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Lt David Wilson: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life

An Interview With Jake Frankel

Be open to feedback. The amount of time sitting in front of a computer can be overwhelming for new authors but know your efforts will be recognized. I have been put on staff at a local magazine and get great local exposure and feedback from people.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their lives. Jeff Bezos worked on Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lt. David Wilson.

Lt. David Wilson was an EMT, crew chief, training officer, day captain and Fire Department fire inspector since 1985.

Armed with his mechanical background from Lincoln Technical Institute, public speaking, training, love of people, and the need to make the world a better and safer place, he was certified as a fire official, arson investigator, instructor, HazMat technician, fire sub-code official, housing official, and deputy coordinator with OEM.

Fires in Your Life is a book written by Lt. David Wilson, who worked for 40 years in the field.

His new book, Fires in Your Life, is written for everyday people plus anyone working in firehouses as firefighters, inspectors, and educators.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Part of the baby boom, I grew up in a suburban town with a 20-acre park as my backyard. I spent many hours in the park playing teams sports, climbing trees, fishing, skating, sledding, jogging, and more outdoor adventures. Learned a lot about nature and people. A hard working Dad and stay-at-home Mom instilled a fierce work ethic, mechanical abilities, kindness to others, willingness to learn, and volunteer spirit. An idyllic life where friends abounded and walks to all twelve grades of schools led to good health and toned body. A large paper route provided more exercise, business experience, and interaction with numerous neighbors who shared life observations and knowledge.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.” Artemus Ward. The absorption of information at an early age comes with a need to be sure that the data is correct, presented well, and interpreted properly. We can learn from other’s experiments and mistakes to ensure our path of life is paved with the correct knowledge and devoid of too many potholes.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much?

My work ethic has given me the drive and ambition to see a job through, no matter how difficult the journey, how dirty I get, how tired I am, and overcome any obstacles in the way. A need to make the world a better place as Emerson says in Success: whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition. Kindness to family and friends is only the start and that spirit must be expanded to include neighbors, strangers, and all elements of our environment.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I held a variety of jobs after automotive vocational-technical school, mechanic, salesman, income tax preparer, volunteer EMT, School Board auditor, and career Fire Inspector/Lieutenant. Each of these were building blocks as I progressed through life.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

After retiring from the fire service, I realized that a lot still needed to be done to make the world a safer and better place. A lot of knowledge was bottled up in my head and my writing prowess could incorporate many stories that would “sell” my message to the public. I also have a love of local history that new found time and energy would allow me to keep alive the fascinating past of my town through articles, history walks, and live history shows.

My greatest shift that led to my “second chapter” was when I decided to write a book. My first published book, Fires in Your Life, is available wherever books are sold. This book is written for both consumers and fire professionals, and I believe it can save lives.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

After retiring, calls would still come in, folks would stop me in the store or elsewhere for a fire question, so I felt the need to put it all in writing and ensure the correct message was being transmitted. I experienced a profound new sense of satisfaction in sharing my experiences and knowledge. I knew I had a responsibility to share my decades of work in the fire industry to educated the public, and also offer some tips for fire professionals.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

Most of my writing is by the “seat of my pants.” I had authored many press releases, grants, newsletters, and incident reports that editors and supervisors corrected. This input from a variety of individuals and some editing contacts I made, helped to hone my writing skills. Then it’s just matter of sitting down and starting to write. One wise person counseled me saying, “You have to treat it like a business and allocate your hours to get it done.”

I made a plan, and stuck to a writing routine, and that really helped me because writing became second nature. I was so comfortable with my subject, and it was a surprise to discover how pleasant it was to be an author!

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

I have found that I have a variety of interests to write about. I’m a contributing writer for a local magazine and have had over sixty articles published. These stories and research are then converted into history walks in town and live presentations that are filmed for YouTube so information is preserved for the next generation. I have also been invited to participate in interviews on history as part of a boy scout’s eagle project. As a published author I am viewed with more esteem about town and get approached by folks looking to write.

