Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief & A Second Act

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

While her professional life was going especially well, life at home had significant problems. Her son Charles – the younger of two boys – suffered from a combination of depression and drug addiction. The problems began early in high school and escalated. At considerable expense to Anne Moss and her husband Randy, they tried to help by placing him in a therapeutic boarding school followed by rehab. But on June 5, 2015 at the age of 20, Charles took his own life.

In the aftermath of her son’s passing, Anne Moss sold her agency and has became a staunch activist for suicide prevention. She launched “Emotionally Naked” – a blog about the experience. She speaks frequently before both high school and adult audiences. And she has written a powerful book called “Diary of a Broken Mind.

Anne Moss Rogers is a textbook example of what psychologists call “post traumatic growth.” When Charles committed suicide in 2015, she entered an unimaginable cauldron of pain and grief. And she came out the other side stronger and focused on making a difference in the world. And her work is saving lives.

We concluded our interview by asking her, “What would Charles think of what you’re doing now?” Anne Moss responded, “I think he would be proud to know that I’m following my heart.”

On the first anniversary of Charles death, Anne Moss Rogers recorded an emotional reading of the lyrics of “Forgive Me Momma,” one of many songs that were discovered in her son’s backpack after his passing. It’s about four minutes long and we hope you’ll give it a listen by clicking the link above.

Dave’s Gambit: A New Life Teaching Chess To Youth

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

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

The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the popular Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” led to an explosion in demand for online chess lessons. Today Dave teaches chess 7 days per week to a mix of students from grade 1 through 5. His online chess group,  “Dave’s Young Tigers,” has 180 members so far.


How An Overweight, Drug Dealer Became A SoulCycle Instructor

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

But eight years ago his life took a turn for the better when he wandered into a 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 months, he attended every day – sometimes two workouts per day. He lost 100 pounds and got himself into shape both physically and mentally. The team at SoulCycle saw something in Noa and they invited him to audition as a fitness instructor.

At 57 years old, he is the oldest SoulCycle instructor on the planet. And here in New York City, Noa has built a dedicated following of riders that are inspired by him on a regular basis.

He is a certified life coach and in February 2021 released an inspirational book “Stop Thinking Thoughts That Scare You.”

After years of people telling him to write a book, Noa Shaw finally penned “Stop Thinking Thoughts That Scare You.”

Noa Shaw can be reached on instagram (@noashaw26) or by email (

Marianne The Vaccine Hunter: New Gig For Lifelong, Springsteen Fan

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

Her greatest passion is being a devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. She has attended 225 Springsteen concerts including following him for a 2017 concert tour in Australia. According to Marianne, “No two concerts are ever the same with Bruce.”

The combination of her information technology background and a well-honed skill at landing Springsteen tickets have  prepared her for a new challenge…helping older residents secure Covid-19 vaccine appointments. “You can look at an appointment like getting a concert ticket. It’s logic…it’s a strategy…it’s going in there and having things pre-populated and hitting refresh, refresh, refresh.” 

To date, she has secured vaccine appointments for 83 of her Garden State neighbors. “Whenever I secure an appointment I do a happy dance and eat a cookie.”


Puppy Love: Tara & Jess Leave Big Pharma To Form DIG Labs

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

Four years later, Tara and Jess departed J&J and founded a start-up company called DIG Labs. Their focus is on the use of technology to provide personalized health care for our furry friends. Tara is 36 years-old and Jess is 32 years old.

As you’ll hear in the episode, DIG Labs is developing an app that would allow pet owners to photograph their dog’s excrement, text it for immediate analysis and receive feedback in just 10 seconds. Yes, we may now conclude, there is an app for everything.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about DIG Labs. You can also sign-up for the wait list for the launch of their new app. And make sure to bring your cellphone along on the next walk with Fido.

He Advised Major Companies…Now He Works With Aspiring Athletes

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

He went back to school, got a masters in Sports Psychology and became a mental performance coach. Today he works with middle-school and high school athletes helping them improve their mental fitness and game performance.

Mike took a major cut in compensation to launch Follow The Ball, his new consulting practice. But he is so much happier in his new line of work.

Mike Huber works closely with promising athletes to improve their mental performance on and off-the-field.


Single Mother & 16-Year-Old Daughter Launch “One Hot Cookie”

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

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

The mother-daughter team have proven to be a formidable partnership. And in the age of COVID-19, they have dramatically expanded the online portion of their business shipping both cookies and a “do-it-yourself” cookie decorating kits all over the country.

If you’d like to sample their cookies and perhaps order a “One Hot Cookie at Home” decorating kit, I’d encourage you to visit Of course, you’re also welcome to drive to Youngstown, Ohio if you want a hot, gooey, chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven.

Special thanks to Kerry Hannon for suggesting this story. Kerry is the author of “Never Too Old To Get Rich” which includes a profile of Bergen and Morgen. She is an amazing writer and great friend of Second Act Stories.

Best Of 2020: Fraidy Reiss’ Unorthodox Second Act Story

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

Part of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Fraidy was married at the age of 19. It was an arranged marriage to a man she barely knew. He demonstrated a violent streak within a week of the wedding punching his fist through a wall and threatened to kill her. Over the next twelve years, she feared for her own life on a daily basis. But she eventually she found a way to get a college education, achieve financial independence, divorce her husband and escape with the custody of her two daughters.

Today, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last, the only organization in the United States dedicated to ending forced and child marriage through direct services and advocacy.

Want to learn more about Fraidy Reiss and Unchained At Last? Check out her TED Talk on YouTube or visit the Unchained At Last website. Fraidy is also featured in Bruce Feiler’s book “Life Is In The Transitions” (which is how we first heard of her) and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s “The Book of Gutsy Women.”

A Navy Veteran Launches A Winery (And Yes, It’s In Cleveland)!

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

But in her early 50s and after a divorce, she decided it was time to move back home to Cleveland, Ohio and launch her own business called the CLE Urban Winery. CLE purchases all of their grapes from California and Washington but the wine – about 50,000 bottles a year – is made in Cleveland. “Good Wine Made Fun” is Destiny’s mantra.

CLE Urban Winery is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Launched in 2016, the CLE Urban Winery was growing and thriving until March 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic forced a three-month shutdown (“it was like a dagger to the heart”) and continues to challenge her business on a daily basis. Despite this difficult environment, she couldn’t be happier running her own company.

Special thanks to Kerry Hannon, author of “Never Too Old To Get Rich,” for sharing this story idea.

Goodbye Executive Recruiting… Hello Furniture Making

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

In 2011, he began an exit plan from Direct Recruiters – turning over the management of the company to a group of partners. And that’s when he installed a rather elaborate woodshop in his basement. And over the past 7 years, he has turned a hobby of work working and furniture making into a booming business called Chagrin Valley Custom Furniture.

Success has come from specialization with a focus on designing, building and selling custom-made river tables. A “river table” is two pieces of natural wood with a river of epoxy resin flowing down the middle. That’s become 80% of his furniture making business.

Sheldon displays a river table in mid-production.
And an example of the finished product.

He is now turning the day-to-day operations over to a 32-year-old mentee named Zach Schulte (who we’ll also hear from in today’s episode).

Click here for a look at more river tables and other wood products produced by Sheldon, Zach and the team at Chagrin Valley Custom Furniture.