:30 Seconds with Andy Koehn

Andy’s interview is a little different, I did not know how and when to approach Andy for an interview, why?! because a few months ago Andy lost his wife to breast cancer.

This interview is not about breast cancer or the sad memories, but it is about how Andy has taken his feelings/emotions and used them to do something positive and of course productive. His strength has inspired many of us through his blog: Thirty Seconds and his Tweets, and it continues to inspire more and more each and every day to LIVE life and to always continue to move forward… I enjoyed this interview!

KMP:
Tell us a bit about yourself (name, where you are from, etc…)

AK:

Andy Koehn. I live in West Bend, Wisconsin…a little place north of Chicago.

KMP:
How and why did you start Thirty Seconds?

AK:

I started TS about 1 1/2 years ago. It’s a little something I started to help me through my wife’s cancer fight… and her subsequent death. I saw with clarity how short life is. All the happy times we went through… dating… marriage… children… our business… all of it together. Seemed like death was for old people…a natural thing. Then…boom…in the blink of an eye our past was gone…and our future was short. Laura was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer… and 3 years later she is gone. I had no coping mechanisms whatsoever… and I crumbled. Cancer was for other people… not us. And surely not Laura who did nothing but everything you are supposed to do to live a clean life.


Thirty Seconds came from that experience. It’s a walking around tool to remind us to live our lives as best we can…because whether you live to be 30 or 95…it must seem like about :30 seconds when we near the end. What does it mean? Thirty Seconds is a way to remind myself (and now people who follow it) that life is short…and we owe it to ourselves and the world to follow that little voice that pulls or pushes us in certain directions. It’s “carpe diem” with a modern twist, I suppose. I’ve always found carpe diem to be too broad. I get it on one level…seize the day…but it lacks urgency. Thirty Seconds adds an urgency that compels me to quit whining and LIVE. We really do have freedom to choose…and I think we should all choose our actions NOW…because the future we keep waiting for may never arrive.

KMP:
The video “Made a Living after a Burial” Really touched me. I was moved by the title and once I saw the video I was intrigued. You did an amazing job expressing your feelings in that video. What motivated you to do this video? What were you thinking/feeling at the time?

AK:

I can’t honestly say what motivated me. I buried my wife…alone. Just she and I. It was sad, Arie. I have no details on that one…it’s something between her and I…but I can tell you that when I was driving home it hit me again how many of us seem to equate “living” with the things we possess. Cool cars…big homes…nice clothes…to be seen at the right place with the right people. What will that all add up to in the end if we aren’t taking the time to find out what really drives us and move in that direction?

Most of us have buy into the most popular religion on earth right now: consumerism. Getting STUFF…having stuff…is defining us. At least in my opinion. And I don’t want to go down with a bunch of regrets because I gave up my LIFE to earn an extra $20K a year.I guess in hindsight that little video was a plea to anyone watching to stop looking at life as the gaining of things…and start seeing it as a fluid calling to create. Sure…have a job…we need that…but make it PART of your life…not your entire life. Does that make sense?

KMP:
How have you used your emotions/feelings about your loss and turned it into something positive?

AK:

I guess it’s positive in the sense that I get emails and comments from people I’ve never met…telling me that I’ve helped them come to understand a part of their life that they’re not thrilled with…or that I touched something inside that made them feel grateful for what they have. That’s the best for me. Next to my kids it’s been the most important coping mechanism I’ve discovered. I was never one to really care about other people on a deep, compassionate level…but I sure am now…and it’s been my savior. It’s driven by emotion. The sadder or lonelier I feel…the more I want to reach out and help other people by sharing what I’m going through. It’s strange I guess…but that’s what happens. I’m very grateful to everyone who takes the time to tell me that something I created is a help to them. (Even if it’s just for entertainment’s sake. I’m good with that.)

KMP:
The following (2) questions were asked by Raeven of RaevenWestern.com:

Raeven:
Andy is a man full of good doings and actions, so inspiring. I wonder what his kids are like; do they ever give him suggestions?

AK:

My kids are watching from the sidelines. They’ve seen me try so many things over the years it’s really not surprising that I’d put up a blogsite and put myself out there. They are proud I think…at least I hope so. I guess it’s a good thing because as easy as it might be to shut down…I’m doing the opposite…and I believe that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.I’ve never asked them for suggestions…but maybe I should listen closer. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. You won’t have to check back…because no doubt if I find that to be the case I’ll blog it;)

What are they like? The best. Stronger than I can relate in words. I am one lucky dad to have kids like mine. I don’t know what I’d do if they were basket cases like their dad. I really love them.

Raeven:
What was Andy like 5 yrs ago vs. now?

AK:

Oh boy. 5 years ago I was all about money and making my business as efficient and systematic as I could. I lived it…all the time. It was my dream to have an apartment in Chicago that I could go to and write…you know…get away from the family for a weekend. Hit the blues clubs…look for inspiration in the city…and write something profound. I wore a suit and tie to work…looked at people’s shoes to see if they were polished correctly…was their tie too wide or too skinny? All that stuff. That was I. There are some good things that came from that…namely that my business was able to operate fully w/o me there. (I was basically AWOL for the first year after diagnosis.) Yeah…I was “cool” then. Or at least I was working to get there.

KMP:
You have so much on your plate, and seem to balance it pretty well work and life balance, what’s your secret?

AK:

The secret is PEOPLE. That is so clear to me now. Living in a small community has been a huge blessing and help. I’m amazed at how much people care. It blows me away and I don’t feel worthy much of the time. The people that work for me were amazing and continue to be. Laura’s mother helps out a lot…and my family has been supportive in a perfect way. They leave us alone when we need to be alone…and are right there when need company. Know what else? Even though we’ve never met…people like you and Raeven have been a God send…as well all the other online friends I’ve made. I could go on…but the conclusion is the same…the secret is people. It’s what we’ll remember the most when our :30 seconds is up I bet.

KMP:
What’s your dream goal?

AK:

My ultimate goal is to have Thirty Seconds Events throughout the country.
The events are little more than a time for people to take a breath from a life that on the surface seems hard. If life sucks at the moment…I would hope that it’s a much-needed reprieve before you have to plunge back into “reality.” If it’s great…I want it to be a time to feel how great it is…and have that energy translate to the people who are having a tough time of things. We all have burdens. Wouldn’t it be nice to acknowledge that and raise a glass to each other and say, “Good going! You’re hanging in there and I’m proud of you. Go get ’em!”I also hope to marry again. That may sound weird…but I loved being in love. I want to share the things I do with someone special. It’s the best part of life for me. (It’s OK…Laura and I talked about that.)

KMP:
Where can people reach you and be inspired?

AK:

The best way to reach me is through email: andy@thirtyseconds.us I’m also a new Twitter guy…not as good as you…but I’m getting there. You can find me at @thirtyseconds

Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

AK: No way. THANK YOU! How great that you did this. KMP is cool, Arie. Clearly so are you!