13 #Remix : Professional Reinvention

We discuss the idea of professional reinvention and sit down with sales executive and entreprenuer Edward Nunn to hear his 33 year journey.

Length: 54:08

Host: Zach | Ade

Edward Nunn LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-nunn-7851ba11/

NunnAbove

www.nunnabove.com

Living Corporate Patreon and All Major Links:

https://linktr.ee/livingcorporate

TRANSCRIPT

Ade: "It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." The context of this apocryphal quote commonly attributed to Darwin is related to this theory of biological evolution, but I believe there's something more there. For many of us, we don't want to just survive, we want to thrive. We want to achieve as much as we can while being our best selves, or at least while striving to find out who our best selves are. So with that in mind, what does change responsiveness look like for us in our careers? How do we adapt professionally to make sure we're constantly setting ourselves up for long-term success? What does that even mean? What does that look like? This is Ade, and you're listening to Living Corporate.

Ade: It's the reeeeeeemiiiiiiixxxxxx! 

Zach: What?

Ade: Thank you for joining us. [laughs] My bad. Today we're talking about reinventing yourself professionally, so I thought it was contextually appropriate. So the act of making a career change that is in-line with your long-term career goals.

Zach: Oh, okay. Yes, gotcha. Yes. [laughs]

Ade: Yeah. [laughs]

Zach: This is really important though. Like, the concept of looking where you believe you're trending professionally and making adjustments. Sometimes they're major adjustments where appropriate. Speaking of which, Ade, would you mind talking to us about your journey to becoming an engineer?

Ade: It's been a pretty rough, rough trip so far, and--I mean, some of it has been very enjoyable, and I mean that with all sincerity. I've had some amazing experience, but a lot of it has just been, you know, having to teach yourself a whole new--brand new field of knowledge. I like to describe myself as a learner, but having to teach yourself a whole new field of knowledge when you have nothing to base that field on is incredibly daunting. And I've had some, you know, technical issues, technical difficulties along the way, and I've also had some very, like, up at 2 A.M. in the morning like, "I don't think I can do this." Like, "I don't think that I am up to the task of making this switch," and that's not because I don't find this interesting or I don't find this, like, mind-meltingly awesome, it's that I just don't feel like I'm capable. And so those doubts always exist, but the fun thing about the switch is that in reinventing yourself you discover parts of yourself that you didn't know were there. And so it's difficult, it's daunting, but it's also really, really rewarding. Like, sometimes I get to a point where [inaudible] or my portfolio site comes together and I'm like, "Oh, my God. I did it. I did it, and I didn't--" I mean, yes, I used Stack Overflow more than once, but I did it, you know? You get that sense of accomplishment that you're not actually steering your life right off a cliff, and there's that duality of on the one hand "Am I even supposed to be here?" And on the other hand, on the days where, you know, you do feel like you're in the right room or you do feel like you're doing the right thing and you do feel like "I'm right where I need to be," it's this breathless wonder, I suppose is the best way of putting it, at just how dope everything can be.

Zach: That's so cool. I know of a few people, right, who have made similar changes in terms of--not similar changes in terms of becoming an engineer, but similar decisions to kind of make a pivot, right, career-wise, and you know, I've seen people who have transitioned from being, like, HR managers to being fashion bloggers. I've seen--I have friends who have transitioned from being teachers to being full-time photographers. I've had friends who worked in the government and now they're, like, running intramural sports leagues. And I can't speak to the bag, like, how much money they're making, but I can say that each and every one of them seemed much more fulfilled in their day-to-day activities. And so, like, I'm really excited for you because you're going through a journey yourself, and I'm excited to see what the other side of that looks like for you.

Ade: [laughs] So am I.

Zach: [laughs] And I know that regardless of whatever, you know, ultimately it is, you're gonna be a better version of yourself coming out of it, so I'm really excited for you for that.

Ade: Aye. And here's where we insert the celebratory Milly Rock. [laughs] But yeah, you know what? I think it would be super interesting to talk to someone who has had to professionally maybe reinvent themselves a couple times over, several times over. I'm thinking major changes, something like transitioning from education to car sales to, I don't know, stock brokering? To maybe pharmaceuticals to--hm, let's go with hospice care, and bonus points if this person was somehow related, in some form or fashion, to one of our Living Corporate hosts.

Zach: Oh, you mean like our guest, my dad Ed Nunn?

Ade & Zach: Whaaaaat? 

Zach: [imitates airhorns]

[Sound Man throws 'em in]

Zach: Sound Man, listen, now. You gonna give me my pow-pow-pows, but then you also give me a couple pow-pow-pows 'cause it's my dad, okay? So pow-pow-pow. Give me a couple more.

[Sound Man obliges]

Zach: Give me some pow-pow-pows. Boy, that needs to be on a t-shirt somewhere. Anyway, keep it in. All right, so next we're gonna get into our interview with our guest, my dad Ed Nunn.

Ade: We're back. Welcome to this portion of the show called the interview section. Y'all know how we go. So today we have the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Mr. Ed Nunn with us.

