• You and the Queen Have a Lot in Common!

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    Out on the road yesterday, with my car radio dial set as always to NPR, I happened to catch Diane Rehm interviewing Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life a Modern Monarch.

    I’m not much of a “Royals” devotée, but when I heard Diane Rehm announce, “Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will observe her diamond jubilee next month. It’s been sixty years since her father, George the Sixth, died. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became head of the Commonwealth at age twenty-five. During her reign – the longest since Queen Victoria’s – she’s ushered the British monarchy into the modern age,” I was hooked and turned up the volume.

    I was particularly struck when they spoke of the value, as related to her 60 years of insights and information, of the Queen’s role today. “She is,” the author said, “a nonpolitical head of state who exists to unify the country. She’s had to handle crises within her family, her country, and the world. She’s very perceptive and knows every world leader – their strengths as well as their foibles. The Queen has traveled throughout the United Kingdom and based on her conversations with both ordinary and powerful people she has a great understanding of the human condition.”

    Sixty years of insights and information about the world and the human condition – isn’t that woven into the fabric of all of us 60-year-old’s? We may not have the same bling as the Queen but we do have the same time-tested experience to bring to the table. What a gift!

  • So Much More Than Dinosaurs

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    New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is launching a new graduate program for people “who want to make a career of teaching and stay in the business,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, “whether they be just out of college or former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans.”

    The article by Douglas Quenqua in this Sunday’s New York Times begins: “Wanted: 50 former science majors with an interest in teaching — no experience, please — and a willingness to relocate. Must be comfortable sharing a classroom with dinosaur bones and giant squid.”

    Tuition is free, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents, and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health benefits.

    What a terrific career changing opportunity!  One interested applicants is “Tim Roselle, 60, a retired financial worker from the Upper West Side, who said he was lured by the prospect of attending school in one of the city’s most beloved museums.”

    There’s a lot life in some old bones…

     

     

     

  • In Memory of a Friend and Master Photographer, Eve Arnold

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    Eve Arnold on the set of "Becket," 1963, photographed by Robert Penn

    The renown photojournalist died peacefully at age 99 last Wednesday.

    When I first met Eve Arnold, she was an elegant, feisty yet unassuming woman of 80, still capturing astounding moments in her photographs. Though her London apartment building had an elevator, she preferred to vault up to her 3rd floor flat under her own steam – which is the way in which she had lived her life for decades.

    Eve never labeled herself a feminist, but she believed that women saw the world through a different lens. She was the first woman to become a full member of the Magnum Photos cooperative. She was a major star in what is considered the golden age of news photography, when magazines like Life and Look disseminated news through big, arresting pictures captured on-the-scene (in war and peace) by adventurous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gordon Parks, Robert Capa and Margaret Bourke-White.

    She learned the trade at the New School in New York City where she studied under Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. One day, when he assigned his students to photograph a fashion story, Eve remembered hearing from her babysitter that fashion shows were held in Harlem — in churches, bars and other untraditional places.  The fashion photos she took in Harlem became her first portfolio and she continued to follow unconventional paths throughout her lifetime.

    During the 1970s, after waiting 10 years, she visited China twice, becoming one of the first westerners to be granted a rare visa after America and China established diplomatic relations. Traveling 40,000 miles, she photographed Communist officials, Mongolian horsemen and children at work. The trip was chronicled in a book, one of dozens she wrote and photographed.  Though she became even more famous for her intimate photographs of such celebrities as Marilyn Monroe and world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth, In China, which won the National Book Award is my favorite book of Eve’s. This is not only because of her stunning photographs, but also because I had just returned from a photo journey of Tibet when Eve and I first met in London.

    Eve was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1980. In 1995 she was made a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and was elected “Master Photographer” – the world’s most prestigious photographic honor – awarded by New York’s International Center of Photography.

    When asked what kept her working with such insight and skill over the decades, Eve answered, “Curiosity.”

    It’s there – in her eyes – and now in in the images she captured: her legacy.

  • 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.

     

  • 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!

  • 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.”

     

     

     

  • “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

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    Photo courtesy of www.indivisualism.com

    Seniors should take heart in this courageous quote from the English novelist, George Eliot (1819-1880). She was often called the last Victorian, and we know that was not exactly an era open to creative thought – nevertheless articulation.

    We hear the term “reinventing themselves” often as seniors – with many extended years to live – are taking on new jobs and even starting to launch their own businesses.

    This week’s “Fact of the Week” from the Sloane Center on Aging & Work at Boston College is:

    “According to a 2011 report on retirement trends, ‘continued employment in something other than the career job…rises to a maximum of 32 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women when the HRS respondents are aged 59 to 69, but still remains significant (more than 20 percent of the sample) even among those aged 67 to 77.’ ’’

    The key phrase here is “something other than the career job.” These seniors are truly breaking new ground.

    For those who might be contemplating a bold entrepreneurial venture, the US Small Business Administration’s website offers a nifty self-assessment tool to determine just how ready you might be to start our own business.

    The SBA notes, “Your responses will be scored automatically when you click the Submit button. This score will be used to develop your assessment profile. Based on your score, you will also receive a statement of Suggested Next Steps, directing you to the most appropriate SBA resources to help improve your business preparedness. These suggested next steps may include free SBA online courses, direct access to online counseling or targeted links to appropriate resources.”

    Take their note with the appropriate grain of salt. It is, of course, a bit of shameless marketing for the SBA. There are multitudes of other reputable online resources to help you plan and start your own business. Granted few are directed at the 50+ year old entrepreneur, but we are working on finding more of those targeted resources and will bring them to you as we locate and evaluate them.

    To extend George Eliot’s wisdom, we would add, “It’s never too late to be who you might like to be!”

     

     

  • There Are Only 3 True Job Interview Questions!

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    George Bradt, writing in Forbes magazine, says that top executive recruiters agree that there are just 3 true job interview questions:

    1. Can you do the job?
    2. Will you love the job?
    3. Can we tolerate working with you?

    “That’s it,” says Bradt. “Those three. Think back, every question you’ve ever had asked of you in a job interview is a subset of a deeper in-depth follow-up to one of these three key questions. Each question potentially may be asked using different words, but every question, however it is phrased, is just a variation on one of these topics: Strengths, Motivation, and Fit.”

    1. Can you do the job? is all about Strengths – both technical and interpersonal skills. Do you have the skills required and can you work well with and even inspire others?
    2. Will you love the job? is about Motivation. Bradt quotes Cornerstone International Group CEO, Bill Guy, who emphasizes the changing nature of motivation, “employees do not wish to get paid merely for working hard—just the reverse: they will work hard because they enjoy their environment and the challenges associated with their work.”
    3. Can we tolerate working with you? is about Fit.  Bradt quotes an interview with Executive Search firm Heidrick & Struggles CEO, Kevin Kelly who explained the importance of cultural fit: “40 percent of senior executives leave organizations or are fired or pushed out within 18 months. It’s not because they’re dumb; it’s because a lot of times culturally they may not fit in with the organization or it’s not clearly articulated to them as they joined.”

    Bradt says, “if you’re the one being interviewed, prepare by thinking through examples that illustrate your strengths, what motivates you about the organization and role you’re interviewing for, and the fit between your own preferences and the organization’s Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and Environment (BRAVE).

    But remember that interviews are exercises in solution selling. They are not about you.

    “Think of the interview process as a chance for you to show your ability to solve the organization and interviewer’s problem. That’s why you need to highlight strengths in the areas most important to the interviewers, talk about how you would be motivated by the role’s challenges, and discuss why you would be a BRAVE fit with the organization’s culture.”

     

     

  • 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.”

     

     

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