Archive for the ‘Exercising the Brain’ Category

  • Six Reasons Why It’s Time for You To Write a Book!

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    snoopy_writing

    You’ve done all the right things to try and secure a job. You’ve honed your experience and qualifications to create a brand for yourself and retooled your old resumé into a pro-active working proposal. More, you’ve networked your socks off and beefed up your interviewing skills.  Yet – and yet, and yet you’re still unemployed. You may feel you have every right to be blue, but why waste the time?  As Confucious said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”

    Why not take advantage of this hiatus and write about all those “right” things you’ve accomplished in your job search.  Writing a book can be a terrific new self-marketing tool.

    Here are six great reasons for you to hit the keyboard, start typing, or even take pen in hand:

    1. Share your expertise – Expand the experience that you’ve bulleted in your resumé. In a book you can include a story or two to bring that expertise to life and help others.

    2. Build Your Authority – Nothing beats authority like having a published book. You can become the go-to resource in your area of expertise.

    3. Separate yourself from the competition – Writing a book provides an opportunity for people to hear your thoughts and insights. Don’t be afraid to say what you really think. Be authentic and your voice will stand out.

    4. Expand your network – Too often we limit ourselves to who and what we know. Your book can introduce you to individuals who you never thought would be interested in your passions.

    5. Break down your protective/self-limiting walls – If you’ve never written a book before you, the experience will jolt you out of your comfort zone. Acting outside the box you’ve created for yourself is a great experience. As we’ve said before, “You have to step outside the batting cage to hit a home run.”

    6. Change your life – Even though you began with the idea of sharing your expertise with the world, the very act of writing is introspective. As you review what you’ve done and strategies you’ve designed, you may come up with a brand new idea of what you’d like to do next!

    And the best part about writing a book is that you don’t need to wait for someone to read your resumé, to invite you to an interview, or for that next networking event. You can “Just Start!”

    Happy Thanksgiving, and we look forward to seeing your name in print.

  • The Holstee Manifesto – Pithy, Poignant and Powerful

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    Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 1.12.53 PM

    We found this manifesto through one of our absolutely most favorite blogs, BrainPickings.org, created by the irrepressibly curious, Maria Popova.

    Behind the Holstee Manifesto is a business launched in the heat of the recession in May 2009. Brothers Mike and Dave and their partner, Fabian  knew they wanted to create more than a business – the trio wanted to create a lifestyle. So the first thing Holstee’s three founders did was sit together and write down exactly what was on their minds. They wanted to create a company that breathes passion into the world everyday. It was to be a reminder of what we live for. The result became known as the Holstee Manifesto and, through all avenues of social media, the manifesto has been viewed over 80,000,000 times to date!

    Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 12.44.40 PM

    Starting in the summer of 2009, they dove head first into the world of design and production. After six months and a huge learning curve, Holstee launched its first line of Recycled Tees made of 100% recycled plastic bottles that were milled, cut and sewn within 150 miles of each other in North Carolina. Starting with this first round, 10% of all sales were lent to entrepreneurs in extreme poverty through non-profit micro-lending organizations like Kiva.org – a tradition they are proud to still embrace.

    Amazed and inspired by the community of individuals who have embraced the Holstee Manifesto as their own, the founders have created this My Life  project to capture, celebrate and share the stories that speak to the truth that life is indeed about the people you meet and the things you create with them.

  • Competition, the Blues and Salamander Pink Suits

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    I was struck by the parallels between two outrageously different articles this week. Each is unique, compelling and passionate in its tribute to the value of creativity and individuality.

    The first, “The Creative Monopoly,” by David Brooks is a fascinating analysis of a course Peter Thiel, PayPal founder, teaches in Stanford University’s Computer Science Department. Thiel believes we “tend to think that whoever competes best comes out ahead. In the race to be more competitive, we sometimes confuse what is hard with what is valuable.”

    With dazzling insight Thiel raises “a provocative possibility: that the competitive spirit capitalism engenders can sometimes inhibit the creativity it requires.  Think about the traits that creative people possess. Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.”

    Brooks acknowledges how we “live in a culture that nurtures competitive skills. And they are necessary: discipline, rigor and reliability. But it’s probably a good idea to try to supplement them with the skills of the creative monopolist: alertness, independence and the ability to reclaim forgotten traditions.”