[Sound Man throws in cheers]

Ade: Ed, welcome to the show.

Ed: Thank you. Appreciate it, Ade. 

Ade: Most certainly. So for those of us who don't know you, do you mind sharing a bit of your background? Tell us a bit about yourself.

Ed: I'm 53 years old, Midwesterner. Right now I'm married, living in--outside of St. Paul. Five children. One of them happens to be one of your colleagues, Zach Nunn.

Ade: Yeah, yeah.

Ed: His siblings are a bit younger. We have a dog. My mother-in-law lives with us here in the suburbs. 

Ade: Okay. I love dogs, so I'm not gonna, like, go down that line of inquiry 'cause I'm gonna sit up here all day talking to you about your dog. But that sounds wonderful. It sounds like you have a nice, cozy life with a nice, cozy family, which is something I definitely aspire to, but today we're talking a little bit about professional reinvention, kind of remaking your career, which is something that's near and dear to my heart, and the path to getting there. You mind walking us through your own 33-year journey to being who you are now?

Ed: Mm-hmm. You know what? When you put it that way, there's a--I look back, and I think about it, and I haven't really thought about it until you put it that way. 33 years.

Ade: [laughs] Right.

Ed: You know, I recall when I first went to college I had an academic scholarship to Jackson State University, and I recall going to college, and honor student and all that stuff, and my mom had talked to me--you know, I remember taking these trips with my mom and dad and the family to Saint Louis and Mississippi and California, and every time we'd go some place, you know, she'd talk about these roads and these build--I'm sorry, these bridges, and she said, "You know, son, you can be an engineer. You could build these. You could design these." My mom and dad weren't--were not educated, didn't graduate high school, but their aspiration was of course for all of us to do much more, much greater things, and they poured a lot of expectations and resources, time, and love and all of that into us to do that. So I went to school and I was gonna be an engineer. Not a civil engineer, I decided I'd try my hand at being a mechanical engineer and found out that I didn't like engineering. [laughs] So instead of--'cause I went to Jackson State, transferred to Mississippi State, went back to Jackson State and finished up my math degree. So I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, and I said, "Okay, now I'm out. Now what do I do with that?" Thought about being a teacher, tried my hand at teaching mathematics high school for a couple of years, realized I didn't like that. Left that and went into working as a recruiter for a liberal arts college in the Midwest. Left that and became a stockbroker. Really, really changed gears there because we--at that time I was married, and we decided to leave the Quad City area. When I got out of mathematics and moved back home to the Quad Cities I started the recruitment for the liberal arts college, became a stockbroker and wanted to leave the Quad Cities just to--the idea of having a family and being able to raise a family in a more cosmopolitan, diverse--you name it. You can put anything you want, it wasn't the Quad Cities.

Ade: Right. The stakes were different.

Ed: Well, yeah. It was just different, right, and so we decided to go to Minneapolis, the Minneapolis area, and got up to the Minneapolis area and realized I didn't really want to start all over again building a book of business after three or four years of doing it in the Quad Cities, so I started working in the field of pharmaceutical sales. Left pharmaceutical sales, went into selling copiers and printing and multi-function devices. Left that and went into--well, previously I went to telecommunications, then to--no, I'm sorry, it was telecommunications after selling printers, and then I found myself at a point where I was just kind of burnt out, you know? I'm hopping from place to place, industry to industry, and not really finding what I'm looking for. It was okay for a little while, get bored. Literally get bored of it, and I took a break, flat out took a break. There was a place where the pharmaceutical industry dried up. A lot of reps--the companies were downsizing, and I recall--I recall talking to my wife and saying, "You know what? I'm tired of this." It really wasn't sales, it was walking in and, you know, pop-up ads all you were. You weren't having an opportunity to have a discussion with people around their needs and how to solve them.

Ade: Right.

Ed: So I took a break, and I just started my own little deal. I got involved with some guys that had an investment idea, and we formed a company and started--we're manufacturing, with some partners in Asia, some technology, and then we have formed a company to actually--a separate company aside from our investment. We were going to import it and start selling it to resellers, and I did that for a couple years, and it was good. I enjoyed it. We saw some growth, my partner and I did. That went awry because the original investor group kind of--they were at odds with each other, and there were some issues that came about, and so that kind of blew up on that side, which it then kind of obviously cratered the business that we had importing the product and trying to sell it to the resellers. And so there I am again thinking, "Okay, great, now what?" So as I sat there, you know, I recall a couple of weeks just saying, "Okay, what am I gonna do? What do I want to do?" I got a phone call, and this was the beginning of what I've been doing for the last few years of my life. I got a phone call from a hospice company, and they--I picked the phone up and the lady said, "Hey, you know, I'm looking for Ed Nunn." Said, "This is he." "Hey, Ed, I'm So-and-so from, you know, so-and-so hospice. Have you ever thought about hospice?" I said, "No." "Would you like to?" I said, "No." [laughs] "What I know about hospice is death. I--you know, I'm not there yet. I'm not ready to talk about it, I'm not ready to experience it, so I'm not really interested. Thank you very much." "Well, just keep my name, and if you ever change your mind please call," you know? "We got your name from So-and-so and we'd like to talk to you." "Okay, thanks. Goodbye." I hung that up, and my wife said, "Who was that?" So I told her. She says, "You know, you may want to think about that." I said, "Sheila, I thought about it. No thank you."

