PODCAST EPISODE RECOMMENDATION!
This is the second half of the 100th episode of The Second Chapter, also known as episode 101.
Kristin is back with the seven guests she spoke with last week, some of your listener favourites from the first 99 episodes of The Second Chapter. If you haven’t listened to the first part of this conversation, it’s also recommended!
As a reminder, guests are Louise Pittman, Taiwo, DEO Payne, Melissa Davey, Jennifer Arthurton, Hannah, Mary McKinnon, Martina Clark, and Jane Porter.
This week they get to ask each other a couple of questions, really get into it about their career changes, there’s menopause talk and a discussion and debate about a few of the things they’re all trying to do to make the world just a little bit better.
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On The Second Chapter, serial careerist and founder of Slackline Productions, Kristin Duffy, chats with women who started the second (or third… or fifth!) chapter in their careers and lives, after 35. You’ll find inspiring stories, have a few laughs, and maybe even be motivated to turn the page on your own second chapter!
The Second Chapter 100 (Part 2 - aka episode 101!)[:
Welcome to the second half of the 100th episode of The Second Chapter podcast, also known as episode 101. I'm back with the seven guests I spoke with last week, some of your listener favorites from the first 99 episodes of the second chapter. As a reminder, I'm speaking with Louise Pitman, Taiwo Dayo Payne, Melissa Davey, Jennifer Arthurton, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Martina Clark, and Jane Porter.
This week they get to ask each other a couple of questions, and we talk about a few of the things we're all trying to do to make the world just a little bit better.[:
I know that some of you had questions for each other, which I would love to open the floor to any questions anybody would like to ask of someone else who's here.[:[:
And so now I'm at this point, do I do another film after the second one or do I tease one of these other ideas that I have? And one is writing a book. So two, the book writers here. I'm real curious about whether or not you feel that you took whatever it was that you were doing in your previous life.
That you found skills, useful skills or stories or whatever that parlayed into your writing. Was there something that caused you to start writing at this point in your life? And was it related to your past or was it completely off the cuff? And I'm gonna try this 'cause it's something new. I'll[:
I so I wrote a memoir and it was about my personal life and also my professional life. Personal life of living with h I V for more than 30 years. And then professional life, I ended up working at the un. We changed the system a little bit. And for me, I like, I had to write this book 'cause it was burning a hole in my soul.
And I'm like, I don't get it out. Nobody's ever gonna know this story. And I own this little tiny piece of the response to the pandemic. And I'm working now I mentor other long-term survivors with H I V who are also working on memoirs, whether it's gonna be long form or not. But the main thing that we end up with at the end of every session is that we're writing these because we've, we are the only ones who can tell these stories.
And partly because we want people now, like our immediate family, to be able to piece together all of the parts of what we've gone through, but also for an a hundred years from now. Somebody's gonna look back and see, oh wow, there's this whole history that. We only know pieces of, but here are some very personal stories that bring in dyna dynamics that we'd never anticipate. And even in our little group, there's six of us, our stories are so completely different, even though many things are the same, but every single time someone shares, I'm like, wow, I never even imagined that thing happened to somebody else. 'cause it's so different than the path that I walked.
But it's so interesting. So I think for me, that's why I felt I needed to tell the story. I needed to write a book. I needed to get it out there. And it has not made me, I maybe made $400 from my book sales. It's not making me rich, but at least I know that it's out there. And at some point somebody's gonna read it and it maybe will help them.
And that will keep me writing more things in the future. 'cause I know that I've had all of these really unusual experiences and every time I read something from somebody who has had an unusual experience, I'm like, wow, it hits me and it makes me feel less weird that I've had these strange things that I've gone through.
So I think for me, that's why I write, I have not written fiction because I tried it and I'm really not very good at it, so I'm just gonna stay on fiction 'cause that's what I'm better at. But for me, I think that especially at this point in life, we're not establishing necessarily, a 50, 70 year career as a writer that's gonna go on forever and ever.
