Pauley saw it as an opportunity to pursue
what she loves.
“My hobby was interpersonal gardening,
digging for people’s stories and problem solving recreationally,” she explains. She enjoyed
the process of finding intriguing stories and
telling them in an interesting way.
“At every step of my career, from
Indianapolis, … where you might have had an
interview with four questions, to the Today
show, where I might have been able to ask
eight to 12, to Dateline, where I had the comfort of doing an interview that could last an
hour or two hours and then we used the best
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23
[material] and create[d] a long-form story, …
every step of that got closer and closer to what
I was probably best at. And then on Your Life
Calling … to have the luxury of a long conversation with someone and then figure out how
to boil it down to a three-and-a-half-minute segment—somehow it all
works,” she laughs. “It’s kind of
the best of both worlds,
learning to do a long-form interview and
“One o; m; ;e;elation; abou; ;ein;entio; i;
;o; ofte; ;ha; ;eem;
;ike ; ;ran;-ne;
ide; goe; ;a; ;ac;. ”
then create a short-form story that has texture
and progression and back story and revelations and insight and fun and, hopefully,
information and inspiration too. I probably
have found the television format that I am
best suited to at this stage of my life.”
MARY REED, a Costco member interviewed by Pauley, was a vice
president at Goodwill Industries when her mother passed away.
Bessie Tartt Wilson ( www.tartts.com) had been renowned in the Boston
area as a leader in early childhood education, having opened her first
child-care center and preschool in 1946. “It was very important to our family
Mary Reed with Jane and young student
to keep it going,” asserts Reed.
“The family looked to me to continue
the next couple of generations of early
education and care that are very impor-
tant in our community.”
She left Goodwill at the age of 58 to
take over the business operations. Despite
having grown up in her mother’s business,
it was quite a change for her “both finan-
cially and professionally. Two different
worlds in many respects,” she says.
Initially, the goal was to preserve her
mother’s legacy. “And then it evolved into
an issue of my passion, I found, was sort of
revived coming back into the business,” Reed explains. “Seeing how dramatically the
field had changed from when my mother first started … and how the community has
changed, the challenges facing early education for low-income families. That is the
key. And that is really what turned me on to wanting to do something dramatic
about the conditions.”
Reed started the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children ( www.btwic.
org) “to strengthen early education and care for children with the greatest
need through research, policy development, communication and advocacy.”
Her advocacy is having positive effects, not just in Boston but across the
state of Massachusetts.
Now in her 70s, Reed says, “The passion grows every day.
I really want to create positive change. I’m working more,
but I’m working a little smarter. Age shouldn’t be a barrier
to doing what you want.”—SF
Helping to find the path
Your Life Calling is not simply a video
program or TV segment. It is Pauley’s way
of helping people find what they were
meant to do.
“I’d not been thinking about TV. I
thought The Jane Pauley Show was it for tele-
vision,” she says. “But for a couple of years—
or three—I’d been developing a live-event
concept designed for women of my age, give
or take, about reinvention. My working title
was Practical Inspiration, which reflects my
take on reinvention: equal parts inspiration
and introspection—and real-world prepara-
tion. That’s why all our stories include a ‘real-
ity check.’ ”
The first place she thought of to take her
idea was her old stomping grounds, Today.
“I made an appointment with Jim Bell,
the Today executive producer, who was turn-
ing 40 that day, and made my pitch,” she
recalls. “He liked it, and summed it up: ‘aspi-
rational, with a take-away.’ ”
But it wasn’t exactly a slam dunk.
“Ultimately, it came down to costs,”
explains Pauley. “I said, ‘What if I brought in
a partner?’ ”
Pauley had done an award-winning spe-
cial with AARP and was very impressed by
their production capabilities.
“I didn’t know that they were that good.
Very talented people,” she says. “A lot of
people that used to work at the networks are
now having broadcast careers with AARP.
AARP and Your Life Calling was a perfect
fit. I felt particular satisfaction in being
Today, Jane Pauley is no longer merely a
TV personality; she’s a reinvention evangelist.
“If you are eyes open and insightful, you end
up where you were kind of meant to be,” she
says. “Independent of your parents’ expecta-
tions or your college major or the job you got
because your husband was transferred to
“[Comedian] Paula Poundstone has a
joke,” she continues. “I quote it often. ‘Why
are grownups always asking kids what they
want to be when they grow up? They’re looking for ideas.’ That’s what Your Life Calling is
about. It’s all about looking for ideas, and I’m
helping people look.” C
Your Life Calling with Jane Pauley airs between
8: 30 and 9 a.m. on Today once a month (the date
can change), and all segments can also be viewed
at www.aarp.org/jane, along with bonus material.