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, December 15, 2014

The Acceleration of Career Angst

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Anecdotally, I have observed people are worried about careers at an earlier age. When the idea of blogging about aging in the workforce first came up;  I consulted a variety of people  and one consideration was should age should I target-- 40+ or 50+. Initially, I wanted to align with AARP’s age of 50. However, feedback prevailed that earlier career management gave workers more options in their 50s and 60s. The 40-year-old age also aligned with protections offered by the Age Discrimination Act. Work, Careers & Jobs@40+ was born!

Now employees in their early-40s are having the types of  job issues that were once reserved for workers in their 60s. I wanted to focus on experienced workers in their 40s and older; then 37-year-olds started telling me about the problems they face with Millennials in their workplace trying to push them out. This week the I was stunned at an encounter with a very intense 14-year-old concerned about his “career.” Returning from a professional conference, I sat next to the high achiever and his parents in the airport boarding area. The young man struck up a conversation because my (free) laptop case is emblazoned with the name of the pharmaceutical company I once worked for and he may be interested in a career in drug research and discovery. Both parents were involved in healthcare and it was obvious they supported their son’s brilliance. Without my asking, they volunteered their son was assigned a gifted/talented track at a private school in third grade. He was allowed to take 3 days off school to attend the conference we  attended and had assignments related to his experience. The son was trying to decide if medical school had better ROI than medical research—at 14!

Younger Americans are down on themselves, the economy and the country in general according to a study by the Institute for College Access & Success. To them, the American Dream has become more elusive and unobtainable than at any time in the past 80 years. Tax firm H&R Block surveyed American young adults and teens, and what they're worrying about financially and eight of every 10 teenagers (ages 13 to 17) are worried about finding a good job as an adult.

It is not just a U.S. problem, the career angst felt by younger workers is global. Work and career distress by young adults in the United Kingdom is well-documented. Having angst and becoming anxious won’t help, mature workers from any country will confirm. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), nine million Americans took a full week off in July 1976, with July traditionally being the most popular month for summer vacations. In July 2014, just 7 million did, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. That’s especially startling considering the fact that 60 million more Americans are employed today than in 1976. So, this week plan some time away from work for 2015 and realize the younger employees you work with are stressed out and maybe even more than those of us that have been around awhile.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What is Success?

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Money. Power. Fame. Lives in service to others. Giving back. Are career success and personal success two totally different paths or are they intertwined? 

The January 2015 issue of Essence magazine surveyed readers on their definition of success. The top 7 answers were:

  • Living a happy life
  • Having financial independence
  • Being spiritually fulfilled
  • Having no debt
  • Being able to afford things important to you
  • Having a successful career
  • Being in a fulfilling relationship

Defining success is one of those elusive ideals similar to defining happiness, love or pleasure. Each one of us have a different answer and our answers change through the lifecycle. I worked with an executive (early 40s at the time) who faced a life-threatening disease and after surviving made health a priority, almost an obsession. Prior to that, his focus was work—sometimes more than 70 hours a week. Billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett along with 125+ others including former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, movie director George Lucas and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have entered into the “Giving Pledge.” The pledge is a commitment to contribute most of their millions or in some cases billions to charity. 

When you enter the term “the most successful person in America” into one popular search engine, the first result is The Richest People in America at forbes.com. Of course search engines are hard-wired with SEOs (search engine optimization, keywords, labels or tags). However, the third entry is about fame. Is success all about Keeping Up with the Kardashians? 

Psychologists have a theory, don’t they always? It is called Social Comparison Theory. Here’s how it works. You look at others lives whether you know them personally or from your favorite guilty-pleasure-TV show, social media or hear about the person from a friend. Then you make a judgment about the quality of your life either based on an upward comparison—people who appear to have it better than you: more attractive, fancy cars, Louboutin shoes, more influence, 20 sports channels—whatever. Downward comparisons are people you observe and they seem to have it worse than you- still driving the Pinto hatchback, you get it. This theory basically says others define our success because we stack our lives up against friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers or celebrities and make evaluations. 

Tony Robbins has the Ultimate Success Formula and a 35 minute YouTube called, “The Keys to Massive Success.” Then, there’s the Ted Talk by Richard St. John, it is only 3 minutes. However, he doesn’t define success; St. John just tells what 8 concepts lead to success. Spoiler Alert: Passion, Hard Work, Focus, Push Yourself, Serve Others, Have Ideas, Persist and Get Good at What You Do. Success Magazine’s tagline is “What Achievers Read.” It appears that while success is personally defined and changes throughout our lives—it is also a multi-billion industry with books, magazines, life coaches and reality TV to help us all figure it out.

So this week we all have the same 168 hours to pursue our version of success, no matter how you define it. Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Encore Careers in Unlikely Places

Monday Morning Pep Talk

Working past the age most people retire improves the chance that you won’t outlive your money. 70 is the target age to stop working according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research and was reported in the most recent issue of Money magazine. One of the big questions I am asked both online and at presentations is, “who will hire me at 64 (insert any age 50+)?” Actually there are jobs for older workers and as the economy continues to improve more and more people who dropped out of the workforce are finding there way back. Here are suggestions and if you know great careers for experienced workers, please share. I would love to hear about them.

