jacques rifkind, 58
sales, los angeles
It took three tries for Jacques Rifkind to find his dream job. Then again, maybe that was always in the cards.
“I wasn’t one of those people who grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to do,” he says. “It was a long period of finding my legs.”
First came the career as an executive recruiter, then he started a company that designed textile prints for surf and skateboarding brands. The passion he had for insects, though, never quite left him and seven years ago, he dedicated himself to entomology. He’s already successfully identified two separate genera of insects and 70 new species of beetle.
The renaissance man doesn’t stop there. He’s written an erotic fiction novel that he self published and got an offer from a Tokyo publishing house to have translated into Japanese. “The translator apparently translated Kerouac as well, so is supposed to be good,” he says. Then there’s the bass, which he picked up 14 years ago, and the “alt-bluesy-rock” band he plays in now.
The creative endeavors were executed with real passion, and gave him a profound appreciation for the difference between creating in your 20s and now.
“David Bowie is an amazing example. What he was doing in his 20s … he knew what he wanted to do and was able to weigh things in a mature way that I don’t think most people that age have,” he says. “For mere mortals, as we hit our 30s and 40s our judgment gets better. We know what we like more. That part is as important as the inspirational spark. Recognizing when something hasn’t been done before.”
Rifkind is the sort of guy who doesn’t rattle easily; he knows who he is, and now he knows what he likes. “I think there’s so much ageism among people in their 20s, that they think anybody over a certain age is a dinosaur. And we felt that way too,” he says. “But we were right; they were dinosaurs. We’re not.” This is exactly where we are coming from. We are living in a new life stage, one not seen before, and its the novelty of it that confuses people.
What he means is that he’s still grinding and pushing. Just like many of our other profiles, Rifkind has this innate urge to remain relevant, to remain needed. “I don’t see myself retiring, because at some level I always want to be a go-to guy,” he says. “I want to be somebody that knows something, somebody whose judgment is valued by somebody.