Figure Out What's Next

#5: How to Find Meaning Outside of Your Work

with Lynn DellaPietra
January 26, 2023 | 43 Minutes



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On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Lynn DellaPietra

Do you feel pressure to find your passion, to find meaning, through your work alone? Do you feel that you are failing if you don't somehow discover your passion and then find the perfect career to match it? Your work is not the only source of meaning. Listen to how Lynn DellaPietra navigated different What's Next moments in her life and managed to find meaning both inside, and outside, of her work.

In our conversation, we talk about…

  • how a job she thought she needed to leave ended up being the perfect job,
  • how there are many sources and ways to find meaning outside of work,
  • how she navigated two very critical What’s Next moments in her life,
  • exactly how she saw the “writing on the wall” for her current career and explored other possibilities,
  • how it’s never too late, and never too crazy, to make a change,
  • how talking to as many people as possible in specific lines of work, casting a wide net, helped her make a decision,
  • and how, despite having three very different career paths, they are all connected by her North Star.

About Lynn DellaPietra

Lynn is currently an executive search associate at AGB Search, the most recent stop on her career journey. After receiving her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, she worked as a clinical neuropsychologist, evaluating and diagnosing patients with brain injuries and illnesses. She had been drawn to teaching much of her life and made a change from clinical work to full-time teaching in 1999. For over 20 years, she worked as a professor of psychology and administrator in a variety of types of institutions, including small Catholic colleges and a mid-size community college. She left her position as Dean of Social and Behavioral Science in January 2022 to pursue a career in executive recruiting. She and her husband live in Philadelphia with their daughter and miniature poodle. When she isn’t working, she directs musicals for a local community theater, tries as many new restaurants as she can, and is a puzzle enthusiast.


Connect with

Connect with Nicola & Peter

Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode

  • Midlife Reinvention Program (parts are taught to our Figure Out What’s Next program clients)
  • Inside-Out Career Design process (taught to our Figure Out What’s Next program clients)
  • Casting Directors of America -

Drop us a note

Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]

About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast

This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?

Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”

They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.

Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.


Lynn DellaPietra  00:00

I would say, to me, one of the things I'd like people to know is that it's never too late to change. Right? Even if you think you're X years old, or you've been in this career X number of years, you can still make a change if you're not happy. And I'm, I've certainly done it many times in my career. And many times, when a lot of people thought, why are you changing? You've been doing this for such a long time. You know, it's never too late, and it's never too late to at least think about it. And even if you decide that where you are is the right place, as long as you come to that, after having thought about it, as a possibility, I think is a win.


Peter Axtell  00:50

Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given. 


Peter Axtell  01:05

Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  02:05

Our guest today is Lynn DellaPietra. Lynn is a neuropsychologist with a PhD in Clinical Psychology. And the main reason we wanted to talk with Lynn is that she is a former student of ours. She came to us a few years ago when we were running the Midlife Reinvention Program to help people stuck in midlife figure out what's next for them.


Peter Axtell  03:44

Lynn knew that she needed to change, but she wasn't sure how, or in what direction, she only knew that she wanted to decide with clarity, and intention. And what she found was a surprise. The job she had was actually the perfect job for her at that time.


Nicola Vetter  04:06

That's why we were so excited to talk with Lynn, to catch up with her, and to see what she's been up to. And in our conversation, we talk about how a job she thought she needed to leave ended up being the perfect job, how there are many sources and ways to find meaning outside of work, how she navigated two very critical what's next moments in her life, and exactly how she saw the writing on the wall for her current career and explored other possibilities, how it's never too late and never too crazy to make a change and how despite having three very different career paths they are all connected by her North Star. And now it's time to listen and learn from Lynn.


Peter Axtell  05:08

Welcome, Lynn. We're so happy to have you with us today and to see you again, because you were one of our students in the Midlife Reinvention Program that we ran about five years ago. Just to recap quickly for our listeners, the Midlife Reinvention Program was something we created to help people who were stuck in midlife to reinvent themselves without putting their family, future, or finances at risk. And in many ways, that program became the foundation for the Inside Out career design process we've created and that we teach today.


Nicola Vetter  05:44

So, Lynn, you were a special and unique student in that program, because you ended up making the decision to stay in your career, at least at that time, and we are curious to hear what happened since then. But first, what led you to join our program?


