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SECOND-ACT SIGNIFICANCE IX: “Is This All There Is?” #118

Warwick Fairfax

May 31, 2022

It’s the essential, sometimes heart-wrenching, often-life-changing question pondered by those who move from one act of their lives to another: “Is this all there is?”

In this wrap-up of the eight episode series, SECOND-ACT SIGNIFICANCE, host Warwick Fairfax and cohost Gary Schneeberger extract from the stories shared by guests four key steps you can take to pivot from Act 1 to Act 2 in your own life. And they discuss what all of those guests have in common with a former Major League Baseball player – an All-Star and onetime rookie of the year — who used his own “Is this all there is?” moment to craft a second act going on 50 years that has given him more significance than any home run he ever hit.

Highlights

  • Former Major League Baseball All-Star Albie Pearson’s “Is this all there is?” moment (3:29)
  • Truth No. 1: It’s never too late, or too early, to pursue a next act in life that brings you more significance (14:38)
  • Robert Miller’s rock star dreams (15:04)
  • Yvette Bodden’s launch of a platform to encourage and equip women (19:50)
  • Nancy Volpe Beringer’s couture calling (27:37)
  • Truth No. 2: When you set out on a journey to new significance, follow your heart and lean into your talents (33:27)
  • Melissa Reaves’ love of story (33:46)
  • John Busacker’s priority realignment (42:35)
  • Truth No. 3: Starting small is OK because it’s starting (47:37)
  • Erik and Emily Orton’s not-so-smooth sailing (47:59)
  • Chris Schembra’s appetizing first step (53:08)
  • Truth No. 4: Listen to Churchill. Never give in. Never, never, never, never. (59:56)
  • Kari Schwear’s gray-area dream (1:01:58)
  • Warwick’s “cubicle moment” (1:09:54)
  • Three questions to reflect on as you consider second-act significance (1:20:04)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Often in some of the stories we’re going to be talking about, we’ll be talking about folks who are in cubicles. They feel like they’re stuck, maybe depressed, maybe unfulfilled, and they’re thinking, “Is this all there is? I’m an accountant, I’m an assistant. I mean, there’s got to be more to life.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Is this all there is? That’s the essential, sometimes heart-wrenching, often life-changing question we ponder today as we wrap up our series, Second-Act Significance. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. This week, Warwick and I tie a bow on the package of the eight episodes on which we interviewed men and women from all walks of life who have one thing in common, pursuing and achieving a second act in life that is bringing them more satisfaction and significance than their first act ever did. How did they do it? That’s the meat and potatoes of this episode. We have extracted from the stories our guests shared four key steps you can take to pivot from act one, to act two in your own life and we’ll reveal along the way, what all of them have in common with a former major league baseball player and all star, and one-time rookie of the year who used his own “is this all there is” moment to craft a second act going on 50 years that has given him more significance than any home run he ever hit.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

This is the wrap up episode of the previous eight weeks, listener. And that’s two months of time. That’s one sixth of the year, we have dedicated to this subject because we believe and we think it’s been born out in this series that this is extremely important to talk about. So how we’re going to do this is you’ll be hearing from the guests who shared their stories during this series who offer all kinds of inspiration, hope, practical stories about moving into the life you were born to live, on purpose and in service to others.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And to get us going as it’s often the case, when it’s just me and Warwick talking without a guest, we call them dialogue episodes. If you want to hear the inside baseball term. We’re going to use as our discussion template for this, the newest blog at crucibleleadership.com actually written by me, which summarizes some key learnings and some key takeaways.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And most importantly, some steps you yourself can take as you look to navigate that journey from first act to second act. And as a bonus, because we like to add bonuses when we do the podcast, we’re going to add a fourth tip. So we’ve got three tips in the blog about how you can move from first act to second act smoothly and with success and significance. And then we’ve added a fourth one here for our discussion. So it’s going to be really, I hope quite an emboldening conversation, a buoyant conversation, an important conversation.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We’re going to begin here as we do it. This is fun for me to begin here personally because the story that we’re going to begin with and I’m going to tell is actually the story of someone I had the pleasure to know closely in the mid to late ’90s when I lived in Palm Springs, California. His son-in-law is my spiritual father, the man whose church I became a Christian in.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I got to know this individual very well in the mid to late ’90s when I lived in Palm Springs. And his name is Albie Pearson. Probably you’ve never heard of Albie Pearson. A couple things about Albie Pearson that make him interesting is that he was, and you can look it up on Wikipedia, it’s true, he was the 1958 American League Rookie of the Year in Major League Baseball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Okay? So that just level sets who Albie Pearson was. But before that, long before that, when he was just six years old, he was just a baseball loving boy living in Southern California. He didn’t have a lot of friends around that he could play ball with, so he did what any enterprising, young wannabe ball player would do. He snatched his mother’s decorative pillows, silk pillows off the couch, built a diamond in his backyard and did what I didn’t do it with my mom’s pillows, but I did the same thing.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I would create baseball games. Just me and my bat and my mind. I would have the play by play and do the whole thing. What Albie’s constant game, the game he always played out, minding it with a bat in his hand and nobody else around, just his mom’s silk pillows, Albie would always have the game end the same. It was the world series. The bases were loaded. He was up… Mind you, he’s six years old when this is all happening. He was at the plate. The ball would come across the plate and Albie would hit a home run, a grand slam to win the World Series, this is a fun part, against the Yankees. Because he’s from Southern California. Even back then, right after the era of Gehrig and Babe Ruth, people who didn’t live in New York didn’t like the Yankees then either.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So he would hit the home run that beat the Yankees. And as he rounded the bases, he would hear the roar of the crowd, and it was a beautiful thing. He was basking in the glory of what he felt was going to be his stamp on life, a major league baseball player. But in one of those games that happened in his single digits, something occurred that hadn’t occurred before. As he was crossing home plate on this mythical home run as he’s running the bases in his backyard, stepping all over his mom’s good pillows, Albie heard a voice in his head, say this to him, “Join my team.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He didn’t know exactly what that meant, so as any six, seven-year-old would do, he was like, “Okay,” put it out of his head, went on, kept playing his games. But here’s where the story gets really interesting because Albie Pearson would move on to make his major league dreams come true. As I said, he was the 1958 American League Rookie of the Year. He bounced from to the Baltimore Orioles. He ended up with the California Angels at the time where the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

