It’s Never Too Early and Never Too Late – Two young enterprising careerists demonstrate.

Most of us by now have learned that using the term “seasoned executive” is a sure turnoff to many of today’s younger hiring managers, some of whom look as if they could be our kids but in fact are now our supervisors. They’re learning early how to Drive, Advance, Rule and Express their Experience and Expertise.

Make no mistake that they are running the new world, and we must run along with them, run faster than them, or run and hide from them. For me and other women over 40 who DARE, the last choice isn’t even an option. I say we challenge ourselves to run along with them and champion them to win – the pie is big enough for all of us.

Chardia Christophe

Chardia Christophe

Two phenomenal young 20-something women I met several months ago illustrate this point. At the behest of a friend, I attended an evening networking event sponsored by New York Women in Communications, being held at an Upper West Side restaurant in a very fashionable neighborhood in New York City.

Among the young women we observed scooping up guacamole, slurping mixed cocktails, and balancing their tiny frames on vertiginously high heels that evening were Micaela and Chardia Christophe. Two utterly charming twin sisters, both have been working and learning about business since their early teens. Micaela manages showroom merchandising projects at Donghia, a high-end home furnishings company featuring textiles, lighting and accessories. Chardia works for American Express, managing the marketing for a wine club along  with other member affinity clubs under such luxury brands as Food & Wine, Sky Guide, and Departures.  Chardia has a Master’s in Communication Studies; Micaela is pursuing her MBA in Marketing.

micaela christophe

Micaela Christophe

Even a few of those remarkable accomplishments would place them high on my list of “young professionals I would love to mentor/sponsor/adopt.” On top of that, they are extremely endearing, fascinating and fascinated about everything, and hilariously funny because of their complete and utter curiosity and genuine appreciation for every opportunity they have to advance their careers constructively and productively, make their parents proud and have as much fun as possible doing it.

Following is just some of the wise advice Micaela and Chardia offered when they spoke to my Marketing Planning class at NYU. They didn’t merely shoot from the hip; they did a full-blown Power-Point presentation. Their advice is as suitable for 60-somethings as it is for 20-somethings. I’ve paraphrased only slightly for space and context, adding my own two cents- type comments here and there.

1. Get engaged in the industry you wish to be in – especially if you’re job-hunting. The ladies’ specific advice:

  • Follow powerful people you admire or would like to network with on Twitter and LinkedIn. Comment politely on their background or posts.
  • Volunteer at events whenever you can.
  • Go to mixers and network strategically.

2. Professionalize your phone presence and voice messages. The ladies’ advice:

  • Be sure your outgoing message as well as the ones you leave for others are friendly and professional.
  • If you are trying to persuade busy executives, script out what you want to say, because very few executives pick up their own phones, and assistants will happily put you into voice mails.
    My own two cents: Record and listen to your cadence and delivery (this goes for oral presentations in general). Be especially cognizant of what I see in women of all ages, the telltale “uptick” at the end of declarative sentences as if they were questions.

3. Check your email, at least three times a day; being responsive is a highly valued trait.
My two cents: if you truly cannot respond in a day, at least acknowledge the email within 24 hours and/or default to an “out of office” notice so your lack of reply doesn’t seem discourteous. If you’re like me and running through airports mowing down baby strollers and old people, you’re probably not interested in email as much as you are in food and bathroom facilities.

4. Be careful with your wardrobe. Remember to “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.”
My two cents: nothing saddens me more than to see a woman over 40 dressed slovenly or in sweat pants in public unless said woman is: a) escaping from an Outward Bound retreat; b) coming or going to the gym; c) appearing in public that way before dawn, in which case “slovenly” might be most handy caffeine-procurement garb, in which case, perfectly suitable!

5. Utilize your friends and contacts courteously when job hunting. The ladies’ advice: Reach out to all your contacts and let people know you’re looking. People like to help, and they can’t if you haven’t asked them! Looking for a job IS YOUR JOB.
My two cents: regarding your friends and contacts, do ASK, don’t demand; accommodate their schedules, don’t impose; be geo-friendly – don’t specify neighborhoods you’d prefer to meet when time is tight for the people you’re asking!

6. Practice, Practice, Practice. The ladies’ advice:

  • Go through the possible interview questions until you’re blue in the face.
  • Know the company well, so well that you feel confident and comfortable.
  • Remind yourself of the value of direct eye contact with the interviewer. As you practice, look in a mirror to be sure your body language is relaxed and strong, that you are not fidgeting.
  • Try out your wardrobe choice in advance.
    My two cents: when you’ve done so much research on the firm and reviewed your resume to the point where you could recite it from memory, group all of your benefits to the employer into these three “bundles:” strengths, motivation and fit. Trust me, ALL interview questions fall into those areas, and ALL of them must reflect what the employer most wants that you are willing to deliver to get the job.

