Turning 40 and Making a Career Change: Shannon Russell’s Journey into the Unknown

After a 15+ year career as a producer on high-profile television shows, Shannon Russell needed a change. She found herself spending too much time commuting and missing things in her kids’ lives that she wasn’t feeling good about. So she made a change, segued into a ‘second act,’ if you will. She now runs a successful STEM education franchise. She is passionate about teaching kids how to build and think like engineers. After her successful transition, friends and acquaintances looked to her for help in making their own transitions, so she launched Second Act Success, a podcast and coaching practice where she helps women find their own successful ‘second act.’

Guest Bio

Shannon Russell is a Career Coach and Host of the Second Act Success Podcast. After spending 16 years as a Television Producer, Shannon pivoted to open her own business running a successful franchise in her hometown. Now, as a certified Career Coach, Shannon added another venture to the mix with Second Act Success, where she coaches women on how to change careers, start a business, and follow their creative passions to the fullest in order to produce their best life. She lives at the beach in New Jersey with her husband, two boys, and her chow chow pup.

Show Notes

Shannon Russell spent the first 15+ years of her career as a producer for MTV, which included all the fun and wild things you think it did. It was a career she loved and had been working towards since she was in the first grade. But at some point, she realized it wasn’t fun anymore. Her commute was 2 hours each way, which meant she couldn’t be the producer she wanted to be and she was missing things in her kids’ lives that were making her feel bad. She realized her priorities had shifted and now she would rather be home with her kids than on a shoot somewhere exotic with some rock star or celebrity.

When the show she was working on got canceled, she arrived at a fork in the road: she could either jump into the next project or figure out something that fit her life, family and priorities better. But being a TV producer was all she knew how to do and she didn’t immediately see how her skills would transfer into something else.

As a boy mom, she spent an inordinate amount of time playing Legos and wondered how she could find a job that would allow her to teach other kids how to build and think like engineers. She found a franchise opportunity called Snapology, which allowed her to be a business owner and yet have the support system necessary for someone who’s never owned a business before.

Once she got into it, she realized that her producer skills did translate. She was used to pitching shows to studios and celebrities. Now she was pitching classes and seminars to schools and other partners in the community. A producer takes ideas and brings them to life, which is kind of what growing a business is.

Today, she owns one of the top Snapology franchises. The business has grown and is successful.

Then a new idea started bubbling up. Talking with the moms of the kids who were in her classes, they asked how she went from being a producer to owning a franchise and teaching classes for kids. Then they asked if she could help them figure out their transition.

She launched Second Act Success as a podcast, which has turned into career coaching and courses on transitioning into your second act.

In this episode, you will learn:

1. How Shannon Russell transitioned from a successful career in television to owning a successful franchise business.

2. How she used her television producer skills to build her business.

3. The value of coaches, whether in your personal or professional life

4. Sometimes, the path to happiness and fulfillment is not a straight line.


The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Additional Resources

Second Act Success website 

Second Act Success on Facebook

Second Act Success on Instagram

Tell me a fantastic “forty story.”

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Stephanie: Hi Shannon. It's nice to chat with a fellow former media person. Thanks for joining me today.

Shannon: Hi, Stephanie. So great to be here.

Stephanie: Yeah, we first met last year on your podcast. You put out a call for guests on one of the podcast groups we're both members of and I joined you on your podcast last year, and we realized that there's so much alignment between what you are doing and what I'm doing that you said to me, "What about coming on your podcast?" And I was like, how did we not think of that yet? Because it's so perfect.

Shannon: Oh my gosh. Totally.

Stephanie: And our podcasts were born a couple of weeks away from each other, so in my mind, I kind of consider you like part of my like mom's group,

Shannon: Mm-hmm. . Yes, we totally are

Stephanie: Yeah. We're bringing up our babies together. You've shared some stuff with me that's been awesome and one of these days we're gonna both make it to the same podcast conference so we can high five each other.

Shannon: I can't wait. I can't wait. Big hugs that day.

Stephanie: I know, I know. It's gonna be awesome. But we're only tangentially here to talk about podcasts. I want to talk about your 40 story. So why don't we start by, why don't you tell me a little bit about your TV career?

Shannon: Sure. I started off in New York City working at MTV. That was my dream. I wanted to be in TV since I was probably in first grade or so. So I started off in New York City, worked there for about four years maybe. Then moved to Los Angeles and worked the bulk of my career in Los Angeles. Met my husband who was also a television producer. So we met at the same company and then we started having a family and we moved back to the East Coast and I finished up my career in New York City back where I started at MTV and a few other companies. So yeah, dream career, for sure.

