Conversation With A Contact Tracer: A Look At America’s Fastest Growing Job

We depart from our traditional format with this episode to offer a glimpse inside the world of contact tracing. This is the fastest growing job in America, with the need for an estimated 200,000 contact tracers to track infections and protect the U.S. population against the advance of the COVID-19 virus. For those in our audience who may now be unemployed or simply looking for a new challenge, we thought it would be interesting to learn how the job works and the qualities needed to excel in this role.

We connected with Daniel Okpare, a 30-year-old masters student in New York University’s School of Global Public Health. In addition to getting an advanced degree, he is on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, working for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Program. He was previously profiled in The New York Times.

One point of clarification…many of the contact tracer positions focus on connecting with individuals infected by the virus by telephone. Daniel’s job is that of a “community engagement specialist.” He goes out into the community to meet with individuals that can’t be reached via the telephone. He typically conducts 4-6, face-to-face interviews per day. Interviews take place in the doorway of the infected individual’s home and run for 20-30 minutes.

We regularly celebrate the doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and paramedics helping to combat the COVID-19 crisis. It’s to add “contact tracers” like Daniel Okpare to this list of healthcare heroes.

Everybody Loves A Second Act … 24 Minutes With Actress Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton starred in two wildly successful television series: Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle.

But it was the not-so-successful series Carol’s Second Act that led Patricia (or Patty she likes to be called) to author a new book called “Your Second Act.” It shares her own story and her new work serving as an Ambassador for the non-profit organization World Vision. The book also details the “Second Act Stories” of 14 other, courageous individuals navigating major, life transitions. It’s an inspiring read for anyone exploring a new path.

Patricia Heaton and the cast of “Carol’s Second Act.”

We normally conduct all of our podcast interviews face-to-face. But with travel challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and the opportunity  to interview a three-time Emmy award winner, we made an exception for the chance to speak with Patricia Heaton via telephone.

Her new book, “Your Second Act,” is on our “Best Books about Second Acts” list.

“Your Second Act” was released on July 21, 2020 by Simon & Schuster.

Humor Me: A Speech Pathologist Finds A New Voice

Susan Goldfein is 79 years old, in great shape and splits her time between Florida and Connecticut. For most of her professional career, she served as a speech pathologist in a range of different settings. She worked with elementary school students, provided home care for stroke patients and she taught at the university level.

Her last position was with the Alzheimers Association in New York City. But in 2008, the organization faced major funding challenges and had to reduce their staff. So at the age of 68, Susan was out of a job and completely lost in terms of what to do.

After some early struggles, she took an eight-week course in short story writing at a community center. And in the footsteps of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck, she found her voice as a successful humorist. She pens a blog called “Unfiltered Wit,” has written two books and her stories are syndicated in eight different newspapers across the country. You can check out her writing on her website.

Concerned about COVID-19, we sat down outside in two folding chairs in a Westport, Connecticut dog park – yes a dog park – for an interview. So enjoy the conversation and a few extra background noises too.

In a COVID-19 world, face-to-face interviews are more challenging. Andy Levine interviews Susan Goldfein in Westport, CT dog park.

With Socks, Snacks & Shampoo, Kevin Forms The Blessing Bag Brigade

Kevin Garrison worked the overnight shift for Amtrak helping to keep the trains running in an out of New York City. And in 2016, he was looking for a charitable Christmas project. An online post about a blessing bag – a plastic bag filled with everyday hygiene and food products caught his eye. It proved to be the start of the Blessing Bag Brigade – a non-profit that has delivered 65,000 blessing bags to those in need.

But in 2016, he was looking for a small charitable project to celebrate Christmas. On his computer, he saw a posting about a “blessing bag” – a small plastic bag filled with everyday hygiene and food products that could be distributed to those in need. With the help of his friends, he put together 200 blessing bags. After then after work, he walked around Penn Station and distributed the bags to homeless men and women. He did this for about two weeks.

Four years later Kevin has formed the Blessing Bag Brigade – a non-profit in New Jersey that has distributed over 65,000 blessing bags to the less fortunate. And last year, with the support of his fiancé, he retired from Amtrak and now manages this non-profit on a full time basis. And he couldn’t be happier.

Click here to learn more about Kevin Garrison and the Blessing Bag Brigade.

At 75, Marty Herman Writes The First Of 5 Mystery Novels

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing the Great American Novel, this episode is for you.

For most of his professional career, Marty Herman was a business turnaround specialist. He would come into troubled companies, figure out what was wrong and implement a solution. And then he’d move on to the next company.

But he always had a love of writing – he even sold a couple of short stories in his life. So at the age of 75, and with the help and encouragement of his youngest daughter Aimee, he published his first mystery novel called “The Jefferson Files.” Since then he’s published four other mystery novels, a book of short stories and a biography of a local jazz musician.

Marty loves writing. But he also loves selling his books. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he attended 200+ book and craft fairs each year and estimates that he’s sold 15,000-18,000 of his books in this manner.