7. Go to ALL interviews. Consider them networking opportunities, even if you do not get the job. You never know who knows who.
My two cents: AMEN to that, for sure! It also helps to have a strategic job-hunting plan, and identify the kinds of people you most need to cultivate.

8. Use good online Resources: Media Bistro, Indeed, LinkedIn – all are good for a variety of jobs. There are new online career sites emerging every day.
My two cents: Don’t forget that most hiring managers either hire from within or hire someone they know and trust. More than that, you need to research and secure a SPONSOR. (See my previous blogs for more on working with sponsors: http://thedareforce.com/2013/05/20/executives-over-40-a-few-choice-words-from-your-sponsor-part-1/; http://thedareforce.com/2013/05/30/part-2-great-expectations-from-sponsors-from-you/

Micaela and Chardia Christophe are just two of the young professionals currently hoping to run the new world. Here’s hoping that their managers over 40 are not only running along with them, but championing them to win. Leaders over 40 need to embrace every opportunity to mentor, champion and sponsor the next generation. If you doubt the pie is big enough for all of us, then the next generation of digital natives and relentlessly inventive entrepreneurs will be eating your lunch.

 

Three Daring Women Over 40, Three Different and Inspiring Legacies

Photograph

Margaret Thatcher – 1925-2013

You loved her or hated her. She saved Britain, or changed it irrevocably into a greedy, heartless, vastly divided nation. Either way, she was charismatic, powerful, and single-minded. She was proud of her nickname, “The Iron Lady” and she was definitely DARE-ing before her time.

Whatever the world thinks of Thatcher, the effects of her powerful years at the helm still ripple outward. To say Margaret Thatcher was not warm and fuzzy would be an understatement. She wanted to be seen as the prime minister, not as a female prime minister. At her death, she leaves a powerful legacy. She was quite simply one of the most important and powerful political human beings (male or female) of the last 50 years.

 

Annette Funicello – 1942-2013

To anyone growing up at the advent of TV when the reference to Mickey Mouse’s ears was literal and not a description of an overzealous pigtail hairstyle, Annette (her first name was how most of us referred to her) was the epitome of warm and fuzzy. And, she was apparently as untouchable as our mothers wanted us to believe we all should be, that is, until properly and officially married. Her deterioration after contracting M.S. in her forties showed a different and more DARE-ing side of this onetime childhood sweetheart, and served as a powerful reminder to all of us over 40. Now more than ever, we need to embrace our health, especially the factors we actually can control, like diet, exercise, annual physicals, and the concomitant tests they entail so we’re vigilant and diligent. Her life and death inspired so many, and prompted glowing farewells from more than one of her leading men. Apparently, Annette was just as wholesome and sweet in real life as she was in all those Disney shows and movies.

 

Debbie Reynolds.jpgDebbie Reynolds – 1932-STILL ALIVE AND CLICKING!

When I was invited to hear veteran stage, film and theatre actor-singer-dancer-author-philanthropist Debbie Reynolds speak at a 92nd Street Y event a few weeks ago, my first rather unkind and profoundly incredulous exclamation was, “…She’s still living?!” Yes, she definitely is, and then some! Over the course of a 60-minute talk to promote her new book, Unsinkable, the 81-year-old Reynolds expounded not a little on love, loss and what she wore, but so much more on love, loss and the, um…word that rhymes with “wars” – all the women who stole the various men Reynolds had the distinct misfortune of hooking up with, giving money to and losing more than she ever thought possible in no bargain. No matter – she is defiantly resilient and resolute about all of it, especially in admonishing her interviewer (an NPR interviewer at least 15 years younger than Reynolds and not nearly as sharp) to stop asking questions about how and why Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor.

Throughout the performance, Reynolds was most hilarious (a lot) when she was being sarcastic, sharp-tongued and self-deprecating, especially when she reached into her bra where she (ostensibly) had interview notes stashed away so she wouldn’t forget her lines. However, she was never more touching, more inspiring and more charming than when she spoke without self-reference of the problems and triumphs of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who has battled numerous demons of her own. Fisher bought a plot of land just down the hill from where her mother has a cottage, so that she could be near her. THAT takes DARE-ing for sure!

