A Dream Deferred: How A Banquet Waitress Became A Doctor At 45


Ruth Lavigne grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was a doctor (a radiologist) and she used to fill-in the date on patient sheets when her dad reviewed their films at home. As Ruth followed her father around his hospital, she always thought “that will be me someday.”

She ended up studying French in college and then business in graduate school. After marrying, starting a family and relocating to California, she found herself working as a banquet waitress in a San Diego hotel. She enjoyed the work and the flexible schedule which gave her time with two kids.

Ruth’s dream of becoming a doctor re-emerged one night as she held her oldest daughter Ariel in her arms and told her “you can be anything you want when you grow up.” And Ruth thought, “one day this kid is gonna look back up at me say, so you wanted to be a waitress all your life?”

With financial help from her parents and childcare support from her in-laws, she went back to school at 31 to take the necessary pre-med coursework. At 36, she returned home and entered medical school at the University of Cincinnati. At 40 she began a four-year residency to become a radiation oncologist. And at 45-years-of age, she finally became Dr. Ruth Lavigne.

Ruth’s story of persistence and overcoming obstacles is as inspirational as they come.

 

Never Too Old To Rock N’ Roll: Meet Tom “The Suit” Forst


Tom Forst was 57 years old. He was a regional vice president with Cox Media, a huge communications company. He was jetting around the country on private planes. He had an army of people reporting to him. He was making a hefty salary.

That was 10 years ago. He decided to quit his corporate gig to pursue a life-long passion – music. He put out his first blues-rock album as Tom “The Suit” Forst. He did a month long tour of China as the headlining act. And now he’s back in the studio now working on his next album. You can check out his music at www.TomTheSuitForst.com.

He also launched the “Chasing The Blues” podcast which is well worth a listen. As the Jethro Tull song concludes, “You’re never too old to rock n’ roll.” 

Ready To Live Forever? Surprising Advice From Marc Freedman


You don’t have to freeze your body. No need for bionic limbs. And you can hold off on eating mountains of kale (thank goodness). If you want to live forever, then focus on building a legacy via meaningful work with younger generations.

Last month, I sat down for an hour with the man who is essentially the creator of the encore career movement. His name is Marc Freedman and he appropriately heads up an organization called Encore.org. Here’s a quick summary of some of his accomplishments:

  • Marc is the winner of the 2018 Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence;
  • He was named a “Legend in Mentoring” by Mentoring.org;
  • He was named an “Influencer in Aging” by PBS’ Next Avenue; 
  • Marc is the author of five books including his latest work, “How To Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations.”

“How To Live Forever” gives dozens of fascinating examples of intergenerational experiences from across the United States and the globe. It lays out a road map for finding purpose and happiness later in life.

Marc introduces us to a range of engaging characters successfully connecting, mentoring and collaborating with younger generations. My favorite adage from Freedman’s book: “The real fountain of youth is the fountain with youth.”

I loved “How To Live Forever” and thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Marc. Today’s podcast is longer than our usual episodes but candidly the conversation was so rich in content it was just too good to cut down.

Facing The Music: A DJ Side Hustle Turns Into A Full-Time Gig


After a twenty-year career in hospitality sales and management at Marriott, Amani Roberts decided to turn his weekend passion as a disc jockey playing music at clubs and special events into a full-time career.

Today, he has made it as a sought-after DJ, teacher of aspiring DJs, writer and podcast creator.   

A combination of dedication and education fueled his success over the past sevens years. He reports that he is working harder than ever but he’s happier than ever too.

Amani and I met in a study room at the public library in Manhattan Beach, California.

Tell learn more about Amani Roberts, check out his website which includes The Amani Experience podcast.

Special thanks to Alex Petrarca, Booking Agent at Interview Connections, for suggesting Amani as a profile for Second Act Stories.

A Neighbor’s Dying Wish Launches A Second Act


This episode takes us to Richmond, Virginia for an interview with Lynne Tickle. Lynne spent most of her adult life in the banking industry working up to a position as a senior vice president. But in December of 2015, she learned that her neighbor was dying. And that friend shared a final wish.

Please help take care of my husband Larry after I’m gone.”

That request turned out to be a considerable challenge. The Great Recession of 2008/2009 had crippled her neighbor’s finances. So Lynne helped Larry restructure the debt on his house, obtain financing for badly-needed home repairs, find a real estate agent to help sell his home, sell antiques online, manage yard sales and document gifts to charity. In the end, she helped Larry sell his 3,500 square foot house and downsize to a 1,200 square foot home that was more financially viable.

“To say she was a great help was a total understatement,” according to Larry Kachelries. “Lynne basically took over every aspect of what I needed physically, financially and emotionally to turn the whole situation around.”

In the process, Lynne discovered a new passion: helping people like Larry get their lives together. Armed with this new experience, Lynne left the banking industry and launched a new company called Concierge on Call. The company focuses on helping individuals downsize and get back on their feet.

Special thanks to Ray McAllister and the team at Boomer magazine for connecting me to Lynne Tickle. Here’s a link to Ray’s earlier article about Lynne.