They’d been California, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Los Angeles, again, now I think, but they were an expansion team as the Los Angeles Angels in 1960. He was in fact, the first batter to ever appear at the plate for the Los Angeles Angels in 1960. What makes the story about six year old Albie beating the Yankees in the World Series with a home run is that he actually did hit a home run against the Yankees. No, it wasn’t the World Series, but he was at the plate against a pitcher named Whitey Ford.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That’s the name you probably heard if you’re a baseball fan. Whitey Ford was a six-time all star. He’s in the Major League Baseball hall of fame. He is he’s well known as a Yankee legend. He’s lefthanded. Albie happened to be left handed, which if you know baseball, hard for a lefty to hit a home run off a lefty, but Whitey Ford threw in a curve ball. Albie parked it over the right field fence and he got to not step, not round the bases on his mom’s pillows, but on actual bases in a Major League Baseball stadium.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And as he got to home plate, as he crossed home plate, he was amazed that his mind went right back to that moment at age six, that he hadn’t really thought about when he heard that voice say, “Join my team.” And in that moment, Albie realized as much as he loved baseball, as much as his career was going pretty well, he hit 128 home runs, I think in a 10-year career. One of them was off Whitey Ford, fulfilling in many ways that dream he had when he was six. As much as he loved that life, he realized when he remembered that moment, “Join my team,” that there was something bigger, better for him, more significant for him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And what Albie has done from that moment on after his career ended, and it wasn’t too long after that, until this day, I just talked with his son-in-law who’s my spiritual father, just today, Albie is still pastoring more than 50 years as a pastor to churches. And in the late ’90s when I knew him well lived in the same city, he opened a nonprofit called Fathers Heart Ranch to teach to at risk male youth God’s principles and help them navigate life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that was the life of significance that Albie discovered was his destiny, not just playing baseball. Warwick it’s a lot of talking by me, what’s your reaction? I know when I first wrote that story in the blog, it kind of hit you like, “Wow, that’s a pretty cool story,” because the thing that Albie… And here’s the big part of the story that I almost left off because I got so excited. As he crossed home plate, when he hit that home run off Whitey Fort, the first thing that flew in his head when he remembered that story of, “Join my team,” he thought, “Is this all there is? Is this all there is?”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The dream he had since age six had come true mostly. And as he crossed home plate in front of fans, he could only think is this all there is? Is baseball success, this success what I wanted for myself, is that all there is? He discovered when he did this and he became a pastor and he helped underprivileged kids, and he’s done that for 50 years. He realized there was more to his life, more to his calling than hitting and catching baseballs. So how did that story hit you, Warwick, when I first dropped it on you?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s an amazing story, Gary, because often in some of the stories we’re going to be talking about, we’ll be talking about folks who are in cubicles. They feel like they’re stuck, maybe depressed, maybe unfulfilled, and they’re thinking, “Is this all there is? I’m an accountant. I’m an assistant. I mean, there’s got to be more to life.” But in this case, for all the world, Albie Pearson was living the dream. He’s in Southern California playing for the Los Angeles Angels. Maybe it wasn’t the World Series, but he hits a home run off the dreaded, the infamous, New York Yankees.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Maybe some people think they’re like Darth Vader’s team. I don’t know. Maybe that’s cruel if you’re a Yankee’s fan, but anybody that’s not a Yankee, it’s a wonderful thing to beat them. So at the height of his success, it’s like, “Is this all there is?”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I don’t know if he was thinking, “Gosh, this was really my dream and I was focused on myself.” I don’t quite know why Albie said that, but clearly it was a wonderful journey, a wonderful dream, but yet he pivoted to another dream in which I’m sure he would say as wonderful as being a major league baseball player was he would probably say his second act was even more fulfilling, was even another level of joy. And here he gets to help at-risk male youth and become a pastor.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So it’s a classic case of that first act wasn’t so bad. It was pretty amazing, but yet there was a second act coming up that was even more amazing, even more fulfilling from his perspective.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. The reason that he popped immediately to mind as we were going through the series because every guest in some way or another had as part of their story whether they articulated it or not, is this all there is? They were doing something that in many cases was fulfilling in its own way. Some of them felt stuck. Some of them had really bad crucibles, but whether they articulated the question or not, there was a moment in time where they were wondering, “Is this all there is for my life? Or could there be something better? Could there be something different? Could there be something that gives me a greater sense of purpose and significance?”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And the guests then that we’re going to review here and the practical tips they give us about how to find that out and how to find that life and significance is how we’re going to spend the balance of our time here. Is there anything you want to set listeners up to as we sort of go into these four tips of how you can scratch that, “is this all there is” itch in your own life?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I think what you said, Gary, is very profound, is it? How do you know when you’re ready for a second act, the significance? And often it’s because you’re in a cubicle, maybe you’re in a traumatic experience. Maybe life is just feeling boring, you’re feeling stuck. So when you begin to say day after day, going to the cubicle, going to the office, whatever it is, is this all there is? That is a question you need to listen at the depths of your soul, because that might mean that whether you believe in God or some universal power that it’s not all there is, that maybe somebody up there intends something better, something greater for you from your perspective and his perspective.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That question, is this all there is? If you ever think that, you may well be at the cusp of a turning point in your life, a pivot to a second act of significance that is probably the single most powerful question and huge sign that you may be about to transition to a wonderful new time of your life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And here’s what we’re going to talk about, listener. We’ve got four tips, like I said, of how you can navigate that journey once that question that, is this all there is feeling hits you. There are four ways, four hopes, inspirations, and then practical steps that you can take. So here’s the first one. And the first truth is, it’s never too late or too early to pursue a next act in life that brings you more significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And this was a theme, Warwick, with a number of our guests, perhaps most resoundingly with Robert Miller. Robert Miller was like a lot of guys like Albie. A lot of guys who grow up wanting to play baseball. Robert Miller wanted to play music. He came of age during The Beatles and he wanted to be a rockstar. From the first time he picked up an instrument, that’s what he wanted to pursue.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But then his dreams got deferred as often happens, right? There’s beats in life, there’s responsibilities, there’s other jobs to pay the bills that maybe paying him more than playing music. There’s relationships, and marriage, and kids, and those things. They were all great. He enjoyed them all. He ended up in a career as a lawyer, which lasted for decades. But in his 40s, he had a crucible, got in an accident, broke his neck that got him thinking even more about that dream that he sort of left on the cutting room floor. And that’s when in his 60s, he’s done as a lawyer, he’s retiring, and he picked up his guitar and he launched his band Project Grand Slam.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Finally, he got to feel the rush of playing original songs on a stage for an audience. And he’s done it at festivals and concerts around the world. The group has released 11 albums with its unique brand of rock, Latin, jazz fusion. One of them has been certified gold. He’s got millions of downloads on video and on audio. And the key to all that story, is that he didn’t just think about, “Boy, this was my dream.” He finally decided, I’ve got to act on this dream. That’s a pretty powerful first step to take, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I mean, Robert Miller is such a fascinating story. Grew up with a love of music and mentioning his dad was a jazz trumpeter. It’s sort of an amazing story. When you think about it and briefly, we tried to get in that maybe, I think he was working at PBS in Boston, but I think his parents, dads, be practical as parents often do. And he, for the next umpteen decades becomes a lawyer.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

He’s living in New York City and he’s doing well. But you mentioned the accident in his 40s. Even then, years went by and he’s approaching 60. He finally just says, “I’m just not going to let this go. I‘m going to start pursuing my dream.” Now, most people, when they get in their late 50s, early 60s, they say, “Well, I had my shot. I had a good career. I’ve got a good life, married family.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But the fact that he made the pivot to Project Grand Slam and later his podcast, Follow Your Dream Podcast. I mean, it’s stunning. He just had the courage, he just hit a point where he’s like, “Is this all there is?” I’m just going to go for my dream. It’s just incredible. Really the lesson there is it‘s never too late. No matter how old you are, it is never too late and it wasn’t for Robert Miller.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

No. And in fact, listener, here’s a clip from our original interview with Robert in which he, in his own words talks about that moment when he decided, “If I’m going to do it, I better do it soon.”

 

Robert Miller:

You have a dream, you have a path, you have a burning desire, life gets in the way. We don’t plan for it. It just happens. And it happens to most of us. Most people don’t wind up doing exactly what they dreamt they would be doing when they were younger. Either it wasn’t practical or it wasn’t in the cards where their uncle offered them a job, and they went into this, that, or the other thing. Stuff happens. That’s the usual case. It‘s the unusual case of somebody that knows at an early age, this is what I want to do and they actually do it.

