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Masters of Third Half: Jim Waterbury

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

At Third Half Advisors, we often work with people who are highly motivated and successful. Jim Waterbury is no exception. Meet Jim and learn about how he uses his Clifton Strengths, an assessment we use at Third Half Advisors, to plan his path forward.

"Jim’s transition from the corporate world to his Third Half™ was guided by his futuristic Clifton Strengths and led him to lean into his creative side by dedicating himself to photography. As a digital storyteller, he looks to connect with people through his lens. The end product is nothing short of spectacular."

– Coach Polly Chandler


During his career as a Senior Leader at General Electric, Jim Waterbury worked with a talented global team, helped set strategy, brought on new talent and executed on a diverse and ever-changing set of business goals. He understood the objectives set for him and his team each year, and consistently met or exceeded his targets. He had strong collegial relationships and he used his strengths every day.

Finding Your Life's Purpose.

His life purpose during his time at GE was pretty clear: support his family, develop as a leader, and thrive in his service to GE, a company in which he strongly believes. Jim seems to embrace the servant leadership tradition described by Robert Greenleaf: “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to lead.”

He brought this Servant Leadership style to his volunteer work with St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. A graduate of St. Paul’s, like his father, Jim served on the Board of Trustees and eventually became President of the Board. In that role, he worked to ensure the school provided the best overall experience for its students. He built deep connections and relationships with the Head of School, fellow trustees, and other members of the school community. His Futuristic strength helped him to plan for the future of the school and he took his role of being a steward of the school’s resources seriously and with passion and commitment.

After a wonderful and fulfilling career at GE, Jim is now in his Third Half. His main focus in his Third Half is as a professional landscape and fine art photographer. His Achiever strength helps him aspire to the same focus and vision of other well-known landscape photographers, such as Ansel Adams, Sebastiao Salgado, and Art Wolfe.

Pivoting in the Third Half.

As a photographer, he uses his strengths to scout locations, identify photo opportunities, artistically design each image and use the technology of the camera to capture the best image. He masterfully processes his images in post-production. As a digital storyteller, he looks to connect with people through his lens.

During the pandemic, Jim has used his execution strengths to reinvent his website, He’s kept himself to a timeline to complete the huge task of selecting and editing images while building a story and marketing his brand.

Amidst all this amazing use of his talents there is a tension that is so common in the Third Half. The tension is in identifying meaning and purpose for his work. Jim reflects on how other landscape photographers see their purpose: whether in the outdoor experience, the healthy lifestyle, the bringing of nature and images to people, or the telling of stories through images to communicate points of view, provoke discussion, and encourage change. Yet, he asked “Why am I photographing in the first place?”

This is one of the most powerful questions that a person in their Third Half asks … The Purpose question.

What Is My New Purpose?

In our work lives, our purpose seems clearer. Now, Jim is wrestling with purpose; and he is in good Third Half company. So many people in their Third Half land on these very questions of purpose, “What is the point,” “What is my legacy,” “Why am I doing this?”

Over the course of his life thus far, Jim has tapped into his mix of execution strengths and relationship building strengths. He used his execution strengths (Achiever, Responsibility and Arranger) to orchestrate teams. He used his relationship building strengths to build trust with employees and external counterparts, mentor others, identify talents in employees and deepen connections with the leadership team. He also used his strategic strengths to think out into the future and to research and to learn.

As we looked at his strengths, we could see that his greatest joy has been when he’s serving others, his relationship building and executing strengths in perfect harmony. As we looked at his values, we discovered that he is someone grounded in a deep sense of place, tradition, giving back, learning, and having deep connections with others.

These values and strengths pointed us toward two key questions for Jim to explore:

1. Where next?

2. Who with?

His Futuristic self wants to know where next. His relationship building strengths (Relator, Arranger and Connectedness) want to know who with. These questions were answered for him when he worked at GE. Now as a self-employed photographer, he is working to discover where next, why photography matters and who will he reach out to and connect with through photography.

How Your Strengths Will Guide You.

As I listened to Jim ponder these questions, I could hear and see his strengths nudging him towards purpose. I pointed out how his connectedness will help guide him towards that purpose. His strengths are so incredibly generous that something tells me someone is going to benefit from these magical photographs in ways Jim has not even imagined yet.

I’m going to trust his Achiever, Futuristic, Relator, Arranger and Connectedness to guide him. They have a wealth of wisdom from life experiences and already the seeds of their wisdom are being planted as Jim explores and reveals his Third Half purpose.

Learn more about Jim and see his wonderful photography. Make sure to check out our other Third Half Stories to learn more about others who are transitioning from their corporate career to “what’s next”.


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