Archive for the ‘Age Bias’ Category

  • Take Back the Word SENIOR!

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    These Super Heroes are now in their 70's!

    These Super Heroes are now in their 70′s!

     

    As we dance into the New Year, it’s time to take back the word SENIOR! Really.

    When did “senior” become the uber- negative to be avoided at any cost?  Remember when you were in high school and couldn’t wait to become a senior? Even more so in college when “upperclassman” was okay but senior was the penultimate. Then, after graduation and out in the work world, did you strive to be the junior partner? No – your goal was senior partner, senior editor, senior designer, senior producer etc. Achieving “seniorhood” was always the aim until…  until you hit age 50 and then it became the pariah it is today.

    2014 is the time to reclaim our “senior” creds. Those of us over 50 are among or children of those called the “greatest generation.” We are brave and iconoclastic. We successfully fought for political freedom, eradicated barriers to racial, gender, religious and sexual discrimination, conquered diseases and global epidemics, provided broad access to healthcare and education, and explored the moon.

    Today’s seniors are providing an essential boost to the economy. Eighteen percent of Americans 65 and older continue to work and pay taxes, at least $120 billion a year, a figure that doesn’t include state income taxes.

    Senior entrepreneurs are launching new businesses stimulating job creation and growth, and boosting prosperity for all age groups. The highest rate of business start-up activity over the past decade has consistently been among people in the 55-to-64 age bracket. Almost half of all new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 45 and 64, and this cohort continues to grow.

    It’s time to stop the “senior” gloom and doom. This is not, as too many espouse, a “silver tsunami.” It is, rather, a “golden dividend!”

    Advocacy matters but action’s even better. Here’s to shaking things up, reclaiming the word, “senior,” and to the people who can make it happen!

    Happy New Year!

  • How to Master the “Twittersphere” Tweet by Tweet

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    It’s time to put that old saw that older entrepreneurs are at a competitive disadvantage in a world of social media and digital communication to bed. It’s time to create your strategic position in the social media marketplace. You don’t need to tackle every platform at once. You can Tweet your way in by testing your social media mettle with those pithy 140 character manifestos.

    Twitter offers a unique opportunity to:

    1.  Promote your brand and your expertise in bite-sized nuggets.

    2.  Listen to your customers.

    3.  Identify trends and position your business accordingly.

    4.  Become an area issue expert – a thought leader – and connect with a highly targeted group that is directly relevant to your interests.

    The beauty of Twitter is that you’re not just telling the world you are an expert. By tweeting information in an authentic and transparent manner, people will take note and begin to follow you. Twitter is good about alerting you as to who is on your trail.  Even more, Twitter lets you review your “follower’s” profile. Then you can decide if you want to be followed by that individual. If not, you can block them or, if you think you’re being spammed, alert Twitter and the powers behind the Tweets will investigate.

    And don’t forget to re-tweet. What you choose to re-tweet indicates what you find interesting or provocative and becomes part of your brand. Plus, it signifies that you are aware that you do not know everything and are open to learning more. Other Tweeters like to be recognized for their expertise, and the more you share the more people will be willing to share with you.

    Now that you’ve tested your Tweets, check out this array of free online tutorials – 101 Basics for other social media channels.  Another nugget is Social Media in Plain English from Common Craft. They pack a lot of easy-to-understand information in this two-minute segment.

    These online resources present a great opportunity to learn at your own pace and test one platform – Blogs, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – at a time. You may like one or you may like them all. If you use more than one, be sure to link them to one another (ie. connect your Blog to your Twitter account) to enhance your brand and maximize your visibility.

    Five key steps to your social media marketing success:

    1.  Identify your audience.

    2.  Know what you want to say and, of course, have something to say that will be of interest or value to your audience.

    3.  Determine how you want to convey your message (humor, info, facts, data, personal experience, aggregated wisdom) and then assess which platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) will work most effectively for you. Don’t jump in with both feet. Dip a toe in to test the water and make sure you can wriggle all ten comfortably before you dive in to another platform.

    4.  Always remember that, like a traditional on-the-ground network, your virtual network needs nurturing and on-going maintenance. Keep it fresh and up-to-date. If you limit your postings to once a year or even once a month, it connotes a certain lack of interest and commitment or, even worse, that you really don’t know what you are doing!

    5.  Be prepared to let go. Once you post what you consider a wise or erudite tidbit, be open to feedback – both positive and negative. That interchange or exchange of information and insights is the real value added – the way we learn.

