John Tarnoff (b. 1952) is a reinvention career coach who provides career counseling for baby boomer and late career professionals looking to defy ageism, work beyond retirement, and pivot to a new job or new business as a second act or encore career.

A 40-year veteran of the Los Angeles entertainment industry, Tarnoff's career hit a wall at age 50. The tech startup he had co-founded was wiped out by the bursting of the dot-com “bubble,” and like many late career, baby boomer professionals in similar circumstances, felt uncertain and adrift in his career. He decided to go back to school to seek a second act career, and earned a master's degree in spiritual psychology. Pivoting to a career focus on people and career counseling, he networked his way to a new role as Head of Show Development at DreamWorks Animation.[1] from 2006 – 2009. In this position, he developed culture-changing creative leadership training[2][3] and college recruiting programs[4] that helped the company earn a place on both Forbes’ and Fortune's “100 Best Places to Work” lists.[5]

In 2010, he joined the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College Masters of Entertainment Industry Management graduate program, serving as a graduate level professor and Head of Industry Relations.[6] He has also consulted for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Australian Film, TV & Radio School, the ACME Network, a digital distance learning company, as well as The Boeing Company, in collaboration with BAFTA Award-winning production designer Alex McDowell.

In 2012, he launched his Boomer Reinvention® career coaching program[7] to support late career baby boomers looking to start sustainable second act or encore careers beyond traditional retirement. He is the author of the forthcoming book: "Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career after 50" (Reinvention Press, Los Angeles 2017).

Tarnoff began his career in the mid-1970s working as a literary agent, and then as a film studio production executive and film producer. In these capacities, he was responsible for films including Diner, The Year of Living Dangerously, Pink Floyd The Wall, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and The Power of One. A co-founder of Village Roadshow Pictures in 1988, he pioneered U.S./Australian co-productions in the late 1980s and early 1990s executive producing a handful of films including The Delinquents[8] and Prisoners of the Sun.[9]

Branching into multimedia development in 1994, he licensed the interactive rights to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and produced the video game Big Brother based on the book.[10] He and director John Badham co-wrote the successful PC/PlayStation game WarGames, based on Badham's hit movie.[11]

From 1995 to 2003, with writer and artist Robit Hairman, he co-founded Talkie, Inc.,[12] a technology company that created online conversational animated characters for marketing, brand building, lead generation, customer service and training. Talkie created "Claire,"[13][14] Sprint PCS' automated customer service rep.

Tarnoff holds a B.A. from Amherst College, and a M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. He grew up in New York and Paris, and lives in Los Angeles.


  1. ^ James, Alison (2006-06-11). "Toon talent flourishes at Annecy". Variety. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  2. ^ "DreamWorks Animation Cultivates a Culture of Creativity". Workforce Magazine. 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  3. ^ "Blogging on Neuroeducation". Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  4. ^ "Companies fight for talent at Siggraph". Variety. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  5. ^ "100 Best Companies to Work For 2013 – DreamWorks Animation – Fortune". fortune. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  6. ^ "John Tarnoff Named Head of MEIM Industry Relations for Heinz College". Carnegie Mellon University. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  7. ^ "Change Your Career Over 50 with a Reinvention Career Coach". Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  8. ^ NYTimes:"The Delinquents" credits
  9. ^ National Library of Australia: "Blood Oath" (aka "Prisoners of the Sun") credits
  10. ^ Zeitgeist Werks Consulting Deal w. Tarnoff re: Big Brother
  11. ^ Mobygames listing Wargames Defcon1 credits
  12. ^ Talkie Launches Online Characters for Conversational Customer Service
  13. ^ ""Sprints Virtual Assistant Claire" Can't help everyone! | Sprint Wireless Customer Service | PlanetFeedback". Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  14. ^ "No more Claire? – Network Providers – Tom's Hardware". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2016-12-27.