Hobby Jam

What People Do For Fun

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Author: Michele (page 2 of 5)

Teresa Wolande

For over 30 years Teresa Wolande worked as a high-level executive in the insurance industry. She traveled internationally for business with fortune 500 companies. Currently, in her retirement, she is working on projects that are more philanthropic, as her desire is to give back. Her focus is on a networking forum to collaborate with other benevolent executive-level women who have eased into retirement and struggle to find a direction for a new sense of purpose. The forum is a safe place to go to discuss business issues with an aligned peer-group. The group aims to rethink life as a retiree, going forward in a meaningful way.

The networking forum is designed for high powered women to regain a sense of purpose. It provides a feeling of contributing by engaging with their community in a very altruistic way.

The group meets once a month and they have gone on retreats. The retreats allow women to interact with other women across the country who are part of this forum group. They also discuss new ideas to increase their network. It is a very structured organization. They invest in the right tools and books and provide guest speakers to address a variety of relevant topics.

Where are you from?

I am from Chicago. My husband also grew up in Chicago. I think coming from the Midwest I was fortunate enough in my business life to spend a lot of time abroad as well as spending time in different areas of the country. I think it gives you a very good perspective of the world. I had the opportunity to see how other cultures view the world.

How did you start your business forum?

When I was in business, I was a part of the young presidents’ organization. A big part of that organization is belonging to a forum. It is a group of about 8-10 people. From a business standpoint, it is a safe place to go once a month to discuss business issues with your peer-group. Most of us were either presidents or CEO’s of our companies. You had a group where you could push ideas to and get some objective feedback. They were not a part of your business but knew enough about business to give you good advice.

After retirement, I was at a crossroads. Everything had changed I was questioning, where to go and where my next journey would lead. I was in my sixties but still felt as though I still had a lot to contribute. I was in retirement mode with my husband. That relationship had changed. The relationship with my children had changed when they became parents. I sensed that there was a real need for women to go to discuss their changing roles. I felt as though I was in the fourth quarter of my life. I recognized that I still wanted to contribute, but now it would be in a different way.

I spoke to my friend in Colorado who had started a group with a lot of success. She has chapters throughout the country. I suggested to her that we do the same in Naples, where I spend half the year. I thought it was really good because a lot of women just get lost. After you retire you don’t know what to do. Basically, what you do is the same thing every day. You don’t feel as though you’re contributing. It’s important to interact with other women across the country who are part of this forum group, especially if you’ve worked all your life. That is how I came up with the conclusion that this network was good to do.

My friend has a very structured approach to her network. She has workbooks and a way for the women to interact. We looked at legacy issues and questioned how to take steps towards the process. We and how to deal with a retired husband. It is not easy dealing with a guy who used to run an entire company and now is not doing anything. There are a lot of women falling into this category. We have gotten a lot of good feedback.

What do you love most about the network?

The thing that I love most about it is that it gives me a sense of purpose. When you retire you have to rethink your life going forward. You interact differently with your children and your grandchildren who are going ahead with their lives. This just gives you a tremendous sense of purpose. It makes you want to get up in the morning and make something happen with this. At the end of the day, you see these women engaging with the community in a very positive way. They mentor needy children at school and other services along those lines. They serve the community directly. That is so much better than black-tie dinners and writing a check. Women can do this on their own time and it immediately feels like you’re contributing. You’re not just writing a check; you are contributing yourself.

Are there any groups that you are a part of or any events that you attend?

We have our own group meetings that we attend once a month. We also go on retreats that are designed to interact with other women across the country who are part of this forum group. We all have the same mission and the same objectives around what they are doing. The retreats help you come up with new ideas and increase your network. Even in your fourth quarter, you want to be networking. It gives our women a sense of really doing something. So much of your identity is caught up in your work. This gives women another chance for a sense of doing something meaningful. It might be very different than it was before, but it is more like leaving a legacy and contributing to the community.

Have you made any investments or funding towards this?

You have to have funding. You want to get everything in place. It is not a lot of funding. The women pay to be a part of this network. We want to invest in just the right tools or books or guest speakers. It gives our forums a little bit more meaning. It is not just another group of women who get together just to complain or talk about stuff that doesn’t matter. We have a lot of structure in our group, so it requires an investment. You invest in being a part of the bigger picture in the forum groups that are countrywide.

Overall, how has this changed your life?

It all comes back to having a good sense of purpose. When you were working you had objectives and goals that you needed to do. As your children are growing you have objectives and goals for them. But as they become adults and you become into that “fourth quarter,” it is more important for you to start thinking about legacy issues and what you want to do. It has given me a really strong feeling about what I want to do. This is what I want to accomplish in the years that I have left. The reality is that when your sixty you have about twenty-five more good years. You want to take those twenty-five years and make it a good second career for yourself.

What advice would you have for someone else starting out with this hobby?

I would tell anyone wanting to do this to get out there and do it. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I think what has held a lot of women back is contemplating what a project will involve. They also wonder what it will entail. They wonder if it is giving to much of themselves. I think you just have to put yourself out there and say, I think it is something that is important, and we should do it as a group. As we find our way, we are going to find the right balance of time. Spending that time on yourself and spending that time on the greater good for the community gives you a much stronger sense of self. That is why you just have to get out there and do it.

Do you have any other hobbies that you can share?

I am an avid golfer. When I had my back-fusion, it put a kibosh on that, for now, but I think that it will make me a better golfer. It has been a long recovery, but it will be good for me. I also read a lot. I am trying to get into social media. I believe it is harder for us to engage in that because we were never raised with social media. I also love to exercise, and I stay fit. I think that keeps me very positive in my life.


