Kurt Shaver | Midlife Fulfilled Podcast

Ep 189 Leverage Your Accumulated Skills in a Third Career at Midlife

Transitioning to a new chapter in midlife doesn't mean starting from scratch. The skills gained over your career can be invaluable in your new chapter.

In episode 189 I am “looking back” to episode 25 featuring Kurt Shaver, published August 1, 2022.  In season one of the podcast, this was a “BF to AF” conversation, i.e., before fulfillment to after fulfillment.

Kurt shares the journey of finding fulfillment in his third career. From corporate tech sales to entrepreneurship and now in a business development role in Sonoma County Tourism, Kurt shares insights that resonate deeply with those seeking fulfillment in midlife through a career transformation.

Here are three key takeaways from my conversation with Kurt.

1️⃣ Soulful Alignment: Kurt found that his third career allows him to be a genuine version of himself at the current stage of his life. He emphasizes the importance of feeling aligned with his interests, passions, and attitude, which allows him to realize an effortless sense of fulfillment.

2️⃣ The Wisdom of Experience: Kurt reminds us that transitioning to a new chapter in midlife doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Instead, the skills and experiences gained over a career spanning ten or more years can be invaluable, accelerating success and fulfillment in a new chapter.

3️⃣ Letting Go of Ego: One of Kurt’s most compelling points is the significance of not letting your ego get in the way of making a major change in life. His advice serves as a powerful reminder to embrace new opportunities in midlife and not be hindered by self-imposed limitations.

My Takeaway

Kurt’s journey serves as a reminder that finding fulfillment in midlife is not only about pursuing new career chapters but also rediscovering the core of who we are. It’s about aligning our passions and skills with our present circumstances, allowing us to experience a profound sense of joy and purpose.

Kurt’s story inspired many when it was published as episode 25 two years ago. If you missed it in season one, I hope this “look-back” inspires you to consider how Kurt’s experience resonates for you in your current life situation.

Follow Kurt Shaver on LinkedIn
Read Kurt’s Article on LinkedIn About His 3rd Career Transition
Visit Sonoma County’s website


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My affiliate link to Castmagic, the AI tool I used to help produce these show notes.

Music attribution:
Old Bossa Twin Musicom

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Episode Transcript

Bernie Borges [00:00:04]:
Kurt, welcome to the Midlife Will Field podcast.

Kurt Shaver [00:00:08]:
Hey, Bernie, my friend. Looking forward to a chat.

Bernie Borges [00:00:11]:
I am looking forward to a chat as well. It’s been a little while since we’ve had a chat. Before we start that chat, you know, Career, you know the drill that I always like to ask my guest which of the age brackets you’re in from my survey.

Kurt Shaver [00:00:26]:
Yeah. Well, I just barely make it into your 60 to 74 club.

Bernie Borges [00:00:32]:
Okay. You know, it’s it’s funny how often people say that when they when they use that that age bracket. And then I respond with, I’m in that age bracket as well. So, I I I know what you mean. Well, great. Look, Kurt, let’s get into it. Where do you wanna start your b f to a f story?

Kurt Shaver [00:00:53]:
Well, I think I’ll probably start it. And the thing that really, I guess, triggered our conversation is that probably, like, millions and millions of people around the world, you know, I had one of those COVID inspired, midlife life balance assessment resets. And I I I ended up starting what what I call my 3rd career. My first career was in corporate tech sales for a couple of decades, and then I was an entrepreneur for 10 years, which is where we met each other in that life. And, then, last summer, in summer of 21, I switched into my my 3rd career, something I wasn’t really anticipating, but it’s just one that I felt was gonna lead to much greater fulfillment, and thank goodness that has paid off. And, so I joined the tourism industry last summer.

Bernie Borges [00:01:59]:
Okay. Well, we’ll certainly get into that because, I, along with many of your friends on LinkedIn, and you have thousands of them, many thousands, have been vicariously living through you through the content that you have been sharing. So we’ll get into that a little bit. But I first wanna unpack a little bit of what you said, Kurt. You know, you said you’ve this is your 3rd career. What was your thought process when you were sort of thinking through, you know, okay. I I think I’m not quite fulfilled, and I wanna make a change. What were you thinking?

