Video: American Boomers: Second acts

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/14/2006 1:35:02 PM ET 2006-08-14T17:35:02

Baby boomer Catherine Meloy used to run a radio network with more than 1,000 stations, but now she checks out the Goodwill stores she manages in the Washington, D.C., area or visits one of the classrooms paid for by Goodwill's profits so the disabled or unemployed can join the workforce. 

And about her 25-year career as a radio exec?

"There isn't a day that I look back and say, I wish I was still there," says Meloy.

And Dick Tarlow doesn't miss the advertising career that made him a fortune. He and his girlfriend are heading for Africa to explore volunteering possibilities.

"We're going to look at orphanages, feeding centers and even irrigation projects," he says. "I just want to do some good."

As does Joyce Roache, a marketing executive for two decades but now running a charity benefiting young girls.

"I worked very hard, numerous hours," she says, "and then I had to get away in order to get energized and rejuvenated. Just because you were so consumed. Now I work as hard, but I'm energized every day."

It used to be you'd collect your pension and whatever toys you could afford, like computer mogul Larry Ellison and his racing sailboat, and exit the workforce. But that model's fading away.

A former reporter who chronicled Bill Gates' epic story — and who now helps people find second careers — said the Microsoft chief's announcement was a benchmark.

"He was the poster child of the computer age; now he'll be the poster child for this 'encore' career where you take on something new at midlife," says David Bank, senior vice president of Civic Ventures.

Or, like Catherine Meloy, maybe just a new way to use your old skills that can also help pay the bills.

"I still wanted to be very involved in a business and Goodwill is a business," she says.

Another option — something completely new where money is not the object.

"I've got, what, 10 good years left?" asks ad exec Dick Tarlow. "Why not use 'em to help other people?"

More and more people can make that choice and are.

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