Comment from Barbara: Hi Antoinette, how is your health these days? Have you been feeling better since you opened the shop?
Little: Barbara: I am feeling better, thank you for asking. While I am still on meds, the doctor tells me that I am improving every day. I have to believe that it’s because I’m doing something that is almost Zen-like.
Comment from Elizabeth: Can Antoinette provide more specifics about which life experiences made a difference in her French Culinary Institute classes?
Little: Elizabeth, the French Culinary taught me discipline. There are very exact procedures to follow. It’s not like cooking at home. It taught me proper techniques. That’s important in whatever you do.
Comment from Guest: I also took a small business development course last January at a local career development center. It was very helpful in developing a business plan, and very low cost.
Pauley: Elizabeth, I’d like to add a post script to what Antoinette just said. She is a great and enthusiastic cook but I totally respect and urge others to follow her example that taking what she could do to the next level is what entitled her to wear that professional label, ‘Chocolatier.’
Comment from Diane: Journaling is a great idea. Thank you. I have been volunteering and have been networking. My friend who is an Admissions Dean at a local college wants me to complete my degree. I think your suggestions are great. Thank you.
Pauley: Dianne, another thought inspired by next month’s Your Life Calling story. Our subject is a woman who had been laid off from a job and invested five years in volunteer work. No it wasn’t paid work but she couldn’t find paid work.
The point was, in volunteering, she discovered some things she was very good at and found the courage to enroll in a two-year community college program (which she completed in 18 months). And with her experience in volunteer work and her new credential, she had a job before she even graduated.
So five years of exploration is not, in my experience, an uncommon story. So look for a bridge and start walking, even if you don’t know where it’s going to take you. People who are ‘lost’ can sometimes find themselves by just starting a process of looking.
Comment from Pip: Thank you so very much for doing this series.
Comment from Bill: Antoinette, congratulations on all of your hard work. What’s up next for you?
Little: Bill: I’m not sure – who knows, maybe my own TV show?! Coincidentally, that’s the name of Kerry’s book, "What's Next?"!
Comment from Elizabeth: Thank you Antoinette and Jane for showing how important having both the desire and courage to learn is in making a life change!
Pauley: I have a question for Antoinette. Why did you pick Phillipsburg, NJ to set up your kitchen and store?
Little: Phillipsburg, NJ is a UEZ (Urban Enterprise Zone). It’s a wonderful town, but financially hard hit at present time. Because of this, there are special tax advantages as well as available grants. We needed to take advantage of these monetary helps in order to start our business.
Comment from Sabrina: Do you know of any government grants that are available to women wanting to start a business? I am a woman and a minority as well American Indian I was told there are options available to us. Is this true?
Hannon: Sabrina, federal and state government agencies do not provide grants to women to help them start a business.
Grants may be available from non-profits and private organizations, However, these are very rare and usually focus on helping minority women and women in economically disadvantaged communities.
However, there are a limited number of loans available to specifically to help women start and expand their businesses. A good place to get start looking for government loans for women is the Small Business Administration (Office of Women's Business Ownership)
Comment from Kay: Hi. I'm a Licensed Practical Nurse & I want to be a Registered Nurse, but because of my age (56), I have to wonder if it's even worth it. Anyone here have any ideas on that?
Pauley: Kay, I think you need to do some research on that point, weighing the investment financially and time-wise against how many working years you expect ahead of you and would working as an RN be better paid and more satisfying? I suggest you visit my reinvention group at http://www.aarp.org/jane and throw that question up for discussion.
Comment from Elizabeth: The website http://www.createthegood.org is a terrific place to find local places to volunteer right where you live!
Pauley: Wishing you happy holidays! And tell your friends about our monthly web chats. We cover a lot of interesting territory so the more the merrier!
Hannon: Jane and Antoinette, it’s been terrific to be here with you today. For more on my work and insights on career reinvention, retirement and personal finance, please visit my web site, http://www.kerryhannon.com and my Second Verse blog.
My new Amazon best-selling job-hunting book is What’s Next? Follow Your Passions and Find Your Dream Job.
There’s a fantastic foreword by Encore.org, http://www.encore.org, founder Marc Freedman too! It’s available online and in bookstores across the country.
Makes a great holiday gift for the job hunter or retiree in your life looking for what’s next! Lots of great tips on finding your passion and work you love. Happy holidays all!
Little: On a side note, my former law firm had a “viewing” party this morning and I am so honored and personally touched that they did this for me. And I do still miss my job and my friends. Thank you for inviting me here today. It’s been a pleasure answering all your questions. So, from my family to yours, happy holidays!
Pauley: Well, it looks like it’s time to say goodbye. Thank you so much for participating in this chat as a part of our “Your Life Calling” series on the TODAY Show and here on AARP.org. Antoinette and Kerry – thanks for being with us!
By the way: here’s a little promo piece for the video of Antoinette and I making truffles. It’s called the Truffle Shuffle!
I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. After the holidays we’ll be back on the TODAY Show on January 11, when I’ll be bringing you another great story about someone who is hearing their life calling in a new and different way.
Stay tuned to aarp.org/Jane for more resources and inspiring stories on reinvention.