Ade: Right.

Ed: But I gave it a little more thought. I don't know what happened, but I gave it some thought. I didn't have anything else lined up necessarily. I didn't have anything in my mind I wanted to do, and, you know, after I thought about it, there's got to be more to hospice than just death. I mean, it's something we're all gonna do is what I recall thinking, and I end up wanting to find out more about it. So a couple days have passed. I pick the phone up and call the lady back, and, you know, a couple, three, four weeks later, I find myself hired by this company, which at the time was one of the largest, if not the largest home health care company. It was a large company. 60,000 employees here in the states. For what they did, they were a big company. And so I found myself in the world of--still in health care, but now in hospice, and I've been in hospice ever since. And that was 2012, I believe. So for the last six years I've been in hospice, working for three different hospice companies. The third one, you know, actually was purchased, and they decided to shut down a third of their operations in the country to kind of get control of five different platforms. It was just spread out too far, and they chose to shut down the two offices I was running here in Minnesota as well as the other 25 to 30 they shut down. And so I got tired of doing hospice for others, and I opened my own hospice company, and so right now I own part of a hospice company, and I'm still working for yet another one, doing sales and marketing for them here in the Twin Cities area. So that's me.

Ade: Wow. So first of all, I want to take a break. [laughs] I want to, like, sit back and be like, "That was a whole lot," and I feel like I've earned it, but yeah, it sounds like you've gone through a process of constant reinvention and experiences that have built one upon the other. Not necessarily a 1:1 correlation there, but it does sound like you've had a wealth of experiences. Have any of them really stuck with you, or any feedback that you've gotten from the people around you, have those stuck with you to the extent that you've utilized those thoughts or you've utilized that process in other areas of your life, maybe in building your previous companies or in building this one?

Ed: Yes. As a matter of fact, the very first time I stepped out into the world of commission-based earning versus, you know, an hourly salary or some hourly pay rather versus salary, just doing it on commission. The very first thing I heard was from my father, and he told me, "What are you doing? You need to get you a job that pays you a solid hourly rate and will just--" "You can pay your bills, and--what are you talking about, commission? You don't know what you're gonna make," and he didn't care that it was a--that I had just been interviewed and I was the first person of color in the Quad Cities to actually have a Series 7 to be a licensed stockbroker with the company that I was working with, and they had been there in one form or another--for 93 years been around, and he didn't care. That wasn't a focus. He was--you know, my father grew up John Deere and forging metal and grinding it and that kind of thing. He's like, "Better get you a job." [laughs] And so that experience, his objection to it, was so strong. I'll never forget it. I'm thinking, "You know what? You may be right, but I'm gonna try this," and it was the best thing I ever did, and I always go back to that thinking no--you really have to have faith in yourself and the things you do, and if you really are passionate about it and--you just have to believe in it and go for it, and I'll never forget that. As the first thing--the first time I tried to do something outside the realm of what my parents had kind of modeled for me, that was the one thing that--it stuck out, like, "Wow, okay. I'm out here by myself now." "You're on your own." But yeah, that one stuck out with me because--I kept that mindset. It was uncomfortable, Ade. It was very uncomfortable going from a known, you know, to the unknown in terms of my pay because yeah, you know, I had a house, you know? All these things you're doing and you need to pay for, and all of a sudden--*claps*--you know? You know, when they first start you out as a broker, you know--I started out, and they give you a pay, rather a salary, and wean you off of it, and the goal is to be a year, a year and a half or so, that you're 100% commission-based. Well, after the first three months, I was doing enough in commissions--my commissions far exceeded my salary, so after three months I said, "You know what? You keep your salary. I'll just go commission here on in," and it was the best thing I ever did. And so I look back and think about the fact that had I not done that, had I not gone through that, had I not weathered the storm of my father telling me not to do it and going ahead and doing it, I wouldn't have ventured out and done some of the things I've done in the last few years.

Ade: Right. And you've kind of touched on it, but I do wanna backtrack and get, like, an explicit conversation about the motivation behind a few of these shifts. So you mentioned that a few of them were by necessity, but you made some jumps and you made some decisions that weren't necessarily necessities, they were just you making decisions based off of your own motivations 'cause you speak to those.

