When some people “retire” from their work, they pursue a completely different direction for their lives. Other people, like Nick Lituanio, continue doing the same type of work, but at a slower pace and in a slightly different way that fuels a sense of purpose.
Nick admits he’s an “old guy,” but he doesn’t let that stop him from making videos to help older people make the most of their lives. A former marketing executive who owned a video production company, Nick now makes YouTube videos about a variety of topics designed to show people they can still:
- Make relationships count.
- Maintain good health to enjoy a longer, productive life.
- Keep their dreams alive and work to pursue them.
- Remain young at heart by pursuing adventure at any age.
When Nick was in college, he loved making content, whether it was written or video. It’s something he continued to do for his employers. Many years later, after starting his own company, Nick gave up creating content himself to manage his staff as they produced content for clients.
During the COVID situation, Nick saw an opportunity to return to his earlier passion by creating videos for people to enjoy while everything was locked down.
“When I sold my business to my employees, one of the things I looked forward to doing the most was getting back to making content myself,” he explained. “When you’re paid to do it for clients, you kind of have to color within the lines they establish in order to satisfy their needs. I wanted to get back to making content I’d enjoy viewing myself.
“As I was approaching my 60th birthday, I started thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he added. “I could retire, but then what? What gives me joy?”
When people visit Nick’s YouTube channel, they’ll notice the first videos he created had to do with fitness. That’s because he went to school to get certified as a personal trainer.
“I spend several hours a week at my local gym trying to get people our age back into shape or help them maintain their fitness goals,” said Nick. “My belief was that without good fitness, people wouldn’t have the strength or health to pursue what they wanted to do when they got older.”
However, Nick discovered there wasn’t a lot of interest outside the gym among people over 50 who wanted to pursue fitness. He said more people were interested in videos about how to cut mangos than they were about maintaining muscle tone.
“I realized at that point in life, people were either interested in fitness or they weren’t,” Nick explained. “So I started producing videos about other things I like to do, such as travel and providing life advice.”
Because of his personality, Nick connects authentically with people over 50. His goal is to create videos that are honest without worrying about the outcome.
“Nobody is paying me to do this and I don’t need the money to feed my family or pay my mortgage,” he said. “So I can speak from my heart without worrying about offending people.”
For example, it drives Nick crazy when older people say because they’ve achieved X age, then they can no longer do Y. He would like people to get out of their own way to do things they want to do.
“That’s really one of the benefits of being the age we are – not caring what other people think,” Nick joked. “When it comes to fitness, I explain that if people neglect their health, there will be a time when they can’t bounce back from a medical setback. As a result, they won’t be able to travel as much as they wanted or play soccer with their grandchildren.
“Hopefully, because I’m older myself, I can tell them why having strength and flexibility allows people to live the type of retirement they imagined, and they’ll embrace the life they really want,” he added.
Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life
Nick’s YouTube channel went through several name variations before he settled on Make the Most of the Rest of Your Life. That seemed to capture the overall theme he was attempting to convey.
“We really do have an opportunity to create the type of life we want. For the first time in our lives, the guardrails are off and we have time available to do things we have been afraid to do,” Nick explained. “The title I selected gives a nod toward having a limited amount of time left in this life. We have a choice, and can make it what we want it to be.”
So, if someone sees Nick doing something they’ve always dreamed of doing, he hopes they muster up courage to try it themselves. That was his motivation for a video series about traveling in a van.
“We wanted to travel, but a motorhome was too big for us and we would always have to park in certain places,” he explained. “We were reluctant to try van camping at first because we thought we’d be cramped in it, but we found van living gives us more options. We took a chance, loved it and this will be our third year of traveling by van. We’ll be spending 10 days in Death Valley and visiting Joshua Tree National Park.”
There are many options available to people over 50 today that were not open to their parents or grandparents.
“I remember what they were doing at 60, 70 and 80, but I don’t want to live that type of sedentary life where they wound up in a recliner and pretty much giving up,” said Nick. “I’m not bulletproof. I have had two hip replacements and shoulder issues. I need injections in my lower back. But, I’m not letting that take me out of the game.”
Abandon the “bucket list”
For years people have talked about maintaining a “bucket list” of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Nick hates the concept because he thinks people use it as an excuse for not doing something right now.
“I often hear people say, ‘Oh, that’s on my bucket list.’ But when you read between the lines, they think it’s something they can do next week, next month or next year,” he explained. “That’s a fallacy because there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. So if you don’t do it today, you’ll probably never do it.”
Nick recalled mountain biking with some good friends when they noticed one of the men was missing. When they went back to find him, they discovered he had crashed and died of either a cerebral hemorrhage or a massive heart attack at age 62. If he had simply put mountain biking on his “bucket list,” he would have died without ever experiencing that joy.
That incident was a pivotal moment in Nick’s life. He sat down with his wife and discussed how long they wanted to remain on the hamster wheel of work.
