TED Conversations

Woody Dunkin

This conversation is closed.

How did you find you life's work and passion after age 40? Is it possible?

I'm trying to find my passion in a career. I took the path most traveled and I found myself lost, unfulfilled after 25 years of working for a paycheck. I never discovered what I truly enjoyed and ended up here. No more excuses, only left to take action :)


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 29 2012: Woody,

    I am in mid fifties and have always looked to doing things differently when the chips are down. After starting as a Salesman selling computers, I moved to managing high-tech product development about which I had very little knowledge or experience. I went back to local community colleges and grabbed what I could in a few terms and got "re-charged" and ready for the job. After 3 start-ups that had very moderate successes, all in telecom, I moved out to heading a Creative Design company about 3 years ago. This was totally a turnaround from 20+ years of high tech industry experience and personal expertise. But once I got into the design industry, I must say I started "enjoying" every day at work more than my previous jobs, largely due to the uncertainty and creative nature of the job.

    As a design consultancy, each client comes from different product and technology domain, the challenges and learning are never ending for me. And as a leader of a very creative group of 100 members, I am able to keep my grey cells busy all through the day, which otherwise would have been getting duller by the day.

    Hope you find inspiration from all the comments your question has brought and make you "re-vitalized". I believe you have still a looong time to go!! Wishing you the very best.
    • thumb
      May 30 2012: Your story is quite inspiring, worth reading a biography. I have seen a lot of people say that it is counter intuitive to change what one has been doing for a long time.

      There is also the 10,000 hours outliers story. Many people profess by experiencing a change in themselves just after they spent 10 years doing something. That they feel "it has become part of their being". Its obviously hard to explain and feelings are easier than reason.

      There is another popular belief, corporate executives very easily dismiss themselves as "Not the Creative Type". I did that at one of the TED Conferences and the friends I made there went after me,made me retract my statement and the result was - I went back to them next month with a list of creative things I had done ... from poetry, to designing my own shirts :) - I found my creative block was just a meme.

      Look forward to what you think about the above - - one contradiction and one support of your story. Thank you once again for sharing your inspirational experience.
      • thumb
        May 30 2012: Gaurav

        Thanks for sharing your comments. I think, one of the motivators for people who got some experience in hard start ups is "what else can go wrong"? This deja vu experience makes them to not fear the unknown and hence they tend to take the uncertainties in a more casual, but confident way.

        As far as your experience of doing a bunch of creative things, yes, I know people who have exactly done these things because of being challenged. It does take a lot of initiatives to do this, even if under challenge.. good to know you did those things to prove to yourself first and then to others.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.