PYTHON HUNTRESS! Amy Siewe Left Real Estate to Hunt Pythons in the Everglades


Amy Siewe is the quintessential embodiment of how passion drives a second act.

She left a safe and lucrative career as a real estate broker to hunt pythons in the Everglades.

She proudly shares that she’s 5’ 4”, 120 lbs., and captures pythons as big as 180 lbs. by physically jumping on them and wrestling them into submission.

This is what pure passion looks like.

In this fascinating episode, Amy shares what motivated her to leave a relatively safe career selling real estate to become The Python Huntress.

In this wild ride, she shares how she became so interested in snakes, unbelievable accounts of actual hunts, how she built a business out of hunting pythons, why her role is necessary, and which of her two careers is more stressful.

Follow Amy Siewe, The Python Huntress, on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Second Act Stories theme music: “Between 1 and 3 am” by Echoes

A Stray Bullet Killed Her 8-Year-Old Son…In Grief, She Formed Strong Azz Mothers

 

Tiffani Evans’ life changed completely on August 24, 2021. That’s when her 8-year-old son PJ was killed in gang-related, gun violence in the Washington, DC region.

Emerging from the dark days that followed his death, she helped form the “Strong Azz Mothers,” a group of area women who lost children to gun violence. The organization focuses community attention on the problem but also serves as a strong support group. According to Evans, “It’s a sorority that we never asked to be in. But we’re in it so we try to support each other. Nobody understands this like we understand it.”

Tiffani Evans and the Strong Azz Mothers in “Turning Pain Into Purpose: Say My Son’s Name.”

With the help of the DC Theatre Lab, the group performed a play titled “Turning Pain Into Purpose: Say My Son’s Name” to a packed auditorium. The Strong Azz Mothers were profiled in an amazing article by Washington Post Reporter Jasmine Hilton (which is how we first heard of the story).

Tiffani has most recently taken on a new role working in the Prince George’s County School System as a “violence interruptor.” Her message to students, “Don’t let a five second emotion change your life forever. There are a lot of people serving life in prison right now for a mistake that they wish they could change.” 

Sweeter Days Ahead: How Baking Transformed Janie Deegan’s Life


In 2009, Janie Deegan returned home from college with a serious alcohol and drug problem. Eventually, she found herself homeless and living on the streets of New York City.

Fast forward to today…she is the owner of “Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods,” a thriving business with three, NYC bakeries and booming e-commerce division. At the center of her success is the “pie crust cookie” — essentially a baby pie that comes in five, different flavors. Her company and her cookies have been featured on Good Morning America, The TODAY Show, CNN and The New York Times.

The company is dedicated to helping other young women through mentorship and second chance employment. As Janie shares in the podcast, “The person you show up for at the interview is the person we’re looking at. We’re not doing background checks…we have formerly incarcerated employees, homeless staff and those with addiction problems. It’s been really beautiful to see how people blossom when they are given a chance.” 

Janie and the team at “Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods.”

Interested in trying Janie’s pie crust cookies? They come in apple, pecan, triple berry, chocolate and cherry and can be ordered from www.JanieBakes.com.

Like her second act story, Janie’s “pie crust cookies” are truly amazing.

 

Brian “Q” Quinn’s Impractical Career Shift: Fireman to Funny Man


Brian “Q” Quinn is one of the stars of the massive hit TV show, Impractical Jokers. Currently in its 10th season on truTV, Q and lifelong friends Sal Vulcano and James “Murr” Murray (a fourth friend and member of the show, Joe Gatto, departed from the show last year) “compete to embarrass each other,” with hilarious results. It’s wildly popular because it doesn’t force you to think, and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

At the age of 36, Q was working as an FDNY fireman in Staten Island, New York, but then something incredible happened: Impractical Jokers was born and it took off like a rocket. It quickly became truTV’s highest-rated show, and it’s one of the most successful comedies on cable TV. After using all his available leave time from the fire department, Q was faced with a dilemma: stay with the FDNY, work his 20 years and retire with a pension, or leave his career behind to continue with the show?

In this episode, Brian Quinn talks about his career as a fireman, the tough decisions he faced when Impractical Jokers became successful, and some of the hilarious experiences he’s had as a star of the show.

Featured image credit: truTV/Warner Bros. Discovery

Second Act Stories theme music: “Between 1 and 3 am” by Echoes

Episode title credit: Amanda Loduca (from Facebook group: It’s an Impractical Jokers thing, you wouldn’t understand, created by Dawn Marie).

For more about Impractical Jokers, visit them at www.trutv.com/shows/impractical-jokers

Fireman Brian Quinn in front of an FDNY truck. Photo credit: Brian Quinn
Brian “Q” Quinn with Post Malone on a recent episode of Impractical Jokers. Photo credit: truTV/Warner Bros. Discovery
Brian “Q” Quinn, Bret Michaels and Sal Vulcano on a recent episode of Impractical Jokers. Photo credit: truTV/Warner Bros. Discovery
James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Casey Jost on a recent episode of Impractical Jokers. Photo credit: truTV/Warner Bros. Discovery
Brian “Q” Quinn, John Mayer, Sal Vulcano and James “Murr” Murray on a recent episode of Impractical Jokers. Photo credit: truTV/Warner Bros. Discovery
Brian “Q” Quinn and podcast host Scott Merritt at Q’s office in Manhattan.

The Wolf of Late Night: Paul Mecurio’s Journey from Wall Street to Comedy


Paul Mecurio has achieved a level of success in comedy that budding comics only dream of. He’s a writer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; he was a founding writer on The Daily Show, for which he won Emmy and Peabody Awards; he hosted a one-man Off-Broadway show called “Permission to Speak with Paul Mecurio”; he’s hosted shows on Comedy Central and HBO; he had his own comedy special; and he’s a regular opinion contributor on “CBS Sunday Morning.”

But all this success came at an incredibly stressful cost. After graduating Georgetown Law School with high honors, Paul worked as a lawyer on Wall Street at a top-tier international law firm and as an investment banker at Credit Suisse, executing multi-billion-dollar M&A transactions for Fortune 100 companies. He was living the life everybody thinks they want, making a ton of money and enjoying the trappings that kind of success brings.

All the while, Paul was writing jokes and living a double life, working in boardrooms by day and sneaking off to comedy clubs by night to feed an insatiable need to follow his passion for comedy. A chance meeting with Jay Leno was the catalyst for what would become an incredibly gripping, angst-ridden journey filled with self-doubt, torment and tears that had Paul living on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Hold onto your hats; this episode is a roller coaster that will inspire you to chase your dreams.

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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

Nasim’s Second Act: This Overnight Success Took 7 Years


Nasim Alikhani is the owner and executive chef of Sofreh, an amazing Persian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. The restaurant opened in 2018 to rave reviews from The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur and The Food Network. The restaurant is consistently booked weeks in advance.

Sofreh is Nasim’s first restaurant and she launched it at the age of 59 after nearly two decades as a stay-at-home mom. But it hasn’t been an easy road. It took Nasim and her husband Theodore seven years build the restaurant in a brownstone that they purchased and renovated.

She Escaped A Forced Marriage & Now Helps Others Do The Same


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 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 and 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.”