An Extra Cheesy Second Act: Paulie Follows A Love Affair With Pizza

Paul Giannone (known to all as “Paulie Gee”) grew up in Brooklyn, NY but moved to New Jersey as an adult. For most of his professional career he worked with AT&T and their subsidiaries as an information technology staffer and eventually a consultant. And candidly he never liked the work – he never felt he was very good at it either. But he needed to support his family so he stuck it out.

While he didn’t love his work, he loved pizza — absolutely loved everything about it. And at the age of 56, he took an incredible leap of faith – returning to Brooklyn and opening up Paulie Gees — a pizza restaurant. He’s been remarkably successful and “Paulie’s Slice Shop” followed in Brooklyn as did Paulie Gees franchise restaurants in Chicago, Columbus and Baltimore.

Paulie secured 15 different investors that helped him launch the restaurant. But he also took out a home equity loan and put his own “skin in the game” to pursue his dream. It was a big risk but it has all worked out. As Paulie told us, “This is beyond my wildest dreams, I had no idea how happy I could be…I am doing what I was born to do, what I am wired to do.”

*A slice of Paulie Gee’s “HellBoy” pizza. All photos by Kenny Chung.

“I Want To Learn How To Weld”…Becoming An Artist at 48

Zammy Migdal arrived in the United States from Israel in his early 20s. He studied hospitality in college and built a career in Miami’s hotel industry. And at a fairly young age he launched an art-deco, boutique hotel in South Beach called the Indian Creek Hotel. He operated it with great success for nearly two decades.

But the September 11th attack had a devastating impact on Miami’s hotel industry. And the growth of the internet made it difficult for boutique hotels to compete. So at the age of 48, Zammy sold the hotel.

He had no idea what he wanted to do next. But he had always been interested in art and so he took a course in welding at a local art studio. And today he is a highly-successful artist focused on metal sculpture. His work is displayed around the world.

I sat down with Zammy in his home in Miami. He showed me his studio and a number of pieces that he has created. And we talked about his second act.

Best Of 2019 Episode: Goodbye Accounting…Hello Acting

As we start the new year, we’re pleased to share the episode named by Second Act Stories listeners as the “Best of 2019.”

Most of America already knows Kyle Merker. The commercial where he “trades in his lederhosen for a kilt” has aired 22,000 times on broadcast television.

Kyle filmed the Ancestry commercial at the age of 53. And the experience sparked an old passion that encouraged him to pursue acting after 25+ years in the world of accounting and finance.

In just three short years, he’s been remarkably successful being featured in range of other commercials, television programs, films and theater projects. But he took acting seriously enrolling in a two-year program at the Michael Warner Studio in New York City. And he prepares meticulously for each and every audition.

Life’s A Beach For Phil and Arthur: Two Lawyers Start AP Yoga

Arthur and Phil have been together for 20 years as a committed couple. Both had long careers as lawyers. Phil worked for 30 years as an in-house corporate lawyer for a large insurance company. Arthur concluded his legal career as the Dean of Students at New York University Law School.

They retired in their mid-50s and have followed a wide range of passions: art, music and travel. But at the top of the list is yoga instruction. They have created an amazing experience called AP Yoga. Yes, between Memorial Day to Labor Day, you’ll find them on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ. Seven days a week they teach yoga seven-days-a-week to an enthusiastic group of regulars and tourists from 7:45 to 8:45 am.

During the winter months, they teach yoga on Saturday mornings in their local community center in nearby Interlaken, NJ. And that’s where Second Act Stories had a chance to catch up with them and their students.

Special thanks to my friend Jodi Heinz who is a regular at AP Yoga and suggested this episode.


At 65, Descendant Of Georgetown Slaves Finds Second Act On Campus

Today’s story goes back 181 years to 1838. That’s when 272 men, women, and children were sold by an order of Jesuit priests and the proceeds of the sale was used to pay the debts of Georgetown College, now Georgetown University. The slaves had lived on plantations belonging to the Jesuits in Maryland. They were put on a boat and moved to their new owners in Louisiana.

Melisande Short-Columbe is a descendant of this group known as the GU-272. Two-and-a-half years ago she left her work as a chef in New Orleans and entered Georgetown University as a freshman. She was 63 years old.