For more information, please visit teresawolande.com/


Isbert Bermudez

As a Regional Sales Manager, Isbert Bermudez travels between the United States and Latin America. He works with the automotive industry for an integrated technology company. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now lives in Orange County, California.

Bermudez completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela. He then decided to continue his education and moved to Spain where he earned his Master’s degree in International Business in 2009.

In his current position, Isbert Bermudez is responsible for every aspects of sales for his company in all of Latin America. He promotes sales alongside his partner channels and works with end users including fortune 500 companies such as General Motors, Chrysler, Walmart, and Volkswagen. His provides all necessary support to ensure his business partners are successful in their sales goals. Regardless of current economic circumstances or political climate of the day, Bermudez has been able to be successful in the Latin American market.

Tell us a bit about what you do.

My position is with an Integrated Technology company. I am the Regional Sales Manager for all of Latin America, from Mexico all the way down to Chile and Argentina. I have one or two partners in each country and provide solutions for them to be successful in promoting our products to end users. Some of the companies carrying our products are Chrysler, Volkswagen, Walmart, and GM. I provide them with any help or support that they require. I visit clients, I go to trade shows, I support our partners with distribution, I answer all product questions and do sales presentations. I work with government accounts which requires a lot of specific data and also help create marketing campaigns. The bottom line is that I provide all the tools and any assistance required to help our partners close a deal.

What gave you the idea to have a career in International Business? How did it start?

My inspiration to go into sales was the diverse experiences that I could have in international sales, working with a variety of different cultures and people. With my current company, I have the opportunity to travel to every Latin American country where we are doing business. I am living the life that I chose for myself and I feel very fortunate; I really enjoy what I do.

What is the best thing that you love about your job?

The best thing that I love about my job is the people. I am constantly talking to people. Sometimes it is a challenge because everyone is so different. You really have to be a “people person.” Not only are there differences in personalities, but I have to be adept and astute in understanding cultural differences as well. Everyone has their own way of doing business and it can be really challenging to maintain a good relationship. But the diversity is what I really enjoy about my position.

What keys to being productive can you share with us?

What makes me most productive is my time management skills and my ability to stay focused on my priorities each day. I am very organized. When I am in my office or traveling for work, I don’t waste time. When I do something, I make sure it is done right the first time so that it does not have to be repeated or corrected. I feel very responsible for the time that I spend during work hours.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

Right now, I am very content to do what I am doing. I hadn’t really thought about leaving the thing that makes me happy. Perhaps someday I would think of being an entrepreneur with my own products to sell on an international basis. That would be nice. Right now, I live well. In your own business, if you have a bad product, it could be a very bad experience. It is a process.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

The most valuable lesson that I have learned throughout my career is to learn good communication skills. Beyond even that, you have to keep everyone that you are dealing with informed of whatever is happening during any given transaction or exchange. Even if it is just to reply or keep them informed. Communication is critical to doing good business and keeping good relationships. It is very important to communicate everything that is going on. Everyone I work with knows that I know how to react to any problem or any challenge that I might face. But communication is the most valuable lesson and skill to learn.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

I would tell others who are aspiring to be in this field is to work hard and be organized. Create a plan. Ask yourself many questions, such as, what are you looking for? What would be the best way to promote your products? What niche market would serve you? These questions should be answered so that you don’t waste your time or money in places where you’re not going to be successful.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I like to play sports outside of work. I play tennis, golf, and soccer, and I played baseball when I was growing up. I like being outdoors and recently started practicing yoga as well. When I am not traveling or in the office, I am usually doing some kind of physical activity.

Name a few influential books you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend to readers.

I really don’t have the luxury of many reading books, but I am usually on the news websites from the US and Latin America. When you are an international company it is important to stay informed with what is going on with the political situation around the world. You must know what the political situation is in each country. The Economist is one of the English-speaking news sites I’m on frequently and the others are based in Latin American countries.

I travel to many different Latin American countries and had I learned different languages, I would have the ability to work in other countries as well. I would tell my younger self to learn as many different languages as possible. It can only enrich your life. Also, make sure to take time to enjoy the things that you love to do outside of work.



Dr. Jim Gray

Doctor Jim Gray is a native of Meridian, Mississippi. He is one of the leading Diagnostic Radiologists in the country. Years after graduation from Northeastern Ohio University he continues to be a member of the American Board of Radiology.

Jim Gray MD Mississippi has his bachelor’s degrees from Mississippi State University and Southeast Mississippi State. He attended medical school at Northeastern Ohio University. He completed his residency at the University of Mississippi and his fellowship at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

From school, Jim Gray MD Mississippi began working as a diagnostic radiologist. It didn’t take long before he joined a small team that enabled him to work in multiple aspects of radiology. As a diagnostic specialist, he is able to operate and read PET scans, fMRI, CT, and X-ray scans. As a team, they strive to make a greater impact on the community around them.

His free time is spent on the water. He takes his family boating on local lakes and at times visiting elsewhere to share in new experiences. For Jim Gray MD Mississippi, boating is only second to spending time with his family.

What is your hobby?

Boating is the single outdoor item I enjoy the most. We really enjoy being outdoors whenever possible anyway, but boating is my favorite. I love being out on the lake. Getting out on the water is like getting away from everything.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

Being outdoors was something my family has always done since I was young. It’s such a pleasure to know that you’re free to enjoy the moment with no pressure from daily life. That and each lake has a personality of its own. Something you get to learn and enjoy while you’re out there. Being the captain of your own boat, small or otherwise, is like holding destiny in your hands.

Tell us what you love about it.

Like I said, I love being out on the lake because of the freedom of the time spent. I also love the family time and experience we get to share. It’s irreplaceable. Time is fleeting, but it feels like it is standing still when you’re on the water. There is nothing like it.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

You know, I haven’t really gotten involved with any groups or events. It was recently suggested that I do. There are some small town boating events that organize trips around lakes, or on calmer rivers which would be enjoyable. I’m considering looking into one of those and learning what is involved therewith.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

You always have to invest in your boat. That’s often the biggest single cost item you invest in, however, there’s always upkeep, the trailer to move it, and docking fees. All of that is before taxes and licenses. Both of which can vary but altogether it typically doesn’t cost more than 8 thousand dollars annually.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I talk to dealers when I’m looking for a boat. I do some research online, but I prefer to find a privately owned location and talk to the salespeople. They can ensure I’m getting the boat I’m looking for while also allowing me to purchase upgrades prior to delivery.

Are there any good books for beginners?

Very good question. I really didn’t read a book for beginners. If I had to suggest something though, I always suggest safety manuals. Also, now that I’m thinking about it, I believe one of my children read Boating for Dummies in the ‘for Dummies’ series of books. It was a good resource for asking many of the right questions while on the lake.

How has this changed your life?

It has been a part of my family for so many years it really hasn’t changed me. It has been a constant companion and part of my search for personal peace and happiness. It is also one of my favorite ways to share new experiences with my family.

My children have all spent time learning to drive the boat and share in the opportunity to learn new things. It’s wonderful.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

First things first, find out everything you need to know about legally driving a boat in your state and county. That could include contacting the local DMV to inquire about getting a boating license. Around us, you go through the Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Department. You’ll have to complete a boating safety course and get approval through them before you can legally drive your boat.

That’s the case in many states these days, but not all of them. Once you know what laws your states have mandated you should look into local costs, such as where you’ll likely dock the boat or where you plan to store it. Find out how taxes are handled for boats in your locality as well.

If you do all of this before you begin your boating ownership, you’ll be better equipped both fiscally and otherwise to not only own your boat but enjoy it as well.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

In truth, beyond the time we make to go out on the lake together, we are usually pretty busy. We travel the competitive sports circuit with our children. That may have us in any part of the state on a given night depending on the sports season. That being the case, additional hobbies would be very difficult to pursue or develop.

I guess you can say my other hobbies are my children and everything they enjoy doing. I certainly invest enough in gear, time, entry fees and the like for all three of them. I love it. I really wouldn’t change a thing. I spend my days helping people, my nights helping my family, and my weekends enjoying time with them all. There is nothing as amazing as the life I enjoy today. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

For more information about Dr. Jim Grey, please go to:











Todd Walls

Todd Walls grew up as an outdoorsy kid in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, where he played a lot of baseball and basketball. An all-star pitcher and shortstop, Todd led his team to a state tournament appearance before graduating from Portland Christian School in 1986, where he was also a forward on the basketball team. He first went to Western Kentucky University for a year before transferring to the University of Louisville, where he received a bachelor’s degree in police administration in 1992. Todd Walls worked his way through college loading containers and trucks at UPS on the overnight shift.

In 1993, Walls was hired by the Louisville Police Department. He patrolled the East End and West End of Louisville, working with the street crimes unit where he was known for chasing and catching perpetrators on foot. Walls was tasked with recovering stolen vehicles and reducing the number of vehicle break-ins.

Then from 1998 to 1999, Walls worked for the Louisville International Airport Police and Hollow Creek Police. While at Hollow Creek, he wrote and won an equipment grant of $5,000 for the department. Walls went and worked as an officer then sergeant for the West Buechel Police Department for the next eight years. During his time there, he confiscated large amounts of drug money and established a field training program for the department.

In 2007, Todd Walls started working for the Taylorsville Police Department. For the next seven years, he ran the undercover drug program by coordinating with agencies in surrounding counties to convict drug dealers and confiscate dirty money. He developed relationships and created a network of informants. For his efforts, Todd was honored with the Knights of Columbus ‘Police Officer of the Year’ award, as well as a medal for valor and meritorious service.

Walls returned to work for West Buechel Police Department in 2015, eventually becoming the Chief of Police. He won approval for the federal E-share program to share forfeiture money from federal agencies.

During his free time, Walls enjoys running, weightlifting, playing softball, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and two children.

What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby would be fishing. I especially enjoy pan fishing—crappie, bluegill, and shellcracker. I also like catching bass and catfish.

How did you get started with fishing? What Inspired you?

My dad. I started fishing with my dad. Dad would take me to farm ponds, Kentucky Lake, and Taylorsville Lake. Eventually, I got a boat, and that led to overnight trips at lodges and state parks all over Kentucky. I guess it just turned into quality family time.

What is your favorite thing about fishing?

I would say it’s the bonding it creates with your family and friends. It gives you quality time and develops good relationships. It’s fun and a great way to spend your time. It quiet and you have the opportunity to observe wildlife. And having a fish fry after a successful day of fishing is always great!

How would you say fishing has changed your life?

I’ve developed life-long friendships and life-long memories through fishing. My best friends and my family are the ones that I go fishing with.

What advice do you have for others starting out with fishing?

It’s great to find a hobby and interest that can have a positive influence on you like fishing can. Don’t spend a lot of money on equipment—a simple rod and reel, a bobber, hook and wax worms are all you need to have a blast at a pond. So just get out there and fish, talk to the people that are around you. Make friends and memories.

Are there any groups you’re a part of that you attend related to fishing?