Click here to learn more about his work and purchase one of his books. I read his latest mystery, “The First Tuesday Of The Month Murder Files,” and it is terrific.

Legally Blonde Redux: From Lawyer To Burlesque Dancer

Over the course of the past two years, we’ve interviewed quite a few lawyers. Mark Salvacion was a corporate lawyer who found a more fulfilling life as a Methodist minister. Richard Turner was a trial attorney who found a path to becoming a very successful nature photographer. Michael Lowe left the law to start a Washington, DC gin distillery with his son-in-law. And Amy Yontef-McGrath was a former lawyer who experimented with 50 public service projects in celebration of her 50th birthday.

But nothing could have prepared us for Lora Cheadle’s story. She went from practicing law in the insurance industry to burlesque dancing. We’re not making this up. Actually that’s only a piece of what she does. Lora is also as an author, a hypnotherapist, a podcast host and her favorite term self-coined term: a life choreographer. But burlesque is a big part of her second act story.

Click here to learn more about Lora Cheadle, her new book “Flaunt: Drop Your Cover and Reveal Your Smart, Sexy and Spiritual Self,” her blog and her podcast.


Two Friends Ditch The Corporate Job Search; Launch “Second Act Women”

Barbara Brooks and Guadalupe Hirt are two, talented women based in Denver, Colorado. Both have entrepreneurial backgrounds but had the same plan as they approached their 50s: Get a stable, corporate job…Enjoy solid health benefits….And put away some retirement funds. But like many older workers they hit a brick wall called ageism.

After dozens of resume submissions and almost no interviews, they took a different direction. Barbara and Guadalupe formed an organization called Second Act Women. Not surprisingly, we love the name of their organization that helps women in their 40s, 50s and above navigate the latter stage of their professional lives. At the center of the group is an amazing event called “Biz Life Con” an active online community on Facebook. After a successful start in Denver, they are now in the early stages of taking their approach to other cities in the USA.

Click here to learn more about Second Act Women.

Mary Lost Her Father At 14: Today She Helps Kids Overcome Grief

Mary Robinson was just 14 when she lost her father. Throughout high school, college and her 20s, that grief stayed bottled up inside her. A therapist helped her get her life together by helping her share her story.

She landed a corporate job with Prudential Financial working in their information technology department and eventually running the company’s volunteer programs. But after fourteen years, she concluded she was a “fish out of water” in Corporate America.

Mary kept a small sign on her bedroom mirror that said “Leap And The Net Will Appear.” One day she marched into her boss’ office with a resignation letter and announced her decision to leave Prudential. She had no idea what she was going to do. But “The Net” did eventually appear in her decision to launch “Imagine: A Center For Coping With Loss.” Imagine is a free year-round grief support center for children ages 3 to 18, and young adults 18 to 30, and their parents, who have had a parent, brother, sister or other close family member die.

Mary was honored as a CNN Hero in 2019. “It was just so exciting, because it allowed us to shine a global spotlight on this issue of children’s grief. One of the things that all of us who work in this field say is that our vision is that someday no child grieves alone. And I feel like with this recognition from CNN, that that is actually possible now in my lifetime.”

We’re honored to profile her on the Second Act Stories podcast.

A sign from the lobby of Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss.

For more information about Imagine: A Center For Coping With Loss, click here.

Life After COVID-19…Is It Time For My Second Act?

Expert estimates predict the U.S. unemployment rate could rise from anywhere from 10% – 32% in 2020. Whatever the final number, that represents millions of individuals who will be unexpectedly looking for work. As Americans struggle to find new positions, it may be the right time to ask “Is It Time For My Second Act?

For perspective on this challenge as the world wrestles with the COVID-19 Crisis, we turned to two of the nation’s most respected experts on the topic of career and workplace issues: Kerry Hannon and Marci Alboher.

Kerry Hannon has written 12 books in the area of career transitions and personal finance as well as literally hundreds of articles for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, USA Today, US News and World Report and AARP. Her latest book, Great Pajama Jobs: How To Land A Job Without The Commute, will be released in July 2020.

Marci Alboher is a Vice President at, author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life and former New York Times workplace columnist. You can also check out Marci’s free “Encore Careers” course on LinkedIn.

You can follow Kerry and Marci on Twitter (@kerryhannon and @heymarci).

Telephone Repairman Follows His Dream: Designing Women’s Shoes

Since his junior year in high school, Chris Donovan has been sketching women’s shoes. It’s been his quiet obsession for the past 30+ years.

At the age of 50, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he knew it was time to leave his safe job at the phone company to pursue his lifelong dream. “I need to follow this. I need to find out why I have this passion for shoes.”

Based on the recommendation of European shoe designer Aki Choklat, he was accepted to Polimoda, one of the best fashion design institutes in the world. He enrolled in an accelerated masters program and packed his bags for Florence, Italy. And while his first few months were difficult, he ended up graduating at the top of his class.

Since our initial interview with Chris in October 2018, he has figured out how to turn his amazing designs into an actual product. Take it from Tim Gunn of Project Runway: “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”

For more examples of Chris’ amazing designs, visit