Lynn DellaPietra  06:07

Sure. First of all, thanks for having me, I'm really happy to be able to have this conversation with you all. You know, I feel like I've known you all for such a long time now. And you know, in some ways, you know, all my deepest secrets. So, I'm very happy to be able to have this conversation. So, I have been working in higher education for about 20 years in different positions first as a professor, and then as a department chair, and most recently as a dean. And I knew that there were only one or two positions where I could go from there. One would be to be a vice president for academic affairs, or provost, the other would be to be a university president. And I didn't have any interest in really either of those positions. So, I sort of felt a little stuck. And I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. But I felt like I had run my course in higher ed. And my husband, coincidentally or fortuitously happened to see an ad for the midlife reinvention program. And he said, I think you should look into this, this might be a really good way for you to explore what else you might do if you decide to leave higher education. So, I remember vividly having this call with Peter in my office. And I remember thinking, oh, this is going to be something really good for me. I feel like I had spent a lot of my career moving from position to position, not necessarily with a lot of intention, or with a lot of very far fore-thought, for example. I never made five-year goals or 10-year goals for myself. I was kind of going along and the next interesting thing that would come up, I would say, I think I'm going to do that now. And so, for me, the Midlife Reinvention Program was a time to sit and really think and reflect in a way on my career that I had never done to that point. And what was the most interesting about that process is that, through that process, I realized that the job that I had at the time, was in many, many ways, very close to my ideal job. And I remember having that conversation with Nicola, and saying, you know, wow, I had never really thought about it in this way. I had never really thought about what are my ideal characteristics of a job, what are the ideal situations that I would be working under, and then realizing that my position at the time was actually very close to that. And so that was what led me to decide to stay in my job for what I believe was about three years after we worked together. And then since then, I've done some more reflecting and there are a lot of changes right now happening in higher education that I felt were not going to be good for me in the long run. In terms of just difficulties. There are a lot of colleges that are struggling, and I tended to work at small colleges which are struggling the most of all the colleges. And so, I decided to switch gears and do something different and that's how I ended up in executive search.


Nicola Vetter  09:44

Okay, that's the full picture. That's wonderful. I want to peel it down a little bit. Going back to our program. What was this what's next moment how we call it during that program, and what exactly happened inside of you? I mean, you're a neuropsychologist. Come on.


Lynn DellaPietra  10:10

Yeah, I think for me, what happened was that the program, there was a very specific exercise that I remember where we listed out all of the things that our ideal job would have, everything from where would you be working? Who would you be working with? You know, what type of work would you be doing? And then almost creating like a Venn diagram of how much overlap there was, with those ideal characteristics and your current position. And again, this sort of aha moment for me was, wow, they're really very similar. And I have it pretty good at my job, even though some of the content of what I was doing day to day was not necessarily that exciting. I realized that if I took all of the pieces that were important to me, and the most important to me, that job had many of those already in place.


Nicola Vetter  11:16

Can you give us some examples of those pieces and what you felt when you realized, wow, that job is actually the perfect job, at least right now.


Lynn DellaPietra  11:28

Yes. So, I can tell you that one of the things that I value a lot in my work is autonomy and having independence. And at my job at that time, I did have a lot of independence. I also had a schedule that allowed me to kind of, I don't want to say come and go as I please, because that doesn't sound exactly right. But there was a certain amount of flexibility in my hours and in when I worked, and I was able to work some from my home. And all of those things were important to me, as I learned sort of from making this list. And so, it really was a moment where I said to myself, hey, you know, if you go to another job, you might not have all those things, you might have different content, and you might be doing some different tasks. But you may have to give up these other things. And, and I think, Nicola, the most important part of that exercise is not only listing the things, but talking about how important they are, how salient they are to you, sort of giving them weight, a relative weight. And so, saying, okay, I can trade off this piece, which is not that important to me, as long as I have this piece, which is really important to me. And so, I remember saying to myself after that exercise, hey, maybe I should think about whether I want to leave this job or not, because it's pretty good.


Peter Axtell  13:08

Lynn, what were the things you took away? Specifically? Can you remember?


Lynn DellaPietra  13:14

From that exercise in particular?


Peter Axtell  13:16

Yeah. When you think about the whole midlife reinvention program, what were the things that you took away?


