What would you do if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I was writing my column for IB tonight, on the topic of Joan Gillman and I completing 1,000 radio shows for WTDY, and I was thinking about the range of people we’ve interviewed — from start-up entrepreneurs with fire in their bellies, to "reflective interviews" with executives moving on. Those more often revolve around exit strategies and talk of "next careers" — like those we are getting ready for you with Don Madelung (Herzing University), Larry Swalheim (Landmark Cooperative Services) and Wis. Secretary of Commerce Aaron Olver, who will be leaving his post in 2011 due to political sea change. The other two gents are moving on by choice, having worked 20-plus years for their institutions and wanting not to retire, but to rewire into new careers for the final 10 or 20 years they still want to work outside their homes.
That got me to thinking about the various professions we’ve talked about on air, and what I’d most likely want to try, if I was to "rewire" professions at age 60, like so many of my colleagues are doing.
I’m approaching almost 20 years in publishing, following a previous career of more than 10 years of clinical and law enforcement social service work. What would be a good fit for me, if I were looking into a fantasy career, based on interviews with our guests?
I told show guest Peter Gunderson that I’d like to work for him as a funeral director. I’ve been a death and grief counselor in the past, and I think that giving action to true compassion for families during times of loss is important work. I actually checked into it (no harm taking a few classes to learn more about it, right?) but … there aren’t area schools in the field. I’d have to travel to Minneapolis, and that doesn’t work with my Madison-Chicago obligations now. It isn’t like "funeral director" morgue classes are online, you know?
If I wasn’t allergic to bee stings, I might be tempted to get into hive study, since hearing fascinating stories from beekeeper Gene Woller (Gentle Breeze Honey) about the secret lives of bees and the oddities in their behavior. The "hive collective mind" is really fascinating, and it would be fun to see it up close. But given that the protective netting I’d need would have to be made of lead and probably weigh 300 pounds to prevent even one tiny bee from penetrating it, that will not happen.
I’m also interested in biotechnology. Isn’t everybody? (Why wasn’t science sexy instead of nerdy when I was an undergrad with time still to prepare for such a career?) I’m most interested in nanotechnology since the interview with Barbara Israel. Imagine using nano-formulated paint that allows you to change the wall into differing "scenes" — imagine the tiny recording devices and cameras that could be embedded in that nano wall paint! Imagine…. Okay, yes, if I were a nano scientist, I could imagine all sorts of things that I’d have no business making. Some scientists are like mountain climbers; they may do some things because of the thrill of realizing they can. I’m afraid I’d be that kind of scientist, so it’s best I don’t open that door.
Zane William’s career was seductive. He’s a well-known photographer, and I am an amateur photographer, so it was cool to meet him. However, taking photographs for a living would be stressful for me since (unlike Zane, who photographs architecture and people with a creative twist for his clients and books) I most enjoy photographing animals and birds in the wild. There isn’t a great market for that. It’s not like a grandmother raccoon is going to order reprints for Christmas presents, or a ground squirrel is going to commission me to photograph her new hideaway.
I enjoyed the interview, too, with Chris Ziemba, who was then the head of Three Gaits Therapeutic Riding Stables. (Now Chris works with me at The Salvation Army, so our paths cross again.) Since that interview, our family did some research and enrolled my grandson in a similar horseback riding stable in Chicago. I think therapeutic stables are miraculous places, particularly for special needs children. I would like to dedicate my time to that endeavor, since I love horses and animals and children. But why stop there? If I started that, I’d want to have a cow, too, since I love cows.
And what about sheep? I spend a lot of time at Lamb’s Farm in Libertyville, Illinois because of an affinity for barnyard animals. If I started with horses, I’d want to have a farm. In which case, I would be right back where I started as a child, living on a farm. Back then, I spent a lot of time imagining what I’d do when I grew up and got off the farm!
So I think, when all is said and podcast, and I get closer to that "20-year itch" point in time, that I’ll just try to cut back a little on business lunches to spend a little more time on my hobbies, because I’m most likely right now where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I love and was programmed all along to do: Sharing all sorts of "what is it like to do this job?" stories with you — in print, on the Web, and on air.
Thank you, Loyal Radio Listeners, for sharing 1,000 stories (and counting) with us. Joan’s promised to hit 1,500 before retiring and … me? I’ll do it as long as it’s fun, and what could be more fun?
What about you? It’s your stories we love telling, so if you’d like to tell us about your job on the show, e-mail me and we’ll put you on our list. It’s a long list, and it might take awhile, but hey, we aren’t going anywhere (else) anytime soon.
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