“We looked at our bank account and asked each other how hard do we need to run and for how long?” he said. “I asked myself what I was going to do to make the most of the rest of my life.”
Putting his skills to work
Although Nick has abandoned the day-to-day grind of his profession, he has not allowed his skills and passion to atrophy. He is helping non-profit organizations by producing fund-development videos for them at an affordable cost.
“I don’t need to make what I used to make, but I still have a lot of skills that could be put to use making a difference for an organization,” he explained. “I don’t want to do it for free because then people don’t value the work you do. The whole dynamic of the relationship changes. You go from being the expert to the guy who is doing it for free.
“When people pay for the services I provide, it forces them to pay attention because they are paying me to do it. I also think they have greater respect for what I’m doing for them,” he added.
In today’s world, branding and messaging is essential to the success of any company and, more importantly, non-profit groups which must compete to get their messages heard. They need a strategy to be effective, and Nick relishes the opportunity to put his natural talent, learned skills and years of experience to work helping those groups.
“I give them a little tough love to remind them that, although it is great they are doing whatever they do, the groups need to behave like a business if they hope to serve clients for a long time,” Nick said.
No regrets for honoring family
When parents are working, too many sacrifice time with their families to run on a hamster wheel. Yet, they often look back with deep regret over the missed meals and quality family time. Nick didn’t want that for his life.
“There were many times I could have made more money by spending more time growing my business. But, it would have required me to sacrifice time with my family,” Nick explained. “Sitting down nearly every night to enjoy dinner with my family was the one thing I was most proud of having accomplished before I turned 50.”
Nick grew up in a rather large Italian family where being together was very important. He wanted to continue that tradition with his wife and two daughters. So, he coached the girls’ sports teams and volunteered at their schools.
“I was the first person in my family to attend a university, and I never really planned on building a business. I started as a news photographer and videographer,” Nick explained. “But, I got really good at certain things that allowed me to build a business that gave me flexibility to spend more time with my family.”
Still learning new things
Nick literally signed paperwork to sell his business to his employees a week before the first COVID shutdown. Even though he already knew he wanted to do in the next phase of his life, it required learning new skills and an investment in equipment.
During the first year, he learned as much as he could about the ins and outs of YouTube. Nick treated his new venture like a business from the start. He acquired an easy-to-use and easy-to-carry video camera specifically suited for the type of personal “vlogging” he wanted to create. He also purchased a computer with more memory and faster processing speed for video editing.
“I wanted to be professional from the start, so I probably spent $7,000 on new equipment,” Nick explained. “The $2,000 camera I bought in 2020 would probably have cost $30,000 to get the same type of image quality 20 years ago.”
Not everyone needs to make the same type of investment to start a video channel. Nick said the image quality captured by most cell phones will be sufficient.
“Someone could start a YouTube channel with an Apple iPhone, a tripod and a couple of lights,” he explained. “YouTube is more about storytelling and producing content your audience is looking for than it is about video quality.”
Although people enjoy quality television shows and movies, content consumed online is not nearly as professional. It is easier today to create very nice videos rather inexpensively, said Nick. The most important thing is to ensure the sound quality is as high as possible.
Creating an authentic audience
Building an audience on YouTube as a 60-year-old was challenging, even for the tech-savvy videographer.
“In my age demographic, there are not a lot of regular YouTube users as there would be if I was 30 and trying to create a channel,” Nick explained. “Younger people have always had YouTube in their lives. For me, it was kind of new.”
His core group of friends and family formed the cornerstone of his new audience. Then he started ensuring his videos were titled so people actively looking for that type of content would find it.
Currently, Nick’s top-performing videos are centered around AARP, its mission and how he wanted to relate to the organization. Those videos are continually being discovered by people searching for information about AARP. Then viewers often stick around to see what else Nick has produced. Eventually, people subscribe to his channel.
He discovered a strategy for growing an audience on YouTube, and that is to insert his unique personality into every video he makes. The content resonates with viewers because Nick is around their age.
“I like to think of people watching my videos as being friends who just like hanging out with each other,” he said. “They eventually form a relationship with me and start to relate to what I’m doing.”
That happens all the time on television. Recalling the 1970s TV show, Happy Days, Nick noted people were either a Richie fan or Fonzie fan. Even on the show Friends, people form an affinity to a specific character. Those characters don’t try to be all things to all people. They are unique individuals.
“YouTube is the same idea. People who relate to me want to spend time with me. So I honor my audience by creating content that is interesting to me, but has an interesting story that is relevant to their lives, too,” Nick explained.
Sharing what he likes with others
While it is really tempting for content creators to kowtow to certain subject matters just to gain more subscribers and views, Nick is taking a more contrarian approach. He knows AARP videos are popular on his channel, but he doesn’t want to get buttonholed into making those videos just for more views.
“That really doesn’t interest me. What interests me is going to Alaska on a cruise, or taking a van trip and showing people our age what’s possible in life,” he explained. “It’s not necessarily the fastest way to grow a channel, but it interests me. If it interests me, I’m hopeful it will interest others, too.”
