About 50fifty
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My life in three acts.

My name is Katherine, I am 52 and this is my career in three acts. My first act, I think of as the The Foundational Years. The first part of my career was pretty typical. Study hard to earn a degree or two, in my case a Bachelor of Commerce followed by an MBA and then enter the corporate world to learn as much as you can while trying to get noticed and promoted. I was lucky enough to work American Express, Sky TV and Omnicom in various customer engagement and client service roles. Act Two: The Entrepreneurial Years, is all about proving I have the grit, business acumen and clarity of focus to go it alone. So I buy a little design and print business in need of serious TLC and spend the next five years modernising it, before selling it to a larger print business, which leads me to my Third Act and the reason for The 50:50 Coffee Project. Between the career acts, there are personal interludes that involve moving countries, getting married, having children and dying parents — you know the big stuff.

Looking for work

All my life I have been a girl with a plan but I didn’t have a plan for my third act and I wasn’t worried. How hard could it be? I thought someone would be interested in what I had done even if it was a little non-linear. So I updated my CV and LinkedIn profile and began applying for jobs online. There were enough nibbles to keep me hopeful but still the perfect job seemed elusive. I knew I needed to do more.

 

Looking for inspiration, I stumbled across Lindsay Ratowsky’s website “Fifty Coffees” www.fiftycoffees.com and learned about the whole Fifty Coffees concept — essentially the equivalent of 10,000 hours to 10,000 steps, a catchy slogan with some truth — the theory is that if you want to make a major change in your life, you need to expand your understanding of what is possible and start talking to people, ideally 50 to help guide and inspire you.


The idea for 50 coffees was  first made popular in the 1970s career book What Colour is Your Parachute and more recently touted by Peter Thomson in his article for Inc.com How 50 Cups of Coffee Can Change Your Life. “The hidden insight in the 50 coffees idea”,  says Thomson “is that the biggest changes in your life will only happen through the people that you meet and conversations you have. If you change the conversations that you’re a part of, then your life changes automatically”. This struck a chord and over a weekend I came up with the idea for The 50:50 Project. My mission is to figure out how to increase the odds of finding fulfilling work after age 50, one coffee at a time. And by making the goal very public, I am making a commitment to seeing this project through, closing the gap between intention and implementation.

How

Over the next few months, I plan to have 50 coffees with friends and friends of friends to seek advice and learn from their experiences about finding work and / or changing career paths later in life. Following some of Peter Thomson’s tips I will:

 

  • Be intentional, focused and brief – meeting will be 20 to 30 minutes max.
  • Promise not to waste people’s time – see above.
  • Come prepared (e.g. have questions) and take notes. Maybe a photo or two too.
  • Pick a good place and make it fun.
  • Listen actively and be appreciative.

What
For me, the project is an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and be inspired by the stories of others, working with and / or hiring people over 50. I hope that it will make the path to my third act clearer.
 
For you the reader, I am hoping my experience will help spur you to find your dream job.
 
Plus I hope to provide you with lots of lists and recommendations including:
  • Advice and ideas for how to start your search.
  • Practical help positioning yourself and telling your story.
  • Inspiration from others who have found a job, or retrained and started a new career.
  • Pitfalls to be aware of.
  • Some tips on the best little coffee shops in London.