I’m also a member of the Southeast Christian Church, and that has spilled over into different things and get-togethers through the church. We have hosted our Sunday school class many times for fish fries and other events.

You can learn more about Todd Walls at


Dr. Thomas V. Taylor

Taking retirement to a new vivacious energy level, Dr. Thomas V. Taylor pursues his passion for music and singing as a tenor with the Choral Society of Performing Arts. As a musician, he plays the guitar as a challenge to elevate his playing competencies to optimal performance levels. As an author, he has published ten books. Dr. Thomas Taylor’s latest book is being prepared for launch by his publisher. The book is the study of individuals who are predisposed to life longevity. His book identifies individual factors for a healthy lifestyle. These are only a few activities that bring pleasure to Dr. Taylor’s retirement days.

Alternatively, Dr. Thomas V. Taylor is a huge sports fan. He played cricket as a younger man and he continues to stay up on the latest games. He is a member of the Manchester United Football Club Supporters. He supports the Houston Astros and is an avid supporter of the Houston Texans.  Furthermore, Dr. Taylor has been a train enthusiast since he was a child.  When he allows himself the time, he is an artist of watercolor painting which adorn the walls of his home.

Many retirees have too many hours in a day. This is not the case with Dr. Thomas Taylor. He Enjoys teaching and studying various topics, writing, and discussing current affairs. He is an Author, Vocalist, Musician, Inventor, Train enthusiast, Sports Enthusiast, and a Painter. His days are filled with creativity, intelligent conversation, and entertainment all of which he gains great delight.

What is your favorite hobby?

I sing classical and choir music. I also play the guitar. I am a train enthusiast.  I’ve always liked singing and when I was a student, I used to sing the more popular music of the day. The songs I use to sing were the top twenty songs. I’ve always enjoyed singing. I have done it for many years. In later years my singing has evolved from popular music to classical music of the Choral Society.

Can you tell us what you love about singing Classical and Choir music?

I find that singing classical music is very satisfying. It is also relaxing at the same time energizing. It provides a stimulus to achieve good results, to concentrate on the music, and to perfect one’s technique as far as possible. It is a challenge and it is both interesting and exciting. It also enables me to have the opportunity to meet many people. Often times we meet socially. Overall, it is a very healthy and beneficial thing to get involved in.

Other than the Choral Society and your Church Choir, In what do you participate?

In the past, I was with the Choral Society in Houston, and the Choral Society in England, I also sang with the choral section of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. I’ve sung in Church Choirs all over Houston and I’ve also sung at and with a Choral Society in Massachusetts.

Have you had to invest in any equipment and if so can you share whatever you have bought?

I have purchased music from a variety of music stores. The only music equipment that I have purchased is my guitar. I purchased the lessons to learn how to play the guitar.  I play it as well. It is another hobby of mine. I also enjoy railways. I have been a steam engine train enthusiast my entire life.

Where do you buy most of your supplies for your music and singing?

I purchased the printed music from a variety of music stores. I purchased my guitar from a guitar supply store along with the lessons in playing the guitar. I had voice lessons over the past twenty years or so from various teachers along the way. I wanted to learn about the theory of music. I also wanted to learn how to read music. While I was still a surgeon, I took a semester on the theory of music and how to read music from Houston Community College.

Are there any good music or singing books for beginners?

When I started out playing guitar, I first purchased any basic beginner books for guitar players. There are different books for styles or methods of playing the guitar. There are books that provide simple guitar chords to start off. You can also buy music that is written specifically for a guitar. The kind of guitar you play will determine what kind of music books you will want to buy. It will be very different music played from an acoustic guitar then there will be from an electric guitar. There will be several questions to consider when buying the music books that will suit the music you want to learn.

How has your guitar and singing changed your life?

I find playing the guitar and singing to be enjoyable and quite satisfying. They are a great source of stress relief. It has been a challenge. It is a wonderful way to keep the mind active. It always provides a stimulus because there is always a variety of different kinds of music. It requires a lot of effort to achieve the optimal results for your capability. I have found it to be extremely enjoyable and enormously challenging. That is in addition to being an extraordinary stress reliever.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

I would tell anyone, including my younger self, Dr. Thomas V. Taylor, to start in either singing or playing the guitar that the first thing they would have to do is have lessons for either hobby. Learn from a professional to optimize your technique. There is a lot of learning to optimize an individual’s technique. The guitar is not an easy instrument to learn, at least it was not for me. It requires a lot of practice. Much like everything else in life you have to be dedicated and put in a lot of hours. Everything ultimately comes with repetition and learning and attempting to improve your technique. It is all in practice, practice, practice. You have to put a lot of time and energy into it but you also get a lot of satisfaction out of it. So, in the beginning, you really have to have a great interest in learning how to play and a passion for the time you will spend for each and every achievement that you will eventually triumph over in order to succeed.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I love all sports, particularly baseball and cricket. The world cup is going on right now. I have been listening to it on the radio. The games go on for several hours. It is a good thing that I can listen and enjoy it immensely, and still get other things done. The game comes down to the last few balls to decide the winners. It makes the game very exciting right until the end. I use to play when I was younger. It takes a lot of skill to play.

Regarding my interest in trains, my interest was piqued when I was a child. There was a railway station next to my home. I use to love to watch the trains pass by or stop. They were steam engines that were driven with coal. They had to stop across a field for water. I’d go down and watch them fill and prep before they moved on. I love steam engines, and although they are not often used anymore, there is still an interest. There are still a few small lines that must use steam engines to run.

I also have an interest in current affairs. I wish I had the time to do watercolor paintings as well. Although, I have many of my paintings on my walls.