Stephanie: Holy cow. What does an early 20 something do at MTV?

Shannon: Oh gosh. You go out seven nights a week, you grow up with these people. Some of the people I started with are still my best friends. The most incredible years of my life. We start off as production assistants, so we are helping on every show. And back in the day, that was the heyday of MTV, so TRL. We were doing MTV Spring Breaks in Cancun and Acapulco and everywhere. So just a lot of traveling the country when you are 22, so you can imagine it's just so much fun. You're meeting every celebrity and rockstar you can imagine. It was the best place to sink my teeth into everything I learned about in college, and now I'm here doing it. So really rose up in the ranks to be a full producer at MTV, and then when I moved to Los Angeles, a lot of my friends in New York would say, "Okay, I have shoots going on out there." So I continue to work with that company, basically my whole career on both coasts. So just an incredible place to really start. I was very fortunate.

Stephanie: Wow. I can only imagine what it must have been like as a 20-something working for MTV in the heyday. Party Central.

Shannon: Yeah. Stories I cannot share on our podcast, but just so many fun things.

Stephanie: Okay. So when we do meet at the podcast conference, that's when you're gonna tell me some good stories.

Shannon: I definitely will.

Stephanie: You're gonna tell me who's awesome and who's awful.

Shannon: Yes, I will spill the secrets to you

Stephanie: Nice. I love it. So you've got this fabulous career as a TV producer, you meet your husband, you get married, you start a family, you moved back to the East Coast, and then I think TV production wasn't fitting as well as it was before. Tell me a little bit about that, how your career started to deteriorate for you.

Shannon: It did. The point when it really started to sink in that this wasn't working, I had a three-year-old and I was pregnant with my little guy. I was commuting to Manhattan from where I live in New Jersey, and it was really a two hour door to door commute. It was a bus to the subway to many avenues of walking in high heels. And I realized that I couldn't fully be the producer I wanted to be because I had to do the same commute back to pick up my son at six o'clock from daycare. So I was sneaking out early from my team. Luckily, I was high enough up at that time where I could do that, but it was that guilt of like, sorry, I can't go on that shoot or finish work because I have to go on the bus in the subway and back to get my little one. And that stress, especially of being pregnant at the time doing that, I realized like this wasn't fun anymore. The going on shoots with celebrities and all of that was like so exciting and so much fun for so long that it just wasn't anymore and my priorities were shifting. Now I wanted to be that present mom, home with my kids, especially once I had the second. I mean, I had to go to South by Southwest to produce a show for MTV and miss my son's first birthday.

Stephanie: Oh

Shannon: Yeah, I still remember it. He doesn't remember it, obviously, but you know, those things were just adding on and adding on. And when I had my second, I was on maternity leave and my show that I was producing got canceled, and that's when I just kind of felt stressful, but then a relief of like, okay, well now I can use this time to figure it out. Because easily in TV and in media, as you know, , it's a lot of like project to project based work. So you're not in a steady job. You've gotta call a friend and say, "Hey, do you have an another project for me?" So I could have easily done that. And instead I said, "No, I wanna figure this out I wanna do something else." And so that's when the confusion of like, I'm almost 40 and I had this career, I worked my entire life for, making six figures and now I've got to figure it out.

Stephanie: And when you realized you needed to figure it out, what were your options? What were the universe of things you were looking at and thinking about that would keep you home in New Jersey or close enough to home to be reasonable?

Shannon: That was where the struggle was because I had that identity crisis of like, this is all I know. And every friend of mine, my husband, everybody was in that industry and I didn't know how to transfer those skills into anything else. So I really struggled, I felt the pressure of like having to provide for the family, too. When my son was old enough to go to a babysitter or daycare, I took a nine to five job at a marketing agency. It was not what I wanted. It was not creative. I was hoping that my skills would transfer, not creative, really toxic people, just not the environment I was used to. So really a bad experience.

And at the same time I said, "Well, okay, I like to learn. I'm a lifelong learner," I always say, so I'm gonna get my master's in education because teachers have a stable job. So at the end of this master's program, I'll be a teacher. So I would work during the day, do my program online at night. And I was like, none of this is feeling right. None of this is what I want. And I was listening to a podcast by Marie Forleo, who is amazing and so inspirational, and she said something about like, everything's figure outable, and it was a light bulb moment.