    Brooks’ last words, “reclaim forgotten traditions,” resonate in so many ways, especially for me when I found Whitney Boyd’s beautiful photo essay, “A Right to Sing the Blues.”

    Boyd describes how photographer, Jimmy Williams, traveled throughout the South and photographed artists like Boo Hanks, 84, a singer and guitar player, James “Bubba” Norwood, 70, a drummer who played with Ike and Tina Turner, and Whistlin’ Britches, the blues singer known for clicking his tongue. When he met Bishop Dready Manning and his wife, Marie, at their church in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., they were wearing matching salamander pink suits. Talk about photogenic!

    “These blues musicians,” Williams said, “are the very threads of American music.”

    Don’t miss a single photo.

  • Resources, Resources, Resources… in the “Spirit of Giving”

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    Recently, I came across – actually, I think they started following us, @savvysrswork, on Twitter – Mojo40, a blog designed to help folks 40+ get their career mojo back. That’s all well and good the the 40 year-olds, but every tip and morsel of advice at Mojo40 applies equally to those 60+. Yes, we’ve all heard the new mantra that 60 is the new 40, but it’s time to take back those years. Sixty is the “New” Sixty!

    Mojo40′s modus operandi is, “getting you unstuck in your career, wherever you are in the process, and giving you practical advice that doesn’t assume you grew up with wi-fi in your bassinet. We know that a big chunk of what’s preventing you from moving forward is the four horsemen of fear, ‘compare and despair’, lack of support and information overload. We’re here to blast through all that with:

    • Practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to create your digital profile
    • Straight talk about your lagging technical skills and tips for getting current
    • Recommendations for getting noticed and standing out from the crowd in this age of crunched attention span and the 24/7 on-switch
    • Pointers to sectors that are growing, trends that will impact business success in the future, and ways you could fit in the mix, and
    • Words of encouragement to build your courage to continue.”

    Two posts not to be missed are

    Learn From The Bees How To Do Social Enterprise and Tech Tips: 10 Free Tools for Platinum Marketing and PR

    Regarding “How the Bees Do It,” Mojo40 describes their labyrinthine process that takes social collaboration to new heights. Mojo says, “There is a sea change happening [in the culture of business today]. It’s not just social media and social networks. It is social collaboration… and bees [unlike many of their human cohorts] are social in every aspect of their life cycle, from cooperative brood-care to the overlapping of generations and the reproductive division of labor. They’ve got social brain in their DNA.” We can learn a lot from these pragmatic, industrious creatures and the highly successful life within their hives.

    Mojo’s “10 Free Tools for Platinum Marketing and PR” are smart marketing resources to help you convey your brand, get people’s attention, keep track of your networking and discover who and what is being said about you on the web.

    If the bees can do it…

     

     

     

     

  • Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Senior (Aged 50+) Entrepreneur?

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    Courtesy, Mrs J. Shanahan

    The idea for a start-up may come like a bolt out of the blue but the execution of developing the idea, monetizing it and sustaining the value proposition is a long – sometimes excruciatingly long – process. The idea of starting your own business is exhilarating, but entrepreneurs need to  focus on the reality of the challenges for their businesses to take root, thrive and fly.

    The good news is that comprehensive resources exist to help you navigate these shoals. Two excellent books aimed at the 50+ year old considering entrepreneurship are:

    The Second Chance Revolution: Becoming Your Own Boss After 50 by Edward G. Rogoff, PhD and David L. Carroll. This book is filled with nuggets of practical wisdom, including a self-assessment tool to help you decide if entrepreneurship is the right path for you. (I think this is a rather gutsy thing to do, because, if you don’t pass chapter one, you could put the book right back on the shelf without turning another page and check in to the nearest employment center.) If you do pass, Dr. Rogoff offers valuable basics to help you choose the entrepreneurial profession that’s right for you. Then, too, once you’ve successfully navigated these critical hurdles, the book provides a hands-on, step-by-step guide to what you need to do and when to launch your new business. Dr. Rogoff candidly points out that you may not like hearing about some of these steps such as: legal issues, boards of directors, insurance and taxes but, like it or not, you must tackle these head-on to succeed. The point is that this book guides you through all the hurdles and risks before you ever invest a penny in that exhilarating business idea.

