*This story was a part of the Impowerage “It’s Never Too Late to Change Careers” Writing Contest. Voting is now closed and you can see the contest winner here.
By Margaret Hennessey
Gerry Hennessey turned 65 that day and began the next year of an adventure that started 15 years previously. On his 50th birthday, he was asked what he planned to do for the next 50 years? His answer? “Everything”.
Learn What You’ve Always Wanted to Know
At that point, he was a successful but bored realtor who considered that it was time to return some adventure to his life. Where to start? He made his “everything” list of all that intrigued, excited and fascinated him in life. That list covered Psychology, Martial Arts, Movies, Magic and Writing.
His adventure began with enrollment at Douglas College choosing a subject to “kick-start” his brain, Biological Psychology. So, at age 53 he walked into his first classroom in many years. Whilst his colleagues were selling houses, he was busy dissecting sheep brains in a laboratory, learning more about how we function.
Two semesters, one A- and one B+ grades later, he moved on to his next challenge.
Go as Far as You Can and Then a Little Further After That
Next challenge was a physical one. Having spent 6 years studying the martial art of Aikido and earning a black belt, could he be one of the oldest guys in Canada to earn the coveted 2nd degree black belt?
Two years later, he checked that off too.
“What’s it like to work on a movie set?” was something he had often asked himself. Where to start? Get headshots, find an agent. At age 56, finding an agent was a task. Nobody wanted to know. “Too old, no experience” was something he became very familiar with.
You don’t get to that stage in life without learning how to handle rejection, so he persisted. Eventually, one agent took a chance. Next? Auditions. Forty nine auditions later and finally Bingo!
The Casting Director asked “Can you speak with a Russian accent?” “You bet”. That response got him cast as the Russian President in a champagne commercial.
More commercials followed, eventually landing him the role of an attorney in an episode of a prime time TV series for the European market. Playing against a German actor Florian Fitz, Gerry spoke his lines in English while Florian spoke his in German. Complicated? Certainly. He was dubbed into German for that market and Florian in English for other markets. Quite an experience. Performances like that booked him to record voiceovers for documentaries and commercials too.
Break the Rules!
Meanwhile, his wife saw a competition in a natural health magazine, looking for a healthy older male model. Two competition stipulations. Only US citizens could enter and only colored headshots would be accepted. He is Canadian and only had a black and white headshot, but entered anyway.
He won that too, plus $2500, a weekend in Beverly Hills for a photo shoot and several magazine pages of ads.
Who knows where your passionate interests can take you?
Do you believe in Magic? He did and joined a night school class to learn more. This was something that would become somewhat of an obsession for him. He applied himself diligently as a student and became good enough to be accepted into the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
His expertise in sleight of hand with cards brought him an invitation from the Vancouver Magic Circle to lecture to magicians. Lecturing to magicians of that caliber, is something he looks back on as an enormous honour.
His lifelong interest in Psychology soon took him to the study of a rarely seen branch of the magical arts, Mentalism (Mind Magic). Applying himself to that study, he eventually arrived at a convention of International Mentalists in Las Vegas, where he and a colleague were invited to perform on the Vegas stage with an act he had created. He pulled that off too.
His passion turned into a business and his performances of Mind Reading or Gambling Shows are in high demand at corporate events and private parties.
Along the way he even managed to write the first motivational free eBook for boomers Kaboom-ER, which is available from his other website.
He describes it as a handbook “for those who would rather wear out than rust out“.
The 1200 months reference? Well, if you live to be 100 years that’s how many months you have. Use them, he does, and like the Army slogan, “be all you can be”. Why not? There is more to come, as the adventure continues.