And I said, well, you know what? I'm gonna make something happen. I'm gonna produce my own life for a change. And with two little boys, all we did was build with Legos and play. And I was like, I'm gonna build a business where I can teach other kids how to build and think like engineers and really use STEM education, which is science, technology, engineering, and math, for those who may not have heardthat acronym before. And I started looking into what it would be like to create a business where I have a STEM center and I can teach kids. And in the process of just researching while I'm at work and at night, I found a franchise called Snapology, and that was like another light bulb moment of like, wow, I can buy into this franchise, be a business owner, and they're the support system I need for someone who's never owned a business before. And that was a leap of faith that my husband and I decided, all right, this is gonna be it. I'll be able to be home with the kids and I'll use my skills to produce this business. And that's the direction that I went in.

Stephanie: Okay. I'm so curious because franchises are a bit of a black box to me. I know some of the anecdotal stuff we hear like, "Oh, you need a million bucks to get into a Dunkin Donuts franchise." And, "There's a huge investment." And I'm not asking you to show me numbers or anything, but tell me a little bit about the research you did into franchising and what it means to buy into a franchise and how much autonomy you have. Like, I'm so curious about franchising.

Shannon: It's all so different and I've learned, I mean, I'm six and a half years in, so obviously I know a lot, lot more now than I did then. The research I did while I had my nine to five job was researching how I can build a business myself. So I was looking at numbers of what it would cost to buy a brick and mortar center, build curriculum, just really what it would take on my own and then what a franchise could provide me. So franchises vary in the amount of money because yes, it's millions of dollars for Dunkin or McDonald's, but then you know, there's instant turnaround. Those are instantly gonna make money. So if you've got that capital, then that's amazing.

For me, it was a much lower, much, much lower. It was actually a fairly new franchise at the time, so I'm kind of like an OG owner at this point. They were very new, so it was much lower and they basically gave me marketing materials, I trained for a week out in Pittsburgh where the corporate office is, all of the support, the curriculum to teach classes, everything was there. So for me it was kind of a no-brainer at that time. And I researched a bunch of different children's enrichment STEM companies and I aligned with with this particular one. It was a no-brainer because when I got all the materials and then I could use my producer skills to say, okay, I have this marketing material, I have this curriculum, how am I gonna let my community know that I'm starting this business and we can offer these classes to kids at schools and recreation centers and libraries.

And then that's when all of my creativity came in, because I knew how to pitch shows to studios and to celebrities and agents. So now I could take this material and pitch it to local schools and partners in the area and really grow the business with my people skills and everything that I knew. So, this franchise, especially because it was new, I had a lot of autonomy so I could take the curriculum and make it what I wanted. I can make my logos the way I want. I can really tailor the business to the community I'm in. I'm at the beach, so I was doing classes on the beach. I was going to beach clubs to do classes so I could really expand the way I want. Now, six and a half years in, it's changed a little bit from the corporate and so my views on franchising are a little different. They're really grasping down on us, like on the things that you're allowed to do. So I don't know if I would've joined at this stage of the game, to be honest, but for me, because I am OG, I kind of keep my head down. I do my thing. I'm in the top three or four of all the franchises and there was a hundred plus. So mine is very successful. So that is a good thing, that I came in at kind the time that I did.

Stephanie: Yeah. it does sound like a a lot of bricks clicked into place.

Right. It sounds like the franchise was doing exactly what you were hoping to do with the little boys and the Legos and the engineer skills. That's amazing. And it does sound like there was a little bit of almost like training wheels for being your own boss. You didn't have to build it from the ground up. You had like a little bit of a structure that you were given that then you could build your Shannon-ness on top of it.

Shannon: Yes, and that's really how it began because I taught every class to start. So that's where like my Master's education came into it. You know, I was able to kind of put all these pieces together. I could bring my kids to classes with me, and I was, and still am, the same age of a lot of these moms that are signing their kids up for our classes. So there was that relatability factor and I was really able and continue to grow it, to reach more and more kids and be sustainable.

But yes, they gave me the tools to start that and I love, love, love this franchise and I love that we do have that autonomy that other franchises might not. And I got in at a good time where they weren't taking a big percentage. A lot of franchises will take a percentage of your revenue each month, and I got in with a nice flat rate, so it doesn't matter how much I make, it's a nice flat rate that they take. So that was beneficial at the time, too. So it was a lot of pieces clicking together to just say, this is worth the chance and for me as a new mom to be able to be at the kids' schools for their activities and all of that, it just fit in It snapped together really well.

