"We're young and we're healthy," Sherry Lansing, the former head of Paramount Pictures, writes in an item on today's Huffington Post. "The question is, how will we spend our time?"

"If we are, as the saying goes, defined by our work, then I want my work to really mean something," Lansing says. "To me, the second half of life is the time to plow experience, skills, time, and compassion into work that gives back."


Sara Gonzalez, a 2007 Purpose Prize Winner, died unexpectedly yesterday in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

Gonzalez, 72, was selected from among more than 1,000 nominees to win a $10,000 Purpose Prize for her breakthroughs as President and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. During her tenure, she incubated hundreds of Hispanic businesses, all after she turned 60, in a tremendously fruitful encore career.

ENCORE BOOK CLUB: Retire Retirement

We're looking forward to this new book from Harvard Business School Press, which expands on Tamara Erickson's excellent 2004 article in the Harvard Business Review.

From the advance promotional material:

"Good news: there is no need to retire. There is no need to pack up your desk or attend one more retirement party. Why? With the widening gap between the number of workers and the demand for talent, employers are looking to keep smart, productive workers in the workplace. The growing talent shortage will allow you to re-negotiate your relationship with "work."

GARDENERS FOUNDATION: Growing the next generation

Catalino Tapia. Photo by Terry Nagel/Civic Ventures.

Catalino Tapia, 63, crossed the border from Mexico in 1964 with $6 in his pocket. In 1982, he started his own gardening business. For his encore, he is gathering his fellow gardeners together in the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation to help dozens of low-income students go to college.

The idea for the foundation came to him while he watched his son accept a diploma from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. Beaming with pride, he thought: What can I do to help other students go to college?

ENERGY ENCORES: Oil and gas vets go green

Richard Haut left the oil industry to join a nonprofit working on environmental sustainability.

A growing number of energy industry veterans "are reinventing themselves as protectors of the earth," The Wall Street Journal reports.

"They are taking what they learned in the oil and gas fields and using it to develop and push greener drilling and production technologies," writes Isabel Ordonez. "Some have formed their own companies for that purpose, while others have joined environmental nonprofits."

The emergence of green encore careers in the energy industry is the result of the intersection of two trends -- the industry's large number of baby boomer engineers and others who are nearing traditional retirement age with a passion for continued contribution; and a change in the perception of environmentalism as issues like climate change and energy security come to the fore.

AARP FOUNDATION: New center to champion nursing in America

Each year nursing schools turn away thousands of qualified applicants because they don’t have enough skilled faculty members to teach them. By 2020, the American health care system is expected to face a shortage of more than one million nurses.

Trying to expand the pipeline, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a $10 million grant to the AARP Foundation to pursue an aggressive agenda to elevate the visibility of the nursing shortage.

JIM GIBBS: Teaching a love of reading

Jim Gibbs and Eugene Jennings. Photo by Pauline Lubens/Mercury News.

It's not every third grader who gets a Stanford professor of cultural anthropology as his personal tutor.

Eugene Jennings, eight years old, is lucky to have James Lowell Gibbs, Jr., helping him improve his reading. "This is their second year together, and they have developed a comfortable rapport that resembles a friendship more than it does a teacher-student relationship," writes San Jose Mercury News reporter Jeff Thomas in an article headlined, "Learning a Love of Reading.".

Push for "encore accounts" gaining steam

“Encore accounts” to finance individuals’ transition to their encore careers are getting increased attention from presidential candidates on the campaign trail.

To be fair, none of them are actually mentioning “encore careers” in their proposals, at least not yet. But the attention could spur support for incentives directly aimed at helping people prepare for work that matters in the second half of their lives.

JOHN B. SHOVEN: New way to think about old age

Stanford professor John B. Shoven has a provocative proposal for figuring "inflation-adjusted age."

In the latest issue of Foreign Policy, Shoven argues that, just as a 1960 dollar is not the same as a 2008 dollar, neither is a 1960 lifespan the same as a 2008 lifespan. Since 1960, Shoven points out, the average lifespan of a Chinese person has increased by 36 years, a South Korean by 24 years, a Mexican by 17 years and a French person by nearly a decade.

"Just as with the dollar, it is time to introduce inflation-adjusted ages as a superior method for measuring age," Shoven writes. Instead, he suggests mortality risk -- the chance a person has of dying within the next year -- as a more accurate view of health, productivity and life expectancy.

In Memoriam: Cowboy Fred Ortiz

Those of us who met Cowboy Fred Ortiz at the 2006 Purpose Prize Summit will never forget the man with the cowboy hat, beard, ponytail, and earring, always dressed in a color coordinated suit, shirt, and tie -- complete with a pocket handkerchief.

We were saddened to hear that Cowboy Fred this week lost his battle with cancer. He was 65.

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