assessment with them. And then from there, we tailor specific program to them, we meet bi-weekly, we talk about the goal they have for the session, why it's important to them. What could get in their way, and then we go from there. Often, what a client does is brings a certain issue to the table and we find out as we're working with each other that other things are getting in the way that we work on. And so yeah, that's how I work with clients.

Ray Loewe26:49

I think the biggest thing that I'm gathering from this conversation is that it requires a commitment to make changes. And that commitment means that you have to be willing to put some time into this thing, otherwise nothing's gonna happen.

Paula Adler27:03

Absolutely. Yeah, I held off looking for a coach, there were times in my life where I knew I needed support. I just didn't know what it was. And somebody approached me without I probably would have put my arms up and just said, I'm not ready. It does require commitment to dig in and do the work and be ready to move forward. Yeah, and so I with a client over six months.

Ray Loewe27:25

Okay, so since we're at the end, and there's no question that you're one of the luckiest people in the world because when you look at your career, you started successfully. There was no reason you had to change from you know, everybody else in the world would have looked at you and said, Wow, Paula has got it all together. But there was something in you that wasn't all together, right? And so you made the change, and being able to make that change, and redesign your life is what makes you truly one of the luckiest people in the world. So, welcome to the call.

Paula Adler27:59

Thank you so much, life offers so many opportunities. We just have to know which door to open and close.

Ray Loewe28:05

Yeah, why don't you? Is there one thing that you can give as a piece of advice to people who are thinking about this process? Before we sign off?

Paula Adler28:13

Yeah, and it's something I look up I have, I have it right on my monitor here. So it's actually a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that I look at every day. That is the task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you. And that's where I start with my clients. I really focus with my clients on what they bring to the table and how they could move forward. And yeah, as I said, life offers you so many doors, you just have to know which one to open and which one to close.

Ray Loewe28:41

Well, great. Well, Paula, thanks for sharing your wisdom with our listeners. And we'll have to have you back at some point in time do a sequel to this call and find out how many millions of people you've helped on escape. Okay. And, again, it's Paula Adler Is that correct? Exactly. Right. Yeah. And, you know, just have a great day. And thanks again for sharing your wisdom with everybody.

Paula Adler29:09

Thank you for having me Ray and thanks to Rebecca for introducing us.

Kris Parsons29:14

We'll get back to thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 8 Dec 2021 19:06:28 +0000
Episode 94: Hard Work Pays Off, Guest Marina Kats

Guest Co-host: Marc Bernstein:

Podcast Guest: Marina Kats:

Marina's Website:


Kris Parsons00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:22

Good morning, everybody and welcome to changing the rules. And today we have two guests with us. We have Marc Bernstein who you met last week and Marc is acting as our co-host today. And he and I are going to interview a wonderful guest Marina Kats and, we'll give you more details in a minute. But Marina is very definitely one of the luckiest people in the world as you're gonna see. Okay, she has control of her life. She makes it do what she wants it to do and she makes it go where she wants it to go and, and the luckiest people in the world are those people that design their own lives and then live them to the fullest. And Marina, welcome to changing the rules. And Marc, welcome to changing the rules. And Marc, why don't you lead off by introducing Marina.

Marc Bernstein01:13

Ray, I've had the opportunity to get to know Marina Kats over a long period of time. And she is one of the most amazing people I know. She's if she's going to tell her story a little bit of where she came from and how she built up her law practice and our other entrepreneurial activities, as well. As you know, she's got a lot of other interests philanthropically, and she's raised two great daughters. We'll talk a little bit about that. And so she is we've determined in our talks prior to this one of the luckiest people in the world. So Marina, meet Ray Loewe, who is the luckiest guy in the world. I'm up there somewhere, but I'm not quite at Ray's level,

Ray Loewe01:51

because he's. Why is your way up there Marc? Let me interrupt and ask a quick question. Because to start this, one of the most impressive things, I had a chance to read your resume and everything. But what I found out that you came here at age 18, from the Ukraine. Did you speak English at the time? Not at all? No English at the time. Okay. So let's start there a little bit, and how does one come into a new country and start over and then we'll get into all this stuff, and Marc, you can take over again?

Marina Kats02:27

Well, we could go back to the title of your program, the luckiest people, or we could analyze where does the luck come from, as we know luck is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. So we also know that, you know, luck doesn't come by itself. And the harder you work the luckier you get. So I don't want the radio listeners or podcast listeners to think that somehow you go outside and you say, God, send me luck. It happens. And all of a sudden, you become the lucky person. I don't know anybody who were able to survive purely on somehow indication of luck. So when I came to United States, I, by the way, turn 18 in refugee camps in Italy. And I didn't speak the word of English. And we came here legally waiting through the whole process. So I went to probably 12 to 14 hours a day studying English for the first two weeks, when I went to college, I still said in the classroom was a dictionary, because I couldn't understand most of the things the teacher was saying, and I took most of the science courses because the formula the same didn't matter whether it was in English, or in Russian, or in Latin. So all those things came into play. One of the things I want to tell your radio listeners and podcast listeners is working hard does pay off.

Ray Loewe04:05

Cool. Go ahead Marc, you had a question on your lips.

Marc Bernstein04:10

Yeah, so why several so I'm trying to think which one first? So Marina, the science thing I'm interested in, do you have it? Did you have an interest in science? Or you just did that? Because you could you could translate it better?

Marina Kats04:25

Um, well, I was always good at science. I didn't have particular interest in science, but I was going to be a doctor. I really was not going to be a lawyer. And I always had a calling for the medicine. And indirectly, I guess, when I became a lawyer, my focus was on personal injury, which obviously a lot of things involved was medicine. So I still can see myself as a doctor without license. I love to diagnose so I do have inclination for it and I have a good six sense in some ways for people who are not feeling well, and I have a compassion. So that was my interest. And the only reason I did not become a doctor is because when you were 18-19, you have this idealistic ideas about, you know, animals and taking experiments on animals. And I remember being at the university and having it was biology one or two, I think, or biology one or one, I don't remember which biology course it was. But you had to dissect the kitten in process, and I was like, I am not dissecting the kitten. And it just not something that I could possibly do. In a heart of hearts. Of course, knowing then what I know now, I would have done that, obviously, but I didn't, then I there was, I was lucky enough, it's very early in the semester. And I said, Well, I probably have to drop that course. And I'm going to add some other course. And that's how I decided that I'm going to go to law school. Some sometimes things happen serendipitously. And I was lucky enough to have a really very, very good professors. That got me very quickly interested in pre-law. And I felt that you know, with the calling to help people, you can help people get better health-wise, or you can serve some kind of equalizer in the world to make sure that people are treated fairly in this world. So I ended up with law profession, which I have no regrets, very happy doing.

Marc Bernstein06:40

So you were a Temple University undergraduate.

Marina Kats06:43

Actually, I came to full circle at Temple University. I was an undergrad at Temple University. I went to law school at Temple University. I have my LLM in trial advocacy, which is like Ph.D. in law. There is only less than 1% of the lawyers that have that degree from Temple University. And if I can make another plug for Temple University, I'm a trustee now for Temple University. So I kid you not I do believe Temple right? Yes,

Marc Bernstein07:12

I was going to bring that up to the boy your journey at Temple house. I started there. I only made it through one year before I went to three other universities. But that's another story for another day. So but go owls.

Marina Kats07:26

See in your world, and most people world, they could go to University of their choosing. And they could go away from home and live in the dorms. When I went to Temple I worked two jobs. And my parents would in no way allow me to live in a dormitory. They said the only way you could leave home is if you marry that's why I got married very young. I got married after my first year of college. Because this otherwise I would have to stay home and live with my parents. And that was the way to get out of the house.

Marc Bernstein08:07

Something I didn't know. That's interesting. So tell me about let's jump ahead to you were married. And now you start a law practice. Tell us how that came about?

Marina Kats08:16

Well, I'm actually before starting the law practice, I worked for the law firm. And I realized that I want a different way of practicing law. And it's actually very rarely that you will see a law firm that works the way we do. Because we are different. We are not task-oriented. We are client-centric. And that's what I wanted to do. The biggest thing, especially with the ethnic communities, they don't know where to go, where you Ray, might have cousin, brother, cousin, friend, as a lawyer, as a lot of people who are newcomers to America don't even know a lawyer don't know where to find the lawyer. So if you become a task-oriented, the client has to switch for many different law firm because the clients have different needs. So today the client has an issue with a traffic ticket. Tomorrow the client has an issue with the marriage, then after tomorrow the client has an issue with buying the house day after tomorrow, the client was involved in a car accident whatever the issues are. For the firms who are task-oriented. They have to refer the client to somebody else. And in the process, they have to learn the whole new set of people go to the different location, acclimate themselves introduce themselves all over again. In my case, I've collected or I was lucky enough to hire a different attorneys who practicing different discipline. So you If you need issue was real estate, you go see Fabian, in my office, if you have an issue was family law, you go and see Stan in my office, if you have an issue with a personal injury, come see me in my office and so forth. So we have a group of lawyers that basically can assist with most of the basic needs of the individual. And it's there's a continuum in the process. And as bad as a Soviet system is, in the Soviet system, there was one, there's two good things was in the Soviet system, actually, education was a big plus. And the reason why I'm saying I'm deeply involved in the educational process, is I do believe that there should be consistency in education. So somebody who went to Temple University, and took a history course, and somebody who went to University of Delaware and took a history course, and somebody who went to University of Pennsylvania took a history course, should learn on the same books. So this way, when they get together, and they talk about history, they have a similar understanding. And if you want to learn something else as your extra-curriculum, by all means, and you can also select what history you want to learn. But the books should be the same. And the same thing should be, especially for high school, I think what happens with high schools, middle school, whatever you're addressing issue is education. Is if you go to school, a your teacher will teach you a history from one book, you go to school B, it's from different books, and then when the exams comes, you know, SATS, or whatever the exam that the child has to take. different schools have different advantages. And that's not a good thing. So even for cocktail party conversations, it's not a good thing. People should be educated. I am a big, big proponent of what Columbia University, for example, does core curriculum, you know, you have to raise an educated individuals, you cannot have a child that goes to college for four years, and not take a basic maths, or you cannot have a child and goes through college for four years and not take history. So I think there should be individual choices, but there should be a basic curriculum that the students are involved in.

Marc Bernstein12:47

That's a great idea, Marina, I just want to mention, she did her homework, she mentioned the University of Delaware, which was my school, University of Pennsylvania was Ray's school, so you did your homework.

Marina Kats12:59

But think about it, if you get together and for whatever reason, you guys saved your books that you've learned in schools. And, you know, Ray's gonna say, Oh, what is that? And you're gonna say, what is it even though it's two completely different books, it cannot be that.

Ray Loewe13:21

Great, let's pull this back. I hate to interrupt. But unfortunately, we have limited time. What was the second thing that you said the Soviet system was so good about?

Marina Kats13:30

So it was not particularly great with health care, but it was good at delivering health care. And there's two different things about it. And I'll explain to you what I mean by the health care. And we're not talking about free or pay, believe me, in every aspect of the Soviet Union system. If you wanted to have a better care, you have to pay somebody, whether it's a doctor directly, whether it's a bribe, wherever it was, even though the healthcare system was free, but what was good about the system is they had what's called polyclinics, which has every neighborhood had one and what it meant is if you have a health issue, you go into this polyclinic, which is a building and you will go see your GP and the GP says, looks at you and says, sort of like an emergency room, but it was no more it was in a hospital setting. And your GP said, You know what, I see what your issue is, you have to see ear, nose, and throat doctor, he's in room three. So you go out of your GPS office, you go to room three, and there's gonna be a couple of chairs outside the rooms and people will be sitting in those chairs. You take the last chair and that ear, nose, and throat doctor has a sitting line, you know, like a queue and he sees anybody that queue so you don't have to make an appointment. Wait for two weeks to see ear, nose, and throat doctor travel somewhere else, you are able to see somebody there. And it was the same thing as virologist going into college or college, it didn't make any difference what specialty it was, they were all in the same building. So the person would be able to at least have some type of a diagnosis or some kind of a questions answer. There might not have been as advanced healthcare system as we have here, no question about it, we have the best and most sophisticated healthcare system. But you did not have to wait to see a doctor for two weeks or three weeks or, you know, was, you know, dermatology, endocrinology for a longer period of time. And you didn't have to go all over the city to find those doctors.

Ray Loewe15:54

Yeah so you build your law practice kind of like this, you know, you have one place for clients to go. And then you usually have the specialties within your practice.

Marina Kats16:04

Yeah basically Yeah, yeah, basically consider myself a traffic cop. Yeah, I'm trying to meet with everybody who comes to my door. I tried to sit down and triage, that's, you know, the better word for it. I guess it's triage the case, I sit down and I talk to the person, once I figure out what the issue there, I will ask another attorney from my office to come and join the meeting. And at that time, it becomes more narrow issue, and that attorney will handle the matter. So it makes it very, very easy for the clients. And I joke about it, I love, you know, old-fashioned movies. And I say to myself, I'm like a country bumpkin I like this whole idea that you know, you drive horse and buggy, you pull up by my door you walk in, and you're seen and whether you pay or you don't pay, it becomes very secondary, the practice of law becomes a primary thing we're going to use to build a great law practice. You've also had some other entrepreneurial activities, which you've had success at as well, you mind talking about that for a minute? Well, I actually own the radio station many, many years ago, I own the radio station. Some of your podcast listeners probably remember Jerry blooded. Guido was a heater boss was a hot sauce. So I used to on a 1540 AM station, which was a great endeavor was a very interesting place to be. And that's how you learn, I think it's a great thing is, and one of the things if you go back to the title of the show, Lucky. Lucky is also not to be afraid. I think it's very good to be entrepreneurial. It's a little bit more dangerous, but it's a lot more rewarding. I remember going to my daughter's Career Day. And she went to a very, very, very good school and there was a panel of five people, I think one was a president of a big public company. One was a partner and the big hedge fund. Two were all big companies, and they were talking about their careers. And then the turn came to me and I said, You know what, the best thing to do is not necessarily climb the corporate ladder. But the best thing to do is open up your business. And of course, it's a philosophy, would you prefer to be a small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond, and I kind of always prefer to eat what I kill and kill what I eat and never hold to anybody. So

Ray Loewe18:58

Spoken like a true lawyer, kill what I eat, I love it.

Marina Kats19:02

you know, it's just the way it is you're responsible for your own happiness. And again, title of your podcast is building your own luck. That's the only way to do it in my mind.

Ray Loewe19:15

But let me interrupt for a minute because we're getting near the end of our time, unfortunately. And, and I would like you to talk for a minute about where you're going. But before we go there. I know you've got tremendous credentials, right? A whole lot of boards, and if people want to find out about them, they can find them on your website. You're absolutely. And what's the website address.

Marina Kats19:37

So there's two websites, the best one is it's one word so it's easy to remember. They could Google me Marina Kats, so they'll know everything about me. And the firm name is Kats, Jamison, and Associates so they can also Google that you My uncle Google is always you know, we'll get you there. And they can always call us 215-396-9001. And speaking of the gimmick, my actually other gimmick as my 800 number, it's 800 law, what I practice 1917 is a Year of the Russian revolution. So it's 100 law 197 1-800-Law-1917 Nobody can ever forget it. Especially they came from the former Soviet Union countries.

Marc Bernstein20:34

So, yeah. And Marty Ray, Marina spells Kats K ATS. It's not the way people think.

Ray Loewe20:41

Yeah, like herding cats, right?


You know, when you go to the stores, and they ask you, you know, for your email or something, and you say, you know, I've got to go is that with a C, or with a K, I always say, I wish it was the C, but it's with a K.

Ray Loewe21:00

you know, Marc, chip and on this, but again, because we're running near the end of our time, so you've been tremendously successful. Marina, you started at 18, coming from another country, not speaking English, you got yourself through college, you got yourself a successful law firm, you're on the board of the school that you went to, and you're on a number of other boards. So you're active in a whole bunch of things. But where are you going to go in life? What what's important to you, and as one of the lucky people, I have a feeling you're going to design your own life to do more? What might those things be?

Marina Kats21:39

I will tell you the retirement is not in the cards, or at least not any cards anytime soon, I was talking to another very, very successful lawyer and he said, What else would I do to get as much enjoyment of doing what I'm doing. So obviously, the plan is to continue working, there is a great deal of enjoyment. And helping people especially in what I do personally, which is most of the time is personal injury. So you're basically able to give people obviously I can't get them their health back. That's not something, I always say to my clients, if I had the magic wand, I will try to get you back to your pre-accident condition. But I don't have that. So all I can do is make sure you're compensated for your injury. So going forward, your life is a little bit better. So that's, you know, a wonderful saying that what we do in my office, we change people lives on a daily basis, number one, number two, I think it's also fairness, you know, in my vocabulary, fairness and responsibility are two primary words. And I think the idea of being able to do a fairness meter in my life, is what keeps me happy at least. And I also, you know, when I meet with a client, I will give him an honest opinion, and I can afford, thank God because I'm successful, not to take the cases that I don't want to take and explain to the person why they shouldn't continue with the case. Because this is not the case that should be brought up. So that's a big plus in my life when I like some lawyers that really depend on each client's money for their livelihood. I do not. So that helps tremendously in being, I guess, you know, fair and being honest and being open and not worrying about tomorrow. You feel better today when you stop worrying about tomorrow.

Ray Loewe23:53

I think if you're under some great advice, and unfortunately, we're at the end of our time, Marc, do you have any closing comments, and we need to make them quick?

Marc Bernstein24:02

No, I mean, you said some great things. Marina, the only thing if you had one piece of advice for somebody that's struggling with where they're going, what would you say to them?

Marina Kats24:10

Work hard, and don't be afraid? It's great, great advise

Ray Loewe24:15

okay. And what a better, there's no better place to stop. So Marina, thanks for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Thanks for being here. And sharing with us, Marc thanks for introducing us to Marina. And we'll be back next week with another podcast and another one of the luckiest people in the world. So everybody, have a great week. And Taylor, sign us off.

Kris Parsons24:39

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 30 Nov 2021 18:15:00 +0000
Episode 93: Our Past Experiences Help to Change Us, Guest: Marc Bernstein

Podcast Guest: Marc Bernstein:


Kris Parsons00:00

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:15

Good morning, everybody and uh welcome to our next uh Podcast. I'm not sure what episode it is. But we're getting up there near a 100 over here. And we have a great guest today as Marc Bernstein. And you've, you've met Marc before. And we're gonna talk about some new and other interesting things today. And you can go back to his old podcast if you need more details after we're there. But before we bring Marc on, let's talk for a minute about the purpose of our podcast and what we're trying to do. You know, all through my last, I guess, 25 years of being a financial advisor, I kind of studied a group of people that I thought were the luckiest people in the world. And I kept sitting there and saying, Why are these people? Why do they have an edge? Why do they seem to enjoy life more? Why do they seem to always be lucky? And it wasn't that they were lucky, they made their own luck. And I decided that I wanted to know more about this group. And actually, I wanted to join it if I could, because they seemed to just have a great life. And Marc Bernstein is one of these people today. And, uh, Marc has figured out how to make the rules work for him. You know, all through our lives, we're fed a batch of rules. They're given to us in high school our parents start us that church hits us with rules. Our jobs hit us with rules. And when you live your life by other people's rules, you're not living your own life. So Marc is one of those people that's figured out how to make those rules work for him, uh Marc is an attorney. He's a great financial advisor. He's doing exciting things with his clients and mapping out a place as to where he's going to go. And Marc, Good morning. Welcome to joining the changing the rules.

Marc Bernstein02:18

Good morning, Ray. Always a pleasure to be with you.

Ray Loewe02:22

Okay, so let's go back into history because we've had this on one of our other podcasts. But the event that I want to talk about is so could be so devastating to people's lives. And yet you took it and built something positive out of it. So long ago, in your early life om I think you had a fire involved, give us an example and tell us what was going on?

Marc Bernstein02:49

Sure. So it's my, it's in my book, it's called the fiscal therapy solution 1.0. And in writing that book, I realized what a formative event that was, I don't know that I knew it. At the time, but my father was in the greeting card business. He was a greeting card wholesaler. My brother is still in that business today. Although he sold the family business, he works for the company that he sold it to. And so he had we always worked in we call it the warehouse, there was always a warehouse that had, you know, inventory was cards and, you know, packaging and wrapping paper and things like that. So all perishable goods. And my father got a call one evening, I believe it was that the place was on fire. And I went with him to see the fire and it was pretty bad when we got there. Most of his inventory had been destroyed by fire, but what wasn't was getting destroyed by water and smoke, of course. So we're literally watching, you know, a business that he had built working seven days a week for most of my life. Um burned to the ground. And as we're talking, he said, You know, it's really been bothering me, but I really never updated my insurance I knew I should have, but this is going to be a problem. And he didn't have enough, you know, casualty coverage, and knew was going to be a challenge. And over the next few months were hard. He went from at one point, he just decided he was going to throw in the towel and he's going to take a job with one of the greeting card companies in Kansas City. Which is where a lot of them were in our I think so. And he, um, and I remember talking to him and said, you've always worked for yourself, you know, how's that going to be? And he said, Well, I think it's something I have to do and he was gonna move the family to Kansas City. I was a senior in high school at the time. And I had very important things in my plate. I had a rock and roll band. I had a girlfriend, and I was like I'm not going to Kansas City. So I don't know that and then we never really talked about it or not, but a few months later, um somewhere in there, his brother died as well. I remember being at the as my brother at my uncle's funeral, and we were walking around the block. And I remember him saying, This is what he was kind of really thinking about throwing in the towel. But the end result was he decided not to do that. He decided to rebuild the business, he upped his insurance, the but he was, you know, as well behind. So he basically had decided he knew what he had to do, he had to triple the size of the business. This is a 55 years old, or so. And he'd been working very hard his whole lifetime. And he made a decision that he was going to go back after it, expand his territory, grow it, so we could afford the losses and the increased overhead he was going to have because he had to move out of this building as well. So in hindsight, you know, I changed, I was supposed to go away to college this first year, I didn't go away to college, I stayed home for college. I, I you know, it later on, when I developed my sort of, I call it my fiscal therapy pyramid. You know, it's the kind of the hierarchy of needs, it starts with protection because I learned that, you know, that fire hurt our family, much, much worse than anything in the stock market could have done. So I realized that if you're going to have a good financial plan, it's got to be built on protection. And I say savings and debt, and growth and income, and then legacy. But, you know, when I started in the business that was all about what products do people need, you know, there's a lot of pressure to sort of sell people stuff. And I decided early on, I really needed to look at where their needs, we're kind of going through this hierarchy of needs before we kind of identify goals and identifying their vision for the future and all that before we go on. And that's what this fiscal therapy is about. And that fire, I think has had a really powerful influence on my definition of fiscal therapy and what that means.

Ray Loewe07:07

Yeah, so So what did you do? You came out of college and obviously, this event had a great impact on where you went with your life? Because what did you do? You went into the insurance business, right to start with?

Marc Bernstein07:19

Well, not really, not really, in fact, so that's why I think it wasn't really front and present in my mind. You know, my change in my life that happened over the next couple of years was present, but not really the impact of it. So I actually came out of undergraduate school as a music major and decided, if I couldn't be a rock and roll star, I didn't really want to be a teacher. So somewhere in law school, I had this, I remember in a romantic literature course, Professor Charles Robinson, something that he said about one of the romantic authors, and something that came out of one of the books just had me think outside the box of what I want to do. And I decided, I wanted to be an advocate for musicians in the form of an attorney, or an entertainment lawyer, which honestly was a pretty unheard-of field at that point. But I figured it must exist. And I went out and bought this book called this business of music, I found out there was actually a book about it, and I read it, and I said, that's what I'm going to do. So I went to law school, came out, worked for an entertainment attorney, that I was paid so little really was like slave labor that I had to play in a band to be able to afford my job, was paid $5 an hour and was a glorified receptionist. And the day I finally really did some real legal work, and I was supposed to meet with the clients. And he told me that, you know, I wasn't going to have that meeting that I need to watch his cats while he had the meeting, was the day I quit. That was my last day. So I kind of went through the school of hard knocks and, you know, knocked around in that business. That business, it was a really hard time in the businesses in the early 80s was a big recession. And people were getting fired left and right. And I saw sort of the underbelly of the business. And I thought, Well, I went to law school because I wanted to help people and maybe musicians aren't the only people I want to help after all, and because that's, you know, that's a tough lot to deal with on a daily basis as well. So I decided that you know, that, and actually, I have a brother that told me about this new burgeoning field of financial planning. And I, you know, pursued that, and as you know, Ray, because we knew each other back then it wasn't exactly a smooth road to financial planning because

Ray Loewe09:40

no, no, it was not.

Marc Bernstein09:41

And, and the and the company that I wanted to work for, I was just telling the story the other day, had started the insurance-based financial planning model, which I thought would be perfect for me given my interest in protection and all that and they would not hire me because they gave me a marketing test. And it was for a time I went to an interview for attorneys, but I was 28 years old or 29 years old. And they wanted me today with all my contacts, they wanted a 60-year-old attorney, they didn't want to a 29-year-old attorney. So they wouldn't hire me. They always looked at that as a boy that slowed down my career. But now I look back on it and say, that was the beginning of my luck, you know, that was a lucky thing because it forced me to figure out how I wanted to do things, what I really wanted to do, what was deficient in the places that I worked. And, you know, I was able to see my way through that. But I think you'll learn a lot more from your failures than you do from your successes. So that was actually they actually did me a big favor, and it worked out pretty well.

Ray Loewe10:45

Okay, give us a short version of what you then did, how you built your base business that allowed you to, you know, support your family and things like that. But I want to save some time to talk about where you're going. So uh make this on the short side?

