Recap: Happy Hour with John Tarnoff

Recap: Happy Hour with John Tarnoff

Happy Hour Series with John Tarnoff 

Recap: Career Reinvention at age 50 & Getting Unstuck

Last Thursday, we had the privilege of having John Tarnoff, best selling Author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create your Dream Career Over 50 and he’s also been named a Top Influencer in Aging by PBS/NextAvenue.  His book and his blog are excellent and can be found here;  Build Your Second-Act Career | John Tarnoff | Career Transition Coach for Over 50.  I’ve paraphrased the event below.


Can you talk about 2 or 3 keys for a successful reinvention?  Several are outlined in your book but could you elaborate on a few of them?

  • Reconcile the Past:  Everyone has baggage. Especially at this age. You might feel tossed out because of COVID-19 or maybe wondering what you are doing at the same job. John believes your next step is already inside of you.  He also believes that in order to create the future, one must reconcile the past. Maybe you’ve been fired or maybe you’ve gone through a divorce.  It’s important to come to terms with it and be willing to accept what happened.  For a long time, he left a job off of his resume that had lasted only 6 months. He recommends envisioning exercises from his book.  If people ask about a gap in your resume, need to be prepared to explain it - don’t hide from it. You may even want to bring it up during an interview.  Say, “you haven’t addressed the gap in my resume. I wanted to address the rationale on why I did not stay long”.

  • Be Curious: John believes it’s important to have a beginner’s mind and don’t think you know everything about a certain industry.

Talk to me about the “information is power” during reinvention. 

  • Get third party input. Talk to old colleagues and to old bosses. Talk to family and friends and ask them candid questions.

  • John said that information is power. This means get feedback from others to inform yourself and help figure out next steps and what will align with your skills.

  • It’s also an opportunity to see how you’ve changed professionally.

Walk us through a few of the tools you recommend in order to help age 50+ professionals get “unstuck”. 

  • Get to a point where can ideate and prototype new positions and ideas of where you could take your skills

When you’re coaching someone, how do you inspire them to get out of their comfort zone?

  • Many people get into a rut but the rut is not the reality.  Instead of confronting it, oftentimes people will create these workarounds.  Some people will twist themselves into a knot in order to avoid confronting limiting beliefs. Those limiting beliefs CAN be obliterated, however.
  • Practice reframing your situation

You’ve recommended that professionals who are 50+ reveal their age by having graduation dates left on LI.  Why do you recommend doing this?

  • There is a fear factor here that is really toxic.  Employers are going to figure out that you’re older.  And if they don’t and you get in by tricking yourself, what happens next?

  • John got into a conversation over LinkedIn with a woman because she was quite sensitive about this topic. She said, “Don’t go there” because she changed her look significantly over the last ten years.

  • John pointed out that we live in a youth-obsessed culture but do we really want to buy into it?  It’s pushed people age 50+ and especially women into a corner.  Let’s start by focusing on what we can bring to the table - beyond our smooth skin.  It’s time to make it into a socio-political statement.

Other tips from John:
  • Follow your usefulness and provide real value in other people's life or business instead of “follow your bliss”.

  • Your skills are great but don’t compete with someone younger but it’s time to own your experience in the workforce.

  • Explained that there was a man who sold his business and then was recruited by a tech giant doing research. He was the oldest on the team and never felt comfortable on the team because he was at least 15 years older than the others. He decided to take an advanced course in excel because he saw there was a need for someone to know more about the budget and finances.  Doing this allowed him to be more integrated into the team.

  • One person asked about career reinvention later in life. John said there are 5 main steps.  Reframing, listening and accepting and reconciling the past in order to figure out a career reinvention.  Journaling is one way to help gain clarity on what to do next in your later career.  He recommended the book, “The Artists Way” to also help figure out your next step.  Use pictures and keep track of articles for inspiration and revisit those and then you’ll see patterns in what speaks to you.  There are many different ways to focus on your interests.


John Tarnoff is a career transition coach, speaker and author who helps mid and late-career professionals find more meaningful and sustainable careers in today’s volatile economy. He specializes in working with senior-level transitions into second-act careers beyond traditional retirement. 

John has had the unfortunate experience of being fired 39% during his 35 years as a film producer, studio executive, and tech entrepreneur.  As a result, he learned the keys to turning setbacks into successes. He reinvented his own career at 50, earning a master’s degree in spiritual psychology to focus on education and training.  

John has coached individuals and groups, and led career workshops for university alumni, including with UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. Corporate coaching clients have included Bank of America, Bridgewater Assoc., Carnegie-Mellon University, Levi-Strauss, Softbank, TD Ameritrade, and Thrive Global.


Here’s a link to the full interview from last week:

John Tarnoff Interview by illume hire


John’s TEDx talk on YouTube:

John Tarnoff "The Kids Are Still Alright" Tedx SoCal


Get Started: John’s ebook: