Greg Scheinman is proof positive that age is just a number. Through conversations in his career, he realized that there was no instruction book for men as they aged out of their 30s into “middle age.” So he started a podcast, which turned into a weekly newsletter, which eventually turned into “The Midlife Male: A No-Bullshit Guide to Living Better, Longer, Happier, Healthier, and Wealthier and Having More Fun in Your 40s and 50s.” The book is available on November 1. Recently we caught up with Greg to switch the script from ‘midlife crisis’ to aspirational aging.
Can you explain what went into writing “The Midlife Male?”
It was really a very organic process that started in business, as an entrepreneur and then 15 years in risk management. These were conversations that I was having with fellow entrepreneurs, CEOs, risk takers and they became very personal and very deep and an entirely different aspect of risk management and risk mitigation as it pertains to how we as men were living our lives. Subsequently that turned into a podcast and having conversations with other men from all over the world and the podcast turned into a newsletter that I would write every Sunday morning that now reaches over 10,000 subscribers and over a two-year period These interviews with over 200 men, the blogs that I had written, the conversations I was having developed into the book. It was a very therapeutic, enlightening, inspirational, authentic, relatable, credible and hopefully aspirational process and experience that I wanted to share with as many men as possible to let them in on this notion that midlife is not a crisis and that our best years are not behind us and that is not only possible but highly probable to live the life you want and that you deserve and live healthier and happier and wealthier and longer and stronger in middle age than at any other time in our lives.
Can you explain how you arrived at The Midlife Male Philosophy?
My father was 47 when he passed away. That always seemed old to me when I was a teenager. What I realized was that not only was it not old, but that if I didn't start making some changes myself, I might not make it to 47 much less make the most of midlife and beyond. I think for far too long men have been told that midlife is when we start to die, but it's the first time that most of us really begin to figure life out. I’m a slow learner and late bloomer, growing up without a father figure and a mentor, it took me longer and the philosophy really came from being around long enough to own my own mistakes and celebrate some of my successes and think about how I wanted to look at middle age and how I could maximize the second-half of my life and I thought about purpose and joy and action and questions and responsibility and embracing curiosity and what type of a legacy I wanted to leave and that not going through the motions; conformity, complacency and bitching and blaming about all the wrongs of the world was the way that I wanted to live. It seemed like I could do better than that and that I could approach midlife with humor and vulnerability and experience and as a way to boost confidence, accountability and creativity and become a more authentic version of myself and have a lot of fun in the process.
Can you explain what the six F’s are and how they are a part of The Midlife Male philosophy?
The six FS are family, fitness, finance, food, fashion, and fun. Where they came from was this notion that we are taught that for men success is defined as “salary and title” and for years I operated under that belief. However, I came to realize that’s not an accurate value proposition for living a truly successful life. I developed the 6F’s out of what is important to me, and what success really looks like and when I stepped back to take a holistic view of total life Wellness and what happiness and contentment and fulfillment and an allocation of my total life portfolio it became obvious to me that I did not want to be defined solely by salary and title and that the six FS became my personal operating system for success and more importantly value.
Why do you think most of us approach midlife as a crisis?
Well, let me share some stats with you. 58% of men in midlife report anxiety, loneliness, frustration, fear of aging and deep regret around the decisions that matter most. 60% say they're not as fit as they want to be. 61% are not as financially stable as they hoped. 43% say family life is not as happy as they'd like and one in four middle-aged men feel they've already peaked. And while I'm sharing these from a man's perspective, the numbers for women are equally alarming. So that's why most approach midlife as a crisis, because the reality is, it is a crisis for most.
What we really should be focusing on is flipping the script on the midlife crisis and stop seeing aging as something to fear and start seeing it as something aspirational. We need to work on ourselves to improve these statistics each day. What if we saw midlife not as the beginning of the end but rather as the beginning of the next and best phase of our life? What I've discovered is that despite these statistics, our best days are not behind us, they’re in front of us and that situations and circumstances in our lives can defeat us or they can define us. Don't read these statistics and accept them. Take these statistics as an opportunity to change, to transform and to move forward positively, happily, constructively, and effectively.
And what would you say to someone turning 45, heading into crisis mode and spiraling out of control and/or buying expensive toys to deal with the crisis?
It starts with you. Stop, take a breath; get real, get raw, get naked, get vulnerable and take a good, hard, long look in the mirror and ask yourself “who do you really want to be”? and then start being that person. Start operating that way. Knowing what's important is what's most important and for many men they've lost sight of who they are. We spend so much time giving ourselves to our careers, families, obligations, and responsibilities that we forget to put ourselves first and when we start spiraling and heading into crisis mode. Rather than look inward to work on ourselves and work on the issues, we tend to look outward to acquire, buy, escape, and look for something to “resolve it” and it perpetuates the problem and actually makes it worse. So, before you start tacking on expenses, acquisitions and “things," start looking at making it an investment in yourself first.
What would you like people to take away from the book?
That Midlife is about being open reinvention. The book is the ultimate guide to getting better as we get older. That it’s never too late to change your life and create a lifestyle that reclaims your masculinity, your health, and your confidence. Navigating midlife can be challenging. We’ve developed habits and patterns that block us from becoming anything more than who we are. The book offers perspective, possibility, positivity, and probability that if life has become boring and you’re finding it difficult to change, this book will help you.
And finally, what is the most unexpected lesson you’ve learned from entering the midlife years?
That I am the happiest, healthiest, wealthiest, strongest, and having the most fun I’ve ever had in my life at 49 and I’ll be 50 in December. At 47 my father’s life ended, at 47 mine began! The lesson is to be yourself. You may not be the CEO of your company, but you are the CEO of your own life. I spent a lot of years trying to be what others thought I should be or who I thought I was supposed to be, and doing a lot of things with a lot of people that I really didn’t want to and I can tell you from experience that chasing authenticity where authenticity doesn’t exist, is exhausting. In Midlife, you really stop caring as much about what others think and start caring about yourself.