Marc Bernstein11:02

Sure. Well, just basically, I grew up in a family business, and I was always interested in entrepreneurs. And also another thing where I think I was influenced not just a little diversion, but I ended up with a specialty with manufacturers, which I am now again pursuing. So we talked about the future, I can talk about that because I believe manufacturing, coming back to America, and in talking to a business owner yesterday, it kind of came out, I said, you know, I think one of the reasons I was always so interested in manufacturing, is because my father didn't, meaning that he was a wholesaler of cards, I was always very curious about who made the cards, I was an artist by background as well as a musician. So I was like, Who designs these things, you know, who comes up with the ideas who writes and, and that's all part of the manufacturing process of greeting cards. One of my earliest clients was a greeting card manufacturer that I knew through the family. And I worked with him for many years. And from there, I kind of moved on to other manufacturers, and I've just always loved the process of making things. So I decided early on, that my clients would be either entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial professionals, like coders, law firms, accounting firms, things like that, or medical practice firms. And that's pretty much what I've always done. So my challenge was how to best serve them. And over the years, along with the company, where I was, for many years, I, we developed a process and I think I had a lot, ultimately, I developed my process. And it's where we take little chunks of time because those people don't have a lot of time. And often they don't have a lot of attention span outside of their businesses. So you know, we break up the planning process into little chunks of time, over a long period of time, so that we can eventually kind of go through all their complexity and help simplify it for them and help tie up the loose ends, and help them to get where they want to go with regard to retiring or to their estate planning or their legacy planning, in regard to their philanthropic planning, etc. So, that's, you know, that's, that's the process that I developed over the years that I now affectionately call fiscal therapies for entrepreneurs.

Ray Loewe13:14

Great. Okay. So maybe we'll have time to go into your process a little bit. But before we do that, again, you know, the luckiest people in the world make their lives and the luckiest people in the world kind of change as they need to change. And sometimes that change is because things around you change. Excuse me. Sometimes, though, it's because we want to change, and we find new things that we get excited about. So you told me the other day, I hope I'm not diverging secrets here, but you're 66 years old ok and you are now ready.

Marc Bernstein13:55

That was a secret until now. But

Ray Loewe13:57

That was a secret. Okay. Well, every, you know, that's what you get. If you listen to changing the rules, we divulge the secrets of the world, right?

Marc Bernstein14:06

The best theme song ever for I just want to say that, you know,

Ray Loewe14:09

well, anybody who has a band called herding cats, you know, what can I say? But you made a couple of comments to me that I found exceptionally interesting and exceptionally poignant. And one of them was I think I have a lot left to give. Now, many people that I've met at 66 are saying, Okay, I'm tired of giving, you know, I'm gonna run off and live my life and play golf and do all these other things. And yet, here you are, you're starting a whole new world because you wrote a book. How long ago did you start writing this book?

Marc Bernstein14:53

Probably four years, four or five years ago.

Ray Loewe14:55

Okay, but But you were over 60 And you decided you needed to To write a book, and you need to take this process that you've been developing all your life and put it down into terms that people can build on. Alright, yeah. And you started something called the manufacturer's group. And you're, you're just going on and on. And there doesn't seem to be any end to your involvement in helping people move forward with their lives and getting their lives under control. So talk a little bit about the book, talk a little bit about the manufacturer's group, talk a little bit about where you're going.

Marc Bernstein15:37

Yeah, so there's a lot there. So I'm going to start with like, kind of the recent changes to changes, you know, that I had, which, which, by the way, most great rock and roll artists at one time or another do a song with a stutter in it. So, so like to change and so I, I have a song on my, our album that we just did, quote, should I, and there's a part at the end where it goes, sh sh sh should I. So it just came out. But I realized that's a sign of a great rock and roll song. So I decided the change look, I've always and re another thing you and I share because when we reconnected a number of years ago, we realized we're both in the Strategic Coach Program, and Dan Sullivan who created that, and talks about his life out to 156. And I was in the program like you were for many years, and it kind of expanded my vision in terms of, you know, it's not just retire at age 70. And then, you know, wait to die kind of thing. And so I've always had that. But I will tell you a couple years ago, I was kind of struggling because I wasn't sure if I was keeping up with my younger partners, I wasn't sure if I you know, had the stamina to keep, I believe you have to keep changing and, and moving forward or you go backward, and I wasn't sure about that. But I will tell you that this pandemic revitalized me, um, you know, one of the things I found out was because I was used to kind of going out and having lunches with people and meeting people. And that's how I did business. And I couldn't do that anymore. So, and around the same time, not long before the pandemic started, I took a course called create powerful, and it was about and that also really opened up my eyes is about my presence, how people perceive me how I experienced myself, and the impact that I'm having or not having on people with my conversations and my work. And I always thought I was pretty good. I probably was pretty good in that regard. But I also realized how much I had to learn about it. So that evolved into, I had some coaching. And through the coaching, I realized, boy, I can really, I could really take this up several notches and I and this the vision that I then had is something that I've always had, I said, I really have the opportunity to create this now. There's no way I'm quitting now. So one of the things that happened was I developed new ways to meet people. One was Ray, you were a part of it. I had a web series called financial leadership in turbulent times. And we brought people onto that. And I started making clients over the internet, you know, who knew you could do that? Some clients I never actually met before they became clients. But we met on Zoom, but we didn't meet in person. I then as you mentioned, I started something that's actually called manufacturers forward focus forum, as a way to get back to a passion of mine working with manufacturers, especially since you know, manufacturing, I believe is coming back to America. I just posted an article yesterday, from New Jersey Business Journal, I believe it was that talks about how you know, reshoring, you know, people were coming from offshore back here because of supply chain issues because of the labor costs rising in other countries and, you know, just the whole pandemic issues and all that. So I think the time is right for that. And I ran a pilot on that. Now I'm going to have a full-time group that's beginning in January. And that's just about full. And so this has really been a time of re-creation and understand the word recreation really is re-creation. You know, if you look at it, and I'm finding that that's what I like to do for fun now is to create, you know, whether it's creating a business, whether it's creating music, whether it's creating, I have a music management company that I've started, you know, I have a lot of diverse interests. But I'm most passionate about taking my business to the level with my partners that that that we want to take it to. And it's the kind of business I can always stay engaged with. And so what I do most of my days is having conversations like this, having conversations with entrepreneurs about their future vision about their life about What brought them to where they are, and where they want to go and help them get there. And of course, financial was a lot of it, but it's not all of it. So I'm somewhat in a coaching position with them. And I really enjoy that. And I could do that as little or as much as I want to, into my 100's, you know, into my next century, so again I believe that that could very well happen. So, so I'm working on my next 25-year plan. Now another thing I learned from Dan Sullivan, at 66. So that takes me into my 90s. And I'm very excited about that.

Ray Loewe20:33

Yeah, now I know, you've also changed your work ethic a lot, the work ethic is still strong. But you've found a way to weave more of family in they're more of other things. I know you've found a place up in the mountains, you can go hide, and you can rejuvenate. I know you were out visiting kids recently, and so the family and everything else plays a part of this. And I

Marc Bernstein21:00

You know I got a puppy too, which was just, yeah, major new part of my family.

Ray Loewe21:06

So So you know, when you look at this, it is a combination of learning it's, you're still actively engaged, I think you're probably more engaged than you ever were. But you've also figured out how to make time for the family, how to make time for your spouse, how to go hide in the mountains occasionally, and more important the puppy, right? We can't forget the puppy.

Marc Bernstein21:28

Well, and as you and I both know, being fully engaged, does not mean working as many hours as you possibly can. It means working effectively. It's working, you know, intelligently, it means focusing on your unique abilities, and having other people to do the other stuff for you. That's what to me is engaged means. So it's so and by the way, I also come I've mentioned my father worked seven days a week up to the fire. And then for a long time after that, I basically come from a family of workaholics. So it's a lot of training to not become that and to do what's necessary to keep engaged and to be fresh and be rejuvenated. But not to burn yourself out for work. So I'm there now, I don't do that.

Ray Loewe22:14

Yeah, and I think you learned as many of us did, that. We don't have to be on the road all the time, we learned this from the pandemic, that you can do a lot without commuting anymore, which creates hours for you to do something with and I guess let's sum up. We are about out of time, we may be out of town too. But but but this whole view of retirement, can you capsulize at all? What do you think of this thing called retirement and where you're going with it?

Marc Bernstein22:45

Well, so my view, look, it is for when I work with clients, it's whatever they want it to be. And I do have some clients that are fully retired, that are very engaged in their life, and they're very happy and they love it. And that's fine if that's what we spend a lot of time exploring that make sure that I also have a number of clients that are around my age, that have recently retired, and they're telling me how miserable they are, that they really don't. And I had the conversation beforehand, they said I got plenty to do. And I'm going to play a lot of golf. And they realize there's only so much golf they can play and they used to work in their whole life. So they want to find something else to be engaged in. So it depends on the person. But for me, I would rather think and I talked about this in the book about instead of retirement, refirement, or aspirement, if that's a word. You know, like, like, to me once you stop, or I know at least once I stop that begins the you know, the slow cycle of I hate to call it this but dying. And if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward in my opinion. So for me, I need to keep engaged, keeping engaged means keep moving forward in various aspects of my life. I'm sure the definition of what that means will change over time. But that's what I want to do. I want to keep meeting new friends, new people having new social circles, new intellectual circles. I'm on a board I've mentioned to you before, I'm one of the youngest members. And I realized that all these people, it's called the American Technion Society. It's a fundraising arm of the Technion, which is like the MIT of Israel. And what we usually talk about those board meetings are innovation and new technologies in all different fields. And I realized that a lot of the older people are on their own there because they want to stay engaged and they want to keep their minds active. So that's, that's definitely something I'll continue to do as well. So that to me is, you know, it's retirement is changing how you use your time. But it doesn't mean necessarily that, you know, I don't want to think of myself as someone who's not working anymore because working to me means being productive and creating and I want to continue to do that.

Ray Loewe24:57

Well, that's a perfect way to end this segment, because we're out of time. And I think that people really need to think about this thing called retirement and figure out what their vision is going to be. And Marc is going to be back with us over the next couple of weeks in a different capacity. He's going to be my co-host. And he's bringing on some people that I didn't know before that are just magnificent people. They're interesting. They're fascinating, and they are the luckiest people in the world. So uh, Marc, thank you so much for being here today. And thanks again for being one of the luckiest people in the world. Have a great day, Taylor.

Kris Parsons25:36

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 23 Nov 2021 18:18:51 +0000
Episode 92: How Do You Want to Live Your Life?, Guest Andrei Jablokow

Guest Co-host: Bill Hughes:

Podcast Guest: Andrei Jablokow:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Morning, everybody, and welcome to changing the rules a show about the luckiest people in the world. And what you're going to find today is that the luckiest people in the world are those people who craft their own lives, they personally develop the life that they want to live. And then they go out and they live in under their own terms, and they take control and, and that often means changing the rules that other people have given to us and making them work for them. Unfortunately, rules usually tell us what we have to do or what we can't do. And the luckiest people in the world find a way to modify those somehow. So today we have Bill Hughes back as our co-host, and we have Andrei today the famous Andre, the Professor of Engineering at Drexel University, among other things. And Bill why don't you introduce Andrei?

Bill Hughes01:12

Andrei Jablokow. How am I say my saying that right? I'm

Andrei Jablokow01:18

not saying those people pronounce the pronounce that Yablokow. It's the J is like a Y in a W somewhere between a v and f and the middle is just like It looks complicated.

Bill Hughes01:30

Right? Anyhow, Andrei, if

Ray Loewe01:32

You notice I didn't I didn't even attempt the last name.

Bill Hughes01:37

Well, you know, us, us English here. We like to pronounce everything, as we see it, but that Jablokow?

Andrei Jablokow01:44

Jablokow, you got it.

Bill Hughes01:47

Good, so Andrei is an accountability coach, international lecturer, and engineering professor, as a coach and lecturer Dr. Jablokow works with executives and professionals to help them realize their vision, develop leaders and enjoy freedom. The doctor started his career as an engineering professor and has taught over 10,000 students in mechanical engineering. Andrei has a unique ability to explain complicated things in a simple way, identify the root cause of an obstacle, and get people moving in their right direction.

Ray Loewe02:25

Alright, Andrei, right now you got to perform, you got to show off all those things?

Andrei Jablokow02:29

No, I don't I don't perform a really bad circus act. Just so you know.

Ray Loewe02:33

So let's start with a question that we're going to hit right now. And the question is what now? So that's a very generic question. It's a fascinating concept. So let's give this a little bit of definition, either Bill or Andrei. And then let's start to explore what now? Are we talking about the pandemic Bill?

Bill Hughes02:58

No, I think we're talking about just the world in general because the pandemic is just symptomatic of some of the things that were changing as it is and just became more pronounced as a consequence. But I think a lot of people become more introspective over that period of time. Some people have gone in other directions, for sure. But the question always comes up. So what now?

Andrei Jablokow03:22

I think you bring up a great point, Bill. I think you're right on it. I think people have had a chance to look back. And, and only and look forward, I think there's some people that still have somewhere between the television, news, and social media between their ears. But when they get out of that, they'll quickly realize that this pandemic thing was a flashlight. Right should have been a flashlight a long time ago to do what Ray talks about is changing the rules, and being able to live life on your own terms. So you know, along that line, what should you be doing now? I think, you know, I've got two sets of friends on social media now. I've got some that are adding five pounds a year to their waist. And I've got others that are really getting fit and healthy. And I think if you're if you're going to come out of this pandemic, whatever, you know, whatever it ends up looking like, and if you're not stronger and healthier and getting more sleep and more sunshine and more time with people that you love, then something's not right. Okay. And that's where you need to go is to look at what do you want to do? I mean, I, I really think that it's simple. And I think Ray is on to something here. Okay. It's really simple to learn how to live and I think over the past 18-19 months, I think was an opportunity for people to explore, just how do you live? What are the rules for that?

Bill Hughes04:57

Well, you made a real simple suggestion. A while back that everybody ought to be doing at least once a day if possible. And what is that?

Andrei Jablokow05:08

Getting outside. Just getting, you might have to walk, taking a walk, just take a walk outside every day, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, you can even start without that. Don't take the walk, forget about it, because that's too much work. Just put your walking shoes on. Because while you already have them on, go while I'm here, I'm as go on a walk you know.

Ray Loewe05:35

Okay, so I think what you guys are alluding to is the fact that we've had a wake-up call that we always used to do things kind of the same way we got up in the morning, we got in the car, on the bus, we commuted to work, we spent time with associates in a constrained environment, we came home, whatever it was, and now we realize that we've had a year or two here where those things have all changed. We don't have to get up necessarily and go into the office. There's a whole bunch of people out there that are rethinking jobs, that aren't going back to work anymore. Okay, so So if we're sitting here, as individuals, what are some of the things that uh other than take a walk Andrei, although that's really the essence of it, just get outside and do something, but what are some of the things that we ought to do that we have the opportunity to do now that we didn't think we had the opportunity to do before, to change our lives and to get them under control?

Andrei Jablokow06:44

Well, you know, you bring up an interesting point, we could come up with a laundry list of things that we can do and change. But as humans, we're not so good at that. Because whether you were going to the office every day and working with people and commuting and coming back, and so on, you've come home now. And you know, what's interesting is my father tells the story when he retired, is that he didn't know when he found how we found time to work because he was busy. Okay, his cup is full, everybody's cup is full. You're out of time, whether you've been working, commuting, or now you've been staying home. And now you're trying to redefine what work would be and your former employer may be trying to get you to come back. And I think they need to resell it because I don't think people are going to go back into the box. But you know, your cup is full. And so you talk about what should we do. And I think the problem is that if I give you one thing new to do, you might say you might be really committed to it and want to do it. But two weeks in, you won't be able to sustain it. Because your cup has been full. And so to add anything new, add anything new, something's gonna have to go, something's gonna have to be put out. And you're going to have to learn how to simplify. Because I think not only if we've been staying at home when we talked about habits, and I've got eight books on habits and building habits and things like that habits are easy to pick up especially bad ones. And so now I have to remove those because even now I'm home, I'm saying I don't have time, and I'm saying well, you should go outside for a walk. Or you should spend time with your with a loved one or you should read a book you go how I still don't have any time. So how do you simplify? And how do you start new things is challenging.

Ray Loewe08:43

Alright, I have a suggestion. Okay, and you guys pick up on this. So I have found that one of the things that's helpful to me is to sit down, usually once a month for about 10 minutes, it doesn't take any more than that. And write down what are the things that are working in my life? And what are the things that aren't working in my life? And the goal is to be able to get rid of some of the things that aren't working or change them to make them work. And that's, I think, how you figure out how to make space for the things that you want to do. Now there's more to this too, and I'll come back to that later. But let's start with what's working, what's not working. So what do you think and how do we do it?

Andrei Jablokow09:32

I think it's a great start to reevaluate and assess where you are. But you know, I've been teaching Newton's laws for a long time. And, uh, you know, Newton's law everybody does that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So the minute I start doing something new, I've decided I'm going to change it's not working for me anymore and I move out on this path. I immediately find with resistance From the world, from the people around me, and from whatever, and I can force it, I can push it. I don't know whether I'll be able to sustain it for very long. But it is really, really interesting. What people do when it gets difficult when I was studying Taekwondo, I met one of the masters, we were getting changed into our uniforms and so on. And he asked me, Did you sign up, for the monthly program? Or did you pay for three years upfront? I said? What should I do? What do you think I should do? He said, Well when he'd signed up, the grandmaster asked him, was the same question you want to sign up for the monthly the three years, I said, Why should I do the other one? He said, well, with the monthly when it gets hard, you're going to want to quit? Yeah, okay. When is it going to get hard about the second week? And so that's the problem is most the thing that stops most people from executing on exactly what you say, Ray? The thing that stops most people is the start. Okay, here's one great, you also have a formula to don't you. F=MA, but that's just Newton's law. Yeah. Force equals mass times acceleration. And that's all I'm dealing with people. And so how do you build this new thing that you want to change Ray? How do you build it into a routine, that over time, you know, it becomes that thing we had 20 months ago, where you get up, you brush your teeth, you move around on the floor for 15 minutes, you know, you read you do whatever your devotional is, and then move on, you've got to create that for yourself in a healthy way.

Ray Loewe11:50

Okay so let me make another comment. Because you're absolutely correct. You get that resistance, you want to quit, the people that I find that know what they want, and are passionate about it, or have some sort of accountability system are able to do that. Now your taekwondo example of paying for three years in advance kind of builds in well you're gonna lose that money if you don't stay there, right. And not only that, but you've got that accountability system in place. So talk about this a little bit? Because you're absolutely correct. It's easy to say, what's working and what's not working, it's easy to come up with, these are the things I don't want to do anymore, or I want to fix. But now the question is, how do you handle the resistance? So why Dr. Andrei? How do you do this?

Andrei Jablokow12:47

So you can use any number of methods, a simple spreadsheet or a logbook has worked in physical fitness training for years that certainly works is to just write down, you know, plan every week, what are you going to do? Or even every day, the night before? What are you going to do? And again, if you don't control your time, it will control you. And then you write down exactly what you did and what you ate. And you know, did you have that meeting with yourself to do the things you want to that's one way to do it, there are online systems where you can you know, the rule, the rule is to don't break the chain, once you start doing something on a regular basis, you don't want to break the chain. I've been studying a foreign language. Now, there's a little program called Duolingo. And it's a game and you play it every day. But I'm up to 592 days in a row without missing a day of 10 minutes of practicing, you know, foreign language. So you can do that you can also have a coach. Okay, now I've had a lot of coaches, and most of them were too soft. For me, I'm kind of an edge coach, I kind of hit you upside the head. And some people just don't like that, because I can be kind of irritating. But the point is that you can have somebody just to know that you've got to check in with somebody, you know, you can have it just a partner, you don't need a coach, you find one other person that wants to do it with you. You know, my aunt and uncle smoked forever, and one of them decided they wanted to quit wasn't going to happen. Because the other one is still smoking, you have to do it together. You've got to be your own accountability partners okay. So it's the same thing here is how do you find an accountability partner or you have a coach that helps you with that accountability, too. And I think the other thing is that the coach helps with is that we're really good as people at coming up with excuses for why something won't work. And somebody's got to peel that onion away. To find out what does work and it goes back to what You said, Ray, it's the people who know why they're doing it, what they're passionate about, the reason why they're doing it because when it gets really challenging and everything, everything gets really challenging. If you don't have a strong enough reason for doing it, you'll just give it up.

Bill Hughes15:20

I know. And that that comes up to the thing that I've witnessed many times on the calls that Ray hosts Thursday in the morning and in the evening. And, the really interesting people usually go through some kind of really crazy event that kind of wakes them up. But in many cases, it might be as simple as knowing that there's something else out there. And I don't know what that is. So what exercise, what process would you use to figure out what you really want? And what you're really passionate about? Because again, like I said, that seems to be a key component to making the accountability piece work.

Andrei Jablokow15:59

It is, that's a hard one. That's something that I've struggled with the most. And I've been called out on it by my coach Mark J. Who basically told me that I didn't have the humility to choose one thing. Because everything seems infinitely interesting to me. And I want to buy all these courses and programs and, and we can all learn and do anything we want. I mean, we live in a great country, where we can do anything we want, we're not limited in any way. The problem is that you won't be able to execute it on it, right? The more you try to do it, the more ambitious you are, the less you're going to get done. And how do you simplify, and your time, your space, your involvements, your commitments, your responsibilities, because you can add more on I'm going to do this new thing. But that's going to lead to overwhelm, right? Because it's not what, you know, it's not what I need to do I know what I need to do. It's the question is, what do I need to do next, and you run out of time at the end of the day, and you feel less than, and I don't think that it's really about feeling less than I think it's really about replacing habits and routines. But deciding what you want to do is critical because you know, I can boil down what Ray talks about here with his changing the rules to two simple things and how to live. The first one is learn how to be a good person. The second one is find an occupation that you love. And that's not an easy question, Bill, you've got to find something that you're going to want to practice, I told my son who plays Viola, that if he wasn't going to fall in love with the practice, don't even bother, because everybody wants to be on stage. Everybody wants to do the big deal to perform to, to be in front of people or to, you know, to make the big sale and all that stuff. But 98% of the time, you're going to have to grind it, whether it's practicing, or rehearsing, or working with others and solving problems. And if you don't fall in love with that grind, then that thing that you're looking at doing it isn't for you.

Bill Hughes18:13

got that, that's the reason why you have to get to that point where the reason why you're doing all that extra stuff is because you want some end result from it. That really turns you on.

Ray Loewe18:26

You know I think the issues that we're coming up with is the first issue is everybody's busy and to realize you're busy and if you're not busy, something's gonna sneak in there to make you busy. The question is, what's important? And what are the values that you bring to the table? We didn't, we didn't talk too much about values. So can you talk a little bit about the importance of values and, and why they help you choose the right thing?

Andrei Jablokow18:55

Right, so it goes back to the first thing you need to do is learn to be a good person. Because when you're trying to do that, you're going to look at your character, and your integrity and your value system to see, you know, I think there's a lot of people looking back at the way they were working, you know, what they were doing for a living, and they were out of integrity, and that just creates a lot of stress for them. And now they're realizing, you know, they're not really like that they're really good people. And so it really does start Ray, with, with looking at, you know, what can I mean, I could lose everything, we could lose all our money and our house and our spouse and the car and all that stuff could go. But if your character and integrity are still intact, you just pick up and keep going. But it's when you're working in an environment or in a job or in a business that doesn't match with who you are as a person. Well, that's the first signal that you're in the wrong thing. Right. So you've got to start this thing from being a whole person and Going back to the flashlight that this pandemic environment has put us on if you haven't been looking at that, and considering it, and you have a lot of time to think about it when you're taking a walk is to am I, integrity, integrity. Am I being a good person? Have I eliminated the judgment in my life? And myself and others? Am I taking care of myself? Am I treating others with kindness? Now from that place? What can I do to serve the world and others that keeps me going when the times get tough? That's, that's what we're talking about. I think. All right, Dr. Hughes, any comments?

Bill Hughes20:39

Yeah, I was just curious. There's different tools that some people use for that introspection beyond simply taking a walk, one of them that I've always been encouraged to do and still have difficulty doing it. And that's the journaling thing. You do use that in your?

Andrei Jablokow20:54

I do. I do. I'm not I'm not consistent with it. Because there's, you know, there's other things I'm trying to be consistent on, you know, this goes back to the talk we had some time ago as well Bill, that you can only change one thing at a time, right? He tried to implement five, six different changes, you won't be able to sustain it, journaling is a fantastic thing to do. You can write on the web, you can write a blog, you can just write things down in a notebook for five minutes. I have it as part of my daily planner, that I start in the day. And I figure out what you know, my kindness is and gratitude and what I'm going to do at the end of the day, I put a flashlight, how did the day go? Did I win it? Did I win the day? Or did the day win over me? I think that kind of reflection and just doesn't have to be a formal journaling. It's just you have to put a microscope on your life. Are you living? As still? How about? How about all the obligations we take on and that we've taken on in the past that we no longer have a commitment to sustain? You know, how do you walk out of those? And I think what we're talking about to some extent is you got to make the time to do the things you want. And to do that you got to get rid of some of the things that you're doing now. Yeah, well, most of the stuff that you're talking about is a mess. And so you've got to find closure and find your way to get out of it. Otherwise, you're you're surrounding yourself with people that you're not like them anymore, you're doing things that aren't serving you you're not helping them goes back to simplifying, Ray? You're okay, In order to add something new and change something you're got a lot of simplification to do.

