Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s Coda: A Doobie Brother Focuses on Counter Terrorism


Jeff “Skunk” Baxter is a rock and roll legend. He was the founding lead guitarist in Steely Dan, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Doobie Brothers. As a hired gun, he’s played with a who’s who of music royalty, including Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon… the list goes on and on.

From the time he was a child, the mechanically inclined Baxter loved taking things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together. He became an expert guitar repair technician and built custom guitars. He traded a custom white Fender Stratocaster he built in the 1960s to Jimi James, who would later re-emerge as the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

In the 1980s, Skunk parlayed his more-than-casual interest in all things technical into a career as a missile defense consultant. After writing a paper that was quickly classified, he received the necessary clearances and now regularly consults with the U.S. government, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs on topics including counterterrorism and wargaming.

Skunk just released a new solo album, his first, called Speed of Heat.

Please enjoy our exciting deep dive into the second act of one of rock’s greatest guitarists.

Photo credit for main image: Joel Manduke

A Second Act Creates the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie


Steve Lewis is objectively one of the most creative people on the planet. So much so that pure creativity is what motivates him; money just isn’t part of the equation. That doesn’t mean he isn’t successful. He is. Very. But his success is a byproduct of executing his incredible creative vision.

 

Steve originally wanted to be a professional musician – a goal he achieved by the age of 14 – but a botched hand surgery set him down a different path. After college, he followed his passion for comic books, pop culture and community and opened Uberbot, a unique, high-end art gallery and comic book store. That’s where he originally shared the cookies that would become the foundation of Gideon’s Bakehouse.

 

Gideon’s Bakehouse is a fully immersive “tattered Victorian” experience – an entire world with stories, characters and histories – that just happens to sell the world’s best cookies, according to Insider.com, The Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated and a host of other media.

 

Steve Lewis calls baking a hobby, but his title – Sublime Prince of the Esoteric Order of Cookie – and his accolades say otherwise. This is an inspiring story that chronicles an immensely creative person and his journey to also become one of the world’s most renowned bakers.

 

You can find Gideon’s Bakehouse at www.gideonsbakehouse.com, but they don’t ship their products. To try them, you have to visit one of the two Gideon’s Bakehouse locations, at Orlando’s East End Market or Disney Springs.

Heavy Metal Lawyer: Black Sabbath Bassist Dave “The Beast” Spitz, Esq.


Referring to someone as a rock star usually means they’re excellent at what they do. Dave “The Beast” Spitz is a rock star lawyer in south Florida. Sure, he’s a really good lawyer, but he’s also an actual rock star. Prior to going to law school in 1996, Dave played bass for the legendary band that invented heavy metal: Black Sabbath.

His journey through the music industry also included playing with other well-known bands including Great White, Impellitteri, White Lion and Americade. He even appeared in a movie with Tom Hanks.

Despite all the trappings of rock stardom – recording with music legends, playing in front of sellout crowds around the world, and experiencing musical success at the highest levels – The Beast needed something more out of his career, so he actually declined an opportunity with a band that’s sold millions of albums so he could become a lawyer.

This extended Second Act Stories interview includes plenty stories about The Beast’s music career and his decision to launch his law career, and it paints a vivid picture of the motivation that drives such a surprising life-changing decision.

Check out the official Black Sabbath Dave “The Beast” Spitz page here.

Why Leah Gorham Scrubbed Out of Nursing to Drive a Truck


Leah Gorham spent 16 years working as a nurse, helping patients while she also helped an industry known for a shortage of talent. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced and spread, causing workloads and stress levels to skyrocket for first responders, Leah took it in stride.

Although healthcare workers were widely recognized for being profoundly affected by the pandemic, it wasn’t until she was attacked by a patient in what she calls the worst assault of her career (sadly, this is an ongoing issue in nursing) that she finally chose to scrub out and do something different. But instead of shifting to a career that would be easy, she moved to another industry that was profoundly affected by the pandemic: trucking.

Today, Leah Gorham is a long-haul trucker, doing her part to alleviate challenges in the supply chain. But that’s not the reason she went into it. She and her boyfriend are partners, taking to the open road together, and living life on their terms. She’s never been happier.

A view from inside Leah’s cab

Leah and her big rig

Actress Turned CEO: Anna Vocino’s Path to Eat Happy


Anna Vocino has an impressive IMDb resume dotted with comedic acting roles, sketch comedy appearances on shows including the Lance Krall Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and professional narration work for a number of TV series and documentaries. She has risen to the top of the voiceover industry, lending her vocal skills to an endless array of video games and TV commercials, and she’s even the female voice of the NBC television network.

In the midst of a career in entertainment, Anna was diagnosed with Celiac disease and was forced to eliminate gluten from her diet. A gifted cook, she created gluten-free versions of the recipes she loved and posted them to a blog. A circuitous series of decisions led her to co-host a very successful podcast with health entrepreneur Vinnie Tortorich, and her path ultimately resulted in the release of two bestselling Eat Happy cookbooks.

She combined her love of cooking with a passion to create foods that are clean, gluten-free, no sugar added alternatives to the processed options available on most store shelves. Today, Anna is also the CEO of packaged food company Eat Happy Kitchen, which has realized substantial growth in both distribution and revenue since its launch.

Most surprisingly, Anna’s path was not linear. She didn’t set out to embark on a second act, and she didn’t know she was on that path until she looked back and realized it.

Learn more about Anna Vocino at www.annavocino.com.

Tech Entrepreneur Brews a Plan to Reform Street Gangs


George Taylor built a career as a serial tech entrepreneur, launching, growing and exiting from nine different companies. Five years ago, after settling in Wilmington, North Carolina, George was working at his latest tech startup, when a nearby gang-related drive-by shooting shook him to his core. George was “pissed off” that such violence existed in this idyllic seaside town and he vowed to do something to help.

After meeting with the region’s top gang leaders to understand the issues that drive street gangs, he launched TRU Colors, a brewery with a mission to end the cycle of gang violence in America’s neighborhoods by breaking down barriers and creating new economic opportunities.

TRU Colors hires active gang members, pays them a livable wage, and shows them that they have options and opportunities to be successful.

We hope George’s story inspires you as much as it has inspired us. To learn more about TRU Colors, visit the organization’s website at www.trucolors.co

Scott Weiss Traded Executive Pay For Purpose


Detroit native Scott Weiss grew up in a family that emphasized formal education, but by his own admission, he was not a particularly good student. Scott attended Michigan State University, which was more a means to make money than to gain an education.

After graduating, Scott made his way to Atlanta, landed a job with Turner Broadcasting and by the age of 34 he was an executive vice president who launched the CNN Airport Network and often worked directly with Ted Turner. At this stage, Scott’s bosses sent him to a communication training workshop at Speakeasy that changed the course of his life.

Because of his experience, Scott left Turner and joined Speakeasy, a move that slashed his salary by two-thirds, but that added much needed purpose to his life and his career. Today Scott continues to lead this organization that profoundly impacts people’s lives.

Click here to learn about Speakeasy.

More information about Scott Weiss and his book DARE: Accepting the Challenge of Trusting Leadership is available at this link.