THIS is why I’m pursuing a third career

After 21 years working at Mayo Clinic, including starting Mayo’s social media programs and leading the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network with Dr. Farris Timimi for the last 11 years, I retired last Tuesday to pursue a third career.

My of counsel role with Jarrard, Inc. will give me a great opportunity to build on what I did at Mayo, and I’m very much looking forward to that work.

In my announcement I also mentioned that Lisa and I (with a physician friend) are launching a venture related to our health journey, and inviting those interested in being one of our early participants to help us formulate the program to send me an email so we can discuss.

I’ve received several inquiries and will be having follow-up conversations in the coming weeks, but one of the emails and our subsequent discussion captures the essence of why Lisa and I are compelled to pursue this work.

I’m sharing this anonymized exchange with permission.

M.L.: Hi Lee. I’ve been following your and Lisa’s health journey and your advice – like Lisa the menopause hormones thing hit me hard and going keto with intermittent fasting finally helps me – down 45 pounds with more to go, sticking with it at 56 … I have no interest in sharing photos or name yet… but in 6 months who knows? Would love to be in the loop on whatever you have planned.

L.A.: So great to hear from you! Your story is exactly why Lisa and I decided to share ours, because we think it’s really important for people to hear about low carb and IF. Yet we did it with a little trepidation because we didn’t want to go out there and talk about what we had been doing, only to relapse. As it turns out we’re both 10+ lbs. under where we were when we started telling the story 18 months ago, so we can confidently say this works long term.

So yes, we understand about not wanting to “go public.” We have another couple I profiled anonymously who are down 35 and 20 lbs. respectively, and they’re in the same boat, although he and his brother-in-law (down 34 lbs.) just did a Zoom interview with me (recorded) that we’ll be releasing soon. I’d love to talk with you about what we have planned. Maybe we could catch up by Zoom in the next week or so.

M.L. Knowing and trusting you as a person and as an information source were what made me try out your suggestions- and looking into it myself (with your suggested resources to start) convinced me to give it a serious shot – especially since all 4 of my brothers and my late parents struggled with both weight related type 2 diabetes and heart disease- and Dr. Fung’s information was very compelling!

I wish I’d known decades ago how much more important diet (including what and when you eat) is versus just working out more and eating less – so much wrong, guilt inducing, widespread info out there!

I’m very grateful you and Lisa decided to share (to be honest, her even more so than you, as the struggle to do everything right and losing so few pounds when your hormones have gone kablooie really resonated with me and gave me that little, well maybe it actually COULD work push. Would love to chat.

We ended up having that conversation Saturday morning, and learned that M.L had started following the #BodyBabySteps in March, so she’s lost 45 lbs. in just five months!

Her story validated both why we started sharing our health journey story on my blog and also why we’re wanting to devote as much of our time to this effort as we can as I move into Career #3.

I can’t think of many types of work that would be more fulfilling than helping people like M.L. get health results they didn’t think possible.

Most importantly, it was M.L. getting the results.

She checked out my Health Sherpas.

She explored what I was saying to see if it made scientific sense.

Then she made the changes in what and when she ate that led to these great results.

We’re excited that we get to cheer her on and provide more support from now on.

If you’d like to make similar changes and turn back the clock on your health, the #BodyBabySteps are a great place to start.

And if you’d like some additional help and support to encourage you along the way, that’s what our venture is about. We’d be delighted to discuss helping you more directly, too.

Through the Years at Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic staff have an identification photo taken on the first day of employment and an updated one every five years thereafter.

As I was preparing to retire I asked Julie, my assistant, to retrieve my staff photos from the archive. Here was my evolution from 2000-2008:

I added the facial hair in 2003 when Lisa and I took our six kids (and a nephew) on a two-week vacation to Washington, D.C. With no need to shave, I let I grow.

Lisa liked my goatee and mustache and still won’t let me get rid of them. They had a distinct reddish/orange tint back then.

For some reason I have an extra 2008 portrait. Perhaps Mayo was putting in a new system at the time.