     

     

  • Take Back the Glory of “Senior”

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    Every time I use the word “senior” to describe our generation, people flinch or cringe. “How did this happen?” I asked a colleague last week.  When we were seniors in high school we felt like kings and queens of the mountain. A senior in college was even better. We were the class imbued with all the wisdom those hallowed halls could offer before stepping into the “real aka business world.” Once installed in the business world, we could not wait to achieve senior status: be it Senior Editor, Senior Manager, Senior Partner – Senior whatever. Senior was the epitome of excellence and achievement. Then, when we hit age 50, to be called a senior was a kiss of death. You were now over-the-hill, redundant or worst of all invisible.

    Seniors tried to counter the negative stereotype with adjectives such as “Older Adult.” Talk about redundant; it’s like saying a child is a little toddler. Then, people seized on the word Boomer as a less vapid alternative to Older Adult. Talk about pathetic. Boomer sounds more like a slightly deranged character in the 1994 American epic movie, Forrest Gump, than a revered and respected senior citizen.

    I remember being struck by a comment the late Betty Freidan made to an audience of hundreds at an NBA (National Booksellers Association) meeting. She said, “All of the prejudice I have encountered in Feminism pales – absolutely pales – in comparison to what I have experienced in Ageism.” That was back in the early 1990′s, and we certainly have not made much progress in the ensuing 20+ years.

    Let’s look at a little aging reality here. Superman’s first appearance was in Action Comics #1, in 1938. Wonder Woman was introduced  in All Star Comics #8 in 1941.  No spring chickens, these two are still super acting 74 and 71 respective years later.

    I know these riveting details, because I read the recent Wall Street Journal article,  A Haven for Aged Super Heroes. The article was about Metropolis Collectibles Inc., a firm in New York City, which buys and sells vintage comics. Especially noteworthy, is the fact that Metropolis recently sold the aforementioned 1938 Action Comics #1, which debuted Superman, for $2.2 million. Talk about the value of an “Aging Superhero!”

    A month after reading the “Aging Super Heroes” WSJ piece, the New York Times published History Hits the Campaign Trail. Their article describes how, in this miasma (my word) of political campaigning, Obama and Romney continue to “invoke the opinions of long-dead white males in powdered wigs.” The article notes, “While it’s been a long time since any of the founding fathers made a personal appearance on the campaign trail, they continue speaking from beyond the grave through the mouths of present-day candidates, weighing in on matters as disparate — and perhaps unimaginable to them in life — as health care reform, gay marriage and abortion rights.” It seems highly ironic in these times of rampant ageism, that politicians fighting for their political lives need the wisdom of these aged statesmen to validate their positions.

    Last but far from least on the ludicrousness of ageism, I call your attention to a dazzling matter of “Advanced (as in age) Style.” We highlighted this book a few weeks ago, but I’ve just learned of a video – in which you can hear each of these fabulous fashionistas, Grande Dames [in their 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 100's] describe how they feel the secret of life has nothing to do with age. It is, rather, all about the art of being oneself forever!

    I’m off to buy a new hat…

  • How to Avoid the “Over-Qualified” Rejection Blues!

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    Courtesy, Artfulrabbit.com

    You spend your life trying to get experience – then suddenly have too much!

    Employers don’t care about past experience. CEOs care about business outcomes and profitability; they want to know what you can do for them now.

    You need to translate or reframe your experience to demonstrate how you can solve today’s business problems. And be passionate – it is key to your being hired over someone who has the skills or experience but could not care less.

    These are just a few of the points David DeLong discusses in this outstanding video produced by an equally outstanding project called Over50AndOutofWork. David DeLong is a research fellow at the MIT AgeLab, founder of David DeLong & Associates, author of Lost Knowledge:  Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce and co-author of the study Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?. DeLong provides very specific recommendations and strategies for older jobseekers to maximize the success of their job search – and the good news is that he is optimistic about the future for older workers.

    This is a 30-minute video – don’t miss a minute of DeLong’s valuable tips!

    YouTube Preview Image

     

  • When What You See Counts More Than How You Look!

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    Paperweight Glass Eyes, Courtesy allproducts.com

    As I sit in the eye of Hurricane Irene, I have a few moments to reflect on a world turned upside down in the past seven days.  Earthquakes, a powerful hurricane and a barrage of doctors’ appointments – all in a week’s “holiday” for this senior living in northern Virginia and on the coast of Maine.

