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

Ready For A Career Transition? 26 Minutes With Coach John Tarnoff


John Tarnoff is a non-traditional, career transition coach. A veteran of Hollywood, John was fired 7 times over the course of his lengthy career in entertainment.

At age 50, he decided to go back to school and earned a master’s degree in spiritual psychology. Pivoting to a focus on people and career counseling, he eventually wrote “Boomer Reinvention: How To Create Your Dream Career Over 50.” He is frequently interviewed by top tier media (CBS This Morning, Forbes, CNBC, Market Watch and Next Avenue to name a few) on the topic of career transition.

Click here for more information on John Tarnoff’s unusual coaching practice.

Goodbye Hedge Fund…Hello Sourdough Bread


Adam Simon was a partner in Echo Street Capital Management, a successful hedge fund in New York City. While he enjoyed the challenge of the work and it’s financial rewards, the demanding 80+ hour per week schedule was wreaking havoc on his personal life. So in 2017,he quit and focused his attention on reconnecting with his family.

As the Covid-19 crisis began, Adam, his wife and their two children headed to a safer location in the suburbs. “We were going a bit stir crazy” and they opted to launch an informal neighborhood project called “Pandemic Breads.” They baked bread and other sweets in their kitchen and sold the goods door-to-door. He loved everything about baking and became especially enamored with the challenge of making sourdough bread.

After working as an intern in two commercial bakeries in New York City, Adam launched “Sourdough Gambit” named after his love of chess and the popular Netfix series “The Queens Gambit.” He started small, baking two days per week in a shared commercial kitchen and selling his products via home delivery in Manhattan. Since launching in February, 2022, the new venture has gone exceptionally well winning rave reviews from customers.

Click here to learn more about Sourdough Gambit.

A sampling of Sourdough Gambit’s end product made entirely from organic ingredients.

Life After The NFL: Arrelious Benn’s Java Journey


Arrelious Benn was a star football player at Dunbar Senior High School (Washington, DC) and the University of Illinois. He entered the NFL draft after his junior year in college and was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His NFL career with Tampa Bay, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars spanned seven years, twice the league average. But it is also included two ACL tears, a fractured lumbar and a shattered collarbone.

After his final season with the Jaguars, he and his family put down roots and decided to open Social House Coffee in the Avondale section of Jacksonville. Replacing a former gun store, his neighborhood shop is all about great coffee and building community.

As Benn shares in the podcast, “Football consumed my life for so many years. But I know I only have one body. And I want to see my kids grow up and there are other things I want to do. It’s a breath of fresh air to do something new and be creative.”

Benn is now working in what he calls “my first real job.” He spends his days taking customers orders, serving coffee/pastries and managing a staff of six. And he couldn’t be happier.

Arrelious Benn (middle) and his team at Social House Coffee in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Dumping Oil & Gas Careers To Make A Better Dumpling


Chih Lin and Mike Dorsey were trained as engineers and worked in the oil & gas industry in Houston, Texas. But both were miserable at work and decided they needed to make a change.

They launched a company called “Dumpling Dudez” and turned their attention to teaching small groups of people the art of dumpling-making. They started in April, 2019 and had a successful launch. And when Covid-19 shut down their in-person classes, they switched to virtual classes and selling the world’s first “ready-to-bake” dumping commercially.

At the age of 15, Chih Lin came to the United States from Taiwan. He learned how to make dumplings from his grandmother. “I don’t remember the taste of the dumplings. But I always remember how I feel when I make dumplings with my family. That’s what dumpling making is…your hands are busy and then you live in the present. And when you live in the present, the conversations come up very nicely, very real and easier for you to connect with other people.”

Chih’s business & life partner Mike Dorsey concludes the episode with some strong advice for second act aspirants: “If you’re really unhappy at work and it’s causing you so much grief, find an exit strategy and start working towards it today. A small step today can become a huge leap tomorrow.”

Click here to learn more about the Dumpling Dudez, their classes and their “ready-to-bake” dumplings.