Lynn DellaPietra  13:23

Well, that was a big one. Um, another one was thinking about the types of work that I enjoy and the types of work that suit me. So, I'm a very linear thinker. I like things that are black and white and concrete. And I like tasks that I can complete, and that are maybe less ambiguous than other tasks. And so, reflecting on that was important for me in terms of thinking about what my next step might be, you know, can I find a job that capitalizes on those strengths or where those strengths are an asset to my performance? Another thing that I really enjoyed about that program was the exercise where we called our friends and we said, what are the things about me, that you think, have caused us to have such a long-lasting friendship or relationship? And just hearing those things illuminated some themes for me that my friends were saying similar things. And that made me think, oh, there must be something to that if everyone is saying something similar. And then how can that tie into what I do for a living? How can I capitalize on those characteristics in what I do?


Peter Axtell  14:53

How did you at this time in your life find meaning?


Lynn DellaPietra  15:02

That's a tough question, I think. I struggle a little bit with the idea of trying to find meaning in my job. And I think maybe we talked about this, that I've always had a hard time trying to find a job that gives me that sense of purpose. And I think the way that I've approached that, or I've approached that question is, is there a way that I can structure my working life, so that I have time in my personal life, to do the things that satisfy me? So, for example, one of the things that I really love to do is I love to direct musicals. And there's a community theater near my home that I hadn't been able to work at for a while, because my job was taking up so much of my time. And as I started to transition out of my job and into this new job, I've been able to do that more. And so, I think that for me, I struggle a little bit with the idea that my job has to give me the meaning, if that makes sense.


Nicola Vetter  16:15

Absolutely. Meaning comes from different sources. So, it's not only the job that gives you meaning. But if you are miserable in your job, then having meaning in your life is really, really difficult.


Lynn DellaPietra  16:32

Right, right.


Peter Axtell  16:34

I remember at the time when you spoke about playing the piano and about creating events. And I remember how you had kind of an aha moment where you said, You know I'm not getting it with my job, but I can get it in these other ways and blend the two things together.


Lynn DellaPietra  16:53



Peter Axtell  16:54

That's a really good lesson for people.


Lynn DellaPietra  16:57

Yeah, because I think, you know, sometimes, if you're lucky enough to be in a position where you can search for a job and take time to find a job that gives you meaning, that's amazing. But a lot of people don't have that luxury, right? A lot of people have to put food on the table, and they have to get whatever job they can, so that their family can eat. And so, to me, that's a little bit of a luxury sometimes, and if you can't find it in your job, then I hope that you can find it outside of your job.


Nicola Vetter  17:32

Exactly. And you definitely shine, I can tell that you are much more content than at the beginning, when we first met.


Lynn DellaPietra  17:48

Absolutely, I was really struggling at the beginning with this exact question: I have to find my passion and that has to somehow be what I do for a living. That message is so pervasive. And I do think sometimes that can be a damaging message, because then you feel dysfunctional. If you can't figure that out, right? Oh, my gosh, not only do I have to figure out what my passion is, which can be a struggle for a lot of people and is and was a struggle for me as well but then you have to find a job that allows you to do that for a living, and make money, and feed your family, and have health insurance, and all of that right, all of these practical concerns. So, I think that can be a very difficult question. And I was struggling with all of that, at the beginning when we first started working together. And I definitely think that working through the midlife reinvention program, and the time that has passed since then, I've definitely become a lot more content, both with my professional life, and being able to integrate some of the things that I love to do in my personal life.


Peter Axtell  19:03

I'm so happy to hear that. One last question about when you joined the midlife reinvention program, you had what we call a what's next moment where you had no choice but to sit down and figure out what's next for your life and career. Have you had any of those what's next moments since then?


Lynn DellaPietra  19:25

Well, yes, when I changed jobs, from teaching into executive search, that was a big what's next moment because that was a big pivot from the type of work I was doing to the new work. And so that was a big change. And I had to really think about, do I want to leave this area that I've been in for over 20 years to do something that I have very little knowledge about other than some dabbling here and there where I was working with some people that I knew, but that was a huge what's next moment in terms of, I'm going to jump and hope that there's a net there. You know.


Nicola Vetter  20:16

You said, when we last spoke that you saw the writing on the wall and shifted into executive search. So, what exactly is it that you saw? What caused you to shift?


