About Me

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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.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reach Out And Touch Someone

Monday Morning Pep Talk!

Reach out and touch someone was a tagline for AT&T back in 1979 to increase long distance calls.
Staying in touch with friends in midlife is tough. The Mayo Clinic published, Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health, in April 2011 touting the benefits of friendships. Recently a person shared with me that despite hundreds of connections on LinkedIn, a healthy Twitter following and thousands of Facebook friends, she has never felt more lonely. Her candor took me by surprise, but before I could respond her phone beeped twice and she excused herself to respond to a couple of text messages. She continued our conversation barraged by ringers, buzzes and bells indicating text messages, new voice mail messages and e-mails. Finally, I asked her to power down, so we could finish our coffee in peace. My friend did not want to continue her conversation about the loneliness she was feeling, but her phone told the tale.

There is something about connecting with your friends outside of work either by picking up the telephone, actually sending a birthday card (imagine their surprise) or seeing each other face-to-face that cements a relationship that e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, your Google+ circles and LinkedIn connections cannot replace. I have all of the aforementioned technology and it is great—in moderation.

I have learned if I don’t manage the technology---the technology will begin to control me. So, there are boundaries---Facebook is for 80 friends at any one time. It allows me to share photos, keep up with friends and family members I don’t live near or our schedules don’t allow us to see each other frequently. Professional connections are part of my LinkedIn network. I try to know most of my 260+ connections personally. A few are friends of friends. Other LinkedIn connections are friends of the blog or professional acquaintances including some I have only met once at a conference or workshop. Then, there is Twitter—they are my blog connections. Many of the people I follow on Twitter or that are following me, I’ve never met. We may admire each other’s work or have a mutual professional or writing interest. For me, Twitter is not personal. It is an extension of Work, Careers and Jobs @ 40+. There are no Tweets of vacation destinations, great concerts or family news. Organizations may follow you on Twitter. I doubt the American Management Association or Diversity Journal wants know the finest gem of a gourmet restaurant I discovered in Roanoke, IN last month. I might suggest Joseph Decuis to my Facebook friends or to you (http://www.josephdecuis.com).

That is part of my personal technology strategy. Everyone has to develop a system that works for them. According to the Mayo Clinic article investing time in strengthening friendships has a pay off in better health and a more positive outlook toward life. So, this week, call a friend and at least leave a voice mail. Give your friendships CPR and good feelings will flow both ways. You have 168 hours, make it a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Owning Your Work/Life Balance

Monday Morning Pep Talk

You are one of the lucky ones, you have a job. If you feel like you’re working harder, you are probably right. According to the mandarins at the U.S. Department of Labor workers over fifty years old work harder than their younger counterparts because they value work more. In 2010, Professor Jean Twenge, from San Diego State University, published results of a generational differences study in the Journal of Management. The study found, “young workers place little value on teamwork, company loyalty and see their jobs as merely a means to make a living; they like their leisure time, want more vacations, and don’t want to be under a lot of pressure at work.”
It is up to you to carve-out some “me time” away from the pressures of work to create some work/life balance. Your company isn’t going to do it for you and working 60 hours-a-week is no guarantee you won’t get laid off in the next round of  job cuts.
"The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," said Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who specializes in stress and relationship management. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out." Various other studies support the impact of vacations and time away from work on increased productivity, stress relief and a boost to overall health. So, why don’t more people take time off?
 Corporate America has a “24/7, never stop culture” and when senior corporate managers work seven days a week it permeates throughout the organization. Europeans embrace the idea of time away from work to recharge almost religiously. Vacations are enshrined in law. In countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, employers are required to provide up to 20 days of paid leave. Americans, on the other hand, get an average of 12 days every year. A study conducted by the Families and Work Institute found that less than half of U.S. employees take their full vacation benefit.
Probably the best evidence of the “vacation effect” can be found in the Framingham Heart Study, which scientists have examined for years to understand what contributes to our well-being. More than 12,000 men who were at risk of heart disease were followed over nine years to see if there were ways to improve their longevity. Among the questions they were asked annually was about vacations. "The more frequent the vacations, the longer the men lived," says Karen Matthews, of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center, who analyzed the data to assess the benefits of vacations.
Even if you can’t afford a trip away or you are unemployed and feel guilty about taking any time off your job search, a “stay-cation” in your own town or house-swapping with friends or relatives from another city are ways to recharge your batteries. According to Matthews,"It is important to engage in multiple leisure activities, both as a way to enjoy life more, but also to potentially have a benefit on health and be a stress reliever.” This Monday Morning Pep Talk was written a little late as I am taking my own advice and enjoying some time off.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Increase Your Job Satisfaction

Recently I addressed an alumni group about navigating the multigenerational workforce and creating a satisfying career. The overall age of the audience is somewhat younger than the groups I generally present to—most of them were at or close to a decade in the workforce. This provided a great opportunity to learn how the work experience differed than what they expected in college. I also asked what the audience thought they might be doing if talked again in ten years.

Their responses were surprising. Over half the audience had aspirations to own a business. Now maybe it was because the audience was young, intelligent and ambitious (they were spending a Saturday morning at an alumni networking breakfast) or maybe this audience viewed their roles at work much differently than the 40+ worker.

I’m guessing it is the latter. Of the twelve participants that planned to evolve into entrepreneurs, all of them are currently employed by large business and many are already promoted into supervisory roles with direct reports. Three of the young 30-somethings had impressive budget responsibility and large organizations reporting to them. Rather than look at their current companies as a place to make the proverbial climb into the corner office with plush carpet, a gatekeeper in front of their door and other discreet executive perks; they appeared to view their jobs as an extension of their education. Their income was being used to pay off student loan debt, but what company’s name was on the business card could not have matter less. Emergency in the employee engagement aisle!

Employees joining the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s, came of age in more of a “carrot and stick” management style. The carrot was the first promotion. If Bob performed well as a technician II; then Bob become a technician III or (gasp)—a Senior Technician. That changed for many Fortune 500 companies in the mid-1990s as they dabbled in “Broadbanding”. If you worked for a company that missed the Broadbanding bus (lucky you)—it is when a company flattens the hierarchy, eliminates levels of management, makes it really difficult to get a promotional title change and replaces a large number of salary levels with a small number of salary grades with broad pay ranges. That is as simple as I can make it sound. It would take a highly paid consulting practice leader to make Broadbanding sound logical today. In the era of mergers/acquisitions that was the 1990s, a suave HR consultant could spin it to make sense. My audience impatiently expects titles and pay increases now--or they are leaving even with 8% unemployment.

The 40+ worker believed their company was the beginning and the end while this cohort of twenty-five to thirty-two year olds view their work as a means to an end.   They were much more interested in my four years of entrepreneurship and how I build blog traffic than an audience of their peers a decade or two older.  They appeared to be simultaneously engaged in their jobs today and could fire off a text with their resignation tomorrow. Corporate loyalty? They snickered as if my AARP card had fallen out of my wallet.

Over dinner, I was discussing this event with friends for their assessment. One astute observation was that my audience included children of Baby Boomers. They lived through their parent’s being laid off in corporate downsizings; they were relocated as children when their parents moved to start new jobs and they understand that for as much as a company provides their payroll direct deposit today—these young people think like freelancers or 1099-workers. More experienced workers have additional considerations including aging parents, health issues, young adult children or in some cases second families with young children---adopting the mindset of a younger generation where it makes sense, could be your ticket to increased career satisfaction.

Happy Labor Day in the USA

For those of us who labor and those looking for employment, a good rememberance for Labor Day.


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.