Waking Up Early With Donnie

SOLO 147 | Waking Up Early


In this episode, Peter McGraw speaks to Donald Lichtenstein who is thriving personally and professionally. Peter likes to say that singles can sleep in when they want to, but Donnie does the opposite. He gets up absurdly early—because that is what is best for him. It’s a thoughtful conversation in which they discuss how Donnie likes routine, loves dogs and dislikes travel. As a proud homebody, Donnie inspired Peter to prepare a short series on homebodies, and this serves as the first episode.

Listen to Episode #147 here


Waking Up Early With Donnie

In this episode, I speak to a colleague who is solo, Donald Lichtenstein. He is better known as Donnie. I’ve known Donnie for eighteen years and have watched him thrive personally and professionally. I wanted to talk to him about his single life. I like to say that singles can sleep in when they want to but Donnie does the opposite. He gets up absurdly early. Why? That is because he likes to. We have a thoughtful conversation in which we discuss how he likes routine, loves dogs, and dislikes travel.

Donnie is a proud homebody. Homebodies and other types of indoorsy people don’t get much attention in a world that seems preoccupied with travel, adventure, and going out on the town. Yet, there are many ways to live a remarkable life, and being an indoorsy person or a homebody can be part of that. The conversation inspired me to prepare a short series on homebodies, and this is the first installment. I hope you enjoy the episode and the series. Let’s get started.

Welcome, Donnie.

Thank you.

I’ve gotten some requests for conversations with life-long singles, especially of the older variety. You are in your 60s. We had such a great conversation on my previous show called I’m Not Joking. I thought people would enjoy hearing from you. No one tuned in to I’m Not Joking.

You can say the same stuff.

I can run it all back but people read this, so this will not be a waste of your time.

I was concerned about that.

Moreover, we’ve known each other for close to eighteen years. You have been my unofficial life coach.

I don’t have any kind of certifications or qualifications but I tell people what to do.

You offered it up, and I take advantage of it on occasion. You were a life coach before life coaches were coaches.

That’s right. I claim to be a life coach.

My hope is that you will share a little bit of wisdom in this episode.

Has it benefited you?

Look at me. Look at how successful I have been. We should start with your story. You are a life-long single. You have never married and have no children. Were there any close calls?

To marriage? I have been engaged but never got close to the wedding.

Was that later in life?

It was in my early 20s to early 30s.

Can you share that story?

It has been a couple of times. It’s two things. It has a similar pattern. It was probably in my early 30s or early 40s. You meet a very nice woman. She’s mature, and you are not.

Are you waiting to become mature before you do it?

No. I’m still immature. I’m extremely immature but I was even more immature then. Immaturity and selfishness are a bad combination for making a relationship work. Another thing is that it’s the norm that when you start talking about marriage, one of the things the woman and guy wisely talk about is children. That got caught in my throat a few times. I was gagging, going, “Children are fine, but I’ve never aspired to be a dad.” That’s a relationship killer, too. I’m not high on children, immaturity, and selfishness. Beyond that, I’m a catch.

Did you bring the engagement to a close?

I broke the engagement. I turned the engagement to a close but she took the relationship to a close. We stayed together. I know what she was thinking. She was thinking, “You are too immature and selfish.”

I don’t think of you as immature. I think of you as young at heart. I’m being serious about that. When I look at your life, and I’ve gotten to observe it professionally, mostly, and a little bit personally, I don’t see immaturity. I see a grown-up who takes care of business and has excelled in a very challenging profession.

I’ve exceeded my expectations. I’ve exceeded my parents’ expectations. I’ve exceeded everybody’s expectations who had expectations of me. They had very low expectations.

That is not something that an immature person can do. A frequent reader will recognize this. To be an adult, you have to be able to parent yourself. You are good at parenting yourself. You are so good, in fact that you never needed to marry to be taken care of.