 

 

An Unlikely Mayor: A Retired Lawyer Enters Public Service


Josh Cohn worked as top, derivatives lawyer for a series of well-respected, law firms. He commuted by train to New York City everyday from the affluent suburb of Rye, NY. But at the age of 66, he was increasingly bored with the work and planned to retire from the legal field.

He came home one night, cracked open a beer and ended up watching a city council meeting on a local, cable-access channel. That’s when he became aware of a plan to put up mini-cell phone towers throughout the city including one directly across the street from his house. He helped form “Protecting Residential Rye” and with the help of dozens of other concerned citizens, the group successfully halted these plans. In the wake of this success, a local Councilwoman asked, “Josh, have you every thought about running for Mayor?”

Josh ran as an independent with the endorsement of Rye’s Democratic Party. And when all the votes were counted, he successfully defeated the Republican incumbent.

“What I like best about the job is problem-solving. And problems can be large, problems can be small.” His thorough, research-driven, methodical approach has earned strong praise from his fellow council members and Rye’s citizens.

In November 2021, he won a second term — this time with the endorsement of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

 

 

Presto Chango: An Industrial Salesman’s Magical Transition


David Bowers worked as a salesman for the Columbia Rubber Company for 39 years. He spent his professional life selling conveyer belt hoses to quarries and heavy machinery operations. But since the age of ten, he always had a fascination with the world of magic.

For a 50th birthday celebration, his wife Judy hired a professional magician. And at the end of his performance, he pulled David aside and said: “I hear you’re interested in magic. How would you like me to become your mentor?” And that conversation launched his second act as a professional magician.

David and his wife Judy (aka the baloon-twisting/face-painting Miss Penelope) have put on hundreds of magic shows over the past 25 years. But his favorite audience remains pre-school children. “They are like a sponge. They soak up everything I do.”

“I would love to have a camera behind me…I wish everyone could see the kids faces when I perform a trick.”

Now 75 years old, he plans to continue performing for as long as he can still walk. “I love being a magician, And when I die, I want to be buried in performance clothes — sparkly vest and everything. Even when I die, I don’t want to give it up.”

Click here, to learn more about the performance of David Wayne (his stage name) and Miss Penelope.

Best of 2021: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief And A Second Act


As we start the new year, we’re pleased to share the episode named the “Best Of 2021.” The episode features the amazing Anne Moss Rogers and is titled “Pain Turns To Purpose: A Suicide, A Mother’s Grief And A Second Act.” It is among the most inspiring tales we’ve shared since starting Second Act Stories in 2018.

Anne Moss Rogers was at the pinnacle of a 20-year professional career in 2010. She opened her own digital marketing agency in 2010 and the business grew quickly. 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, 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.

 

From Paycheck To Purpose: A Conversation With Author Ken Coleman


Ken Coleman is the #1 bestselling author of “The Proximity Principle” and host of the nationally syndicated radio show “The Ken Coleman Show.” As America’s Career Coach, he helps callers discover what they do best so they can do work they love and produce the results that matter most to them.

In Ken’s new bestselling book, “From Paycheck to Purpose,” he draws on what he learned from his own ten-year journey as well as from coaching thousands of others to walk readers through the seven stages to discovering and doing work that gives you both a great income AND big impact.

In this special expert interview episode of Second Act Stories, host Scott Merritt traveled to the Nashville headquarters of Ramsey Solutions to sit down with Ken for a face-to-face discussion about his new book.

Learn more about Ken at www.kencoleman.com.

You can purchase “From Paycheck to Purpose” at the Ramsey Solutions online store, on Amazon, or wherever fine books are found.

Told “Boys Don’t Knit” At 7, Russell Opens A Yarn Shop At 51


Russell Brent learned how to knit from his mother at seven. But he put away his knitting needles at a young age after hearing the phrase “boys don’t knit.”

In his mid thirties, Russell started knitting again — making baby gifts for friends. And he found he really enjoyed it — “it was easy…it was meditative.” His hobby grew into a new vocation and today he is the owner and proprietor of Balzac and Company, a yarn shop in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

“How can you not be happy working in a yarn shop? You get to touch cashmere, and alpaca, silk, and merino. All day long you are surrounded by the most beautiful colors on the planet.”
Russell Brent