Kurt Shaver [00:02:35]:
Well, it it it it’s very specific, because I actually wrote these down in sort of my in a LinkedIn article, you know, that I have opened my profile where I named these three reasons. This was when I was going into it. This is probably, like, the 1st week. But, so the first thing that I decided after this reassessment thinking about it for probably 6 months was that, I really wanted to so these are the things I was going toward. I really wanted to build relationships in my community. I had, you know, I I’d pretty much been a work from home guy since 2,007 maybe. So a long time before the COVID work from home inspired. So I’d, you know, work from home and, obviously, as the Internet got better and and we got into the the the COVID and the technology of Zoom and Teams and all those types of things, it became very, efficient, and we all learned how to adapt.

Kurt Shaver [00:03:39]:
But, you know, I I’m consider myself an extrovert, kind of an outgoing, I I I have made people to feed that energy and I just really decided that, I didn’t wanna spend just as much time looking at people on my screen as I did actually interacting with people. I mean, it was kinda tough at COVID. But last summer, as I was looking at this, back then, we thought we were kinda pulling out of it at that point, one of many times we’ve thought that. And so the first thing I really wanna do was build stronger relationships in my community. That was number 1.

Bernie Borges [00:04:12]:
And your community is is the Santa Rosa, California area.

Kurt Shaver [00:04:15]:
Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah. Santa Rosa, California, which is in Sonoma County, which is in wine country, like an hour north of San Francisco. K. So that that that was the first specific one. The second thing that I I I’ve lived here for 17 years. It’s a it’s an incredible area.

Kurt Shaver [00:04:30]:
I really love it, and I’ve I’ve always been regardless of where I live. I’ve always been one of those those people that likes to know all the little nooks and crannies and the histories and what are the secret places that nobody knows about that, you know, either I can go to or I can take friends when they visit and things like that. I I’ve always been like that wherever I’ve lived, but but this particular palette is a very rich area for that type of thing. So there was just so much to learn and share about this this area that I thought, wow. Wouldn’t it be cool if that was actually my job and not just a personal passion of mine? So number 2. And then number 3 is probably a little bit broader. I call it keep it fresh, but the the goal there was I I kinda felt like I was getting stale, not really learning much, not really doing much new, you know, in in my, previous role, which which is an entrepreneurial role. And I I really just wanted to something that was gonna take me out of my comfort zone, give me some new challenges, new lessons.

Kurt Shaver [00:05:31]:
Right? Stretch the muscles a little bit, that that I just felt had maybe we’re getting a little atrophied. Not just in the last 2 years of COVID, but even even prior to that. And so those were the 3 motivators behind, I guess, that led to me starting my 3rd career.

Bernie Borges [00:05:49]:
Okay. And, Kurt, you said you wrote them down?

Kurt Shaver [00:05:53]:
Yeah. I did. Mhmm. I wrote them down and published them for all the world to see on LinkedIn.

Bernie Borges [00:05:59]:
Had you written them down previously to to the point where you were, like, studying them and thinking about them? I mean, was it that, you know, sort of intense of a of a process for you?

Kurt Shaver [00:06:13]:
No. You know, it actually it act I didn’t actually set the objectives and go find the job. I actually kind of the job fell in my lap. And I would say that I probably intuitively or viscerally kind of accepted it and committed to it. And and then then I I I went back and analytically kinda broke down why. And and that was those three reasons. So in other words, I I didn’t write the 3 reasons to go find the job. I ended up in the job, and then I kind of went back and reviewed, like, why do I think I took it? And it was like, these three reasons is what, drew me to it.

Bernie Borges [00:06:51]:
Mhmm. Mhmm. Okay. So your your b f, your before fulfillment, was you, you felt like you were getting stale after being an entrepreneur for many years, And you really wanted to get engaged in your local community and and engage with people more face to face. And it sounds like your AF is in this job that found you, where you get to do exactly that. But is that a fair summary?

Kurt Shaver [00:07:24]:
Yep. That’s a good summary. Mhmm.

Bernie Borges [00:07:25]:
Okay. Alright. Now, Kurt, I said a few minutes ago that I have been living vicariously through you. So why don’t you go ahead and share with my listener, what exactly you are doing now and why and they’ll understand why I said I’ve been living vicariously through you.