  • Work for Yourself: You don’t have to begin Kentucky Fried Chicken like Harlan Sanders did when he was 65. You could turn a hobby into a business or use your business expertise to provide consulting. I know a couple in their mid-50s who quit their corporate jobs to start a promotional item/event planning business that carried them into a more secure retirement over the next 15 years. If you have the good health, energy and risk-tolerance to start a big business, go for it! Remember my friend chronicled in this post who began a vineyard after a 25 year career in medical sales?     http://workinglater.blogspot.com/2011/11/turning-your-passion-into-career.html   I’ve heard real estate, professional organizers and home stagers are new favorite encore careers that will require certification and/or licensure to be competitive.

  • Teaching: Yes teaching! It is not what it used to be. There are so many options. With a Master's degree you can teach at the community college level in your area of expertise. Many time your students are also non-traditional, so you are interacting with people who want to be in class hearing the knowledge and experiences you have to share. You can also teach online in your bunny slippers and no one will know. One of my “retired” neighbors teaches a few days a week at a preschool and she loves the interaction. Visit ccteach.org to learn more about teaching at higher grades.

  • Health Care: While some positions in health care are being downsized, there are entire new health care job functions being created. Jobs for patient navigators or patient advocates are worth looking into if you like the idea of helping people and have an interest in health care. There are certification programs to make you more competitive. You can learn more by visiting the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants.

  • Government Work: Am I crazy? No, I am not. Check USAJobs.gov to see which agencies are hiring in your area. I met a woman who mid-career decided that a government position would provide her the pension that none of her corporate jobs had offer even thought she spent 18 years in the workforce. So, she transferred her corporate training skills into a position with a federal agency and transferred to the Department of Homeland Security when we met. That agency didn’t even exist when she moved into the public sector. Since its inception in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security employs 240,000 with an annual budget of $60B in fiscal year 2013. Oh yeah, and that pension…they still have them through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Think creatively about encore careers especially if could not imagine doing your current job until age 70. You may want to go back for certification or training earlier (in your 40s or 50s) to make yourself more competitive and prepared for a new career when you are ready to make your move. Also, watch out for scams offering training, certification or education that sounds too good to be true.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Combining a Paycheck with Your Passion

Monday Morning Pep Talk

The nonprofit sector may offer experienced workers a second career combining passion, social interaction and a continued income. The thought of “doing well by doing good” may not have been a possibility early in a career, however the idea of finding work with meaning is often of high importance choosing a second career. According to the Urban Institute, from 2001 to 2011 nonprofit jobs grew 25% while new jobs in the for-profit sector rose half of one percent.

As mature workers consider moving from for-profit organizations to nonprofit work, here are three major misconceptions to be aware of when making the career change to a nonprofit:

Myth #1: Working in a nonprofit is less complicated than corporate employment. The reality is that nonprofits have the same complexities and organizational structures as corporations. Nonprofits have the additional burden of constant fundraising and the transparency required to donors insuring their contributions are primarily directed to programs supporting their mission. Nonprofits also require the same infrastructure of any corporation including information technology, human resources, accounting, legal services, communication strategists, purchasing and project management along with a dependence on volunteers. 

Myth #2: Nonprofit employees spend all their time focused on their cause. The reality is while a nonprofit is not focused on shareholders and stock prices, the organization needs a revenue stream to maintain their programs and services. Fundraising and funding again becomes a focus. Whether the revenue stream comes from the government, businesses, individuals in the community or a mix of these sources, time is required to build and maintain relationships with funders. There are fundraising events to plan, grants to be written and after action reports due explaining to donors how their gifts were utilized.  In the nonprofit setting employees wear many hats, so “that’s not my job” is not an appropriate response.

Myth #3: Everyone working for nonprofits is “nice”.  As a donor, board member or volunteer people see nonprofit employees at their best. Many employees in the nonprofit sector are passionate, mission-driven individuals focused on their cause, however, all people have their flaws and that’s true in the nonprofit arena as well as corporate America. Work stress and burnout from difficult co-workers, office politics, a poor work environment or negligent leadership happens at nonprofits just like any other organization. The same skill sets used to manage challenging relationships in earlier jobs will help in the nonprofit environment.

Before making the switch from the for-profit world to the nonprofit sector, do your homework to insure the organization you plan to join is legitimate and a good steward of donor contributions. This can be done by consulting resources including www.guidestar.org, or the Better Business Bureau Charity List or Charitynavigator.org.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Job Burnout: Your Co-worker's Problem

Monday Morning Pep Talk

It’s the elephant in the room. 

After nearly a decade of layoffs, mergers/acquisitions, constant corporate change and cutbacks, threats of unemployment and volatile 401(k) values putting retirements at risk; is it any wonder that some of your co-workers are experiencing burnout?

The medical profession is ripe for career burnout and  the incidence is well-documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Archive of Internal Medicine and other professional journals. What about the employees of companies outside the medical field? 