    The second book, Boomerpreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Mondy and Enjoy Life, by M.B. Izard is an equally thorough and pragmatic tool. Izard also helps you determine if entrepreneurship is a good lifestyle fit for you, as well as assessing the marketplace for your business idea and how to mitigate your risks. The book has detailed action plans and is enriched by stories from Boomers who have launched new businesses. As Izard points out, there are lots of books about how to start businesses, but there are few indeed that address  the unique needs and concerns of starting a business at 50+ years of age.

    That being said, I also want to include a book aimed at entrepreneurs of any age. The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki is one of the most enlightening and inspiring books I have read on this subject.

    When you have a moment, please let us know your thoughts on the opportunities, challenges, pitfalls, and exhilaration of starting your own business after turning 50.

     

  • Character Actors and The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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    Gabby Hayes, Courtesy, www.things-and-other-stuff.com

    Reading Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott’s tribute to character actors, The Name Might Escape, Not the Work, in the September 14, 2011, NY Times, I was struck by the parallels between these actors and those of us who wish to create a new and distinct role for ourselves in our seniorhood.

    Dargis and Scott write, “A star imports outsized individuality into every role, playing variations on a person we believe we know. A character actor, by contrast, transforms a well-known type into an individual.”

    “Screenwriters don’t always give much thought to the feelings and aspirations of the zany co-worker, the flaky best friend, the low-level expendable criminal, the assistant D.A. or the doting or disapproving mother. But if [played by a gifted character actor] our familiarity may grow into interest, our interest may blossom into sympathy and, without our necessarily knowing why, our emotional stake in the story may shift and deepen. An otherwise disposable character takes on the complexity of a real person.”

    “The complexity of a real person…”  Is that not the true crux of the matter? Are we not challenged to “transform a well-known type” (the senior stereotype) “into an individual?” And that gets to the second part of this post “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” 

    Daniel Pink, author of  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future has a new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

    Publishers Weekly claims Pink writes with “visionary flare” and perhaps this is true for today’s techno, business savvy readers, but not so surprising for those of us who remember 40 years ago, when another visionary trolling about the streams of  humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow, proposed a hierarchy of needs that represented various needs that motivate human behavior. The hierarchy is often displayed as a pyramid, the lowest tiers representing basic needs and more complex needs located near the top of the pyramid. The top of the pyramid being, “self-actualization.”  Here, Pink and Maslow converge as they describe what motivates us once our basic survival needs are met is the ability to grow and develop, to realize our fullest potential or as Dargis and Scott said, take on the “complexity of a real person.”

    Or, too, as the Bard said, “All the world’s a stage and everyman must play his [or her] part.”

     

     

  • Extreme Tidying Up

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    We’ve shared all manner of ways (Zen and not so Zen) to tidy up and simplify your lives on this blog, but this one, courtesy of National Public Radio, is surely the crème de la crème!

     As Robert Krulwich says, in his recent NPR Science Blog,

     “There are levels of tidiness.

     1. Tidy.

    2. Very Tidy.

    3. And Totally Deranged Tidy.

    Ursus Wehrli is in Category Three.”

    Ursus Wehrli, whose uber creations are depicted here,  is a Swiss artist and comedian . Clearly, he’s a tidy virtuoso! 

    Check out this fascinating brain candy.

  • We, Too, Are the Fruits of Our Labor.

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    Courtesy: mycommentcodes.com

     

    When I think of work, I think of creativity – both in terms of jobs we perform for others and in entrepreneurial work we create on our own.

    Courtesy: danliterature.wordpress.com

    And, when I think of creativity, Albert Einstein comes immediately to mind. This week “The Heart of Innovation” posted “35 Awesome Quotes from Einstein.”  Four that I find most meaningful are:

    1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” (They did not include the rest and perhaps most poignant part of this quote – which is: “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

    2. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

    3.  “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

    4.  “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

     

    Happy Labor Day!  May the fruits of your labor be nourished with curiosity.

  • Sidewalk Wisdom!

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    If  you’re genuinely interested in taking a new path in life, one of your first steps should be to read Portia Nelson’s little gem of a book, There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk.

