My friend, Mike Green, recently “trod the boards” acting in a Bay Area hit production. At 81, Mike never misses a cue and his lines are seamless—in fact he often steals the show. While this may be Mike’s second career, acting was his first love after dabbling in theater in his salad days. I’ll bet he’ll never be upstaged right up to his final curtain call, still many years away.
I wonder if others feel they may have missed a boat or two along the way and dream of reprising an earlier life. ‘Tho I believe in “no more couldda, shouldda, wouldda” regrets, there are many roads that can lead back to abandoned adventures, and you don’t have to be older. Ten years ago, my son turned his music studio hobby into a thriving business. At any age, it’s as energizing and exciting to move on to the untried as it is to step back and enjoy a magical “second act.”
We seniors have an advantage. I’ve been retired long enough to reminisce with rose-colored nostalgia on memorable moments from my former careers. Perusing your own personal itinerary, you’ll find surprising connections and unexpected wisdom as well as high hilarity in hindsight—it’s so often the small stuff that makes big memories.
Or move on and “Go for it.” My husband used to say that trying new endeavors was truly the spice of life. However, I’m proof of, “Be careful what you go for!” I’ve already written about coming full circle back to speaking and writing, and instead of the teacher I once was, I’m now a “coach!” But rarely do I divulge a manic misstep into the esoteric world of food, starting a…soup business.
Actually there were two of us, twin neophytes with no business plans, no research, trial tests or adequate income needed to wait out those inevitable start-up years. My friend wanted to make a product, something wholesome, fresh. We figured everyone has to eat. No matter that my idea of “homemade” soup was combining two different cans of Campbell’s. In the late ‘80s, with “organic” just coming out of the pantry, we were apron-ed and ready. This was Silicon Valley—home of the risk taker and innovator.
The short version is that my partner created and cooked a global menu of tasty, nutritious and always fresh recipes; I marketed, delivered, packaged, as well as chopped, peeled, shopped. We set up a totally inadequate mini-food processor and dangerous 30 gallon pots in a dank warehouse hemmed in by industrial shelving, a dimly lit, shivery cold, walk-in refrigerator lined with roof-high pallets and a separate Siberian freezer. I trotted through the thicket of local delis, off-beat bistros and hidden industrial cafes toting a large basket festooned with gaily colored ribbons around bright wooden vegetables, and heavy with thermos jugs of steaming samples.
“It’s the soup lady,” I trilled to startled waiters and matre d’s; “guess what’s great about this soup?”
“What?” everyone chorused on cue.
“I don’t make it, you lucky people!” My partner’s concocting delicious brews as we speak!”
I wrestled an ancient labeling machine, fought early traffic, and promised summertime gazpacho that cost more to make than we could charge, used up more gallons of gas than soup gallons sold and at Halloween stirred pots of samples dressed like McBeth’s witches. More fiascoes followed until exhausted and overdrawn, we finally parted, friends vs. partners.
Bitten (pardon the expression), by the food biz bug, I failed in bagels when the IRS padlocked the owner’s “factory”—six electric knives and a cream cheese cutting wire. My seed money melted along with super fast thawing yogurt-popsicles until I finally succumbed to common sense after serving sloppy pre-Costco lasagna “on spec” behind a steam table during a sweltering summer at the Moffett Field enlisted men’s club. Kitchen closed!
Fortunately, my hard-won, hands-on business trials enhanced my financial acumen. Investment clients benefited from my foray into real world balance sheets. Even sad experience pays unique dividends.
I remind readers of a theme from my very first blog posts. Reach out, take a chance. It’s never too late. It’s usually fun. And I firmly believe that you won’t grow old as long as you look forward to a future.