    Amidst the wobbly joints, and patches of old, sun-baked, skin spots needing to be zapped to ward off skin cancer, I was stunned to learn that my eyesight has actually improved.  I had to ask the doctor to repeat that twice. Then, when the news finally sank in, I thought, “What an extraordinary metaphor: as we grow older our life experience actually does enable us to see better.” We see new options, we see what works and what doesn’t because we have lived both. That kind of experience cannot be forced. It evolves over time and is our most valuable asset. Our challenge, if we should wish to continue working or to begin a whole new entrepreneurial career, is to convince others who may stumble over how we look at 50, 60, 70 and more years, is irrelevant because of our unique perspective wrought from all those years of living and working. The convincing cannot be done through telling. Rather it is best “told” through the sharing of that experience so others, too, without as many years under their belts can see more clearly.

  • “When Generations Collide:” Understanding Why and How Generations Clash in the Work Arena

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    One of the best parts of living in a small town in Maine is that people actually walk from place to place. Even more remarkable, perhaps, we walkers stop and greet one another when we meet. Sometimes, it’s just to say “Good Morning;” other times nuggets of wisdom are shared.

    Today, was a nugget of wisdom morning. Walking on our neighborhood beach, I bumped into a friend whom I had not seen for some time. Aged 60, she has been looking for work for more than a few months. She has a stellar resumé and has had many interviews but the ideal offer has not materialized. She said, “I kept asking myself what I might be doing wrong. I knew something was missing in the interviews but I could not put my finger on the problem until I read a book called When Generations Collide. Suddenly, I realized that my interviewers, most of whom were quite young, do not understand why I am pursuing another job. More than a language barrier it is a giant generational barrier, and I knew I had to overcome it to find the work that I wanted.”

    The full title of the book she recommended – and I do too – is, When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work, by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman.

    The authors, founding partners of BridgeWorks consulting firm, describe four generations as: “Traditionalists” (1900-45), “Baby Boomers” (1946-64), “Generation Xers” (1965-80) and “Millennials” (1981-99). They explore the problems each might encounter in work settings, but, of course, as with my neighbor the problems can arise long before one is actually in the work setting.

    This is a book you’ll want to keep, to refer to over and over again. It is not full of jargon, or dry data and analysis. It is an easy read, but don’t be deceived by the facility with which you can breeze through their anecdotes. The stories are real and poignant and may even enlighten as they did my neighbor and me on this fine Maine morning.

    Local Sculpture, Willard Beach, photo by Elizabeth

  • Senior Entrepreneurs: Innovative, Foolhardy or Desperate?

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    As more and more research details that older Americans are starting businesses at a higher-than-average rate, it’s important to study the why and how of this phenomena.

    Anita Campbell, Editor and Founder of Small Business Trends, LLC, posits the question, StartUps Are Graying, But Is It a Good Financial Move?

    Campbell writes, “The face of the typical startup entrepreneur these days is a bit wrinkly, sporting some gray hair, and having the wisdom that comes with age.”

    She refers to a Business Week article by Scott Shane where he says, “according to recent research, these days those 55 and over are more likely than young people to be starting businesses.” And Shane, in turn, cites research by Dane Stangler of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that showed in every year from 1996 to 2007, Americans aged 55 to 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 to 34.

    In the name of realistic scrutiny, I just Tweeted an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Entrepreneur or Unemployed?, by Robert B. Reich, former secretary of labor, now professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley,

    Reich captures the under-reported truth behind this entrepreneurial joy, saying, too often the catalyst for this entrepreneurial surge is, “In a word, unemployment. Booted off company payrolls, millions of Americans had no choice but to try selling themselves. Another term for ‘entrepreneur’ is ‘self-employed.’”

    Reich continues:

    “According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics by an outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas, the number of self-employed Americans rose to 8.9 million last December, up from 8.7 million a year earlier. Self-employment among those 55 to 64 rose to nearly two million, 5 percent higher than in 2008. Among people over 65, the ranks of the self-employed swelled 29 percent. Many older people who had expected to retire discovered their 401(k)’s had shrunk and their homes were worthless. So they became ‘entrepreneurs,’ too.

    Maybe this is a good thing. A deep recession can be the mother of invention. These Americans are now liberated from the bureaucratic straitjackets they thought they had to wear. They can now fulfill their creative dreams and find their inner entrepreneurs. All they needed was a good kick in the pants.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    Finally, his old firm got some new projects that required George’s skills. But it didn’t hire George back. Instead, it brought him back through a “contingent workforce company,” essentially a temp agency, that’s now contracting with George to do the work. In return, the agency is taking a chunk of George’s hourly rate.

    Technically, George is his own boss. But he’s doing exactly what he did before for less money, and he gets no benefits — no health care, no 401(k) match, no sick leave, no paid vacation. Worse still, his income and hours are unpredictable even though his monthly bills still arrive with frightening regularity.

