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.

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.