Stephanie: I love it. I love it. I'm listening to your story and I'm thinking about my own life and path, and one of the things that I always felt before I went out on my own, while I was sort of going through my career in this job and that job, I never had a plan for where, where I was going, in fact, most of it always made sense if you looked in the rear view. So like one job and then the next job, and then the next job. And when I was applying or interviewing for the next job, you could look back and like tie everything together and position it so like, oh yeah, I'm really well suited for this job, and it sounds like you did a little bit of the same, right? You thought about teaching, you took some classes for teaching, you wanted to do something with kids and enrichment, like all the things fell into place, but you didn't know when you were thinking each of the independent thoughts that they were gonna come together.

Shannon: No, you're so right. And now I joke with my husband that when I pay my master's education money every month I go, "Oh, this stinks. I'm not actually using it," but it brought me to where I am. So I am using it in a different kind of way. You're right, I think of that thread that kind of brought everything together, but I definitely didn't see it at the time but now in hindsight, it made perfect sense. I wouldn't have been able to do a nine to five job and work for other people at that point. And I feel like you went through the same thing before going out on your own. And then when you get there and you're like, wow, like this is really what I was meant to be doing. It's funny how life twists and turns and gets you where you need to be.

Stephanie: Yeah. And that's really the interesting thing because I know you did and I did, and so many people feel that like, oh, I'm lost in the wilderness. I don't know what to do. It doesn't fit, it doesn't feel right. Like, oh, what's my next step? And so we, I say this occasionally, and these conversations, it's like you Goldilocks your way through but the important part is putting one foot in front of the other and just keep going, try new things, keep following your heart and the things that you like, and you want to be a part of your life, and next thing you know, the most perfect thing comes together. And you're like, well, I couldn't have done it without the wandering in the wilderness. I bet you couldn't have dreamed up the situation that you had with Snapology, you couldn't have dreamed it.

Shannon: No, never in a million years. Never in a million years, yeah. You're right.

Stephanie: Yeah. So the other thing about my career, and I don't know when it was, it was several years before I did go out on my own, I remember thinking to myself very clearly, "Oh, I'd love to start my own business but what would I ever be able to do that someone would pay for?" I had no idea what I would do. I also had no idea that I was particularly entrepreneurial. For the 20 years I worked for other people, or 15, whatever it is, I never thought, "Oh, I could do it better," or "I would do this," or, "I need to own my own business." I never thought any of those things, so entrepreneurship was a complete and total surprise to me. How about you?

Shannon: Complete surprise, complete surprise. Even though, now looking back, like I was producing shows and a producer takes just an idea and makes it come to life. So now I'm like, well, that's kind of like what growing a business is. You take this idea and you grow it. And it's funny, Stephanie, I had this sign, like a sign from above happen a week or so ago where I realized that my grandfather, who I was extremely close to, opened a business in his retirement. And I of course knew that, I worked there when I was 14 and 15, but it never dawned on me until just a couple weeks ago where I thought, "Wow, like he was an entrepreneur and I am." And I thought we were always a lot alike, but now I realize we really are. And I just wish I could talk to him and tell him what I'm doing now. But it's funny how, maybe this was always inside of me and I didn't realize it until I turned almost 40 and realized like, okay, this needed to come out all along.

Stephanie: Yeah, it's funny, I have an aunt who is a pretty badass entrepreneur. She's owned her own business for, I don't know, 35 or 40 years, andI always admired her and always thought she was so cool. So it's interesting to say there's someone sort of in your world that you see doing it. But yeah, I never had any idea that it was in me until I started, and then, I've said this before, I was the only person who was surprised by my starting my own business. I remember talking to a guy who used to work for me when I was the associate publisher of the statewide business magazine, the editor, I remember going to him and saying, "Hey Matt, I'm starting my own business," and he looked at me and he went, "Yeah." And I told him that recently and he said, "I wasn't being rude." I was like, "Of course you weren't being rude. It just, you were not surprised by it. But I was."

Shannon: Yeah. And when I told people they were surprised because it was such a juxtaposition from tv, but then when they started realizing like, "Oh yeah, actually, a lot of those skills do transfer." It is interesting how it just, like you said, it just was in you.

Stephanie: Yeah. So you were doing Snapology for a number of years and then you got another idea. Now that you're all entrepreneuring all over the place, you're ideating, you're creating, you come up with another super cool idea. Tell me about it.