    The nation’s official rate of unemployment does not include George, nor anyone in this new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship. Yet to think of them as the innovative owners of startup businesses misses one of the most significant changes to have occurred in the American work force in many decades.”

    In addition to more realistic depictions of this frequently “involuntary entrepreneurship,” I’d like to see more research on how seniors’ are underwriting their start-ups. Are they, for example,  throwing all their savings and what crumbs might remain in their 401-K retirement accounts into these ventures? Is this, as Anita Campbell pointed out, a wise move? Young entrepreneurs have many more years to recoup those funds should the new enterprise fail.

    In that regard, it would also be valuable to see some data on Senior “Entrepreneurs” success rates. How do Seniors compete with the more tech savvy, viral-marketing-driven young entrepreneurs? Robert Jones, asks in his SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs nugget, “Are older entrepreneurs at a competitive disadvantage in a world of social media and digital communication?”

    Jeff Wuorio, makes a start at answering some of these questions with his four tips in The Older Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success, but clearly – there are a lot more questions to be answered before we revel in the “Senior Entrepreneur” phenomena.

  • Resumé Dates or No Dates? and Are There REALLY Jobs for Seniors on the Horizon or Is That Just a Mirage??

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    Today, a trusted friend and HR Guru, sat me down, drilled into my brain via my eyeballs and said: “Take those dates off your resumé!”

    I immediately started stuttering, “But, but isn’t that deceitful? Or, at the very least dissembling? And won’t that be a shock when I waltz my 60+ year-old self into the interview?”

    The Guru answered, “You know we HR folk are not as dumb as some people like to think we are. We can tell how long you’ve been working by simply reading your work history, experience and accomplishments. Clearly, you’re not just fresh out of college.”

    “That being said,” she continued, “in today’s job market we are inundated with resumés for each job we post. Hence, we are desperately seeking ways to winnow them down to a reasonable number. Sadly, your dates might prove an easy fix. Not that any self-respecting hiring manager would ever admit age bias but…”

    “On the other hand, if you have a brilliant, innovative working resumé – with no dates to shut us off at the first pass – by the time we finish reading and realize you are most probably a bit long in the tooth we really don’t see it as a barrier.”

    *************

    Now to those jobs on the horizon… US News and World Report actually published an article this week, titled Retired Workers Will Be Wooed to Return [to Work] by Philip Moeller.

    Wooed to Return??? Perhaps, it’s been so long since I’ve been wooed that I no longer grasp the meaning of the word, but I do question the veracity of this prediction. Then, too, I do not like to think myself a skeptic, so please read this bit of sunshine and let us know what you think.

  • Betty White: Stereotype-Buster or Panderer? Who Really Won the Evening: SNL, Betty White or Facebook?

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    Did any one else see the great triple paradox between Betty White, the 88-year-old “golden girl,” and her Mother’s Day Eve hosting of that “mother-of-all-Saturday-Night-Live episodes,” and her put-down of the gallant white Facebook horse she rode in on???

    The media is exclaiming about Betty’s stunning performance on SNL. RTT News, the Global Financial News wire proclaimed: “Betty White’s appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend was a hit with viewers. The NBC comedy series recorded its best overnight ratings in 18 months on Saturday. The show picked up an 8.8 share, according to Nielsen, making the episode the highest rated since November 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Senator John McCain was a special guest.”

    While the NY Times “Arts Beat” blogger, Dave Itzkoff loudly proclaimed, ” All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” he also noted towards the end of his blog in a much quieter tone:

    “If you watched carefully, you might have noticed that many of Saturday’s skits were simply new variations on recurring “SNL” bits like “MacGruber” or its “Lawrence Welk Show” parody. …And if you really want to get picayune about it, most of Ms. White’s jokes boiled down to some version of her (a) saying something totally inappropriate for her age, or (b) making some kind of subtle — or blatant — sexual innuendo. But really, who cares, when so many of them worked?”

    This begs the question: did they really work or were some folks just dazzled by someone whom they thought was beating the “old woman stereotype” or in awe that SNL finally offered an old lady the role of host?

    My reaction is that Betty White was just fighting one stereotype with another and not too successfully at that.  I had a truly “feisty” grandmother and she never once pandered to deliver something “totally inappropriate for her age” or subtle or otherwise “sexual innuendo.” Betty White delivered what she or the folks at SNL wanted her to deliver, and I call that pandering not stereotype-busting.