 

Robert Miller:

So the question then becomes, “All right, do you let that dream go? Was it just a youthful, fancy of some sort? Or do you pursue it?” And frankly, when I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool, I had just passed my 60th birthday and I said to myself, “If I don’t do it now, when the heck am I going to do it?”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So when am I going to do it, if I don’t do it now. What a great question that is, right? If you’ve suppressed a dream, say, he was a teenager, he was in his 60s. So you’re talking 40, 45 years. That’s a pretty amazing thing to do to come to the place where you can say, “I’m going to do it. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out, but I’m going to do it.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He’s not the only one though, because if you remember, our first point is it’s never too late or too early. You’re never too old or too young to move into a life of Second-Act Significance. And on the opposite end of Robert Miller is a guest we’ve had on just in the last couple of weeks, Yvette Bodden who was a young mother going through a very, very, very difficult divorce, and she faced the same decision. If there was more to life than what she was doing, she had an office job. It was enough to get by day to day, week to week.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But as her life began to unravel through the divorce, she used that unraveling as a way to sort of explore what she really wanted to do and whether she was doing it. She slowly found blessing and purpose as she described it, that she says she wouldn’t have ever discovered if she hadn’t gone through the crucible that she went through.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She was able through that to step into what she really felt like her heart was calling her to, and what her giftings allowed her to do and that was to become a thought leader and writer and create a web platform called Awakened Woman, which encourages women to dream big as they pursue their own passions by exercising their giftings.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That was one of my favorite episodes of this series with Yvette. Maybe because I’m a journalist by training too, that’s what she’s doing now and I felt a certain chemistry there with that. But what stands out for you about our conversation with Yvette?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yvette is so authentic, vulnerable in the best sense of that word. She has a real compassion and heart. Hers is an amazing story growing up in New York City. The daughter of Dominican parents. And often with the immigrant experience, there’s this great desire to obviously make it, but to be practical. And so here she was just working in sort of administrative event planning role and some probably office in New York City and being all very practical, but kind of losing herself in a way. She was married.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s this sad thing of, as she described to us, the more that she began to get in touch with herself as she was journaling and beginning to write, the more she was becoming her, the real Yvette as she put it, it caused distance in the marriage with her husband, which is unbelievably sad and they had a daughter.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So as she was finding herself, this sheer act of finding herself somehow contributed to the breakup of her marriage. I mean, she wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was being herself, but for whatever reason, and this is part of it, it broke up the marriage, which was sort of devastating, but yet she didn’t let that loss define her nor did she say, “I’m just going to still live my cubicle administration event planning life.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She kind of bounced forward, if you will, with Awakened Woman as she’s shared, I think maybe like 500 articles. She wrote a book, The Journey to Becoming Your Best Self, which is, I guess, part inspiration, self-help, biography, some fictional stuff in there. Really a mix of genres. And she really has this passion to help women rise up. I mean, she’s just this role model of not giving up and just inspiring so many people.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I mean, she talks about people from all around the world write to her from Africa, from everywhere. And just saying “it’s inspiring that I can rise up too.” There’s was a wonderful moment in the podcast where times were tough with the depth of the breakup of her marriage and she probably had some moments where she was thinking, “Can I really get myself out of bed this morning?” Because life is very grim. Her daughter came to her and said, “Mom greatness takes time.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It felt like that was part of her inspiration. She wanted to rise up, not just for herself, but for her daughter. She is so inspirational. She didn’t let tragedy define her. And her second act of just helping women rise up with Awakened Woman, it’s stunning, it’s empowering. She’s helped so many women all around the globe and she’s an incredible story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And that story about her daughter, you’ve heard X doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The encouragement apple did not fall far from the tree if that’s what Yvette Bodden’s daughter was able to do to encourage her mom, because what we’ll hear right now in this clip from the show is a Yvette talking about the way she tries to encourage women through awakened-woman.com.

 

Yvette Bodden:

You can fall a hundred times, but you can rise up. I know it sounds simple, but I wanted to inspire that fight in other women. I feel that my writing is doing that. When I get messages from women in Africa and other parts of the world saying, “You planted a seed. Thank you for sharing your story. The same thing happened to me and I feel like I can get past it,” I know I’m doing something right.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The thing that stands out for me about that clip and about the whole show with Yvette was her heart. You can tell, as you listen to her, that she feels what she’s doing to help women is significant, but you can also tell that she feels significantly honored and blessed to be in the position to do it. When we talk about significance being living a life on purpose, dedicated to serving others, yes, that transfers significance to others, but it fills the person with an enormous sense of gratitude and significance from where she came to just in that clip that we just played, the emotion in her voice. So she talks about what she tries to inspire women with is itself inspirational. I hope is practical for listeners to tap into that own root in themselves.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. Gary, I love the phrase that she has. You can fall a hundred times, but you can rise up. I mean, just her desire to fight for women, to help them rise up all around the globe by sharing their story, she loves interviewing and you’re right. She doesn’t see it as about her so much as sharing the stories of these other amazing women. If you had to say, “What is the theme of her life?,” it’s you can rise up. In our words, we say, “You’re not defined by your worst day.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, Yvette Bodden wasn’t. She rose up, her daughter has risen up, and she’s helped women all around the globe rise up. Her story is powerful. I mean, it’s an inspiration to all of us.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And here’s some of the bonus content that’s not in the blog that we’re adding in here. Yvette and Robert aren’t the only two folks who talked about, who touched a little bit on the fact that it’s not too late ever or it’s not too early ever to get moving toward a second act of significance if for whatever reason, the first act did not feel as significant as your heart tells you it should. And another guest who touched on this in really powerful ways was Nancy Volpe-Beringer, who was in her late 50s when she let herself not just dream of a career in fashion design, but pursue it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She had success and security with a great job, but there was something, again. She didn’t put it in these words, but there was something there that said, “Is this all there is?” As a young girl, she’d liked to sew and she never pursued that, and she remembered that and it led her into saying, “Okay, I’m in my 50s. I’m about to turn 60, but it’s not too late for me.” How did that story hit you? And then we’ll play her clip when that moment hit her.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I mean, she is an inspiration. She had a good job in, I think, like a National Teachers Organization in New Jersey and she was doing well, set for life. But it’s like she had, “Is this all there is” moment? And began to think of it as a fashion design. I mean, it’s just stunning. Typically in your late fifties, you don’t think of doing that. When you go to fashion school, so to speak, all the other people are in their 20s, maybe 30s. They’re all young. She didn’t give up on her dream. It’s just she had is this all there is moment and she didn’t let her age define her or stop her courage about pursuing her dream. It’s an amazing story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I will never forget her unlikely and powerful story about the moment when she decided to press into that second act of significance. And here’s Nancy Volpe-Beringer talking about it in the podcast.

 

Nancy Volpe-Beringer:

It was 3:00 AM. I know exactly because I wasn’t sleeping. It’s 3:00 AM and I’m thinking of my sons. The one is in finance, president of a company, very successful. The other, the musician, had graduated, had a recording studio, but he wasn’t making money. So he’s teaching himself additional skills, photography, videography, all online. And believe it or not, I start thinking about what he was doing, it sounded so exciting and I got jealous. I got jealous of my own son. This is the moment my life changed.