I could always take care of myself. I’m very headstrong, and I’ve got a lot of discipline about what I do and don’t do, except when I am in a relationship and, “Donnie, don’t say that,” I can’t not say that. I don’t have that kind of discipline.

You have a low filter a little bit.

I’ve observed other relationships. What smart people do is they know when to hold their tongue, and they do it. Dumb people know when to hold their tongue and can’t do it.

They are unwilling.

They can’t. I got to say it.

We are going to return to this notion of selfishness because I want to tussle with this. I want to step back a little bit. Are you from the South?

Yes. I grew up in Atlanta. I went to undergraduate school in Alabama. I went to graduate school in South Carolina. I taught at LSU for four years. I have been to four Southern states and then came here. I have been here for 34 years.

One thing about these Southern states is that they are pro-marriage people. Everyone gets married, and they often do it very young.

It’s not like The Beverly Hillbillies. I was raised in the City of Atlanta but it was still back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when I was raised there, so it was still Southern. It isn’t Atlanta now. It was very traditional, especially in those years. In Atlanta, it’s not so much anymore, perhaps, but in the other areas, you are right.

Certainly, in the University of Alabama.

It was very Southern and traditional.

When you were an undergraduate, did you already know you weren’t excited about children or did it come to you later?

No. Ninety-something-odd percent of the kids at that age think, “I will get married. I will have 2 or 3 children. I will have a job.” The variance in ideas about what your life is going to be like when you are at that age, I would suspect there’s not much variance across kids. Life then happens. It takes people in all sorts of different directions. “I will have kids,” and then you get older. I feel like a little bit of a Bill Morey on this. I look at kids and go, “I don’t think I would have been a great parent now, but I never thought that before.” That’s what you do. You will get it.

It’s the house, the car, and all that stuff.

As you get older and you see kids, that’s not what you want.

Did you not feel that tug?

I didn’t feel the tug. I never felt the tug at an emotional level. At a cognitive level, when I was younger, that’s what you do. In the ones I have dated, the great women, that tug is there.

I’ve had similar experiences, especially as a younger man.

The women I could date certainly aren’t thinking of children, too. They are thinking of how their grandchildren are doing.

Something happened between the University of Alabama and you ending that engagement where you got into your career. You said, “Things happen.” What was happening?

This particular woman was when I was in Louisiana.

She was an assistant professor.

When you are an assistant professor, your life is around your work. The most important thing is your work, and I might say misplaced priorities because you are younger. You are trying to make it in your discipline. That’s an excuse also because other people who are assistant professors and trying to make it in the discipline may get happily married, and it works for them.

I like simplicity in my life. I was like, “This is what I’m doing now. I’m going to try and work hard.” That was a priority for me. Selfish is part of it. I wouldn’t take away from work at that time to do other things. If I wanted to sit and watch a football game, I got excited about that because that is what I wanted to do. It would be comfortable for me to think, “I was concerned about my career at the time.” I was a full-hearted selfish. That was just part of it.

I don’t like the word selfish for the following reason and as someone who has been called selfish for not wanting to have children. My reaction to this is that there are many ways to contribute to the world beyond having children. Having children is a selfish act. People do it because they want to do it. They believe it’s going to make their life better. In that way, they are acting in their best interests.

They are going on their wants. You are like, “It wasn’t my want.” I hear what you are saying.

Moreover, I can identify with how you are feeling. You and I both feel like underdogs in academia.

If I look around at the degrees and the pedigrees of the people I have always been around, for the most part, I’m the product of public schools all the way through to college and graduate school. I didn’t come from the main schools.

Your family wasn’t an academic family.

My father was first gen. He went to Auburn on the GI Bill after World War II.

No one in your family gets post-graduate degrees, and so on.

Not at my parents’ level. I have a brother who is a judge. He retired.