Mayo Clinic offers these questions your co-worker can ask themselves:

  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply feel?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive? 
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you lack the the the energy to be consistently productive? 
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed? 

There are many factors that contribute to job burnout. It is a root cause of declining employee engagement, declining productivity and increased health care costs human resources is trying to reverse in the workplace. Corporate America didn’t need the 2010 Gallup study by Harter to tell them lower job satisfaction foreshadowed decreasing bottom-line performance. Back then Gallup estimate $300 Billion annually lost to employee disengagement.
In the past three years, one of the most consistently viewed blog post I have written is about losing self-confidence as one ages in the workforce.


Experienced workers face a host of challenges and this includes pressures at home to compound doing more with less at work. So this week, practice patience, tolerance and being human to your colleagues. Help is available confidentially through Employee Assistance Plans, health care professionals and through your trusted support network. Take some time to enjoy yourself over the next 168 hours!

Check Out: 
Positivity by Barbara L. Frederickson, Ph.D.
Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman

Monday, October 27, 2014

Employability: Finding a Job When You Need One, Part 1

The ability to find a job that covers your current expenses and leaves a cushion for savings and fun is my definition of employability. As an experienced worker it is an evaluation we should make before the time comes that it has to be tested. Working past 62 enhances your retirement security more than you might think. The case for staying employed doing part-time or even short duration (temp) jobs past 55 or 59 ½ when I see some workers leaving the workforce angry, forced-out or burnt-out is critical to their financial survival for a lifetime that can easily last to age 90. The point of this blog post is not to convince why you should stay employable; it is how to find a job as an experienced worker. Here are two of my five best tips. The other 3 tips are in Part II. Add your ideas as a comment to this post:

#1: Networking correctly works. This is not becoming a LinkedIn LION or having 500+ connections or writing a blog that has 10,000 viewers per post. These accomplishments are impressive, but they will not help you find you a job when you need one in a hurry. To network correctly, you should know who will take action on your behalf and not just who knows you. Before you need it, try to develop a network of at least a dozen connections that will (a) make a phone call on your behalf to introduce you to someone; (b) send an e-mail or LinkedIn to a connection to “introduce” you to a hiring manager or recruiter; (c) act as a reference when you need one for a job; (d) forward your resume, so the hiring manager will “ask” the recruiter to pull it out of the applicant tracking system. These types of connections are built over time and require trust, contact and knowledge of your work.

#2: Take Care of Yourself. 20% of people in their 50s and 60s have a health issue or disability that makes it nearly impossible to work according to a business television show I watched recently. I’m not sure of their source, but I do know that in a competitive corporate environment absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Look like you can do the job. When you are constantly off sick for a variety of maladies, I know it is not your fault. From a corporate perspective, if management figures out the work gets done while you’re gone three months—it is not helpful the next time layoffs roll around. What can you do? Do your best to stay healthy, be lively and energetic at work so your vitality comes through. Do Not discuss your aches and pains with your co-workers; tell your doctor or your relatives, not your boss. Don’t be a martyr and come to work sick and risk everyone else’s health because you need the money. That’s kind of an oxymoron to what I’ve said above, but everyone will remember you for the wrong reason if your germs undermine your co-workers and their families.

Employability: Finding a Job When You Need One, Part 2

The ability to secure work as an experienced worker doesn’t begin in your 50s and 60s. The relationships you create with your managers, suppliers, co-workers and subordinates decades earlier in your career will help you later. Part I focused on networking with the “right” people and keeping yourself in the game physically. In Part II, my final three components of employability are listed and I’d be interested in yours as a comment on the blog:
#3: Play Well with Others: At a certain point in your career at 50+ many of your company’s senior leadership team and your direct manager may be younger than you. I had a manager twenty-one years younger than me!  It is not just a different generation; it is a different mindset and he had a perception of mature workers (it wasn’t good).  I’ll repeat what you already know—the dynamic of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1981) and Millennials (1982-2004) in the workforce with a smattering of “The Greatest Generation” ( a term coined by Tom Brokaw) brings a clash of values to the workforce Corporate America is ignoring. While there are stereotypes for each generational cohort, from my Boomer perspective, “the boss is still the boss.” So, I treated “Boy Wonder” (a derogatory name coined by my friends) with the respect I treated previous managers and worked hard to dispel the myths that someone my age couldn’t master new software programs, perform my job duties or working with me was like working with his mother. I endured him and like they often do; he finally went away. (Hear me breathing a sigh of relief)
#4: Leverage Your Experience: In a US News & World Report 2010 blog post advised that if you make money or save money for a company, it protects your job. “It would be silly to let go of somebody who is making you money…” their post continues. Everyone 50+ knows it happens, a lot. A typical example is an employee who was the number one sales representative in a division of a Fortune 50 company whose combination of high base salary and long tenure found her surprisingly laid-off in the company’s first wave of reductions in force. Highly compensated non-management employees are an issue for companies when they have to provide lump sum raise annually instead of the average 3% merit increase in 2014 because their base salary has topped the range or band for their role. Try to protect yourself from sudden unemployment by finding and accepting a new role within the company that moves you into a different salary grade or broadband, if you currently receive lump sum annual increases. You might also try to expand your duties to move into a position so your salary is not in the upper deciles.
#5: Maintain a Professional Image: Humans are primarily visual beings with some researchers claiming 90% of the transmitted information in the human brain is visual. There are hundreds of studies of about physical attractiveness bias in business. While most 40+ and 50+ workers would look ridiculous dressed like a college student, men and women should keep the clothing they wear to work, their hair and anything about their visual appearance updated. Department stores often have free personal shoppers to help you create your perfect look for an important interview or meeting. Aim for styling yourself so you feel confident.
Use these five tips along with whatever skills and attitudes are unique to your workplace to be successful where you work today and able to get a new job if needed in the future.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