 

Nancy Volpe-Beringer:

I dared to ask myself if I was young again, what would I want to be learning? Hypothetical question. The amazing thing was the answer came immediately to me, immediately, and it was fashion design. Don’t ask me where it came… It came immediately. So I’m still not sleeping and I start researching programs. I’m going to see what schools what’s available, and then I see interior design.

 

Nancy Volpe-Beringer:

I’m like, “Well, maybe I should do that at my age.” And then I went, “No, Nancy. You’re just dreaming.” This is practical stay where you’re at. This isn’t about being impractical, this is about a fantasy if you were young.

 

Nancy Volpe-Beringer:

Well, I start researching it. By the next week, I was in New York touring two of the top fashion schools and I signed up for a drawing class because I did not know how to illustrate, but I started taking it the day of the one tour. And the last one I took happened to be in my backyard in Philadelphia. But it was always there. And once I answered it, there was no going back.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The thing Warwick that sticks out most for me about that episode with Nancy Volpe-Beringer was later on, she talks about where she found her true calling in fashion design. And that was when, on the television show Project Runway, which she finished runner up in her 60s, just a couple years ago, there was a challenge for all the designers to create a clothing look for Paralympians. She tells this remarkable story about how she so wanted to help those folks, but she could tell that the other 10, 15 contestants around her didn’t really have a lot of interest and they were kind of like praying like, “Please, no, I don’t want to have to do it.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She was just chomping at the bit to go do it in almost 120 episodes of the show. I’ve never gotten the chills, listening to a guest tell a story until Nancy told that story. How did you feel about the whole Nancy Volpe-Beringer episode and that story where her calling came clear in particular?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So she has this notion with her fashion. It’s not just about building an empire or building the greatest fashion brand on the planet or what have you, it’s about serving others. I mean, she truly is living a life of significance. I mean, it’s not easy I’m sure to create fashions that are beautiful and practical for those with challenges and those who are different. But she embraces the challenge because it’s not about her, it’s about serving others. And really, it’s in serving others that we get true joy and fulfillment. And Nancy Volpe-Beringer absolutely models that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

All right. That was point one of the journey, the road to charting the course to Second-Act Significance. Point two, when you set out on a journey to new significance, follow your heart and lean into your talents. The guest that perhaps best exemplified that to us, I think was Melissa Reaves who was in a really bad spot. She wasn’t sure how her life was going to be okay after she got fired from a very well paying job in advertising. But then what she called her inner voice, assured her that she could muster the courage and inspiration to embark on a new career that has become a mission for her.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that career is helping professionals use the power of story to write happy endings for their businesses. She coaches clients in what she calls, making mind movies that add depth and meaning to their communications. And doing so – here’s the point lean into your talents, follow your heart – doing so has allowed her to tap into her youthful affinity and excellence in acting, reviving a part of her that she’d allowed to atrophy for a bit in her career choices up until then. Talk a little bit about how you felt listening to Melissa Reaves. I found her incredibly inspiring and she was just so full of life. It was great.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I mean, I love the fact that Melissa Reaves has this whole thing called story fruition and she just leans into telling stories, but she’s just a funny person, an amusing person. She’s amazing. I mean, she’s always had this desire to act in musical theater in college and she was in Orange County working for a paper there doing, I think, amongst others, digital advertising.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She was doing well. But I don’t know, maybe she just wasn’t the typical boys club as she puts it the typical guys, the Erics and the what have you of this world. She gets fired and yet she’s doing well. And yet it seemed like while that was tough, I mean, she had a daughter who I think had so much OCD she was almost bedridden.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But yet in that instance, she felt like almost like voices in her head, maybe some powers above that were like, “Don’t worry you’re going to be. You’re going to be okay.” That pink slip is like yay. And she’s like, “No, yay. What do you mean, yay? How can this be a good thing?” But yet, it was. She’s very good at selling and stories. One of the key pivot points is she’s standing in the hall of Seattle University’s business plan competition and they’re there in business class, pitching their ideas. It’s all very analytical, left brain, numbers and charts and people are falling asleep.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She’s like, “I can help these students.” It was like the angels from heaven were singing. The light bulb goes off above her. This is like a cartoon. “I can do this.” And so she-

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Almost that voice in Albie Pearson’s head saying, “Join my team.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Like there was this otherworldly thing.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. And she felt like, “I can help them tell stories.” So now she helps investors and other business people tell the story of their business, but by telling compelling stories, personal stories. When you’re appealing even for investors, you got to have the numbers and you got to have the stuff that appeals to the mind. But if you don’t appeal to the heart, it’s going to be a no. People are going to say, “No, you got to do both.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She’s found her niche with Story Fruition and mind movies in helping business professionals tell their stories. And she’s able to lead a good life for herself and a daughter and it was just so inspiring. Just that aha moment in Seattle University. It changed her life. So getting fired ended up being a blessing in some weird way.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. I’ve heard that expressed in another way, but we’ll get to that later about how having a life upending crucible can in fact be a gift. But what I love about Melissa, she was a fun guest. I mean, she told a lot of stories. She has a grand love of life. The stories she tells she’s got all kinds of… She would do voices and play different characters. It was fascinating. But in being able to use that acting ability that she teaches her clients, that was when she was able to finally wrap a vision around her giftings, and that she’d long let lie dormant. Here’s how she explained it on the show.

 

Melissa Reaves:

I deep down always thought I would be an entrepreneur. When I was 25 years old I thought, “I have taken Toastmasters. I am an excellent speaker. I am going to teach people Toastmasters, And that’s what I’m going to do.” I started my little company and I had cards that said, “Speakeasy. That’s what I was going to call it.” I didn’t really realize that it would probably have like a sexual connotation and that wasn’t the best branding tick.” But I was only 25 and I was going to do this. And I then went, “I am too young and dumb to do this. No, I’m not ready for it.”

 

Melissa Reaves:

But she, that entrepreneurial Melissa was born inside me. So when I was stepping out of the smoldering flames and I started to listen to my higher self, all of a sudden, my second half now is on my terms. It’s my life. And if I need to be a little bit selfish to find my joy, then that’s what I’m going to do because I want to be the best mom I can be. I don’t want to deal with Ryan, Brians and Erics again that are going to make me feel like I’m not smart, because I am smart.