I did not expect to be moved by Debbie Reynolds at this late stage in my life (and hers) but I was sorry to see the show come to an end. Here’s hoping someone soon puts the Unsinkable Ms. Reynolds on Saturday Night Live and that both she and Betty White have a duet somewhere before it’s too late.

 

 

Does Money Make Us Happy? Somewhat…

 

Does Money Make Us Happy? Somewhat… Time after Time Studies Find Money Actually Isn’t the Most Valuable and Irreplaceable Asset for Happiness

money

What is it to be happy? What are the defining characteristics of happiness? How does our notion of happiness change as time goes by?   Are we happier if we make more money?  Are we less or more happy because we’ve had a lot of experiences over time, or is it about a lot of things?     

There has been a surge of interest and research on happiness over the last 15 years, to the point where there is now a field of study called “Happiness quantification.”  Economists and other business-school dwellers also refer to it as “utility” – usually with the word “optimization” in close proximity.  Some of the findings are that happiness is very time-sensitive: you may be happier on a Sunday than any other week, you may be happier at 8 in the evening than at 2 pm, you are happier if you live in Colorado than in Nevada.  And contrary to what our parents taught us, there is now some evidence that generally speaking, being richer means you are happier.

Now, just to confuse the issue further, although we Americans are nearly three times wealthier as we were in the early 1970s, when surveyed, we do not seem to report any higher levels of happiness than at that time.

money scalesAnd, with regard to income, a study from Princeton University in 2010 that polled 450,000 Americans reported interesting results: a cutoff line of about $75,000 a year. The lower you are on the income scale, the unhappier you are. But no matter how much you make beyond that mark, there is no substantial increase in your level of happiness.[i]  Perhaps this is explained by the theory that there are actually two kinds of happiness: your day to day mood and how you feel when you get up in the morning contrasted with your overall level of satisfaction with your life, or how you feel it is turning out. The study concluded that 85% of us (no matter where we fall on the income scale) feel happy each day, and most also feel life is going well, or well enough.

In addition to economists, there is a cadre of other experts with plenty of advice on what makes us happy.  I don’t purport to be an expert, but here are insights I’ve culled various sources:

  1. Having some control over our time, so that there’s at least an hour that is ours to do with what we want. Per the above referenced studies and contrary to conventional wisdom spouted for centuries, a higher paycheck will not make you happy if you have little or no time left for something that gives you real pleasure.  Whatever we do for a living, whether we work inside the home, parenting, running a business, taking care of family in some way, or work outside the home, one of the foremost ways that men and women alike define happiness is that one hour (or so) a day (for some it’s only an hour a week, and even more precious at that!), has to belong to them and them alone.  Studies over the past decade of our increasingly 24/7 work modes indicate that even executives at the highest echelons of the corporate suite feel that they have as little control over their schedules as some minimum-wage employees do.  That’s astonishing, to say the least.

     

  2. woman treadmillPhysical activity of some kind is a must.  For decades exercise has been hailed as not only a stress-reliever but a happiness boost.  The endorphins created by exercise can be enough to motivate us to better productivity, a more healthy brain, and even joy.   Fit the time into your schedule to enjoy some kind of exercise and make sure that you push away from your desk and walk around instead of working through a high-fat lunch.  Whether it’s music, walking to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email, taking an outdoor break to walk to lunch, or whatever works for you, break up the monotony and circulation-killing habit of sitting at a desk all day long. 

     

  3. woman big laugh laughingStart your day with a comedy fix, or fit time in for one during the day.  Yes, surfing the net for cat videos has given whole new meaning to wasting one’s life away, but most office workers have found a way to manage the comedy break in sophisticated ways, indulge minimally, and then get back to work.   The benefits of fitting in something that genuinely makes you laugh at the beginning or end of the day or whenever you need an energy boost, are so numerous there isn’t enough time or space to list them all.   Not to mention, diverting yourself via a comedy break from hitting “send” on a very angry email could also save you from making a career-decimating mistake.  Just don’t send an embarrassing comedy short to someone whose sense of humor you may not really understand. 

     

  4. Moving away for even 30 minutes’ time from a challenging task – business or otherwise – is actually your fastest route to an optimal solution and, we hope, a happier day.   One of my favorite new discoveries is a consulting firm called The Energy Project, http://www.theenergyproject.com. It is chock-full of ideas for boosting physical, spiritual, mental and emotional energy.  A New York Times article about the firm remained in the #1 spot on the “Most Emailed” List for almost a week!  Not only does it make me happy to try at least one new idea from that site on a daily basis, but I have come to regard it as my personal reminder to take a much-needed break.

