1. Best of 2023: Sweeter Days Ahead: How Baking Transformed Janie Deegan's Life Andy Levine 20:15

Second Act Stories annual “Best of” episodes give us an opportunity to re-share remarkable stories, and welcome new listeners by giving them a good taste of what we do here: profile people who have made major life and career changes to pursue a more rewarding life in a second act career. We’re selecting two “Best of 2023” episodes to share with you. Andy Levine selected his favorite interview conducted by co-host Scott Merritt in the past year,  and Scott is reciprocating this week. Scott’s pick for 2023 is “Sweeter Days Ahead: How Baking Transformed Janie Deegan’s Life.”

In 2009, Janie Deegan returned home from college with a serious alcohol and drug problem. Eventually, she found herself homeless and living on the streets of New York City.

Fast forward to today…she is the owner of “Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods,” a thriving business with three, NYC bakeries and booming e-commerce division. At the center of her success is the “pie crust cookie” — essentially a baby pie that comes in five, different flavors. Her company and her cookies have been featured on Good Morning America, The TODAY Show, CNN and The New York Times.

The company is dedicated to helping other young women through mentorship and second chance employment. As Janie shares in the podcast, “The person you show up for at the interview is the person we’re looking at. We’re not doing background checks…we have formerly incarcerated employees, homeless staff and those with addiction problems. It’s been really beautiful to see how people blossom when they are given a chance.” 

Interested in trying Janie’s pie crust cookies? They come in apple, pecan, triple berry, chocolate and cherry and can be ordered from www.JanieBakes.com.

Andy Levine is the creator and host of “Second Act Stories.” A fascination with storytelling and second acts, triggered the launch of this podcast. He lives in Ocean Grove, New Jersey about five blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. He manages a specialized marketing firm for his day job. He is always on the lookout for a good story and has traveled to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Virginia to conduct face-to-face interviews with podcast guests.

Scott Merritt is the co-host of “Second Act Stories.” He’s always had a natural curiosity about people and the paths they’ve followed to find success. After developing concepts for other podcasts focused on people and their careers, Scott was invited by Andy, a former colleague, to join “Second Act Stories.” A native of New York, he is now based in Atlanta, Georgia.