We're writing, we have the luxury of writing because we want to and because we think the stories are important. And I think that writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, it's such an extraordinary way to share our experiences and information for future generations. In a different way than they're gonna consume it otherwise.
Yeah, that's me. Thanks.[:[:
So I was writing a musical about David and Bathsheba and and then that kind of became into evolved into songwriting in my twenties. And then and then I stopped for a while and then I think it was in my forties I decided that I was going to try fiction because I wanted to write a play when I was acting.
There was a sense in those days of actors stayed in their lane so the actors acted and the writers would write the place and you just come in and you can help devise and create the characters, but you stay in your lane and you. And so it just never occurred to me that to, to write a play.
And then I years on, I remember saying to someone, oh, I'd really like to write this play. And they were like don't write it as a play. Write it as a novel first. 'cause what's the novel? You can do all sorts of things with it. And so I just went into a novel writing course and ended up doing an ma in fiction and wrote this novel and and wrote a number of short stories.
And I had this particular short story which is a re-imagining of Macbeth, but told from the perspective of one of the witches. Who gets in trouble because she basically curses Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to madness . And she didn't get permission from her community. And so I'd written this short story and over the years just sat at the back of my mind and I thought, oh, actually this could make a good play.
But I left it 'cause I was focusing on other things. And like I said towards the end of last year coming into this year, I just felt really run out by. By trying to build a business. But I think also actually when I think back on it, there was a kind of fallout from the whole Covid pandemic period.
The, we don't really think about the emotional impacts of it. I didn't know anyone who died from Covid. And I lived in this little cocoon where I quite enjoyed being not having to go out and all of that kind of stuff, but it still had an impact on me. It still had an impact on me and I think that coming out, 'cause I knew a lot of people that died from other things over that period as well.
Some friends passed away, but you just you're just expected to get on with it and, and so I think that I just felt a little bit strung out and I was feeling like I wasn't. Being creative, literally just wasn't being creative. And I'd been going to this writing class at Morley College up until about five or six years ago, and found out that the guy who ran it had come onto Zoom during lockdown, but then retired and kept the class going for the older, more established people.
And it was okay for me to join. It's not class, it's like a little workshop and so I decided to just go in and sit in at the beginning of the year. But that really got me back into wanting to write. And it's having how can I put it? It was it was like I had shut apart, me down and not realized that was a bit, that was starving.
So I write, I've always written something and even in jobs, I've written strategies, policies and things like that. So writing for me is almost like breathing and it's just evolving into a different kind of writing. But also recognizing that it is like breathing for me. And if I shut that part, that creative part of me down, then I start to die little by little.[:[:
I would say definitely what helped me for my corporate life is number of things. Just my general. Business acumen and understanding how a business runs this will be applicable, I guess if you go down the traditionally published route, agent who then goes out and finds a publishing house, who then acquires your novel.
So just, I came from IT recruitment, so I understood the publisher agent, author relationship because it's very similar to company or candidate company and recruitment agency. So it's similar setups. I got my head around that within no time, but just my general organizational skills and meeting deadlines or preferably beating them.est, most wonderful surprise [:
Particularly female authors, male too, but there's a huge community of female crime writers who are so supportive of one another and who are just incredibly generous with their time and their support. And, little quotes on books from other authors that you have to go out blurbs, you have to go out and ask for them, and it's just, ugh, it feels a bit icky the first time anyway, but they're so supportive and.
Being able to pay that forward I think is really vital too. That the support that you get you turn around and you pay that forward. If there's an up and coming author, you reach and pull 'em up and help them. So that has been really wonderful, a wonderful discovery.
And definitely helpful to have that collaborative mindset, which I'm sure you have from making films. Anyway. It's a whole, it's, it takes a village type thing.[:[:
Whether it's a cake or a book or a movie or whatever it is. So that has been, there's definitely a lot of my past business acumen that I've been able to pull forward and apply to this second career. Definitely. Yeah.[:[:
And those sort of threads that run through a lot of second careers. I think it's really amazing how people, come to those sort of decisions about what is important to them and how they can make that real in terms of making it work for them as careers and as satisfying things to do.