Ed: Well, I've always found it odd that when someone would look at my resume, and this was--you know, I'm 53 now, so when I was in my mid-30s someone would look at my resume--'cause there was a time when, and I didn't mention this, my wife and I actually went to Japan for a couple of years and taught English. We just--we stopped it all and said, "You know what? We don't have kids. Before we go, we're just gonna go." To get started we're just gonna go to Japan, and we're gonna start and teach for a while and get an experience, but when you get back and you sit down with folks and they look at your resume, and they're looking for--you know, they're looking for [inaudible], right? Whatever that [inaudible] is, that's what they're looking for. I've got widgets over here. All I've got is widgets. Now, some of mine are yellow, some are green, but I don't have [inaudible], and I'm thinking, "Why are you looking for that? Why don't you look--and I know that you're looking for something in terms of what you're trying to do for this position. You want these qualities you want this person to fill, and they've got this list, but I--and they're trying to, you know, jam me into that, or jam anybody into it, and what I realized was that after a while--for a while [inaudible] I was frustrated because I didn't have [inaudible] and I didn't fit the mold because I didn't stay nine years here, I didn't stay five years there, and the older I got, the more experience I got, the more I realized that's fine, it just wasn't a fit. But while I was going through it it was frustrating, and so the decisions that I made to move, at first they were very uncomfortable when I was--you know, I'd move. I'd want to do something. It was intentional. I didn't like what I was doing, and my thought was "Why stay here? Just because I don't fit this mold I have to stay until I fit this mold? Who tells me--and when is it okay to move because I'm miserable here? How long do I stay here and be miserable so I can do another move here?" And I realized, "No, that's just not gonna work. If that's not a fit because of me moving, well, then that's not a fit, and I'll just keep moving." What I came to realize in the end was I wasn't going to be happy getting a job somewhere necessarily. It's gonna have to be something--and I know a lot of folks come to it on their own. It took me a while to get to it, you know, get to the fact that it was okay, it was okay to not be comfortable. It was okay to not fit the mold, and it was okay to go and make your own money your own way, and if you stumbled along the way, you didn't make all the money you thought you were gonna make, and whatever that stuff was in the middle that I was kind of, you know, letting get in my way, that was okay too because the goal was to kind of, you know, be true to myself, and I know it sounds kind of cliche, but I really was trying to find something that I didn't have, and so it was okay getting through all that to get to, you know, trying to be happy with what I was initially rather going to wind up with, which was a journey in terms of just feeling like I was accomplishing something, you know? For me and myself, because I tell my kids all the time, Ade, and I know I kinda strayed here, but I tell my kids all the time that my life is--my life, I identify myself by my family. I'm only doing what I'm doing because of them in terms of trying to provide for them, but if I'm not happy doing it then they're in trouble because I'm--[laughs] They're in trouble, so that being the case I need to be happy while I'm trying to provide and give them the things that I really want them to have just like my folks did for me.

Ade: Right. Yeah, so, you know, I think a lot about the current trajectory for a lot of my friends, or for even me myself, and just thinking about how people map their three-year plan, their five-year plan, their seven-year plan, their ten-year plan, I think a lot of it is based in that community where it's [inaudible]. 

Ed: [inaudible]. [laughs]

Ade: [inaudible], yes. It makes me think of, like, my dog chewing on my shoes or something. Now I'm scared that he's chewing on my shoes downstairs. [laughs] But anyway, I've noticed that for a lot of my cohorts, we rely on that continuity and will even, like, rewrite resumes, and we'll just, like, try to shave the edges off of the square peg to fit in a round hole. And it sounds very much that you were like, "Nope, the square peg is still the square peg," and so that process for you, do you have any advice for anybody who's navigating that current trajectory on their own, such as myself? How we should go about it, just kind of presenting your experiences and how that might--and how your experiences might help us or edify us in any way.

Ed: You know what? The first thing first and foremost is get comfortable with the idea of being very uncomfortable.

Ade: Yikes. [laughs]

Ed: I mean, you know, you've heard the--you know, those adages, and you've heard, you know, "If you want to succeed," you know, "you're either burning the bridge or burning the boat that got you there," so you're stuck there, those kinds of things. You know, that's true. You--I'm not saying you burn your, you know, your contacts and you burn people, but in your mind you have to just get used to the fact that "Wow, I just did something that--" "Oh, okay. I let that go," and you have to be comfortable letting it go and not going back to it. You let it go for a reason, and you get--you know, sometimes you can get a--you know, you get afraid of where you're going 'cause you're not quite sure and you kind of want to hold onto some things, but I would tell you that number one, get very comfortable being uncomfortable. Number two, I would say that you're going to--even if you have that mindset, some of those personality traits--you know, the gambler type of personality.

Ade: [laughs]

Ed: Seriously, you know, that doesn't mean that the gambler is 100% certain of themselves, but just know that--[laughs]--when you make that call, you're gonna fall. You really are, but that doesn't mean you made the wrong call. Be comfortable, you know, with being uncomfortable. Know that you're gonna fall down along the way, but you have to stay true. You really have to have faith in what you've chosen and faith in yourself because I'm telling you this much, if you put yourself out there and you don't have this privileged mindset, you will make it happen for yourself. I can guarantee you. If you sincerely understand that--the mindset that, "You know what? I don't know what this problem--I don't know how to solve this one, but I will figure it out. I'll use my resources. I'll call some friends. I'll have these conversations." You do what you have to do. You talk to folks, and it'll come to you, but you have to know that when you put yourself out there it's gonna be challenging, but if you have serious faith in what you're doing--and if you don't panic, overly panic...

