Second Act Stories

Second Act Stories

Welcome to Second Act Stories, a podcast focused on life and career change. In each episode, we bring you the story of a courageous individual who has made a decisive career pivot and is pursuing a more rewarding life in a second act. The stories are in their own words and the words of friends and family that helped them find a new path. Each episode examines the “before” and “after” phases of a life or career relaunch and offers lessons learned.

Episodes

May 1, 2021 19 min

Pete DeBusk is a true entrepreneur. He started from humble beginnings growing up in coal mining towns in the Appalachian Mountains. In his "Act 1," he founded DeRoyal Industries, a major manufacturer of medical products with 1,900 employees and facilities in a half-dozen countries around the world. Today, the company manufactures over 20,000 different products.

Back in 2000, Pete began to step-away from the business turning...

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Anne Moss Rogers was at the pinnacle of a 20-year professional career. She opened her own digital marketing agency in 2010. The business grew quickly and by 2015 she and her partner had 9 employees and a growing roster of clients.

While her professional life was going especially well, life at home had significant problems. Her son Charles – the younger of two boys – suffered from a combination of depression and drug addiction. The ...

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Dave Lazarus worked for 35 years in information technology. But at 60 years old he found himself unemployed. And the prospects of landing a new job in IT weren’t terribly encouraging.

So on the advice of an old friend, he went back to an old passion: chess. And he started teaching chess to elementary students first in an after-school program and then as a private teacher.

The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the popular Net...

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Noa Shaw has led a hard life. Drugs and alcohol took hold of him at an early age. And he has struggled as both a drug addict and drug dealer for most of his adult life.

But eight years ago his life took a turn for the better when he wandered into a SoulCycle studio that was just opening up in Los Angeles. SoulCycle is a fitness company that is the gold standard in cycling workouts.

After his first workout, he was hooked. For three ...

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Mariane Sugrhue had a long career as an information technology manager with AT&T, Telecordia and NCS Technologies. She retired in 2018 at the age of 60 and has pursued an eclectic schedule of volunteer activities that includes judging ice skating competitions, helping to rescue dogs from "kill shelters" and working with a local food pantry.

Her greatest passion is being a devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. She has attended ...

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In 2015, Tara Zedayko and Jessica Chu were both employed at Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies with $82 billion in annual revenue. They bonded over their work launching new healthcare products for humans but also a mutual love of dogs.

Four years later, Tara and Jess departed J&J and founded a start-up company called DIG Labs. Their focus is on the use of technology to provide persona...

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Mike Huber had a 20-year career as a top consultant with Ernst & Young, Cushman Wakefield and KPMG. His focus was in the area of site selection consulting – helping major companies like Samsung, Time Warner and Bausch & Lomb find new business locations. He worked hard and made a very good living. But over time he became frustrated with the corporate rat race and began to ask, “is this the right career for me?”

He went back ...

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Bergen Giordani was a single mother working a full-time job during the day and bartending at night in her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. It was tough road.

So back in 2013 and with the help of her then 16-year-old daughter Morgen, she opened a retail dessert shop called “One Hot Cookie.” She put all of her savings, $2,500, on the line.

The mother-daughter team have proven to be a formidable partnership. And in the age of COVID-19, t...

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As we start the new year, we’re pleased to share the episode named by Second Act Stories listeners as the “Best of 2020.” Fraidy Reiss’ story is among the most inspiring tales we’ve profiled on the Second Act Stories podcast.

Part of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Fraidy was married at the age of 19. It was an arranged marriage to a man she barely knew. He demonstrated a violent streak within a week of the wed...

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Right after high school, Destiny Burns enlisted in the armed forces as a cryptologic officer. She had an exciting, 20-year career traveling the globe with the Navy. And when she retired from active service, she settled down in Northern Virginia and worked for a range of defense contractors.

But in her early 50s and after a divorce, she decided it was time to move back home to Cleveland, Ohio and launch her own business called the C...

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Sheldon Myeroff is a true entrepreneur. He launched Direct Recruiters, Inc. at the age of 31. And over the next 37 years, he successfully grew the business into major executive recruiting company.

In 2011, he began an exit plan from Direct Recruiters – turning over the management of the company to a group of partners. And that’s when he installed a rather elaborate woodshop in his basement. And over the past 7 years, he has turned ...

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For more than 30 years, Amy worked as a writer, both on staff and on a freelance basis, for a wide range of top magazines. But when her father passed away in 2009, his funeral had a profound impact on her. And in relatively short order, Amy enrolled in mortuary school to become a licensed funeral director.

Ten years later, Amy owns and manages Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in Brooklyn, New York. Profiled in The New York Times an...

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What most of us know about hypnotism comes straight from Hollywood and involves swinging pocket watches and devious characters reciting the words “you are getting sleepy.” But Lisa Ludovici operates very differently. She is a certified medical support hypnotist and is almost always brought in by a doctor. Frequently, they turn to Lisa when every other path to healing has failed.

Jackie Kotler is a case in point. She literally broke...

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Robin and Carl Mennie opened River Street Sweets-Savannah's Candy Kitchen in Asbury Park, NJ on July 2, 2020. It’s an amazing shop filled with freshly-made pralines, rice krispie treats, loggerheads, chocolate covered pretzels and more – basically any sweet item you could ever want.

This franchise business is a leap for both of them. Robin worked for 20+ years as a nurse practitioner with a specialty in cardiology. Carl was...

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Fraidy Reiss' story is among the most inspiring tales we’ve ever profiled on the Second Act Stories podcast.

Part of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Fraidy was married at the age of 19. It was an arranged marriage to a man she barely knew. He demonstrated a violent streak within a week of the wedding punching his fist through a wall and threatened to kill her. Over the next twelve years, she feared for her ...

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Bruce Feiler is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers (including Walking The Bible, The Secrets of Happy Families and Abraham), the presenter of two prime-time series on PBS and the inspiration for the NBC drama series “Council of Dads.” He’s also presented two TED Talks viewed by more than two million people. It’s an honor to have him on Second Act Stories.

We sat down in the backyard of Bruce's townhouse in Brooklyn ...

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Kiku Mehta was born in 1937 and grew up in the Gujarat Province on India. He was trained as a lawyer there but emigrated to the United States in 1964.

When he arrived here in the US, he set aside his work as a lawyer and went to work as a social worker for Children's Services Inc. in Philadelphia. It paid the bills and helped him and his wife Kira put their three daughters through college.

He stayed with Children's Services...

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We first read about Terry Kutz in a terrific article in The Wall Street Journal. Terry had a long career as a financial planner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But as a hobby he had become involved in revolutionary war reenactments with a group called the Northwest Territory Alliance (NWTA). And one day an organizer asked him if he’d be willing to play the role of Benjamin Franklin at an event they were putting on.

In retirement, his wor...

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Chris Welles was a 46-year-old executive recruiter in Boston, Massachusetts. He was happy in his job and he had no plans for a change. But in 2008 he took a summer vacation with his wife, four kids and two other families to Kenya. And the trip completely changed his life.

Today he manages “American Rhino,” a growing clothing brand with a retail and online presence. The company sells shirts, pants, sneakers, canvas bags and now face...

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We depart from our traditional format with this episode to offer a glimpse inside the world of contact tracing. This is the fastest growing job in America, with the need for an estimated 200,000 contact tracers to track infections and protect the U.S. population against the advance of the COVID-19 virus. For those in our audience who may now be unemployed or simply looking for a new challenge, we thought it would be interesting to ...

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