I think one of the things I'm thinking about at the moment is I dunno if this was the same for other people, but you get I went into a second career that I really didn't know much about, I just liked plants and I'm finding out more and more about what's possible within that career now.
And I'm thinking a lot about re what's the word? Assessing, that kind of thing. Looking at what I'm doing, picking out the things now that I really like to do and and making sure that I'm following those and not just Going for the natural track or the most well-trodden route that is in the career that I'm doing or that kind of thing.
I remember one of the things that I said in the original interview was I think you said to me, what advice do you have? Or whatever. And that, I think I thought of it on the spot, and I keep repeating it to myself now, but one of the things is just because you can doesn't mean you should. And Melissa, you were talking about you did a job for two decades because you could because you could play the game.
And I feel that's what happens a lot. If you're really good at admin, you'll get put in that pigeon hole. If you're really good at waitressing, you'll, you'll end up thinking, this is what I do, or whatever. And I think I'm really trying to be really aware of that right now and just thinking
What facets of this career can I tease out and follow and make my main thing and specialize in?
So I don't know if other people have that kind of aspect of once they had settled into their second, third, fourth phase, whatever that they they started learning about actually what within that would they like to do. And the career isn't quite what you thought perhaps, or there's different things in it.
There's even more opportunity than you thought about. Does anyone else have that feeling about what they've found themselves doing?[:
And that's where the book IDEA has come from. And I've actually started taking notes for this book. And it relates to storytelling another way of bringing a story forward. I think that is something that needs to be nurtured in every human, and we need to nurture the people around us to allow them to do that and not pigeonhole people and say, oh, you went to school to be a doctor, so you'll always have to be a doctor.ot. And I think that we miss [:
Because I think that's what we're supposed to do as humans. I think we're supposed to evolve to, or allow ourselves to evolve. I think we don't allow ourselves all the time to make those jumps. So I'm finding those, through your conversation and all these other conversations we've had today it, it just bolsters me and gives me energy to think about what else is there, what else is there for all of[:
A adapting is how we survive, isn't it? Yeah.[:[:
But that is the expectation that's handed to us in society. And I think as we grow and evolve, and especially like in my case, I just learn more about myself usually from trying things and starting down one path and discovering, okay, maybe that's not quite it. Maybe it's this thing. And through the life of my business, it has shifted and evolved in so many ways.
And that's as I discover the parts of myself because like I said, I did everything that everybody told me I should do for the better part of 50 years. Now I feel like I'm on this, this path where I'm like, oh, everything is an opportunity. Everything is a possibility. And sometimes I actually find it a little bit overwhelming 'cause I'm like, okay, which path do I go down first?
But just a like Melissa was just saying, just allowing ourselves to evolve and following the passion, following like what I call the crumbs of joy. I have actually made a commitment to myself that I am only going to do the things that really light me up. There's no more shoulds, there's no more out of obligation or duty that I'm going to follow.
That's where I'm gonna put my energy. And the beautiful part about that is that as you put your energy into the things that bring you joy, it brings you more joy. And it's like this giant snowball that just keeps rolling forward. And I love. And to your point, I love everything you know, that everybody here is doing in terms of following their passion.
Because I think that's how we change the world. And especially when I talk about, being at the intersection of ageism and sexism, like how we change what it means to be in our second chapter in our 50, 60 seventies, or whatever it might be, is through demonstrating, following our passion and our joy.
'cause the world wants us to believe that we're less relevant, we're less valuable, not as capable as we once were. And in fact, it's completely the opposite to that. And the more that we live in our own joy, the more that we access our own internal power. That's the demonstration to the world about how things should change and should be.
And now 10 years, 10 years down the road obviously more and more people have come up and this conversation about ageism and the way that older people are are perceived comes up more and more. And I was talking to my sister who is just over 50, and she was saying that she was, she's looking for another job and she was talking about ageism in the workplace in recruitment.
And I thought, but who is it that's being, Ageist and it was us. We were the ones Yes. That perpetrator. We were the perpetrators. And now that we've got there, we don't like it. And so we don't like it. So true. And so we are now trying to, we're trying to I dunno, we're trying, we're preaching or I dunno what it is that we're trying to do, but we keep saying that this thing is happening when actually we're living that it's not, if and the more we say it, the more people believe it. And I think the fact that we're all here is that we've trodden a path and made the way clearer for people coming behind us.
And we just have to, there's no role model for us move to understand what it means to be 50, 60, 70. And we have to create that. And part of that is letting go of that narrative that something is being, is happening to us . You know what I mean? We have more agency than that.rselves as a collective. I'm [:
And that exploration does just lead us to magnificence.[:
The reason that we're able to do it is because we get to a point where we know ourselves and we, there's a confidence that we have in ourselves. Yes. Yes. And most, when I talk to people over 40, when they hit their forties, you say, what's the, what's different for you? They say, I don't care what other people think, but actually when you dig deeper, they do care.
Care, but they realize, they get to their forties and realize, I shouldn't care about what people think.[:
And the absolutely beautiful thing about what I do, going back to the question about what I've taken from my previous corporate life in the corporate life I would do a lot of project-based stuff, okay. We're gonna open a subsidiary in Germany. Yeah, great. Yep. Yep. Hannah. Okay to do that.
But I'll find people, I'll find people who know. And I get to apply that methodology in my research. Case in point for one of the, one of the books for next year, I phoned a funeral home just Googled one, in upstate New York. Just Googled them and picked one and phoned them up. And this wonderful gentleman picked up the phone and I said, hi.
I'm a crime author. My name's Hannah Mary McKinnon, this is my website. Honest. And I have a question where it's a bit of a weird one, but where might I hide a spare body in a graveyard? One, one, it was a brilliant conversation. I don't care about up, but they either believe me or they don't.
They might think I'm some, nut job, which is, which who actually does have a spare body. So it, it's just brilliant to be able to do stuff like that and to not. To not be afraid to just give it a go. And that's, is that something I would've done in my twenties? Probably.
Because, I set up a German subsidiary in my twenties and didn't know how to do it, but found people who knew. So I guess that's something I carried over. But it's just it's wonderful to have this creativity to always, I wonder if it's the same for you, Jane. You are, you, it's the same but different.
You create a garden, but it's different to the one or ones you've done before. And with the books, it's the same. I'm writing a book. A book is a book, but it's not because it's, whatever is between the pages is different. Or a movie, Melissa, it's a different or a play, it's just, or a podcast.
So all of us make different things or retreats for Louise, it's. It's just so wonderful to have maybe the same frame, but you can paint a different picture within it that Yeah. That varies each time, which I find so extraordinarily interesting and fascinating and I'm curious if you have the same reaction actually.[:
what everyone brings is their approach, their way of thinking and their experience. And also when you are like a creative, you want to make something different all the time. 'cause that's what interests you is exploring something new. So yeah I think that you do make something different each time.
It's just the activity and the approach and the the realm of what your creative practice is what works for you. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah, I def I definitely feel like that yeah. It's just so interesting hearing about Particularly the way that second careers are so successful.
You know what I mean? The way people can move into something that really works for them and in the real world. I think that's what's really fascinating and I think, you do carry things over from your previous work,
You, that there's so many crossovers and you can just apply so much of it.
I've always found that, quite useful. Although sometimes I do get dragged into doing what I used to do and I just think no, I'm not taking my eye off the ball. I'm not gonna organize that for you. Yeah. That kind of thing. You have to be quite strict and you can see it coming 'cause it's too familiar and you think, oh, how do I know how to do this?