Shannon: Well, it started like even when I first began with Snapology, like I said, I was you know, teaching the classes, hanging out with these moms of my customers, and they started saying, "Oh, what grade did you teach? You must have been a great teacher before you opened this." And I would say, "Well, no, I'm a producer." And it would spark these conversations of like, "Well, how did you go from that to this? Like, what a crazy transition." And then people started saying, "Well, you know what? Like could you help me figure out how I don't have to do that commute into Manhattan and how maybe I could start a business and let's talk."

So I would talk with a few customers here and there, and then some friends were asking and I would start kind of giving them ideas. And a lot of my industry friends were realizing, oh, we're getting a little too old for MTV spring break, or whatever it might be, and I need to transition. And so about a year ago, I just thought, well, you know what? There's a lot of women who feel stuck and they would rather say, "I'm gonna wait. I'm gonna wait till the kids are in college. I'm gonna wait till this." And I started realizing like, you don't have to wait, look where I would've been if I stayed at that nine to five job and waited. So I got the idea for Second Act Success and launched the podcast around when you launched yours and then grew it into career coaching and course creation and all of this to really just help inspire other women and give them the guide points to make that step, or at least start thinking about it, think it's a possibility.

Stephanie: So what I love about what you're saying and it's actually not how I thought it came together, so I love hearing the story, but what you're telling me is all you had to do was listen.

Shannon: Hmm.

Stephanie: That people were asking you for help, advice, coffee, "let's have a coffee and you can gimme some ideas," and after you did that for a while, you rolled it around and turned it into something. I'm thinking about other people as they're listening to this and thinking, "Well, I don't have ideas as good as Shannon's," and it doesn't have to be that. You don't have to get struck by lightning with an idea. All you did was listen.

Shannon: Yes, listen. And I think it's timing too, right? So we can all think of something we'd like to do. You just don't wanna wait too long. You wanna kind of see what feels right. And for me, I felt, and I still own Snapology, so that's still very much a part of my life, but I realized I had kind of grown it. We were successful, things were in a great place. So it was like that creativity in me of going like, "Ooh, I need another challenge. I want something else." So while that's running is when I was like, this might be a great time to do this, because more and more people are telling me that they're miserable in their job and they're unhappy, and it just all clicked together at the right time.

Stephanie: So you started with the podcast, and on your podcast you talked to people about their transition into their second act. Is that right?

Shannon: Yes, that's right. So like I had you come on and talk about your transition and the idea was to inspire others to see like this person went from high fashion to being a lactation consultant for families. Like just really drastic differences to show people Wow, I could do that, too. Or, here's a great idea.

Stephanie: And then tell me how you went from, okay, I have this idea for a podcast to evolving it even further into what you're doing today.

Shannon: I always wanted to do career coaching, but I wanted to launch the podcast first to kind of get the word out and start getting information out there because I look back to when I was transitioning and I know I remember from our conversation that you had a coach and you spoke to someone I think before you got into your business and it's so helpful. And I realized like I had no one when I was doing it. So that's where I ended up going through these kind of random roads that weren't quite the perfect fit, and I realize how much just having that person to talk to can help steer you in the right direction. So once the podcast was out and that was running. I said, "Well, I wanna get into career coaching and I wanna do a course to help someone with all the resources that now I've thought about that can really work." So I've just grown it since probably early last summer into career coaching and my course and just expanding in different ways, and now even with the podcast, I do more solo episodes where I'm just talking about different things that I've done or career advice or stats that I've heard. My goal for this year is two episodes a week, one that's an interview and one that's more career based and advice based.

Stephanie: That's wonderful. I wanna take a moment and go on a tangent about coaches because I love coaches. Yes, you're right, Sheila, the career coach I always talk about who changed my life and set me on the path for Savior Faire marketing and the success and everything I have today. I probably used her for the first, I don't know, year or so, maybe year or two of my business. Then at different stages of my business, and February this year will be 16 years, but at different stages I've used different coaches. There was one year I was thinking that I needed to get a loan because I was doing some expansion and I knew I was gonna need money before I had income and so I had a coach who helped me think through all the finance, all the business plan writing and all of that piece. And then a couple years later there was another coach that I've known for many, many years, but I just said, "I think it's time for me to talk to you occasionally." He's sort of on tap for me now. I reach out to him every, you know, couple of months, once a quarter, something like that. And just, just recently, I was talking to someone, actually one of my podcast interviewees. She does communications coaching, and there's a piece around this podcast where I need a little bit of help just sort of crystallizing the message of what it is and who I'm looking for. I feel like every time I tell somebody about the podcast, it is like a five paragraph story. So I told her my elevator speech is like from floors one to like 200, it's not from like one to five. I need to get the elevator speech. And she just fit and I was inspired. So I'm all about coaches. They don't have to be long term. But man, can they help you face a challenge, overcome something, get past something. And for me, I'm an extrovert. And one of the things I learned from one of the assessments that Sheila had me do all those years ago that I rolled my eyes at, was that extroverts really don't know what we think until it's out here in front of us. So for me, actually having somebody to talk to and roll things around with is how I'm going to make progress. And maybe some of those introverted folks, they do all that math in their heads before they open their mouths, so maybe they don't need it quite as much. Or maybe there'd be another benefit, but I just had to go on a little soapbox about coaches and how much I love them and how valuable they can be when you find the right one.

