How to Build a Second Career


"Great communication begins with connection…when we recognize those needs in ourselves, we can better understand them in others, and that's when we can set aside our judgments and just hear." — Oprah

In today’s work economy, your ability to connect with and influence others will be what sets you apart--regardless of your industry, job title or role. 

There are so many books, articles, podcasts and courses out there with concepts and frameworks designed to help you achieve your best life, but it can be challenging to understand how to use them to get from where you are to where you want to go.

I find it helpful to consider to look at the success stories of other people who have achieved the next step you're looking toward. If you only study the most wealthy CEOs of the world, you're going to get lost in the steps in took them to get there. Look around you for the people who are just a few steps ahead of you.

I want to share one such story with you. Willie Johnson is an amazing example of a person who made a career change later in life and went on to create a successful second career, write two books, and is continuing to build his influence. You will learn a lot from his story and writings.

For years, Willie was a successful trainer at a Fortune 500 company. He was great at presenting relevant content and teaching others how to do the various tasks related to their jobs. However, he didn’t often develop and incorporate “stories” into his work, as he simply didn’t have time.

During the economic downturn of the early aughts, Willie witnessed many of his fellow baby boomers lose their jobs. He saw the terrible toll this took on them emotionally as they tried to navigate what seemed like the end of the world. Willie began to consider what this meant for his generation and pondered how his life’s motto of Possibility Thinking could help.

“People were in despair and had ‘woe is me’ syndrome,” he remembers.

Willie began to lay the groundwork for a career change in 2006. He got involved in Toastmasters, working to improve his public speaking. By 2010 he became more aggressive in his approach and could see the impact that the small behavioral changes he integrated had added up over time. By 2014, his wife was onboard and Willie left his corporate job at the young age of 64, plunging full time into keynote speaking.

He knew that his peers needed to hear his message of hope – that all was not lost, just because they had lost their jobs.

By leaving his corporate job, he proved that he was living the story.

Changing careers is never easy, and Willie knew he couldn’t go it alone. He began to invest in his professional development – building his speaking and platform skills. 

Willie Johnson, thriving in his second career

Willie Johnson, thriving in his second career

When he left the corporate world, Willie worked to build his speaker business as well as a more robust online offering. Through this process he realized he needed some help in the “story” department - he needed to find a way to organize and develop his stories.

The first few programs Willie participated in didn’t have much substance, despite their high price tags. Willie reflects, “I was reluctant to get burned by purchasing yet another program – these are my retirement dollars, after all -  but my gut said DO IT. I am so glad I did. I found the Brilliant Presenter Program different from others, and it turned out to be well worth the investment.”

The Brilliant Presenter Program is the “secret playbook” I developed to influence audiences.  The material within the program contains specific frameworks that were designed and tested and really work in the marketplace. The program includes real life approaches to design and deliver presentations.

After completing the program, Willie acted immediately to put the principles into practice. He noticed that his audience was more receptive when he applied his favorite concept, the “chunk strategy.”

Willie is enthusiastic about his results, “Now when I’m speaking to my audience, instead of just delivering information, I’m sharing stories that connect the dots.”

Willie credits Brilliant Presenter with helping him stay on target and focused while speaking. He has gained valuable insight on how to close a presentation using the “Cherry on Top” method.

“Brilliant Presenter made focusing on the basics of public speaking as easy as C.A.K.E.,” chuckles Willie.

Now that he’s completed the program, Willie looks forward to working on being more conversational in his speaking, rather than “preachy.” He plans to implement intentional pauses, and maintain his power place on stage - two other techniques he learned in the program.

The Brilliant Presenter program will equip you with the specific tools and techniques and teach you how to use YOUR voice, your brilliance, your stories, and your skills. You’ll find yourself presenting your brand in a fresh new way that impacts, inspires, and influences your audience. 

Willie has advice for those considering a late-life career change: “If you’re unhappy, stop telling yourself bogus stories. Get over that hurdle and step out and do something you really enjoy. You don’t want to look back and wish you had changed your career or started your own business.”

Making a change in your career or business requires intention. It's not always easy to remember to stop and focus on affirming ourselves and our goals. His advice to boomers and millennials alike:

“Become an expert in your area. You can then make a decision whether to use this knowledge to grow a business or to grow within your existing career. Regardless of what you decide, take responsibility, own it, be your own CEO! Only you can make it happen.”

No matter what your age, there are certain behaviors that are absolutely critical to success:

  1. have a positive mental attitude
  2. be of high character
  3. build influential
  4. have great communication skills

Most of all - don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

Over time, Willie was inspired to write his first of two books, It’s Never Too Late to Live Up to Your Potential

Willie’s goal is to help people be more intentional with what they do and how they do it. The book is a reminder to reach out for help when you need it. Willie strives to live this every day. Willie explains, “I want people to believe in themselves, understanding that their best is yet to come. I want them to know that it’s possible to create a larger vision for themselves, even in this season in life.”

Willie’s second book, Be Amazing., shares strategies to discover your new and fulfilling purpose.  Each chapter is stand-alone and offers concrete, common sense tips on how to find purpose in daily life.

I highly recommend Willie's book-Be Amazing

I highly recommend Willie's book-Be Amazing

Willie’s books contain real maps to navigate self-awareness and become successful. Willie emphasizes, “The time-tested strategies in my books work when embraced and applied to your life.”

To learn more about Willie Johnson, visit: