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Inspirational Story Dick Walker: A Third Half in the Right Direction

Put Dick Walker in a room filled with strangers and within minutes it will become a room of his friends. Place him on a zoom meeting and he’ll know everyone’s life story by the end of the call. “I’m the type of person where you invite me to a cocktail party where I know nobody, and I’m happy as I can be. I love walking around introducing myself and listening—that’s just my thing.”

To put it simply, Dick Walker is a people-person: he not only knows how to talk—he knows how to listen. When obstacles arise for himself or others, he often contributes creatively pragmatic ideas. Where some may have been defeated when life took a turn, Dick simply kept going.

In fact, if you put some of Dick’s top strengths together—positivity, ideation, communication, includer, and woo you get a good picture of this man who has made it his life’s work to advise nonprofits in their fundraising and guide their boards on being more effective. “As a consultant to nonprofits, being an includer has helped me integrate multiple audiences. Ideation is coming up with new ideas. It’s all very natural for me.”

Dick first took the CliftonStrengths assessment 12 years ago. Back then, he didn’t pay much attention to his results. But recently, as he thought more about wanting to get the most out of his life and the later stages of his career, he became intrigued on what the results would show. Was he on the right track in creating his Third Half Portfolio?

Years Pass and Strengths Stay

After reviewing this most recent assessment in a Third Half Advisors’ virtual class, Dick became a believer—not just because of how “remarkably descriptive my CliftonStrengths were in terms of who I am, but also because the Third Half process focuses on people’s strengths, not their weaknesses.”

Spoken like a true maximizer.

It also gave Dick welcome reassurance that he’s going in the right direction. “I’ve reached a certain point of my life, where I like to focus on doing things I’m really good at.” As Dick builds his Third Half Portfolio, the question he faces is, “Which of those 10 things should I allocate my time to?” Which will bring the greatest happiness and fulfillment?”

“Don’t give me a job by myself. Give me a job with three, four people, and I’ll just jump right in. I’m happiest being part of a team.”

One of the things at which Dick excels is building bridges—forging connections and creating communities everywhere he goes. That strength, known as woo, is a manifestation of Dick’s energy and vitality. In the development world, those who have woo, like Dick, put this trait to optimal use. To Dick, a traditional retirement is never going to happen, where all too often social circles narrow and people become isolated; Dick gains too much energy from his work and contact with people.

As a connector, Dick seeks ways to help people remain in touch regardless of their age. He is a proponent of filling his life and his teams with multiple age groups, from recent college graduates in their 20s to those with rich lived experience in their 80s. Dick, whose strengths place him in the quadrant of Energy & Stimulation, nurtures his own sprawling, multi-generational connections. “My family jokes that my woo is a sickness. I have to say hello to everyone; it’s just who I am. Transitioning to one’s third half and finding teams to interact with post-career can be difficult. Who are you supposed to meet and how? For some, senior residential communities are a godsend. In contrast, Dick says, “I can’t imagine living in a community where everyone is the same age.”

His love of people and connections can be seen in his commitment to mentorship. Dick is always on the lookout for ways people his age can serve as mentors and help young people along their career. It’s one of the reasons that he’s a board member at Princeton AlumniCorps, which engages young professionals in advancing social change and inspires them to be leaders in the nonprofit space.

“I really don’t look at the next 10 to 15 years of my life as leading toward a point where I will stop doing what I do every day. I may just do less of it.”

Dick’s Third Half will be filled with his consulting practice, along with the teamwork and mentoring that’s so important to him. “Half a dozen young people call me regularly to see what I have to say. It makes me happy that they regard my advice as something meaningful to them and helps them find avenues to explore.”

For Dick, the past few years have been a measured transition from full to part time. He acknowledges, “I’ve never been very introspective. The Third Half Milestone program was a wonderful opportunity to think deeply about where I am in my life and where I want to go, plus I got to meet some really wonderful people.”

Learn about others who are transitioning from their corporate career to “what’s next” in our Third Half Masters stories. And if you’re interested in exploring what your Third Half can hold, check out our upcoming programs here.


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