While You Weren't Looking....

Timing is everything. It is used by the most strategic communicators to insure their message doesn’t hit a busy news day and is drowned out by other stories. Johnson & Johnson’s announcement Thursday that they are suspending their defined benefit pension plan for employees who join the firm after January 1, 2015 was a timed release. Thursday was September 11, Patriot’s Day in the United States and a day of remembrance when the news media, even the business media was focused on what happened in America thirteen years ago. It was the perfect day for the world’s biggest maker of health care products to release that news to media. On September 10, J&J management presented a rosy, yet cautious picture at the Morgan Stanley Health Care Conference. On September 11 you tell your workforce the pension plan won’t be there for your kids when you get them hired. Timing.
So, this is the part of the blog post, where I share in full transparency that I am an early retiree of J&J. At this point, I know from the scant news coverage this story garnered, that current retirees (like me) and active employees are not impacted. This action is for new hires and re-hires after 1/1/2015, I know that because I read it on the Internet. I probably have a letter coming from J&J’s benefit service center’s HQ in Lincolnshire, IL explaining I am not impacted at all. That letter hasn’t arrived yet. Timing.
I am certainly not surprised J&J’s defined benefit plan went away. I came to work for the company primarily because they offered the plan. In my 21 years of work prior to joining the health care giant my previous employers only offered 401(k) or defined contribution plans. In 401(k) plans you pay and the company matches. In defined benefit (DB) plans, the company pays 100% and you are guaranteed* a set amount for life or in J&J’s plan design until you are 90-years-old. I’ll figure out what to about 90 to death when I get there. According to a report by Towers Watson, an employee benefit consulting firm, about 24% of Fortune 500 companies offer “DB” plans to new hires in a considerable decline over the years.
Hopefully, you read the previous blog post: Pension Smoothing, Potholes & Pork. I highly recommend it.  
DB plans are notorious for being underfunded (aka not having enough money to pay the amount of money owed). J&J is no different. From a J&J public website on strategic framework—oh forget it, I’ll just let corporate communications speak for themselves:
At the end of fiscal year 2012, the projected benefit obligation was $21,829 million, and the fair value of the assets equaled $17,536 million, for a shortfall of $4,293 million. Discretionary contributions are made when deemed appropriate to meet the plan’s long-term obligations. For more information, see Note 10 in our 2012 10-K Annual Report.”
All I know is when I do get ready to tap into my DB money, I hope there is a big pile of cash with my name on it and the plan is not “short” (aka underfunded, broke, busted…). Timing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pension Smoothing, Potholes and Pork

Generally I keep politics out of this blog. Then I heard about pension smoothing. It is the latest sleight of hand trick in government and don’t worry, it is equally loved by all political parties and even many labor unions. On the surface it appears to be a victimless maneuver only affecting the millions of people counting on a future pension payment from American companies. So, what is pension smoothing?
Simply put, pension smoothing allows companies to defer making mandatory contributions to defined benefit pensions plans in order to use that money for any reason they choose. Pension smoothing was added to a recent transportation bill that covers repairs to highways, bridges and subways saving the Highway Trust Fund from bankruptcy. Just to make the entire situation more complicated, in addition to funding the highway work, this bill also saves 700,000 American jobs.
Here’s the risk: To solve the short-term issues of maintaining the nation’s road infrastructure; companies do not have to fully fund their pension plans which may mean more plans won’t have the money to meet their obligations to pensioners later. According to a survey by Pensions & Investments, a money management newspaper, the largest 100 U. S. pension plans were underfunded by $122.3 billion in 2013 and that was an improvement!
Companies today put much of the retirement burden on the employees by focusing on 401(k) plans where workers cobble together a DIY strategy to save for the future. However, there are millions of employees counting on employer-paid defined benefit plan payouts for at least a portion of their wealth when they are too old to work. Pensions are in trouble as city and municipal workers in Detroit, Stockton, CA along with Pennsylvania school districts and other public employees across the country realize. Private sector pensions are no better as the retirees of Hostess Brands, who bring us Wonder Bread, Twinkies and other goodies, learned in 2012 when the company filed bankruptcy. The PBGC, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a government agency had to step in and rescue their plan.
The concept of the PBGC is itself an oxymoron. The same Congress that is encouraging companies to delay funding their pensions has a safety net for 44 million workers covered by defined-benefit private pension plans, the PBGC. When private sector firms cannot meet their liability, the PBGC pays an amount less than the company-promised benefit, but it is something. The problem is that in their July 3, 2014 annual report, the PBGC says it is “90% likely to run out of funds in 2025.” The biggest birth year of Baby Boomers will be 68-years-old in 2025 with plenty of life ahead of them, but maybe not as many job prospects.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creating a Career Path: A Personal Story