Lynn DellaPietra  20:34

It's a situation that's happening in higher education, broadly across the country, which is that there are fewer 18-year-olds who are going to college because there are fewer 18-year-olds generally than there were. And coming up in 2024 / 2025, there's something that people in higher education are calling the demographic cliff, which is a very steep drop-off in the number of babies that were born 18 years ago. And so, what's going to happen is, all of the colleges that are struggling now for enrollment are going to be struggling even more, because there are fewer students, and everyone's going to be competing for this reduced shrinking population of 18 year olds. So to me, that meant that my job was going to be getting more difficult, and that it was going to require some types of work and thinking that I don't particularly think are my skillset. You know, thinking about creative ways to bring students into college. You know, I probably could have done it if I had done a lot of reading and worked with people, but it was something that I knew was going to cause a lot of stress. Because if you can't bring students in, people aren't going to have jobs. So, I just saw that my job was probably going to get a lot more stressful. And I was not really excited about that, to be totally honest. And so, I started to think about what else I could do that would be a complete shift from being a dean or a professor,


Peter Axtell  22:26

How did you go about doing that?


Lynn DellaPietra  22:29

Well, I'll tell you, I put a big - and I'm looking at it, as we speak - I put a big piece of white butcher paper on my bedroom wall and I wrote everything that I could think of on this paper. Everything I could think of from being a secretary, to working at a casino, to going back to school, to you know, staying in higher education. And I just thought of everything I could think of, and I put it on this big piece of paper in my room. And I exactly, and I just had it there. And I said, I'm gonna just leave this here for right now. And I'm going to look at it every once in a while. And then I started to kind of go through that list and say, this is not realistic right now, this is maybe for when I retire, you know, and then I whittled it down to some potential things. And then I just talked to as many people as I could think of who were connected to that line of work. I put out a lot of connections on LinkedIn. I talked just to everybody I could think of, and I even put out on Facebook a couple of times, I'm thinking about this. I mean, one of them was event planning, I put out, I'm thinking about event planning, does anybody have anyone that they know that I could talk to? And I talked to as many people as I could talk to. And it's amazing what will happen if you put that stuff out into the universe. People will appear in your life, and you maybe won't know why they're there at the time, but later you'll look back and you'll say, Ah, that was why I talked to that person.


Peter Axtell  24:31

Lynn, how many topics or possibilities were on this piece of butcher paper? And how long did it sit up there marinating while you were looking at it every day?


Lynn DellaPietra  24:44

I'm gonna say there were about 20 things on that list. And it sat on my wall for probably two years. Because you know, even though I have changed jobs, and I've even changed careers a couple of times in my life, I'm not a, I'm gonna just jump without looking kind of person, I need to know that the move is going to be secure, it's going to be safe, it's going to be, you know, not going to put my family in financial jeopardy. So, it did take me quite a while to have it be marinating.


Nicola Vetter  25:24

And being in executive search now, you know that many people today out there are thinking about leaving their job and starting over. How would you advise them to do that in a safe way?


Lynn DellaPietra  25:42

Yeah, and I'll preface this by saying I'm not putting this advice out there as a recruiter. But this is my own personal advice.


Peter Axtell  25:51

Of course.


Lynn DellaPietra  25:52

I would say that I would start with the brainstorming, right, I would start by thinking of all of the possible things that are not only what you're doing now, but are related to what you're doing now, or are related to what you would like to be doing, or what you love to do. So, as an example, one of the things that I love about doing musicals is I love the casting process. And I've always thought about a career in casting. So, I put out on Facebook, does anybody know anybody in this world, and a good friend of mine had a friend who had a friend, and they connected me with her. And I had a long conversation with her. And after that, I realized that was not at all what I thought it would be like that life. And I thought, Okay, this one is not for me. Let's go on to the next one. And so, I literally just tried each one of those things on my list, tried to talk to as many people as I could, who either did that for a living or knew someone and try to assess how close that would be to my ideal job.


Nicola Vetter  27:14

So, you did I mean, you are an excellent student as well. Not only a teacher, but also a student. And you did exactly what we taught you it seems. We call these interviews life and career design interviews now. And my question around that is, because I believe that many people out there, ask themselves, well, would anybody even reply to me?


Lynn DellaPietra  27:45

So, you'll be surprised when I first started this question about casting, I went on a website, it was called something like casting directors of America. And there's a whole list of people there with their email addresses. And I emailed everyone that had an address on there. And you'd be surprised I actually spoke with via email, I spoke with a woman who was a very high-profile casting director, she emailed me back. And we had a couple of back and forth on email. And, and I said to her, I can't believe you emailed me. I mean, I knew her name just from seeing it in the credits on television shows. Right? And, and she emailed me back, and she had a very lovely, you know, response. And she said, this is what this life is like. And, you know, here's what I love about it. Here's what I don't love about it. And it's amazing if you just cast a wide net, you'll be surprised who will respond to you.


