Archive for the ‘Originality’ Category

  • 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.

     

  • Seven Self-Marketing Tips

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    Courtesy babacita.com

    Fast Company Magazine published a terrific article in this week’s Co.Design section called “7 Steps for Creating New Retailing Experiences.”  True, its ideas and innovative examples are aimed at retailers, but what I found extraordinary is how these  “7 Steps”  are just as valuable for individuals keen on boosting their own self-marketing.

    The article begins, “To truly design a great experience that’s right for your company, we need to look beyond the field of design to sociology, economics, organizational behavior, and even theater. These seven principles will help you be strategic about the experiences you design and choose the right script for your company.”

    Take a look at their tips and see if you don’t think they might apply to your image experience as well as Starbucks:

    1. Experience design is not about luxury. Southwest Airlines, for example, applies a combination of heart, humor, and efficiency as a distinctly Southwest script for air travel that’s different from the norm.

    The “Premium” is what separates you from the rest of the pack – no matter if you’re a chincilla or a chipmunk. See our posting,  Creativity and the Power of Imagination – for CEOs as Well as Wizards!

    2. Start with empathy. Understanding and challenging social scripts requires stepping into your customers’ shoes.

    Remember Leonardo’s “Working Resume?”

    3. Do your own thing.…. People will value originality as long as you continue to serve their needs.

    Take a look back at our Your Originality: How to Capture and Market It 

    4. Utilize all elements of theater. Create an immersive world with consistent rules. To reinforce the script, think of the whole experience as a “play,” including the cast, costumes, set, and props.

    Details, details, details – or as we posted earlier: Rabbits, Privet Hedges and a Planters Peanut Bar: How John Updike Brought What Is Peculiar to the Moment to Glory

    5. Use different incentives to create different behaviors. Align your people, including their incentives and motivations, with the desired experience.

    Remember our contribution from Australia,  Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

    6. The devil is in the trade-offs. The experience you offer should have a clear point of view.

    Focus, focus, focus –
    Thanks Be To Shakespeare: Those Telling Details in the Story Behind Your Resumé Really Do Matter

    7.  Evolve to stay relevant. Never stop prototyping and testing changes to make the experience better and to change in step with people’s needs.

    Reinventing yourself You Have to Step Out of the Batting Cage to Hit A Home Run!

  • 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!

  • Artist or Biologist: Career Switching Made Easier

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    Courtesy www.stuffintheair.com

    Whether you are looking for a new line of work because the old stand-by has become boring and meaningless or because you’ve been laid off and can’t find work in your “field,” a new career may need new strategies to find and secure it. You may be attuned to approach a recruiter or to diligently scour job titles in the want-ads with unrestrained vigor, but we respectfully recommend you redirect your energy. If you’re eager to use your existing skills in different ways and are not sure where to begin, go to an online job board such as CareerBuilder.com – not to find the job of your dreams but rather how to translate your experience and job skills into new career options. Skip the job titles and go directly to the “key word” search engine. (This by the way is the same way any employer or recruiter worth his or her salt, will scan online resumes.) Using CareerBuilder.com’s “key word” search engine, type in “Art” and just look at the variety of companies that pop up: insurance, banking and financial services, healthcare, retail, auto companies, and even the Art Institute!

    Type in “Biomedical Research” and, among the zillions of medical hits, you’ll find the A & E Television Network! You get the picture. Your skills may fit in places you never dreamed of – or maybe you have thought of them but figured you were not a good fit.

    Next you can “narrow your search” via Category, Company, City and State. Narrow is the operable word if you are looking for the same old same old kind of job, but since you’re not, skip the actual job postings they offer and take some time to scroll through all the options under “Category” and “Company.” Don’t jump in to the “City” and “State” options yet, even if you think you’d like to relocate in New Mexico. You’ll be amazed to discover how some of your finely honed skills can be applied to unique and exciting new careers.

    Still flummoxed… Stop and read Studs Terkel’s classic book, “Working.” Terkel interviewed hundreds of American workers. Men and women from every walk of life spoke with him, telling him of their likes and dislikes, fears, problems, and happinesses on the job. The book is a manifestation of Terkel’s belief that our work is a search for “daily meaning as well as our daily bread.”

  • Reinventing Salt and Ourselves

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    Courtesy Everydiet.org

    This blog post, Three Tips for Reinventing a Product, by Teri Evans in Entrepreneur.com is about salt. Yes, who would have thought a staple such as salt would need reinvention, but then how many of us 60+ year-olds gave much thought to “reinventing ourselves” 2 or 3 years ago?

    Teri says, “Many aspiring entrepreneurs have attempted to reinvent products, from cupcakes to pizza to coffee, which are considered commodities. Some have met with astonishing success — Starbucks being a notable example — while others have fallen flat. So what are the important ingredients in a successful reinvention?”

    Teri offers The Meadow, an artisanal salt shop with locations in Portland, Oregon and New York City, as a case in point.  Teri cites three ways in which the The Meadow’s owners Jennifer and Mark Bitterman, transformed salt into a gourmet entity, noting, “While their reinvention is specific to salt, the strategies they implemented to transform the perception of a commodity can work in just about any business.”

    I’d add an extra pinch of salt to their successful recipe. You, too, are a commodity and each of these 3 strategies is equally essential to the business of creating and marketing the sauce of your “reinvented” self.

    1. Tell the story behind your product. Mark Bitterman was enjoying a trip to France when he discovered artisan salts during a savory French meal — and it’s a delightful story he shares with customers time and time again. Creating an emotional one-on-one connection through a story, while weaving in the history of artisan salts, has kept foodies coming back. The Meadow also dishes salt stories and recipes on its website and blog, Salt News. Mark also has an award-winning book on the subject: Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral with Recipes.