     

  5. Productivity experts at Harvard Business School concur that it’s not just about money when it comes to being happy at work.  In the February 2013 issue of Inc. magazine[2]* on what makes employees unhappy, Professor Teresa M. Amabile asserts [see citation below] that “…making progress on real work…” and “…Feeling like you are able to move forward on a daily basis engenders real joy.”   

    There isn’t an office dweller alive who dreads meetings with no agendas, no purpose stated, and no measurable progress at the end of an hour (or more) of meeting where the time seems to drag on.  Purpose + agenda + time limits = progress and, we hope, happiness at work.

     

  6. to do listTo Professor Amabile’s assertion, I would add that having an effective to-do list is essential.  Resist the quantity-heavy to-do list, as plowing through a lot of unrelated tasks is nothing but project dandruff that fritters away time.  Either bundle tasks by energy, purpose, or timeframe, or slam through inessential tasks as fast as possible.  One of my favorite habits is to ask every day:  “Did my work today increase my stock, lower it, or keep it steady?”  Obviously, I try to have few days where I’m lowering my equity!  Having a set of 60-90-120 day timetables – and revising them to accommodate the inevitable delays or deletions – is essential.  Focus on what’s essential and will lead to greater results.  Get those tasks done during the time of day when you have the most energy, whether it involves physical, mental, spiritual or emotional output that will give you the most productive returns. 

     

  7. wine for two crpdHah – there is no “7!”  How about you just set aside at least one day to rest and do absolutely nothing but what makes you happy.  For many multi-tasking careerists, that means running a lot of errands over the course of the day and then relaxing in the evening.  My husband and I do that exactly:  we designate the one night where we’ll splurge on a Manhattan dinner out.  While it’s presumed that most Manhattan dwellers order take-out food most nights, or that we’re always going to the best restaurants, the truth is actually more prosaic.  When I’ve been out every single day and several nights in a row as well, what really makes me happy is to completely withdraw into my couch.  I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. Consider it a gift – no Santa necessary. 

 *Finally, what actually is the most valuable and irreplaceable asset we have?   Consider this: You can’t insure it.  You can’t bottle it or safe-deposit it (not really).  You can’t get it back once you’ve consumed it, without compromising or deftly negotiating other aspects of your life.  When you have more of it than you thought, it can seem like an eternity – a good and bad thing, depending on your timeframe.  The fact is, the most valuable and irreplaceable asset we have is TIME.  Time after time, that’s what we all want more of, and we can’t get enough of it without planning it, managing it, understanding how we’re using it, and making the most of it.  Time is of our essence, now more than ever.   

 ~     ~      ~     ~     ~

Sources and further reading:

1) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/magazine/money-changes-everything.html?_r=0

2) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html

3) What Makes Employees Unhappy | Inc.com
www.inc.com/magazine/201212/…wong-what-makes-employees-unhappy.html

4) The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

 


 

[1] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html

[2] What Makes Employees Unhappy | Inc.com
www.inc.com/magazine/201212/…wong-what-makes-employees-unhappy.html


 

Healthful Food Boom for Boomers = Healthful Boon for Manufacturers, Supermarkets, Retailers, Restaurateurs

Tasty. Healthful. Convenient. Economical.

Think you can’t do all four? Think again.

These are the demands of the Baby Boomer generation, and food marketers are paying attention now more than ever. Although younger consumers who are considered the most attractive target audience for almost any other product category, consumer behavior studies indicated that single-person households, especially those in urban markets such as New York, Chicago, etc., don’t cook for themselves, and are more likely to consume meals away from home, and choosing outlets that don’t offer the most healthful options.

Meanwhile, Boomers are among the most health-conscious target audiences for manufacturers, supermarkets and quick-service restaurants. For example, Panera, whose 58-year-old CEO knows this is a literal sweet spot for him; SaladWorks, which offers almost limitless combinations; and the New York-centric QSR chain, Cosi. Health experts and media gurus alike – from Dr. Mehmet Oz to dietitians to exercise physiologists – are leveling pronouncements against the many myths about healthful foods, i.e., they are too expensive, too time-consuming to prepare, and not tasty enough.

Not true!