Friend of the Blog--Tiffany Hatfield shares her story of deciding on a career path. As our careers evolve over time and we choose one opportunity over another or decide to remain with one company instead of making a move, we are creating a path. Some create it consciously and for others one day comes after another and things happen to us. Like Tiffany, I prefer to blaze my own career trail. That isn't necessarily the right approach for everyone. Thank you Tiffany for letting us look inside your decision points in creating your career path
By Tiffany Hatfield, linkedin.com/tiffanyhatfield1

This year I began to reconsider the focus of my work. This article lays out that process.

Fresh out of grad school, I began work as a nonprofit division manager. In twelve years I doubled the budget, tripled the program base, managed two strategic plan processes and completed a nine-year project to achieve national accreditation for the site.

But the organization I worked for had no position that I could be promoted to. And after twelve years, I needed a change.

So I left the organization and started consulting, specializing in grant research, strategy and proposal writing, all of which were part of my previous job, this time for cultural and human service organizations.

The business goal? To find two or three part-time contracts that would fill the work week. Did that happen? Heck no.

I ended up spending thirteen years riding the waves of cyclical grant deadlines, and learning how to look at my budget in 4-month increments.

Many months, days, nights and weekends in 2013 were spent serving the largest client load I’d ever had (!), but the downside was that I started to feel the pangs of burnout.

Something had to change, but what? Continue in grant writing alone, or expand to other forms of writing? Leave self-employment? If so, doing what?

I had to find answers, and fast. I discovered the incredible gift of informational meetings, and the time and advice from people whose work I respected (some I’d never even met before!).   

So I set up the annual calendar of work with my clients and began a dogged pursuit to the answers to my questions. My resources became (and still are) Passport to Employment (golove.org/passport), Work One (workoneindy.org), Accountability Group at WorkOne, and lots and lots and lots of networking. Lots of it. Lots.

From one colleague’s recommendation, I added blogging and article writing to my work. You’d think that I would naturally have done that already, but all my writing energies went to the client, and those grants rarely had my name on them. It is exciting now to contribute to Inside Edge, a daily Indiana business news e-blast, about how to seek grants (the Perspectives column), and also to serve as a contributor here, on LinkedIn, and hopefully more by the end of this year.  

So, going forward from here, I’ll continue consulting until I am eventually employed with one organization. And I’ll keep writing regardless of where I’m working. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Powering a Mid-Life Career with LinkedIn

Image result for dave meeker

 Brenda's Interview with Dave Meeker

LinkedIn is a valuable resource for everyone from recent graduates, the employed, entrepreneurs, job seekers, companies and everyone in between. Dave Meeker, LinkedIn and Technology Consultant, has helped all of the above and more through his workshops and one-on-one consulting sessions. Meeker began working with the LinkedIn social networking service in 2008 and continues to help professionals maximize the "Power of Their LinkedIn Profile."

“For the recent graduate, LinkedIn is important to develop a network,” says Meeker. He described how students at Butler University created LinkedIn accounts as part of a marketing class project. “For the employed LinkedIn is an important tool to create and develop a network while being open to new opportunities or career advancements." LinkedIn is mission critical to the job seeker, "it is urgent and important,” explained Meeker. Job seekers and others benefit from LinkedIn’s mobile capabilities with up to six mobile Apps by using the ability to quickly seize opportunities and identify key contacts according to Meeker.

One of the tools Meeker teaches in his workshops is how to use keywords, otherwise known, as his unique phrase, "the language of LinkedIn." He describes the language of LinkedIn as a series of keyword phrases that leads recruiters to their profile. A proprietary algorithm adds to the profile ranking process. Meeker believes he has figured out this algorithm.

Why is LinkedIn constantly changing?

"What a lot of people don’t understand about LinkedIn is that it is constantly changing. As the growth of mobile devices and their Apps increase, it appears new Apps and updates to existing Apps will feed this exponential growth of the mobile market." As LinkedIn continues to change and push out rolling updates, Meeker believes he recognizes these patterns before the documentation appears on line.

How important is a photo on a LinkedIn profile? “Since there are fake accounts that generate spam and data mine contact's information, a photo shows you are a real person. The photo is part of your LinkedIn brand that includes your headline, location, current occupation and industry,” said Meeker.

Other expert LinkedIn tips from Meeker include the importance of recommendations from former co-workers. “Recommendations are a lot more important than endorsements on LinkedIn” according to Meeker.  These recommendations provide opportunity to share a STAR (Situation Task Action Response) story or other accomplishments.