Kurt Shaver [00:07:46]:
Yeah. You’re not the only one. I hear that all the time from my friends. But, so so I work in business development for the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. Again, I I’ve lived in Sonoma County for 17 years, and I’ve been in sales for almost 40. And so I and one of my friends who’s very, high up and influential in the tourism business here, we often, you know, joked over a glass of wine many times about, oh, someday you should get in the tourism fitness, you know, be a lot of fun and those types of things. And so, when when this opportunity came up, because, like so many businesses, particularly in the tourism business I mean, the tourism business completely shut down for 2 years in COVID. And so, they the the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau had had really scaled down with just a skeleton crew, and they were in the midst of building the team back up last summer of 2021.

Kurt Shaver [00:08:45]:
And, they they were actually a customer of mine multiple times, and so I knew them and they knew me. And that was for sales training. So when it kinda came up, it was just one of those, you know, opportunity knocks sort of thing. And, you know, my buddy’s like, here he is. It’s, like staring you in the face. And, you know, his other point was, it’s it’s only got one way to go and that’s up. Right? Because it’s at at the absolute bottom, now for tourism, and it and it can only go up. So it’s like if if you’re if you’re if you’re ever gonna do it, you know, now would be the time to do it, and I decided he was right, and I did it.

Kurt Shaver [00:09:21]:
But I guess your question was why why why, why, you’re living vicariously through me. So, yeah, so my typical, week, you know, 4 or 5 posts a week on LinkedIn, tend tend to be, me at a winery, me on a ziplining tour, me going in a hot air balloon ride, me visiting a brand new resort, you know, those types of things. It’s a it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Mhmm.

Bernie Borges [00:09:48]:
Mhmm. Okay. So, again, so now that we have the visual, people can understand why I and many others that know you are living vicariously through you. So so give us a little more insight into this AF. So as you’re doing all of these fun, amazing things as your job, what’s the experience that you’re having? And I don’t just mean professionally, Kurt. I mean, like, in your soul. Know what I mean? Like, in your 3rd career, what are you experiencing?

Kurt Shaver [00:10:21]:
Well, I would say that, I mean, you know, it it it is a fun thing that I’m doing, but I think the the reason it’s probably a fun thing, and and I’ve had 7 or 8 people sort of just say this to me out loud sort of while while observing me at various things. They’re like, wow, you just really seem like you’re in your group, like you’re in your place, like this is your what you were meant meant to be. Right? And, I I I think that’s true. It it is. It’s just, you know, it’s just a good fit. I think that the I mean, to to me, the biggest way of figuring this, my my wife actually, kind of nailed it. She just said this last week, and I was just amazed at how spot on it was. And and she hasn’t changed, careers, although she has gotten back into playing the guitar obsessively after after laying her guitar down 30 years ago when she started her career.

Kurt Shaver [00:11:23]:
And she’s also been very and she’s also really gotten back into swimming quite a bit. I would also say she she doesn’t do things unless they’re obsessively. So she’s gotten into both of those two things obsessively. And he and, basically, what what I do now is I run around and I meet lots of people, and I talk to lots of people, and I help organize events and parties and trips and all those sort of things. And she said to me, she said, hey. Do do you realize that we’re both spending a lot of time now basically doing the things that we both did back in high school before we started working. And I was like, that’s pretty good. Maybe there’s something to that.

Kurt Shaver [00:12:08]:
Maybe may may, you know, I don’t know if, the Midlife is that simple, but, that’s probably a good place to go looking.

Bernie Borges [00:12:18]:
Well, it’s funny how so many of these conversations that I have, Kirk, on on the podcast bring me full circle back to episode 1 where I talk about the happiness u career, which if you recall, the happiness u happiness career, I should say, says that we’re happiest at age 18 and then we start to become less happy. We bottom out in our mid forties, and then we start climbing back up that u career, and, you know, be to become happy again, and happier, and happy yes. So it’s just amazing how many of these conversations are examples of how we’re finding this fulfillment in this season of life, you know, past our mid forties. In your case, in my case, you know, we’re both over 60, although just just barely. And it’s just it’s just amazing how it keeps coming back to that. Do do you do you think about that? I mean, do you think about how, wow, I had to wait till I was, you know, to to find the thing I love to do? Or do you say, no. I was doing what I love to do when I was in my twenties and when I was in my thirties and my forties, but it’s just not what I wanted to do in my sixties. So I’m doing what I love doing now that I’m in my sixties.

