August 25, 2021

So many of us are considering “what’s next?” Whether that question is relevant to new perspectives resulting from the pandemic, or the traditional shift toward retirement, people are pondering what they want or will pursue in their next chapter. I discovered two sources of inspiration during a recent CBS Sunday Morning, both of whom continue to create, innovate, and inspire well into their 80s and 90s.

Marty Cooper: Inventor Extraordinaire

Now in his early 90s, engineer Marty Cooper is known for one (really, really significant) thing: in 1972, he invented the cell phone. Although his first version was not pocket-sized, and the battery only held a call for 25 minutes, that early device set in motion the cell phone we depend on today – both the actual device we hold and the network of cell towers we rely on.

We are only at the very, very beginning. We are going to revolutionize mankind in many ways.
~ Marty Cooper, CBS Sunday Morning (August 22, 2021)

Cooper is a former navy submarine officer and was an executive at Motorola (known originally for police and military radios and the first car phone, which was actually a two-way radio). In the mid-80s, as he was approaching retirement, Cooper left Motorola and started a series of companies in the cellular industry including GreatCall in 2006, which provided wireless service for the Jitterbug, a cell phone with simple features designed for the elderly. Cooper has an undeniable optimism for the future and continues to challenge himself mentally.

If you don’t keep learning all your life, keep an open mind, soak up stuff, be curious… you lose the ability to learn and to me that’s the scariest thing of all.
~ Marty Cooper, CBS Sunday Morning

John Williams: Legendary Maestro

John Williams is a master composer, conductor, pianist, and trombonist most widely recognized for the musical scores he created for blockbusters Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T., Harry Potter and Schindler’s List, to name just a few. He is the most honored movie composer of all time with five Academy Awards, and he has 52 Oscar nominations – the most of anyone living, and second only to Walt Disney. And yet, it’s both humility and yearning for perfection that seems to drive his continued passion.

It’s very hard for me to take complete pleasure in anything I’ve made. You can love it all, but you can always see things that could be improved. In art and music, I don’t think there’s any place for that kind of vanity.
~ John Williams, CBS Sunday Morning (originally aired on September 22, 2019)

When director Steven Spielberg asked Williams to compose the score for Schindler’s List, Williams said, “Steven, this is a great film and you really need a better composer than I am for this film.” And Spielberg said, “I know, but they’re all dead.” Williams won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for Schindler’s List, which won seven awards that year including Best Picture (in a season that included The Piano, Jurassic Park, and Philadelphia.)

At 89, Williams is rewriting his scores for violinist Anna-Sophie Mutter, and making guest appearances to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra at their summer residency in Tanglewood, MA, saying it keeps him “maybe not young, but hopefully a little fresh.”

Keep learning… practice humility… yearn for perfection… and hope for the future. What will inspire your next chapter?