You two broke out. Here is a quick lesson for people who aren’t familiar with this. If you get a job as an assistant professor, you have a seven-year gauntlet to prove that you are worthy of tenure. Tenure is a non-trivial honor to receive. It provides you with job security in a way that is almost unfathomable these days. For me, your focus on your career, and I’m speaking through my lens as someone who was bearing down, is not selfishness. It’s self-preservation in a sense. You invest in a way that is difficult to imagine for the average person because of the hours and the challenge to create a more comfortable place.

Whereas other people could pull that off by being more diversified, I don’t know that I could have done it more diversified than other people did it. I always felt like I had to work harder because I was surrounded by a lot of smart people and other people that could do it. That’s fine, but I did not know I had the ability to do it. I did what I did. Who knows? You make mistakes or don’t make mistakes. It’s hard to realize, looking back, whether those were mistakes. You don’t know if you had done things differently with how it would’ve turned out.

I feel the same way as you. I didn’t feel like I had much wiggle room. I’m not saying that’s why I didn’t get married. It’s not that I’m saying that’s why things turned out the way they did for me but it certainly factored into how gung-ho I was about relationships and how I approached new relationships with the amount of bandwidth I had. You don’t strike me as someone who has many regrets but I hear in your tone a little bit of some uncertainty about what could have been.

If I think back on things, I have regrets about relationships and women. I’ve had a few.

I call them near misses.

There are some relationships that I go, “I dodged a bullet. That would have been so bad.” However, there are also 2 or 3 that I will look back on and go, “That was a wonderful woman. You screwed that up. You could have been very happy. You screwed that up,” but who knows how it would’ve turned out. I can certainly see some women that I would say, “I would love to have another shot at that one again,” but it’s gone.

When you say you screwed that up, what do you mean? Was there a pattern that happened across these?

Yeah. You fall back into your old patterns of being into yourself and being short sometimes when you shouldn’t be short with somebody. You are saying those things you shouldn’t say. Another thing is that those relationships also came with children.

Those relationships would have led to children.

When you say, “Do you have regrets?” “Yeah, but.” I don’t know what kind of father I would have been to tell you the truth.

Say more about that.

Some people say, “I want to be a father.” I have questions about it because it is one of those things that if you say, “I will have kids, and we will see how I will do,” is that a sound basis to be a dad? Given that you don’t have the burning desire and you are going to do it to be married, isn’t that a scary thought?

I’ve had that scary thought. There have been certainly two women in my life who, one, I thought I would marry, and the other one, I thought there was a chance. Both of them would have come with kids in the sense of they didn’t have their own kids. They wanted kids. They were 100% sure. They wanted to have children. It was this shrug of like, “This is the package. I’m getting the whole package.”

I agree with you that having motivation helps a lot. Wanting to be a father is going to help motivate me. I’m going to push back, though. I’m saying this as an observer. You are good at life. That is because you have been professionally successful. You take care of yourself. You are a giving person. In that way, you could have been adaptable in a sense. What’s the saying about, “Necessity being the mother of all invention?” It is, in that way, perhaps.

Thank you for the kind words. The idea of perhaps when you bring a kid into the world is I wanted more surety. That’s another thing about relationships. When you’ve gotten into these relationships, I don’t know how sure other people are. I never got to the point where I was like, “I’m sure.”

It’s a big bet, let’s be honest, with a 33% divorce rate.

I thought it was even higher.

The best evidence is 1 out of 3.

Less people are getting married, perhaps. Historically, many years ago, was it 50%?

I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent but the way that the divorce rate is calculated is weird. It compares the number of divorces in a year to the number of marriages in a year. It’s an apples-to-oranges example. The little bit of longitudinal work is conditioned on being married 1 in 3.

How many are happy?

That’s another question. You never did marry. You never did have kids. You have friends and family. How do they feel about your soloness or bachelorhood?

I had two brothers who were unhappily married, and they looked at me with envy. People are, “That’s Donnie.”

Has it changed over time? For me, personally, it has changed over time. You hit a certain age, and suddenly, they are like, “That’s Peter.”

