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Third Chapter Curious, Vol. 5: Traverse City, Michigan

"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away." David Viscott




May 9, 2024

Some people are natural helpers who have made it a part of their mission to uplift the next wave of game-changers. They are masterful with lending support and imparting advice with no strings attached, and their intentions come from a pure place. 

This gift may stem from when they were in the reverse role and wished someone had lent a hand, or had someone believe in them—an action that to all appearances is simple, often desired, yet not always given earnestly. 

Part of northern Michigan’s allure comes from unified adoration from the people for their community, leading to a general acceptance and mutual respect for each person who calls this place home. This is true of born-and-raised residents and the transplants, who are quick to adopt this methodology. Jamie Gallagher is one of those people, and the kindest of the executive archetypes—originative, socially-concerned, and powerfully dependable. 

He held the role of president and CEO of Faber-Castell USA prior to founding 4 The Win Partners, an organization for which he is a motivational speaker and business consultant. He has a substantial profile in leadership and public speaking, all made more impressive by his unmistakably heartening disposition. 

He is indeed living out the words of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”


What is this time of your life representative of and how does it differ from your previous career-oriented life? What has changed personally and professionally? 


[*sic] “All of the important responsibilities I had professionally while also being a parent were during a 40-year period governed by a highly scheduled and busy routine.

Today, I live a far less compressed, pre-determined, scheduled life.  This is a time where it truly can be more about quality than quantity, less can be more, and fewer can be better, which oddly takes a lot of courage for someone who had a chock-full routine and definition of success largely related to productivity for 40 years.

I retired at the age of 63, which may have been kind of early, but my vision was not to stop and do nothing. Like many, it was about moving on to something else during a time when I physically and mentally still had the energy and passion to do that next thing. As more time has become available, my daily curiosity (and opportunity to act upon it) has spiked.”


That’s refreshing to hear and is an overarching theme for this series. Is this a more meaningful period compared to your achievement and accomplishment period? 


[*sic] “It’s hard to say this is a more meaningful period because I feel like I am where I am today because of how meaningful my parenting and career have been. Yet today is meaningful in a different way. This community is full of immensely talented, accomplished people. However, the beauty is evidenced by the types of conversations that I have with people that I’ve met here.. There virtually is no discussion about, ‘Here's what I did, here's how important I was, this was my title, these were my accomplishments.’ And that has been so incredibly refreshing to not have those topics be the introduction. People in our community care more about, ‘This why I'm here, this is how I came to learn about this place, I used to have this job but now I’m focused on this new project,’ and it's all centered around building each other up and making our community more connected.”


Can you share what your process was for moving to this area? What makes this place noteworthy for you? 


[*sic] “The process of arriving here started for my wife, Mindy, and I after our three boys had moved out of the house and were working on their own careers. In a classic sense, we became empty-nesters. We lived in suburban Cleveland and wanted to get away to somewhere quieter, and found a community in upstate New York called Lake George in the Adirondacks, about an hour and a half north of Albany.

When we looked at the opportunity to live there and buy a home, we found pretty quickly that all the inventory was largely consumed, the prices were all raised astronomically because you have people from major markets of Boston and New York City moving into Lake George. So we left bitterly disappointed because our Lake George dream was never going to happen. On the 10-hour drive home home we Googled all of the criteria we loved about Lake George centered around outdoor activity, fresh water, clean air, peace, and balance. The search result identified Traverse City. What we realized after more research and taking a trip to TC, was that it not only met that criteria but far exceeded it. Five months later we purchased a home here.

It also embodied the culture I mentioned earlier, the ‘being versus doing’ mentality. This community, from what I've observed, is so fertile for sharing, building, collaborating, and growing in ways that benefit all of us. What better place to be?” 



It’s noticeable that there is less separation between the generations here and there truly is more collaborative energy - we’re all learning from each other and growing while creating new opportunities in the community. 

Can you share some insight as to what’s important for my generation to know in a world that is increasingly unstable and difficult to thrive in? 


[*sic] “When I talk to people about the environment and time that we live in let alone the environment that we work in, there's this element of VUCA—which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. I don’t envision that this type of landscape will change anytime soon.

What becomes interesting and gets to advice that I would give, is it takes a real element of courage to look at this world and fly in the face of convention. To stand up and say, ‘I'm going to value doing fewer things but better, earlier in life. I am going to define and embrace what being truly human means in a VUCA world.’ This flies in the face of the gravitational pull of today’s popular culture.

Instead, maybe take a new approach to learning and focus on your ability to Communicate, Collaborate, Be Creative, and Think Critically. It’s a simplification mindset where you try to identify in your work life and personal life what you are passionate about and what is essential and focus on those things. We can do anything, but we can’t do everything, not all at once. Try to resist the glorification of busyness.”


What are aspects of your life that keep you active and how does your engagement contrast with what you learned growing up? 


[*sic] “You know, it is basically moving it or losing it, and at the age of 63-65 or whatever the typical retirement age has been, we now have so many more years to live, much longer than previous generations. To say, ‘I'm just going to shut it down,’ after a long career, which essentially is what happened to my father, is no longer the way. We’re not leading a sedentary life any longer, where we just rest because of all the years of work. Instead, we’re finding the path to fulfillment with more opportunity. There is so much more of our life after 60 than there was generations ago. It seems like when my parents were at retirement age they stopped doing things that were new and unfamiliar, and they settled into what was comfortable and familiar. 

We are doing more things that are new and unfamiliar to us now than we have for the past 40 years, and that's an interesting dichotomy and not what you would expect. Somewhat surprisingly, I can see how happy our children are for us and our activity and adventure. What makes it especially rewarding is the number of people we know who have a similar passion and philosophy here in the TC area. I am genuinely excited about our future in this community.”

©️Urbaneer Living Communities


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