About Me

My photo
Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Best Companies to Work for & Other Corporate Myths

What do Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and the annual list of Best Companies to work for have in common?
It is all fantasy and marketing hype.
That’s right, all of these are commercially-driven advertising dependent cultural myths. My apologies to anyone disheartened by the news (this blog is intended for those 40+). Here are three important facts to keep in mind so you can make any work environment, the best company for you.
#1—There is no such thing as a “Best” company to work for. However, within any organization some areas are more toxic than others. This far in the game, you know that companies are complex structures and the culture varies from department to department, location to location and leader to leader. While the overall company may offer great employee benefits (did someone say, defined benefit pension plan?) and other cool perks, the idea of an entire company being BEST is amusing. Working @40+ Tip: Try to move yourself into a location, department or unit of your company that is known to have the most supportive, nurturing culture in your organization. You’ve worked too long to be stressed at work.
#2—Your primary relationship at any company is with your direct manager/supervisor or fellow owners if you are a partner. Your work experience is defined by that very important relationship no matter how many fitness centers or other exotic benefits the organization offers. How many people do you know working for an organization ranked “Best” on some publisher’s list and they are experiencing “job hell”? After a while in the workforce, you can attest that a great boss can provide a ray of sunshine in an otherwise desolate work environment. The corollary is also true, your company can have a basketball court, free gourmet lunch, free parking, a generous annual bonus, tickets to sporting events and more. If your boss is jerk, you will still have your paper on the street (or Internet) looking for a better situation. Working@40+Tip: If you have a great boss, stay put and figure out how to grow in the job even if it seems kind of dead-end. Even if your boss isn’t great, and is merely not awful, it may be worth staying with them, if they support your career development.
#3—“Best” lists are an advertising juggernaut and nothing more. At the risk of sounding cynical (too late), look at the advertising in any issue of a magazine with a list of the “Best”. We’re talking companies to work for and jobs, but the same holds true for the “Best Doctors” or the “Best Private Schools” etc. There will be a ton of ads purchased by the companies, hospitals where the “Best” doctors practice or the “Best” private schools. Advertising sales reps for the magazines are out selling to the featured target as soon as the editorial calendar is set and they know which month is going to have a list of “Best”. Working@40+ Tip: Don’t buy the hype. Don’t buy that issue of the magazine off the rack. If you subscribe, skip the reading that article and write a guest article for this blog about your experience working@40+.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring into Something New!

Slide Image

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
—William Shakespeare

When was the last time you did something you have never done before? When was the last time you did something completely different? Maybe you went someplace you’ve never gone before or participated in an event you've only read about. I was recently challenged to think about the last time I experienced something for the first time.

It is easy to get into a rut, okay, I will call it a groove, if that makes you feel better. Generally, and particularly in mid-life, there is a tendency to “go with what we know.” We have our favorite restaurants and sometimes we have our signature meal we order every time we eat there. We go to the same dry cleaners, the same grocery stores, the same church and sometimes sit in the same pew.  It’s understandable,  I am a creature of habit too. My rationale was that if I could decrease the amount variables—by sticking with service providers and places I know I can depend on—more things would work right than wrong in my life. I had unwittingly adopted a “go with what you know” mentality.

So this year, I decided to mix things up. I started small. First I deliberately decided to experience something for the first time each month personally or professionally. Maybe it was making a new business contact, attending a workshop, experiencing an arts event out of my usual genre or going to a town I had never visited and learning more about the place. In January, I invited Leah Smiley, President of the Society of Diversity to lunch when I found she also lived in Indianapolis. What followed was an enlightening conversation, a great business contact and the foundation of a future blog post you'll be able to read soon.

Last night, I attended Speed Networking- hosted by Anthony and Tamara Sullivan. It was a Linking Indiana event and promised a night of professional networking in a fast paced environment. Every month the invitation arrives via LinkedIN. The event was my something for the first time for April. There were lots of people and I appreciated the structure of moving from table to table with time limits on making your pitch so everyone could share. There were job seekers, recruiters, many entrepreneurs, lots of I/T types, an internship coordinator for Butler University and people in the not-for-profit world. It only took three hours out of the month—many new contacts were gained—who knows where they will lead.

So here’s the challenge. When was the last time YOU experienced something for the first time and really moved out of your comfort zone? If it is has been too long, maybe this could be a goal for you too.  Spring is time of new beginnings and renewal—experience it!