Peter Axtell  28:47

Lynn, I have an intuition here and I'm going to take a flyer. I think that you are a little bit of an introvert as opposed to an extrovert. Is that true?


Lynn DellaPietra  28:58

For sure. I do a good impression of an extrovert.


Peter Axtell  29:03

Yes. What I would like you to speak about for the thousands of people who are introverts, the kind of actions you take, which is kind of against how you naturally might want to be because you're an introvert. Can you speak a little bit about that? That'd be interesting.


Lynn DellaPietra  29:20

Well, the internet is a wonderful thing, Peter, because you can be an extrovert on email, and it really doesn't cost you anything, right? I can connect with someone on LinkedIn, I can send them an email, we can have a whole conversation. And it doesn't require you to be with this person physically. It doesn't require you to have an extended conversation. It doesn't sap your energy in the way that sometimes introverts feel that social interactions do. So, for me, all of these conversations and I liked that you called them conversations, Nicola, because they were all electronic conversations. They didn't really cost me if you want to say that, right, as an introvert, they didn't cost me, and it was very easy to do it that way for me. Even on the phone, I think on the phone, too, is a lot easier for me than in person. Because I don't have to see the person. I don't have to get up the same level of energy that I do if I'm in person. So, I think all of these technologies make it a lot easier to put yourself out in a way that if you were literally going to places and knocking on their door. I would never have done that.


Peter Axtell  30:46

I suspect Lynn, though you didn't write just a half-baked email, either. I suspect you put some care into what you were sending.


Lynn DellaPietra  30:56

Yes, I did. I mean, and I was very honest. I said, this is what I'm doing now. I'm thinking about what could be next. And here's my question for you: what do you think about this professional? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? It wasn't long. It wasn't, you know, a whole page email, it was a paragraph because you know, people won't read them. And I just kind of got to the point. And a lot of people responded and said, wow, you're a professor, and now you want to do casting? And so, they were reading it, and they were interested. So yeah, I mean, I tried to make it at least eye-catching the emails that people would read it. But short.


Nicola Vetter  31:47

Yeah, the shorter the better, actually, in times of constant distraction all around, right?


Lynn DellaPietra  31:56

For sure. Yeah.


Nicola Vetter  31:58

And did you meet one single person for coffee or in person? Or was everything online?


Lynn DellaPietra  32:06

Um, well, as I got further into the process, and sort of left casting, and realized that was not going to be it, when I started to zoom in on executive search, then yes, I did. And, and again, this was just literally, I mentioned it to someone. It was my sister, I mentioned to my sister, oh, I, you know, I think this might be a place I could work. She said, oh, that's interesting, I have a friend who does that in Philadelphia. And I said, Oh, okay. We didn't think anything of it. Because at the time, I wasn't very serious about changing jobs. But as the years went on, she said, oh, I should connect you with him. And it turned out, we ran into him somewhere. She's said, oh, Lynn is interested in this. He said, I know someone you should talk to. So, it's always this. You never know who's listening or who's going to remember that you said something. And so that person, I did meet for coffee. And we did have an actual in person conversation, because he's an extrovert. He wanted to do that. So, I did it. Yeah, so yes, I did.


Nicola Vetter  33:24

Do you remember what it was that did draw you towards executive search?


Lynn DellaPietra  33:33

Yes, I was trying to think about the parts of my job as a dean that I loved the most. And it's funny because hiring is very similar to casting, right? You have a pool of people and you're trying to match the right person with the role, right? And I always loved that about my job. And so, I thought, how can I do that for a living? And executive search is pretty much that, right? We have a pool of applicants, we are trying to find the best match for this position. You know, there are other people involved and so we're mostly just making recommendations, but it is a lot of that same process.


Peter Axtell  34:22

This contrast between PhD neuropsychologist calling to be a casting director, and somehow it, I can't say what it is, is somehow all fits. How does that fit? If it does?