From the value and versatility of the humble egg, to other convenience foods for people on-the-go, the food marketing world is full of ideas to capture the attention of the vast crowd of over-50 consumers. And nowhere is that more obvious than in the supermarket industry. In fact, many favorite foods that have been supermarket staples for decades are now available in healthful, economical, convenient and tasty versions that don’t require a culinary degree to enjoy. A few quick examples:

“PB&J”: Adult fans of peanut butter know that there are more healthful options of the spread now than ever before – from reduced-calorie versions to honey-sweetened to 100% organic. There are more flavors, varieties and brands of fruit spreads, jams, jellies and preserves available in most supermarkets than anyone could make at home or buy from a small-batch supplier – and the flavors are superb. Long ago, New York Times columnist Jane Brody cited the peanut butter sandwich as her survival food for airport delays – and this was in the days when plane flights were nowhere near the epic odysseys they’ve become today.

Whole-grain breads: Speaking of PB&J, the variety of sandwich conduits available at a local supermarket is seemingly endless – whether whole-grain sliced, pita, rolls, brioches, Italian, Portuguese, French, on and on, take your pick, because you can! Not to mention the exhaustive array of healthful and exciting condiments, even among the low-sodium varieties.

Frozen Vegetables:Not only has the produce aisle gotten very sophisticated since the 1980s advent of the formerly exotic and now ubiquitous arugula and cilantro, to name just two, but the frozen aisle is positively space-age. The fact that plain spinach in a frozen block from the supermarket is something boomers’ moms prepared in the 1950s doesn’t make that spinach any less healthful. In fact, it’s just as healthful as, and could be more healthful than, that wonderful green stuff from the organic farmer’s market. Often it is actually fresher, thanks to modern processing techniques that quick-cook and flash-freeze vegetables at the height of their freshness. (Many thanks to Dr. Mehmet Oz for reminding all of us who read his 12/12 article in TIME Magazine of the handiness – and healthfulness – of our mothers’ spinach block).

Those are just three categories where food manufacturers and supermarkets are making it easier, more economic and more convenient to make healthful eating easier and a more flavorful experience. While it might seem obvious that affluent, achiever-Boomers are more interested in health than any other demographic, what has become evident to manufacturers and retailers is that we will spend the money on high-quality, convenient but NOT ridiculously expensive or “exotically sourced” foods.

The economic situation driving many boomers to multi-generational households, taking care of boomerang children, elderly parents and two-career duties, etc., also means boomers have less time than ever in their adult lives. It’s no wonder that every possible variation on healthful and convenient seafood, meats, legumes and dairy foods has also made the supermarket the one-stop community center of choice for so many boomers. In fact, many supermarket chains such as Ahold’s Stop & Shop division in the northeast U.S., and West-Coast based Hy-Vee markets, among others, are hiring dietitians and trainers to lead special health education events for consumers of all ages, and to help guide consumers through the supermarket’s most healthful product offerings.

A leading supermarket trade study reveals additional interesting statistics about Boomers’ food choices:

  • Portable foods make up one-quarter of our daily caloric intake in the United States. The 50-plus crowd is creating demand for healthful foods that are also fast and convenient.
  • U.S. consumers over 50 are becoming increasingly concerned about heart health, brain and vision health, and the prevention of cancer prevention. We worry about hypertension, diabetes, and bone loss/osteoporosis. Manufacturers are responding with a wide variety of healthful economical foods.
  • 50-plus consumers are more educated than in past generations, and therefore we’re more analytical (and sometimes skeptical) about the health claims we see on products.

Other important trends we’re seeing:

  • Boomers – especially women boomers – are causing physicians and other health professionals to be more accountable. The site of smart women poring over Internet health information sites on their I-Pads while sitting not so patiently in their doctors’ waiting rooms has become commonplace. And boomers are seeking out dietitians, personal trainers, executive coaches and therapists the way we seek out hairdressers, manicurists and shopping bargains: thoughtfully, analytically and with a strategic plan and budget in mind. Gone are the days of “Well, you know best, doctor (…or colorist or therapist).”
  • Boomers are more sophisticated about cooking and food than ever before, and scrutinize restaurants accordingly. All the more reason that we are eating IN more, and patronizing their local supermarkets because the supermarket industry has become much smarter and more sophisticated about cultivating this important target. Prepared foods departments have always been popular, with freshly-stocked salad bars becoming even more popular for meals on the go.
  • There is a real opportunity for food manufacturers who offer foods that are portable and at the same time tasty and healthful! Supermarkets are remodeling so formats are easier to navigate efficiently. Many retailers have visible, detailed and easy to digest (pun intended) information on the taste and health features of multiple varieties of apples, tomatoes and other versatile produce. Many have healthful food “destination aisles” as well as “on-the-go” food aisles.
  • Most major supermarket chains now have sophisticated data about shoppers’ preferences, so as to provide manufacturers with data that helps them serve consumers with more of the choices we prefer. Savvy manufacturers in the cereal, dairy, frozen food and whole grains categories, among others, have created marketing campaigns that are media sites of their own, cultivating consumers with diet information, health tips, quick-prep ideas and the like to generate more sales and preference among over-50 consumers. Kellogg’s Special K™ is one such product, teaming up with grocers, providing free health screenings and education info, and offering promotional coupons and samples. Dannon’s Activia™ brand yogurt takes an even bolder approach, utilizing actor Jamie Leigh Curtis as an “in-your-face” spokesperson for women’s regularity. Now THAT’S DARING!