I'm not gonna go back to that. That happens quite a lot too, and it's really nice to be like, I'm not the person who does that now. That's a lovely feeling.[:
Like I was at the, I honestly believed, okay, like I'm 50. This is the beginning of the end for me. There's nothing else. Which it took me a while to get over that, but I really needed to see possibility. I needed to see people who are switching careers and people who are having second and third careers, which is the whole reason why I started the podcast.
And what's interesting is a little while ago I did an interview with my daughter who is in her late twenties on her view, having watched, kind of me navigating this new path and like how that has changed her perspective on, her own life, and. What she said to me was, I cannot wait for my sec-
my next chapter. She said, she's still figuring out her first one, but she's I cannot wait because there's so much possibility that I can keep just going and being reinventing myself as I go. Like that just made me like, first of all, it made me tear up 'cause she's my daughter. But anyway, and but what was really apparent to me was that when I was in my twenties, I didn't even think there was a next chapter.
Nobody was talking about it. It was you did your job, you rode off into the retirement sunset, and then it was to use a movie analogy, it was like the screen fades. There's some kind of, retirement bliss in there somewhere and the credits start to roll, but you don't actually give thought to what that thing is.
What's my passion? What do I wanna do, what I want my next chapter to mean? None of that entered into my thought process at all. And I don't know if other people had the kind of the same experience.[:
He did different things, but he was primarily an architect and worked in the condu in construction and designing houses and whatnot. And my mom worked for a souvenir shop. Ran a souvenir shop for the longest time. Then my dad ended up at the American Embassy in Byrne, in Switzerland for a long time.
And my mom wouldn't let him retire 'cause he'd started up this translation business from translating text from German to English. And my mom wouldn't let him retire. Because the translation business wasn't quite solid. So she then took it over and he then retired early retired, haha, stopped working at the embassy at 63, I think, or 64 maybe.
And they then ran this translation company well into their seventies until my mom had a really terrible accident. And they had to stop. So I guess I did have that that role model of a second career. And until you said that to, I never really thought of that, but I'm sure that played into it.
I'm sure. I'm sure it did. Yeah.[:
And so she would sometimes come back here and do a bit of agency work and then buy some things and she'd have a little, she had a little shop in Nigeria. And then she ended up selling the flat she had here and she went back to Nigeria and set up at the fir, one of the first internet cafes.
She was like in her late sixties, se was she 70 at that time? She'd set up one of the first internet cafes, and she was very entrepreneurial. But my mom was a woman at a time where women couldn't really be entrepreneurial in the, she couldn't even get a mortgage on her own without my dad's permission.
And so she she, I think that she would've loved this time. She would've really thrived in this time, but she was work, she died at 74, which seemed old at the time, but actually was quite young. Is quite young now when you think about it. And so we never actually got the chance to have that conversation because I was, I think when she died I was 44, so I wasn't even thinking
about next chapter. So the fact that your daughter is thinking about the next chapter is amazing because me, at 44, I wasn't even thinking anything about, and so I didn't ask any of the questions exactly, I asked the questions about menopause. I didn't ask about anything. And then she was gone and it was just like, and then I found myself in it and it's and that's something we haven't even talked about, the physical aspects of this age that we find it interesting ourselves, the impacts of all of that as well.[:[:[:[:[:kids, and she never had that [:
And, my mom is now 97. Wow. And she is currently in a nursing home. Just this year she fell and so now she's going downhill, but she was sharp as a tack until then. But we never had the conversation until last week when I visited her on Cape Cod in this nursing home. And she, her memory is, her short term is terrible.
Her long term is pretty good. And she was resting and I was sitting with her and she all of a sudden blurted out. I never got to do what I wanted to do. I was always told when to put on my shoes, when to leave, what we're going to be doing. I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to do any of this. And then she looked over at me and I was in shock and she looked over at me and she said, but you, of all the five kids, you did whatever you wanted and you drove me crazy.