Ray Loewe22:42

So two things. We're at the end of our time, unfortunately, so. So let me start with Bill and closing this thing up what summarize some of the things that I think you need that people need to think about doing here.

Bill Hughes22:57

Well, I think the first thing you need to do is to start, you have to start. And the second thing you have to I think you have to learn how to master is how to say no. I mean, there's a lot of stuff that comes your way that you think you should do, because somebody thought that it was the best thing for you to do. And deep down inside. You don't want to do it. And you got to learn how to say no, I'm not doing that. And you might have to say no to some things you've been doing all along, that are just simply not doing it for you. So just say no, and just start.

Ray Loewe23:29

And again, that's freeing up the time. Right? So Andrei, now simplify all this for us and tell us what, give us a list of 2,3,4 things that we should do.

Andrei Jablokow23:41

I'm just gonna follow on with what Bill said, you've got to start doing something and start exploring. Okay. I would start with your health because it's easy to do, and you'll see a quick, quick change in that. Okay. But the other thing is that Bill said was key. It has to be no. Or hell, yes. Thanks. So if it's like, well, I'm gonna think about it or maybe later, that has to be No, it's all either hell yes. Or no. And most of the time, you should be saying no.

Ray Loewe24:11

Okay, so I think that's some good thinking. And I think what we'll do is we'll do another session and a couple of months, and we'll pick up on this and we'll find out all the things that we didn't say no on, and we didn't say hell yes, on. How's that? So Andrei Jablokow. Thanks for being here. And Bill Hughes again thanks for being our co-host this month and getting us some great guests and helping us read through some interesting conversations and stay tuned for changing the rules on we're like a bad penny. We're going to show up again next week.

Kris Parsons24:47

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 2 Nov 2021 13:00:00 +0000
Episode 91: What Does Your Family Stand For?, Guest Todd Rhine

Guest Co-host: Bill Hughes:

Podcast Guest: Todd Rhine:

Todd's Website:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:17

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to changing the rules, a podcast designed to showcase some of the luckiest people in the world. You know uh one of the things that we try to do in this podcast is to showcase people that we think always seem to be lucky, their lives are always together for some reason. And that doesn't happen by accident uh the luckiest people in the world are those people who actually take the time to design their own lives. And then they make sure that they live them under their own terms. And rules come into play here a lot. You know, all through our lives. We're saddled with rules. So they start with your parents. And then they go to the schools and then they go to your job, and then they go to the church, and then they go to who knows else. But what happens is, overtime rules become obsolete. And there are two things about rules. They are meant to either be obeyed, or they're meant to be run away from and the luckiest people in the world seem to take these rules, and they use them to their benefit, and it helps them live the lives that they want to be. So uh today we have a guest host. His name is Bill Hughes. Bill was here the last couple of weeks with us, and he's here again. Okay. Say Hi, Bill. Hi, Bill. Okay. And Bill's gonna introduce our guest today, who happens to be a good friend, Tom Rhine. And they'll introduce Todd and then we'll show why Todd is one of the luckiest people in the world and talk about some of the reasons why he should be a role model for the rest of us.

Bill Hughes02:00

Well, he certainly is lucky but I can tell you he's got more credentials than most people have initials so. uh Todd attended Davidson College and Georgia Institute of Technology earning degrees in finance and management. He holds a professional designations as a certified financial planner, a registered financial consultant and a chartered under life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, and registered investment advisor with the Heritage Institute, which is this little something we're going to talk about in a bit. He currently enjoys working with several families and multiple advisors who understand the importance of collaboration in a client-first focus. Ah, even though he maintains a financial planning practice, he understands that true wealth means much more than having strong funding and having a strong financial statement. This is why he's built a practice centered on helping others identify and achieve what truly matters most in their lives. Additionally, Todd is a staff member instructor at the Heritage Institute and the country's foremost authority on developing multi-generational leadership transfer. Todd currently lives in Hilton Head, South Carolina with his wife Amy and sons, Andrew and Matthew he is committed to building a strong community, a strong community supporting the Cub Scouts, Community Board, School Improvement Council, low County Alliance for Healthy Youth in Hilton Head baseball Association, having coached youth sports for more than 30 years to enjoy coaching the children of his former players. I gotta tell you, he is one busy dude.

Todd Rhine03:36

do you recognize yourself Todd with all of that? Better than I am? Well, you know, lucky people are busy people, and they get things done and they're involved in a whole lot of things. And, and by the way, I've always found since I've been doing this, that the luckiest people in the world are also the most interesting people in the world. So welcome to changing the rules. And I guess um let's start with who you are. And uh, you've had a financial planning practice for how long? I started on the insurance side of things. So the financial planning practice, evolved, developed out of that, I would say as a focus approximately 20-21 years really wasn't until I actually relocated to Hilton Head from Atlanta that I had more time focused on more of the planning aspect versus the advisor. Solution aspect if you will, at the planning. Okay, and part of that is running a family business too, isn't it? Over the last I actually I took over the family flooring store three years ago As a matter of choice in some respects to matter of need, and others, I'm able to read and understand financial statements. And that's an important aspect of running a business. But it was one that, let's put it this way. If I hadn't, I don't think our Thanksgivings would have been as enjoyable as the group getting together. Okay, now there's a poignant statement to uh so so let's get into a couple of things. I know we did a pre-interview with you. And we talked about one of the things that you really have to be any more is a generalist. Because there are so many details, you can't keep up with all the details and all the disciplines that you do. So when you get together, whether you're running the family business, whether you're running your family practice, whether you're running your own family. Okay, what are some of the key things that you think are important that you do that make you successful? I'd say one of the important elements is really just understanding what role you can serve. And that gets back to understanding what's the outcome you want? Yeah, needless to say, there's the old adage, you can't do it all. And the successful individuals, the one that figures out what they can delegate to other people to be done as well, or hopefully, even better than they can do on their own. You know, being independent for so long, being the situation where I haven't had to answer to superiors or others on how to do things, but try to learn from those other experts and try to improve. And heritage is a big part of that learning curve for understanding my own specialty skills, understanding that I'm a spatial analytic, which essentially means that I enjoy, get excitement, I love the fact that I'm able to solve problems, maybe not always say traditional format, but use different tools. And much like a puzzle solver, figure out how to put the puzzle together, not always the exact way. But that goes with the planning aspects of working with different families. But the reality is, knowing that there's only so much time in the week. What'd we have 186 hours per week that we actually have a you know, capable of working with. So it's a matter of finding what you can focus on, and what's the more important thing to focus on. So during a lot of my training, there was very little television watching going on. That's, you know, that was an aspect of your continuing learning and focusing on the reading and the different things that we had to do for our specialty. But for the most part, leaning on people like Bill and other experts to help, you know, see it from a different perspective to guide you to listen to what you're saying and dig down into. Okay, here's what may really be happening that you're not seeing.

Ray Loewe06:09

You know, Bill, get into this discussion here, because you met Todd through this Heritage Institute thing I think you may

Bill Hughes08:09

Actually, that's how I met him. And so we've known each other, going back to about 2006, 2004, 2006.

Todd Rhine08:19

2006 Yes.

Bill Hughes08:21

That's a long time. But I think the thing that that I noticed was that, that you as talented as you are, you don't rely on your own resources. I mean, you leverage quite a bit. I mean, you're probably one of the best-coached individuals I know. But then again, that's kind of what you do. I mean, not only do you financially coach, you also coach individuals too. And you broaden that perspective out quite a bit. Particularly with our studies in the Institute where we were learning how to transfer multigenerational value from one generation to the next. It like most things, this is really a team sport. I mean, it's not something you can do by yourself.

Ray Loewe09:06

If I related to sports in general, you know, one of the things that happened about the same time, I was asked to coach the all-star team. So if anybody that's coached all-stars, in the sports, you're talking anywhere from the 10-12-13-year-old kids, you know, they're usually the mom and dad's pride example of you know, this, this is in their vision. This is the future Hall of Fame baseball player gonna be playing while being future years. But coaching a team and granted I didn't have such a great team. And I think everybody else bailed but I found it to be an honor to be asked to coach the all-star team and we had high expectations and we've had you know, national championship teams and IRA for a small little island. We've had a lot of, you know, great influence. So it was a very, you know, what I found to be encouraging situation but One of the things I learned from Doug Carter, who Bill knows as well is just setting the stage, if you will, of expectations, which is something that we try to do with families and in different roles, but it also applies to the professionals. And this is how I'm trying to relate that two everybody on that all-star team, you have nine players going out. But you're filled now with the All-Stars from every team, which means you have eight pitchers, seven shortstops, four of them are catchers or first baseman, well, nobody played outfield, no, very few played second base and third base, they were always the studs on the team, if you will, they were always in those key positions. So when you're filling now nine spots, you know, the kid that was one of the best players on his team now on the all-star team is playing right field. That's a hard pill to swallow, not necessary for the kid, but for the parent. So the best thing I learned from the work that I did with heritage and Bill and Doug, essentially is how to go back and reframe that expectation and get the parents to say what they had a right to expect. And that was a game-changer, because that eliminated so many headaches, because if you're familiar with youth sports, having that mom or dad, and it could be either one. So I'm not gonna be you're trying to be sexist on it, but having them sit on that fence, and berate the umpire. And then deal with that, well, you got a game going on, and high stakes, you know, two losses, you're out of the tournament type situation 12 innings pitching for a tournament, you really have to deal with a lot of stress. And these are 12-year-olds, and I had a parent do it the best way and you know, one parent, berating her child, she came back and said, Look, she you know, tapped on the shoulder like, Sarah, he's 10 years old. Yeah, this isn't life. Okay. So, but that applies to professionals. I mean, the reality is, when we're dealing with some families that have done well, and they're professionals, we have the same situation, they're top of their field. And we have repet repetition of services and overlap discussions, we have to remember, it's like, okay, we're dealing with all stars now. And then all-star may have to take a different role than he's used to and they may not be comfortable.

Todd Rhine12:12

Okay, so, so, so one of the things everybody thinks successful people are successful because they make money. And I guess to some extent, that's part of it. But you're in this business now, where you're coaching people on their finances. But I think what sets you apart from everybody else, is what you just talked about in the baseball, realm. And let's talk a little bit about what makes a family successful. Because what you do, if I understand it correctly, is you spend a lot of time coaching successful families. And some of it has to do with the transfer of wealth. But most of it has to do with the transfer of values. So and Bill get in on this because you do similar kinds of things. And you know, Todd, and let's, let's, let's get some controversy going here.

Bill Hughes13:09

I guess the thing that makes Todd an expert in this area, is the fact that I the main thing to taking somebody through that, that exercise isn't you're almost reparenting. And you every kid grows up in a different family. So consequentially everybody's got different impression of mom and dad. And very few of them know the story of how they got where they were. And in some cases, they see it completely different from one child to the next. So part of the process is getting everybody on the same team. And like Todd says, helping to not only tell the story and help them recapture that, that value but also how to apply going forward as the parents aren't going to be around forever. And probably the single most worrying thing for a parent is what happens when I'm gone. And that's why we get down the road of putting together incentive trusts and all this other craziness that we do in more material forming or planning part of the legacy process. But the big the important piece is to get everybody on the same page. And how do you do that Todd?

Ray Loewe14:29

Yeah, well, one is we have to one start with a framing of what is a successful family. And the reality is they do view it their own way. And each of us has professional visors may have our own definition, but the reality is the working families, it's their definition that matters. And then we have to look at it from a standpoint of Yeah, can we do it and is it worth it? It doesn't matter if we can do it. If it's not worth it to the family and if it is worth it to the family, we can figure out how to do it or find the other experts to make it a reality. And as you mentioned earlier, no, it isn't about the money, money makes it easier for families to do things together to help support and do a lot of great things together. But the reality is, I'd rather work with the family that has very little assets that have care and compassion, a desire to work together to see success within the family, then one that's going to be fighting in every turn, to get something for themselves. Nobody really enjoys working with a financially focused individual moreso than an individual that makes the people around them feel good. I have the benefit of working with some families and the type of people that you enjoy talking to. And that's always a good sign for an advisor if you don't like to take the call from a client if you really want to avoid that. Maybe it's not the person you really want to be working with. And conversely, if they don't like taking your call, maybe you're not really bringing the value you should. So

Bill Hughes16:03

yeah, definitely, it definitely digs in deeper than just, you know, building a big pile of money. It's how to put it to use. And there are many different I should say each family has their own definition of what success means. Some mean, it's just knowing your kids are going to be okay. And some, it's what impact Am I having on the community? How does what we do? How does? How does what we do impact that? Where do we where do we start?

Ray Loewe16:30

Reality is and we start in different spots. I mean, if it's important to Mom and Dad, if we want to refer to it as generation one, if we will, that oldest generation in the family, if they're looking at it like you know, I really am worried about my grandchildren or great-grandchildren. It can't start with them taking the time to really figure out what the values are, what how they learned it the life lessons, Bill and I and several other people within the heritage community and multiple people I should say, have been trained on learning what we call Guided Discovery, which really is guiding people to self discover what matters to them for life experiences. So it's a discussion. It's a dialogue, it's getting a little bit deeper about the stories, it may be as simple as you know, what was life growing up, like around the family table? What was it like a family dinner? What did you guys do? How did go it may be a situation of thinking back to the people in your life that stand out? Kind of like if we look back over time as a radar scope, with blips that pop out, you know, thinking about who those blips were in your early years, your formation years, your teens or early 20s. And most likely, and obviously, we're not psychologist, but most likely those people that stand out, stand out for a reason. It could be their work ethic, it could be the way they treated people. But the reality is they stand out because that's the value you typically hold true or find important. So if you can relate those two. And, you know, we always want to, I should say we all but many people want to make sure that their future generations learn from their experiences that are having a better life that have you know, things done better than they did now.

Bill Hughes18:16

So we take them through that. We take him through that exercise, they we memorialize it in a statement, and we get them all together and have them tell their story, and then what? And then how do we get them engaged?

Todd Rhine18:32

Well, in most situations, and you know, sometimes we start with the story, sometimes we start with a family, family event family meeting, which we do intentional exercises. And I really enjoy some of these exercises. And it's Stratton to pick on Dennis Stratton's test, which I find to be enjoyable because it's an eye-opener for people to discover what type of person they're hardwired. And we each have different software, but a lot of us have a way of dealing with something just based on the way our brain is structured. And we're a little bit different. But there are some commonalities there. I'm an analyzer, I have a tendency to try to understand the problem inside and out before making decisions. And the polar opposite, opposite maybe a persuader, somebody that takes it very personal on their ideas, but comes up very quickly. It might be your engineer versus your salesperson if you look at it from a job role. But within families, we have often differences. And you think of it as a team, if you have a team of different professionals or within a family, you really want to balance different ways of thinking to make good decisions. So

Bill Hughes19:40

One thing that comes out as a consequence of that is sometimes what's revealed to each family member is the importance of every other family member and the kind of value that they bring to the table. Maybe it's a child's great at art, maybe one is tremendous and fixing cars. All of a sudden these talents come to the forefront. And then we're starting to put together a family team. Basically, we're, we've got a team of specialists within the family. And that really constitutes something that a family can lean on.

Todd Rhine20:15

Okay, so this is something that anybody could do. You don't have to be rich, you don't have to have a lot of money. And I think everybody today is concerned with this concept of the Dyslexic family or the dysfunctional family, I guess is the better word. And and how do we get our families together? How do we develop this cohesiveness and we're getting near the end of our time already, unfortunately, so. So let's get a list of a couple of things that families can do to create a better family. Whatever that is, so what would they be? Well, you know, one thing families can do, which we see happening more and more frequently, as they may have a family event, and you could do it as a Thanksgiving event, but they have a chance to share individually. What they find a value what's good about the family, what, what do they appreciate about the family? What do they appreciate about each individual within the family, you're sharing the positives, basically, as a family, they also need to decide as a family. If we were to achieve anything specifically, what does our family stand for? If they could take the time and often is the case it does require a professional to help guide so you don't go too far off a tangent as I often do. But to simply look at it and understand as a family. Hey, what what do we stand for? And even before that, it really is a matter of, is it worth it to us? Is it worth it to us as a family to keep getting together on holidays that, you know, what do we want to see? Do we want to see our kids and their kids getting along having family events? Obviously, as families grow, it's not as easy, but you still can have intentional time. And even our own conversation here video conference, that's made it a lot easier for families to get together and don't necessarily have to do it when somebody is dying, as our family often did is we're on video talking about what's going on, but intentionally getting together with the purpose of one activity. And it may be Hey, what does our family stand for? What do we want to see our family represent? And then sharing, you know, intentionally okay, what is right about our family? What is our right about each individual and getting those positives out? There's always going to be negatives, there's always going to be Blips. But it's much like bad grass, one of the best ways of getting rid of the bad grasses growing more good grass. Yeah. So much like in families, one of the best ways of moving forward is focusing on what you can do positively. Yeah, and you're talking about the grass in the backyard, not the other kind of grass. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Unfortunately, we're down to the last couple of minutes. So let's, let's go to Bill Hughes. Do you have any final comments, and then we'll show up with Todd over here?

Bill Hughes23:07

Well, I guess the thing that I can't impress upon anybody more is the fact that anybody really can do this, you can do this around a backyard barbecue, and a fire pit and just telling stories. And ultimately, those conversations as they're done sequentially, and continually and persistently, over time, interests are going to emerge. And those interests are going to be part of what the family is about. And that's what's going to be revealed, and maybe you take on a little project, that could be something as simple as building a cabin in the woods, or it could be is, it could be as extensive as doing something for a local nonprofit that you that you're all passionate about.

Todd Rhine23:48

I can't agree more with what Bill is saying regarding just telling stories? Yeah, it's often a lost art nowadays in our world of 32 characters or less. Yeah, stories are what people remember. And if we can share stories, not as a lesson, but as what happened, people can relate to it. And that's one of the key things in sharing the stories is you'll share everything the good and the bad about the story. But not as you know, tell a story. It's like, well, I learned to work hard. That's what you needed to do work hard. No, you just let them get their own value out of that story. Because we do remember stories more so than we do statements or life lessons that were told.

Ray Loewe24:31

Okay, I would like to reconvene this at another time and start with this concept of stories. Okay, because I really think you're onto something here that's important. And I think that that people try and communicate sometimes by dictating something to a family. And usually starts with parents because somebody has to drive this conversation somewhere along the way. But I think the idea would be to explore a little bit about how to conduct some sort of a family event with the idea of starting a tradition or starting something that is going to bring families together into whatever we decide is the successful definition that we want to have. Alright, so Todd, thank you so much for being with us. Todd Rhine, and again, Todd, do you have a website where people can reach you?

Todd Rhine25:30

I tried to make it as simple as possible. It's So

Ray Loewe25:34

okay, and it's Rhine. Right as in the river.

Todd Rhine25:38

Yeah. As in the English spelling of the river.

Ray Loewe25:41

Okay, the English spelling and Bill Hughes, Bill's gonna be with us again next week with another guest. And thanks, the two of you very much. And I think we started a way of implanting some ideas on how to make other families feel lucky and luckier and luckier. So, thanks for being with us. And we'll see you again next week.

Kris Parsons26:04

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life, and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 26 Oct 2021 17:45:00 +0000
Episode 90: Learn More About The Luckiest People in the World, Guest Ray Loewe

Guest Co-host: Bill Hughes:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:15

Good morning, everybody, and welcome again to changing the rules, changing the rules as a podcast where we try and showcase some of the luckiest people in the world. And remember, the luckiest people in the world are those people who take control of their own lives, design them to their own specs, and then live them under their own terms. And in the process of doing that, they take all those rules that they've been saddled with all their lives and revamp them a little bit so that they can make them work for them and not be restrictions and impediments to the life they want to live. So last week, we started doing something a little different. We have a co-host, co-host, Bill who's and say, Hi, Bill, hello, okay, and Bill decided to turn the tables on me last time. And he decided to interview me as opposed to letting me interview him. And we ran out of time because evidently, I have more to say than anybody wants to listen to. And, and so we're going to continue this week. So uh so Bill is a life planning consultant. That's not a good word to describe him, but it kind of does the best that we can. He is a coach, and he helps people revamp their lives and make themselves feel luckier and luckier. So Bill, thanks for joining us. And it's your show. So I'm, I'm at your mercy.

Bill Hughes01:50

Oh, that's good to know. Even though somehow rather, I think the tables will end up getting turned once again. I guess, continuing on in part two of this. Something has been coming up more and more frequently is this whole notion of changing the rules? So what rules can we be changing?

Ray Loewe02:10

Well, the rules you change are the rules that don't fit you. Okay? You know, rules do two things. They tell you what you have to do. And they tell you what you can't do. Okay, now, some of these rules are pretty good. Okay. You know why I thought this idea of quarantine during the heat of COVID was a pretty good idea. I mean, I don't I didn't want to go out there and catch it. So when somebody told me that was the rule, I decided that was my rule. But you know, there, there were some rules that were set up when we were back in elementary school that I've rejected over time, I had a teacher once upon a time who set a rule for me, and she said, Ray, you're gonna do fine in life, just spend a lot of time correcting your mistakes and your weaknesses. Okay, right. And guess what I did that for a while I accepted that as one of my rules. And I wound up with a whole lot of really strong weaknesses. But they never really improved, like my strengths did. So one of the roles I changed is, you kind of ignore your weaknesses, and you build on your strengths, and you ally yourself with other people who are really good at the things that you were not so good at. So the whole idea is you got to look at what works for you. And you got to look at what you're going to accept in what you're not going to accept.

ill Hughes03:33

So that gets to the whole notion of really changing mindset. It Yeah, it's this, this idea that, that you go along to get along, and then all of a sudden, one day, you realize that that's not in your best interest. I mean, even with the example that you gave, one of the things that people could, and I believe actually did do during the shutdown, and all the restrictions that were imposed on us, wasn't it, it caused us to become more introspective. And in that process, their mindset changed. How did yours change?

Ray Loewe04:13

Okay, well, let me give you an example of that. And one of the things that COVID did to us is said, Oh, we can't go out and meet with each other. Well, I missed that a lot. Okay, one of the things that seems to drive me that makes me happy and being happy is one of the mindsets of the luckiest people in the world, is that I like to go out and talk to people on a regular day on a regular basis. I need the feedback that other people give me, I need them to challenge me. I need to know what are they doing that I might want to steal from them and do too, okay. So one of the things that we did is we had Virtual coffee and cocktails. And it's still going on and every Thursday morning, a group of us that can be as few as three or four, or as many as 10 or 12. And we have a conversation now we just find out what other people's view of the world is. And we never know who's going to show up. And we do that for cocktails.

Bill Hughes05:23

And the interesting thing about that is that invariably, somebody shows up, that has an interesting story.

Ray Loewe05:31

Always. And, and, and it is amazing to me that it comes out of the woodwork. You know you sit there and you say, Oh, you know, it's gonna be boring, and they're never boring because people are never boring. And if you think about your friends, you think about the fact that all of a sudden, you're shut off from them, and you can't talk to them, and you can't reap the joy that they bring you. You got to do something. So we changed the rules.

Bill Hughes06:03

And then the other interesting thing about that, that I really appreciate is the fact that the randomness of it, the random folks that show up, you know, being locked away for a period of time, really, you don't realize how grateful we need to be with some of the random occurrences of people that come into our lives, and have the opportunity to change things. And so that that really gets to the whole notion of this community that we're building.

Ray Loewe06:34

Well, hopefully, okay, so let's back up again, a little bit, let's, let's talk about these podcasts that we're doing. Okay. One of the things about the podcast, again, is it's a question of bringing people into your lives, that have different mindsets and different ways of thinking about things. And you don't have to like everything they say. And you don't even have to listen to everything that they say but if you take the time to be observant at all of a sudden, you find out that there are a whole lot of people out there doing exciting things that maybe you want to do. Remember, last week, we talked about the barrier that you have of people expanding their lives and, and that some people just never wanted to leave their job because there was a comfort level, right. And a lot of that is because they didn't have the opportunity to talk to some of these people that are just doing incredibly interesting things. Okay. And when you do have the opportunity to do that, all of a sudden your life becomes fulfilled you steal things from other people.

Bill Hughes07:41

Borrow, I like the word borrow.

Ray Loewe07:44

Well, borrow is temporary, and there's nothing temporary about this.

Bill Hughes07:48

You're not gonna get it back, you're not going to get it back.

Ray Loewe07:50

Once I get an idea from you, Bill is gone. Right?

Bill Hughes07:54

Well, what makes you think mine aren't borrowed from somewhere else?

Ray Loewe07:57

Well, they probably are, and what's wrong with that. And the whole idea is that there are exciting things to do out there. So my wife, Sandy, and I decided early in the game that we wanted to do some traveling, as we got more time and I was able to step away from the financial planning business. And, you know, we started with a short bucket list. You know, we wanted to spend some time in Europe, we wanted to go down to South America a little bit. But the next thing we know is we're meeting people on these trips. And we met somebody who had been in Antarctica well guess what, we've been Antarctica now and up close and personal with a whole lot of penguins. And then you sit there and you say, Okay, I haven't been to Australia yet. And you talk to people that you meet along the way and they tell you how great a trip this is. And then the next thing you do is you incorporate it into your life. So people are really, really important part of being lucky, in my opinion.

Bill Hughes09:08

The other thing that you mentioned that I always brings back the story of the penguins, for sure. But it goes to something deeper because why don't you real quickly share that penguin story for a second for those that might not have heard it.