Kurt Shaver [00:13:32]:
I mean, I think I I think it’s the latter. I mean, I think that there are, you know, there’s stages of your life. You know? I think you’re I mean, the first stage of your life is really about to me, it’s about learning, and the second stage is kind of about earning. You know? And it’s, it’s, you know, it’s acquisition, and it’s, career growth, and it’s it’s, you know, if you’re raising your kids, it’s all those sort of things. I think, you know, depending on where people are in the stage of their life or or an actual age, but then but then you kinda get past that at some many people get a little bit past that at some point. And they either get stuck past that or, you know, they move on, I think, into something else. And to me, the, at least for me personally, the biggest obstacle, the biggest factor I saw in that was just was just the ego. And this, you know, this this work centric self image that had been built over almost 40 years.

Kurt Shaver [00:14:36]:
And again, in my case, like, Midlife, I just had to let it go, just let it go. And, and, and I wasn’t really conscious that I was going back to the, you know, to the other, to the lower original part on the happiness curve when I was 18, but but it turns out to be that’s that’s pretty close.

Bernie Borges [00:14:57]:
Mhmm. Yeah. And do you find that, this may sound like an odd question, Kurt, but do you find that when you’re out and about and you’re engaging with people, including coworkers at Sonoma County Tourism Board and then all the people that you’re out there meeting, you know, in the marketplace, in your local community marketplace. Do you find that you’re the same person? Or do you find that you’re truly in this new chapter and you don’t feel like the same person? Again, I know it may sound like a strange question, and and if you wanna answer it differently, then go for it.

Kurt Shaver [00:15:34]:
I mean, I I I guess I would say that I I feel like I’m more aligned or a truer version of myself or or or, a more genuine version of myself just because it plays to I don’t know. Skills are probably not the right thing, but but just my interest and passions and and attitude, for it. So again, I I think I yeah. I would really turn back to my comment and, you know, the the u curve comment. It’s it’s really, I think, just the way I am and that it came out often in my 40 year career, but not anywhere near as amount as it does now. Right? Because you’re because you’re just in the career in a career, I think there’s other factors you get you gotta be focused on. So I just feel, I don’t know, kinda like freer to be my true self, kind of like gravitating to my natural personality and way I operate, things like that.

Bernie Borges [00:16:32]:

Kurt Shaver [00:16:33]:
And and, hence, you know, that’s that’s the fulfillment piece because it it it kinda feels effortless.

Bernie Borges [00:16:39]:
Okay. It’s it’s interesting you use the word effortless because I had already been thinking about my next question, and then you ended your comment with the word effortless. So my my next question is around stress and pressure. You know, back in the days of sales, sales leadership, entrepreneurship, there’s stress and pressure. Right? What about now in this stage?

Kurt Shaver [00:17:05]:
Well, it’s it’s it’s significantly reduced. And and again, that that would that was definitely one of the desired goals for the big change that, you know, you hope for, but it has materialized to to be the case. The probably, I guess, the most factual point I can make is that, you know, the last 10, last 10, 11 months have been the only time in 39 years I have not been on a commission. So I’m on a salary job now. And, you know, for the although we do some after hours things, we do some entertaining and there is some travel involved. You know, other than that, by and large, I I leave it at the office at 5. So, the the the stress and the extra work hours that come with being an entrepreneur because when you’re an entrepreneur, there’s such a tendency to always wanna be doing something, especially if you’re working out of the home. Right? You can’t you’re gonna go by it, walk by the office after dinner or anything like that.

Kurt Shaver [00:18:07]:
So so, I mean, of course, you can be very disciplined and and not do that, but it’s a siren song that’s always seems to be pulling you back. You know, just just another email, just another email, just another email. And so, the the the the change in the type of job, has definitely reduced hours and reduced stress.

Bernie Borges [00:18:29]:
Okay. So as we begin to wrap here, Kurt, what, what’s your parting thought for the listener who might be at some stage in their life where they’re listening to you in this conversation, and maybe they’re they’re they’re thinking about the chapters that they’re in, or have been other they’re in right now, and maybe they’re having a similar thought about, you know, the desire to to be in another chapter. What what’s your closing thought for for them?

