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Second Acts: Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire Paperback – December 23, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060514884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060514884
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After spending decades on Wall Street, Pollan, at age 48, became ill and was forced to re-create his professional life. Now he's working as an author (of more than a dozen financial and self-help books) and life coach, helping others to follow their dreams and stage their lives' "second act." In this volume, Pollan and Levine offer tales of individuals of all ages who realized that something was missing from their professional or personal lives and decided to make major changes. Referring back to those real stories, the authors provide a guide to understanding dreams, translating dreams to life goals and overcoming the obstacles to making those goals into realities. Pollan believes that for some, it's enough to rediscover the joys inherent in a current career; for others, it means more drastic decisions. Peppered with inspirational accounts of "famous second acts" (including J.K. Rowling, Hillary Rodham Clinton, George Foreman and former junk bond king Michael Milken), this book offers useful exercises and helpful advice about changes that range from tweaks to overhauls.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Second Acts teaches how to achieve what others think or say is impossible.” (Christopher Reeve)

“Stephen Pollan and Mark Levine show us that it’s never too late to stage a heckuva comeback!” (Al Roker)

“Your life need not be the same. You can have a second act, Pollan shows you how.” (Joan Lunden)

“Pollan’s encouragement helped me convert my own fear and uncertainty into optimism and enthusiasm for continued personal growth.” (Michael J. Fox)

For anyone looking for motivation, encouragement and help in creating dynamic life changes, this book is a must read. (Keith Harrell, Life Coach/Author of Attitude is Everything)

“Equal parts inspiration and explanation, Second Acts is a road map for the journey to a better life” (David Nivin, author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People)

SECOND ACTS captures the changed career paths many of us will have; and shares the strategies needed to do it. (Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room)

Making your life significant during the Second Act can really make a difference for you and the lives of others. (Ken Blanchard, coauthor, The One Minute Manager)

Customer Reviews

In a sea of thousands of self-help books this is one that really stands out.
Herbert Haskins
If you are already considering one this book will help you get a better handle on what you need to do.
Mimi Steel
This is one of a handful of books that I've used myself and highly recommend to my coaching clients.
Susan R. Meyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 111 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on March 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Let's see - I graduate from law school at age twenty, work as an attorney, a real estate developer, venture capitalist, and a banker over a span of about thirty years. Then I get sick and am out of work. When I am ready to return to work, I, through a large network of past contacts, just happen to get a job teaching college courses, which leads to writing books and appearing on national TV shows, and which, in turn, leads to forming consulting businesses including life coaching. And, of course, my advanced degreed wife takes a well-paying job at a magazine as a cushion. Then I hold myself up as an example of how the typical person can launch a second career and put it all in a book, SECOND ACTS. So the reader learns early on that the author cannot distinguish the irrelevant from the situation of most attempting to make a career change. Furthermore, it is an irony, which the author little sees, that he did not depend on the exercises that he recommends to others in finding a second career. He actually stumbled into most of what he calls a second career. Is that the real message: get lucky.

Of course, what would a self-help book be if it didn't have any number of exercises that must be followed to find a second career. First of all, one is to write about their dream: passions, strengths and weaknesses, interests, needs, and the specific dream. And then there are the typical obstacles of which one must be cognizant: age, money, duration, consent, location, physical condition, education and training, timing, esteem, fear of failure, fear of success, and fatalism. There is a subtle message here that failure to launch a second career may be due to your failure to overcome these obstacles - like they are not really obstacles after all.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am a New Yorker who was living here on September 11th, 2001. 9/11 is shorthand for so many things these days, I suppose it is something different for all of us. For me, the events that unfolded here, among many other things, caused me to reconsider the professional choices I have made. If our lives can change (or be taken from us) in an instant, then I had better be satisfied with who I am and what I'm doing in my career...Since then, I've been looking for books and other resources to help me sort through how to decide what I want to do next in my life. I've bought a couple of books on this topic, but overall they been very unsatisfying.
Second Acts is the best resource I've found to sort through how I create the career and life I want in uncertain times. What's best about the book is that the steps outlined by Pollan and Levine are concrete and helpful--a rarity with this kind of book, and I feel like I can really learn from the examples they've taken from other peoples lives. Already, the book has helped me to create a plan to take actions that will help me make changes in my professional life that will enable me to lead the life I want.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Pollan draws on his background as lawyer and financial advisor, once again demonstrating that life is the best preparation for a career as a life coach. His book offers the familiar promise, "It's never too late," but with some surprising twists.
The best part of this book is the section on deciding what you want to do with your life. Pollan's exercises are original and would, I believe, help many people to discover their own next step. For instance, Pollan urges readers to review activities that they love -- and also places that draw forth a passionate response. His question, "What need does this passion address?" is extremely helpful and, unfortunately, rarely asked.
Implementation sections are helpful but I would encourage readers to seek supplementary guidance. Pollan suggests that a degree from University of Phoenix may be as helpful, in some cases, as a degree from Harvard. I encourage my own clients to talk to alumni from any school. Some doors will be closed to Phoenix alums, including some adjunct teaching options. On the other hand, a fifty-plus career changer who wants to set up shop as a counselor would do as well with a degree from the fastest, lowest-cost school whose courses are recognized by the state in question.
Still, I would be careful. I have heard first-account accounts of degree programs losing acceptability by accrediting bodies.
Pollan urges readers to omit dates from a resume. If you're using a back-door method to get a job (as you should!) that strategy will work. However, if your resume goes through a human resource department, it will most likely get tossed or you will be asked to submit traditional resume with dates.
Finally, I was disturbed by the grammar errors distributed lavishly through the text.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on May 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've read probably dozens of "reinvent your life" and/or "find the perfect career" books in the past few years, and this book is definitely in my top 10. If you take the time to complete the exercises, you'll learn a lot about yourself and what you want out of life, and that alone is worth the price of the book.
While Pollan's method for identifying what you want isn't unique to him, he gives it some interesting twists, such as asking not only "What do I want?" but "How will I know when I have it?", which forces you to be very specific! His chapters on "opening closed doors" were, I felt, very uneven: some were genuinely helpful (the money chapter), while others (such as the "education and training" chapter) seemed glib and superficial.
I was favorably impressed that he didn't focus solely on career changes: one of his examples is a woman who loves her career but misses having a family, so the solution is not for her to change careers but to adopt a child. I like his attitude: he focuses on the present and the future, on what you can do NOW to achieve what you want; this is a real upper for those of us who tend to get bogged down in "I've wasted my life" and "It's too late to change"! He also points out that much of one's work experience -- learning how to negotiate, get along with people, or manage a project -- is transferable to another field, so changing careers doesn't mean starting completely from scratch.
On the other hand, as other readers have pointed out, he recounts far too many examples of people who were successful in one career before changing to another. Many people DON'T succeed because they're in the wrong job; but, once they find a career that better suits their interests, abilities, and values, they prosper. It happened to me, and I know I'm not unique, so I think the book would have been more convincing if it included more examples of this type.
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