Shannon: Absolutely. And I am the extrovert like you. It's probably been about three months now since I got a business coach. I needed an accountability partner because you and I can talk, I have other friends that I've met along this venture that are really wonderful people that I can ask, but you need someone that needs to talk to you and can really help you take all those ideas and put them into action. And so this business coach has been amazing at helping me do that. And I also have another coach that helps me with the podcast, which I can introduce you to, too. That just helps us with the downloads, just getting it out there in front of new people. And they're both so valuable because they're both almost like, and you can probably relate two different businesses, right? The podcast is a business in itself, and then what we do the rest of the time is just another business. So, yes to coaches, and I feel like you don't understand what a coach does until you have one and experience it. So I do have clients when we'd have our strategy calls and they'd say, "Well, what exactly can you do that I can't get from Google? Or that I can't figure out on my own?" And then once they start working with you, they're like, "I need this." It's like a therapist for business or something.

Stephanie: Yes, yes. It's a therapist, it's that accountability and it's also once you're paying for it, there's a weight to it, there's a value to it. You know, you're gonna show up. You're gonna do your homework because you're investing and truly you're investing in yourself and your business, in your success, in your future, but, when you find the right coach slash partner, it can be really magical.

Shannon: It is. Yeah. I love everything that I'm working on, but it's just that moment when I now see it from the other side, and I'm speaking with a client who has that light bulb moment. Just this week, I feel like braggy about it, but just this week, two of my students that were in my past course that just wrapped up, both just launched their LLCs.

Stephanie: Okay, I'm gonna <claps>.

Shannon: Yeah, I know. I was just like, wow. We've had group coaching and 1 on 1 throughout it, so I just feel like, "Wow." One particular person came in had 10 ideas in her head and she was trying to figure it out. And she launched an Etsy shop just last week, and the ball's moving and the other one launched an LLC and has been working on his whole business plan. And I don't know, that's just like the excitement, you know, that I feel.

Stephanie: Yeah. And it's congrats to you and congrats to your coachees because those are big steps. That's amazing.


Stephanie: Alright, so you've got this course, and not that I want you to spill all your secrets, but tell me a little bit about the structure of the course. What is it that you're doing? How are you taking people through the journey? Through the mental path from security of working for the man to the freedom and terror of working for themselves.

Shannon: Yes. So it's that. And it's also maybe you just wanna switch careers and you wanna still work for the man at a different company, but you're not sure how to make that transition. So both ways it starts with a lot of thinking. So the way the course is, it's about six modules, I'm actually revamping it, so it might end up being eight for the next session, but it's these modules with videos and resources and ways to really look at your why. Because all of us wanna walk in and say, "I quit," and Jerry McGuire it out and you know, "I'm starting something new" but really it's about looking inside and realizing, well, why do I wanna make this change? And let's talk about it, think about it before we make that change so that we don't find ourselves in the same position being unhappy and unfulfilled. So there's a lot of resources, internal work that we do. And then, okay, well let's look at our network. People like you and I could probably connect people that could talk and really benefit from each other. It's just Putting yourself out there a little to network, see who you have that might be able to give you that warm introduction or introduce you to someone or talk to you about how that career, that role really is from the inside. So we kind of go through all these different steps and once they make that decision, like, "Okay, I absolutely want to go into finance." Well, great, so now we're gonna really hone in on what the resume looks like, fix your LinkedIn, all of that stuff. By the end of the course they have that blueprint to get them there. And they might not wanna move for a few months, but they know how to get there and those tools are in place. Um, so that's kind of how that is. And we have one-on-one coaching and group coaching as well, which is nice to just bounce ideas off of each other throughout that.

Stephanie: I know it's still in its young days, but have you seen any commonalities around the ages of people that are coming through your coaching practice?