Hooray for all the marketers, supermarkets, and to a certain extent, national restaurant chains such as Panera, that recognize and appreciate Boomers are literally putting our money where our mouths are. The mantra “Attention must be paid” is not lost on smart food marketers and the gurus that influence health-minded consumers.

Here are just two interesting articles with more info on these trends. Check out Dr. Oz’ story in TIME magazine, 12/3/12, which was the cover story: “Give (Frozen) Peas a Chance — and Carrots Too. “

Also, “How grocers can capitalize on one of the most important demographic groups,” which you can read here: CLICK HERE

Over-50 Alpha Women

This year both Prevention magazine and Adweek (an ad industry trade publication), published articles on over-50 women referred to as “Alpha Women.” Alpha women over 50 are often discussed in our media, but not everyone is in agreement as to what defines an “Alpha” woman. In fact, Adweek received complaint letters saying that marketers only wish women over 50 were as hip and happening as the magazine reported.

Who ARE those complainants? Have they watched a TV show lately? Have they seen the powerful women over 50 who are leading the charge to rebuild in the face of one of the most devastating storms this country has ever witnessed? Do they read the Wall Street Journal and not notice how many women are not only running Fortune 500 corporations, but some of the most respected nonprofits in the world?

Hurricane Sandy

To me it’s simple: Alpha women over 50 are finally getting their due! If you have any doubts about that, let me remind you that Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius and Kirsten Gillebrand have all demonstrated a powerful Alpha presence on television and elsewhere in the face of Hurricane Sandy, promising to help the New York/New Jersey areas survive and move on.

The term “Alpha women” is defined by Dictionary.com as “the dominant female in a pack,” while The Urban Dictionary.com states: “The Alpha woman is “Self-confident, assertive, a natural leader, a woman both Beta women AND men tend to follow. [i] In summary, the traits of leadership, low introversion, healthy self-esteem, and high emotional intelligence seem to be the common factors in the definition of the Alpha woman. And, who better than confident women over 40 to personify that kind of conviction and commitment!

Women over 40 today have more positive role models than ever before, even if they never expect to become Secretary of State, a partner in a law firm, or CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. In fact, the current TV season has at least a dozen Alpha women in leading roles that are all so realistic it renews my confidence in the medium. (Leave the melodramatic “Stand By Your Man” stereotypes to opera sopranos!)

Here is just a partial list of Alpha women over 40 to inspire you, from entertainment to corporate to politics.

  • Kerry Washington is only 35, but as crisis manager Olivia Pope on the hit ABC show,Scandal,she is surely the wisest “old” person on any show on TV right now. Admittedly, Olivia is in a far-fetched position as real-life executives go: can we really believe the Most Important Man on the Planet is so in love with her he risks matters of national security to be with her? Is it possible a crisis manager is not only able to provide intellectual firepower and command in highly charged situations, but that her passion and conviction make her so compelling a presence that powerful men fall all over themselves to listen to, look at and touch her? From what I’ve seen in many years of dealing with and working in Washington, D.C., the notion is not so far-fetched. Alpha indeed!
  • Indra Nouyi, CEO of Pepsi, who is standing firm even in the face of activist investors who assert she should focus on the beverage aspect of that company’s business. She has chosen instead to diversify (and some say, dilute) beyond beverages to health-oriented products.
  • Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, who bravely took the fall recently for the still-hotly debated and agonizing Libyan uprising that resulted in the death of several innocent Americans. Say what you will about her own aspirations to the most important job on the planet, she is the epitome of the “buck stops here” when it concerns a Democratic president whom she (and Big Bad Dog Bill Clinton) are working hard to get re-elected.

Thank the universe that Alpha women are well represented in our lives.

 



[i] The Urban Dictinary.com: “Alpha female” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=alpha%20female