 

Melissa Reaves:

I am going to attract the clients that I want and I’m going to be bringing them something that they didn’t even know that they needed, but now that they do, they are so excited about the work we’re doing. I’d walk through most of the day with goosebumps. When I tap a story in one of my clients and we go, “Ooh, there it is.” It is so much joy. And even though with being an entrepreneur, you’re on a boat ride or a roller coaster. It’s going to go up, it’s going down. It’s going to swirl. You’re going to have good months. You’re going to have thin months. But it doesn’t matter because if you’re still believing in what you’re doing. Or I’ll just talk for myself, when I started believing in what I was doing with joy and with value, how could this not be the best time in my life? I’m 56 years old. I am just starting.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I think the joy at the end of that clip, she says, “It’s my life. I’m living my life.” I think that comes from living a life on purpose dedicated to serving others, but also using those skills. What are those talents? This point too you’ll remember is to lean into your talents. Follow your heart and lean into your talents. And that is a textbook case what Melissa did in starting Story Fruition and the success that she’s having now that goes beyond success, but to significance for herself and for clients. Right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. Yeah, in that moment, when she was fired, which she talks about stepping out of the smoldering flames, it was painful. But she talks about how the entrepreneurial Melissa was born in that moment. She listened to her higher self and really all of her story was leading up to this moment, speaking of Story Fruition.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She loved telling stories and acting, but she could sell. And so just listening deep down, “How can I use everything that I am, my ability to tell stories, my ability to sell?” And because she was focused on that,and this is very important for listeners to understand when you know who you are and your gifting and your talents, and almost a glimmer of your calling, when she was in Seattle university and saw those business school students try to sell with a very left brain approach, she said, “Aha, this is it. I can do this. I know how to sell, but I know how to tell stories.” And so because she’d done that soul work, she was set up to take advantage of that opportunity.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So by leaning into your talents, following your heart, when opportunities come, you will be able to seize them, seize the day and go full speed ahead. You got to do the prep work to take advantage of that opportunity, which in her case came at Seattle University.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And Melissa’s not the only guest who has a story that traffics in some of those beats of follow your heart and follow what you’ve already come to understand are your talents.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

John Busacker is another one who falls into that case, carved out a great career in the financial services and leadership development industry, but then had a crucible that was… And I’ll let you speak to the crucible since that’s your term. I’ll let you have that. But he comes out on the other side of that crucible, little bit of a shift to his life, he’ll talk about it a bit in the clip, a little bit of a shift to that life and he brings to bear what he was already gifted at and puts it in place for something a little bit different. But what was John’s crucible work?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I think he was driving along and he felt like he was having a heart attack. I think he lives in Minnesota at the local Cub Foods, I think it was, and going in there to get his blood pressure measured. He goes home and talks to his wife who happens to be a… Maybe even a cardiac nurse like a emergency room nurse or something and says, “Honey, I think I’m not feeling too well.” She tried to say it calmly, but didn’t work. His wife-

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. She wasn’t buying it. She wasn’t buying it.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It was like, “Uh-oh, hold the fun. There’s a problem here.” And it turns out it wasn’t a heart attack, he was just maybe having a heart moment. It just somehow what he was doing, which he was doing fine, but he felt like, “Yeah, this is fine, finance and leadership development.” But he felt like there’s something more. And for him, it was, he found his calling by helping his clients find their true calling and finish well.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

He’s still using his talents, but in something that he feels like is more in line with his high self and that heart attack was a divine tap on your shoulder saying, “John, I need you to do something else here. You have a different mission.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it’s really important. I want listeners to make sure they hear this, what we’ve just talked about Melissa and John, and we’ll play John’s clip in a minute because I think it’s relevant to end the point I’m going to make is that you don’t have to, as you move from first act to second act, you don’t abandon everything from the first act, right? There are all kinds of things you can gather up, gifts and talents and abilities and those things in your heart that maybe they’ve been unexpressed and untapped, but they’re there.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So it’s not like you throw out the life with the bath water, you can pivot. Pivot is a good word and Warwick’s used it a couple times. Pivot, it’s not a complete erasure and rewrite. It’s a pivot into something that brings you a little bit more satisfaction and brings others and yourself more significance. But it’s interesting what John talks about in this clip here is this idea of finding your way and surviving the uncertainties of life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It’s a very important point as you look to navigate from act one to act two. It’s important to know that there’s going to be some uncertainties in there. Stick with it. You’ll do okay. Here’s John Busacker.

 

John Busacker:

We’re forced often to let go of the illusion of certainty. We thought we had the answer. We thought we knew. We thought we were so certain about this. And it’s like, “Oops. It actually isn’t that.” In my own experiences of making career changes, for example, or different life experiences, things that I thought I was clear about, maybe I was at the time, but they became less clear in that space. And then I grew into a new understanding, a new learning. And hopefully I say this with a certain amount of trepidation, hopefully that continues. Right? Even though again, that in between space is uncomfortable.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

What stood out for me in that clip about John in our whole conversation was his emphasis on the importance of transition moments. Great food for thought for anyone who’s looking to build significance out of uncertainty, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I mean, when you have those pivot points, as we said for John it was that heart attack he thought he had which is more of an anxiety attack is just to understand what is that? And yes, he was using his talents before, but it was more finance and leadership development. So he’s using his talents as he puts it to build hearts.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Point three in our discussion of how you move from first act to second act based on the insights and the experience of the guests that we’ve had on our series, Second-Act Significance is point three is starting small is okay because it’s starting. That’s the key, starting. I think the guests who stand out the most on this one Warwick are Erik and Emily Orton. I mean, their story starts in a crucible. Erik’s dream job of being a playwright and theatrical producer comes to a crashing halt.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I’m not laughing at him for it, but it’s just like, he’s had this dream, had this dream and then it comes to this halt because his show closed after only a few performances. It was closed by his co-producer. And the failure left him fearful and rudderless, but then his curiosity about sailing became his family’s passion for sailing.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

They steered their boat’s rudder on a 5,000 mile journey from New York to the Caribbean. And what Erik and Emily discovered on the trip with their five kids sharing the adventure with them was how to turn worry into wonder and the importance of building confidence, credibility, and calm. I loved talking to these two because every time they opened their mouths, things you had to take notes on came out. They’re just very, very erudite and quite impactful and practical about how you move from one act to the other.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And those are truths that they now teach through their speaking, writing, and coaching. The Ortons were our second guests. What was it about them that struck you?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Erik and Emily Orton, they’re just amazing people. I love their hearts and their curiosity, and they are a solid team. I remember in the depths of what Erik was going through, as you mentioned… Well, actually, just to unpack it a little bit more, he was part of the Broadway play musical, Wicked. In Broadway, it’s hard to be kind of set for life he was. This is going to go on for years, forever maybe and he’s part of the touring program. But then to have the courage to do, I think, an off Broadway play and that kind of launches, and while his wife was in labor, his co-producer closes. It had middling reviews, not terrible, but he’s out of a job, wiped out.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And here is from Erik’s own lips and own experience is that pivotal moment. As Warwick said, as we’ve said, it could not, as this point makes clear, it could not have started smaller.

 

Erik Orton:

During my dinner break, that’s when Emily and I would get on the phone, we would talk as we tried to figure out how to dig ourselves out of this hole that we found ourselves in, and I would describe this to her. She was happy that I would see these boats and that they gave me a sense of peace. And as I described it often enough, I realized that there was a sailing school right downstairs from where I worked and that’s where these boats were coming from. She said, “You should go check it out. Maybe you’d want to learn how to sail.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The thing about the Ortons, Warwick, that really struck me the most is that the legacy that they’re building into their children. We talk a lot at, Beyond The Crucible and in Crucible Leadership about the importance of legacy and bringing their five kids along on that 5,000 mile journey that they took and the lessons that they taught about attacking your fears, trusting in their ability to figure it out, to step forward toward a worthy goal even if you don’t have all the boxes checked, right?