To realize the value proposition as a LinkedIn user, Meeker focuses his audience on what he calls, VCR. “Value, Content and Relevance are what users should consider when creating their 360 degree view of their skill, knowledge and experience. Their overall profile should answer the answer the question, "what can you do for me?” says Meeker. The VCR concept is also an imperative part of making posts and making comments, especially with groups.

Currently LinkedIn boasts more than 300 million users and according to Bloomberg business, the company will attempt to expand its user base in China to combat slower growth in the United States. While users are focused on professional networking, LinkedIn generates revenue from advertising, upgrading users to premium accounts and fees charged to recruiters and staffing companies.

While LinkedIn is a space most professionals want to participate in, beware of spam or fake accounts and learn to manage emails and notifications by adjusting your settings under Privacy and Settings.. When in doubt about how to leverage LinkedIn as a resource to grow a business or expand a career, there are experts like Dave Meeker to the rescue! If you’d like to connect with Dave Meeker, you can find him easily on LinkedIn, of course!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Success in Autumn

“When we are young, we learn. When we are old, we understand.”
--Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

Re-imagine the Spring of Youth giving way to the Summer of Adulthood and an inevitable decline in Autumn and Winter. What if, the longer life spans we enjoy in the 21st century are a gift of extra time to accomplish goals resting silently inside our hearts? No one knew that you always wanted to learn to play the keyboard or learn Spanish or visit Yosemite. Now that studies are predicting lifespans of ninety years as nearly average; we are challenged to find excuses to not live our dreams.

In her book, In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age, Pat Cohen offers a reason to believe middle age careers can be extended. “Generation X has nearly 30 million fewer members than the 78 million strong baby boom generation. Even though many from this group will work past 65, there will still be fewer employees overall,” according to Cohen’s research. It sounds like great news, but what is the best course of action to take while waiting for the business world to beat a path to the door of the 50, 60 and 70+ worker? Remember this:

·         Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn at age 35. (Old by Silicon Valley standards)
·         Col. Harland Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken  at age 65
·         Grandma Moses began painting at age 78 (she painted 25 paintings after turning 100 years old)
·         Diana Nyad swam from 110 miles Cuba to Miami in 53 hours at age 64 on her fifth attempt
·         Henry Kaiser established Kaiser Permanente w/ a business partner at age 63

Most of these people lived in America at a time when the average life expectancy was closer to 70. Could the fact that I listed above were engaged in work of their calling give them additional years to make the impact they desired? What is your calling? What is the project you are so passionate about, that you lose track of time?

There is a lot of information online about jobs, careers and callings. Time slows down so a person may discover which phase they are experiencing: a job, a career or a calling. There is no right or wrong answer and each serves a purpose. It is  going to vary for each of individual. As a mid-career professional, just know your best ideas may still be inside of you and like Reid, Col. Sanders, Grandma Moses, Diana and Henry--your greatest accomplishments in life may be realized in your autumn years.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Are You Invisible at Work?

In a society where the President of the United States takes “selfies” and people are judged by their number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or Facebook “friends”; it is easy for older workers to feel invisible at work. No one who knows me personally would consider me a shrinking violet by even a stretch of the imagination. However, even I was told by a former manager that none of his peers knew who I was and it made it difficult to “sell” me as a candidate for special assignments. His suggestion was that I do something “crazy” to get noticed. Then when he mentioned me again to the other managers they would remember me as the one who sang karaoke or did the splits at a sales meeting. After a nanosecond of careful consideration, I decided to decline his career advice.
After that discussion I began to observe other workers more closely and discovered a trend. In a room filled with multi-generational employees if a younger manager was leading the discussion; the older workers listened more and contributed less. If the manager was older (50s- 60s) the conversation was more collaborative with people of all ages participating. Watch in your next company meeting and see if holds true for your organization. I am not sure what particular dynamic this phenomenon indicates, but it has been consistent. Younger workers in their 20s and 30s exhibited an almost “Horschak” quality (fans of the mid-70s hit, Welcome Back Kotter will remember Arnold Horschak). When he raised his hand in class he wanted to be called so badly he grunted. And, so were the grunts of the Millennial and GenerationX’ers hoping to have their voices heard. Everyone has to be handed the microphone to make a comment.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered a new book, The Invisibles by David Zweig that examines this from a management perspective not through a generational lens. It discusses people who are not necessarily at work to tout their brand, expand their platform or increase their Klout score. They are there to do the job and take satisfaction in completing work correctly. It sounds like many 40+ workers who take pride in a job well done. Every time they finish a project, they are not running to their manager for validation or firing off a series of e-mails or my new favorite term—humblebragging. (i.e. Humble Brag- when one consciously brags about themselves while couching it in a phony show of humility). Humblebragging  is prevalent on Facebook and Twitter.
Invisibles are a management challenge. In some organizations they are taken for granted because they don’t survive on recognition or the jealous applause of their peers. I know older workers that have watched the rise and fall of self-promoting young peers that were given more responsibility than they could handle. (Who read the 1969 classic, The Peter Principle? His premise is true). How many corporate lay-offs have targeted people capably getting the work done and kept megaphone toting stars only to add headcount because they laid off the people who did the work? It is true there are older workers who also bask in faux modesty, banter about how hard they work and have pet names for their young peers---that is annoying too. Making sure people know you and your work is important in the current corporate culture.  It is also difficult for many experienced workers who matured in an era that didn’t include social media, so strive for balance.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Living Until 90 and Working Until 70

Monday Morning Pep Talk!

