Both approaches can work. Here’s the evidence.

Photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash

Over the past three years, I’ve interviewed 92 men and women who have made successful career pivots. The group includes an investment banker who is now a public-school teacher, a financial-planner-turned-historical-interpreter, an executive recruiter who transitioned to standup comedy, and a corporate lawyer who now works as a Methodist Minister.

Without exception, they have all found more rewarding and purpose-driven lives in a second act. Their stories are profiled in 15–20 minute episodes on the Second Act Stories podcast, a passion project of mine.

As I look back at the hundreds of hours I’ve spent interviewing these spirited individuals, a…


Her community considers her dead. She’s very much alive.

Photo courtesy of Fraidy Reiss

Fraidy Reiss walked onstage and launched into her TED Talk with a powerful opening.

“There’s something you need to know about me before I begin. I AM DEAD. And I know what you are thinking. She doesn’t look particularly dead. Right? Well, you might want to tell that to my family. They declared me dead 13 years ago when I first took steps to escape the abusive marriage that they had arranged for me.”

Now Fraidy doesn’t come from a third world country. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. …


Bergen Giordani’s second act.

Bergen Giordani was getting by, working a full-time job during the day and bartending at night. But as a single mother, it was a tough road.

So back in 2013 and with the help of her daughter Morgen, she opened a retail dessert shop in her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. All of her savings, $2,500, went into the launch of “One Hot Cookie.”

“I actually saw a similar concept in a different town. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s a really cool idea.’ And I loved the idea of being able to get warm cookies any time of the day or…


Kyle Merker’s second act.

Most of America already knows Kyle Merker. He’s the Ancestry.com’s pitchman who trades in his lederhosen for a kilt. The commercial has aired over 22,000 times, and we’re pleased to share that the “discovery of his Scottish roots” story is completely accurate.

Kyle filmed the Ancestry commercial at the age of 53. And the experience sparked an old passion that encouraged him to pursue acting after 25-plus years in accounting and finance.

In high school, Kyle Merker was involved in lots of plays and musical. But when he enrolled in New York University, he decided to study accounting. After…


Is it time for your second act?

Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

Trauma was a shared experience in 2020. We faced a global pandemic that brought death, illness, loneliness, and economic disruption to our communities.

But out of this trauma comes an opportunity for individual transformation. It can be a time for reflection and discernment. It can be a time for change. It can be a time to pursue a more rewarding career and life in a second act.

For perspective on navigating to a successful second act, we invited two of the nation’s leading experts on career and workplace issues for this discussion.


Destiny Burns’ second act.

It was Destiny Burns’ senior year of high school in Euclid, Ohio. Her family didn’t have the money to send her to college, and she didn’t have the grades to earn a scholarship. So one night over dinner, her dad asked, “Have you thought about the military?”

At the end of dinner, Destiny turned to her dad and said, “Let’s go right now to the recruiting station. If we don’t go right now, I’m gonna lose my nerve, and we won’t ever go.” When they pulled up to the recruiting station, the Army, Air Force, and Marine recruiters had all…


Mary Robinson’s second act.

Mary Robinson was just 14 when she lost her father. Her grades dropped, she quit all of her after-school activities and she started acting out. “I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a sad kid — just expressing my feelings through my behavior.”

Throughout college and her early adult years, that grief stayed bottled up inside her. In her mid 20s, a therapist helped Mary get her life together by helping her share her story. And that helped.

She landed a corporate job with Prudential Financial working in their information technology department and eventually running the company’s volunteer programs. …


Considering a second act in your career? Here’s some advice from those that have made the leap.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed dozens of individuals who have made mid-life career changes. They share a common motivation — pursuit of a more rewarding life in a second act.

I’ve learned so much from this group. Here are 6 lessons that stood out and stuck with me.

Employed as a social worker at St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis, Cathy Heying observed a recurring problem among the working poor in the church’s neighborhood:
1. An individual’s car would break down and they would not have the money to repair it;
2. Lacking dependable transportation, he/she would be unable to get…


Sheldon Myeroff’s second act.

Sheldon Myeroff is a true entrepreneur. He launched Direct Recruiters, Inc at the age of 31 and successfully grew the business into a major, executive recruiting firm.

But after 37 years at the helm of the company, he embarked on an exit plan — turning over the management of the company to a group of partners.

“They wanted to grow. And they wanted to have their name on the front door. So, one day I just said, ‘Okay, let’s just sell this place and you guys will buy it.’ And they worked out a beautiful buyout. They didn’t have to…


Amy Cunningham’s second act.

For more than 30 years, Amy Cunningham worked as a writer. She worked on staff and on a freelance basis for a wide range of top magazines.

But she often found the work difficult. “I don’t think I enjoyed my life as a writer. I was very hard on myself. I tortured myself. I had such a hierarchical view of what writers were ahead of me and better than I was, and I would turn that on myself, and nothing was ever good enough.”

When her father passed away in 2009, his funeral had a profound impact on her. “It…

Andrew Levine

Check out my publication — https://medium.com/second-act-stories — highlighting inspiring people who have made big career changes in pursuit of meaning.

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