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Go and feel the wind in your hair, even if you don’t have all the answers in your head just yet. That’s what the Ortons taught their kids. And that’s going to pay legacy dividends to their children, to their grandchildren, to their great grandchildren. That’s a pivotal important moment about why Second-Act Significance can have such a long tail.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely, Gary. I mean, one of the things that he said to his wife, Emily, to try and sell this whole… Because she’s a very practical person, this whole spend a year going sailing is he said, “Our kids are going to have me 24/7.” And for a lot of guys in the working world that doesn’t happen, especially at a young age. It’s like, “Wow, have my husband 24/7 with my kids? That sounds pretty cool. Have us together? A lot of working women these days obviously have both of us 24/7 with our kids? In this day and age, that never happens.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So that was inspiring. And just the life lessons with these kids. One of his kids said is, “Mom and dad, I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I mean, that is stunning. So the life lessons and now the lessons he’s able to help he and Emily teach others is just incredible. But it just started with that small step, looking out the window at those sailboats. It’s just an inspiring story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And again, makes the point, as we said earlier, you’re never too old or too young, and your first step is never too minor, never too small. It’s never too baby. It’s never too infant. It’s important. It can get you along the way. And another guest that we had on this show might have been… He was one of my favorite ones because he makes pasta sauce that I got and it was really, really, really good. But that’s Chris Schembra. And Chris Schembra, again, speaking of plays, of the theater, he had returned home to New York City in 2015 after producing a successful Broadway play in Italy only to find himself, and these were his words, he found himself when he got home feeling insecure, lonely, disconnected, and unfulfilled.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

His antidote for that crucible was food and friendship. But before we unpack that a little bit, I want to get to… Because I want Chris to describe just how small and how non-visionary that all started. And here’s Chris talking about it when we talked to him on the show.

 

Chris Schembra:

He said, “How do I recreate the magic that I felt over in Italy? What was it about Italy that La Dolce Vita? Was it how they walked, how they talked, how they dressed, how they honored history, how they loved art?” No, it’s how they ate food specifically. It’s how they ate food amongst community. So I got to do that.

 

Chris Schembra:

So here in my kitchen, in New York City, I started playing around with all these different recipes and accidentally created a pasta sauce recipe I thought was a decent recipe. Gary thinks it’s pretty, pretty good.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yes, I have to say I ate it a couple days ago when my stepdaughter’s boyfriend came over for dinner and it was a huge hit with everyone. We’re buying more.

 

Chris Schembra:

Heck, yeah. I figured I should probably feed it to people and maybe host a dinner party. So July 15th, 2015, two months after we got back from Rome, Italy, I called up my buddy, Tripp Derrick Barnes and I said, “Can I use your backyard? I want to host a dinner party.” At the time, it was just 15 friends coming over dinner at 6:30 PM. Each of them brought a bottle of wine. We worked together to create the meal. We served each other. We had great conversations, decent pasta sauce. And you know what, the rest is history.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Chris was a very entertaining, very enlivening guest. Was he not?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I love how he talks about talented American guy, goes to Italy, is doing some stuff with plays, and like many of us who’ve been to Italy, he loves the whole Dolce Vita. I think it means the sweet life, the beautiful life. It just conjures movies of Italian movies of the ’60s and the beautiful life, the beautiful people. So he comes back and he’s not feeling the La Dolce Vita back in the US, back in New York where he’s from.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So just that idea of, “Well, let me just have a few friends over at the dinner. It’s probably what you do in Italy all the time. We’ll talk, we’ll have fun.” He’s got this pasta sauce and out of that, he has this notion of having a meal where you’ll have real conversation and just something simple as what one person do you want to tell how grateful you are for them? It’s just a simple thing.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And not just grateful because of something great they did, maybe grateful because of something that they let you down on. That’s an important point. And some of his best answers he said came out of that second half of that question.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. Amazing. He was an amazing guest and just that idea, well, I kind of enjoy being with people and pasta sauce and all, and real conversations and just being grateful for the things good or bad that have happened in your life. But it all came out somewhat of a small step. Let’s invite a few friends over for dinner and I’ve got this pasta sauce. I like to try out. It wasn’t this mega vision.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

No. And it grew, right? It grew into 500,000 relationships have been helped through what he does through what he calls the 747 because that’s the time of the dinner start gratitude experience. He was named USA today‘s gratitude guru. Rolling Stone gave him a big award. I mean it really, really, really took off for him and all it was, it started out as almost self-therapy because he was feeling so lost when he got back from Italy, back to New York, he was feeling lost. So he launched this thing first to help himself and lo and behold, he’s helped all these other people.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But there’s a significant part as we’re talking about significance of Chris’s story because it shines a light on something that we can’t make clear enough and that we called this series Second-Act Significance for a reason, because it’s not last act significance. Your second act, as significant as it can become, isn’t necessarily, probably in most cases, your last act. Because like your crucible, it does not have to be the end of your story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Second acts change, morph, grow. And sometimes as in Chris’s case lead to a third act. And for him, that third act came out when his vision, right, what he started with this simple step grew into this big thing. And as he described it, went from his vision to being his exact, not words, his exact letters, a J-O-B. And that’s when things got difficult for him again. He had to launch into a third act where he sort of reconstituted some things about the way that he was doing to get him back to what he loves about building community. And that’s what he’s walking out now.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So that point, I don’t think we can make enough. We called it Second-Act Significance because we know it’s not last act significance in many, if not most cases.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, no, that’s true. I mean, it’s easy for your vision to begin to own you and is making all these corporate partnerships and deals. As you’re building your second act, you always want to make sure that it’s your vision and your dream is serving you and you don’t end up getting kind of all good things if you’re not careful can almost control you, what have you. So that was a good realization that he needed to get balanced and just make sure that he just recovers the joy of just those initial dinner parties with friends. So that’s a good one.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. Three points down, one to go. Here’s the last point, the bonus point that’s not in our blog. And I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t in part inspired by a historical figure whom I know our host loves. And the fourth point is listen to Churchill who said, “Never give in. Never, never, never, never.” Warwick, help us with the context of where that came from.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Indeed. Obviously, love Winston Churchill was so many of us do. So really, as listeners might know, he was prime minister in World War II became prime minister, I think in May 1940 when Britain was almost at its lowest ebb. Hitler and Nazi Germany has swept through Europe. They’d just conquered France and the battle of Britain was about to start. And it sure seemed like Britain was going to be next with the onslaught of Nazi Germany.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So he gave this speech in parliament and basically, we’ll fight them on the beaches, in the villages and the towns, but we are never going to give in. We are never, never, never going to give up. So the point of that story is if you were living in Britain in May 1940, the summer of 1940, things couldn’t be possibly much worse. It was Britain against the world. US would come a year and a half later or so in December 1941.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But at the time, it was pretty much Britain and its Commonwealth, I suppose, including Australia, Canada, a few other places. But life looked pretty dire, but yet it’s like, “We are not giving up here. We’re going to defend our island. We are not going to give up.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So the fighting spirit of the British people amidst the onslaught of nightly bombings was incredible. So at your lowest ebb, you need to channel your inner Churchill of not to give up.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And that is relevant to this discussion of our wrap-up of the series, Second-Act Significance because some guests had to go through that. Many of you as you pursue your own second act of significance could find yourselves, very likely will find yourself hitting brick walls, hitting some doors you thought should be open that aren’t open that require you to never… I’m going to make sure I get it right. Never give in. Never, never, never, never. Four nevers. Never give in. And the guest that really exemplified that for us was Kari Schwear, who had confronted and conquered the drinking she realized was causing a problem in her life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She attended Alcoholics Anonymous for a while, but felt that wasn’t her story, that wasn’t going to be a long-term solution for her. And then as she’s going to describe in this clip right here, she heard a podcast guest talk about something that made crystal clear what her second act of significance should be. Here’s Kari.

