Archive for the ‘Economic Indicators’ 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!

  • Salary Cuts Need Not Be So Painful

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    Courtesy, www.agefotostock.com

    I read two articles in the past two weeks about the reality of pay cuts in today’s bleak economy.

    The first, by Chris Isidore, Unemployed Face a Reduction in Income – Permanently, in CNNmoney.com was sobering. It is a necessary but certainly not uplifting reality check.

    The second, Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist’s blog posting, When It’s OK to Take a Paycut, is more a wake-up call than a mere reality check. Her seven points make us focus on the critical factor here, which is, as she says, “You are not your salary. You are not worth less in the world because you are paid less in your job. Get your self-worth from a wide range of things and a pay cut won’t matter to you. Focus on the components of a good job: learning, personal growth, friends at work, and a good family life. All those things are worth a lot more than a pay cut.”

    Here, in summary are her eye-opening, insights on when it is ok to take a pay cut:

    “If you want to change careers. Look, you are stopping doing something that you know how to do, and you are going to start doing something you have not done before. Why would you think you will not take a pay cut?

    If you are over 40 years old. Pay peaks about age 40 for everyone except surgeons and lawyers. So if you are 40 and job hunting, take a pay cut. It’s not going to kill you, but holding out for a raise might lead to fears of starvation.

    If you have been unemployed for six months. Statistically speaking, you will have to take a pay cut to re-enter the workforce. So instead of holding out to be a superhero of job hunts, just take a job. So much of our self-worth comes from working that ditching unemployment far outweighs avoiding a pay cut.

    If you’re relocating back to family. Research from Nattavudh Powdthavee of the University of London shows that to make up for the decrease in happiness that you experience when you leave family and friends, you would need to make $133,000 more than you were earning before the relocation. So it stands to reason that you can take a substantial pay cut to move closer to family and still gain a net happiness benefit..

    If you will get a great boss. When it comes to the job hunt, getting a boss who will be a great mentor matters more than the job you’ll be doing for that boss. The number-one factor that determines your earning power is your schooling. The number-two factor is the quality of mentoring you get. Since most of you are out of school, mentoring should be your number-one concern, and you’ll more than make up for a pay cut by gaining a good mentor.

    If you are having mental health problems from not working. Work provides a lot of things:  a sense of belonging, sense of purpose, structure and balance to a day, as well as financial security. You can get all these things by short-circuiting your job hunt and taking a lower-paying job. Wondering if you are having problems big enough to qualify for this one? Are you gaining weight during unemployment? That’s a sign that you’re masking new emotional problems. Get a job.

    If you need better insurance. Taking a pay cut to get better insurance is like buying peace of mind. And at a bargain rate, really. If all you need to do is take a pay cut to know that you will not go bankrupt from medical bills (the most common cause of bankruptcy, by the way) then it’s worth it.”

     

     

     

  • How the Economy and Virtual Volunteers Are Rapidly Making Traditional Nonprofit Boards Obsolete

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    The days of somnambulant boards – “experienced” power elites – sitting around magnificent mahogany tables, resembling small flight decks, are becoming even more rare than the mahogany in the finely turned table or the Aubusson carpet on the floor. Nonprofits as charitable institutions, solely supported by generous benefactors dedicated to serving the poor are a thing of the past.

    Today, successful nonprofits cannot afford the luxury of patiently waiting for beneficence to fall in their laps. The economy has nipped benevolent dollars in the bud, and even those benefactors with a few blooming roses left have come to expect more of the nonprofits they support. They seek ways to optimize the dollars they invest: to increase the impact, as well as the fiduciary and operational functionality of the organizations they support.

    Donors expect to see the nonprofit run as effectively as any other for-profit business in which they have a stake.

    This means that boards have to stop posing as governing bodies and become governing bodies. They have to take a professional interest in the operation – and not just an “interest.” They must apply the same operating principles: fiscal, marketing, R&D and ROI that they would to run a for-profit venture. Yes, they are looking for a SROI (social return on investment) but that, too, is driven by capital and not just good intentions.

    The transition from inert to proactive board needs to be a transformative process, but time is of the essence. Fortunately there are three options available to inject new life into the nonprofit board: one is real, face-to-face time and the other two are virtual.

    Encore.org has successfully launched a fellows program which provides high caliber, experienced talent to San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits: “Designed as paid, temporary, high-level assignments, Encore Fellowships provide immediate communications, research, business development, program development, and human resources support to nonprofits, while providing the fellows themselves with a bridge to a new stage of midlife work known as the encore career… The first program launched in 2009 inspired a provision in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, passed last year, which calls for 10 new encore fellows in each state.”

    The two virtual volunteer programs are Catchafire.org and Extraordinaries.org.

    Catchafire connects professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits that need them. The organization helps nonprofits express their needs as short-term, discrete, and individual-based projects and packages those projects to create innovative solutions for basic nonprofit needs and to make it easy for actively employed professionals to find time to volunteer.

    Catchafire charges nonprofits a fee, but the services of the Extraordinaries is totally free. They, too, connect (via the web) professional volunteers with nonprofit organizations but their program is built on the concept of “micro-volunteering.”

    The Extraordinaries delivers micro-volunteer opportunities to mobile phones that can be done on-demand and on-the-spot. So instead of making a lengthy time-commitment to a single organization on a single day per year, you can volunteer for many organizations many times throughout the week.

    We do not mean to suggest that nonprofit boards can be completely replaced with encore or virtual volunteers, but we do mean that it is time for the old tried and true boards to gear up and take advantage of the resources available to put them in a proactive and productive mode. Mahogany and Aubusson rugs are endangered specimens – nonprofits play too important a role to let them fall into neglect or even become extinct.

  • 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.

  • Confidence Among Executive Recruiters Reaches 18-Month High

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    At last – a bit of positive news…

    From ExecuNet’s February 1st, “Executive Insider” newsletter:

    Mark Anderson, president and chief economist of ExecuNet, the private membership network for senior business executives and those who recruit them reports, “We’ve been signaling this growth since recruiter confidence began to improve mid-year, but the good news today is that the economic recovery is happening and companies are starting to add jobs.”

    A growing number of companies are adding new executive jobs, fewer are eliminating them, leading executive recruiters to confirm economic recovery is beginning to take hold, according to ExecuNet’s latest Recruiter Confidence Index (RCI) data. (Introduced in May 2003, ExecuNet’s Recruiter Confidence Index is based on a monthly survey of executive search firms and recognized as a leading indicator for the economy and the executive job market.) A reading above 50 percent indicates recruiters expect the number of search assignments in the next six months will increase.

    Based on January’s [2010] survey of 214 executive recruiters, 64 percent are “confident” or “very confident” the executive employment market will improve during the next six months, up 10 points from December 2009 and the highest confidence registered since May 2008. Moreover, almost four-in-10 recruiters say hiring will improve by the end of the first quarter.

    Executive recruiters point to signs that more companies are focusing on growth in the next six months, reporting:

    • Companies will be adding new executive jobs (21 percent up from 14 percent in December)
    • Fifty-six percent indicated they expect employers to leverage the current economic climate by “trading up” with new hires for existing management roles
    • Only 3 percent still see companies eliminating senior-management jobs
    • Executive search firms themselves will increase hiring to meet new assignment growth — 33 percent report hiring in contrast to massive layoffs in January 2009

    Anderson cautions, however, that, “Despite this good news, the speed of the rebound seems slower than coming out of past recessions, so executives and recruiters should be prepared for a slow and steady rise in opportunity, not a rapid upswing.”


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