Nick plans to start another video series called Hidden California. He will travel to out-of-the way places where he can tap into his cinematography skills to make some stunning segments about things to do in that area. It will allow Nick to combine his love for videography with his passion for history to create compelling stories to share with others.
“I know that if I didn’t pursue this plan, I’d regret not spending time doing what I wanted to do,” he said. “If I had to start over again in creating a YouTube channel, I would not chase views as much as I would allow my personality and interests to guide what I’m creating.”
Retiring doesn’t mean life is over
Nick made the decision to retire early after consulting with his wife. Many of his friends were supportive of the decision, but an equal number were not. The idea of retiring before “you’re allowed” to leave a job was foreign to them.
“Several people did ask what the heck I was doing and suggested a man of my age should still be working,” Nick explained. “I’m not going to say retiring is easy because it’s not.
“When a man suddenly stops doing all those things related to achieving and earning money, it can be hard,” he added. “People told with me bafflement in their voice and confusion in their eyes that if they didn’t work, then they had no idea what they would do.”
But, Nick already had something else to do. He would be a part-time personal trainer and create content for his developing YouTube channel. He was determined not to sit home and do nothing. Whatever he did had to help others, as well as provide meaning and purpose for his life.
“This is critical to understand. When you retire, your life is not over. In fact, you probably have more opportunities to embrace than you have ever had,” Nick explained. “It takes a bit of courage and effort, but it is eye-opening and refreshing to enter a space where you can do new things.”
An additional benefit has contributed to Nick’s positive attitude and outlook on life. At the gym, he is surrounded by people who are half his age.
“Their worldview, energy and unique viewpoints has made a huge difference in my life,” he said. “I decided not to silo myself with people in my age group and those who already share my worldview.
“Doing so has opened my eyes to new things and new points of view. That invigorates me,” said Nick. “It’s not that I have a problem with being older, but I was not prepared for how just talking to younger people at the gym was able to influence my outlook.”
Outside of the education regarding the way YouTube works, the greatest benefit Nick receives is the relationships he forms through his venture. He is already part of a mastermind group of older YouTubers who support and encourage other members.
Creating content requires a lot of research to know what to talk about, and he’s incorporating things he’s learning into his own life. When he prepares content, the act of teaching it reinforces the mindset in his own life.
“When I do a video on the Top 5 things that you should be doing to remain young, those tips have a way of circling back to my life,” said Nick.
As people get older, loneliness is a common problem, and Nick is no different. He said men have a much higher likelihood of being lonely than a woman.
“I’m really focusing on forging new male relationships and making the friendships I already have even stronger,” said Nick.
Just having a YouTube channel and producing regular relevant content is opening doors to new opportunities for Nick and his wife. When they went on a cruise to Alaska, he made a video about the trip. The cruise line liked the video so much, it bought the footage from him and offered the couple an opportunity to cruise down the Columbia River. The company gave him free tickets and covered their airfare in exchange for Nick creating another video about that experience.
“In my old life, if a company wasn’t offering me cash to produce videos, I would never have returned their emails,” he explained. “But now I’m much more open to enjoying adventures like this as a fair trade for doing a little work. I’m hoping more of these types of opportunities present themselves.”
Doomsday isn’t so bad
When people are planning their next steps, Nick offers the same advice whether it’s to his 20-something daughters or a 70-year-old friend. That is to imagine the worst thing that can happen.
“I can assure you that, in almost all cases, the worst thing isn’t as bad as you think it is. We can recover from almost anything, if it’s not related to health,” he explained. “So for people who are thinking about retirement, it is important to figure out what they want the next 20 to 30 years of their life to look like by pursuing their passions and things they love to do.
“When we’re working, our identity is wrapped up in what we do. But, when we retire, all that is taken away from us. For some people that can be devastating,” Nick added
“But, what if you could take your skill set and make it available to people for a low cost as an consultant, advisor or a member of an advisory board?” he asked. “Now you are able to provide something people need, and it gives you relevance. You still feel part of the mix and you gain new social connections because you’re always meeting new people and learning new things.
“If people plan ahead and mindfully think about their lives and what will happen after their jobs stop, then they can be more creative and less passive,” he explained.
Nick said there are three things about retirement that all seasoned citizens need to contemplate before that day arrives.
- First, whatever business you’re in, when you stop working, your coworkers will forget about you immediately. They will rely on the next person to do whatever it was you were doing.
- Second, you will lose all your work-related social connections and the informal socialization that took place during work hours.
- Third, your calendar becomes very empty. When you had things to do every day on the job, and all that activity disappears overnight, it can be hard for people to stay relevant.
“You need more than one thing to do in retirement to be happy and productive. In fact, you need multiple things to do,” said Nick. “Don’t just sit there watching TV and railing at your cable company while becoming your father or grandfather. You do not need to live life the way they did. Make the most of the rest of YOUR life.”
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.