When you are in your 20s and 30s, and you are hanging out with your friends, and they are married, you are on the third wheel a little bit. I go and socialize with couples all the time, and I’m the only single person. It’s never in my mind, and I don’t think it’s ever in my friend’s mind.

Was there any moment in time where you felt like it switched and you felt open to a possibility where you are like, “This is how it is. This is how it’s going to be?”

Yeah. It switched. Can I identify a moment in time when I said, “That ship has sailed that I’m going to not be married?” It’s hard to say. I don’t know. To your point, mindset is very different.

You are more comfortable.

I am very comfortable.

You, more than most people I know, know who he is, what he likes, and are comfortable and happy with his life.

I’m comfortable. I’m happy with my life. One of the things I think about a good bit is retirement and what that will be like. Coming to this job is a big part of my life. I got friends. I don’t have a family. A lot of people say, “I’m going to retire and spend more time with my family and grandkids. That is not open to me, so what is?” I think about that.

You are in a unique position because you could retire but you don’t have to. You don’t want to necessarily.

They haven’t asked me to. I don’t know why. If I were running a school, I would’ve asked you to retire.

You’ve also said to me, “I’m not going to die at this desk.” It sounds like you have these competing perspectives. On one hand, your work gives you purpose. It’s a social place for you. It’s still challenging. Do you still bring it?

I try. I get a lot of rejections.

For the readers, he’s referring to submitting papers to academic journals.

I get rejections outside. I get still get rejections from women and journals. It’s both.

That’s both the academic life and the dating world. How are you thinking about that? You have this pull of, “I don’t want to die at my desk,” and then you have this push, which is, “I don’t have to do this. There are plenty of headaches with this job still.” Your inbox alone is enough to want to retire, I suspect.

There’s that. One of the things is what you hit on a moment ago. I can walk away from work but I still have a strong social life at school and work with friends.

Your next-door neighbor is a very close friend.

Across the hall is a very close friend. We are within X years of each other. One of the big things about me retiring is when my closest friends go. I have been around for years. That’s probably the time I will check out, too.

If they want to get rid of you, they should get rid of them.

I’m like, “Give us a package deal. Make us a package deal. Buy us out as a package.”

The research suggests that you are onto something. One of the best predictors of retention of a job is having a best friend at work more than money. It’s the most important thing. The second one is your relationship with your direct supervisor. You live in a world without a real direct supervisor.

We all do. With academics, you have a faculty and a department chair. The department chair is like a department manager, not so much a boss. Department chairs have deans. Deans are like managers of the school and not bosses.

They are more like substitute teachers than they are teachers.

You have a lot of freedom. Neither of us has much of bosses.

You remove that, and the friend thing matters even more. It sounds like you are a little conflicted.

Conflicted about retiring?


That is very much so. If you have been single your whole life, haven’t been divorced, don’t have kids, and don’t have an extravagant lifestyle, you suck money away. Both my brothers got divorced. You cut that pie in half. You then got kids you got to raise. Being married and divorced is expensive.

The wealth destruction associated with divorce is one of the worst parts of it.

Children are expensive. It’s not to say it’s not worth it. If I had a kid, there’s nothing I would rather spend money on. It’s not a financial decision at all. It’s a happiness decision about, “How will I fill my days.” I think about that.

You say immaturity but you have a fun, playful nature. It’s wonderful. The world beats out most adults. The fact that you have kept it is refreshing. It’s fun to have you in meetings even when you turn your attention to make fun of me especially.

I make fun of everybody.

It’s a show. You are revealing your affection.

If there’s somebody that I don’t click with, I will never joke with them. I never joke with anybody I don’t click with.

You enjoy your life. Take us through what a typical day is like for you. What time are you up? What are you doing?

People are going to think I’m nuts.

That’s why I’m asking this question.

I get up at 3:30 every morning.

That is the earliest of anybody I know by at least an hour.