 

Kari Schwear:

Right around this time, I heard the term, gray area drinking via a guest that was on a podcast. And when I was walking my dog and I heard this podcast interview, I literally stopped in the middle of the street. It was a warm summer morning, like 7:30 in the morning and I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s what I was.” I never identified as an alcoholic. I was a gray area drinker.

 

Kari Schwear:

So I came home. It was like the fire was just burning inside me. I came home and I researched everything I could on gray area drinking. And there wasn’t a lot out there. I thought, “If I can share what gray area drinking is with more people, I’ll get them to raise their hand before they get into a deeper addiction.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Warwick, the thing I hinted at the top of the show about there’s something surprising that I didn’t even know, I was talking about Albie Pearson and his rounding the bases after he hit the home run off Whitey Ford and thinking, “Is this all there is?” You may not remember this, but when we interviewed Kari and she was our first guest, so it was a while ago, she recounted that at age seven, she remembers thinking about her life. And these are the exact words that she used, “Is this all there is to life?”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She asked herself at age seven and thought that was kind of a weird question, but that was the kind of ennui she was going through even as a child before she then embarked on a journey of soul crushing crucibles. And even as she went through that, she found success in each of her multiple career stops. But that question, she asked herself at seven as she moved forward in life, she had to have asked herself that question over and over and over again until she pivoted into significance.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. I mean, it took a while for Kari Schwear. I mean, there’s always reasons why she, I guess, didn’t define herself as an alcoholic, but as she terms it a gray area drinker. But she’d spend weekends saying, “Well, I’ll just drink on the weekends.” And weekends became Thursday to Monday and the weekends kept extending. That’s what she says is there’s always a why. “Well, why was I doing that?”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And ultimately, she was dissatisfied with parts of her life, but really she was dissatisfied with herself. And sadly, there was an origin story of that dissatisfaction. She was physically and sexually abused, as a teenager by some older boys. And obviously and incredibly sadly, that is going to damage your self-image. She met this great guy and some of the challenges I think they had early on was because she didn’t like herself. It’s like, “How could this guy like me?” And that’s going to be a challenge in a marriage if you go, “Well, why would somebody like me?”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She was, I think, a Porsche dealer, in sales. She was doing fine. But as we just heard, when she just came upon this notion of gray area drinking, it’s like, “That’s me. And maybe I can help other people, not just people who were drinking, but people who had relationship issues, career issues. Maybe they’re living life in the gray. Maybe they’re not living their full lives. So all of that pain was leading up to that point in which, “This is my calling. This could be me.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And yet, the reason that she’s in the section about never, never, never, I don’t know if I got enough nevers in there never give in is because when she first stepped out and you heard the enthusiasm, listener, in her voice, when she was telling the story about, “Oh, gray area drinking, that’s what I am.” She hit a brick wall right off the bat. She went to her church and said, “I want to have a small group in our church here and talk about this gray area drinking.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She was told that they weren’t going to let her do that because they already had an addiction recovery group. And that sort of set her off initially to be a little upset. But then she talked to a friend who said, “Well, wait a minute. If this is something that truly has been stamped on your heart to do, if this is…” Not her friend’s words, but our words in the context of this series, “if this is what’s going to lead you to Second-Act Significance, why are you going to let somebody stop you? Go do it. Go start it on your own.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that’s when Kari Schwear founded GrayTonic, not just about drinking, but about, as you said, helping people through relationship issues and other things. That’s when she went out on her own as a coach, and that is her life of significance now. On purpose, dedicated to serving others and her first step out of the gate, it wasn’t like the curtain opened on the second act right away. No, they kept it shut for a while and she had to work hard to get it to open and it did. She started her own thing and look where she is now.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So that’s a telling story for folks about, “You got to have some perseverance too. You’ve got what you feel like God, the universe is telling you to do. You’ve got gifts and passions. You’re taking a small step. You’re going to do it. You can still hit a roadblock. You can still hit a closed curtain and you have to work to get through that.” And she’s an exemplary example of that, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. So well said. I mean, sometimes your first baby step, you hit a brick wall. You get hit over the head with a sledge hammer. It’s like, “Okay. Not taking any more baby steps. Not getting out of bed. Not leaving the house.” Okay, clearly this was a bad idea, but yet she had a lot more guts and determination. She could have been angry at her church, which she probably was a little frustrated, I’m guessing, but she didn’t give up. She could have said, “Well, who needs GrayTonic? Makes no sense. There’s Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe people don’t identify with gray area drinking.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She could have gone in a negative anti-dream, anti-vision spiral in which this proves how there’s no market for this. There’s no need. I’m just going to give up. But yet she didn’t, she persevered and she said, “Look, I really believe in this. I’m going to keep going.” Nothing against Alcoholics Anonymous or other recovery programs, but I feel there’s a bunch of people that say, “Look, hey, I’m not an alcoholic. I just have a little drinking problem.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Whether that’s true or not, the point is there are some people who will come to GrayTonic that will never go to Alcoholics Anonymous or some other group. But they will self-identify, “Hey, this is me.” So she didn’t give up. She pursued her vision, and that’s really a model for us. You don’t give up when your first step gets crushed the way it did for her.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Okay. That’s a good lead in, co-host. That’s a good lead in. I’m not a math whiz as anybody who knows me knows, but my tally says, We’ve just reviewed the stories of eight guests, nine counting both of the Ortons. But we’re not done just yet. I think to really wrap a bow on the package that has been Second-Act Significance, we have another story to tap into just a bit because it occurs to me, it’s the perfect closing note for how we persevere when the first act has been painful and or unfulfilling and press ahead to that life of significance, which you Warwick describe as a life on purpose dedicated to serving others. Anybody you know of who’s been through a similar situation like that that might have a good story to end this show?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, me. So we talk a lot about crucible moments, but I had a cubicle moment actually.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Oh, love it. Great co-hosting again. You’re killing me.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So most people who’ve been listening to this podcast for a while know, 150-year-old family business that I grew up in, massive media company that had the newspapers, TV, radio stations, equivalent to the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. Did the $2.25 billion takeover after Oxford, Harvard Business School, Wall Street. A few years, three years later in 1990 too much debt. Australia got in a recession, company with bankrupt.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

People have heard that story and how I bounced back. What people haven’t heard so much is I had a cubicle moment where eventually, I live in Maryland and got a job at a local aviation services firm doing financial, strategic planning analysis. I was doing well. I wasn’t getting paid a whole lot as I’ve said before. I felt like I was the lowest paid Harvard Business graduate in history, which not so much about the money, which isn’t that important to me a bit about it’s hurt my ego.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So things were okay. I was doing fine. I was literally in a cubicle, the way a lot of folks, a lot of us are. And I had this moment where I had a, “Is this all there is?” And being a person of faith, I was journaling and I felt like, again, as a person of faith, the Lord telling me, “You are playing small. You are not using all the gifts and talents I’ve given you for me.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And it wasn’t like it was beneath me. I was getting great performance reviews and I wasn’t depressed or whatever, I just felt like, is this all there is? There’s got to be more. And so I quit. I didn’t have billions in the bank, but I had some amount that I had some wherewithal to be able to find myself, so to speak. And that led me on a quest to becoming an executive coach, to giving that speech in church, which people have heard me talk about in 2008, which people said, “Gosh, your story really helped me.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That led me to writing a book that led to Crucible Leadership and this podcast Beyond the Crucible that all started with that cubicle moment, is this all there is? I’m doing financial and strategic planning analysis, but there’s more I’m not using all my gifts for the Lord, for the kingdom, for a higher purpose. It wasn’t terrible. But it was like, is this all there is moment. And it was, yes, my cubicle moment.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And keeping in line with point four of our discussion here, listen to Churchill, “Never give in. Never, never, never, never.” I know for a fact, I don’t have to say I assume. I know from knowing you that there were times when roadblocks hit as you were moving toward that life of significance, you were moving toward, there’s got to be more than that. Is this all there is? And you pushed through them. How did you do that? What gave you the strength, courage, wherewithal to be able to punch through those stoppages that were thrown in front of you.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So as I tried to take baby steps to making my vision a reality, which originally back from 2008 on for next several years, in fact, it took 12 years to get the book published in October last year, October 2021. But some of the-