This week there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you, that's right Y-O-U could live into your ninth decade. Wow! Imagine you in your 90s. The bad news is that for a variety of reasons, you may find yourself working into your 70s. You may want to prepare for your long future by taking great care of yourself today and saving more money.

60 Minutes, the weekly CBS news show, recently aired a segment on the 90+ Study being conducted by the University Of California at Irvine. They are following a group of 90+ year old as a follow-up to a study that began in the 1980s.Two facts were identified in their research that gave me hope:

1. People in their study who drank moderate amounts of coffee and alcohol lived longer than those who abstained.

2. People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than their normal weight and underweight friends.

So far, so good.

All of this was tempered with the bad news about dementia, disability and memory loss. Other research from the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control suggest weight training and resistance training play a critical role in successful aging.

Once you build the muscle, it is time to get to work! People work past 65 for a variety of reasons that are not financial. Creating social connections and feeling useful and productive were the top answers many in their 60s, 70s and 80s gave when surveyed on what factors besides money motivated them to work.

A bigger issue will be where will older workers will find employment and what will they experience in the workforce as far as attitudes of co-workers and managers? Never in history has the 90+ age group be among the fastest growing in the U.S. Today with advanced medical technology and more information about healthy lifestyles, you can expect to have the odds on your side of living past the average life expectancy of 79. So, this is the week to begin taking care of yourself and thinking about what your post-65 career plan. Make it a great week!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Truth about Blogging

To Blog ot Not to Blog: Is that the Question?

Whether you are blogging professionally or personally, to a wide audience or to a specific group of friends, there are three critical success factors.

#1 Consistency—You have to produce content on a regular basis or your blog is forgotten. It is true, if you don’t read your blog, no one else will either. It helps to have a passion for what you are sharing.

#2 Communicate Valuable Information—People read blogs for information, entertainment, education, to connect with communities of like-minded people that they can interact with online (and often anonymously), to stay up-to-date in whatever content area the blog covers. At 150-500 words, blogs are a quick read. The writing has to provide value or people won’t return to your blog, "like" it or press share.

#3 Know Why You Blog—Are you posting an online journal? Are pushing traffic to your business or product for purchase? Are you connecting your blog audience with your brand (are you a hairstylist, accountant, writer, massage therapist, mom, personal trainer, financial planner, interior designer)? Are you blogging to create passive income? Are you blogging to establish yourself as an expert? Sharing a hobby? Following a team or celebrity? Reviewing movies, music or books? There are as many reasons to blog as there are individuals.

A lot of people ask me about blogging—Why do I blog? (I love the process and it has truly impacted my life in a positive way.) Why don’t I monetize my blog? (It’s complicated). How much time does it take? (It depends on the post). How do I come up with blog post ideas? (People often contact me with ideas on LinkedIn or Twitter. Sometimes I respond or rant to stories in the news.) Do I have any help creating blog posts? (Not really, friends-Patty J. & Patti M. and my Mom edit posts. It is not a multi-author blog although I am open to “guest” posts.  The ideas you read are my own.) What platform do I suggest? (I use a free basic version of Blogger. In the blogosphere, Wordpress.org seems to rule and pros customize their domain name.  Just search online there are many alternatives. There is no one right answer.)
Yes, there are tons of people making BIG $$$ blogging. Will you be one of them? Remember Perez Hilton? His estimated monthly blog revenue was $450,000 at one point for his obsession with celebrities. And in 2005, Arianna Huffington started her political blog and in 2012 it was sold to AOL for $315 million; she reportedly pocketed about 6% in the transaction. Okay, maybe your goals are more modest—everyone from “mommy bloggers” (naturemoms.com/blog) with 5,000 subscribers is making bank off advertisements to Jessica Quirk’s fashion blog, (whatiwore.tumblr.com) has >10,000 Google readers and ad rates to match.

