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. She gained functional experience in a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 20 years. 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 more thought than 20 years ago. Unexpected changes in life force us to consider the future. 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.