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Mike’s story

Last month, Encore.org and She Writes ran a story
competition. The challenge: in
250-words-or-less, answer these questions: “Did you reinvent yourself in
midlife? Have you had an
“encore” career, as a writer or in some other form? What is your story of rebirth?” The inspiration: a new book by Civic Ventures founder Marc
Freedman titled “The Big Shift,”
which argues that with average lifespans dramatically lengthened, many of us
are faced with a new stage in life: the Encore Years. Our very own Mike Rocco (San Francisco
Program Director) submitted. Mike didn’t
win the competition (read the winning
), but his words touched our hearts.
We hope they’ll touch yours, too:

The best of times, the worst of times… my son graduated from a prestigious university… my best friend lost his family and soul to drug
addiction… my daughter was Student Body President… a good friend lost his son
to suicide… and my motivation stalled with the country’s economy. Is this what being 50 is about?

My youth was filled with doing “good.” I helped those that were less fortunate, supported social/environmental causes, and lead others so that they too could
have a greater involvement in our communities.
Eating, sleeping and money meant little.

Marriage/family brought that all too familiar “it’s better to do well” stage of life and I focused on roles that brought financial rewards
but usually at someone or something’s expense. I justified my actions “knowing”
that I was good at it but, it at the end of the day, or decade, little had
changed in the overall scheme of things.

Then one day I received an e-mail about an organization, City Hall Fellows, which was dedicated to creating the next generation of enlightened leaders for local
government. It was a catalytic moment.
As its Program Director, I could lead young people towards careers that really
mean something, teach them about the political and governmental operations of
our cities, and advocate to business and civic leaders about the importance of
training the next generation of public sector managers. It’s been the most professionally rewarding
10 months I’ve had in the past 25 years.

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