Jane Pauley: Jackie, I thought it was interesting on two levels that Robert so quickly found himself pursuing business after he got three degrees in music and seminary. #1: he is member of a family that seems to have had an affinity for business. All of us come with a variety of skills and interest so Robert may well have been following his own interest in business having claimed it his own. #2: had he not had that business interlude he would of not been as successful as his current role of music director at a church. The combination of his musical background and business expertise is what made his current success and contentment possible. Just a thought.
Elizabeth Craig: If he’d gone right into music Robert would likely not have had the skills such as marketing, fundraising, and overall business acumen that have allowed him to have the fulfilling personal and professional success he has today. Also, specialization is key and is particularly important especially as you age. No matter how unique or valuable individuals think their capabilities are; it is how the market views them that counts. Like Robert did, you must design your own path and take charge no matter what your age or situation. It is always wonderful to hear the words Robert said, “I’m really just content!”
What are employers looking for? In today’s economy, employers require highly talented individuals who can work in multidisciplinary teams. They are looking for well-qualified employees like Robert who have exceptional talents, gifts and skills and can transfer those capabilities in unique ways. Employers also desire well-developed skills such as writing and speaking, problem solving, adaptability, and the ability to learn independently to meet constant technological change. Many in the second half of life who are reinventing themselves have always been lifelong learners who have these employer-desired capabilities.
Comment from John: Robert, when you were making career choices based on pleasing your parents, were those conscious or unconscious choices?
Robert Rudolph: I was always torn between what I wanted to do and what I was expected to do. For ever business adventure I undertook, I constantly questioned the decision and often regretted not pursuing my desires.
Comment from Judith Z.: Historically there are many well known people who did not realize creative success until they were older adults. I wrote about this in an article "When Creative Success Comes Later in Life," which just received an award from the National Mature Media association.
Comment from Anna: Jane, did you always know what you wanted to do with your life?
Jane Pauley: Anna, good question. Short answer: no. I was lucky to have a talent for public speaking and a strong interest in current events. I discovered this in high school. You could draw a direct line between high school speech & debate and my career in television news, but the fact is that I kind of fell into the business and was successful. But it was not a lifelong dream. I still keep my antennae up for the clues to undiscovered interests. For instance, I get tremendous satisfaction from advocacy work I am able to do in various fields. But I wouldn't have had the opportunities to discover that had I not had my career in television. One more thought – headline in a newspaper: “Inspiration is everywhere but you have to be looking.”
Elizabeth Craig: Referencing what Jim L. said: Robert obviously had a longtime passion for music; it was just on hold. One way to get at your passions is to do a quick inventory of the activities and events you enjoyed the most from childhood (ages 6-12), then teen years (ages 13-19), then as a young adult (ages 20-29), then thirties, forties, and so on. In each period you are likely to have specific examples. Then create a short list of your top 10, and then top 5 most enjoyable activities. Identify those times that personally gave you an intrinsic sense of pleasure and satisfaction, where the rewards were more internal than external.
Comment from Guest: Make a list of what you enjoy doing and start from there!
Jane Pauley: Alternative suggestion. Talk with friends, colleagues and family about what they think you most love doing and do very well, because often times the things we love doing and do well come naturally. This may sound counterintuitive, but because they come naturally we don't notice. So getting some outside input on yourself can be quite illuminating.
Comment from Claire: While I'm a few years early for AARP (I'm 48), this topic is close to my heart as I've been working on a documentary for 8 years about creativity and reinvention in later life. The three characters I've followed (74, 87, 94 years old) continue to find ways to express themselves creatively and contribute - that seems to be a key, to realize how much you have to give, and that the creativity can flow from unexpected sources. Just finding a way to be engaged in a way that has meaning for you, and if it feels too overwhelming to find an entirely new career path at first, try volunteering one day a week/month and get those vibes going and test the waters.
I was so inspired by Robert's story (thank you for sharing it), and as I'm both a nurse and a filmmaker, transferable skills are something I think about often - great point that we sometimes find our true calling only after we've gone on other paths. I just hope I can find the funding to finish the film - we need these inspiring stories about the second half of life!
Elizabeth Craig: As Claire mentions, creativity is often a big part of this stage. Also, people in the second half of life often show compassion and contribution by volunteering and giving back. The wide range of opportunities is endless. Studies report that hiring managers do value volunteer work with 63% reporting that volunteer work is relevant experience when it comes to evaluating a candidate. A study in the UK indicates, 73% of employers would employ a candidate with volunteering experience over one without.
AARP has always been a wonderful supporter of volunteering. You can find out about all the opportunities to volunteer, and more about your capabilities, personal passion and purpose right where you live by going to: Create the Good.
Jane Pauley: I would just like to say that the look on the faces of Robert's choir members is enough to say that people don't have to be looking for some big second career. Staying engaged in neighborhood activities or church music programs is not only personally fulfilling, but supportive of a community, and there is purpose to be found in that. So join a choir, or a book club- and not everyone is outgoing, but in one of Robert's choirs, you don't have to be a soloist to be inspiring.