Find your passion and blog about it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Beyond.com Interviews Brenda


It's Time for Your Vacation

Vacations, whether home-based or involving travel are important components to work/life balance, productivity and relieving work-related stress. A few days off to move children into their dorm at college or to help your parents relocate to a retirement community don’t count as vacations. Time away from work that includes checking business e-mail and voicemail multiple times a day doesn’t count as vacation either.
According to a Vacation Deprivation Survey, U.S. employees reported “feeling rested and rejuvenated after vacation as well as reconnected with their families.” 34% of employees in the survey stated they return to work feeling better about their jobs and more productive at work. According to a 2013 survey by SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management, vacations affect employee morale, wellness, performance, retention, productivity and office culture.
I reported to a Sr. Vice-President with the attitude that if your department couldn’t function without their leader for five days, you needed to replace your managers and supervisors. Interesting Perspective!
Forward-thinking companies encourage their employees to recharge their batteries by implementing “use it or lose it” vacation policies. Companies also “cap” or limit the amount of vacation carry-over or pay-out for unused time off in an effort to keep their high-performers at optimal productivity.
There are many reasons managers resist taking time off and most of them are revealing. Here are a few examples:
1.       The “live-to-work” manager who doesn’t own the business. There’s a fine line between at-work martyrs who feel guilty unless they log more hours than their peers and goes on ad nauseam about it and a workaholic.
2.       The “arsonist manager” constantly is on the telephone putting out fires mostly caused by (guess who?).
3.       The “micro-manager” is prevalent in middle management. At the heart of this manager’s reluctance to miss a minute of work is F-E-A-R. Take a deep sniff; you can smell it. This is the manager who can’t miss a telephone call or an e-mail and they are in your workspace to make sure you don’t miss one either.
4.       The “I-AM- My Work” Boss. This is the manager defined by their work. Within moments of meeting any one the, “what do you do for a living” question is blurted out. A week without life-affirming work spells a near death experience.
Individual contributors can also exhibit similar traits, but it is more damaging for managers because they create and control the culture of their work unit. So take a few days off. Recharge your batteries. Reclaim your life outside work and more than anything, Have Fun!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Your Career Passion in Mid-Life

Americans 55 years or older comprise 21% of the U.S. labor force according to the US Department of Labor. Here’s the problem, it is the first time in history that these 55+ year olds have a lot more than ten years remaining in the workforce. Blame the Baby Boomers for not retiring at age 65 to spend twenty years focused on golf, grandchildren and grand buffets. And even if you are in still in your 40s, these are the years when you need to evaluate and investigate secondary career paths so when you hit the decade I consider the most dangerous to your work/life, “The Fantastic Fifties,” you have the widest range of choices.
It is always exciting to meet someone in their 40s, 50s or 60s that love their jobs and the companies they work for love them back. (That is an important part, the company loves you back—but I’ll deal with that later in this post). I meet more people than ever that adore what they do for a living. Whether it is an entrepreneurial pet sitter earning more money than he ever expected; a medical capital equipment sales star turned award-winning vintner; a health information management professional turned online educator or a person who went from automotive executive to ordained minister, people are creating work they can see themselves doing post-65.
I also talk to a lot of people who say, “As soon as I am 62, I’m outta here-retired and never working again.” Those are the people who I know have not found their passion. Sometimes it is a hobby that can be monetized. Others prefer to keep their hobbies separate from work and go back to school to learn a new skill or turn their volunteer work into a paying job. How do you get started on your career exploration? You don’t have to come up with the answer immediately. Just keep the thought in the back of your mind and jot down ideas as they come to you. Focus on your strengths and activities you enjoy-- thinking about your skills that others often compliment you on performing. Over time and maybe with assistance, you will find your vocation, a word with Latin origins that means “to call.” 
Not all industries, companies or human resource professionals are prepared for the reality posed by Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). A January 2014 Gallup Report stated, U.S. retiree age has risen steadily from 57 to 61. According to Gallup, “nearly half (49%) of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire.” Companies have not created talent development for mid-life career professionals (hoping they will gracefully retire—no thanks!) As older worker salaries stretch the range of broad bands and other compensation structures, they often find themselves targets of lay-offs because companies are not creative enough to leverage their talent, skills and abilities. So, if you are 40+ at a company that loves you back, enjoy it, use the tuition reimbursement to extend your skills and pack your resume with accolades—trust me, one day you will need it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The 2014 Purpose Prize

$100,000 Prize from Encore.org Seeking Nominations NOW!

What are you doing after work? If you know someone 60+ that is making a difference for their community and making society better, you can nominate them for The Purpose Prize sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies and run by Encore.org. There is a second $100,000 prize in 2014 for an individual whose approach to helping society will grow steadily over the next five years.
The Process: 
You may nominate yourself or someone else. They must be at least 60 years old at the time of nomination.
Nominations are accepted until January 31, 2014 at 11:59 Eastern Time.  Nominees will be contacted by encore.org and must complete the online application and application narrative by February 7, 2014.
Semi-finalists are required to submit a resume, references and have a telephone interview by March 28, 2014. 
Learn more about the awards, encore fellowships, view a 2:40 minute video and learn more about past winners at www.encore.org.
 In the 21st Century there is a new vision for 60-year-olds. With over twenty years ahead of them, today’s sixty-year-olds are redefining personal fulfillment, social impact and passion. People at sixty are not fading away; they are moving from success to significance in their lives. According to encore.org, the top five encore careers are: 
Health Care Encores
Green Encores
Government Encores
Nonprofit Encores
Education Encores
Even if this year is not your year to pursue a Purpose Prize; this is a great time to learn more about the award and work toward becoming a finalist. This is the ninth year of the program and it shows no signs of going away.