S2-EP16: Peter Corbett on Mortality, Dying, and a New Life of Service
Debbie talks with Peter Corbett, an old friend from her DC tech days. Peter is an ex-CEO who made a boatload of money when he sold his DC-based tech company, iStrategy Labs, in 2016. He moved to Brooklyn and completely changed his life, becoming a Zen hospice practitioner and volunteer. A perfect example of a life reinvented.
Debbie chats with Peter Corbett, a retired CEO who moved to Brooklyn from DC, sold his tech company to J. Walter Thompson (part of WPP), and completely changed his life. This was an impromptu episode that began with a phone call to catch up.
Peter was a young guy in his 20s when Debbie knew him back in DC’s tech heyday. He was well known in DC’s tech community as the founder and CEO of iStrategy Labs as well as the convener of popular tech meetups. iStrategy Labs was one of the first digital marketing agencies, known for its creativity in bridging online and offline. The company won lots of awards and grew to have dozens of Fortune 500 clients. But after almost ten years of running the company Peter moved to New York to open an office there. Shortly after, he realized he’d had enough of the CEO life – it wasn’t who he really was. He sold the company for tens of millions of dollars and began living a completely different life.
Now, at age 39, he is a Zen hospice practitioner volunteering at a hospital in Brooklyn as well as continuing his training. He also mentors entrepreneurs. Together they talk about how he found this new path, how meditation plays a crucial role for him and why he thinks it’s so important to contemplate mortality. This is not a Coronavirus episode, per se. But the virus – and the pain it’s causing for so many people – is hovering in the background. They talk about a bunch of things, including white privilege and what that means to him.
It was a pleasure for Debbie to reconnect with an old friend.
What was talked about:
- What Peter does now: serving the sick and dying as a Zen hospice volunteer plus advising entrepreneurs
- Moving to NYC to find anonymity
- Realizing he wanted to change his life as he deepened his Zen practice
- His profound realizations around being white and the privilege that gave him
- What a spiritual caregiver does and why he chose that path
- Is the older generation more disposable?
- Coming to terms with your own mortality
- Why you should meditate
Mentioned in episode or useful:
- About Peter
- iStrategy Labs
- A Founder Moves On (Peter on why he sold his company)
- Peter’s newsletter on Zen, Work and Life
- From CEO to Nobody by Peter Corbett (Medium, Dec. 7, 2020)
- New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care where Peter is studying
- WeCroak (an app to find happiness by contemplating your death five times a day)
Thanks to our media partners
Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.
Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.
Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out “what’s next” when you’re in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me “connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution.”