Shannon: That's interesting, now that I think about it, it's really people in their I'd say late thirties, forties, um, that have kids and are trying to figure out that new way of life that fits well with what they're doing. So that's kind of who I've been talking to now. There's other clients that I haven't locked in yet that there is someone who's a little bit older and single and wanting some changes. So, yeah. But it's really just that midlife period that I've seen the most. But I do wanna expand eventually and really reach out to even recent graduates. There are a lot of people now that graduate with this degree that they were told they needed, and then they go, "Oh my gosh, I don't wanna work in this at all." There's a lot of people who will reach out to me on Instagram or TikTok and make comments and I wanna reach them a little bit more, too. So I'd like to expand it but for the most part, I'm noticing more of like thirties, forties, kind of age range.

Stephanie: Yeah. As I have said often that decade between 35 and 45 can be a doozy. There's so much happening and that's the transition I'm focused on, that transition somewhere around age 40. But you know, it can start in your late thirties. It can start in your early forties, but it usually starts with that feeling of almost like your skin doesn't quite fit anymore. Something's off, something's not right. You're just feeling meh.

Shannon: Right, like bored almost with yourself, right?

Stephanie: Ooh, that's a good way to say it. Yeah. Yeah,

Shannon: Need a little challenge

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. And it's interesting, you say you want to start to reach the new college grads and that younger generation. And I think of when you and I graduated from college and I'm a couple of years older than you, but you know, same era, you graduated from college and you went and you got a job. The person who went and did their own thing, They were like one in a thousand. We all went and worked for the man and now that paradigm has been blown up and the man still exists, and there's plenty of people that work for him, but there are so many other pathways that are valid and that are doable and so many emerging technologies that some of these younger people are doing such a great job of turning into careers. It's interesting that you want to um, age down to talk to those folks and help them find their why, because your why didn't really matter when you graduated college in the nineties, it was like, "Doesn't matter why, be here at 8:30."

Shannon: Exactly, and you did it making very little money and moving to big cities and you just figured it out, whereas I feel like now kids are so much more apt to go back to their parents' house and you know, wait, it's just very different from when we started. I think really, it's the generation above us, right? It's our parents, our grandparents who told us, "Go and get that degree and get that job." And these younger 20 somethings are being told the same thing from their parents, but then they're rebelling or they're taking that degree and spending all that money, and then they're saying like, "This is not what I want. I'm gonna go out and make a YouTube channel." You know, whatever it might be. So there's just a lot of lost feelings, whereas we just went with the flow, right? We just climbed a ladder and now in our forties we're saying, "Oh, now I'm gonna question things a little bit."

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. That's really interesting. This whole thing about our parents and grandparents guiding us, I always wrap that into the word should, right? You should, or you're supposed to. You're supposed to go to college and you're supposed to get a good job, and then you're supposed to just go to work and do your job and that's how you will succeed. And when our grandparents told our parents that that was because they didn't get to do a lot of that. Maybe most of them didn't go to college, that was the war generation, so they were hoping their kids would have a better life, right? So we're gonna provide for you, you're gonna go to college. And then when our parents were telling us that it was the model of their success that they were saying to us, "This worked for me, I want success for you, so you should follow the model." And I think when, when you and I graduated, it was right at the end of that model even really existing.

Shannon: Mm-hmm.

Stephanie: And I think when I graduated college, there was still an impression that you could go to work for a company and spend most or all of your career with that company. That was normal before me. That was normal in the generation or even people, 5, 10, 15 years older than me and it fell apart during the early parts of my career. So, when I graduated it was like, "Well, you better spend five years at your first job, otherwise people are gonna look at your resume funny." Well, now it's, you know, six months, a year, you know, you're lucky if you get 18 months. Well, the organizations aren't providing that same pathway to success, so people are jumping around more. So, you know when people say you should, I think by and large, they're hoping for your success. And their “should” comes from a model that worked for them without them understanding that that model has fallen apart and it's not valid anymore.

Shannon: Yeah, that's so smart. And my parents did not go to college. So my parents got married right outta high school, 18, and they stayed, or my dad at least stayed, in his same job till he retired. So college it's a funny story. I didn't wanna go to college, remember I wanted to go work in Hollywood, so I was like, "I don't need college. I'm gonna go out and be in tv." So they said, "No, we didn't have the opportunity, you are gonna go." And I respected like, "Okay, like I'll do it for you because you didn't have the chance." And they are always so amazing to tell me like they're so proud of everything I've done because they didn't have that opportunity. And it makes you go like, okay, for me it worked out, but it's different now. And what would I tell my kids? You start thinking about that. And for me, I think about the future in kids in college, and there's definitely some people that I follow that say, "No, college is not, you don't need it anymore." And I think like college for me, and I think for you too, like you found yourself in a sense, right? Like so those four years you learn whatever, but you find who you are and that takes you into the world. So that experience more so than anything you learn, I think is so valuable. You know, one way to think about, you know, the future of college, I guess, in careers.

