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Act II: 10 people who switched careers after 50 (and thrived)

Sadly, the down economy has put a lot of workers over age 50 in the unenviable position of needing to find a new profession. Don’t believe that old cliché about middle-aged dogs and new tricks, though; lots of wildly successful people found big success in careers they began after their fiftieth birthdays. Here are just a few examples.

1. Edmond Hoyle

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Whether or not you know it, you probably owe Hoyle a tip of the cap each time you reach for a deck of cards. The Englishman is considered to be the world’s first technical writer on the rules of card games, and he didn’t put pen to paper as a young card sharp. Hoyle was around 70 years old when he first began recording the rules of various card games in 1741; over the last 27 years of his life, his smash hit A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist went through over a dozen editions.

2. Colonel Sanders

Harland Sanders was no slouch as a young man, but he didn’t become the string-tied chicken mogul we know and love until he was 65. “The Colonel” had a relatively successful restaurant and motel on U.S. 25 in Corbin, KY, but when Interstate 75 opened seven miles from Sanders’ restaurant, his business begin to dwindle. Rather than go broke, he began to work on perfecting his spice blend and quick-cooking technique for making fried chicken in 1952. He then began touring the country selling Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, and by the time he sold the business for $2 million in 1964, there were over 900 of them.

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series may be some of the world’s most beloved children’s books, but she was no spring chicken when she sat down to write them. Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65 years old, and she still managed to crank out 12 books in her series, although some were published posthumously.

4. Takichiro Mori

You don’t have to start early to become the richest man in the world. Mori was an economics professor until he left academia at age 55 to become a real estate investor in 1959. Mori had recently inherited a couple of buildings from his father, and he jumped headfirst into Tokyo’s real estate scene. Mori started his second career by investing in the Minato ward where he spent his childhood, and within a matter of years he was presiding over Japan’s real estate boom.

When Mori died in 1993, he was Forbes’ two-time reigning world’s richest man with a net worth of around $13 billion. He was something of a Japanese precursor to Warren Buffett, though. Mori never seemed totally comfortable with the fame and fortune his second career won him. He dressed traditionally, abstained from alcohol, and lived a fairly modest life.

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1 Comment

  • Anonymous

    Reinvention is a good thing.

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