Ray Loewe09:23

Well, there are life lessons that occur on these adventures if you open yourself to them. And if you look, we were in Antarctica and Antarctica is an expedition type of trip and you're on a ship and you're based on a ship and what you do is usually early in the morning you get up and you get on a Zodiac and you go to some point on land and then you see things like penguins or whales or in some cases people that are stationed there and then you come back and you have lunch and you take a nap and you go out again in the afternoon and you can do this because it's light 24 hours a day, okay? So you're not impeded by anything. And most people took every one of these excursions because it's a pricey trip, you're going a long way. And one day, there was a couple we had dinner with the night before. And we noticed they weren't on the morning excursion. And I caught them at noon at lunch. And I said to where were you guys? And it was kind of a sheepish grin on people. And they said, Well, we looked at the hill, we had to walk up today to see the penguins we were supposed to see. And we didn't think we could make it so we didn't go. And I did this doubletake. I mean, that surprised me. And I didn't have to say another thing. And they came back and they said, Well, we made a mistake, we waited too long to take this trip.

Bill Hughes10:59

Yeah, that really that that that that particular life lesson, so to speak, I know had a big impact on you going even in this direction, because how many people that you worked within retirement planning that were putting things off until they had enough money?

Ray Loewe11:18

Yeah, and that's the tendency, you know, I'll do that after I retire, when I have more money and when I have more time. And the lesson that I learned here is that you're sometimes waiting until you have enough money means that you're not going to be able to do something that you really wanted to do. And the same is true with time. You know, unfortunately, this process called aging, which by the way, I think is the ultimate life sport is aging. Okay. And it does things to you, you know uh people have a stroke people get conditions, and they no longer can do things that they want to do. And part of feeling lucky is to head off regrets it's to head them off early. And to say, what are the things that if I didn't get a chance to do I would, it would bother me.

Bill Hughes12:14

Right, but that gets back to your list again to and taking the introspective time necessary to kind of figure out what, for lack of a better term what your bucket list is.

Ray Loewe12:24

Okay, so let's, let's take a minute and talk about planning here because there's no substitute to sitting down and spending some time planning. And I think the planning has to be kind of a quarterly thing. And it only has to take an hour or two each quarter, it doesn't have to be long. But somewhere you got to sit down, and you got to say, okay, based on what I know, now, based on my experiences, what do I want to do, okay, and make the list and you start figuring out what's important, what you're going to do and what you're going to put off doing. The second part of that option is to talk to a whole lot of people or read or do research of some kind, and start to figure out what are the things that you never thought you might do that might all of a sudden become interesting, and you add them to your bucket list so that your life keeps expanding, it gets larger and larger and larger the day you start to see your life get smaller, you're going the wrong way, you know, and this is like, you've got to grow and to be happy and to be content. And the day you start pulling in the horns is not a good thing.

Bill Hughes13:35

Right? Well, and that that gets back to going back in time a bit to some of the things that you've encountered. And one of those things that you encountered along that pathway was a coaching operation called Strategic Coach

Ray Loewe13:49

It had a very significant offer on a very significant part of my life. So uh So let me tell you another story. So we sat around, we used to go to Chicago every three months, and we'd sit around in a coaching group and we had a coach who would teach us some things, but the biggest thing that you got out of it is we had 35-40 people that showed up every time and you had discussions with them. So I'm sitting there with a guy sitting next to me who's a real realtor. And he declares that he's going to run a marathon and like a dummy. I said, Okay, you finish your marathon, I will go back to competitive swimming, which I had dumped for 30 years after college By the way, and I will win a national championship. Now I have no idea where that came from, except that I figured this guy would never finish this marathon. Well, to make a long story short, he finished the marathon and I had to go back and redo this part of my life. Now that was one of those life events that changed where you go because swimming right now is part of my regiment it's trying to stay in shape, trying to stay healthy, is part of that goal of reaching maybe 100. And whether I actually reached 100 or not, is maybe not relevant. But I want to have that in my mind. Like, that's part of what I want to do and, and the only way you're going to do that is to physically stay in shape and take care of things.

Bill Hughes15:31

And well there was more involved in it than that, too, because I know that even though people say swimming is like riding a bicycle, once you've learned it, you don't forget about it. At the end of the day, competitive swimming is another whole ballgame. So how did you go about the research necessary? And what steps did you end up taking a day to get yourself in shape to take care of that?

Ray Loewe15:55

I hate to work out, you have to understand that I am a potato chip and ice cream guy on the couch in front of the TV. And if I were left to what, you know, just felt comfortable during the day, that's what I would do. The fact that I decided to do this is the only way I'm going to do this is to mouth off, and then have accountability coaches. And you know, the value of an accountability coach when you say you're going to do something and you got somebody who's going to get on your case, if you don't, right, right. And, and the other thing that I did I know that I knew that I had to do was I had to go out and hire a coach, I wasn't going to do this on myself. So I actually found a kid's group. And I wound up working out with the 12 and 13-year-olds who I can barely keep up with, by the way. Right? Right. Okay. And you get that support group and, and again, that's part of a community about feeling lucky and being lucky. You have to have others involved with this if it's gonna make it work. So anyway, that's what happened and he every year, every five years, you become the baby and your age group, you get a competitive advantage because my wife wanted to travel and you can't work out with the same intensity when you're on the Nile River in Egypt. I would not want to swim in the Nile for anything, okay? And so you change the rules, and you figure out what's going to work for you to allow you to do those things that are important to you.

Bill Hughes17:36

Right, well, you know, that gets back to this whole thing too, because I know we spent quite a bit of time talking about getting things off the list as well as on the list and making sure that things get done before you can't do them. But you had another story to that kind of interested me it was I guess your trip to Africa and your plane ride.

Ray Loewe17:58

Oh, the plane that was not going to make it.

Bill Hughes18:01

Yeah, right. It was a 1940s vintage plane.

Ray Loewe18:05

Well yeah, you know, again, this is part of what you get if you keep your mind and your eyes open. And it took somebody else to pull this story out of me. But the fact is we're on a safari and I was excited about this and I think Sandy was excited and apprehensive about it because we're going to Africa we're going to see leopards and lions and rhinos and they're going to be up close personal so when we had to fly into Johannesburg to do this and we fly in a normal airliner you know we get there we're wandering around the terminal to get to meet our group and as we walk down the concourse, Sandy looks out the window and there's this old plane sitting there and the old plane is pretty old. And she says I hope that's not our plane that that that planes too old to fly it should be retired. So needless to say, we meet our group and the first thing our guide says is she says, Let me introduce you to your aircraft. And she points to this point. And she says, this plane flew magnificent missions during World War Two and we figure uh oh it all over you know, we're gonna die on this trip. And later she said this plane was commissioned in 1941, the year before we were born. But here's the end result of this the aircraft was repurposed. It was repurposed to do a job and it was repurposed based on its strengths. It was never going to fly across country or across the ocean anymore. Okay. But it was a wonderful plane for taking a small group of us and being able to see all the scenery below us. It was able to land in small spots. And we were told later that it could fly on one engine if it had to. And it could land on no engines if it had to. And the end result when we got back is the plane did a great job of doing what it was supposed to do. Now, I'm sitting in Chicago, talking to a friend of mine later, and kind of telling the story. And she said, you know, what a great parable, if you think about it as a parable, because here was an airplane that was, should have been retired. In Sandy's words it should have been retired, it was old, you know, what's it going to do anymore, but somebody looked at his strengths. And somebody said, you know, you can rebuild this, you can repurpose it, and this plane could have additional life. And that is so true of the luckiest people in the world, too. And they do this, they sit there and instead of saying, My life is over, I've reached a certain age, and I'm just going to coast, they look at what are the strengths in their lives that they had? How can they be repurposed? How can they still have a mission in life? And how can they still bring value to other people? And actually, that meeting in Chicago took that story, and it made it have meaning to me. And there's a wonderful part of my life.

Bill Hughes21:21

Well, you know, the thing is that it gets back to the fact that even if you think you, you can't, you, maybe you can, but the process is getting there working through some of the strange things that you can contribute back. I mean, we, the lady, the cupcake lady with is a great example of that. I mean, for all intents and purposes, wants to tell that a little bit.

Ray Loewe21:43

Yeah, again, one of our podcasts was a young lady by the name of Ruth. And Ruth had a major life event, she had a very strange kind of stroke, it was a stroke that occurred kind of paralyzed her in the back. And one day, she's down at the beach, and she's having a great day, and the next day, she can't move. And after months and months of rehab, and realizing she can't do her job anymore. Unlike others who would give up, Ruth sat down and said, What do I love to do, and what can I still do, and she loved to cook and bake. And she limited herself to muffins, soups, etc, she started a small catering business on her own, okay, and she took she repurposed her life, she's bringing value to people, she's making a living, you know, she's still got some ups and downs, figuring out where she's going and stuff like that. But again, it's this whole concept of, you don't have to give up when you get a certain age, you can still be good at something. And in some cases, you can actually be the best there ever was, right? Because we get rid of the junk,

Bill Hughes22:58

right? But that's a great example of the people that show up on those calls, for sure. And many of the people you individually isolate and identify and bring into the podcast. So I think that that that's really, the value of this community is expanding beyond what you might be, if you're a natural introvert, you know, being able to, to get additional focus, and begin to ask those questions.

Ray Loewe23:27

Yeah, and, and, you know, part of what we're doing here, what we're trying to do is start with the podcast and say, you know these are 20-25 minutes long, occasionally go longer or a little shorter. But the idea is, meet somebody who is happy with their status and life who's going forward, regardless of their age, okay? And take a listen to it and say, Is this me? Are there things in here that I can use that would motivate me, and help them or use them to help expand your life and where you're going, and we do one of these a week I, I'll tell you a Bill, they're the most motivating things in the world. For me, when I get done with one of these interviews, I am so excited, I can't sit down for a while. Absolutely, and, and coffee and cocktails. And then the other event that we're trying to do is we're trying to do some Friends Connection events periodically.

Bill Hughes24:22

And we have one coming up. And we have one coming up.

Ray Loewe24:26

And we're going to have coffee together at a roastery of one of our friends and members. And he's going to show us how he roast coffee. And more important though, it's a chance to sit there and talk to people that we haven't seen face to face for a while. Right? And we got terminated from a trip that we're going to take to Greece before this COVID thing that we'll be back because again, the whole idea is how can we meet exciting people, whether we know them already or they're new or their a friends of friends, and use their database use their experience to expand our lives. And that's what this is all about. The whole idea is to live life to the fullest, to feel great about it to be happy to know that you're bringing value to other people. And that's the mission of what we're trying to do. And so join the luckiest people in the world.

Bill Hughes25:25

Absolutely. Thanks, Ray, yeah

Ray Loewe25:27

We're done.

Bill Hughes25:28

We're done for the time being.

Ray Loewe25:31

Okay, so we're gonna come back next week. And Bill is still going to be our co-host. We're going to have a different guest, hopefully, next week and we're going to get a different, luckiest person in the world. And we're going to get their perspective on life and where they're going, and we're going to see what we can steal. Absolutely. All right. So Taylor, sign us off, and we'll see you all next week.

Kris Parsons25:56

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life, and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host of Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 19 Oct 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Episode 89: What is The Luckiest People in the World All About?, Guest, Ray Loewe

Guest Co-host: Bill Hughes:


Kris Parsons00:03

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:15

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to changing the rules. The podcast that's designed for the luckiest people in the world, and showcasing other of the luckiest people in the world who do a really good job of dealing with rules. You know, all through our lives were handed a series of rules by people that kind of want to exert control over us for some reason. early in life, we get our parents who make us rules, then the schools make us rules, the church makes us rules, our jobs, make us rules. And you know, one of the problems with rules is that they're necessary. But when you're living your life under somebody else's rules, you're not living your own life. So the luckiest people in the world are really good at dealing with rules, and changing them and making them work for us. So today, we have a little different kind of program, we're gonna introduce Bill Hughes in a moment. And Bill is going to be our co-host for the month of October. And he's going to help us bring in some interesting guests to showcase as the luckiest people in the world. And Bill did something. He's going to put my back up against the wall today because he decided that he was going to interview me, and I have no idea how the heck this is gonna work but Bill Hughes say hello, hello. Okay. And Bill Hughes is a longtime friend. He's been on our podcast many, many times. And he is a coach and has been a coach for a long time, I've known Bill for 30 plus years, he's been a mentor to me, He always comes up with great ideas, and he's had great insight into life and the meaning of life. So Bill, how do you want to do this? Well, I guess the best way to do it is just simply to start and that's to open it up, I actually want to kind of go through a few areas, I don't know, I believe we're going to probably end up splitting this up a little bit. Because again, interviewing the host of a show is a little bit different than interviewing a attendee or somebody who had who is part of the subject matter of changing the rules. But by the way, Bill behave because I'm going to get even with you. Yeah, I'm sure you will, I'm sure you will. But that, you know, we can deal with this, we can deal with it. So in looking at, at what this whole process or what this whole program attempts to do, and how it does it, the thing that attracted me to it originally was the fact that I agree, I think that people should control their own lives and have some direction in that. And I know that there's a great deal of reticence about doing that simply because everybody's got responsibilities and things that holds them back from doing what they really want to do. And ultimately, they get to the end of their life and hopefully they've done it. And if they haven't done it that I guess the regrets are profound. And hopefully, by participating in this community, that Ray has set up, we can attract people that believe that they have something in them, but don't know where that is. But to do that, I think that I'd like to examine a little bit further, exactly how Ray got started. Because if we go back over the years, when did you realize this was the direction that you wanted to take your focus? Well, it took a while and I'm not. You know, I guess what you're saying is when did I become conscious of what I want to do, and uh it occurred over a period of time. And this is true by the way of most people who consider themselves lucky because the answers don't occur immediately. So I started as a financial advisor I worked for 45 years in my own firm and dealt with a lot of great people. And the problem is that when we solve we're not just money problems. I mean the basic goal here was to have enough money to get kids through college and then have enough money to put away retirement money so that you can retire the way you want. And it's this comment the way you want that I think is the critical piece because One of the things that we found is that most people had problems of visualizing the future of visualizing a period of time after work when they were going to live life. And I think the way we were told this by our parents is these were supposed to be the golden years. And that meant that you had to have enough gold to be able to live life the way you want. But how do you know what that is? How do you put together this concept of, of what you want your life to be? Well, I guess the other question that always seems to come up is, is you may have some fantasy about what that might be. But other things seem to get in the way. I mean, folks have families they're responsible for, they've got jobs that they're engaged in, they have there just seems to be this, this notion that you can't break inertia, you know, you're kind of stuck on a glide path. And before you know it, 10 years have gone by. So is there is there a particular event that you've found that has or occurs in someone's life that that causes them to take pause? What would what would that? What would that look like? Yeah, actually, there are a couple of them. And that's a good question. So going back to my financial advisory life, okay, one of the things I noticed is that we found many, many people who had successfully put away money, they had a lot of money. And they, they complained every time we met them, that they hated their job, and yet they wouldn't leave. And the question was why? And I'm not going to answer that right now. Which is, it's there seem to be this disconnect, I hate what I'm doing. Okay, but and I have the money to be able to do anything I want but I don't. Okay. So somewhere in there, there's an indication that there's a comfort level, that people are comfortable with their past, they know what it is, you know, there's something about getting up every morning and going back to your work about hanging out with the people that you know, are there, as opposed to saying, I'm going to break from this and go into new. There's a second event, and this one really hit home. And this event didn't occur until about five years ago, by the way, and I'm a swimmer, I went to our National Senior Games, I did my swimming thing. And I met a guy by the name of John. And John was over on this Chinese carrying around this whole batch of metals. I think there were six of them. And five of them were gold, and one was silver. And so I went up to him because he looked older than me and I said, John, when did you win your medals? And how'd you do this? And I later found out in the course of things that john won his medals in the 100-104 age group, okay. And his medals that he won at 103. By the way, we're in the shot put, the discus, the hammer throw, you know events that I can even imagine doing. And yet, here's this guy, 103 years old. And by the way, one of his medals was silver. He got beat by a crummy, 101-year-old and one of his events. So so so the whole thing, when you look at this, and you start to think about this, is here's a guy at 103, who's living his life to the fullest, he's out winning medals and celebrating with his friends. And then your vision, the other group of people that if they're lucky enough to reach 100, are starting in a wheelchair in a nursing home somewhere. And I started thinking about, okay, so how did this occur? Where do you want to be? And how, how do you help people get here, where they're active, and they're involved? We don't know that we're going to live to the 100. But many of us are, okay. It's not a bad goal to aspire to, as long as you're not in that wheelchair, you know, and you're out doing things. The second thing that really occurred to me here, Bill was, you think about this if you're lucky enough to live that long. What are you going to do with all these bonus years that you get? You know, my parents lived into the early 70s. My father did. He didn't have a lot of time after he retired to make decisions and to enjoy life. But today, many of us are going to live longer and how are you going to utilize that life? What are you going to do with it? Are you just gonna sit around and play cards all day and wait to die? Or what's going to happen? Well thinking back about your swimmer? Did you ever have a chance to talk with him in any depth as far as when he started doing this and why this became a passion for him that carried him into his, I'd say years that go well beyond scheduled retirement? Well, I think um the answer to that is really know that I am an end-up discussion, no, but it did have enough of a discussion to realize that this was just part of his life. He, he just decided it long ago that he wanted to stay physically fit, that he didn't want to sit in a wheelchair somewhere or sit in a chair and let life go by. He wanted to be active. And the second part and this was obvious, he had a whole lot of people who knew who he was. So he had a friendship based around this. And in other words, this was just a piece of his life that he thought that was important. And he followed it. And I think I think that's the key is to understand what the piece of this life is for you. And then to follow it. Okay so, I know you've the other thing that that's come up on a number of these calls, maybe not a whole lot, but a couple of them that stand out, in my mind, are people that hit a life event. Maybe they have a mild stroke, or they have a close brush with death, is this the thing that needs to happen for somebody to finally wake up and say, Hey, you know, yeah, the sands in the hourglass are going to run out. And if they do, and I haven't done what I wanted to do, I'm going to die with my song in me. You know, unfortunately, for many people, that is what has to occur, they don't move until some event occurs that says, hey, I have to take action. And the advantage of the people who are truly lucky is that they're able to sit down and do a little planning and a little bit of visualization and decide where they want to go on what they want to do. You know, there are so many things that you can do with life. And for a long part of our lives, work gets in the way work eats up 8, 10, 12 hours a day, five days a week, and it inhibits you from doing a whole lot of things that you might want to do. The key is to be able to visualize what are some of these things that you might want to do. And if you can't visualize them, to go on off and try to try different things, and get a feel for what you might want to do. And let your life expand. I think the tendency is for people to stay put to stay in a comfort level until an event occurs. But the lucky people don't do that they don't have to. But is the luckiest person a perception of somebody else looking at the results that you've gotten from some venture or some excursion that you've taken that turned into something a little bit more involved? Or is it really truly luck. I mean, I think in many cases, you make your own luck. And so the luckiest person to me is more of a perception it's me looking as an outsider into the results that they're getting from something that they discovered and decided to pursue. So how would somebody that's following a normal path, like you follow the normal pathway of being engaged in financial services? That was your that was your thing. That's the passion that you had, and you had a number of, of areas that were areas of focus. But during that time, there was something else that you were doing along the way that kept you engaged in something that allowed you to stay passionate. And ultimately, even as a financial advisor, I often looked at you as someone who was the luckiest person just by virtue of the results that you got there. Yeah, let's, let's answer this in two pieces over here. So I think the first piece that you have to answer is what do we mean by lucky? You know, there are a lot of people who say, you know, I won a million dollars in the lottery is a lucky person, okay. That's not what we're talking about uh, but we're talking about is how people feel. there's a feeling here that makes you feel lucky. It's when all of a sudden your life is taking form that you feel like you're making progress. You're enjoying every day you're moving in a direction that makes you happy. And that's what we're really talking about. Now, now two if you can rephrase the question that you asked me I'll actually try and answer. oh boy, that now you're gonna have to try to remember something? Again, you're engaged in life activities, it's raising kids, it's making an income, it's paying bills is doing all these things. So what are you looking for during the course of those actions that allows you to stay engaged in a way that's, that's compelling and gratifying? Well, again, I'm one of the luckiest people in the world here, uh my old job being a financial adviser was to work with some of the greatest people in the world. These were, these were people that motivated me every day, when you sit down and you look at people who are dealing with all these problems that you're talking about, they're dealing with kids, they're trying to pay for college, they're trying to figure out how to make enough money to do things. But among the people that I happen to deal with, these were people that had some insight about what they wanted in life, and what was important to them. And, and, you know, although a lot of people would say, Gee, I want to travel, I can't wait to get my kids up to a certain age, the luckiest people incorporate their kids into their life in the future to they're part of their life, and they're always part of their life. But I think the difference is that they sit down and they start to think about what are the things that fascinate and motivate them? Okay, if you think about this Bill, wouldn't it be great to be able to wake up every morning and have on your calendar, things that you really, truly enjoy doing that fascinated and motivated you, and allowed you to expand your horizons allowed you to grow in life, as opposed to having your life become smaller and smaller and smaller?

Bill Hughes16:58

I think a lot of people listening to this might be thinking, so I make a list or what do I do? How do I go through the self-discovery to maybe reorient my path?

Ray Loewe17:12

Yeah, you do make a list, among other things. So there are a couple of things and by the way, we have a book that we just completed writing it, it will not be out for a couple of months yet. But the book talks about the luckiest people in the world. And there's a planning process and there that talks about how the luckiest people get lucky. So I think one of the things that you do, first of all, is you sit down and you say what are the things that are working in my life, the things that I enjoy doing that work? And the idea is that you want to keep those going. And then you look at the things in your life that aren't working. And you say how do I stop doing these? How do I not have to deal with each anymore? And there's not a tried and true method of doing this. I just think if you work at it, it happens. Okay? This concept of lists and visions is absolutely critical to and, and probably even more important than that is whatever your list is, and your vision is now you need to constantly expand that and look for how do I keep it going. And you do that by talking to other people.

Bill Hughes18:34

One of the things I've noticed about a lot of folks that we've interviewed over time, is that they all seem to have one attribute that really sticks out in my mind at least anyway and that is they seem to have a gratitude for things or where does that play a part in this?

Ray Loewe18:49

Well, yeah, you have to understand you know, if you're going to do things that make you happy, I think gratitude is a natural part of it. But you have to take the time to make sure that you understand that you're lucky when things work for you and that you should be grateful to other people and you should be grateful for those gifts that you've been given. And the fact that you are just makes you feel happier and happier and happier and more and more grateful and it just grows it snowballs. So how would you build something like that into your process? Well, you tell me, what do you do? What? I'm going to turn the tables on you here. I figured it was only a matter of time. So what do you do? What do you do? Every day that makes you appreciate your day and makes you know when you're making progress in your life and when you're not what do you do?

Bill Hughes19:48

Well, again not to get not to stray too far. Because I think that at some point we will be breaking this into the next section which gets into a lot more depth. I think as far as precisely how to do that. But for the individual, I think that it's really an attitude thing, it's being able to look forward to things getting out of even getting out of bed in the morning, and looking around and realizing that you got a fresh slate, you got a chance to make a difference in something. And being able to, to, I guess, embrace that perspective. So how does Ray get out of bed in the morning? And what do you look at when you first get up?

Ray Loewe20:30

Okay, so you just hit a key point right there. And the key point is, basically, what are you doing to make life better for other people, okay. Because if you're totally selfish about this whole concept of being a luckiest person in the world, you're not going to go anywhere, you have to make a difference. And, and I think that I've seen too many people that I would not call the luckiest people in the world, who generally are content, they're generally happy. They're ambling through life, they're busy. But they're not doing anything that's meaningful. They're not doing anything that's driving them. One. One of the reasons why we're doing this podcast right now is that I get excited every week when I get to talk to a new and different person, and I find out what they're doing. And all of a sudden, I become energized. And I think the people that we interviewed become energized. And we find out that there are a lot of people out there that just aren't sitting on their duff. They are out there, trying to do some things for other people, and they get joy and happiness out of doing that. Just like they do get joy and happiness out of taking a cruise. So So part of this then has something to do with being a little bit more observant in life than just self-focus. You've got to be and you do this pretty well, in the sense that you're you seem to always have your eyes open for interesting people. Yeah, uh you know I've always felt this way I, you know, I've used an expression, a lot of Hey, Bill, you're an interesting person. You know, now in some ways, that's a backhanded compliment, okay. But the difference is I mean it, if I need somebody that interests me, or fascinates me, I want to know more about that person. And I'm going to keep digging into that relationship until such time as it goes the other way. And then you kind of phase-out of the relationship. And the whole key here is to continue to meet people that expand your horizon that make you think about things you want to do and make you excited about life. You know, when we're gonna have to break in this podcast a little bit, because we're getting near the end of our time, but we're gonna continue this next week. And when we continue this, one of the things I want to do is, is to talk about some of the mindsets that the luckiest people will have. Cause they are interesting, and they're unique. And they differentiate what I think the luckiest people are from others that are not. Sounds like a plan. Good so so let's, let's end this podcast right now. We're going to be back next year. Next week. Excuse me, I'm Bill Hughes is going to continue this interview. And we're going to probe into what makes the luckiest people lucky. And how can you I think we're going to expand a little bit and get into how can you join the community of the luckiest people in the world that can help you do this? Sounds good. Okay, so Taylor, let's end this session. And we'll be back next week with another changing rules episode.