I’m a little bit crazy.

Have you always been an early riser?

I have always been early but not always this early. I get up from 3:30 to 4:15. I have a cappuccino and sit down with my dogs. I got two dogs.

I want to talk about your dogs.

I turn on CNN until 4:00, and then for about fifteen minutes, I turn on a sports show.

You ease into your day.

I ease my day with my cappuccino. I have a gym in my basement. I work out for an hour there, and then I take my dogs.

In the gym, you have a rower.

I have rowers, weights, ellipticals, and a smart bike.

Do you work out every day?

Yes, for an hour in my basement. I then go over to a dog park and run for 30 minutes. I run laps. We have a group that meets up over there. It’s a social group.

Is this around 6:00 in the morning?

It is from 6:30 to about 7:30. I run for 30 minutes and stand around with my group. We all have dogs, and we socialize.

I’m sure you are popular.

I’m the same smart-ass there that I am here. I then go home and eat. I then come to work. I’m usually at work at 8:30 or 9:00 AM.

You do a typical day with meetings, emails, and working on your papers.

In the afternoon, I will see who’s available, and we will have a drink or two. It’s not always. A couple of days a week, I will look for someone to have a drink with.

Is your drinking down at this age?


How much down?

My doctor asked me how much I was drinking. You got to fill out a survey. I drink probably 2 drinks, 2 times a week.

It’s way down.

It’s not much.

It’s a young man’s sport.

I don’t do that anymore. The doctor says, “How many times do you go over two drinks?” I would say, “It’s probably twice a year, 3 or 4.”

Is that when your favorite football team is losing?

I don’t drink during football. I watch it too intensely. I go to my house, close the doors, and put on the room-darkening blinds. I have three TVs going usually. This is college football. I’m a Southerner. I’m from the South. Anybody from the South will understand what college football is.

From where I grew up, that is a no.

It’s religion. It’s the closest thing I have to a religion. When I was a small kid, my mother told my father, “Take the three boys to go to a temple.” It was on a holiday, and there was an Auburn-Tennessee game that day. My mom went to do what she needed to do. My father drove off, circled back around, and we watched football.

That’s religion for you. You might have a drink, happy hour, etc. What’s your evening like? I assume you are turning in early.

I do turn in early. I come and watch the news. If there are sports on, I will watch sports. I head up to bed between 8:00 and 9:00. Dogs come up and jump on the bed, and that’s it.

I’m sure you sleep well. This is a full day.

I don’t have any trouble sleeping or falling asleep. That has never been a problem of mine.

The exercise is impressive. I exercise. I take care of myself. I don’t nearly put in the amount of time exercising as you do. You look great.

Thank you. The thing is, people exercise differently. When I get on a rowing machine or something like that, I do it at my pace. I don’t want to ever get hurt, so I’m steady.

You are moving your body.

On an elliptical, somebody could watch me and go, “You could go faster.” I go, “I know I could go faster.” You could see me run. People say, “I saw you running.” I say, “Thank you for saying that. Thank you for calling it running.” I’m steady at it but I don’t ever hurt myself.

That makes sense. I’m always dealing with a little tweak or soreness.

I don’t want to hurt. If you are hurt, you won’t do it.

How are your joints and everything?

Everything is good. About once a year, I will get a cortisone shot in my knees. I get this thing called runner’s knee occasionally. I only run on a soft surface. Other than that, I’ve had sciatica on and off for a couple of years.

Any kidney stones yet?


Your life is rinse-and-repeat. Your days and weekends are a similar routine. One thing that you haven’t done much since I’ve known you about is travel.

I don’t travel much at all.

Some of that has to do with you living in a wonderful place in Boulder, Colorado, which people will travel to vacation but it’s more than that.

I love routine. I love predicting my day. I love what I eat. I watch my diet very carefully. I miss my dogs when I’m gone. When I travel even to nice places, after about three days, I go, “This is beautiful but I want to be home.” I like my exercise, my diet, my dogs, my friends, and the comfort of my own house.