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And the book is called what?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There we go.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Some of those early roadblocks was I thought to myself, “Well, I can get this published in Australia.” My name at least was pretty big. Fairfax Media is a big deal. Surely I can find somebody interested. And because of the name of Fairfax Media in my name, there were publishers that would talk to me, but some said, “Well, we want more of a salacious tell-all book.” And I wasn’t going to dis on my family. I’m happy to throw rocks at myself and my own stupidity and mistakes, but not about other people.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And then another one said, “Well, this could be good, but if you’re in the leadership space, you need to have a following, email following. They didn’t say podcast back then, but email, social media following.” I was like, “Well, good point. I don’t have that.” Well, it took years to… I mean, I found a team, but then build up social media email list, and finally was at a point where a major publisher in the US, Morgan James published it. But I could have said, “Oh, well, I guess if Australia is going to say no, what is the chance of the US saying yes, because nobody’s heard of me here.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So I could have said, “Well, that’s it, I’m given up.” And why didn’t I give up? It’s because I felt like if my story can help one other person, it is worth writing. It is worth getting published. And just listening to people after church in 2008 said, “Boy, your story really helped me.” It was that vision. It’s not about me. It really was a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I honestly believe at the core of my gut, at the core of my heart, that my story can help people. So I was not going to give up. I was going to persevere because it’s not about me, it’s about something bigger than me. It’s about helping others. And that’s what kept me going to keep taking one more baby step, one more baby step, one more no, one more no, to eventually it became a yes from Morgan James, one of the big US publishers. It was the power of the vision and my passion for seeing how that could help others that kept me persevering, kept me moving through the no’s.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And would you say to the listener directly, do you believe that where you’ve landed now, and speaking of landed, getting close to where you have to land a plane, would you say to the listener that you have arrived at a place where you feel as though you are leading a life of Second-Act Significance that it was worth it going through what you went through before and then pushing through those roadblocks? Are you living a life of significance today?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I can identify with Nancy Volpe-Beringer and Robert Miller in the sense that I was sort of more towards my late 40s when that speech in church happened in 2008. I got my book published when I guess doing the math, just over 60. I mean, it’s easy to feel like, “Gosh, I wish I could have published a book 20 years ago.” But it is worth it and I‘m just loving this second act and being able to have this podcast, and my book, and speaking where I feel like I can help people not see their worst day as something that defines him, but indeed have a vision that’s beyond them that does lead to a joyful and fulfilling life, a life of significance, focused on others dedicated to a higher purpose.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So absolutely. I feel so blessed with my wife. It’s funny, as we are recording this, it so happens we have our anniversary’s on May 20, which is sort of ironic and we’re recording this on May 20.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It’s my anniversary too on May 20.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We’re both celebrating wedding anniversaries on the day this is being recorded.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So this is a day when I think I can speak for both of this, we feel incredibly blessed by our wives and families, and the work that we do. And both leading lives of significance. I mean, I think we can both say we feel blessed and joyful. I’m just so grateful. I love what I’m doing and I do feel absolutely blessed.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That is the sound of the plane’s landing gear, touching down and everybody’s unbuckling their seat belts before they’re supposed to, and we are on the ground. But there’s a couple things that I have to say before we bid adieu. One is let’s review what we’ve talked about here, folks, so that here’s what we’ve laid out as sort of the four steps toward moving from first act to second act of significance as unpacked in the guests we’ve had on this eight-part series Second-Act Significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Step one, it’s never too late or too early to pursue a next act in a life that brings you more significance. Number two, when you set out on a journey to new significance, follow your heart and lean into your talents. Number three, starting small is okay because it’s starting. And then number four, and this is good advice in general, I think Warwick would say, listen to Churchill, “Never give in. Never, never, never, never.” And I’ll add another never. I’ll take it one step farther than Churchill. Never give in. Because you’re always one baby step away from breakthrough. I think that is true.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

As we wrap, I’m going to ask you to do a few things, listener. First, ponder these three questions. At the end of the blog on this subject at crucibleleadership.com as you look to chart your own course to Second-Act Significance. So these are three questions that you can ponder as you take what we’ve talked about here, what you’ve heard in eight episodes of the series as you move forward to try to latch on to that next act of significance for you.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Ask yourself this question. Do you have an “is this all there is?” itch you’ve been wanting to scratch? What’s holding you back? Ponder that. Do you have it? And if you have it and you’re not acting on it, what’s holding you back from doing so? Number two, what are the skills and passions you have that can serve you if you start on the journey to a life of greater significance? What are the skills and passions you have that can serve you if you start on this journey to a life of Second-Act Significance?

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And then number three, ponder this, what would significance look like for you if you grab hold of it in that next act in your life? Why would that be more rewarding and fulfilling than what you are doing now? So write those things down. If you missed any of them, because I didn’t tell you to get a pen in your hand before I talked or I talked too fast, they’re at the end of the blog at crucibleleadership.com where you can find those reflection questions.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And then the last thing I’m going to leave you with and I can’t encourage you enough to re-listen or to listen for the first time to the eight episodes featuring the guests that we’ve just spoken about. And listen with one ear on what the guests said that applies to your situation and inspire and equip you to stepping on to the on-ramp that will take you to your life of Second-Act Significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

In other words, absorb their stories because they’re interesting, hopeful, emotional, moving stories, but listen with one ear to are there things in their stories that even we didn’t talk about here that you could pull out and apply to your own situation as you look to move on to your act of Second-Act Significance?

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We have wrapped this series up. I’m going to give you a little bit, just a teaser. I’m going to defy all of my public relations training to say, “I should tell you what’s coming next.” I’m just going to tease you with what’s coming next and I’m only going to tease you with this. We have a summer series coming up that we think that you’re going to like a lot in a couple weeks you’ll know more about it. So it’s on its way. We’re developing it, like getting it all down. Then we’re going to start recording just between me and Warwick. It’s going to be good stuff. You’re going to like it and I think it’s going to give you some excellent, excellent takeaways for how to continue to pursue your life of significance and move beyond your crucibles.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And speaking of crucibles, until the next time we’re together, please remember that we do know that your crucibles are painful. We’ve been through them. We know that they’re painful, but we also know without question, they are not the end of your story. In fact, they can be the first step, the first bits of writing in the next act of your story, which can be the best act of your story because when you learn the lessons of your crucible and you pursue something that is a life on purpose dedicated to serving others, as you pursue that, where you end up, where that journey takes you, brand new story, best story of your life, because its end place is a life of significance.