You can learn more and follow Dr. Thomas V. Taylor on:

Jeff Yapp

Jeff Yapp attended the University of Michigan and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. He continued his education in pursuit of a Masters degree in Marketing, Finance, and Operations from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, located in Evanston, Illinois. As he achieved that goal, he moved with the same momentum into his career.

His first professional position was with Kraft Foods Group. It didn’t take him long to move from an entry level marketing position to the Product Group Manager in the Beverage Division. This was his first significant foray into marketing and developing the skills that followed him throughout his career.

As Jeff Yapp developed the skills, he searched for bigger and greater challenges. He moved onto work in a variety of positions, revitalizing brands and developing new skill. Among some of the jobs he moved into are Newscorp’s 20th Century Fox Entertainment, Microsoft, the Pepsico, and Viacoms MTV. Believing he had the skills he could obtain from all of his positions with others, the natural next step was to begin his own company. In 2011, he launched the consulting and marketing firm Wutznxt.

At Wutznxt, Jeff Yapp has been able to turn the skills he developed through experience into an asset for his clients and customers. His company specializes in direct to consumer and most recently small business leadership, but has continued to work with Fortune 100 companies as well. The teams at Wutznxt help their diverse clientele stand apart from their peers and competitors. They do this in a way that creates experience, blending brand recognition with positive memory creation. The lasting connection leaves better brand knowledge in its wake.

It isn’t uncommon for Jeff Yapp to be traveling for business or with his family. It is also not uncommon for him to bring his camera along to take some amazing images and create memories that will last a lifetime.

What is your hobby?

One passion of mine that started over 20 years ago has turned into one of my favorite pursuits. My photography is another part of my business portfolio. We are a visual based world and capturing the moment, the emotion and the surroundings through the lens of my camera allows the feeling of the experience to come through. It’s true in all aspects of my work.

What inspired you to get started with photography?

It developed while the kids were growing up. I worked a lot more than I would have preferred to at times, so I wanted to capture every moment. It didn’t take long to realize how fun it was to take pictures of my family and it quickly worked its way into my professional life. The camera is one of the most amazing creations in that it allows anyone to create art, even those of us who didn’t pursue it as a career.

Tell us what you love about it.

Initially, it was just a way to collect memories with my children. What I remember most was watching my daughter in dance at age 3, she is now 27. I would photograph her earliest performances to her majoring in dance at the university of Michigan. The camera allowed me to capture the artistry and emotion in a way that was truly unique.

I have shared this passion with my family as well and it has worked its way into the professional life of my kids as well.

My oldest daughter Kristine is an event planner for twitter. Her photography skills and years of experience in event space and marketing allows her to understand what success looks like from many angles. She has a keen eye to understand the big picture and create events that translate to the consumer.

My oldest son Ryan loved to make movies when he was little. He’s taken his love of film and photography and turned it in to a career. He has his own company that shoots educational videos and is still making movies with his best childhood friend. He has helped me with many events.

My daughter Kelli is the marketing Director of Brand Product & Development at Shadowbox in NYC. Her ability to photograph allows her to capture the feel and experience at the clubs for their print and digital media.

My daughter Molly is the creator of MY Magazine and currently in her 9th issue. She is extremely talented on telling a story through her lens and has taken her magazine from a digital publication to newsstand print in a short span of time.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your photography?

I have studied with many professionals. My two favorite are Moose Peterson and Joe McNally.   Moose is one the top nature photographers in the country and Joe is globally recognized artist with his use of light and flash. Both are Nikon ambassadors and have received many awards.

Have you had to invest in equipment? If so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

I have been a Nikon photographer for over 15 years. My equipment has evolved as the technology has changed. My current go to favorites are the Nikon 850 and the new Nikon z7. Both cameras are amazing creative tools. Four years ago, I finally made the leap into the Leica pool. Leica rangefinder cameras have been the gold standard for photographers for decades. Leica represents a completely different more intimate connection to the experience. The pictures have a quality that just is not available on most digital cameras today

Storage cards Lexar pro and my preference is the Sony xqd cards, there speed and reliability are unmatched

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I have been buying from Neptune Photo for the last 15 years. Robert is the store manager and has been amazing to work with. I love supporting a small local shop even when I moved to the west coast.  Another retailer on the other end of the spectrum is 47th Street Photo. Amazing place, amazing selection. if you can’t find it at 47th Street Photo it doesn’t exist! Finally, my local shop in Portland is pro photo supply great team and strong selection and great availability.

Are there any good books for beginners?

Moose Peterson’s “Guide to Wildlife Photography: Conventional Techniques” is great intro into wildlife photography. Joe McNally has so many books my favorite is “Life Guide to Digital Photography” for people looking to take their skills to another level and “The Moment It Clicks” for the more experienced photographer.

How has this changed your life?

This has brought art and creativity to my world in a way I didn’t expect it would originally. It is really a wonderful thing to be able to look at the images over the years and see the progression from a novice to an experienced photographer. Having this outlet has brought great joy to my family and those I’ve taken pictures of around us. We are able to look back at the unique lighting and creations and enjoy the moment or emotion again.

What advice do you have for others starting out with photography?

Just do it. Looking at the world through a lens of a camera gives you a whole different perspective. It requires you to slow down and notice the subtles. It is amazingly rewarding. Pick up a used digital camera, find an old film camera experience the differences between them. Find a camera and learn how to use and change the depth of field the focus points the exposure, stay out of the auto mode, engage, and enjoy!

Are there any other hobbies you have?

Ask my wife! Too many to list. She always asks about my new costumes. My latest love is golf. After 50 years of watching, I finally decided to pick up a club and see what all of the fuss is about. So far I really enjoy it.