Kris Parsons23:51

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life, and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host of Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 12 Oct 2021 20:10:00 +0000
Episode 88: Retiring, but Having a Retirement Plan B, guest, Brian Giersch

Guest Co-host: Cecily Laidman:

Cecily's website:

Podcast guest: Brian Giersch:


Kris Parsons00:04

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:19

Everybody, This is Ray Loewe. And this morning, I'm operating out of my own living unit at the Willow Valley Country Club how's at, and I'm here with Cecily Laidman and Brian Giersch. Now we're going to talk a little bit about something interesting, I have no idea but it's gonna, it's going to involve the luckiest people in the world. And the luckiest people in the world are those people that we've defined as those people who invent their own lives, they go out of their way to create a life based on what they want to do. And then they step into it, and they live it under their own terms. And you're going to see today that we have Brian and Cecily both of whom are the luckiest people in the world because they just bolt through life under their own terms. And don't let too much get in the way. The name of our podcast is changing the rules. And this is one of the things that the luckiest people in the world have to deal with, and have to get control of because everybody in our lives throws rules at us. And if you haven't noticed, we went to school. This, this is going to hit home with Brian later, the school's throw rules at us, our parents threw rules at the church, throws rules at us, our jobs, throw rules at us. And you know, when you're living your life under somebody else's rules, guess what, that's not your own life. So the luckiest people in the world have to figure out how to take those rules and make them work for them. So that they maintain the structure of rules, but they maintain it under their own terms. So Cecily has been our co-host for the month of September, and Cecily thank you for doing all the work for me this month. appreciate it.

Cecily Laidman02:08

Oh, Ray, it was my pleasure. You do all the work.

Ray Loewe02:13

And Cecily I met about 10 years ago, she is the chief cook and bottle washer at spring point choice, which up to this point has been my long term care unit, right and Cecily, I have to tell you that once I made the decision to become part of spring point choice, it gave me the confidence to know that I was protected for the rest of my life now and it allowed me then to go back and make some decisions that I felt I needed to make as I go through life to live my life the way I want to. So I will be forever indebted

Cecily Laidman02:52

Of course not. No, it's a great Yeah, and I mean, I changed the rules by doing this in this in this industry. This is a program that does change the rules instead of a wonderful, beautiful community that both of you live in. Some people would prefer to just stay in their home. So I'm kind of a rule changer in that respect. And I'm also just addressing what a lot more people really would like to do. So I thank you, Ray, for being part of the program for as long as you have been.

Ray Loewe03:27

Well it's it's a wonderful program, and it's been and always will be a significant part of my life. So let's introduce Brian over here. Okay, so Brian, the first thing I have to tell you is that my secretary misspelled your name. She has you in my system as brain. Wow. That's a misnomer. Brain Giersch. So I think that puts this in perspective. Okay.

Brian Giersch03:53

Misspellings since sixth grade. it was very clear from that point forward.

Ray Loewe03:59

So let's go back into time a little bit and talk about your previous life as to where you are to kind of set a perspective because Brian's going to tell us Cecily about his journey from where he was at work. And you know, raising kids and all of those great things to where he is now and where he's going. And, Brian, you were a teacher, educator, school principal,

Brian Giersch04:26

I worked for the school system did all the above and then some. My wife and I both graduated in with degrees in education, elementary and secondary. Both of us taught for a short period of time in real classrooms. And shortly into that career, I moved into school administration, probably for 20 plus years school principal for 14 where I really wanted to be towards Personnel Administration. And I worked in a large County school system with 9000 employees, and oh, wow, then my last seven years were staffing 45 elementary schools. And that's really where I wanted to be in the first place. It just took a long time to get there. Dottie worked work through the classroom, seven years of motherhood, reading teacher, then several supervisory positions that were countywide in the same very large County, in Maryland. And she was finally loaned to the state of Maryland to run a statewide early childhood program. She retired from it. So we were both employees of the same school system, for our careers. But when different paths. And we're both plans to retire around 2003, we left Maryland and began retirement number one in eastern North Carolina, where we lived in a development that was locally referred to as Yankee Stadium. When it was developed, it was marketed to both sides of Long Island Sound. And we were Connecticut people, Rhode Island people, Long Island people, Jersey people, and the southerners of Eastern Carolina were glad to see us impounded because they didn't like to see us around. But we had a wonderful retirement there for 15 years. It was almost a waterfront community with canals and docks and marinas. And that kind of stuff.

Cecily Laidman06:42

So we're in North Carolina where was it?

Brian Giersch06:45

if you specifically was it was New Bern, which is the which was the colonial capital of the capital colony. It's about 35 miles inland from the lower Outer Banks. And this is the confluence of a couple of rivers that go to Pamlico sound and then on.

Cecily Laidman07:04

I know Pamlico sound.

Brian Giersch07:07

wasn't the service. We had been sailing on the Chesapeake Bay for decades, had a big cruising sailboat that we took with us to the Carolinas. But we had to go someplace where we keep on sailing and cruising. Newbern was the place. And during that period of time, my mom and dad who were in Pennsylvania, lived and worked in Pennsylvania, had moved from their home. But 50 years into a continuing care community in Media, PA on the southwest side of Philly. And were there for 32 years. Almost all of that was independent living in their apartment. Wow, Dad lived to 100 and a half. So he was there for a long, long time. And over the period of 30 plus years, that they were in their continuing care place. My brother and I both very, very quickly realized the value to them, to our parents being in a place like that, but also the value to us as their offspring, not having to worry about them, or not necessary not to care for them. But just not to have to worry about their care and independent of each other, we both eventually knew that we would be making the same type of decision. I was fortunate that my brother did all the research and probably close to 10 years ago now. He visited I think 17 continuing care places between PA and Florida. And called me one time down the Carolinas Hey, you got to come up to Pennsylvania to take a look at this place, Willow Valley. So my wife and I drove up here one time, and that one time was the deciding factor. We have been aware of other places have been around and in other places. And this place just seems to be like a right fit for us. So

Ray Loewe09:18

So your brother did all your work for you. And he did right he did. Nice, nice guy.

Brian Giersch09:23

And I'm glad for that. And he actually lives here also he moved in here. He's three years younger than myself. But he moved into a year and a half ahead of me. So he's been here about four and a half years. We're now entering year four Willow Valley communities.

Ray Loewe09:41

Can we go back a little bit and talk about the retirement experience and get some insight from you about why you made the decisions that you made. Were they the right decisions Going back in retrospect, would you change things. What we're trying to do here is give people who are thinking about changing into the next phase of their life, some insight as to how to do this.

Brian Giersch10:12

There I did, there are probably two phases of consideration. One was the actual retirement decision of moving into retirement in the first place. And the second would been going from retirement, age to retirement be where we are right now. It's awkward to to to talk publicly about, about the decision to retire. I was in a position that I loved and the position that I had geared my entire career, out of staffing, the 45 elementary schools, very, very large school system, the work was getting harder and harder, it was getting harder as it is right now across the country to find qualified teachers in the quantity that we needed for this very, very large system. And I was putting out longer and longer hours. Where over the seven years that I had this position. First, it was 8 or 10 hour days, and seven years later, it was 16 and 17 hour days, it's trying to keep those all those positions staffed. My wife was two years behind me in her retirement goal, because she had taken off time with the kids. And our plan always had been that we would start working on the same day, and we would retire on the same day. So in my mind, I still had two more years to go. And what was becoming a very, very demanding position, all-consuming position. And somewhere along the way, my wife said you know, you're gonna kill yourself doing this thing. And this is really worth, the risks that you're taking the pressures you're putting on yourself. And I never thought about that I was an organization guy dedicated to the people and that I served an organization that I'm within last year I worked. And leaving early was never a consideration. But when she started talking about Health and Family Welfare, that kind of stuff. I started to recognize the wisdom that may be getting out after 35 years was better than struggling for two more and leaving on the same day after 37. So I did retire early. And that was that that was a game-changer for us. That was not something we had anticipated. It was a plan we had 37 years in the making. And I basically bailed out two years early, she worked two more, I worked part-time between the househusband, and she just loved every minute of those two years. kind of stuff. But as we were approaching her final two years in my retirement, we had to make some decisions about whether we stay in a community that had been home for 35 years. Or you move on and uh it was almost an easy decision to make. We had we moved into a brand new home and a new development where everybody was the same age, children the same age. And everyone knew all the kids on the street knew the parents on the street. But as the decades passed, and the kids disappeared, like the parents must have been doing. We were doing working harder longer and isolating ourselves more. And the sense of community disappeared, a sense of belonging disappeared, we were just focused on our jobs. So we were looking for something that would give us a restoration of who we were enthusiasm for life and begin to explore and do things differently. And that's where we were we discovered that this little development down in New Bern, North Carolina that featuring water and golf and whole tees expatriates from the Long Island Sound area. And there we had an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and if you're talking about changing rules for us, it was life-changing. To be the organization man for 37 years and have an opportunity to define who he wanted to be how we work with how we wanted to structure our time and opportunities for community leadership. huge opportunities. community involvement social and otherwise, recreational. It was a wonderful experience and everyone around us were having similar experiences having just retired from places up north and for fun in the sun, or out of the water or out in the golf course. But as that, as those years became 13,14, and 15, we started, we were probably the first in our social network, in that community to publicly start talking about what's next? And do we really want to stay in the custom home that we built them, and designed that was just really lovely? And stay there forever. Or find a place where much like my mom and dad experienced where our two kids wouldn't have to worry about us. And it was that factor that caused us to start sort of thinking about what should happen next. And it was the concern for our kids my mom is going back a long, long ways. In her probably 40s and 50s spent 15 to 18 years caring first for her mother than for her mother-in-law. And then for her father in law, and it was just continuous out of the home tracks to their to my grandparent's homes to care for them almost on a daily basis. And she had vowed that her two kids, my brother and myself would never have to have that experience. And it was for that reason that back in the 70s. And very early 80s, she started looking for continuing care places. And they were very, very happy where they went. And my brother and I were happy for them. And pleased that we didn't have to go through the ordeal my mom did. So here we move several decades further down the road. And now we're when my wife and I are having those same conversations, what can we do to look out for our children as we age. And thankfully my brother did research, which was great. We then moved into retirement number two coming here. But that was Ray that was a five-year plan. And knowing what we were going to do having to downsize dramatically, from a very large home to what is this as a large apartment. But it required a lot of dispossessing of things we accumulated over decades and decades selling off my boat of 25 years. So that was a tough one. We made up for that here though, because I bought a smaller racing boat and still race on this Susquehanna river with a bunch of old guys from our community and two nights ago got a first, second, second in three races. Okay. Good for you. redefining continuing when we got here is starting all over again, when we moved to North Carolina was starting all over again, and getting involved with that community and its activities and the social networks. And then here 15 years later, doing the very same thing starting all over again, getting involved with activities, getting involved with social networks, creating activities for things that we couldn't find here that we wanted. My wife, for example, tonight, this afternoon we'll be teaching line dancing to a class of 60 line dancers who are all our similar age and where they put up some energy in two hours of series line dancing. I also started a ski club started out of one and then became a ski club of two and this last winter, we were ski club of three. So play that ski club, either grown exponentially.

Ray Loewe19:19

And you know I think that's one of the really interesting things about you and Dottie is that you want to do what you want to do. I mean you can merge yourself in all the activities that are here and there are tons of that. But that's both good and bad in a retirement community. I think I think the thing to do is to make sure you don't lose your identity and that you do what you want to do. And I know we would find it difficult to navigate in here if we didn't have the two of you as our mentors. And I know it's Dottie's job, not yours, but guess what you're in whether you like it or not.

Brian Giersch19:59

We Ray, we all benefit from the people that surround us. And each time we've made a transitional move, whether it was North Carolina or here, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by people who want to welcome you. Include you in their activities introduce you around, make you feel at home. And I don't know if that's just unusual, unusual characteristics of that North Carolina Community and this one, I hope that's true everywhere you go. But our transitions have been easy ones made easy by that by the people who welcome us and make us feel a part of a community that we now call home.

Ray Loewe20:41

Unfortunately, we're getting near the end of our time, Cecily do you have any questions for Brian or comments?

Cecily Laidman20:47

No, I was gonna say it's really interesting hearing your story, Brian? Because it looks like your parents definitely set the example. Oh, absolutely. where you were going and having worked both in continuing care retirement communities, as well as the program I'm in now that's, I would say when I started talking to people if their parents had been in one, and yours, I mean, it sounds exemplary experience. If they had been there for so long, so that must have helped. The other thing I'm, I'd like hearing is, I'm always concerned. I mean, being in this industry, I've noticed that people who work longer live longer, or at least are challenged, and I see your transitions and being able to pick up roots and change again, that revital, it's like starting over again. And that revitalizes you. And so I admire what you and your wife have done and how you, you know, kept it going.

Brian Giersch21:44

I don't want to go back to the very, very beginning of this conversation, where Ray introduced himself and the three of us as the two of you as the luckiest people in the world. My brother actually refers to me as the luckiest person in the world. So the ship is this, that phrases is to be disputed. And one of the reasons is that when we sold our house in North Carolina, and move out 24 hours after we moved out, the new occupant moved in. And 21 days later, that house was flooded by Hurricane Florence and gutted the interior of the house, and had we stayed an extra 21 days or had I forced to negotiate to into stalemate we would have been in that house 21 days later and I would not be sitting here

Cecily Laidman22:38

Okay, you win today you're the luckiest guy.

Ray Loewe22:43

Well, what you got to do Brian is get the LLC after the luckiest guy in the world but you know, there are a whole lot of the luckiest people in the world. And, and different reasonings. Yeah, for different reasons we all create our own path but the important thing is that we create our own paths. And one of the greatest things is being able to hang out with other lucky people. Because you don't get the downers it's life becomes an upper all the way through and and and that's been my experience here and that's been part of the experience that you've helped me grown into. So again before we have to cut off the switch here Do you have any last comments that you want to make?

Brian Giersch23:26

Yeah. Whoever's out there and you have when you look at your glass, always presume your glass is half full. And never look at it as half empty. When people have asked how is my day going, I'm having the best day ever. And I say that all the time is and it sickens my brother because hates to hear but every day is the best day ever. And if it isn't, then you're doing something wrong you need to fix it and make every day something stimulating for you.

Ray Loewe24:00

That's cool. And so thank you for being our guest today. You are definitely one of the luckiest people in the world. I'm not gonna give you the supreme title though, mine is the luckiest guy in the world LLC you don't have that.

Brian Giersch24:14

I'm just the guy that got that tag from his brother on the last flight out of Australia before they shut down Australia 18 months ago so some luck in there too.

Ray Loewe24:26

Yeah and Cecily thank you for a month of wonderful guests and podcast people and for kind of leading this last four weeks where we talked about how people can make this transition and if you haven't gone back and heard any of the past podcasts, we had Margrit Novack on recently we had a young lady from the ACTS communities, Lori Woodward, it's different than you are and Cecily I had some time during the first week to talk a little bit about this whole concept of planning your future and making sure that the glass is half full always. Alright. So Brian, thanks again for being with us. And if you guys will join us. Next week we're going to go into another phase, we're going to be talking uh Bill Hughes is gonna be our co-host. And he's gonna bring in a whole other interesting cadre of people to talk about talk to so, Taylor, thanks for being in the background there and sign us off.

Kris Parsons25:37

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that to join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 5 Oct 2021 15:00:00 +0000
Episode 87: What's Your Next Phase?, Guest Margit Novack

Guest Co-host: Cecily Laidman:

Cecily's Website:

Podcast Guest: Margit Novack:

Margit's Website:


Kris Parsons00:04

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:23

Good morning, everybody. This is Ray Loewe. And today, I am not in the studio, we have Taylor in the studio, I'm sitting in my own little living unit over here, we have two guests with us, we have Cecily Laidman who is also at home working from home today. And we have Margit Novack, our superstar today, and you're going to love hearing about what she's doing. So in retrospect, let me tell you a little bit about our show, changing the rules because it was put here to kind of introduce some of the luckiest people in the world, to everybody. You know, for some reason, there's a group of people out there that just seem to have it all together, they seem to be able to find their way through adversity, they have goals and objectives or visions of where they want to go. And they find a way to get there under their own terms. And the changing the rules comes in, you know, we're all given rules all over the place. We had rules from school, rules from our parents, rules from the church, rules from our jobs. And you know, after a while, they get in the way and one of the problems with rules is they either tell us that we have to do something, or we can't do something. And the luckiest people in the world design their own lives and live them under their own terms. And you can't do that with somebody else's rules. Now, we all need rules, because we need some structure in our life. But the idea is the luckiest people have found a way somehow to make those rules work for that. And we have two guests today, both of whom have altered the rules to make them work for them. And we're going to start with Cecily. Cecily has been our co-host this month of September. And she has set up some meetings and interviews with some wonderful people. And she has another one today. So Cecily runs, she is the chief honcho, the big Maha of SpringPoint choice. You know, there may be others with higher titles, but she's the one who really runs the show. And springpoint choice is a care at home program that I have to say I've been fortunate enough to be part of for the last 10 years or so. And it's a place that gives us security of knowing where we're going. And Cecily thank you for bringing me to that program and say hi,

Cecily Laidman03:02

Well, hi, Ray, thank you so much. Um, you know, changing the rules or bending the rules has been my mantra, I think most of my life. And running this program called springpoint choice has been a real thrill and something I've always wanted to do. But kind of to segue and to our guests today is interesting because I got into the senior living field about 18 or 19 years ago, and I was working in a wonderful retirement community. And I was doing the marketing and talking to people who want to move in. And of course, the big challenge that a lot of people face when they're moving is what am I going to do with all this stuff? How do I move it? Oh my gosh, I really like to stay at home. Yeah. Well, that's where I first met our guest who's Margit Novak, she had a company called I hope I can say the name of it moving solutions. I don't know if there's any restrictions on saying that. Anyway, um, when I first met Margit, I knew that you know, I was the luckiest person in the world because she had is a dynamo. She is, um, she's got her act together. And she gets other people's acts together by helping them organize and pair down things etc. So I've known her for quite some time. And then, you know, now I'm in the same industry, but doing a little different twist, which is people instead of going into a community, they are able to remain in their home. But the cool part about it as a Margit has continued to be in the senior living industry. And it's even just written a book about, about things that change in your life and how to look forward And not make assumptions about what happens when you're becoming, having those numbers in your age. Grow up and up and up. So, Margit, welcome.

Margit Novack05:14

Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ray Loewe05:19

Okay, Margit, I'm going to lead off with the first question. So you're a Philadelphian? Yes. Born and bred, okay, we share an alma mater, course you're much younger than I am so that you went there later than I did. And now you share time and a senior living place in the Philadelphia area and a second home on the Chesapeake Is that correct? That's correct. And hopefully, you're on the Chesapeake today.

Margit Novack05:51

Actually, it's a little river for the St. Martin's River. I'm not too far from the Atlantic Ocean buffer, west of Ocean City, Maryland, and I am there. And just yesterday, I was kayaking. So I do feel pretty lucky.

Ray Loewe06:11

There are some people that really have their lives together Cecily and then there's me. Okay, so So, Margit, you were known in your past life as the queen of downsizing, I believe.

Margit Novack06:27

Well, that was certainly my self-proclaimed title. But I was widely recognized as an expert in the field of downsizing and moving late-life transitions, yes.

Ray Loewe06:39

Okay. So that was in the past. And now you are doing what?

Margit Novack06:43

I was incredibly fortunate to arrive in my mid-40s. At a career that excited me. And where I learned that I could put my passion and skills in something that I really believed in, and it isn't often that people have an opportunity to find that wonderful meeting, the confluence of what they are good at what they believe in, something they can earn a living in. So I do feel that that made me incredibly lucky. And I did that for 25 years, I had a job, a business I never wanted to retire from. But ultimately, it is it becomes time to leave a business, I achieved every entrepreneur's dream, which is to sell my business and monetize all those years and hours. And that's what enabled us to buy a second home. And but I think it was COVID. That caused me to sit back, it was a time when I had just left my paid title and work. And it was forced, I'm forced, moving back. But it made me think about what's important. And I have been thinking about embracing uncertainty. And that's what I've learned to do in this time, this next phase of my life, I don't know where I'm going completely, I wrote a book. And that was both gratifying to do and I've, I really enjoyed the conversations with people about it. I thought I was a person who would have to go immediately towards something. And many people do that they go right, what even if that's taking care of their grandchildren what or a job that they've been waiting to do, or they even continue working part-time in their prior career. I'm not doing that I'm figuring out how to be the best me in this next phase. And it's even in the uncertainty, I'm finding that there's a lot of joy, and also a lot of mindfulness. Of what I have, and that that mindfulness enriches today. You know, mindfulness was a word I kept hearing about, but I think it took COVID to make me sit back and recognize that I need to be more intentional about my time, about relationships about what's important. So that has been how I'm going forward.

Ray Loewe08:41

That's cool. I love this. You're searching for the best me Cecily's found that already she already knows she's the best me. I am nowhere near figuring out how you even figure out who is the best me. But let's go back to your book a little bit. You took some time to write a book and it's called squint and it's kind of a strange name. Okay. But what's squit all about?

Margit Novack10:07

Squit is about looking at your life and some of your personal narrative, and recognizing that one getting seen that there was a new perspective as you were older, and that causes you to revise some parts of your personal narrative. There are a lot of stories, my stories are part of a lot of larger stories. And what I found is that, as people read those stories, they're able to say, wow, that's something I can really relate to that this really gives me a perspective, change perspective about something in my life. So for example, I had, I wrote about, in one story, I'm visiting some clients, and there's a mother there with her daughter, and the mother. I'm trying to establish rapport. So I asked the mother questions, how long have you lived in your home? And she graciously says, Welcome. I've lived here for 37 years. And then her daughter says, No, Mom, it's 39 years, the mother stops, the story, because she's been corrected, and it really stops your flow. And later, the mom is take, I asked her for a tour of her home, and she's really taking pride in showing me things that are home, and she points to a picture and goes, I'm there with my grandson, Kevin. And she goes, No mom, that's Geoffrey. And again, the mother stops her story. And I'm thinking to myself, why are these details important? Whether she lived in her home for 37, or 39, is not important. She's telling a story. And every time she is corrected by her daughter, it makes her recognize that she's not 100%. If it makes her sad, if it diminishes the joy she was going to take in telling a story, we do take joy in telling stories and retelling stories. And I know that if that daughter thought about it, she would choose to be kind, she wouldn't choose to hurt her mom. And what I loved is this is just one part of a story. But a friend who read someone who read the story, read my book, texted me and said, that is exactly what she's doing with her own mother-in-law. And it was only in reading about someone else's story, that she was able to recognize what she is doing with someone who she loves, and wouldn't choose to hurt. But it's such a natural inclination to correct. So when someone says I saw myself in one of those stories, that's a wonderful thing for a writer.

Cecily Laidman13:11

Margit, did you give that daughter one of your books to read by any chance?

Margit Novack13:17

I, you know, it was years ago, but I hope she reads it. Yes, It would've been correcting the daughter. True.

Cecily Laidman13:26

No, opening her eyes, because I think you make when you're different generations make assumptions about other generations. And, you know, once you change, or transition into the next generation, all of a sudden, your outlook is a little different than the assumption you made when you were younger.

Margit Novack13:46

You know, one of the stories that I really hit me is I heard two women talking and they were I guess, in their 50s. And one said to the other, how are your parents? And she said, Oh, you know, they're deteriorating. And I thought to myself deteriorating? What about? Well, they have some challenges. Mobility is hard, or my mom's been sick, but they're, they're resilient. They're making due they need more help, but and that's what I thought about my elderly pets. Now anyone who's ever had a senior dog or senior cat knows that their last year is often challenging. With my cat, he couldn't groom himself. I had to brush him. He missed the litter box. I we had to actually make a little lower litter box because he couldn't step up into it because of his arthritis. And he couldn't jump on my husband's chair to sit on his lap. So we got him steps so he could remain an independent cat and make it up to the chair all by himself. And I think anyone who has an old pet if you asked how they're doing, they would say terrific. Every day they bring me joy. And every day they have joy, even though they're not who they were, they find ways to take pleasure. And yet, we don't think about older adults who are losing abilities as having that same kind of enjoyment out of life, or the ability to enjoy, all we see is what they've lost. And it's just interesting how generous we are with our pets. And how we think they are having a good life. And how ungenerous we are with older adults, and how we often wonder, but how could they have a good life, if they have certain disabilities or struggles. And it's, it's not correct, because they're, you don't have to be whole, to still be worthwhile or to take pleasure things.

Ray Loewe15:53

You talk a lot or you we had a previous conversation, and you were talking a lot about waiting for perfection makes us smaller. And let's talk about this concept of becoming smaller in life and what do we do about it?

Margit Novack16:10

I think there is a real hesitancy, to look at changes and say, How can I keep my life larger. My husband had hip replacement surgery about four years ago. And about five months prior to his plan surgery, he said, we're not going to as many places we're not doing as much and our lives are getting smaller, let's get a mobility scooter. And I was really surprised when he suggested that. But I immediately got on Facebook marketplace. And by the end of the week, we had a scooter. And we used it and we went and we did things and I see so many people now so hesitant to get mobility aids or aids in their home different modifications that would enable them to experience life easier. They're not willing to see themselves potentially as needing, as needing assistance. And that's so different from a call I received years ago from a man who said, I don't know if you remember me, you moved me about 15 years ago to a community and I did remember him, he was in his mid-80s. He said, Well, I'm going to be 100. And I live in an independent living apartment that is the farthest away possible from the main dining room. And I'm finding that I'm not going to as many events as I used to, and I'm sometimes having my meal delivered to me rather than walk to the dining room, and my life is getting smaller, and I don't want that. So I'm going to move to an apartment in the building A that's closest to the dining room. And I love that a 100-year-old didn't want his life to get smaller and was taking action to create an environment in which he could have a larger life. And that's what I think too many people don't do, their life gets smaller, and they don't take action in ways that would enable it to get larger and that could be getting a scooter, it could be moving to an environment that allowed them to have more mobility or freedom. I really admired this individual and I wish all of us would be thinking about how do I keep my life larger?

Ray Loewe18:53

Is this the subject of your book is this. Are these stories in your book Squint or many of them?