You just did all these different things all the time. And she said, frankly, I can't really relate to you 'cause I don't even understand what all the things that you've done. But she said, she looked at me really close and she said, good for you. Keep doing it. And every woman should do what you did. So that was just last week.
Oh wow. And that's the first real conversation I've had with my mother outside of the realm of our family business or whatever, i. So it's, it really was a message to me. And it also, it makes me very sad to know that she didn't get to do what she wanted to do. But that she, now I see that she bit her tongue a thousand times with me when I was out doing whatever it was, all the mistakes that I made that she watched from afar and I'm sure drove her crazy.
She knew that I needed to go and do my own thing. But I bet need, I bet she,[:[:[:[:
And I'm just thinking or before about, we are the only people who have been this age at this time, it's different doing what you're doing at any point in history and this is a, as a is a real moment as much as any other time is. So it's almost hard to compare to what the generation before did and many before that, because they were dealing with different things, so it's a very unique thing that each generation deals with circumstances and politics and the entire climate. It's like we're just doing what we're doing and muddling through, as everyone does all the time that I find it quite hard to make succinct what's the word?
Kind of comment on the shape of things and why and all this sort of thing. Because, we are the only people who've done this right now, and I think that the time you're in really affects
do and how you do it.[:
I'm very strict about how many coaches I have on, though I recognize as I'm looking around at all of you, we all are coaching in some way, and I think that's something that may be because we are doing this at this time. And because so much of what we're doing, whether it's a life change or a career change, has revolved around a passion.
We wanna share it with others or help mentor others. Jane, I know you're very vocal on your Instagram about second careers and talking about, that being possible and. Having people that you're now mentoring about garden design or Jennifer and Taiwo both have over 50 mentoring.
Louise has the retreats and the yoga. I say, I don't want a lot of coaches, I'm a triathlon coach. Plus I wanna tell these stories, which in my own way is also bolstering and maybe coaching. And I'm thinking of first chapter fun. I mean, There's so many different ways that people, now that we, I think because we are.tain life experience that we [:
So it's not really a question, it's just thanking you all for coaching me, inspiring me and the work that you're doing with other people, because I think that's something that with age comes wisdom,[:[:
Life changes so dramatically and if you don't move. I was thinking of you talking about your mom's there and my mom was a school teacher before she has any of her three children. And then soon, she went back to work whilst I was before I even went back to school myself, which was unusual in those days because I, was born in the sixties and even though she retired when she was 66 from actively teaching in a school, she carried on teaching students at home until she passed in her early eighties.
And but that was her passion. And I think again, to Jane's point of we've all, in our own ways, made a success of what we're doing. I think it is because we've just been brave enough to just say I'm following my passion. I dunno what's gonna happen. I don't know. Most of us have probably all been given up big salaries to follow our passion.
And how do you know it's gonna work? You don't, but it's almost When you've got that positive attitude towards something, it makes it even more likely that it's gonna happen. When you put something out into the universe, perhaps it's more likely than it's gonna happen.
Ooh. I am taking my storytelling a little bit further and doing my my filmmaking MA. So I will, Melissa we'll chat. Yes. Awesome. Awesome. But I'm continuing producing, like I'm doing for theater, taking it to the next level and actually learning a bit about it because I've been where everybody's talking about success and I'm just flailing along, trying to make it work. So next thing is an MA for me. So helping to tie, as TWA was talking about tying some of those threads together as my next part, d of that chapter. So congratulations.
Good luck. It's really exciting about, I just am really excited about it. So I wanted to share.[:[:
But your life stories are so different and how you've looked at them and obviously you are all, are very different. So it's been amazing to get to know you a little bit through the podcast and to have you back has been such an honor.[:[:[:[:
Yeah. Yeah. And there's plenty more. So maybe two episode 200, all you'll come back and we'll chat again.[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:
Brilliant. Thank you all so much. Take care. And I cannot wait to see what you do next.