Here are the 2010, 2015 and 2020 editions:

That last photo at right was taken in March 2020, just before we all began working from home.

As I finished my work at Mayo this week, here’s my updated photo in my new home office. I guess I’m a graybeard both in career experience and in physical reality.

I’m thankful to have at least some of my hair remaining.

And looking forward to interesting work in my third career.

Starting My Third Career

I’m pleased to announce, now that I have retired from leading Mayo Clinic’s social media program, that the third career I’m starting today will build significantly upon that experience.

I am affiliating with Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, a Top 10 communications firm nationally and one in which my good friend and colleague Reed Smith is Vice President, Digital Strategy. Here’s the news release and my profile on the Jarrard site.

As I discussed with Reed and Chris Boyer in the touch point podcast released this morning, the of counsel role with Jarrard will give me an opportunity for continued thought leadership as well as engagement in interesting projects on behalf of clients.

That role also will give me flexibility to pursue another project that is a personal passion for Lisa and me: helping people restore their metabolic health.

Those who’ve been following my blog and social media accounts will know that Lisa and I have been on a health journey for the last four years.

We’ve each lost more than 50 lbs. and have kept it off. More importantly, we feel healthier and have more energy than we did 20 years ago, and our medical lab test results attest to our restored health.

Since I have been blogging about My Health Journey, Lisa and I have had opportunities to do some informal health coaching with interested readers, and they’ve gotten significantly positive results, too. My #BodyBabySteps page has some of the highlights of our approach, which we are further refining in partnership with a family physician friend.

We want to be able to expand this to reach and help more people, and we’re developing a venture to do just that.

We want to help people turn back the clock on their health.

Maybe even feel healthier than they can remember.

We aren’t ready to announce the venture yet, but in addition to my Jarrard work we will be busy working out the program details in the coming months.

Let’s just say in addition to coaching we will have an online community component, so my social media experience will be important in this part of my third career as well.

If you’re interested in being one of our early participants to help us formulate the program, send me an email and we can discuss.

Be well.

Keeping the 5th

In my last post (in addition to announcing my pending retirement from Mayo Clinic as of August 3) I paid tribute to my recently deceased father-in-law, Leonard Wacholz.

Today I want to honor my father and my mother, who are still very much with us and have been my most important sources of support and encouragement for more than 58 years (although Lisa has taken the lead in that regard for the last 40.)

Instead of Taking the 5th (Amendment), today I want to Keep the 5th (Commandment).

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are good occasions that cause us to reflect on our parents and their roles in our lives, and hopefully to spur us to gratitude.

I want to honor Lewis and LaVonne Aase today not because of a Hallmark trigger, but more spontaneously.

Eulogies (literally “good words”) should be spoken about the living, not just those who have finished their races.

Some people would say I’m privileged. I think a better word is blessed. In either case the benefits are undeserved and unearned. I didn’t choose my parents. Saying I’m blessed not only honors my father and mother, but also Our Father who gave me to them and them to me.

Here are just a few of the ways they have been a blessing to me, to my brother Mark and to our extended (and extensive) family.

  • They have demonstrated their love not only in words, but in concrete actions. For example, when Lisa and I moved six times in our first six years of marriage, our parents were there to help us move. Every time. That’s love.
  • They have modeled grace to us. Mark and I have both done things we came to regret. While there was never any question in the moment as to whether Dad and Mom approved, the consequences we experienced were better than we deserved. And when we came to our senses they didn’t hold our previous errors against us. They taught us the Law and showed us the Gospel.
  • Mom particularly modeled practical repentance. When her perfectionist tendencies caused her to occasionally overreact to something the men in her life did, she was quick to apologize and ask our forgiveness. Her willingness to admit mistakes made it easier for us to do the same.
  • They have lived out the practical implications of their Christian faith in their vocations. Mom worked as a geriatric nurse, caring for vulnerable aging patients and residents, and Dad was an elementary school principal whose continuing question in running school programs was, “What’s best for the kids?”
  • Dad has been relentless in developing and pushing helpful innovations. Some have been in his work and in areas of his direct responsibility, such as finding ways for younger students who weren’t keeping up academically to participate in the decision to take another year in a grade so they wouldn’t fall further and further behind. He also co-founded a mathematics challenge program called Math Masters in Austin, Minn. in 1989 that has grown throughout the state and continued to this day. You should read about it.
  • They’re faithful members of their church, contributing their time, talents and treasure and actively caring for members of the church body.
  • They’ve been active in other community improvement efforts. Dad’s been a Guardian ad Litem and mentor, and served Meals on Wheels until he broke his hip a couple of years ago. Even now, at 90, he is writing letters to elected officials suggesting that a program to have police officers visit elementary schools would be a constructive solution to the current societal unrest.