Margit Novack 18:59

Many of them are in my book. Yes. Okay.

Ray Loewe19:02

You know, we're gonna run out of time as we always do, but again, in a previous conversation, we were talking about the concept of buying tickets. And it's so enlightened me we have to talk about buying.

Margit Novack19:16

I love the concept of buying tickets. It comes from an old joke of someone who says, God, why won't you let us win the lottery. I never win the lottery. Why don't you let me win the lottery? And God says, help me out here, buy a ticket. And I think life is like that. I mean, there are a lot of challenges as we get older. But if you buy tickets, there's also some opportunity for new experiences. That doesn't mean life doesn't change. But it puts some onus on us to create an opportunity for new experiences. Um, I'm visiting some friends over Thanksgiving, some family members. And I said, let's get to cooking, let's book a cooking class. And he and my husband said, You're the worst cook in the world, why would you book a cooking class, and I said, I don't care really about the class, I'd like to experience it. But I'll be doing something with people that I care about. That's the that's what I want to do. I want to have new experiences, be with people I care about. buy tickets, which, which means creating opportunity. This past week, I started the mitzvah club of teal Bay, it's a group of five women who are getting together to do good things. Or to have purpose, it's about companionship in purpose, it's less about what we'll do, then about wanting to get together for purpose and create meaning in our lives. And that's buying tickets. Um, so I like the book. I'm still confronting uncertainty, but I'm embracing it, to experience this next phase. With joy with, with curiosity. And feeling that I'm one of the luckiest people in the world.

Ray Loewe21:27

Well, you are one of the luckiest people in the world. And we're going to send you a coffee mug that says your one just because you are but Cecily, to kind of help, wind up what kind of comments Do you have, and you have any further questions of Margit?

Cecily Laidman21:41

Well, I think I always love listening to Margit because she makes you think about things. And she can sometimes bring out the obvious that you haven't seen. And a total inspiration I feel and the fact that she was so successful in her business, and now she's in whatever the next phases, like she said, and you know, writing a book during COVID, you know, kind of do more self-reflection, in a way when you're kind of sequestered in your house, there are a lot of little silver linings to the COVID challenges. And if anybody could, you know, make lemonade out of lemons, that's Margit. And I'm just, I'm very lucky to call her a friend, as well.

Ray Loewe22:36

And your book is called squint, squint, and you can get it on Amazon, available, Amazon, any other place just on the Amazon.

Margit Novack22:47

Now wherever books are sold, wherever books are sold, and

Ray Loewe22:51

what we'll do is we'll make sure that in our podcast notes, we referenced this so that people can find you. Is there a website that you have, where you share any more of these great ideas that you have?

Margit Novack23:04

there is they can go to That's ma r g They can find out more about the book and also some blogs that are interesting, including what to do with those diplomas now that you're no longer working.

Ray Loewe23:26

Okay, I've got to read that one. And yeah, and there's more, we talked about some things in a pre-interview that we're just not going to have time to do. But how to disregard your friend's disapproval, because they don't plan and you do

Margit Novack23:41

None of our friend's plan. And they disapproved of our moving to senior living as well.

Ray Loewe23:48

Yeah. And there's more about the buying tickets. And there's some other great stories in this book. It's really a must-read. And, and I think we all reach this point where we're transitioning from probably a work-life to whatever is next. And who knows whatever is next. But people like Margarit have an idea. They have a sense, they have a direction of what's important to them. And that's what makes her one of the luckiest people in the world. And, Margit, thank you so much for being here.

Margit Novack24:22

And thank you for having me.

Ray Loewe24:24

Thank you so much for introducing me to Margit. She's a total joy and an inspiration and there's incredible wisdom in talking with her so uh, everybody. We'll be back next week with another guest. And Margit. Thanks again for being here. Thank you very much.

Kris Parsons24:43

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 28 Sep 2021 17:00:00 +0000
Episode 86: What's Your Transition to Retirement Plan? Guest, Lori Woodward

Guest Co-host: Cecily Laidmain:

Cecily's website:

Podcast Guest: Lori Woodward:

Lori's website:


Kris Parsons00:01

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

Good. Good morning, everybody. And Taylor, thank you for going a little long on that intro. Okay. It's always nice to have music when you start out. And I am one of the luckiest people in the world. And we've got two more of the luckiest people in the world with us today, we're going to talk to them and find out why they're lucky. And remember, our definition of the luckiest people in the world is they're people who design their own lives and then live them under their own terms. So they tend to be happy people, they tend to be excited. They're not without problems, they deal with many of them, they have to pivot a lot. And therefore they are quite good at dealing with rules. You know, one of the things in life that we have is we're saddled with too many rules. We're given rules by our parents, then the schools come in, the church comes in their business comes in. And the next thing we know we got all these rules, saddling us down. And rules usually tell us things that we must do, or we shouldn't do. And we find that the luckiest people in the world get around those rules pretty well, they find a way to make them work for us. And I'm going to start today with introducing Cecily Laidman. I met Cecily, probably 10-12 years ago, Cecily has been taking care of my long-term health, up to today, even. And she's done a great job, I haven't needed her. Okay, and it's been wonderful. So, so Cecily is at a place called springpoint choice. And she runs a care program for seniors, where she will take people and put them in your house to take care of you if you get sick. And if you need help. And she does a wonderful job. And she is going to be our co-host this month, and we are going to spend some time with other people who do similar things. They're all different. There's different strokes for different folks. And Cecily Say hi.

Cecily Laidman02:25

Well, hi, Ray, thanks for introducing me, I I'm definitely feeling like one of the luckiest people in the world. And, and one of those reasons is that about 21 years ago or so, I was in this great early morning workout program that would you know, we'd get up at six o'clock in the morning rain, snow, shine, and be outdoors and doing boot camp things and all that sort of stuff. And at that time, I was kind of doing some freelance marketing and sales, and public relations. And one of the people that I met at the workout was that made me a lucky person is who we're going to be talking to today, which is Lori Woodward. And Lori Woodward at that time was in the senior living industry. And I had no idea what that was all about. And she asked if I had, you know, help out doing, you know, go to some of the communities and see how the sales were doing and this and that, and then it kind of evolved. And I went to one of the communities and worked as a marketing director. And that was because of Lori Woodward, who is now the vice president of marketing and sales at all of the Acts communities, which is one of the premier organizations on the East Coast that has a number of different continuing care retirement communities. But Laurie can do a little more about that. So welcome, Laurie.

Lori Woodward03:57

Well, good morning. Thank you for the great introduction. Great to be here. So, you know, do you want me to get started? Or?

Ray Loewe04:09

Well, well, let's, let's direct you a little bit more. Okay. So first of all, you are one of the luckiest people in the world. I know that because you got a smile on your face. You're here you're doing exciting things. You're making a difference to people in life, and you've had a path to get here. Yeah. Okay. So, tell us a little bit about your journey. I know you went to Millersville.

Lori Woodward04:33

Okay. My journey starts long before that Okay, it does. Okay. I thought a lot about this because you because of the title of your podcast. And I thought about why am I lucky? You know, I thought about well, I've had some real serious health scares. I feel lucky. Now that's really medicine, that's science that that helped me with that. Why do I personally feel lucky? To start out with I feel very lucky to have I've been born in this country because I think it's the greatest country in the world. And regardless of any issues we have, I could have been born in Sub Saharan Africa where millions of people die from starvation I didn't, I was lucky enough to be born in the US. And I think that is luck. But growing up, I do really feel that your formative years form who you are. And I've been so lucky to have great mentors in my life that I really attribute almost everything in my life to that, you know. So to keep it short and simple. My mom was a great mentor, she taught me how to prioritize happiness. My aunt Carol was a huge mentor in my life, she taught me how to value independence. And my brothers were great mentors to me because they taught me how to punch like a boy. So growing up, I really feel that's what formed, gave me courage and gave me focus and made me feel like I didn't worry too much about whatever I was doing in my life, I just kind of, you know, took the bull by the horns and did it. So. And then throughout my career, I had great mentors in the positions I was in. So you know, that comes later. But really, that's why I feel I'm the luckiest person in the in the world is those main factors.

Ray Loewe06:31

So I love this punch, like a boy thing. Okay. And I love the prioritize happiness. And I love the independence piece because that's what we are all about. Okay. So you started doing a lot of work in a lot of senior marketing organizations, give us a sense of where you came from because I think that certainly tells us where you're going.

Lori Woodward06:54

Sure, sure. So I did go to Millersville. local state school, Pennsylvania, I'm born and raised in Pennsylvania and love, you know, always just love where I am. So I never had a reason to leave. But from there, I got into really corporate communications, and I met my first career mentor, who I really just got connected with through a friendship. And, and she said to me, you know, what I need, I need someone who knows how to write and edit. And, and she hired me like, just knowing my, my qualities, you know, my enthusiasm, my intelligence, and I had no background at all in senior living, marketing, sales, or communications. But she handed me this job, or she said, you're going to have three continuing care retirement communities or life plan communities, I want you to do all the marketing strategy. And I want you to deploy all the strategy as well. So you have to learn advertising, you have to learn graphic design. So I did soup to nuts for three ccrcs That was my first job. I wrote all the newsletters, I took the pictures, I interviewed the residents, I got them printed, I got the mail, I learned a lot from that position, and loved it. And then from there, I just stayed. I just found this you know, a mission of helping seniors find happiness in that, you know, whatever you want to call it, the that that later stage of life, which I don't like to call retirement, I don't like it to call planning, call it planning. I like it to call it it's just another way you're finding happiness in that particular part of your life. Because that's what it's all about, right? That's what we're selling. We're selling stay happy. So I

Ray Loewe08:54

So is that what you guys do you sell independence, happiness, and you teach us how to punch like a boy.

Lori Woodward09:00

Yes, that's exactly it. I love that. That's my new motto. Anyway, I just I stayed and I've worked with a lot of different companies. In the not-for-profit arena, I worked for a for-profit assisted living company, I worked for a couple of consultants where I really got to know Senior Living options all over the country. And, and then I landed at Acts, where I've been for almost 10 years and, and will probably be here until I go on to my next transition not to be called retirement. So So that's, that's my story. And today, I'm working here at this company and I'm at a very strategic level, but I still get to, you know, impact the lives of, of the people who live here, and so it's a Yeah,

Ray Loewe10:02

yeah, that's really cool. And we want to spend some time on the Acts community itself. But before we get there and Cecily get in on this conversation over here, because you're involved with this in a different way, when do people how do people make these decisions to get where you guys are? I mean, there has to be some time and like, where all of a sudden a light bulb goes off, and it says, gee I, I've got to make plans for where I'm going, when, when does that occur? And, and then kind of give us some idea of what some of the tracks are on how people get there. So uh Cecily lead us and Lori

Cecily Laidman10:46

Yeah, I was gonna say that, you know, the when is is a big is a good question. Because some people can just, you know, sit on their duff and not do anything until something major happens in their life. And that's not the right way to do it. When I first got into this industry, I had no idea what this industry was. I mean, I, you know, I didn't have anybody that had gone into a retirement community or anything. So I think that a lot of it has to do with education about what your options are. And you know, when you make that if you, if you're knowledgeable of what the options are, then you'll be able to make a decision rather than just, you know, sitting at home and waiting for something to happen. And I think that, you know, even when I was working in a community, after people had moved in, I would say to the person, and to the couple, they all said, I wish I had done this sooner. So I mean, it's it's definitely your question is excellent Ray because of the timing, you know, when do you make that decision? I think people keep saying, you know, a lot of people say, Well, you know, I'm not at all I don't have to go there, I'm you know, I'm still young, I'm still Well, yeah, you can be young and go into a community. So there, you know, I would you agree with that, Lori?

Lori Woodward12:06

I do in part, I feel that for our for, for a person who is moving, physically moving somewhere. They look, you know, everyone feels like they're a younger age than they actually are. Like, I still think I'm 32. And then I'd say, Well, my son is 32. How can that be, but um, everyone, I feel like, looks at you know, their later years as something to dread, something that's going to be scary, something that's going to be painful. And what Cecily and I do in our business is try to convince them No, it doesn't have to be like, if you choose one of these options, you can actually take the course the other way doesn't have to be this downward shift, it can be like a, you know, an inverted bell curve, you can rise up again. So, you know, when you move, physically move to a, what we all call senior living community, I feel that people think it's going to be like your grandmother's nursing home, you know, and that is why most people say, why didn't I do this years ago? And it's why a lot of people say I'm not ready yet. And we and we say, Ready for what? So, you know, the, the fact that our, you know, care, some form of care is usually included in the decision, whether it be 55 plus that has visiting nurses that they tell you what you can have when you get older, or Cecily's product that's kind of an insurance model that involves protection for future care, or our model that's move into a campus and the care is right there on campus. There's the care aspect. So that immediately makes people think that's why I'm moving there. So that I have a plan for future care. And when they finally move in, they go oh, that's, that's not what this is all about at all, you know, so it's really that psychological barrier of care is included.

Ray Loewe14:31

Let me throw out a couple of scenarios here. I come out of the financial planning business, I've seen what my clients did. Okay, so one of the first things that I find is a client say gee I'm going to retire I'm going to do something and they decide to move with their grandkids are until their grandkids move after they bought their house and they've spent all this money on things. So I have one in particular that that bought a house in Florida to be near their kids and their grandchildren, of course, the kids change jobs are in Rhode Island now, okay. And as not that it's a bad kind of thing, but it's not an ultimate solution. I've known other people who moved to Arizona, and they go into like an over 55 community, it's not care, right? It's, it's about lifestyle. So when do you put all this together, because there's one major thing that I think I want you both to comment on. And that is, when Can't you get into Axes communities anymore, or Cecily when Can't you get into springpoint anymore, because there's that to think about.

Lori Woodward15:43

So, so I'll start like, you know, moving into an Acts campus, a lot of our prospects say, it's the gift I'm giving to fill in the blank, to my children, to my grandchildren, to my neighbors, because I am making decisions for myself today. So no one has to make the decisions for me later. And financially, I move in, my children never have to worry, again. And I think Cecily's product offers the same thing. So I describe our campus setting, as you have to think of it as that feeling you got when you went to college or university, you're with like-minded individuals, you're hanging out with them, you're learning, you're growing, you're staying active, you're feeling better and better every day, because you're socially connected. And if you and you know, and you're, you're improving your yourself, you're learning and growing. So not that you're moving in to prepare for the future. It's really, I mean, there is that aspect of it, but that's how I like to describe, to describe it. But it's, it's hard to convey that to the people who are looking in terms of the when, that's why we say it's better to move in when you're, you know, ready to have fun and ready to, to grow and learn in a convenient way. But also know that you have a plan in place, so no one will ever have to worry about you again, and you've been the decision-maker. So when is that it's not really an age, it's really when you feel you, you want to have that kind of lifestyle. But you also want to guarantee that, you know, you have a plan, when it's too late for Acts is when you already, it's I mean, I guess you could argue at a lot of our campuses is it's never too late because we do take outside, private, to our assisted living and skilled care. But generally, to move into the independent living, it's too late if you already need a high level of care, in turn to experience all the advantages of what we have. And it's also too late if you don't financially qualify. So if you've, you know, disposed of all your assets already, and you don't have funds to, you know, to pay for the to live there.

Cecily Laidman18:36

Our, you know, our program is a little different in that, you know, when you say the when, and when is the time, because we have a pretty strict medical underwriting to get into our program. So you have to be healthy and well. So that is a decision that has to be made sooner than later. Now, given that, I mean, we have people in their 50s that join our program. But in addition, we've had people in their 80s join the program that are still independent, healthy, active, etc. So you have to, you know, with our program, there are a little more caveats in order to be able to qualify,

Ray Loewe19:12

you know, you guys brought up a couple of really interesting things I like this idea of it's the gift it's the gift you give your kids. And I think that people don't think about that as much as they should. But it's really, really true. I have met people who have spent a good part of their life taking care of parents. And although it's a labor of love, although, you know, in a sense, they feel like they're doing something good. They get to the point where they actually start to resent their parents after a while because they're so burdened by taking care of people and they're not qualified to do that. You guys bring in that qualification you, you bring in this stuff and it's the gift of things and i think uh, people need to remember, you can't just pick this place when it's too late. Right? So let's talk about this medical underwriting a little bit. And I don't want to get too in detail but one of the big things, I think today is this whole concept of dementia Alzheimer's, you know when you're at that point where you don't have your memory anymore, and this affects two people often. So you know, you got a couple and one's healthy, and the other one is not and, and now you're restricted from doing what you want to do, which is the gift to your children, etc, etc.

Cecily Laidman20:42

Well, they're just a little tag on that gift to your children. quick story. In my program, I was there was a couple that signed up down in Delaware, and the woman after she signed the contracts and gave us a check started crying, and I'm like, oh my god, was this buyer's remorse, you know, and I was all worried about it. And she said, No, she said, I wish this had been around when my mother was around because I ended up taking care of her. And it changed our relationship. We were no longer a mother and daughter, and I wish if somebody else and I could have kept that relationship, so, it's, you know, very significant. And the same thing happens in a community. I was in one of the communities I used to work in the About a month ago, and I saw this woman who is now in a wheelchair, she was talking to a younger woman who was obviously her daughter, and she goes, she goes Tesla, Oh, it's so good to see that. And she looks at her daughter, this is the one that saved me. And you because I came here. I remember, you know, we she came in on a Thanksgiving day to do a tour and I didn't want to do it. You guys wanted me to do what she said Cecily was the best decision I ever made. So, you know, that was the gift that she gave her kids and she was you know, exemplifying that. And

Ray Loewe21:57

You know, as usual, time flies when you're having fun. We have some time left. But let's take a little time and give Lori a chance to talk a little bit about her specific community. And the things that you do for people. What's different about them? What's the same about them? It's your commercial plug, go for it.

Lori Woodward22:17

Okay. All right. So Axe, the official company name is Acts retirement life communities been around for almost 50 years. Next year is our 50 year anniversary. And we have what are called continuing care retirement communities, sometimes called life plan communities. 26 of them from Pennsylvania down to Florida, all on the eastern seaboard. And we're founded in Pennsylvania right outside Philadelphia. So we have eight of them. Eight of them are right around here where our corporate office is here in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Anyway, our continuing care retirement communities. I explain them a couple different ways. One is you the best way to benefit from the this type of living is to move in when you're still independent, and most people move in we are 55 Plus, with one caveat that I'll get to in a minute. So most people move in when they're in their 70s late 70s. Move into independent living, mostly apartments, but on some campuses, we do have freestanding houses, villas, townhomes, etc. But there's a central clubhouse with a whole wide variety of life-enrichingactivities, everything from fitness centers, aquatic centers, pickleball courts, libraries, performing arts centers, that's all centrally located, kind of similar to what a lot of 55 plus communities offer that central clubhouse. But then if, if as a resident you ever need care of any type, whether it be rehabilitative care, a nurse practitioner oversight, or long-term assisted living or skilled nursing care, it's right on the same campus. So it's one-stop shopping, it's one decision move in. And it's one resident contract that gives the resident protections and explains what Axe provides to the resident. So people move on when they're independent, and typically live there, the rest of their lives and get all the care they need. But in the meantime, they have this university-like experience where they're, they're enjoying like-minded neighbors and participating in all kinds of programs that are available right on the campus. So it's very social enriching, and I like to say, life improvement experience that you get. Because if the fitness center is right there down the hall, you're going to go use it every day. If you're that way, if you're, you want to, you know, and you're going to get encouragement from your peers, which is different than staying in your house and, and having more alone time as you get older, honestly, the other thing that's a benefit is, when you move into a campus-like that your time with your family when they visit is time with your family. Yeah, you don't, you're not asking your son to mow your lawn and then having five minutes before he leaves to catch up with him. So that's another advantage in terms of financially. Axe offers primarily what we call life care contract type A Life Care. That's what it's called in the industry. And what that means is, when a resident moves in, they pay an entrance fee that's based on whatever apartment or house they move into. And they begin paying a monthly fee. And the monthly fee covers everything from restaurants, fitness center use, housekeeping, indoor and outdoor maintenance, and rent. So it's a very comprehensive monthly fee. And what life care means is, as a person may need permanent health care, later, their monthly fee stays the same wherever they live. So you're basically prepaying for potential future health care, in order to get a very stable healthcare rate at a future time. That's in today's dollars, not tomorrow's dollars. So that's a real financial advantage. And it offers a real good financial plan. It also, it also includes tax advantages, because the entrance fee and the monthly fee, because it includes a partial prepayment for future healthcare can be a tax deduction if the prospect is able to itemize in health care, or medical. So that's kind of my five-minute commercial about the two primary aspects of what we offer, it acts

Ray Loewe27:26

It's a great five-minute commercial. And thank you for that. And we're going, to sum up, a little bit and we're going to give everybody a chance to get their last-minute cover comments in. But I think what I got out of this is there comes a time in your life when you start to think about this. And there's a lot to think about, you know, are you going to? Are you going to go follow your kids and your grandchildren? And what's going to happen when they move? You know, but at some point in time, you have to choose where you're going to be because that's the gift to your kids. Right? Yeah, all right. Whether it's staying in your home, whether it's going to an Acts community, whether it's going somewhere else, it's part of the process? And when do people need to start thinking about this? Because we have the medical underwriting and the financial underwriting piece to think about? So if you're gonna advise somebody, you know, here I am, I'm 60 years old, let's say, and I'm thinking about retiring. You know, when do I need to start thinking about when do I need to start making provisions. So let's start with Lori on this.

Lori Woodward28:35

People should decide whether they removed want to move into a continuing care retirement community when they want social connection, and a vibrant environment that helps them age better, or at a point in time when they're starting to feel they want to know, there's a plan, you know, a lot of people start having little health issues, or they're at home alone, a spouse has died, that sort of thing. Move-in, move in, then, or think about moving in then is my advice.

Ray Loewe29:13

Well, thanks so much, Lori Woodward, and thanks to Cecily, and thanks for giving our listeners some clues as to what they need to think about. And we're going to be back next week with Cecily as our co-host and another guest. Okay, and Lori, you definitely are one of the luckiest people in the world and continue to be that way. And thank you. Taylor, we're at our end, thank you for Sign us off.

Kris Parsons29:39

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host of Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 21 Sep 2021 15:00:00 +0000
Episode 85: Planning for Care in the Long Term, Guest Cecily Laidman

Guest Co-host and Podcast Guest: Cecily Laidman:



[00:00:00] Kris Parsons: Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it, too. Join us with your lively host Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

[00:00:17] Ray Loewe: Changing the rules. Uh, the show that is about the fact that we have too many darn rules in our life, and we need to sift and sort through them and pick out the ones that are really meaningful to us because that's the only way we are ever going to live our own lives. You know, you can't live your own life if you're living by other people's rules and, uh, This show is particularly geared for the luckiest people in the world.

[00:00:44] Ray Loewe: We have, uh, one of them with us today. Her name is Cecily Laidman. We're going to introduce her in a minute, but the luckiest people in the world, are those people at design their own lives, and then they live them under their own terms. And as a rule. They're happy. They're content they're moving forward. They're occupied, they're engaged, et cetera.

[00:01:05] Ray Loewe: So Cecily Laidman who is in charge of actually she runs everything at Spring Point Choice. She can, she can define this later, but spring point choice Cecily is what?

[00:01:19] Cecily Laidman: Spring Point Choice is a program for people who want to remain in their home and age in place, which is about 90% of the population instead of moving into a retirement community or a life plan community.

[00:01:35] Cecily Laidman: And, uh, it replicates some of the services that you can get in a retirement community, but you're getting all of that in your home. So it's people want to stay in there.

[00:01:46] Ray Loewe: Good. So we'll get more of that commercial in as we go, well, let's talk, let's talk about you for a minute. Okay. So, uh, you know, I know you were trained as an opera singer.

[00:01:57] Ray Loewe: You are trained as a jazz vocalist. Uh, you're a very intriguing, exciting person. That's why you're one of the luckiest people in the world. Tell us a little bit about your background.

[00:02:08] Cecily Laidman: Well, I'm not only the luckiest person in the world. I also, um, you know, changing the rules. Um, I break the rules a lot and I think I've broken the mold in my, when I look back at some of the things that I have done, um, my life has been more like a kaleidoscope of a variety of things.

[00:02:27] Cecily Laidman: I never wanted to get the, what used to be the gold watch after being with a company for 50 years. So I did, as Ray mentioned, I, um, majored in voice in, in college and, and then knew I didn't really want to be an opera singer because I couldn't keep a straight face that long. And so I had sung professionally and focusing groups and jazz groups, uh, et cetera, and doing the national Anthem at places.

[00:02:55] Cecily Laidman: But, um, I had to get a day job to, to keep the money going. So I did a lot of different things. I was a special education teacher. I, I worked, I mean, I actually, one of the, one of the fun jobs I had was and lucky jobs was I was working in a prison. Worked in a prison for four years, doing art, music, dance theater, um, then I had a cup, a stint at the barcode company.

[00:03:21] Cecily Laidman: I worked for an architectural firm. So I didn't end this, you know, everybody, when people say, well, what do you do for a living? I said, well, what time is it? Because it would change all the time. And then. About almost 18, almost 20 years ago. Uh, I met a friend of mine and they talked about this thing called the senior living industry.

[00:03:42] Cecily Laidman: I have no idea what they were talking about. And so I kind of segwayed into this field, um, because it seemed kind of intriguing and it was something that I felt I could make a difference in the world and I can also do things that were good for other people and not just, you know, just the nine to five kind of job.

[00:04:03] Cecily Laidman: I mean, I, when I worked in a senior living community, um, how many people get to. Um, leave, uh, that I have a bunch of grandmothers that I was working with at that time. That would think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, that's a pretty nice job that people think you're terrific and, you know, so that was a nice environment.