Ade: So panicking a little bit is fine. [laughs]

Ed: [laughs] It's fine. You're gonna panic a little bit, because, you know, there are times when I might need a good chunk of change to do something I'm working to do. I've got a few projects now I'm working on that have nothing to do with my employer, they have nothing to do with, you know, my children right now. They have a sibling band, and they have--you know, they're actually doing pretty good. They're starting to get going a little bit. They're actually featured on this season's America's Got Talent and that kind of stuff. Not featured, but they're actually gonna be on the show. I can say that because I was told I could. 

Ade: [laughs] I'm looking forward to rooting for them.

Ed: Pardon me?

Ade: I said I'm looking forward to rooting for them.

Ed: Oh, I appreciate it, and I'm sure they would too, but I've got another project I'm working on that I've been working on for five years, and there are times I--you know, you have a money crunch. If you need--you know, and I'm not a rich guy, so if I need 30, 40, $50,000, or even $10,000, and I need it next week and I don't have it, you have to start being creative. "How am I getting this money up?" You know, I'm not looking to go borrow money and go into debt, and so you just have some faith that you'll figure it out. And, you know, you do. You really do if your mindset--if you condition yourself to knowing that, "Okay, I'm gonna hit some things that I don't know how to handle. I'm gonna hit some snags. Don't panic overly so. Just go ahead and--" You know, 'cause there's a process to it, and typically my process has been to put different things in play so I have different areas or different things I can go back to to help me out.

Ade: Right, so basically having a backup plan.

Ed: Well, not just a backup plan. I'm talking multiple things that are going on at once. You know, the idea of having just one source of income scares the snot out of me. I don't know how folks do that. They have one job, and I look at that and think, "You're one management change away from twiddling your thumbs," and I'm thinking, "How do you navigate that?" And I realize you might have your--a year worth of savings, or two years worth of savings, or whatever you've got in your savings 401K to survive and why you--but why do it that way? Well, you know what, if that's what you want to do, great. My thought is just--I don't see it that way. I just like to have a little bit more control.

Ade: Sure, yeah. Yeah. So I'm definitely gonna be looking into other streams of income now because you just dragged me by my edges just then.

Ed: That wasn't the intent. That wasn't the intent, but--

Ade: Look, I take it with all the love and the good sentiments behind that one. [laughs]

Ed: [laughs] Well, no. I mean, and it's not anything that's--there's nothing elaborate, you know? Real estate, you know? For 20 something years I've owned real estate, you know? From several houses and/or multi-unit buildings to individual, you know, houses, but that stuff, for the last 20 something years, has kept me afloat, and it gave me the opportunity to make the choices and say, "You know what? I don't want to do that." You know, right now I have a project where I'm building these--I build these quarter-scale cars, and these things are--these are, like, four feet long, and they're huge, and they're quarter-scale. I mean, these things are 50 pounds maybe. They have their functioning engines, whether the engines be eight-cylinder gasoline engines or nitromethane engines. They have working lights, doors, you name it. They're actually scale cars. These things sell for about--you know, they sell for a lot of money, so that's something I do on the side as well. Just a lot of different things going on that help as you want to make a change, and they also take up your time, but they're a part of the plan, because the plan for me has always been--I go back to what I'm doing this for. It's just to make sure I get this group of people through this to a point where they can, on their own, start navigating. That's my purpose. That's my plan. That's all I'm here to do right now. That's it, and so I'm taking everything I can with me that I'm using to do just that, period the end. 

Ade: That's brilliant. I think that it's important, you know, the thought you just elucidated, that it's great and it's a good idea to reinvent yourself, but you also should have something to fall back on while you do that because it's a good thing to take the leap of faith, but you should have a parachute.

Ed: Oh, certainly. Well, if you don't, it's a hard, rough landing. [laughs] I've been there too.

Ade: [laughs] Right. But yeah, I mean, thank goodness for, you know, parachutes because every once in a while taking that step of faith is just kind of like, "I don't know. That's a mighty long way down."

Ed: But you know, you guys, you're much younger. I mean, I look at--I look at you and Zach and, you know, folks your age, and I say, "Wow, you don't have to worry about that nonsense, someone looking at your resume saying, "Gee, you know, you were only here for two years. You were only here for three years."" 

Ade: Right.

Ed: You know, that's not a question that people are posing. That's not even a mindset anymore. Well, you know, 30 years ago it certainly was. The idea of stability was--it was different, and I look at that flexibility that you have to--you know, to shape yourselves, your careers, your destinies. I think you have--I think you have more flexibility. I think you--there's an opportunity, a greater one, a much more easy opportunity to do just that than I had. So I think that's really cool.

Ade: Yeah, I really like that. I think those were all the questions that we have today. Are there any thoughts that you would like to share that we haven't gotten to? Anything that you really think would benefit us? 