Lynn DellaPietra  34:41

Again, I do think that there were parts about being a teacher and a professor that were similar to this in terms of trying to find what's inside people, and how can you guide them towards the next right thing for them. And I would say that some of my personal successes in teaching, I feel, are the students that went on and did amazing things. Like I don't sit around and think about, oh my god, that lecture I gave in 2006 was so amazing, but I don't think about that. I think about, wow, I have several students who went on and got their PhDs, I have several students, many students who went out and got master's degrees, who are successful people who are loving what they do, who are helping people. Those to me are the successes that I feel I have had in my career. And part of that is trying to point people in the right direction, right. And so, I feel like that's maybe the thread that goes through casting musicals, right, this person would be really well suited to this role and executive search, this person would be really well suited to this position. So, I think that's the link.


Nicola Vetter  36:06

This sounds a little bit like you're a great connector as well.


Lynn DellaPietra  36:12

Yes. And I think that when we did the North Star exercise, that was my North Star: trying to guide people towards their potential, and towards, you know, places where they could do great things.


Peter Axtell  36:28

I remember a conversation we had when you were talking about your students in a very self- effacing way. And it was something about how your students, you inspired them in some way, they felt very seen, which is I think what you embody. You're just a blast to be around. Because I think you lift up other people. I think that's one of your superpowers, I think, but for real, that's very beautiful as a teacher to help students.


Lynn DellaPietra  37:03

Yeah. And that's actually one of the themes that came out in my conversations with my friends as well, that they enjoyed being around me, because I have a positive energy, I try to lift them up, and so yeah, I think you're right, Peter.


Nicola Vetter  37:22

Wonderful. Now, we are nearly at the end here. But is there anything that we didn't touch on that you really want our audience to know?


Lynn DellaPietra  37:33

I would say, to me, one of the things I'd like people to know is that it's never too late to change. Right? Even if you think you're X years old, or you've been in this career X number of years, you can still make a change if you're not happy. And I've certainly done it many times in my career. And many times, when a lot of people thought, why are you changing, you've been doing this for such a long time. You know, it's never too late. And it's never too late to at least think about it. And even if you decide that where you are is the right place. As long as you come to that after having thought about it as a possibility. I have a cousin actually who was sort of my inspiration for that. She, when she was growing up, always wanted to be a hairdresser. Always. She would do all of our hair when we were little. And she just loved it. And her parents said, no, you need to go to college. And so she went to college, and she was very unhappy. She never finished college. But she got a very good job as a graphic designer. And she was doing that for a long time. And about three years ago, she's in her late 50s now, she said, you know what? I want to be a hairdresser. And she left her job. And she went to hairdressing school, and everyone thought she was insane. Because she had this very good job, and she was making good money. And she said, you know what, I never got to pursue that dream. And now that's what I want to do. And she did. And her classmates voted her the graduation speaker. And she gave this amazing speech about how it's never too late. And I was talking with her. Maybe last week was last Christmas. I saw her and I said you know, you're a huge inspiration for me this idea that you could do this and make this leap is incredible. And so, I just want people to know that, like, you don't have to feel stuck and if you're going to stay where you are at least do it after reflecting on other potential things that you could do. I have an aunt, a great aunt, who raised her whole family. And, you know, her kids were grown. And she said, I was a woman in the 40s and 50s. And we didn't go to college. And she said, now that I'm 60, I want to go be a psychologist. And she got her PhD when she was 62 years old. And she practiced for 10 years, 15 years as a psychologist, and she was so happy. And she was my other inspiration. And I always told my students about her because my students would say, I'm 25, I can't go back to school, it's too late. And I would say, guess what, it's not too late.


Nicola Vetter  40:51

That's a great pearl of wisdom that you're leaving our audience with. It's never too late. Beautiful. Thank you so much, Lynn.


Lynn DellaPietra  41:02

You're welcome. Thank you for having me.


Peter Axtell  41:05

We hope you enjoyed this interview. The biggest takeaway for me was the fact that even though on the surface, it appears that Lynn has three very different paths and interests, first as a teacher in higher education, then as a casting director for musicals, and then as an executive search associate, they are all tied together by her North Star. How? No matter what she was doing, she was always trying to guide people towards their potential and toward places where they could do great things.


Nicola Vetter  41:44

Absolutely. Once you know it, your North Star is always there to guide you. The biggest takeaway for me was this idea of connection, and how Lynn connected with so many people online when exploring different career paths. Often, it was just an email exchange. But her courage to reach out and ask questions helped her understand what it would be like to work as a casting director without having to make a leap or take risks to try it out.


Peter Axtell  42:26

Wonderful. To learn more about Lynn, head to, where we share the transcript links and more. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  42:48

And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.