I also plan to do numerous events in different towns, to help everyone from apartment dwellers to people who live in single family homes, about fire safety.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That’s a hard question, there are so many folks I crossed paths with over the years. I will say it has to be my wife of forty plus years. Dianne and I met on the volunteer rescue squad and share a passion to help people. She was director of the local Red Cross Chapter and understands all the late night fires, interrupted dinners, schooling commitments, overtime, phone calls, and the many characters that came into our lives. She is a great proof-reader, sounding board, critic, and she’s really smart about people.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

The best thing about writing is bringing it up in a conversation. People seem genuinely interested in the process and want to know more about what inspires me and where to purchase a book. Have also networked, many times by chance, with artists, editors, publishers, authors, and IT folks who help to get projects completed. These serendipitous meetings are always amazing and let me know the universe is watching and helping. I am also surprised how many people have authored a book, or several, and have not moved forward to share or publish their work.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

My struggle is always: do I come on too strong as a know-it-all? I have many components of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so I have to know when to turn up the volume and when to lighten up. I do view this OCD as my hidden superpower, as I rethink situations and many times come up with a better solution. My public speaking skills were a total disaster in high school, and the many sales courses and EMT training helped me to excel in this field. I also learned that if you have good knowledge on a topic you can make a presentation with the understanding that you probably know more than the audience.

I always remind myself: I have been an expert in all-things fire for over forty years. I am sharing the wisdom I achieved during my tenure in this world.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

Going to social events and stating that I intended to write a book brought out many “advisors”. Family and inner circle friends were supportive and ensured that I pursued my dream. I also had many educational recertification courses in the fire department. so I got to observe the best of the best and their presentation methods.

I also found a publisher to work with me, Rebel Books Press, which means I am not self-published. My books are available in print and eBook formats, and they are sold anywhere books are sold. I love the idea that my work can be read anywhere in the US and also in Europe, the UK, Canada, Australia, and really anywhere.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Writing means you have to decide to do something and then make yourself do it. Some days only a paragraph or two may flow and other days’ pages just pour out. When the editor gets it be sure and have thick skin as they may chop it up and take out your favorite sentence or more. When I do public speaking, I keep my tech load simple and ensure it all works two or three times prior to the event (OCD) and arrive an hour early to check the venue. I compose many of my articles in my head over a period of days or weeks. I find this a good way to organize my thoughts.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started” and why?

  1. Be open to feedback. The amount of time sitting in front of a computer can be overwhelming for new authors but know your efforts will be recognized. I have been put on staff at a local magazine and get great local exposure and feedback from people.
  2. Connections matter. Social media is a total time thief and can be addicting. I have made may connections that lead to old pictures and albums for my history shows. Many local and not so local folks appear and provide good stories, pictures names, and artifacts from the past.
  3. Don’t be afraid to network. Marketing and determining the reader base for your works is challenging. Competition to make your works stand out in a sea of literature can be overcome with networking and knowledgeable people. Using “favors” I have collected over the years has made it somewhat easier.
  4. Keep learning. When confined space rescue training was offered, I applied just like all the other times I sought to advance my skill set. I’m a big guy so getting into small spaces I found was not a good match. I did discover there were plenty of topside duties and supervisory positions, so I stayed on the team and did my part.
  5. Do Events and more. Workplace politics are always in play whether in public or private entities. Just doing a great job is not always enough to be recognized, rewarded, or promoted. Sitting on promotional lists is just that, sitting, so get off your duff and make yourself visible and liked.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Your small town or big city made up of small blocks, could benefit from all the neighbors getting to know each other better and lending a helping hand. Maybe something small like returning their trash can or picking up litter. Cooperative snow shoveling, clearing a fire hydrant or storm drain, leaf raking, and other small chores. Taking packages or mail into a safe spot. Welfare checks and maybe a ride to the store or doctor. Join or organize a Neighborhood Watch program. Inspire young people to help out seniors, handicapped people, and others who have difficulties. We have allowed ourselves to become unconnected from our neighbors and barely say hello or smile. Many times we don’t even know their names. Together we can make this little section of the world your oasis.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

There was an Austrian with a few dollars in his pocket that came to America when I was a teenager. He started at Gold’s Gym in California and became a bodybuilding sensation, winning contests and appearing in magazines. He got endorsement deals for food supplements and body building equipment. He served on presidential fitness councils and inspired many youths to exercise and eat right. Movie deals followed and he became one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood. Kindergarten Cop was my favorite. He married into a prominent family and became Governor of California. His poster was on my basement wall in my weight room and a movie poster is on my basement wall to this day. Arnold Schwarzenegger has inspired countless folks through the years with his many achievements.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can visit my publisher’s site,, or go directly to my Facebook page at

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Lt David Wilson: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.