Ed: I guess--let me ask you a question.

Ade: Sure.

Ed: Education-wise.

Ade: Yeah.

Ed: What is your education?

Ade: I have a B.A. in political science and legal studies. I think I had a minor's in philosophy. I really wanted to go to law school at the time, and then I began a master's in sociology, the focus being [inaudible] science, but I never completed my master's, and I'm now working on a front-end nanodegree at Udacity. It's a Google scholarship that allows people to kind of learn programming skills, which is what I'm interested in. So I really, really, really, really, really want to become a software engineer. That's my eventual goal. I want to build my own apps, but I also want to work at--not a Google or a Facebook. I think those are way too large for my personality type. Maybe eventually. Right now, I definitely want to work at more of a mid-sized company where I get the mentorship that I'm really looking for and ownership of my products, honestly so I can be outchea. [laughs] No, I'm kidding. I mean, that is it a little bit. I think that--I think that I'm really invested in a bit of freedom, and most of the software engineers that I know and most of the jobs that I look at are like, "Oh, yeah, you can work 90% of the time remote," which to me means, you know, I can spend a solid 90% of my time coding on beaches, which I know you don't know much about me, but I'm very much a water person, so the idea of being able to do something that I enjoy in a place I enjoy really, really appeals to me. So I have that freedom, and my whole life isn't sitting behind a desk somewhere.

Ed: So if I'm not mistaken, what I'm hearing you say is that this education you're pursuing, you're doing so in order to gain some freedom in life and control.

Ade: Yeah.

Ed: Okay. If you didn't have to work, what would you be doing?

Ade: If I didn't have to work, I would own a restaurant. 

Ed: You don't think that's work?

Ade: No. [laughs] It's funny. I actually don't know if we'll keep all of this in the conversation. I don't know. Where is this going? 

Ed: [laughs] I'm asking the question 'cause you asked me--I'm getting somewhere. I'm going somewhere.

Ade: Okay, okay. If I didn't have to work, I would have a restaurant. I actually have a book of recipe ideas and meals that I want to cook. The idea is to have a restaurant that is diasporic, so all of the food in the restaurant would from the African diaspora, from West African, East African-inspired meals to the Caribbeans to Latin America and meals that are typically in Afro-Latino homes. Just everything that brings us together as one community. I'm very much a community-oriented person, and I think that--to me, one of the most beautiful things about the diaspora is how similar but different food is, and Anthony Bourdain, who was, like, one of the, like, biggest influences for my love of food and cooking and people, had this thing where he talked about food being the center of humanity. Like, once you talk about a people's food, you're talking about people. So culture is built on that, and I could wax poetic about this all day, but essentially I'd be cooking. I'd own a kitchen or a food truck or a series of them and just feed people, 'cause I'm African and that's what we like doing. [laughs]

Ed: So here's my question to you, and I mean, it's--you know, I listen to you talk, and the last couple of minutes have been real talk from you. It's been--I can tell it in your tone. I can tell from the fact that you have this knowledge about, this breath and this passion about it. I marvel at that because I'm wondering, "Okay, so how many of these changes are you gonna take yourself through before you say, "You know what? I'm ready for that change now.""

Ade: Yikes. [laugh]

Ed: Because I have a couple things that I'd like to do for me, and I'm 53, and I'm working towards them. One of them I've already started, with these cars. It's a passion. I love cars, and I like the idea of control or whatever. You know, life is extremely obviously random, but however you can eliminate some of that randomness--but that's one of the things I want to do. It's just taken a long time to get here. Dealing with my family, working with my family and having my kids and my wife around, that's something that I've always wanted to and I hold dear to. So the idea of working with them with their music career right now, that's really big for me, but it's taken a long time to get there. Some of that--well, I didn't have a family, you know, 30 years ago like this, but to get to something I really love--you already knew it, or know it rather. I didn't know 'til I got here. You already have something that is really, really dear and tender, and I'm listening to you talk about this nano this and this MBA that and this wizzy-wazzy this, and it was just interesting, and then when you started talking about the food I'm thinking, "Okay, this is real for her," and I'm just wondering: What are you gonna do, and when are you gonna decide to do that?

Ade: It's funny that you ask because my partner is a tax lawyer, and her thing is constantly, like, "We need to get a food truck for you,", right? [laughs] And so I think that it's definitely something I want to work towards within the next five or so ten--five to ten years because I think that for me it's the security of the job, because, for example, I kind of provide for my family as well, and it's difficult for me to take a leap of faith with, like, a mini-parachute on my back when I know that, like, there are people who are relying on me to not break my legs on the way down, you know? So that's always--that's the fear. So there's the passion behind the cooking, right? And it's like--I'm definitely not gonna die without putting at least a plate in front of somebody's face and like, anticipating the look on their face when they eat it, right? But I also know that the amount that I have to lose right now is keeping me--is what's keeping me from it. So I think that the process of reinvention for me has to start from a place of absolute commitment, not a place of one foot in the commitment and one foot in the fear ,if that makes any sense. Yeah. Fingers crossed, man. [laughs]

Ed: [laughs] Well, I just--I'm looking forward to hearing your story later when both feet, you know, finally land on the commitment side, and I'm wondering if it'll be the--you know, the pain to change was less than the pain to stay the same is what they say, right? So I'm just wondering what's your motivation, what actually gets you to that point? I realize you've got other things, that your people are depending on you. I got that. Hey, I got the same thing, and it's always interesting to hear what people's story is, what their story is, because I've gone through it too. So I'll be looking to hear the end of this one.

