Interview with Wainwright about changing careers

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The Mike Bonacorsi Show, October 20, 2009

Q: What did you do before you "retired?" (35 seconds)

"I worked at Ball Laboratories... I was a Technical Manager..."

Q: How long had you been there? (5 seconds)

"Just a little over 24 years"

Q: So [at age 51] you decided it was time to retire and do something different? (1 min 20 sec)

"I didn't just decide at age 51 that it was time to retire... For many years of my life photography was an expressive outlet... About 10 years before I retired... 'I'd like to do this full time.'... The actual [planning for retirement] took about 3 or 4 years... It's a big lifestyle change... Things like social activities... I'd better find some new friends."

Q: Was it tough [going from an office environment] to where you are a solo operator? (39 seconds)

"No... I enjoy being able to go to work in my bedroom slippers... The great thing about working from home is that when you are at work you're also always at home. The not so great thing about working from home is that when you are at home you're also always at work..."

Q: Was there an impending layoff... or was there this passion out there you really wanted to pursue? (1 min 51 sec)

"All of the above... I always loved photography... It had become not as fun to go to work any more... About 1997 I circled a [retirement] date on my calendar... Friday the 29th or March, 2001 [note: it was actually the 30th]... Now what do I need to do to be prepared?... [financial and social planning]"

Q: So... when you left your job it must have been scary for you... (41 seconds)

"Yes... There's still doubt that you're going to step off a cliff and there won't be anything there to catch you... My first official day at work as a photographer was April Fool's Day... But it has worked out very well for me... No regrets."

Q: What are some of the things you might miss from your old job? (1 min 14 sec)

"... There was one thing that surprised me. I started having a recurring dream... The thing that it tells me is that when you work for a company for 24 years you get a real feeling that you are needed... When you are personally invested in your career it is a tough thing to admit that they don't really need [you] any more."

Q: ...How long were you actually thinking about leaving your job? (16 seconds)

"More than 3 years."

Q: When you started at Ball Labs... did you think this was where you were going to be until you were 65? (44 seconds)


Q: ...How did you end up [in New Hampshire]? (32 seconds)

"I lived... in New Jersey... and worked at a Bell Labs location in Holmdel... I really had always wanted to live in New England... I interviewed for an opening... in North Andover, and in 1995 was very fortunate to be moved up here."

Q: ...Do you like it [living in New Hampshire]? (19 seconds)

"I love it... For about the first 10 years I lived up here I had a New Hampshire license plate NJ-NOT..."

Q: Do you miss your old job? (19 seconds)

"No, not really... There's so many people that I worked closely with that I can't even remember their names, and it's been 8 years."

Q: Working out of your house, is it hard to get motivated in the morning? (15 seconds)

"No... Many days I'm wide awake at 5 [AM]..."

Q: [How did you get involved with photography?] (3 min 18 sec)

"[I had my first darkroom at age 12]... and I thought it was magic. I still do. [discussion of my successive darkrooms]... I've been called one of the last of the living dinosaurs... [discussion of getting my 4x5 wooden camera]... No batteries!... [discussion about pre-visualization]... The image is always there [in my mind] before I put the film in the camera."

Q: ...How did you get involved in this type of photography...? (1 min 24 sec)

"[Discussion of the advantages of a large-format camera]... Working slowly with a 4x5 camera is a different process; it's a different medium from a digital camera... It forces me to slow down... and I think I can do a better job at making the image that I want..."


The Mike Bonacorsi Show is a weekly radio show on WSMN Radio, 1590 AM in Nashua, New Hampshire. Mike is a Certified Financial Planner, and has recently published a book Retirement Readiness. Mike's weekly show is about retirement and retirement planning. He interviews people with interesting "second careers."

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This page was last modified on: 01 Apr 2014