[00:04:26] Cecily Laidman: So I kind of segwayed from that and, and just feel I'm very lucky because getting more involved in the senior living industry, I really stood back to look at what was needed and was very fortunate. A number of years to go, uh, to be asked to be part of, um, what was at that point called a program called Cadbury at home, but it's now called spring point choice.

[00:04:50] Cecily Laidman: And this was designed for people, as I say, at the beginning, people who really want to stay in their own home. And, um, so I, you know, my background though, I've still been able to, um, you know, help people out with art. And I, I sing once in a while for, um, communities and my members. So I've been very lucky to do a lot of different things, but still maintain, um, being in this industry for quite some time.

[00:05:20] Ray Loewe: So this, by the way, is very typical of people who are the luckiest people in the world sometimes takes them a while to figure out where they really want to go, but they're not afraid to try a whole lot of things. They're not afraid to experiment. And then when they find their niche. It just kind of takes off and that's when they just add so much value to other people.

[00:05:46] Ray Loewe: So let's talk a little bit about this concept of where are you going to go when you reach a certain stage in life? I guess we can call it like the second stage in your life. Uh, and that occurs at different ages for different people. Uh, but for most, or from many people that occurs when they retire and they are no longer in a working in their day job and now they have to figure out okay, where they want to be.

[00:06:17] Ray Loewe: And one of the things I think that we have to understand today is that there are lots of people that live to be a hundred-plus years. So it's not just about where are you going in the short run? Like our parents used to worry about it's, we may have to worry about this for 35 years or 40 years.

[00:06:35] Cecily Laidman: Couldn't agree with you more Ray.

[00:06:37] Cecily Laidman: Um, and I, I think the, um, so many people that I know, uh, keep talking about, oh, I'm, uh, I can't wait to retire. I can't wait to retire. And then they retire and they're like, what do I do now? And, and that's kind of scary. And I think that one of the things that I've learned in this industry and the reason I'm still working is the fact that every person I have found or every resident of a community where I work or any member that I have, um, been dealing with in this in spring point choice, the people that have worked the longest are the youngest.

[00:07:16] Cecily Laidman: And are the most active and are the, have the sharpest acuity. And so I figure I'm going to be working till I'm about 105, and then I'll retire probably maybe something along those lines. So yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[00:07:36] Ray Loewe: So the whole concept here is how do you live life to the fullest? And we don't know how long that's going to be.

[00:07:42] Ray Loewe: Uh, but it could be a long time. And, you know, do we really want to be sitting around doing nothing? Or do we want to have actively engaged lives?

[00:07:53] Cecily Laidman: Oh, go ahead. No, go ahead. You have to have the activity, but I also um, you also have to have like, okay, the what-ifs, if there's that little, you know, the little person on your shoulder saying, you know, your, your grandmother had a stroke or something and, you know, look what happened there.

[00:08:16] Cecily Laidman: And so you have to, you have to plan and you have to plan sooner than maybe you think you have to plan people say for my program, when should I sign up for spring point choice, uh, the day before you need help. Um, and so how do you know when you're going to need assistance? Because you, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.

[00:08:37] Cecily Laidman: I've seen too many cases of people that make this assumption, um, which I think I'm one of them I'm going to be healthy forever. I mean, I'm just, everything's going to be totally fine and I don't need anything. Well, no, you have to get, you have to plan for those things. And whether it be planning to go into a retirement community, planning to go into an over 55, or planning to join spring point choice and age in your home.

[00:09:05] Cecily Laidman: Um, but knowing that you have something taking the care of, so it's, um, you know, live your life, but, um, you know, think about. Yeah, I think when we do our seminars about our program and we give some of the financial investment, um, or the financial cost of what long-term care is all about, um, people are, are just not aware of how incredibly expensive, um, and it's, and it's going up every day.

[00:09:34] Cecily Laidman: Um, and this is not stuff that's going to be covered by your insurance or by your Medicare. Um, This is, this is stuff that you're going to out of your own pocket.

[00:09:45] Ray Loewe: So, so let's give a couple of rough costs here. So let's suppose that I'm a healthy individual. I'm living my life. Now. I could be living in my own home.

[00:09:54] Ray Loewe: I could be in Florida. I could be with my kids. That could be anywhere. Okay. But at some point in time, if I need help, if I can't take care of myself,

[00:10:04] Ray Loewe: What's it going to cost me to get that help? How much a day, how much a month,

[00:10:09] Cecily Laidman: right? Well, that's a good question. And, um, it depends on what time of day it is today because the given what we have experienced almost these past, you know, 18 months, almost going on two years with the pandemic, the cost of care has risen markedly. I would say two years ago, you could probably have a home health aid.

[00:10:33] Cecily Laidman: And we were only paying me. 19 or $20 a, an hour, it's now possibly 30 to $35 an hour for that same person to come into your home. Um, and there are, um, the costs are rising more because there's going to be minimums. Um, before, you know, I may have somebody that only needed a couple hours, uh, you know, once a week that ain't happening anymore.

[00:10:58] Cecily Laidman: I mean, so things, and that's why the planning part is so important because of, you never know what's going to happen, whether it be your own health or whether it be what's been happening for instance, with the pandemic, um, we didn't expect this to happen. I didn't expect in my budget one that it was going to the pandemic was coming and then all of the cost of the services.

[00:11:20] Cecily Laidman: So the services right now, if you have a there's their companion care and a home health aid that can range anywhere from 25 to $35 an hour for them to come in to help you with your activities of daily living. A live-in, in the old days, which the old days were only two or three years ago. I could get a live-in for maybe $190 a day.

[00:11:43] Cecily Laidman: Right now, livings are anywhere from 300 to $350. So all of those prices are going up markedly. Then when you get into the levels of care that are also included in our program, going into an actual community, into an assisted living. Or into skilled nursing. That's where your eyes, you know, will come right out of their sockets.

[00:12:08] Cecily Laidman: Skilled nursing is running anywhere from 400 to $500 a day, 400 to $500 a day. Think about that. And no Medicare doesn't cover that. They cover, you know, if you're having short-term rehab, they'll cover up to, you know, an X amount of days. But otherwise after that, man, you're on.

[00:12:32] Ray Loewe: Okay, so let's change the tenor of this.

[00:12:34] Ray Loewe: That's all negative stuff. Right? However, however, you know, if we're going to live to be a hundred, if we're going to, and we don't know if we're going to live to ninety, a hundred, whatever it is, there's a good chance that at some point in time, we're going to need some of that care. Right. So hopefully not for a long, long time.

[00:12:53] Ray Loewe: So let's go back and let's talk about our person who is 65 years old. They're thinking about their life. They're hoping they're going to live to be a hundred, you know, but we've got to take care of this thing. And I have to say to everybody that I'm a proponent of what you do because I'm a member of Spring point choice, right?

[00:13:14] Ray Loewe: For now, for now. So so let me explain my life a little bit because it lays out perfectly what you do and why you're so important, I think. Okay. And butt in whenever you want. So Sandy and I, uh, decided, uh, uh, actually not to retire. Uh, we both work well into our seventies, but one of the things that I realized as a financial advisor that I might need this program at some time, I might need somebody to take care of me.

[00:13:46] Ray Loewe: I might eventually need full-time nursing care. So I didn't yet want to commit to one of these life care communities because I felt it was too young. I want to stay in my home and wherever that might be. And I wanted to live my life under my own terms, the way I wanted them. But I had to figure out how to get the peace of mind in doing this.

[00:14:11] Ray Loewe: Right. So, so what's happening is I joined your program and I'll tell ya. I, I felt immediately. Better. And the reason I felt immediately better is because all of a sudden, I didn't have to worry about this. I knew that no matter what happened, I took care of things. So now dump that whole thing.

[00:14:36] Ray Loewe: I'm thinking about living life. I'm thinking about what I want to do. I met a guy at a swim meet not too long ago. I swim competitively make a long story he had a whole bunch of medals. He went 103 years old. And he's out winning metals and celebrating with his friend, he's not sitting around in a nursing home, but somewhere to be able to do these things, you have to have the freedom to know that everything is in place and Cecily thank you for doing what you did because it gave me those options.

[00:15:12] Cecily Laidman: So nice to hear. It's so nice to hear that Ray because we've heard that from a number of people. Um, I, you know, I, every time we sign someone up, you know, after they've gone through and they've kind of decided whether or not this is the right thing for them, they have this another woman, um, had stood up and she goes, oh man.

[00:15:33] Cecily Laidman: And it's just like, what you just said. Right. It's kind of funny she says, I feel so relieved because now I don't have to worry and I can tell my kids, you don't have to worry. You're not going to have to be the one that's going to change my diaper. And, um, you know, something happens to me. It's, you know, you're in California, I'm in Delaware, and I, I have my care coordinator.

[00:15:53] Cecily Laidman: They're going to be able to take care of me. So it's just a relief all around. That you know, you have an actual advocate, um, helping you out, you know, our care navigators are, you know, unbelievable. So it's, it's um, it is a relief. Just like what you said is just like a peace of mind.

[00:16:12] Ray Loewe: Now the most important thing to me was options.

[00:16:15] Ray Loewe: So again, let me tell you a little bit more of my story here. So Sandy and I moved into an over 55 community lovely house, lovely neighborhood. We thought that's where we were going to be forever. And you are going to come in and take care of me. Right? Okay. However, Like everything else, things change. And we made a decision at some point in time that, uh, we wanted a more active social engagement.

[00:16:44] Ray Loewe: So we started looking around at these life care communities, uh, that, uh, might take over my long-term care at some point in time. But the reason I had the options to think about this is because I had you in place. I had you in place. So whether I decide to stay in my home forever, or whether I decide to go somewhere else, you have to have that.

[00:17:11] Ray Loewe: I'm going to call it an insurance piece because that's the way I think about it. But it's not in your case. It's not underwritten by an insurance company it's written by somebody else. So, so that brings up a really interesting point. So what's the difference between what you do and what an insurance company will sell you in a policy?

[00:17:31] Cecily Laidman: Um, that's a really good question. Cause I kind of kiddingly refer to our program like long-term care insurance on steroids. Um, because interestingly I would say 35% of our membership also has long-term care insurance, but some of their cost is defrayed by the fact that they have long-term care insurance and thereby, lessening our exposure and, um, our, our outlay.

[00:17:59] Cecily Laidman: So we're different in that. Um, there is an actual individual that is your care navigator and, and in all honesty, I would say my entire team of care navigators. Are watching out for each of our members, but you have a, uh, a touchpoint with an individual who gets to know you when you have long-term care insurance, there's no individual that comes to your house and gets to know you and finds out the name of your dog and finds out that you're a vegetarian and finds out that you got a pool in the backyard and yada, yada, yada, you are allergic to cats.

[00:18:36] Cecily Laidman: This is a person that really gets to know you finds out, you know, who, who do we call if something happens, you know, all of that sort of stuff. And that individual is probably the cornerstone of this whole program and how it completely is different from just, a long-term care insurance product. Um, you know, the insurance company will email you a list of, um, agencies, if you needed help, that you can contact when you need help in your home.

[00:19:02] Cecily Laidman: Your care navigator is going to find that right person that's going to fit in with all of those things that that person has learned about you. In addition, ours is lifetime. There's not any long-term care insurance company that is underwriting, um, a lifetime coverage. Nobody's doing that anymore. As a matter of fact, there's only one or two companies that are actually writing long-term care insurance.

[00:19:25] Cecily Laidman: Anymore because the, you know, years ago they kind of messed up with their actuaries and their assessments on their projections. I think they messed up. They figured there'd be more attrition, but everybody kept it going. So it's lifetime. And it also just, it, it goes, it there's no inflation other than the, um, cost of living increase in your monthly fee.

[00:19:49] Cecily Laidman: Um, you know, you could, you could be sitting in a skilled nursing. And paying five or $600 a month. And the guy next to you is paying 14 or $15,000 a month.

[00:20:02] Ray Loewe: Okay. And as usual, unfortunately, our, our time is coming to an end, but let's position this a little bit because, uh, Cecily's been a wonderful person here and she has agreed to be my co-host for the next month of September.

[00:20:18] Ray Loewe: And so we're going to be bringing you for the next four weeks, different people in different aspects of this whole long-term care. World, many of who actually, all of them are your competitors right. But they're not,

[00:20:34] Cecily Laidman: they're all different choices.

[00:20:35] Ray Loewe: Yeah. There are different choices. And the purpose of this is to be able to layout to our listeners.

[00:20:42] Ray Loewe: What are some of the choices that you want to think about and what you want to make of them? Uh, my personal feeling is that it is early as possible and the game and this is usually limited by age. Uh, nobody writes these things before 55 or 60 years old, but at some point around there, you, you have to secure your future financially, whether it's an insurance policy, whether it's making a commitment to one of these organizations that we're going to highlight, whether it's going to Cecily's company and purchasing a care contract of some kind, because unfortunately, as we get older, our health diminishes and later on, we may not be able to finance this.

[00:21:28] Cecily Laidman: To make those decisions.

[00:21:32] Ray Loewe: And if you can't, then you're not one of the luckiest people in the world anymore, because you're not designing your own life. You're not designing your own choices. You're going where you can. Yep. Okay. So it's really, really important and Cecily,I appreciate the fact that you're here.

[00:21:51] Ray Loewe: We're going to be talking to some people over the next few weeks from some of the big long-term care providers, the continuing care places. And the goal here is to get people, to make the decisions that they need to have so that you can live your life under your own terms.

[00:22:14] Cecily Laidman: Absolutely. Yep. Get your, and get as much information as possible.

[00:22:19] Cecily Laidman: So you make that right decision. Okay.

[00:22:21] Ray Loewe: So we got to two minutes Cecily, put in your closing remarks, and then we'll see you next week for more.

[00:22:28] Cecily Laidman: Oh, all I was, all I would say is, um, it's never too early to make a long-term care decision. Um, I think that I really appreciate how Ray has been providing this information, the informational sessions that we're going to be doing.

[00:22:47] Cecily Laidman: Um, because a lot of people just don't think about it. And they said, oh, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, well, tomorrow comes really fast as we all know. And so it's, it's really to find out what your lifestyle, what kind of lifestyle you want, what kind of security you want or do you want to be nervous about, you know, the what-ifs, you know, what if tomorrow something terrible happens?

[00:23:11] Cecily Laidman: Um, I think we've all had some, either experienced ourselves or with other people, major life changes that have diverted you into another direction. Um, so given all this information that you're going to be getting on these podcasts, It will give you that opportunity to make what the right decision is. So you're not thrown off the railroad tracks,

[00:23:34] Ray Loewe: right?

[00:23:34] Ray Loewe: So, uh, Cecily Laidman from Spring Point Choice. Thanks for being with us today. Uh, you certainly are one of the luckiest people in the world. I will go back to singing once we get into this,

[00:23:46] Cecily Laidman: Ok, I'll sing on the next one

[00:23:48] Cecily Laidman: how's that?

[00:23:49] Ray Loewe: Taylor why don't you sign us off and we'll have a great guest for everybody next week.

[00:23:57] Kris Parsons: Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that, too. Join us with your lively house to Ray Lowe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Tue, 14 Sep 2021 16:29:47 +0000
Episode 84: Creating Adventures thru Cardinal Directions, Guest, Carol Patton

Guest Co-host: Kris Parsons:

Kris' Website:

Secondary Guest Co-host: Bill Hughes:

Podcast Guest:

Carol Patton's Website:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

And good morning everybody and welcome to our podcast studio here in scenic Woodbury, New Jersey, and I just did some, something I shouldn't have done. I popped a "p" when I talked into the microphone. Move back from the microphone, move back. Yeah. Okay, so we're here with our engineer Taylor, we have a great guest today. And we have kind of like, we have an official co-host and kind of a secondary co-host today. Because Bill Hughes joined us in the studio today. And so our guest Carol Patton is going to get it from three people. Carol, just Good morning and you're not on yet. But just say good morning to everybody. Good morning. Thanks for having me. Okay, so we know because we convene every week that the luckiest people in the world are those people who reinvent their own lives, they personally decide what they want to do. And once they've structured their own lives, they live them under their own terms. Now, structuring your own life isn't an easy thing to do. You know, we all kind of have goals or ideas of what we want. But then this thing called life gets in the way, and it just throws bombs at us sometimes. And what we find, though, is that there is a group of people, the luckiest group of the luckiest people in the world, who just find a way to handle it. And they don't let things derail them for very long. And we have one today that we're going to talk to, that's Carol Patton. And Kris on say, Hello. You can say that you're with Parsons, PR again, and then you do branding and all of those things, and then introduce Carol for us.

Kris Parsons01:58

I will I will. And I'm Kris Parsons, Parsons, PR Yes. And I've been hosting all month with Ray, this is my last Tuesday. I'm very excited. And thank you, Carol is coming to us all the way from Las Vegas. She's, we didn't have her come earlier. So she gets a little bit more sleep. But she is here with us from Las Vegas, Nevada, we're happy to have her. And she was 25 years as a journalist. And then, like all the luckiest people in the world, she decided to pivot. And she is now creating a free online children's series called The Adventures of Mo, which is dedicated to her late puppy dog Mo. And it's very exciting. It's not only an adventure book for kids, but it's also teaching a really valuable skill to children, which is geography. And I think a lot of them need it. So I don't want to talk anymore about it. I'd like Carol to kind of tell us a little bit about her ebook and how you transitioned from 25 years as a major national journalist to something that's really completely different Carol.

Ray Loewe03:03

Let me help structure that a little bit, Carol. So we know that you are a successful journalist for years. And we know that you wrote a lot of stuff. And who did you used to write for when you wrote and what did you used to write about?

Carol Patton03:18

I used to write for anybody pretty much that would give me a paycheck. Or anybody from AARP, their website, I used to do business articles for them to the American Heart Association to business or trade publications. I wrote about I'm still writing about doctors who have unusual hobbies for magazines rheumatologists, human resource executive, you know, I probably have written for maybe 50 to 100 different types of organizations or publications.

Ray Loewe03:50

Okay now, how did we get from there to writing about the adventures of Moe?

Carol Patton03:57

Well, many years ago, you know, I could see the handwriting on the wall that you know, I was going to be retiring and what did I want to do for the rest of my life retirement to me, never, ever meant, okay, go out to breakfast, and then talk, go shopping and then talk about where you want to go for dinner. That's not how I live my life. So I said, How could I possibly spend the next 20 or 30 years after I retire? And I got this idea in my head, about cardinal directions north, south, east, west, teaching people cardinal directions, because before GPS became available on cell phones and everywhere else in cars, I got I grew so tired of asking people where they were and they had no clue. At the same time, there were some life events that happened. You know, family events, nature takes its course. People get sick, people pass away, my dog passed away, and so I decided to join the passing of my dog with this book, and use my writing skills as a donations vehicle for children's um literacy programs and also animal charities. So that's how that was born.

Ray Loewe05:06

Wonderful. So let's talk a little bit about Moe and his travels. So what? Where's Moe going? Where did he come from? What's happening?

Carol Patton05:17

Okay, Mo that the storyline is this Mo. I can't show you where he's at, because kids in this in every chapter, guess what chapter Mo is in. And there's lots of clues in every chapter. So how it starts is Moe finds a key attached to a key chain. And the key chain says Florida, he never heard of Florida doesn't know what Florida is where Florida is. So long story short, he decides along with the other animals that he lives with that this key must be valuable. So he travels along with a bird who's a friend on top of the delivery truck, unbeknown to the delivery driver, to every single state in the country, searching for Florida. So every single chapter in this book or series focuses on a different state, and kids learn geography. In some states, it could be history, cardinal directions, there's also some lessons about friendship and diversity. So it's all wrapped up. And each chapter is very unique, very different. There is no duplication.

Kris Parsons06:25

I love it. I love it.

Ray Loewe06:27

Okay, so, you know, I know that other people have read this book, and you had somebody who said, I read the first 10 chapters in a row and would have read more. But

Carol Patton06:39

yes, it was I was trying to find somebody to help me market this because marketing is not my forte. So I interviewed a fantastic marketer, her name is Suzanne. And I said you got to read the first couple of chapters because if you're going to market this, you actually have to read the whole book. But just read the first couple of chapters and let me know if you're interested. So about a week later, we connected? And I said, Did you read the first chapter, the first two or three chapters, and she said, Carol, I read the first 10 chapters in a row, you know, it was great, but I had to stop because I had to go to the bathroom. That's the best review, I think I'll ever get no matter how much money I pay. So she is now the marketing director of this project, and she's phenomenal. She works at a high school with a special I believe, special ed kids. And her ideas are phenomenal. And she loves the series. And she's the one who we talk about expanding it beyond second and third graders. So she's you know, nobody does anything in the dark. Nobody does anything in a silo. When you have a project like this, it's important to have people that you trust, respect, are skilled around you. And I have, you know, you want me to continue Ray. Okay, I had to get an illustrator. But when you're starting a project like this, everybody's broke. Nobody has any money. So I called a community college to see if there was a student that would be willing to work for pay, but not you know, $100 an hour kind of thing. So the teacher said, I know someone who's Great. Well, what I didn't realize was, the teacher was sort of an adjunct professor at that college. And she was really a high school teacher. She referred me to a 16-year-old named Ira. And I had to decide, talk about breaking the rules do I partner with a 16-year-old for this project, this project could take, you know, many years. Anyway, Ira did the majority of the chapters, there are two drawings, line drawings for kids to color per chapter. His work ethic is better than most adults I know. He never missed a deadline. He was phenomenal. He is now an engineering student. I believe he was a sophomore in college. And then the next person I found was off. I don't know if you have the next-door app. But it's a neighborhood app. Yeah, it's a neighborhood app. And this guy, I said, I need somebody to do IT. I need a technical person because I'm not. Same thing his name is Saad phenomenal. I remember once I asked him to do a favor for me, he says well, I'm taking a test right now. And then five minutes later, he responded. He says, Okay, I just did it. I took a break from one of the questions. I mean, it's amazing. I feel so lucky to have these people in my life and associated with this project.

Ray Loewe09:31

Well, I think you make the luck, right, everybody? Yeah. I mean, there's no question about that. And I think it shows out of your passion for the project. And the fact that it's meaningful to you and therefore people want to join. So I kind of like to go back and think about your history here. Let's think for a minute about how other people who hear your story might be motivated to take a project, that's been sitting there and sitting there and sitting there and nothing happened. So how does one get off the rear end and make things start?

Carol Patton10:09

Well, a lot of it is double duty. And if I can just step back even just a little bit further. I know a lot of people that have golden handcuffs. By that, I mean, they get paid very well, get great Benny's benefits. But they don't want to leave their job. And I had a corporate job, very good pay, very good benefits. And I came home one day for work, I hated it, I hated I disliked the corporate scene. And I told my husband, I wanted to quit and become a freelance writer, I had no clients, you know, after he picked himself up off the floor. You know, we talked about it, and we made some boundaries and some suggestions. And I went ahead with it. And so most of my jobs required writing. And everybody told me that I should become a writer or a journalist, I got that kind of feedback. So I jumped from a, you know, a corporate scene to a nonprofit and corporate scene to becoming my own freelancer. But what I had to do was, I had to have a part-time job to help sustain me, I still had to pay, you know, the utilities, the rent the food bill, you know, all of that. So I worked part-time, and I freelanced part-time until I could freelance full-time, because you got to be realistic about this, right. And so along the way, like I said, you know, 25 years, as a freelancer, I know how to write. And when this idea came along, I was still writing full-time. I was still freelancing, full-time. So double duty, you know, reality sets in you can't just jump in and expect everybody to say, Oh, this is such a great book. So I worked full time, and I never took out a loan for this project. It's very, it can be very expensive if you do something like this. And I paid as I went along, and that was one of the boundaries that, you know, we decided, my husband and I. And so when COVID came last year, many of the magazines I wrote for us through either acquisitions or COVID, didn't have the budget didn't want freelancers, and I found myself sort of out on a limb. And I said, you know, what, if I don't finish Mo now, when will I. So I took advantage of COVID when everybody was stuck home, and I wrote the majority, the rest of the stories, I think maybe like 30 stories, 35 chapters, if you will, during 2020. And I just finished it in June of 2021. So I took advantage of a bad situation, to see how it could benefit me and the other people, the charities that I want to give to. And so that's how it came about.

Ray Loewe12:46

What a great story.

Kris Parsons12:49

Oh, yeah, it's a wonderful, positive way of pivoting and taking a bad situation and using that opportunity. You said you started this book in 2013. Right. So it's not like this happened overnight?

Carol Patton13:01

No, no. And like I said, um, you know, I was thinking about it for a very, very long time. And, you know, cardinal directions. I talked to a teacher, she said that I've never heard of a book that taught kids or introduced children to cardinal directions. And so that's what stuck with me. And also, I remember, I was talking with this woman, she was telling me that she was from Northern Oregon, a city in northern Oregon. And I said, Oh, I never heard of Siri city. And I'm sorry, she first said the name of the city. And I said, Where is it? And she said, Northern Oregon, you know, right next to the California border. And obviously, that's Southern Oregon, she and she didn't know directions. And, and so this had been brewing in me for a while. And then when my dog passed, I said, Okay, how can I marry the two together, and use my writing skills and also contribute, give back to the community at the same time. So that's you know, I was fortunate, and then I was able to marry everything together and proceed. And you know, every year I wrote, you know, one, a couple, one story a month, something like that. And then I got really busy. Life took over, you know, as life events took over, I was sometimes he was unable to do things for many, write stories for many, many months. And then I decided with COVID. Now we're never so I jumped in with both feet.

Ray Loewe14:27

Give us an example, if you will, about how you incorporate these cardinal directions into a story here. Okay, so pick a story.