I have been feeling that myself. Especially being focused on this project, it’s hard to do what I want to do when I’m on a plane or elsewhere. You called yourself selfish and immature. I push back on those things.

I can go further.

The next one is rigid. For some people, rigidness is a bug. It’s a problem. For you, it’s a feature. Is it something about your personality? What led to this routinization of life? I’m not criticizing because it clearly works for you. You are as happy as anyone I know. It can’t be a critique.

When I was younger, and before I had the dogs, I traveled a lot. I went to a lot of different places. Getting into a routine, I’m sure multiple things contribute to that but probably nothing as much as dogs did. I felt a bonding with dogs in my adult life that I never thought I would have before I had the dogs. I’m never lonely. I got my dogs. They are always around. I love them dearly.

Talk about them. Who are they?

I got two Boxers. I’ve had Labs in the past, and I went to Boxers. I had a Boxer as a young boy, so I always wanted to have a Boxer for nostalgic reasons. I got two. One is 7, and one is 2. They are funny. They play with each other. They play with me.

They are love machines.

They are always happy to see me, no matter how badly I screw up.

They don’t care that you don’t have a filter.

That’s right. They hear all sorts of things.

When did you get the dogs?

About 1998 was when I got my first dog.

That was many years ago.

To me, dogs have been life-changing.

Were you in your early 40s?

Yes. It was right around 40, 41, or 42.

Was there a moment when you decided you were going to get a dog?

I had a girlfriend. We were pretty serious. She said, “We should get a dog.” I said, “That sounds fun. Let’s do it.” That’s what led me off to it. With my bonding with the animals, it wasn’t a couple of years later that I turned pescatarian. I have been a pescatarian for 22 years by my love of animals.

This is a common narrative, especially for life-long singles. There’s the cat lady phenomenon.

I love cats, too.

These women are unfairly stereotyped and prejudiced. It’s this idea that you can have a connection and love in your life. It is the most unconditional love that you are going to find, more so than love songs and romcoms. It gives purpose. It provides structure in a way that a single person’s life could be unstructured. I think about this sometimes. I’m like, “I could do anything I want. I could drive to the airport, get on a plane, and go wherever I wanted. There’s no one to check in. People wouldn’t notice if I cleared my schedule.” The average single person doesn’t do that. They are not that unmoored.

When people think about getting a dog, they would say, “I would love to get a dog but it will tie me down.” What they don’t realize is that I don’t feel tied down. I am where I want to be. I would rather be with my dog. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything that I would rather be at. I got to take care of my dogs. I need to be home to feed my dogs. I want to go home and see them.

You have a little camera.

I have a Furbo camera that I can watch and throw treats at them from afar.

This is a little teaser. I’m going to do an episode on being a homebody. It’s an important episode because, as a single person, you have options. You have options in a way that the average married person never even fathoms because they have accountability. They’ve got to check in. They’ve got to get permission and so on. That could create pressure.

I call this show The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life. Remarkable is a big word but it doesn’t mean that you must climb Mount Kilimanjaro to live a remarkable life. You get to decide what makes your life remarkable. Being a homebody, having a home base, and being happy in that place are remarkable.

To me, there’s nothing that makes me happier than being comfortable at home. I go out and have friends over. I go to friends’ houses but I go home.

You are not a shut-in. There is a difference between being a shut-in and being a homebody.

I’m not a recluse but I love being at home in the comfort of my home and my dogs. To live a remarkable life, everybody has got to find what it is that makes them most content. I could do all those things. I could travel. I could go anywhere I wanted to go. I’ve got friends all over the country I could go see. I could go to Europe. I could do whatever. When I go to Europe to a beautiful place, I go, “I would love to be home with my dogs,” after about 2 or 3 days. You realize that after a while. You go, “Why do I do this?”

That’s one of the things that I like about heterogeneity. I use this term a lot. That is that people have different tastes, values, preferences, and lifestyles. If you are intentional, thoughtful, and reflective about your choices and how they feel, you can find the right path. If you and I switched paths, I would be pretty miserable waking up at 3:30 in the morning, and you would be miserable traveling or whatever else.

During Thanksgiving, when I see everybody traveling, I go, “Shoot me.” I have friends, and I go, “Where are you going?” They were like, “We got to go to my in-laws over Christmas with the kids.” That’s because his wife wants to go see her parents. That’s part of the deal. I go, “I want to stay at home.” I look at the TV and see flights getting canceled and people sleeping in airports. It’s happening all year round. I had a friend tell me that he got stuck in New York overnight and couldn’t get back to his place in Virginia until the next day. It’s crazy.

I hope people are reading this who feel the way you feel, feel validated because it is a different dynamic. I did a little Twitter poll where I said, “Do you prefer to be option 1, outside, option 2, inside or option 3 say, “Outside,” but it is really inside. Thirty percent of people said, “Outside,” but inside.” It’s valuable to say, “I want to be out in the great outdoors and travel.” If you look at dating app profiles, there’s all this talk about travel, passports, and hiking. Almost no one ever says, “I like to cook a meal at home and watch a good movie.”

My profile would be so boring.

Let’s finish with two things. I want to take that next step. You are 65. You take good care of yourself. You are healthy. You are very likely to live another 25 years.

I hope so. If it’s 25 years, I hope it’s a good 25 years. That’s the bigger deal.

The thing that’s scary as you start to creep up in age is that the statistics have a high variance. You are likely to live 25 years. I remember looking at this thing. At my age, there’s a 10% chance I will be dead in ten years, statistically but chances are I’m going to live into my 80s. That’s a weird thing. There is a small but still substantial chance that it’s done in ten years, and then there’s a much larger predictable chance that I will go on. You have this routine. What you are contemplating is removing the work part. The question becomes what you substitute in. Is there anything left on your list, so to speak? Might you put something on your list, as you are thinking about 70 or 75?

That is a level of uncertainty that I have. There are certain things like spending more time with dogs and friends. Reading more is a thing I think about. Think about what’s on your mind a lot. That’s probably, “What would retirement be like?” I had a friend over. He is someone you are familiar with. He is 70 and retired. I said, “What do you do?”

Earlier in life, when I kept failing at relationships, and we got together in social situations, I would always observe how couples interacted with each other. I always watched. I never do that anymore because it’s not so relevant to me anymore with my mindset. Now, what I do is look at retired people and how they are doing. I talk to a buddy of mine. I go, “What do you do? How’s it going? Do you ever get bored?” It’s top of mind, for sure.

I believe this. I suspect there’s research that bears it out but it is this idea of having something to live for and continuing to challenge yourself. There’s this Yerkes-Dodson classic curve where too much challenge is bad, and too little is also bad. Finding that sweet spot is important for us as humans.

Maybe in ten years, I will come back here and say, “Here’s what I’m doing.”

People want to hear from a 75-year-old life-long single. We can tune in and bring people up to date. Hopefully, both of us will still be here in ten years.

Be here on this Earth? I hope so. Be here in this school? You will, I suspect. At 75, that is probably pushing it.

That’s understandable. Donnie, this has been great. I appreciate it.

Thank you. This was fun.



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About Donald Lichtenstein

SOLO 147 | Waking Up EarlyDonnie Lichtenstein is one of Pete’s senior colleagues at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. He attended the University of Alabama for his undergraduate degree in Marketing and received his PhD from the University of South Carolina. He was an assistant professor at LSU prior to joining CU, where he has been since.

He has taught a wide array of classes and has served as both the chair of the marketing division and in the School’s Dean’s office. His main area of research interest is behavioral pricing, and in 2004 we recognized with the Fordham Lifetime Achievement Award in Behavioral Pricing Research.