I could go on, and in the series on My Career Journey and My Faith Journey their ongoing influences will be a recurring theme.

Dad and Mom have striven to follow Jesus Christ in their life’s calling, in humble reliance on the Holy Spirit, and bearing His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

They remain an inspiration to me and to many others, and a reminder that we are blessed to be a blessing.

I thank God for them.

Retiring from Mayo Clinic, Embracing Elderhood

My last day of work at Mayo Clinic will be one month from today, as I will be retiring August 3 to begin my third career.

I’m excited about what’s ahead, even as I look back fondly on more than 21 years of amazing experiences at Mayo Clinic and also on the chapters before April 2000 that prepared me for my Mayo career.

I started a series here on my blog in January 2020 to tell the story of My Health Journey, sharing what Lisa and I had learned over the previous three years that I thought others might find helpful.

Today I’m starting two more: My Career Journey and My Faith Journey.

Instead of a three-year scope I’ll be reflecting on more than a half-century of life experiences, but with the same goal: sharing stories and insights you might find interesting and that may lead to beneficial applications in your life.

Three factors spurred me to start these series: Chip Conley’s concept of modern elderhood, my renewed focus on old-fashioned Elderhood and our recent loss of Lisa’s dad.

As I wrote in Is 58 Halftime?, Chip Conley’s presentation two years ago challenged me to consider what my career contribution might be over the next 25 or 30 years, and how it would look different from my last few decades.

That led to some personal retooling, including getting my MBA, and also my decision to notify my division and department leaders on May 3 of my plans to retire from Mayo Clinic. As the series on My Career Journey progresses, I look forward to sharing news about what’s next for me, but before that I will begin my modern elder role by sharing earlier career stories and insights, including what mentors have helped me to learn. 

But I’m not just a modern elder: I’m a traditional one, too. Since 2010 I have been a Ruling Elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), in Rochester, Minn. I’ve just returned from attending the PCA’s 48th General Assembly in St. Louis. As I move into my third career, I want to dedicate more of my time and effort into this role, and in the My Faith Journey series I will share deeper “meaning of life” reflections.

The death of my father-in-law, Leonard Wacholz, on June 17 is my other motivation for starting these series. As I wrote in his obituary, Leonard was blessed with a long and relatively healthy life and was able to live at home on the farm until his last three months. His three children and 13 grandchildren (as well as us in-laws in both generations) have vivid and precious memories of Leonard, but for his 19 great-grandchildren (plus one on the way in October) the recollections will necessarily be fuzzier.

In his last weeks, as dementia was affecting his ability to speak and his short-term memory, we were amazed at some things Leonard could recall from 60, 70 or even 80 years ago. We know Leonard had a deep faith in Jesus and didn’t fear death, and so as the apostle Paul wrote, we don’t grieve “as those who have no hope.” But one of the hardest parts of losing him – besides the experience of his love, warmth and kindness – is that we’ve lost touch with those memories of his, and that we can’t ask him about them anymore. 

Through the series on My Career Journey and My Faith Journey, whatever good they may or may not do for others, I’ll be capturing memories – and hopefully wielding wisdom well – for my children and grandchildren.

And, Lord willing, through the changes Lisa and I have made as outlined in My Health Journey, we hope to also enjoy time with our children’s children’s children. 

I hope My Career Journey and My Faith Journey will be helpful to you, too.