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.


A Magazine Writer Finds New Life As A Funeral Director

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 and range of trade publications, she has built a name for herself as an advocate of green and sustainable practices within the funeral industry. And her work as a writer continues via her blog “The Inspired Funeral.”

Amy Cunningham and cemeterian Jennifer Johnson prepare a shrouded deceased gentleman for burial at the Greensprings Natural Burial Preserve in upstate New York.

Special thanks to Bruce Feiler, author of “Life Is in The Transitions,” for suggesting this episode.



Leaving Advertising Sales To Become A Hypnotist

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 her back in a cliff jumping accident in the Dominican Republic. A difficult operation was followed by an even more difficult recovery. Traditional methods failed and Jackie tried acupuncture, alternative medicine and a psychologist without success. As a final “Hail Mary” effort, her doctors then turned to Lisa Ludovici and hypnotism to successfully heal her.

Lisa made the transition to hypnotist from a series of high-powered jobs in the world of advertising sales working for companies like America Online, Microsoft and Time Inc.

Click here to learn more about Lisa and her practice in New York City.

Special thanks to Bruce Feiler and his excellent book “Life Is In the Transitions” for bringing Lisa Ludovici to our attention.