She is now in her junior year at Georgetown. I visited her in Washington where she was house-sitting for one of her professors. She made me a cup of tea and we sat down for a candid discussion about her great, great, great grandparents Mary Ellen Queen and Abraham Mahoney and about becoming a full-time college student in her 60s.

Of All The Gin Joints In Washington: Retired Lawyer & Son-In-Law Launch Distillery

Michael Lowe was a corporate lawyer in Washington DC. When he left Verizon’s legal department at the age of 59, he started doing yoga five days a week and reading like a fiend. But his wife was still working. And he was getting bored puttering around the house.

So what did he do? Michael launched Washington’s first distillery in 100 years and started making “Green Hat Gin” with his son-in-law John Uselton.

Their success is very different than the traditional model of a family business started by a first generation and then grown by subsequent generations. Michael and John started the business together. Michael brought the regulatory experience and a large amount of the capital. John brought sales experience, a network of contacts from his years in Washington’s alcohol and restaurant industry and the energy of someone in the early stages of a new career.

It’s proven to be a powerful partnership. And out of that partnership came a great product. So if you find yourself in Washington one weekend, I suggest you stop in to their tasting room, say hi and sample a cocktail with Green Hat Gin.


Prescription for Change: From Pharmacist To Flight Attendant

Venetia Clark loved her job as a Walgreens’ pharmacist for 30 years.

But as she approached 55 years of age, she had the opportunity to take advantage of an early retirement program with some significant financial benefits. And she also spent quality time with her 91-year-old father who was in the final year of his life. It caused her to conclude it was time for a change. A love of travel and the encouragement of two flight attendant friends led her to a new job opportunity.

She has been flying for the past five years and loving the new job with United Airlines.

Ready For A Career Pivot? Expert Interview With Marc Miller

Marc Miller has changed career paths a total of seven times. But after suffering a near fatal bike accident, he switched gears – no pun intended – and focused his talents on counseling friends and associates on their career journeys. And he realized that he had found his true calling.

From there, he wrote a powerful book called “Repurpose Your Career” that is now in its third edition…He launched the “Repurpose Your Career” podcast which now has nearly 150 episodes. And he started the “Career Pivot” online community.

We caught up with Marc at the Princeton Public Library where he was speaking on the topic of ageism.


A Passage To India: Her Second Act Started With A Trip

Shila Desai’s life has an intriguing and international timeline. She is of Indian descent – with her grandparents coming from the country’s Gujarat province. But she was born in Kenya and grew up there. She got her professional degree in the United Kingdom. And at the age of 24, Shila relocated to Canada where she spent most of her adult life.

She arrived in Canada and didn’t know a soul. She met her future husband in the first few weeks in Toronto, they married and started a family. And they bought a bankrupt garment manufacturing company and turned it into a home run success.

On the outside it looked like a wonderful life. But Shila struggled with depression and thirsted for something that she could call her own. At the request of her writer’s group, she put together a tour that brought nineteen of her friends to India. The experience was such a success she turned it into a travel company called Eat Your Heart Out Tours (or EYHO Tours for short).

As you’ll hear in the podcast, EYHO Tours has developed a particular expertise in textile tours essentially bringing visitors and textile artisans in India, Morocco, Madagascar and Uzbekistan together. You can learn more about Shila’s company at


A Dream Deferred: How A Banquet Waitress Became A Doctor At 45

Ruth Lavigne grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was a doctor (a radiologist) and she used to fill-in the date on patient sheets when her dad reviewed their films at home. As Ruth followed her father around his hospital, she always thought “that will be me someday.”

She ended up studying French in college and then business in graduate school. After marrying, starting a family and relocating to California, she found herself working as a banquet waitress in a San Diego hotel. She enjoyed the work and the flexible schedule which gave her time with two kids.

Ruth’s dream of becoming a doctor re-emerged one night as she held her oldest daughter Ariel in her arms and told her “you can be anything you want when you grow up.” And Ruth thought, “one day this kid is gonna look back up at me say, so you wanted to be a waitress all your life?”

With financial help from her parents and childcare support from her in-laws, she went back to school at 31 to take the necessary pre-med coursework. At 36, she returned home and entered medical school at the University of Cincinnati. At 40 she began a four-year residency to become a radiation oncologist. And at 45-years-of age, she finally became Dr. Ruth Lavigne.

Ruth’s story of persistence and overcoming obstacles is as inspirational as they come.