    Born in Brigham City, Utah, in 1920, Portia Nelson became a Renaissance Woman. Her name was originally Betty Mae Nelson. She grew up in humble circumstances and was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died before she was born. Her grade school friends nicknamed her Portia after a popular radio soap opera ”Portia Faces Life.” Little did they realize how prescient their naming would be.

    When she died in New York City in 2001, her obituary praised her as a “beloved singer, songwriter, actress, and author. She was best known for her appearances in the most prestigious 1950s cabarets, where she sang an elegant repertoire in a soprano noted for its silvery tone, perfect diction, intimacy, and meticulous attention to words.

    She was one of the most popular cabaret singers of the 1950s, the era when such New York supper clubs as Bon Soir and the Blue Angel featured glamorously gowned singers of sophisticated songs. Besides singing the finest torch songs of Kern, Porter, Gershwin and the other greats of popular music, she would rescue neglected songs from oblivion, introducing audiences to such forgotten gems as Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell’s ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ and Rodgers and Hart’s ‘Nobody’s Heart’.”

    The actress Jane Russell, a lifelong friend who was the first to encourage Portia to sing, commented, “Her lyrics were sung with such understanding that you felt you’d heard a poem sung.”

    Nelson was also a prodigious songwriter. One of her most famous compositions, ”Make a Rainbow,” was sung by Marilyn Horne at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural ceremony. Her acting career included playing the indomitable nun, Sister Berthe, in the film version of The Sound of Music. ”

    Her best-known writing is this “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” from her book, “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk,” originally published in 1977 and reissued in 1993:

    Chapter 1
    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find my way out.

    Chapter 2
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    Chapter 3
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it there.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.

    Chapter 4
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    Chapter 5
    I walk down another street.

    As valuable as this advise is about not doing the same things over and over again, I still think one of my favorite Portia pieces is this poem from the very beginning of “Sidewalk:”

    I don’t know what I want sometimes.
    But I know
    that I want to know
    what I want.

    I know that once I know what I want
    I will be able to get it.

    Of course, I may not want what I get
    when I get it…
    But, at least
    I’ll know that I don’t want that!

    Then, I can move on to something else
    I don’t know if I want.

    That’s progress!


    I wonder if she ever read Shel Silverstein’s, Where the Sidewalk Ends?

    I think she would have like it!

  • Entrepreneur Is Not A Job Title – It Is A “State of Mind”*

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    Courtesy of cafepress.com

    *Guy Kawaski nailed it in his 2004 classic book, “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything,” where he said, “Entrepreneur is the state of mind of people who want to alter the future, to create a service or product that makes the world a better place.”

    “This book,” Guy writes, “is for people in a wise range of startup endeavors:

    1. Guys and gals in garages creating the next great company

    2. Brave souls in established companies bringing new products and services to market

    3. Saints starting schools, churches and not-for-profits

    because when it comes to the fundamentals of starting up they are more alike than different. The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.”

    But don’t think this book is a collection of platitudes. It is one of the most hands-on, no nonsense guides on the market.  It contains fresh insights, practical tips, case studies, exercises, and mini-chapters tailored to meet specific needs, in addition to the no-holds-barred strategy chapters. If you want a “feel good” read, this is not for you. If you want a honest book that makes you think, this is for you.

    This book is not just one long note from Guy. It is filled with quotes and anecdotes from those who have thrived and those who have not. It even has footnotes you will want to read, as well as additional recommended resources at the end of each chapter.

    One of my favorite sections is Guy’s FAQs – not “Frequently Asked Questions” -  but even more importantly “Frequently Avoided Questions.” These are the questions which any entrepreneur must answer if he or she stands a chance of succeeding.

    Perhaps my favorite chapter in this gem of a book is the final chapter: “The Art of Being a Mensch.”  “Mensch” is the Yiddish term for someone who is ethical, decent and admirable. Guy says, “the three foundations of menschhood are helping lots of people, doing what’s right, and paying back society – simple concepts that are hard to implement.”

    Guy and his book are the manifestation of menschhood! This is a must read for anyone thinking about making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

    PS – If possible try to secure a hardcover copy of this book. The jacket art was created by Adam Tucker, winner of a design contest sponsored by Guy Kawasaki. It’s a great jacket, but what is truly original is that other entries are printed on the reverse side of the jacket.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of conceptual design.

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