Instead of impulsively bolting from his six-figure sinecure as the director of the company’s e-commerce Web site, Sciortino spent a few years socking away savings while attending Saturday classes to get a master’s degree in environmental management. In July he started a new job—heading up The 11th Hour Project, a foundation aimed at global warming and climate change. In so doing, he cut his salary in half. “It’s definitely an adjustment, but it’s nothing that I wasn’t prepared for,” he says. “Now I have to think twice about spending $500 at dinner.”

Men in their 30s are captivated by the prospect of metamorphosis, says Sciortino, because “we stop getting challenged, and once that stops happening, no matter what you’re doing, a part of you kind of gives up. You don’t feel that inner competitive drive that gets most guys going. I needed something to get my brain firing and my juices flowing again.” As for Eric Junker, the puppet master turned advertising exec, one second act might not be enough. “I’m already planning my next reinvention,” he says. “By the time I’m flirting with 50, I can sell my stake in the company and go be a professor at a small college in New England.”