Carol Patton14:40

Okay, well, I'll start from the beginning. Let's say they start at a stage from Washington. And they go I can't remember what they go from Washington to I believe in New Mexico. I identify the highway he's heading on I don't know what the highway is Forgive me. But lets You know, I-95 east or south, and they travel for four or five hours or three days. And so it gives kids a sense of direction, okay, they're heading east, they're heading west, they're heading south. And so at the beginning of every chapter, or within the first page or two of every chapter, you get a sense of direction of which way they traveled. Because every story has clues in it, about where they are, there could be the names of cities, there could be the motto of the license plate, there could be the history of that state. You know, so kids guess. And that's part of the game of this, Where's Moe now, so you can track them going across the country. And they in one chapter, they meet a professor, a Professor of directionology. And he explains the directions, you know, what, north, south, east, west are. And so I thought I had to throw that in, in a more formal sense.

Kris Parsons16:00

Right, I hope you put route 66 in there. That's like the famous route 66.

Carol Patton16:07

I can't remember. But I'll tell you, I learned so much about this country about how I think I could probably go from the first chapter, which is Alaska, all the way to Florida without a roadmap. Great. But yeah, yeah, it was fun. It was, a lot of fun to do. And it was probably the most challenging thing I've ever done.

Kris Parsons16:24

Well, and also tells isn't there, somebody big that's all of a sudden interested in this. And, and this kind of ties into the whole luckiest person in the world, how you take chances, you kind of cold call people, you know, I mean, people say, Oh, you can't do that. But you've done it. And now you've got somebody big kind of interested in this book, right?

Carol Patton16:44

Yeah, yeah, I Well, we'll find out. It's still on the drawing board now. But I call I wanted to contact children's literacy programs. And obviously, the gold standard for one of those charities is reading is fundamental. They've been around for about 55-60 years, something like that. So I cold call them I don't I didn't have any context. I didn't know anybody. And I ended up speaking, I believe with the marketing VP, and we're trying to work something out where they could help promote Mo and I could help fundraise for them. I also sent out, you know, this is hard work, I don't want anybody to think that luck is just you wake up one morning, and you know, everything falls in your lap. I sent out over 200 emails to everybody in every state, every location in that state, a lot of the chapters take place in a museum or a park. So I would send the email to those locations. And, you know, two of them. One of the stories takes place at Kitt Peak National Observatory, the parent company of Kitt Peak, wrote us back saying, We love the chapter, and they wrote a story about it in their staff newsletter. The state of Arkansas parks department, again, really enjoyed the story, and they promoted it on their Facebook page. Now I know there's a way to get more return for your investment because two out of 200 is really a poor investment. But that's you have to reinvent yourself, you have to keep trying different things. Some will fail, some will succeed, but you got to keep trying.

Ray Loewe18:22

Yeah, and 2 out of 200 actually, isn't that bad? Yeah. Okay. It's not that bad at all. And it's significant into what the results are. So every project kind of has a beginning, a middle. And then where's it going next?

Carol Patton18:36

Well, what I want to do is, oh, Mo also sponsors contests, free children's contests, you have to read a chapter to answer your question, and you get a really cool, fun prize. So we've done two of those already. As I said, the story was just finished in June. So we just started marketing in July, less, you know, eight weeks ago. So we've done all these things in eight weeks. What I'm hoping to do is have a lot of teachers, a lot of parents, download the story, read them, I asked for a $1 or $2 donation, half of the donations after taxes or any advertising that the website may attract will be donated to these charities, and the other half will sustain the series. So you've got to grow it. And so I'm trying to grow it right now, to get this on everybody's bookshelf, libraries as well. The story is also being reviewed as we speak. And, you know, so that's and I'm hoping to also half of whatever products I sell, it could be a T-shirt, it could be a compass, it could be anything related to the stories, half of those that are being that will be sold. Any revenue I get from those product sales will also go to the children's charities, and also animal charities. So that's what's next.

Ray Loewe20:05

Well, that's great. And this book is free, right? Yes, yes, totally free, free, $1 donation, something like that. But how do you get it?

Carol Patton20:15

You go to, you do not have to donate anything. If you can afford to, the charities that I'm hooking up with would definitely appreciate your donation. But I'm asking you to donate $1 or $2, if you cannot afford it, the book is free, I did not want to ban this book from people who could not afford it. So I made sure that the donations were very minimal.

Ray Loewe20:44

Cool, and we'll make sure that you know, that site is available on our podcast notes so that people can find it. And unfortunately, Carol we're getting near the end of our time. 20 minutes goes by really fast when you're having fun. I think you have an incredible story. That's a learning story for a lot of people who might listen to this podcast, it's a story about how you take an idea and make it happen. When a whole lot of things are telling you it's gonna be difficult to make it happen. You know, you had one quote that I see from our pre-interview, I don't know if you want to comment on it, but "Appreciate what you have and focus on what you want." Is that kind of what you did here.

Carol Patton21:33

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, the other thing I tell people is, if you wonder why you are where you are in life, at this point, look at the choices and look at the decisions you've made. And that will tell you, you know, I could have easily said, Oh, I'll do this tomorrow, oh, I'll never make it I, you know, the biggest challenge I have is doubt, self-doubt. And I threw self-doubt out of the house out of my mind. He or she or they are not ever allowed back in. So you just have to look at the choices that you make and tell yourself, you know, based on reality, of course, you know, I could not be a brain surgeon, but I can be a writer. You know, is this what I want? And if it is go after it. And if you fail? You know, the biggest word in the world is if I did not want to spend the rest of my life wondering if so now I don't have to.

Ray Loewe22:35

Cool. Alright, Bill or Kris any closing comments?

Kris Parsons22:38

No, I just I was just really engaged. And I have to tell you, Carol, you could just feel your passion through the microphone. It's really wonderful. And it's exciting. And I'm very excited to see how this book goes. And I think that Carol is probably a typical example of what the luckiest people of the world are you. You really found the passion you went for it? You pivoted? You did all those things. So we're excited to follow your progression. Yeah.

Carol Patton23:05

Thank you keep my fingers crossed. Yep,

Bill Hughes23:07

there was clearly something that went before here. And I picked up on several of those things that you mentioned because there were some parameters that you circled around your objectives. And they have to fit within that framework. And that's part of a maturity that occurs over a lifetime. And is a very, very strong thing to get to people to know because then they can use that themselves. I really appreciate that.

Carol Patton23:34

Yeah, I'm not going to take out a second mortgage on my house, you know?

Kris Parsons23:38

Not that much of a passion, right, right.

Ray Loewe23:41

Exactly. Well, and you don't have to, you know, I think you find a way and that's what the luckiest people did. So, thank you so much for being with us. And you're gonna show up again on one of our cocktail hours and answer questions for people who want to know more, more about Mo right?

Kris Parsons24:00

More about Mo there we go.

Carol Patton24:01

A lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

Ray Loewe24:04

All right, everybody. Thanks for being with us. And we'll be back next week with another wonderful guest and Taylor sign us off.

Kris Parsons24:14

Thank you for listening to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do that too. Join us with your lively host of Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Wed, 8 Sep 2021 16:00:00 +0000
Episode 83: The Value of The Luckiest People in the World Community, Guest, Bill Hughes

Guest Co-host: Kris Parsons:

Kris' Website:

Podcast Guest: Bill Hughes:


Kris Parsons00:02

Welcome to changing the rules, a weekly podcast about people who are living their best life and how you can figure out how to do it too. Join us with your lively host Ray Loewe, better known as the luckiest guy in the world.

Ray Loewe00:16

You know, I really like this lively host thing. If it were only true.

Kris Parsons00:20

You are lively. No, you are.

Ray Loewe00:21

Well, right now I haven't had enough caffeine, but we are here in sunny, scenic downtown Woodbury, New Jersey, in the studio at the wildfire podcasting works. Yes. And we have, we're surrounded today we have a full studio, we have Bill Hughes with us. We're gonna have a really good discussion. We have Kris Parsons, here, we have our engineer Taylor hiding in the other room, okay. But he makes everything work. And we're hopefully going to talk to a couple of the luckiest people in the world today. And we're going to talk a lot about the luckiest people in the world. And you need to remember that the luckiest people in the world are those people who design their own lives and then live them under their own terms. That's right. And that means that they have to cope with things like rules. And they cope with them the right way. Usually, they know that they need rules, but they tailor those rules to make sure that it does what they want to do. So Kris Parsons has been our co-host my last week. Yes, my last week here. So introduce yourself. Again, quickly. I know you'll look to get that Parsons PR plugin there, you might as well do it.

Kris Parsons01:37

I do. I'm Kris Parsons of Parsons, PR. I do marketing and public relations for a variety of different organizations, everything from special events to small businesses, I just help you get in the news, and I help brand you. And so I've been with Ray here for a while. And we've been co-hosting for the week. It's a month that's really gone by fast. So it's

Ray Loewe02:00

time flies when you're having fun. It really is I've been having a lot of fun. So enough about us introduce our guest.

Kris Parsons02:05

I well. Well, Bill, he's been with us a lot to Bill Hughes. I think I met you a couple of years ago, maybe Yeah, I think we met actually at Fleming's or my lab to give them a pitch. Yeah, we met at Fleming's for a little cocktail hour. But now all our coffee and cocktail hours are virtual. Bill comes from many years in the financial business. He's done some exciting things throughout his life. And he also now has pivoted recently, which is what the luckiest people in the world, do 2020 he has changed some of his focus of financial work to actually helping people find out what their niches are right. That's right. So Bill wanted to expand on that a little bit about what you do with I don't know if you want to call it coaching or?

Bill Hughes02:51

Yeah, it's kind of a term that's overused a little bit. Yeah, life coaching, that's I don't know how good I'd be at a life coach anyway, because I have a hard time coaching my own life. But the idea behind it is to help people get clarity on the direction they want to go. And typically, when they're in transition, that's a very difficult thing to do. Sure, is. So,

Ray Loewe03:12

you know, before we get into our mission today, what we're going to talk about, let's talk about this coaching thing a little bit, because, you know, too many people think that they can coach themselves and they can't. That's true. And the other thing I find is, how many different coaches do you have? coach Bill?

Bill Hughes03:30

Oh, geez, Well you're one Ray. Well, yeah, I mean, obviously, I have a coach that's on a very regular basis that I talked with, I don't know how anybody can be in this line of work and not believe in coaching for themselves. because like you said, it's very, it's very difficult. There are some people that can self-coach, but it's a very, very small minority of folks that can do that. And for the most part, you really need to have some kind of an alternative to your own thought process. So that you can challenge the directions you want to go in, and at least have a devil's advocate to say, Well, so what if that doesn't work? What are you gonna do then, and, or that sounds like a great idea. But you know, and just constantly an alter-ego type of thing where somebody's kind of questioning your thought process so that you get the kind of clarity and need to move things along. Plus, I think probably the biggest thing with coaching more than anything else is accountability. If you don't have an accountability partner, and I mean, anybody can be a coach, I mean, you can, you can have a partner who's in a similar line of work or a different line of work and wants to move themselves in a direction and you can hold each other accountable. So I just suggest to people that I speak with, particularly folks that are kind of limited on resources and can't necessarily engage somebody professionally, that they should look for somebody, to work with. And usually, it's somebody else in a similar situation. And then it allows them to hold each other accountable. So

Kris Parsons05:02

it's also a little bit like working out, you have to practice Yeah, you just can't say, Okay, I'm going to listen to somebody for 15 minutes and then know how I'm going to do my life, you have to really practice. And that's kind of what we talk about with the luckiest people in the world. It's an ongoing process, and it takes practice, if you want to change your life, you have to do it in steps.

Ray Loewe05:23

Well, you know, this is one of the things that I get out of doing these podcasts. It's because everybody comes on here, it's kind of like a coach to me. And you have to take it that way. Because they all have great ideas, they all can get you excited about life. And you need more than that, you need the second half, which is the accountability that Bill talked about. But the whole idea of being able to get that from a podcast, and hopefully from our conversations that we have the cocktails every week and the coffee, you get a chance to add to this coaching experience. So it's not like a one on one kind of a thing. But it helps the same kind of thing.

Kris Parsons06:06

So that leads us almost to our next question, what I know, Bill has been probably one of our most loyal attendees of our coffee hour and cocktail hours, we've been doing that now, ever since the pandemic, we've been doing 8:45 in the morning for coffee hour, Eastern Standard Time, which doesn't leave a lot of our west coast people, they usually come to the cocktail hour, which is 4:45 Eastern Standard Time. But Bill's been at practically all of them. So why have you come all the time? And what do you get out of it?

Bill Hughes06:35

Well, I guess the main thing I get is I get to hear other people's stories. I mean, the folks that tend to show up on these calls, and particularly, the very interesting people that show up on these calls, are folks that are making those transitions now. And in many cases,are you know, knee-deep in whatever project you're working on? And I'm always curious to find out a few things, but one of the things I want to find out is what was the turning point, what was the trigger that suggests to them, okay, I've had enough of this, I'm going to do that now and consequentially get to hear their story. And the people that show up and the stories are so vast and differentiated that if you get bored with one story, hang around for a couple minutes, you're going to hear another one that's

Ray Loewe07:24

Well, that's part of our promises that the luckiest people in the world are also the most interesting people they are. And I think they really are, you know, they just tend to get into things, they figure out how not to get stuck, right? And then they figure out how to get their projects done. And they're usually doing absolutely fascinating and motivating things. And, that's one of the benefits of hanging out in this uh virtual environment, which hopefully won't be virtual too much longer.

Kris Parsons07:54

Right, right. Cuz we were meeting but you, you would even said it was getting costly. Because when you went to a bar, you had to buy the drinks and the food now we just sit in our underwear and talk to each other. Yeah

Bill Hughes08:05

Well, the nice thing is that while the past circumstances over the past 18 months or so have been somewhat difficult. They've also revealed a lot of things too. And one of them is the fact that we do have these wonderful tools that are at our disposal, which allow us to do things kind of on the fly now that we couldn't do before. So now you can interact with folks pretty much anywhere, anytime, in many cases dressed any way you want. Come as you are. And it's an interesting dynamic, it's really helped out a lot.

Kris Parsons08:40

Yeah, I think we do underestimate how technology has actually helped us through this mess. And it's going to continue because I think a lot of people are comfortable with some of it.

Bill Hughes08:51

Well, there's things. There's triggers that people push while I'm sitting there too. And I like to hear if particularly if there's a number of folks or I like to hear the others and how they react to some of the things that they're hearing. Because, again, people don't realize a resource like this is even available. I mean most of the kinds of virtual conferences people go to there's a set agenda. You do this first, you do this next, you do this last. And this is completely upended that I mean, you, get really a group of people, you have a conversation, obviously, I like the smaller ones more because you get a chance to interact directly. But even so usually when they're larger, there's somebody there that's extraordinarily interesting. And you kind of want to hear their whole story. And you got 45 minutes to get through that. So

Ray Loewe08:51

Well, I think the idea is we're definitely going to a hybrid model going forward because this these zoom calls could save so much time, you know, and you just don't have to go places and you can do two or three of them together. But they're not nearly as much fun as sitting around having a cocktail and eating chopped-up steaks, you know, stuff like that. So let's get back to this, this whole conversation thing Bill. If, when you come on to these things, you know, you said you're there to hear other people's stories and that's pretty much typical of the way you treat them because you tend not to talk a lot until you really have something to say yeah, and we keep them pretty tight at 45 minutes. Yeah, that's true. And the other thing that we encourage people to do here is that if you can only pop on sometimes for 5-10 minutes to do that, and because you get the networking part done, you know, you get everybody's email address that we send out, and you can follow up with people, even if you don't have a chance to do it right then and there. Sure. The other thing it does for me, I don't know about you is, I enjoy just seeing people show up and it lets you know that they're alive and well. Right?

Kris Parsons10:58

Actually, I like that about you, Ray. Ray, actually, if someone hasn't been on the coffee and cocktail hours for, you know, a month or so he'll call them and say is everything okay? You feeling Okay? That's nice because I really think a lot of people don't have that they don't have somebody checking up on them. Yeah. Everyone assumes everything's fine.

Ray Loewe11:15

You know, usually, they put you in your place, though, and say, yeah, I've just been bored with you. And I didn't want to put up, with you anymore. You know so let's shift gears a little bit, we can come back to the coffee and the cocktails thing. But let's talk about the value of the podcasts and what you see there. And when you know maybe you can highlight even some of the most valuable ones to you. And why?

Bill Hughes11:26

Well, there have been quite a few of them, I don't know that I can pick out anyone in particular that sticks out, because they all have some aspect of them that's worth listening to. And the thing I like most about the podcast, is that you can do them anytime, right? You can there. And they're not, it's not like you're committing to an hour and a half or two look I've seen podcast to go three, four hours. I don't know how they do it, I really, I don't have to take breaks what you know, what do they do. But in many of those kinds of situations, then you're kind of like listening to part of it. And then maybe you get back to it, maybe you don't, if you can't get through these podcasts in the time that they're set up, then you really got to take a look at your life and your own priorities. Because you're really rushed. I mean, with a podcast go for what 25-30 minutes, I mean, but it's a concentrate, 25-30 minutes, you guys do a pretty good, I'd say very good job in breaking up the interview and getting the gist of that person's dynamic or their specific, luckiest quotient or whatever that is. And that comes out in those calls. And that way. Plus, if you if you hear somebody like you get here and again, you can then go back and hear him take notes. I mean, there's a lot of things you can do with a podcast like that, that you really can do on the coffee thing. I mean, it's oftentimes somebody will say something really interesting, and it kind of goes by the wayside. Yet I believe some of those are recorded though, aren't they? Are they recorded?

Ray Loewe13:11

The podcast or the coffee and cocktails? And actually, we usually don't? Because part of it is we want people free Yeah, they would they want to sit

Bill Hughes13:19

probably not conducive to that and the podcasts are more topical anyway, you've you're bringing somebody on. And it's about their circumstances and where they are and how and what's interesting about what they do and that kind of thing. And that's the part that you get, you could listen to it over and over again if you wanted to. And there may be some that people should do that with

Kris Parsons13:41

Now, why did you pick and you get different kernels of information? Yeah, because they do say some things and then you turn around and say, oh, that will help me and that I think is part of the luckiest people in the world. We're trying to trigger situations where whoever's listening, gets something out of it to take and use for their own growth.

Ray Loewe13:59

Right, right. You know, the thing that fascinates me about doing these podcasts is the number of people that I'm going to use the word adversity, although I don't think the luckiest people in the world, think of it as adversity at all. They just think it is a bump in the road, you know, I'm trying to do something and it's important for me to do and Okay, life gets in the way. So, you know, we'll figure out how to get around it. But you know, I've just seen so many people that have had their businesses shut down well, and they find a way to survive for a year and then they find a way to crank it up and they find a way to make some changes and you can just look at the way our coffee and conversation things have changed to they went from face to face to virtual and we're going to go back to some sort of a combination of the two because they both have advantages and disadvantages

Kris Parsons14:53

Right, when in fact November 6th, is when we're going to do our first in-person, friends connection. We're going Pick one of our guests, Jeff Lincoln, who has Passero coffee and talk about pivot, he'd had to go from having stores to having closing stores has closed, his stores opened. Now he's got an online business. So we're going to learn how to make coffee. Yeah, the other thing.

Bill Hughes15:14

The other thing that I pick up on these calls too, particularly on the podcast, in particular, but often on the calls as well, is the passion that exudes from the individual that's engaged in a project, they really love. Something that they it gets them out of bed in the morning, makes them feel excited. And just picking up on that energy in and of itself, I think is something that is another attribute that I look for, because again when you're coaching people, you're trying to get to that aspect of what it is that really excites them because that's the thing. There's all kinds of motivational talks out there. And everybody has been through that, jamboree is over a period of time and the thing that I like about them as they do get you excited, they get your blood pumping. The thing I don't like about them is that there's a half-life of about 10 minutes. Yeah, and as soon as you leave a conference, or you leave a motivational talk or even something, you're listening to one on tape,if you do work, I'm really dating myself, on an mp3 player, whatever you're listening to you, you then get immersed in life, and all that stuff gets forgotten. Correct. But the thing is that when I pick up with an individual I'm working with or for that matter, on the podcast or you pick up a level of passion, and then I'm looking for that turning point that was that discovery thing that they that revealed to them. Gee this is really something I love doing. And the coffee guy is one of those guys. You can tell but also the gentleman did the mixologist.

Kris Parsons16:51

Oh, yes, Carlos,

Bill Hughes16:52

you can tell just by the way, he shakes the glasses. I mean, it he's cutting the fruit or whatever he's doing. You can tell there's an art, there's an art form to it. And that art form is expressed in his passion that he puts into it.

Kris Parsons17:07

He's actually you should see him he's going crazy on internet. He's doing things with celebrities. He's really, he's really gone crazy. And he originally was going to come to our friends connection, our first one.

Bill Hughes17:18

Now, who is the lady that did the chocolates that exploding chocolate Kelly,

Kris Parsons17:24

Kelly Lyon.

Bill Hughes17:24

I mean, who could you know, think of confections that would do that to somebody, but

Kris Parsons17:32

I'm a woman, it's chocolate.

Ray Loewe17:33

So let me ask a question to you is, you're a coach, you coach a lot of people and you help them get through this. So why is it that some people can make these transitions, and they in fact become lucky, when there's nothing necessarily extraordinary about them? Other than maybe they found that passion? Maybe they found that niche where they are. But why is it that some of these people are able to make these transitions and others are not

Bill Hughes18:04

They're desperate. They're desperate. The desperation of day-to-day, and maybe they'll come across something in their travels that will all of a sudden trigger a thought. And then they'll try it out. And then they'll say, Wow, I didn't even think about doing this. I mean, a lot of that is another gift to the last 18 months is the fact that people become had to become very introspective, and start to take a look at themselves and what's most important to them over that period of time, and consequentially. Now, there are certain things emerging in their consciousness that might not have otherwise, while we were sort of sleepwalking through life when everything was normal.

Kris Parsons18:41

Exactly. No, the busyness was kind of a deterrent for have you really sit back and say, What am I doing here? What, what is my reason? What is my purpose, and I don't think it's instantaneous, either. I actually think this stuff is germinating. And that's where I think you're really helpful in what you do. It's been germinating for a long time you ask the right questions, and you do you ask a lot of great questions of people, and you help them bring it to a head. So you kind of help bring out their transition which is nice.

Ray Loewe19:11

Well, you know, one of the reasons that we're doing these podcasts and we're trying to focus on these luckiest people in the world, is because there's too much time lost by people who just don't take action, who just sit there and ponder too long. And I don't know what it is. Sometimes it's a trigger, I found people who have lost their jobs sometimes benefit from that, yeah, as bad as that sound, because it forces them into action. And what we're trying to do with this thing is to put forth a series of people who've made it happen. And they're all different. So the idea is that if you're listening to them, maybe you can find one that resonates with you, maybe you can give yourself find a way to give yourself permission to say yes. And I think that's one of the biggest things that people don't do.

Bill Hughes19:11

That's the key to pretty much everything. I mean, Mary Lee Adams if I can ever get her on this call. She does a thing called the inquiry Institute. And she focuses principally on question thinking, and she was actually she wrote a book called The art of the question. And she's a psychotherapist, you know, that's kind of like their thing. But over the years, I've studied a lot of people that are extraordinarily good at what they do. And whether it's psychotherapy, whether it's medicine, whether it's working out whatever it is, usually starts out with a question in some fashion, and not just the question, but the answer and then the thread that you follow up on the question and you just keep going so you can't go anymore and sometimes it runs out and you go in a different direction you guys are going to questions? Well, I would suggest that anybody that listens to your podcast, in particular really needs to bring a notepad or something there with them. And I would focus on asking questions, I would, even if, obviously, it's a one-way conversation. But the point is, is that if they wrote down all the questions they had that came out of that, and then proceed to try to get those questions answered. And a lot of times, some of these guests that you have show up on the coffee hour. Yes, we've been trying to do that more and more. than that, gives them the opportunity to say, you know, you said such and such on the call, how did you do that? Or what caused you to think that way? And then you get to hear directly from the horse's mouth, something that you have a question about. But I would suggest in any of these interactions that are done through the luckiest guy in the world, that you definitely have a notepad and write down the questions you have or the thoughts you have not just the questions, but the thoughts you have that pop up as a consequence of listening to the.

Ray Loewe21:54

Yeah, and we do have a transcription along with a podcast so that you can actually print it out and go back. Sure and go back. And, and I think you certainly don't want to do that on everyone, there's too many but on those that resonate with you, either because it's something that you always thought you like to do, or because it's a person who's in the same circumstances, as you and you see that they made those changes that transform them from an ordinary person to one of the luckiest people in the world. And I have to tell you, that of all these people that I've met the joy that these people have, once they make that decision to move and to say yes, and to allow themselves to do these things is absolutely incredible. Now, unfortunately, we're nearing the end of our time.

Kris Parsons22:42

See how exciting Bill is? I think this is the fastest podcast we've had.

Ray Loewe22:46

Yeah. So, Kristine, you're for ladies are first, any final comments that you want to make?

Kris Parsons22:51

No other than I just want to encourage more people to come to our coffee and cocktails, because first of all, Bill will be there. And he will ask you some great questions. And yeah, I mean, it's working. Oh, and also I just wanted to give Bill a little bit of Congratulations, because Bill is going to follow me he's going to be the co-host for October or September, October sorry, October. That's right there's someone else coming in September. But Bill will be the co-host in October.

Ray Loewe23:19

We're giving a month of reprieve.

Kris Parsons23:22

You know, it's exciting too I've been talking to Bill virtually for a couple months now.

Ray Loewe23:27

And what Bill is going to do is he's bringing a series of guests on the show that kind of follow his tra