    2. Create a shared experience around the product. Aside from recounting salt tales to customers, the Bittermans bring foodies together in a shared experience by hosting salt tastings at its shops. Previous events have ranged from unique sweet-and-savory pairings to events designed with the culinary professional in mind. The Bittermans have learned that if you bring customers together for a shared experience, you’re more likely to create an emotional attachment to your product, which can breed loyalty and boost sales.

    3. Introduce the product to industry influencers. The Meadow doesn’t advertise and instead relies on word-of-mouth marketing to build credibility among its foodie customers. One way it has done that is through winning over some top chefs of upscale restaurants, which have not only raved about The Meadow’s artisan salts, but also become product evangelists.

    Bon appetit!

  • Business and Life in a Shopping Cart

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    Courtesy of The New York Times

    Whenever I think about work and our different work options, I remember this extraordinary story “The Death of a Fulton Fish Market Fixture,” by Dan Berry, published in the NY Times in 2010.

    The “fixture,” a woman named Shopping Cart Annie worked the slippery halls of the Fulton Street Fish Market for decades.

    Courtesy PhotoBucket.com

    Established in 1822 and named after steamship inventor, Robert Fulton, the market was located near the Brooklyn Bridge along the East River waterfront Lower Manhattan until 2005, when it moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx. In its 170 year run in Lower Manhattan it was the most important fish market in the United States.

    Berry writes,  “Annie would doing anything for a buck: hustling newspapers, untaxed cigarettes, favors, those pairs of irregular socks she’d buy cheap on Canal. She’s submitting to the elements, calling out “Yoo-hoo” to the snow and the rain and her boys…. Making her rounds, running errands, holding her own in the blue banter, she was as much a part of this gruff place as the waxed fish boxes, the forklift-rocking cobblestones, and the cocktail aroma of gasoline, cigarettes and the sea.”

    “She cleaned the market’s offices and locker rooms and bathrooms. She collected the men’s ‘fish clothes’ on Friday and had them washed and ready for Monday. She ran errands for Mr. DeLuca, known as Stevie Coffee Truck…. She accepted the early morning delivery of bagels. She tried to anticipate the men’s needs — towels, bandannas, candy — and had these items available for sale. She clutched the handle of the shopping cart she used to hold wares and provide balance, wearing a baseball cap, layers of sweaters, and men’s pants, navy blue, into which she had sewn deep, leg-long pockets to keep safe her hard-earned rolls of bills.”

    No one knew Annie had another life. In the 1940’s she was a beautiful model who wanted to be an actress.  But she left those aspirations behind when she left the east coast and bicycled across the country to Alaska with a boyfriend who would later become her first husband. That marriage did not work out and she married a second time. She had four children, but domestic life was clearly not her forte. Nor was the bar or record store she managed. At some point she returned to New York City and took up her post at the fish market.

    Annie was not homeless. She had an apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. She loved her children and grandchildren and saw them frequently. She sent them money orders and used clothing whenever she could – which according to Berry was often – boxes of clothes from different charity stores and money orders frequently totaling $4000 a month. She was also  “mother” to many homeless women on the streets of Lower Manhattan. Her family kept trying to persuade her to give up her life at the market, but she never did.

    Her daughter said, “Work was her life.”

    But I think Annie might have said, “she missed the point.” It was not just any work for Annie; it was her work at the Fulton Street Fish Market. She had been beautiful, had always been loved. Her life could have been easier, but she chose another option. She had fun, made money and gave most all of it away.

    Annie died in her sleep, surrounded by friends and family. When she reached the pearly gates, she probably called out a hearty, “Yoo-Hoo!” to let all the fishmongers in the sky know she had arrived. I know, when I listen carefully, I can hear that echoing “Hoo.”  I look up and see Shopping Cart Annie looking down, as she says, “Yes, I mean Yoo! You don’t have to follow my path, but you do need to find a path of your own and follow it.”

  • The Minimalist’s Guide to Cultivating Passion

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    Today, one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, hosted a guest blogger, Cal Newport, who posted a fun and informative “Guide to Cultivating Passion.”

    No airy-fairy passion potion, this is a nitty-gritty, how-to find and nurture passionate pursuits in our own lives.

    Newport’s piece begins with a nod to comedian Steve Martin. He quotes from Martin’s 2007 memoir, Born Standing Up, where Martin says: “I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success.”

    “If you do the math,” notes Newport, “this sums to fourteen years of hard work before Martin saw returns on his investment. That’s a long time to remain focused on a goal without reward, especially when the path is ambiguous (‘The course was more plodding than heroic,’ Martin recalls).  But as he makes clear in his book, Martin found a Zen peace in the simplicity of his pursuit. He describes with relish, for example, the importance of ‘diligence’ in becoming a star — a term he redefines to mean the ability to not work on unrelated projects — and he labels ‘loss of focus’ as an ‘indulgence’ that success cannot afford.”

    But Martin’s example is just the beginning of this great post. Newport goes on to say, “Even if we agree on their value, how do we find these passionate pursuits in our own lives? This is the thorny question I address in this post.”

    Whether you are lost in the wildernesss searching for your passion or, having identified it, are frozen in passion paralysis over the life-changing implications of this discovery, you need to read Newport’s analysis of the “thorny issues.”

    One tip, I particularly love is that, “You need to be exposed to many things…. You should expose yourself even though you might not know if you’ll be interested.”

    “Put another way,” says Newport: “take a step back; relax; then open your eyes to patiently take in all that’s out there.”

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