However, my number one passion has always been my wife and my family. As the household has changed as the kids have flown the coop, finding meaningful time to stay engaged and involved in their lives is a real focus for my life now.

You can learn more about Jeff Yapp at:





Johnson Nguyen

Johnson Nguyen owns a small Marketing company in Vancouver, Canada.  He was born and raised in Vancouver along with his two sisters.  His family originated in Vietnam and immigrated before he was born.  They carried their strong work ethic with them and passed that along to all the kids!  After traveling with his family, he pursued and received a degree at King’s College in London and upon graduating, opened his business in Canada.

As an online Marketer, he spends his days helping clients improve their online profile, such as a fresh website and updated keywords.  The company is doing well and has grown to have fifteen employees. Johnson has recently married and is now sharing his passion of travel with his wife, who seems always ready to pack a bag!

What is your hobby?

My hobby is to travel.  I love to go to different countries and explore. There is so much history and beauty around the world to see and experience.  I feel like I have an inner growth spurt each time I go to a new location.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

My parents actually!  They moved here from Vietnam a long time ago, and my Father’s work would take him on business trips, which he often turned into a family affair.  I was fascinated by our trip to London as a teen, so much so that I went to college there.  Seeing the way people live around the world is truly very interesting and at times, eye-opening.

Tell us what you love about it.

When I travel, I really like to go to the places that the locals recommend.  Don’t get me wrong, I will see the recommended tourist sites, but the best food and entertainment is local.  It is fun to people watch while sitting at an outdoor café or just walking around.  It is also so much fun to visit a local pub and get to chatting with the people.  Those stories that you hear around the globe are full of knowledge and wisdom.  The kinds of stories that are passed down for generations.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

There is not really a club to join for me, but we do have a number of friends who also travel and we often swap stories and share tips souvenirs.  I tend to travel with my wife now, but unless you sign up for a guided travel tour, you are on your own!

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought?

Well, since we do travel regularly, I did get us two very nice, sturdy sets of luggage and some small containers for toiletries.  Otherwise, most of the money goes for the plane ticket or gas if it’s a road trip, a hotel, and meals.  We plan way ahead, so we usually get pretty good deals.


Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I buy all of my tickets online!  In fact, we buy or book everything we need online or at Amazon.  Of course, if we need something along the way, we just pop into a store.  Luckily, we do not have to buy to many things to travel.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I think you can easily find Travel books for beginners, but I really recommend Rick Steves books for the places I go.  He has all of the good places to see, eat at, or stay.  He also includes all kinds of places that are off the beaten path.  I especially liked his Paris travel book, because he had information on the catacombs, which we wanted to see.  We found the perfect entry point for our day.  His shows are great too.

How has this changed your life?

You know, I have been to over twenty countries and I am in constant awe of how alike people around the world really are.  It is eye-opening to see how people approach things.  The truth is, we live in a great country and I am always grateful when I come home to live here.  Not all places have all of the comforts that we do.  I am reminded when I travel how grand the world is and how lucky I really am.  I am just happy for each experience along the way.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

If you really want to start traveling in your spare time, be realistic with and stick to your budget.  You may start by seeing things in your area or the next city, working up to international travel.  You could be a weekend road tripper for sure, that is fun and not too expensive.   There are so many places to see that are even free!

Are there any other hobbies you have?

My other hobby as an avid reader is the total opposite.  I like to get into my reading nook in my home office and read a good novel every day.  Even if I only have half an hour, I like to read and decompress.  That little bit is enough for me to reenergize!

You can learn more about Johnson Nguyen at johnson-nguyen

Connor Mulvey

Chicago native Connor Mulvey credits his ever-growing success to the values his parents instilled in him while he was growing up. He watched his parents work hard and enjoy life. Throughout his childhood, he was introduced to the need to work hard, to appreciate a good education, and the results that come with it. After being introduced to many of the finer aspects of personal and financial success, he aspired to create the same results for himself.

After high school, Connor Mulvey built on his education by attending Loyola University. There, he worked hard and created the results he wanted. When he graduated with honors, on the dean’s list, many job opportunities were opened for him.

Connor Mulvey has always enjoyed running and staying healthy. In high school, he competed in both cross country and track. He won a ribbon in his events every year and carried that love to his university days. In time, Connor Mulvey added weight lifting, golf, and other healthy activities to his long list of hobbies.

What is your hobby?

My favorite hobby is running. Well, it’s the one I’ve stuck with the longest anyway. I have a lot of fun moving through a course. It’s a great opportunity to just sort my thoughts and focus on me. That may seem silly, but while some people meditate, I run.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

In middle school, several of my friends and I joined track. It was a whole lot of fun and by my second year, I started to take ribbons. When I reached my 8th-grade year in track, I went to state on behalf of the school in the 1600. That’s a middle distance. After transitioning into high school, I learned about and joined cross country. It was perfect from there.

I haven’t stopped running yet.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love how you can go inside yourself or focus on nothing at all. It is amazing to think a single act can have such a long-lasting impact. It is beneficial for your physical health and a healthy state of mind. The opportunity to enjoy the quiet, nature, and the moment is immeasurable. I love how great I feel when I get home too. It is energizing and enjoyable.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

Since leaving high school I haven’t really joined any groups for running. While there are many you can join, I have yet to find one that really fits my schedule. When I am training for a marathon, I will sometimes connect with a friend who is training as well. We often keep each other to our schedule and our distance goals. This ensures we are ready on time for the event we are targeting.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought?