Kurt Shaver [00:18:58]:
I, you know, I I guess what I I would say, along with the don’t let the ego get in the way, I think the other thing that I would say to people is that, particularly if they’ve been working for, let let’s, you know, let’s say, 10 or at least 10 or 15 years, I think you’ll be fascinated. You’re not starting over. You’re starting with a with a huge new skill set. So and it’s it to me, it was fascinating to see how skills gained in other industries are so valuable, applicable, transferrable into another industry. So, again, I mean, to make the transition, you’re you’re you’re you’re not 22 years old and starting from scratch. You’ve got a lot of experiences and skills you can bring that can really accelerate, you know, your success and satisfaction and fulfillment, I think, in the in whatever new endeavor you choose.

Bernie Borges [00:19:50]:
I think that is a great point, and I think it’s an understatement and, a great point to, to wrap up on. So, Kurt, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the Midlife of Phil podcast. I was looking forward to this conversation. It was everything that I expected and more.

Kurt Shaver [00:20:08]:
Great. Thanks a lot, Bernie.

Bernie Borges [00:20:14]:
As far as my takeaways with my conversation with Career Shaver, I mentioned in the introduction that his excerpt is kind of a spoiler alert on the main takeaway. But nonetheless, I wanna put a little more context to it. Kurt shared that he had a covert inspired Midlife, sort of a balance assessment. And he really realized that he had 2 previous careers. He had his corporate tech career, which is 3 decades long, so that was the longest part of his career. He was an entrepreneur for 10 years, which is where he and I met. And then recently, approximately a year ago or so, about, he joined Sonoma County Tourism. So he’s framing that up as his 3rd career.

Bernie Borges [00:20:54]:
Now he said that he had this thought process after he accepted this position that was made available to him. He wanted to build relationships with his local community where he lives in Santa Rosa, where he’s lived for 17 years, he and his wife. He wanted to become well versed in the history, in the locations, and just places of interest in that area. And he also wanted to learn and grow and really just kinda get out of his comfort zone. He basically said that his before fulfillment was that he felt stale, that he wanted to grow, that he he wanted new relationships. And his AF season is this 3rd career where he’s able to really blossom around all of that. And we discussed how his friends, including me, are living vicariously through him. I mean, his job is business development in Sonoma County tourism, and Sonoma County is just a beautiful part of the planet.

Bernie Borges [00:21:48]:
He was approached by people that he knows there because they were former client. And they said, hey, Kurt. What if and they explained the opportunity. And Kurt thought about it and just did a lot of, I guess, soul searching. Even though he didn’t use those words, that’s kind of the way that’s one of my takeaways. Now, again, when we say we’re living vicariously through Kurt, he mentioned some of his activities, which he mentioned quite casually, I might add, are things like visiting wineries, going on ziplining tours, going on hot air balloon rides, visiting new resorts. He said it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Now when I asked him how he’s experiencing this in his soul, he said that people are observing that he’s doing what he was meant to do.

Bernie Borges [00:22:37]:
He said it’s a great fit. And I love how he then said that his wife kinda nailed it. And she said to him, hey, do you realize that we’re both spending a lot of time doing things that we did in high school before we started working? In her case, he said she started playing the guitar again and swimming again. 2 things she did when she was in high school. And then Kurt made the comment that, you know, maybe going back to our high school years is a good place to look for that happiness that we had at that the top of the you happiness curve that I’ve I’ve spoken about so many times and way back on episode 1 if you haven’t heard that. So Kurt said when he’s asked if he’s the same person now, he says that he’s a truer version of himself, more genuine, that he’s really aligned with his interest and his passion at this point in his life. And he said he found that in previous careers, but not as much as he has now. And that he’s able to be his own personality.

Bernie Borges [00:23:36]:
And here’s a key thing that he said. He said it feels effortless. How beautiful is that? That it feels effortless. Let that sink in. How many of us can say that about where we are right now? When I asked Kurt for his parting thought, for anyone who’s maybe thinking about a major change in their life, whether it’s career or otherwise, He said, don’t let your ego get in the way. Again, that was in the excerpt at the very beginning of this episode. And he made the point, this is a key point, that if you’ve been working for 10 or more years, and you make a change, you’re not starting over. You’re starting with the skill set that you already have.

Bernie Borges [00:24:24]:
And that those skills are very likely transferable into another industry. And those are skills that can accelerate your success, your satisfaction, your fulfillment. It’s a great story. It’s just so gratifying to spend this time with Kurt and bring him to you too so you can hear his story and understand what he means by being in his 3rd career and the fulfillment that he’s getting from that.

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