    Robert Bianco, USA Today, also sensed something was askew as he wrote: “Betty White’s ‘SNL’ stint: Less than Golden.” …Perhaps no show could have lived up to expectations created for this week’s Saturday Night Live by the Facebook campaign that got Betty White her first hosting job after a 35-year wait… Yet in the end, Saturday’s over-hyped NBC broadcast mostly served to explain why SNL seemed so reluctant to bring White on board. Clearly, they didn’t know what to do with her. …So they had her make some blue jokes, bear the brunt of multiple “isn’t she old” jokes, and pump for the upcoming MacGruber movie — and then make a few more blue jokes. …None of this was White’s fault, who once again proved that she is both a pro and an extremely good sport. What laughs there were, outside of Weekend Update, were pretty much provided by her and her alone, and that’s not something you can say about every host. She just deserved better. And after a 35 year wait, so did we.”

    The final – for now – element of the paradox is: why did Betty skewer the horse (Facebook) she rode in on. My feisty grandmother taught me to never insult your host, but right out of the box, Betty did when she called Facebook a “waste of time.” Had she forgotten that she was finally offered the top SNL spot after her fans launched a hugely successful grassroots Facebook campaign.

    As the Christian Science Monitor noted, “In January, David Matthews, of San Antonio, launched the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” after Ms. White appeared in a popular 2010 Super Bowl ad for Snickers candy. By mid-March, several hundred thousand Facebookers had signed on to Matthew’s petition, and it was announced that the former Golden Girl would be hosting a special Mother’s Day episode on May 8.”

    How was Facebook a waste of Betty’s time: for the SNL invitation and for whatever her professional future – thanks to Facebook – now holds?

    It makes me wonder what other issues might be resolved through the power of a Facebook campaign!

    One more thought:  When I read in today’s Washington Post, Adam Bernstein’s tribute to Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92, I was reminded of her 1942, ground-breaking contract with MGM in which it was writ that she would “never have to play a maid.” Perhaps, Betty White’s next contract – be it with SNL or another – should stipulate that she “never has to ‘play’ at being an old woman!”

  • Don’t Be a Linkedin Neo-Luddite!

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    First, let’s consider the word, Luddite. Today it is tossed about in the same way as one might refer to a cyber technology dolt, but it is based on a real, 19th-century social movement in England. From 1811-16, during the Industrial Revolution, a group of textile weavers in the English Midlands deliberately destroyed mechanized looms, which were depriving them of work. The name is reputed to have come from Ned Ludd, one of the first workers to smash a mechanized loom.

    Twenty-first century technology wizards have appropriated the term to classify anyone – not bent on destroying the technology but rather – purposefully refusing to adopt technology tools. Unfortunately, seniors often need extra encouragement to learn and trust today’s technology so they are pushed down the ladder of attractive job candidates.

    All of our skills have value and we need not fear having to throw our seasoned expertise aside for new tools. I think of it like this photograph I snapped in my garden yesterday. I was struck by the tenacity of last year’s blossom, now paper thin, still clinging to the red twig where new bright green leaves have just sprouted. The beauty lies in the fact that the narrow twig supports both the old and the new growth equally.

    Soooo, give the new technology a try. We know that 80% of job offers are derived from networking and, if a tool such as Linkedin can expedite that, I am all for it.

    Linkedin is a professional network – not a dating network, and it provides a way for you to “see” how people are connected to one another. It will help you find that valuable introduction to someone in the organization or field in which you would like to work. You will also learn a little about people’s professional history, so when you obtain that introduction you immediately have a relevant point or two to discuss.

    Linkedin also raises your professional visibility. It gives people an instant way to see who you are, what you have done and where you would like to go. Moreover, if you are 60+ and have a presence on Linkedin, it mitigates the stereotype that you haven’t a clue about how to use today’s technology tools.

    Creating a Linkedin Profile is not technically difficult because you are given templates for each component.  You do not have to know one stitch of computer programming. The challenge is to stay within the number of characters Linkedin allows for your general summary and each job description. But this is a good challenge; the exercise will keep you focused, force you to eliminate any fluff and keep your tone consistent – throughout Linkedin as well as any other media in which you promote your “brand.” As a sample, you can view my Linkedin Profile at: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethisele

    My Profile is a little robust because I cross reference this blog and my Twitter account on it to optimize my online presence. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of my Profile. This is not to toot my own horn but, rather, because you will see the big blue “Contacting You” box. This is extremely important because it allows you to control access to your information.

    Ready to give it a test run…  There’s a lot of support online and one resource I’d recommend is the blog by Jason Alba, author of the book, I’m On Linkedin – Now What???

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