Lizzie Leaves Tech And Starts “The Humble Retreat”


This episode takes us to the United Kingdom for an interview with Lizzie Fouracre, a 33-year-old Brit with a sparking personality. Lizzie was living the dream helping to manage a fast-growing technology company in London started by her brother Tim.

And while the pace of a technology start-up was exhilarating, over time she found herself wanting more from life. So she quit, packed up a tent and sleeping bag and decided take a six-week hike around Great Britain. And in a eureka moment at the top of a mountain in Wales, she decided to create a new venture called The Humble Retreat.

She brought on a partner — her mother Mandy Fouracre — to help manage this (the two are pictured above). Eighteen months later, this mother-daughter team couldn’t be happier working together.

Click here to learn more about The Humble Retreat.

Special thanks to Miriam Christie of Careershifters for connecting me with Lizzie.  

An Injury Ended His NFL Career: So He Became An Opera Singer


Ta’u Pupu’a came to the United States from Kingdom of Tonga at the age of five. He grew up in a home of modest means in Salt Lake City, Utah and started playing football at the age of ten.

Legendary football coach Bill Belichick discovered him while he was playing for Weber State University and he joined the Cleveland Browns as a defensive lineman. But in his second season, a nasty injury ended his NFL career.

Despite almost no formal musical training, he decided to follow a new dream to become a professional opera singer. After struggling in New York City for five years, Ta’u met opera superstar Kiri Te Kanawa at a book signing at the gift shop of The Metropolitan Opera. And she helped him earn a scholarship to The Julliard School, America’s most prestigious music conservatory.

In the spirit of the opera world, we’re telling Ta’u’s story in four short acts.

To learn more about Ta’u Pupu’a and listen to some of his recordings, here’s a link to his website.

Cathy & the Crankshafts: Social Worker Learns To Fix Cars For Working Poor


While working as the Director of Social Justice at St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis, Cathy Heying observed a continuing problem among the working poor in the church’s neighborhood:

  • A poor person’s car would break down and they would not have the money to repair it;
  • Lacking dependable transportation, he/she would be unable to get to work and lose their job;
  • Unable to pay the rent, they would become homeless.

She initially thought: “Somebody really should do something about this.” And then she thought: “Maybe that somebody is me.”

Cathy took the unusual step of enrolling in a two-year technical college to learn auto mechanics. It was a difficult experience for a 38-year-old social worker who knew very little about automotive repair. But she got through it with the help of an instructor named Dave Duval (who is also interviewed in this episode).

Following graduation, she founded an extraordinary non-profit called The Lift Garage. According to the organization’s mission The Lift Garage is a 501c3 nonprofit aimed to move people out of poverty and homelessness by providing low-cost car repair, free pre-purchase car inspections, and honest advice that supports our community on the road to more secure lives.

In 2015, Cathy Heying was named a CNN Hero which raised the profile of the organization nationally. But Cathy was already a hero to the men and women of the Twin Cities who rely on her and The Lift Garage to help them make a living and live a better life.

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Click here to learn more about The Lift Garage and how you can help support their mission.

Anita Hellman, Beat Cancer Boot Camp

She Started “Beat Cancer Boot Camp” (This Pity Party Is Over)


Anita Kellman is a little like Superman. During the day, she is a quiet, mild-mannered patient navigator at the office of a breast cancer oncologist. But on Tuesday afternoons at 5:30 pm and Saturday mornings at 8:00 am, she is transformed into “Sarge” – a tough Navy Seal drill instructor who barks orders and leads cancer patients and cancer survivors through an hour-long “Beat Cancer Boot Camp” in Morris K. Udall Park in Tucson, Arizona.

She first began “Beat Cancer Boot Camp” back in 2001. Every class begins with Sarge shouting “It’s a beautiful day for boot camp.” After a 5-7 minute warm-up, the class moves into 40-45 minutes of active exercises. “One of my trademark is that you end up doing 100 push-ups. I want people to know that they could do something that they thought they couldn’t do. I want to make you physically stronger so you’re mentally tougher.”

Over the past 17 years, Anita “Sarge” Kellman has helped hundreds of cancer patients and cancer survivors in her home of Tucson, Arizona. And she has helped thousands more via Kellman Beat Cancer Boot Camps in Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Utah and her appearances at different national events and races.

Buddy’s Unusual Path: Radio Disc Jockey to Economic Developer


From the age of eight, Buddy Rizer wanted to be in radio. He landed his first job at the age of fifteen and rose up through the ranks to actually owning his own radio station in his early 40s. But like many other industries, radio changed. “Deregulation” not “video” killed the radio star (to amend the 1979 hit song by the Buggles). And it sent Buddy on a completely different path into the world of economic development – a profession that he has excelled over the past 11 years.

Today Buddy Rizer is the Executive Director of the Loudon County Economic Development Authority. His job is to create jobs and opportunities for the 400,000 residents of Loudon County, Virginia – a county about 50 miles west of Washington, DC.

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