Five People Who Had Successful Second Careers Later in Life

By Larry Teren

A person can succeed later in life after an up-and-down first career. In fact, I can name you five famous people who did just that. You probably can also name the same five.

harlandsanders grandmamoses caseystengel georgeburns ronaldreagan

So, let’s review But first, page two…..

Recently I read an article written by a 21 year old person (man, child?) who said that older people shouldn’t look at him as an anomaly because he has his own business. He says (I believe) that we stereotype a twenty-one year old as a kid who is not capable of knowing what he or she wants out of life nor has the drive to achieve it. He said that he has the maturity to know how to run a company, boss others and achieve goals. More power to him.

On the other side of the spectrum, those who will never see the speed limit again (55 in most states) suffer from stereotypes and discrimination as well. Others too often see us as too expensive to hire, too set in our ways, too bothered with physical ailments, and on the downside of making logical decisions. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yes- drive and ambition.

The fact is that drive and ambition is not wholly owned by the young. It is inbred in a person regardless of age. There are many older people who have found a second wind and resurrected their income and lifestyle with a change in career, or maybe just a twist that was needed. It usually takes the years of experience and trying out different things to figure out what works. And now for the rest of the story….

Harlan Sanders

harlandsandersor should I say Colonel Sanders, the originator of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was in the restaurant business for years, experiencing both success and failure. Then, at age 65, it dawned on him that the way to take his income into the next stratosphere was to franchise his operation. He took his first social security check, cashed it and put $105 in his pocket for travel expenses as he made the rounds of potential franchisees. The rest is history.

Grandma Moses

grandmamosesAnna Mary Robertson Moses did not take up painting until her 70’s. She got discovered by accident at age 78 by an art collector who saw one of her paintings displayed in a local drug store. This new lease on life gave her the energy to live until age 101 while becoming a world famous painter.

Casey Stengel

caseystengelCharles Dillon Stengel was a better than average ballplayer who also managed teams but never with successful results until he hit pay dirt with the Yankees in 1949 at age 59. He went on to win five world series in a row and a total of ten AL pennants in a span of twelve years. He was dumped by management at age 70 as he was deemed too old despite his success. He had one more go around managing the New York Mets from age 72 until 75 when he broke his hip and retired for good.

George Burns

georgeburnsNathan Birnbaum changed his name, married his vaudeville partner Gracie Allen and had a great run until her death in 1964. Then George’s career sputtered into neutral until he became an iconic and beloved movie actor at age 78 in 1974 when he replaced the soon-to-die Jack Benny in The Sunshine Boys. This led to additional roles in other well-received movies such as Oh, God! And Going In Style. This new-found opportunities in film re-energized George and he continued making public appearances as an entertainer until he died at the age of 100.

Ronald Reagan

ronaldreaganStarted out as an actor. Essentially retired in the 1960’s to devote full time to politics. Won first public office as Governor of California at age of 56 and was elected to two full terms as President of the United States starting at age 70.

We see from these well known names, examples of people who did not throw in the towel because they turned sixty-five. They had already planted the seeds to achieve a little earlier and each one thrived well into their seventies with continued drive and ambition.

The moral of the story is anyone at anytime can achieve if they have a plan, a will and the courage to focus on succeeding regardless of age.

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