Try Charm – It’s NEVER out of style!

woman officeHere are some powerful tips from the “Access/Approach” and “Exchange” methods featured in my book, Get DARE From Here, 12 Principles and Practices for Women Over 40 to Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest of Their Lives:

  • Be exceedingly nice to everyone: Some of the people you are able to ACCESS in the short run might not be decision makers or people who can readily help you achieve your Aims, but they can help you navigate ACCESS to & APPROACH the decision makers you really need. Be exceedingly nice to everyone, especially those who might in fact have advice regarding the ACCESS & APPROACH you should take.No crueler body of truth can damn you in a competitive job situation than a former subordinate who asserts you were the absolute most hellish boss or colleague. Mailroom attendants, secretaries, junior account execs, bank tellers, nannies – anyone who’s ever crossed your path as a colleague – could paint you as Cruella Deville or Medea.
  • facebook buttontwitter buttonlinked in buttonTake care what you say online: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Never before in the history of womankind has it been so easy to identify, investigate and reveal your past transgressions. Many women (and men) over 40 find that the habits, roles or personas they took on earlier in their careers can create hidden roadblocks now that they’re in a transitional period in their lives.
  • Consider a new APPROACH from the ones you’ve used to gain ACCESS in the past. In fact, your old APPROACH may not work in new situations, or in crises, or when transitioning from one corporate culture or geographic area to another. You have to consider the needs and culture of the decision makers you’re seeking to APPROACH. For that you need ACCESS to information regarding what it is that s/he wants and expects, what s/he might need from you, and what s/ he is willing to compromise (and not). Better yet, try to ACCESS information about a problem s/he’s Dealing with that’s important to her company, or job or community.Think of ways that you could help.
  • Everyone needs a dependable, trustworthy network, and it takes time and energy to cultivate reciprocal relationships. Be diligent and proactive about staying in touch with people you trust and respect, ask often about their families as well as their careers, and when appropriate, offer your help. Don’t wait until you’re in a dangerous intersection to ACCESS & APPROACH those that could help you the most. To ADVANCE your own PLAN, you have to maintain ACCESS & APPROACH by showing genuine interest on an ongoing basis especially when you’re not in need.
  • People who are genuinely interested in other people for who they are, not what they can do for them, are the ones with the most friends and business contacts to ACCESS & APPROACH. A genuine friendship is usually a mutually beneficial Deal; the individuals consider what the other person in the friendship needs. It should not be a relationship “bank” full of “chits” one redeems like coupons. If you’re the type that keeps score, you’ll find your ability to ACCESS & APPROACH diminishes, especially as the years wear on, friends move on or retire, and your life situation or career changes.
  • Expand your ancillary circle of friends that you can ACCESS & APPROACH. Individuals you’ve met and have something in common with – be it personal, career or community-centric – you can acknowledge via occasional emails, offers of help, short notes to touch base, etc. It’s not about the quantity of APPROACHES you make, but the quality. Remember you have to APPROACH from the point of view that you have something of value to offer. In the same vein, if you haven’t kept in touch with former co-workers for years, especially if they used to report to you or vice versa, then it’s hard to reach out to them if you don’t have a common meaningful bond.
  • ACCESS & APPROACH for advice those friends who are smarter than you, and even different from you. In the same vein, have at least one friend in each decade: teenager, 20s, 30s, and so on. Make friends outside your normal sphere of influence, especially those with jobs and backgrounds very different from yours.
  • ACCESS & APPROACH people who are good at things you’re not good at or don’t like to do. This is especially important if what you’re not good at is diverting you from strengths that could ADVANCE Your PLAN faster. Or, team up with someone where your joint strengths create efficiencies you could never accomplish on your own. You have to reciprocate and offer skills or advice that would be of value to the other person.

Remember: Poets ranging from John Donne [“No man is an island”], to Carole King [“You’ve Got a Friend”], and Barbara Streisand [“People Who Need People”], have emoted over the centuries about our critical need for ACCESS & APPROACH to, and genuine connection with, other people.

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
~ Madeleine Albright

Lesson Plans: What All Women Over 40 Should Know, and Why We All Should Always Be Learning

“I am learning all the time.  The tombstone will be my diploma.”
– Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

Having just enjoyed another birthday, I am still amazed at how much I still have to learn – despite my many beneficial experiences and expertise – that I feel I should have learned at a much younger age.   Most women over 40 feel this way, I know.

 Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Because of my experiences, and continued passion for adding to my expertise, I also have a passion for mentoring, teaching and counseling others – especially college students – so they develop a zeal for a lifetime of learning.  Of course, none of us learns the same way, nor do we want to learn for the same reasons.   For example, I learned about leadership by becoming extremely open to learning from all sorts of people in some very uncomfortable situations.  I now look at those learning situations as essential to my professional and spiritual development, much like new physical exercises are essential to my health as I get older.

As an educator and consultant I can confirm that the three very important lessons about life, business and professional responsibility I learned at a very young age from my Italian parents.  They are pertinent to anyone who’s interested in the mission of “always be learning.”

#1:  Be respectful to everyone, even when you think others aren’t watching, because it’s the right thing to do and because there’s always someone watching.  Women (and men!) over 40  in presumed leadership positions often make the gravest mistakes in exhibiting rude behavior towards individuals they think are “beneath” them.   Not only is this unprofessional and unbecoming in a leader, it can be deleterious to your career in general.  The very individuals to whom you might have been insensitive could in turn complain behind your back to your most important client, or to your boss, or to a prospective employer.  Even if no one turns your story into a version of Nanny Diaries or Devil Wears Prada, what mature executive can afford bad references!

#2:  Be wary of making derisive comments – ever – about religion, sexual orientation, and ethnic background.  What might seem innocuous, or so-called conventional wisdom, or “playing along to get along” in a group not only hurts others, but could hurt you most when you least expect it, for instance, at what should be the zenith of your career.

piggy bank#3:  Earn, invest in and have easy access to your own “Forget You!” assets.  I was nine when my very wise father advised me that romantic partners, business associates, bosses, friends and others on whom I might depend or trust for financial support were, in fact, not to be depended on or trusted as my primary means of financial support.   Even after nearly 40 years of fulfilling marriage to a devoted and exceedingly decent man, I haven’t forgotten my father’s advice.

Since I’ve spent half my career marketing corporate brands and services, I don’t purport to be a novice let alone an apologist for anyone’s insensitive behavior or personal troubles.  Even when it concerns notable women over 40 who I respect, but especially when it concerns celebrities who earn millions of dollars – as brands!   

Be that as it may, few normal folk have to manage their lives under the constant scrutiny of the public eye.  As a marketer, I know from experience that the hardest brands to manage and market are those associated with celebrity spokespersons.  When the person is the brand, it’s nearly impossible to predict what might happen to the brand’s equity when the brand exhibits evidence of being a living, learning human being.

As countless  women over 40 have realized, our lives are full of lesson plans.  Whether they’re proactive plans, to optimize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses in good times, or they’re reactive, to mitigate crises and help us take advantage of opportunities, is governed by our willingness to always be learning.

For my own coda, I hope I’m as lucky as Eartha Kitt – learning all the time, until the very last diploma.