Stephanie: Yeah, I agree with you completely. The other thing I think that college does is it teaches you how to think. Going through these courses and doing the homework and following the progression of like your major coursework, even if you just go get a liberal arts degree, I think it gives you a great foundation of reading and thinking and communicating ideas in a thoughtful and organized way. I mean, writing those 3, 5, 7, 10 page papers that we all wrote in college. Yeah. They were tedious and awful. But truly they do set you up for success in an adult slash business environment. I got my very first job because I knew how to write. That was the qualification. I knew how to write, so,

Shannon: Yeah. And you were set. Yeah, absolutely. It's gonna be interesting to see how the, you know, the 20 somethings move on and after them, you know, just things are evolving.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. 'Cause of course right now too, you also have the pandemic era kids whose lives were just completely changed whether they were in high school or college. So right yeah, things are zooey and who knows, in eight or 10 years when your kids are ready, what it's gonna look like, what technology's gonna look like, what careers are gonna look like, what school is gonna look like.

Shannon: But I'd like to at least model to them, Hey, I got this degree, I had this amazing career, and guess what? I changed it. And now I have two other dream careers. You know, I always say, check all the boxes, have a list of everything you wanna do, and check it off, and then go to the next thing, 'cause we get one life to live and you wanna make it the fullest you possibly can.

Stephanie: It's funny you used exactly that language 'cause as you were talking about your TV producing career and at the end of it when your last show got canceled, in my mind I literally saw like a hand going, check, making the checkbox. It's like, you did it, you did that career and you rocked it and I think that's another difference between folks that are older than us and folks that are younger than us, folks that are older than us had one career.

And you and I are gonna have a couple, and people younger than us are going to have many, I think.

Shannon: Absolutely. Even you and I, Stephanie, working in media. We worked for a bunch of different companies and that was the norm. Whereas friends of ours probably looked at us like, wait, but I'm at this corporate company. One of my best friends has worked at the same company since college, she's like the Chandler of the group. I don't know what she does, but she's worked at that job and here I'm like, I couldn't even count the amount of companies that I've worked for. Because you've been freelance and you were like that too, writing and working at different places. Yeah, it's funny, but I love it. Right. It really has made us know how to network, know how to talk to people. It rounds you out, I guess.

Stephanie: For sure. It gives you a just like you said, a well-rounded experience. It also makes you dynamic, right? I think you and I both, no matter what you threw at us, we'd be, well minus math maybe, but minus, minus math. No matter what you threw at us, we'd be able to do something with it. We'd be able to react. That's how I always feel when I'm talking with clients in my marketing business. I actually had a meeting just a day or two ago and it was awesome. We're in this meeting and they asked me some questions that were not on the agenda, not what we were talking about, and I just was like, "You know what? I've been doing this 16 years and we're damn good at what we do, I've seen a lot of things." So they threw me that question and it was like I just smacked it, I'm not gonna say it was out of the park, but, I knew how to answer it. I knew how to engage them, their follow up questions. And to be frank, I might even get a little bit more business out of it because of it. And I remember in my head thinking in the moment, it was such a bizarre thought. I thought, "This is fun."

Shannon: Right. Yay. Exactly you knew, whereas other people might have been like, uh uh uh, I don't know.

Stephanie: I'll have to get back to you on that. Let me find an answer for you.

Shannon: You probably felt so good. You're like, bring it on. What else do you wanna chat about? And they loved that, I'm sure, that you could just roll with it. That's huge. That's your personality. That's great.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Shannon, I have had so much fun talking to you. I'm so happy that we made this happen for you to join me on my podcast after I came to your podcast. But before I let you go, tell everybody where they can find you.

Shannon: Sure. Second Act Success.co is my website and that has links to my podcast and ways to work with me and my course and everything. So second act success.co and the podcast is Second Act Success wherever you listen. So thank you for having me, Stephanie.

Stephanie: This has been so much fun and one of these days, seriously, in person,

Shannon: Yes, let's do it. I'm so sad I won't be able to see you soon at the one podcast conference, so maybe next summer.

Stephanie: Maybe next summer. All right.

Shannon: I'm excited.

Stephanie: Me too.

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