Ade: Most definitely, and I'm looking forward to, like, feeding you at some point. [laughs] Putting a plate on your table, and hopefully I've written, like, my own e-commerce platform or something of the sort, so merging those two loves.

Ed: Well, I've got to tell you this. I've listened to you guys with this Living Corporate, and I was--I've got some friends who listen to it too, and we marvel at it because--

Ade: Really?

Ed: Yes, yes. I think it's--I think it's relevant. My wife thinks it's extremely cool, because I think you guys have hit upon something.

Ade: Thank you.

Ed: Well, we think you've hit upon something because, you know, the idea of this--it's one thing to acknowledge, it's another to accept. And, you know, what you're doing is not new with respect to wanting, you know, this acceptance, not just acknowledgement in Corporate America for different peoples. But you guys have been able to reach beyond walls of these companies and connect it with this technology and have this conversation. And, you know, I've been at different companies, large companies, you know? A lot of them. You know, Xerox, Lilly. Some big companies, and within the walls, yeah, there's a lot of acknowledgement of different groups of people, and these different groups are formed, and they can have a platform of some sort, but typically in the past my experience has always been it's been a pat on the head, right? "Yeah, that's nice. That's nice. You guys go over there in the corner and talk, and I'll take it back to the board, and that'll be that." [inaudible] "I'll take this report that you guys had a meeting back too. That'll be nice," but you guys have decided that "No, we're not gonna center it in one particular place. We're just gonna put it out here for everybody," and you've taken this technology and taken this conversation to a different level, and it's so relevant. It's because it's now something that isn't confined to somebody's little bitty, you know, pat on the head from the corporate leadership. No, this is real, and we get to talk about this stuff, and we need to talk about it. And so I look at Living Corporate and say, "My God, that's a really cool idea. Man, they--talk about hitting on something that makes sense," and I enjoy listening to it. I enjoy listening to you guys. Your platform, the way you guys put it together, the music, the artwork - it's cool.

Ade: Thank you. I really appreciate that it's making this much of an impact, and we've certainly been getting, you know, great feedback from people, and we really appreciate all of those things. So before we close out, do you have any final thoughts, anything that you'd like to share? Any shout outs you'd like to give? Whatever. The floor is yours.

Ed: A big shout out to NUNNABOVE. That's the musical group that Zach's siblings have formed. They've been together for a few years doing their music together. They're young, they're young, but I ask that you check 'em out on America's Got Talent and support 'em, and a big shout out to my wife. She doesn't know that I'm gonna shout her out here, put her out here, but, you know, I mentioned--I mentioned all that changing and all those decisions I made to do different things to support my family. Without my wife there to be the support, it wouldn't have been able to be accomplished. I couldn't have--I couldn't have made the decisions and actually made them work without her. Not someone like her, but her here taking care of the things that needed to be taken care of in--you know, within the walls necessarily when I'm out trying out to figure out and knock down--you know, figure out a new path, knock down trees and break up big rocks. It makes it easier if you've got someone that can--that can do that for you. So a big, big, big shout out to her, big shout out to you guys, and seriously, I know that I don't need to do that 'cause you guys are--it's your show, but I'm just very proud of the fact that he's part of this effort that you guys are bringing forth.

Ade: Thank you. Thank you very much, and I'm definitely gonna, like, hit him up like, "Your dad is the coolest ever." I did tell him that you were dragging me though. I informed him.

Ed: That I was what? I was what?

Ade: That you were dragging me. Like, you spent a solid chunk of our conversation today just, like, tugging on my wig all the way through. [laughs]

Ed: [laughs] Well, it wasn't intentional. I just--but I do appreciate it, and you guys--I love the website. I was telling Zach there's some things that you guys are doing, the fact you got some pictures, and the way you guys have set it up, and I love the fonts. I love just the look and appeal of it. This is a really slick--I love the sound of it. When I listen to it, it makes you--it makes you want to listen. You want to engage. Like, "Okay, what did he say? Let me back that up. What did [inaudible] say? What? Oh, that was pretty cool." 

Ade: [laughs] Okay, I have appreciated the full length of this conversation. I am telling Zach about how amazing all of this is and how we're probably gonna have to put this on our Patreon 'cause people can't get this one for free. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you.

Ed: Thanks, Ade.

Zach: And we're back. Hey, Ade. That was a great interview. I really enjoyed that. The themes that kept popping up to me during your conversation were intentionality, comfort with being uncomfortable, and courage. It was really good.