I always have to make sure I keep a good pair of sneakers. Besides that, I also keep a heart rate monitor and step counter with me so I can have a measurement to track for progress and results.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I typically pick up my sneakers at a local shoe store so I know I can fit them properly. The electronics are picked up through the usual outlets. Typically, I use Amazon, but I have also bought them from the Barnes and Noble marketplace on occasion too.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I have been running since middle school. I think the only book I’ve read about running was Runner’s World Big Book of Running. I think they have one for beginners too. It was an easy read.

How has this changed your life?

This has become the cornerstone of my workout routines. While I will lift, play golf, or do other physical activities, I always come back to running. It is a breath of fresh air that I couldn’t even begin to imagine living without.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

I would say, lace up your shoes and get out there. There I no time like the present to accomplish things and running fits anywhere into your schedule. Even if you can only do ten minutes in a day it’s more than nothing and it will have a positive impact on your health and well-being.

Running allows you to take care of you and your health at the same time. Don’t leave for tomorrow, the run you could do today.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I love golf. It can be a relaxing sport that you share with friends. It is easy to spend a whole day on the course with the right company.

I am also enjoying weight lifting. I am going to be getting involved in some of the competitions coming up. It isn’t something I plan to put as much investment in as I do my running, but it is something that I enjoy and would like to see what I can do with it.

The only other thing that comes to mind is my current preparations for the iron man competitions. These are so much more than a marathon and it would be the single greatest personal challenge for me to complete it. If I’m being truly honest though, I want to win, not just complete. The first time out, you are there to prove to yourself you can do it. The second you’re in it to win it. That may sound rough, but it really is what I would like to do. I have only been training for it the last few months. It is going to be exhilarating. My parents and siblings come to all my marathons, usually volunteering with water or at the finish line. It will be interesting to see if they are able to make it to the competition I’m entering in June. Bolder isn’t everyone’s favorite city.

You can learn more and follow Connor Mulvey on:

Lilly Goga

Lilly Goga is a native of Calgary in Alberta. As a child, she found inspiration in everything around her and her parents encouraged her artistic side. This led her to experiment with many different mediums. Among the options that she pursued for a time were finger painting, drawing with charcoal, creating digital art and eventually photography. It was the last one that moved her the most.

As a teen she began learning how to take portraits at family reunions and other events. By the time she attended college, she knew she loved photography, but she didn’t know she could earn a living doing it. Between entrance in a contest and earning a good pay amount from online stock photography sites, she realized that it was exactly what she wanted to be doing. Eventually, she earned her certification in photography alongside her degree in environmental science.

Today, she employs several methods of making a living with her favorite passion. This hobby turned profession has been the cornerstone of her life and future.

What is your hobby?

Art has always been my hobby. I have been doing something artistic since I was a little child. At first, it was painting, and my favorite was finger paints. I finger painted until well into my teen years. It was my cousin who bought me a camera as a gift. It was love at first picture.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I had a party as a child and my cousin, who grew up locally near me, bought me a camera as a gift. I took a lot of pictures. We didn’t do anything real with it until our first family reunion. I took several pictures when we were there, and it was so much fun.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love being able to capture the moment and the energy in it. It is a whole lot of fun to find the right image before the camera catches it, then move anyone or anything into that right position. If the lighting is just right and falls upon the perspective things come together through the lens like nothing else.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

There are some online communities that I connected with. It has been thrilling and enjoyable to connect with other artists who understand your passion and joy. It is invigorating to be able to discuss editing programs, cameras, lenses, and other supplies with those who actively use them. And for many of us, we are able to help each other see fresh or new perspectives in our images.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

Photography can be very expensive. I have purchased several cameras, but my favorite brand to use is Cannon. You have to stay in supply of memory cards, cleaning supplies, and you need a case for each of them.

Sometimes settings also require lighting, so I have to purchase the right lighting equipment applicable to the setting. Thankfully, not all of my events require new lighting. That has been an on and off project to learn how to find the right lighting. Having the communities on Facebook and elsewhere have been key to that learning process.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

Really, I do a lot of shopping around when I’m looking for supplies. Often, I’ll pick up items from areas my peers have suggested, but some stores require more upfront investment, so I shop around instead. I have purchased some items from Amazon, others from Abes online, and some from other areas.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I would suggest starting with Studio Anywhere by Nick Fancher. He really has a handle on some artistic approaches that I was already starting to use. You can find so much more in this book that will help you see the art through the lens.

I enjoyed Exposure Mastery too. It helps you understand how your timing works with your shutter speed among other things. I don’t want to give too much away but it has such a wealth of knowledge that any beginning will gain something incredible from it.

How has this changed your life?

This hobby has become my life and my career. There is nothing more amazing than waking up each morning, checking my schedule, and knowing that everything on it is me getting to play all day long. There are few jobs you can do that you can both enjoy and make a living at it.

There are few artists that know they don’t have to be ‘starving artists’. I’m blessed to be one of those who know it and live it daily.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

Get a camera and start taking pictures. When you find some you really like that you took, upload it to one of the stock photo sites. I also suggest doing a search for groups on Facebook that relate to photography as a business instead of a hobby. There are plenty of hobbyist but if you’re going to make a living out of it, you need like-minded individuals to work with or encourage you.

Even if you’re in business for yourself, there’s no reason to work it by yourself. Being connected to others in the industry makes a huge difference in your skills and success.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

I still paint on occasion. I also create images in pencil or other drawing methods. When I have time to play with the images in a design program, ones that aren’t from a portrait session, I like creating original and unique takes on the images. They are a whole lot of fun. Also, whenever possible and time allows, I like to travel. I hope to one day visit and take pictures of ancient Roman cities.

