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Life Lessons From the 42-Year-Old Intern

Andrew Brill took a midlife crisis and a childhood love of sports and turned them into an incredible second act. It all started with a bold decision to leave his old, monotonous life behind and start at the bottom.

Seven years ago, Andrew Brill was more or less your average American guy. He had a job he didn’t love, but it paid the bills and supported his family. The New York native grew up loving sports and even once dreamed of making a living in that world. But, like many boys who grow up to become men, it just didn’t happen.

In college, Brill majored in business, but by the time he graduated he still had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. “As a kid, you think 20 is really old, and that you have time to think about what you’re going to do,” he says, looking back. “What you don’t realize is that it goes really fast and you have to figure things out pretty quickly.”

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So when Brill’s father offered him a job as operations manager of the family business—an office coffee and refreshment service—he took it. Suddenly, Brill found himself in charge of inventory, trucks, drivers, and all the moving parts that ensured that a vast constellation of office kitchens and break areas across the five boroughs of New York City were stocked. A few years later, after his father died, Brill became the sole owner of the business, one he had no passion for. “All the worries were on my shoulders,” he says. “It was a struggle. The business was fine; it just didn’t make me happy.”

By the early ’90s, Brill had gotten married and decided to take control of his career. He chose medical school, going back to college at night to fulfill the pre-req courses. He was intrigued by the idea of becoming an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries. He was also still working days at the office refreshment company, so it took him more than 2∏ years to finish. At 31, he faced a difficult choice: stick with the refreshment business and start a family, or embark on six or seven more years of long hours and low pay in a medical residency. “We ended up starting a family, so I just stayed in the business,” Brill says.

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As the years passed, Brill’s wife could tell her husband wasn’t happy; she also knew his unhappiness wasn’t bad just for him, it was also bad for the entire family. His misery was evident even to his friends.

Then Brill had his epiphany. “When you wake up and dread going to work, thinking, ‘I can’t do this for another second,’ it’s time to change,” he says. “Nobody should live that way.” Though he worried what others would say, in the end, everyone rallied around him as he decided to make a change. “In the end, people understand that no one deserves to enter into old age and be totally unfulfilled.”

So Brill did something very few Americans do: He hit the reset button on his career and, more importantly, on his childhood dreams. Brill decided to pursue his first love, sports. What exactly that meant, he had no idea.



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