Ade: Uh... so I'm confused. Ed, why are you here? We're in the wrap session of the show. You can go now.

Zach: Oh, you got jokes.

Ade: Yeah, actually. Yes, I do. [laughs]

Zach: [laughs]

Ade: 'Cause y'all sound exactly alike. It is so weird.

Zach: We do sound alike, which is why I knew we couldn't be interviewing, like, together. Like, I couldn't interview him. It would sound like I was having a conversation with myself.

Ade: Facts.

Zach: But eeriness of that aside, I love the fact that he was able to be on the show. He and I, we have these discussions all the time, and he's really the reason I'm so comfortable trying new things.

Ade: Yeah. I mean, I definitely got that sense from him. During our interview, I was taken aback, and dragged, quite a few times at just how fearless he seemed to be. He made so many different transitions and changes and jumps and leaps of faith over the course of his professional career. It was actually kind of scary. 

Zach: Yeah. I know, right?

Ade: But, like, at the same time, I think I learned that your plan doesn't need to make sense to anybody but you, right? 'Cause you're the one living your life, and--I mean, when he was talking about his parents discouraging his shifts and those transitions, I could definitely really--'cause, you know, you can't explain your plans to everybody. Sometimes people side-eye you like, "Sis, you sure?"

Zach: Right, and it's all about like my dad said, following your passions and going for what you feel is right. I mean, we're here right now doing Living Corporate and embracing discomfort and uncertainty. High risk for sure, but great rewards.

Ade: No, I definitely agree, and it's also interesting that your dad was definitely job-hopping and forging his own path way before it was trendy, like millennial trendy.

Zach: Right, and, you know, he really wasn't wrong then, and he isn't wrong now. I mean, look, if you look at this 2014 article from Forbes, it says that employees who stay in companies longer than two years get paid 50% less, and I know there's more value than just your paycheck, but also there's value in being bold and taking control of what you need to get where you believe you need to be.

Ade: Right. So honestly, I'm excited for us to drop the extended interview on our Patreon. By the way, Sound Man, give me some slow jams real quick while I hit them with the super ASMR voice. Guys, check out our Patreon. You want more content, right? You want exclusive stuff? You want giveaways? You want to hang out with the Living Corporate team? I know you do, so go ahead and go join our Patreon. The link will be in the show note. Thank you.

Zach: Oh, my God. [laughs]

Ade: [laughs]

Zach: Oh, my goodness. (laughing) Anyway, major shout out to Ed, my dad, and I hope he can join us again soon. Let's get into our next segment, okay? Favorite Things, where we talk about what our favorite things are these days.

Ade: Yep. My favorite things right now are--I'm really into Miguel. I have been listening to some of my favorite Miguel songs lately non-stop. Candles in the Sun is, like, top 5, top 5, top 5 of all my favorite songs. So I've been really into his entire discography, and I've also been really into hiking. So I have a puppy, and he's a husky, and he needs a lot of, like, physical activity, and I'm training for this marathon, and just being able to get out and really be active and get outside and kind of commune with nature and exercise my hippie-dippie side has been really, really fun. Hurts sometimes 'cause my knees like, "Sis, we're getting way too old for this," but it's been--it's been really great. What about you?

Zach: That's really cool. So my favorite thing right now has to be my sibling's band, keeping with the family theme of the show.

Ade: Right. Why didn't you tell me you have whole rock stars in, like, your family? Like, bro, what?

Zach: I know, right? And so I don't know--like, by the time this episode releases if we'll already have seen them on America's Got Talent, but yeah, I'm really, really proud of them. I love them. They're great, but yeah, so they're called NUNNABOVE. They do funk, pop--

Ade: Yes.

Zach: Yeah. Like, my oldest sister--my oldest little sister Cadence, she's 18, and she plays the bass and she does lead vocals, and then my second-youngest sister is Maddie, and she does keys and vocals. And then my oldest little brother Bennett plays guitar, and he also does vocals, and then my littlest sibling, my little brother Wisdom, plays drum set, and they're all great. Like, they're super talented, really cute. I love 'em. They're awesome.

Ade: I want you to know that this is a setup. They had no choice but to be rock stars with names like that. Cadence? Cadence?

Zach: (laughing) Yeah, Cadence.

Ade: Your dad knew what he was doing. See? Setup.

Zach: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Strategist, strategist. And so what we'll do is we'll make sure to put their information in the show notes so you guys can check them out as well, and yeah, we'll make sure to link all that up.

Ade: Awesome. And as a reminder, to see all of our Favorite Things, go to our website at living-corporate.com and click on Faves. And that's our show. Thank you for joining us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to follow us on Instagram at LivingCorporate, Twitter at LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com. If you have a question you'd like us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at livingcorporatepodcast@gmail.com. Also, don't forget to check out our Patreon at LivingCorporate as well. And that does it for us on the show. My name is Ade.

Zach: And this has been Zach.

Ade and Zach: Peace.

Kiara: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at livingcorporatepodcast@gmail.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.
 

Living Corporate