You can learn more and follow Lilli Goga on:

Marudeen Aivaz

It is amazing when you are able to find your passion so young in your life and it is a passion that keeps you physically fit. Marudeen Aivaz has evolved his passion to suit his healthy way of life. He is a weightlifter and bodybuilder. He also believes that good nutrition goes hand in hand with the whole fitness aspect. In addition, Marudeen Aivaz believes that the cornerstone of any fitness lifestyle is the attention to nutrition and that chronic health issues can many times be addressed with good nutrition.

Marudeen was born in California. He is one of three children raised with a Middle-eastern culture centered around family, food, and fitness. His parents were very active and went to the gym regularly. By the age of fifteen, Marudeen Aivaz would join his parents at the gym and work-out on the equipment. By the time he reached college, he had a great foundation for pursuing weight lifting and bodybuilding.

According to Marudeen Aivaz, fitness is a lifelong journey. He believes nutrition is one key on the path. There are no short-cuts to be taken and no pill to replace the hard work, focus, and dedication it takes to achieve healthy lifestyle goals.

What is your hobby?
My hobby is weight lifting and bodybuilding. My parents were very active. They believed in staying fit and going to the gym. I use to go with them when I was about fifteen and I used some of the equipment and dabbled a bit with weight lifting. But I didn’t start my actual weight training until later.

How did you get started with your weight lifting and bodybuilding hobby?
Initially, I began weight lifting as a sophomore in high school when I was on the wrestling team. Our training consisted of learning how to grapple, but also required that we spent a portion of our time learning weight lifting for strength training. We learned techniques such as squat, bench, and deadlifts. It was not a passion of mine at that time more than it was a requirement of the sport.

Weight lifting was a part of the college culture and many of my friends were into weight lifting. As a result, I continued weight lifting through my college years. My interest really peaked when I was in my first year of college. I was about 18 when I began to learn more about nutrition, fitness and the importance of sleeping habits. It was at this time when it became more of a passion for me. I have been pursuing knowledge and I have been evolving ever since.

What do you love about weight lifting?

There are many reasons why weight lifting is a benefit in my life. Being able to see your body transform over time is one reason. You can control the way you look. It is also a challenge. The more you put in the more you get out. I am a challenge-oriented person in general, it is always a challenge for me.  You can never be the strongest or the best or the fittest. It is the continued striving to be better that keeps me going.

What are some of the challenges that you have encountered in weight lifting?

There have been flexibility problems, back problems, shoulder problems and minor strains. Sometimes you can be walking down the street and if your hip is tight, you can pull a muscle, and be limping for the rest of the day. That has happened to me numerous times. I have also had a few surgeries. I have had broken fingers and broken toes.

Do you have any groups that you are a part of or that you attend to encourage you with weight lifting & bodybuilding?

I am not a part of any groups or organizations who participate in weight lifting or bodybuilding. However, I attend local powerlifting events to learn about the culture. I have not yet competed in any of the events.

Have you had to invest in any equipment and if so, can you share whatever you have bought?

Most of the equipment that I have bought is used for safety. I have purchased running shoes and a safety belt for my back. I purchased straps to make your grip stronger. I purchased chalk to make your grip stronger. I purchased wrist wraps to keep your wrists from hyperextending when you are working out. I believe that everyone should invest in safety equipment.

Where do you get most of your supplies?

There are two stores that I would recommend especially for bodybuilding equipment. The first source that I go to is BodyBuilding.com and the other one is EliteFts.

Are there any books you would recommend for beginners of weight lifting and bodybuilding?

For bodybuilding, I would recommend Arnold’s Encyclopedia by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The book I would recommend for powerlifting is 5/3/1: How to Build Pure Strength by Jim Wendler. These two books together would give anyone learning about both sports as a great comprehension of each sport.

How has being involved in each of these sports has changed your life?

One way it has enhanced my life is that I have been able to make so many friends with people who have the same interest. The gym is a very social place. You can develop a lot of close relationships and a lot of trusted relationships. If you go to the gym every day, you are seeing the same people there all the time. You become close to a group that you spend a lot of time with. Participating in these sports has increased my confidence. It always feels good when you reach a personal goal that you have set for yourself. It could be a body weight goal or a strength goal perhaps it is a certain number of repetitions that you’ve had in mind, it is just a really rewarding feeling. There are also times when a perfect stranger will approach you to ask questions about what you are doing. It is nice to share knowledge with people. It has kept me at a good body mass index (BMI) and maintain good habits.

What advice would you have for someone else starting out with this hobby?

My advice would be to remember that fitness is a journey. You will always be making evolutions in your body. Don’t rush the process. It takes a long time. It is not something where you can see results overnight. It takes much more work than people probably think. There is no magic pill or potion to achieve your goals. Stay consistent and continue to educate yourself as much as you can. I would also recommend lifting smart. Always keep in mind that an injury at the gym is not likely but always a possibility. The more you progress in weight lifting, no matter which techniques you use, powerlifting, bodybuilding, or Olympic lifting, there is always a chance of getting hurt. Also, taking rest periods is not a bad thing and it is good for your body. Picking the right exercise selection is a good idea. It would be a good idea to first focus on bodybuilding to start off with and then go to powerlifting. It would be a good foundation to set for yourself. After you map your foundation you can get into other things.

Are there any other hobbies that you have?

One of the other things I love is to cook. I started cooking in college. I believe it goes hand in hand with the whole fitness aspect. The cornerstone of any fitness lifestyle or program is the attention to nutrition. I believe chronic health problems can many times be fixed through nutrition. It is a very big part of my life.

You can learn more and follow Marudeen Aivaz at: