Trains = brains, and dresses = stresses? New research doesn’t bode well for next generation either.

Are boys born loving trains and guns while girls reach for dolls and pretty pink dresses? Are boys born with different brains, enabling them in the areas of math and science, while girls naturally excel in literature and the written word?

You may remember, in 2005, when the president of Harvard at the time, Lawrence Summers, created such an uproar with disparaging comments about women’s aptitude for science and math. Well, it may be true there are dramatically more men than women in top levels of the science fields, but are the gender differences hard-wired?

This debate has raged on for years, the age-old nature versus nurture, science-brain versus art/literature-brain. Researchers have produced a wealth of results from various studies, often conflicting, and the matter remains far from resolved.

Studies have shown that American girls around between 9 and 17 consistently had fewer experiences in the science realm than boys, and generally expressed negative perceptions and attitudes toward science and math classes. Lawrence H. Summers, then president of Harvard, made his notorious comments about women’s aptitude — researchers have been searching for ways to explain why there are so many more men than women in the top ranks of science.

Explaining this gender gap away with the cry: “brain differences!” just does not wash, however. Recent research on gender with regard to skills in math was carried out in 86 countries. The results strongly suggest that culture may be the culprit, not brain differences, that this difference is not biological, but sociocultural. Some countries just do not show this gap that is apparent in the USA, and it seems in countries where females are comfortable and successful in the world of math, there is a greater degree of gender equality. For example, in Russia and Asia girls are more apt to pursue scientific careers than in the US, Canada and England.

But here in the States, the gap has been narrowing. Girls who are considered to be “highly gifted mathematicians” now number 3 to 1, a vast improvement over the 13 to 1 ratio that was present in the 1970s. Women obtaining graduate degrees in math are also on the uptick, even though men are still holding 70% of those degrees.

Suggestions for improving this further? The researchers listed:

  • Increase math-certified teachers in schools
  • Work on decreasing the number of children living in poverty
  • Equalize the gender equality gap.

Easier said than done.

lean-in-coverWhen none other than Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says that women “lean away” from challenging jobs in the corporate firmament because they want to off-track sooner than later to have their children, it’s hard to see how society can do even a 180-degree turn toward encouraging girls to pursue studies in science and math.

The really startling insight here is that research over the last half of the twentieth century, especially, has shown that women scientists (if they find the right sponsors and continue their careers while also having children) tend to focus on socially worthy science, such as disease cures, alleviation of poverty, hunger and homelessness, along with other humanitarian concerns. Male scientists have historically focused on research that is more driven toward industrial applications, such as improving military supremacy, space travel optimization and finance.

No wonder that so many female senators, congresswomen, university educators and other like-minded women are advocating the improvement and enhancement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for girls. We can only hope that a high percentage of them apply these skills to making real improvements on all of our lives – especially that of the current generation of their aging parents.

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING

· “Sex on the Brain: Are boys’ brains different from girls’ brains? Scientists debate the question.” http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2011/11/boys_brains_girls_brains_how_to_think_about_sex_differences_in_psychology_.html

· “Stereotype Threat and Women’s Math Performance” :http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103198913737http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/04/science/girls-lead-in-science-exam-but-not-in-the-united-states.html?_r=1&

· “The myth of equality in science classrooms” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tea.3660200205/abstract

· “Do the Math! Sex Divide Is Cultural, Not Biological” http://www.livescience.com/17429-math-gender-differences-myths.html

Caregiving for Baby Boomers: Blended families have blended loyalties

couple calculatorThe baby boom generation is history-making, life-changing, innovative and unusual.  Boomers take literally the mandate of “…Do not go gentle into that good night.” And the boomer cohort is HUGE.  According to  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, the number of Americans entering retirement age will nearly double by the year 2030. How on earth will we, as a nation, look after the health care of about 72 million older adults with few youngsters to support them financially and physically? Kotlikoff and Burns state in  The Coming Generational Storm, that “by 2030, the senior to kid ratio will be three to one!”

Caregiving is a stressful and exhausting task, even in an “old-fashioned” nuclear family.  My siblings and I continue to struggle with decisions we made (or waited too long to make) regarding both my parents, both of whom are now gone.  While my sister elected to keep Mom close to her, the enormity of the responsibility for my mother’s care took a monumental toll on my sister and her husband – more than anyone else in our family.

Modern blended families add an unprecedented level of complexity to the mix. Second and third marriages create a web of connections (and disconnects), with stepchildren and other more distant family members expressing varying degrees of loyalty and commitment.

Many questions arise:  How involved will children and/or stepchildren be in the long-term care needs of their parents? Who will be required to make difficult decisions if an older person or parent is no longer able to live alone, or make decisions about their own care? In blended families, competing loyalties make these decisions more difficult.

And here is a harsh reality: an older person may wonder if after his death his biological children will treat his surviving spouse, their stepmother, in the same way they treated him.  The grown stepchildren of later baby boom marriages just do not have the same history with the new stepparent, and feel less responsibility to help out.

This  can be viewed as more than a cautionary tale to add to the woes of boomers who currently may be unemployed, under-employed and dealing with the compounded responsibilities of supporting college-age students, eldercare expenses, diminishing home values, and their own health concerns.  Turn it into a call to action: “We will not go gentle into that good night!”

Boomers may be the first generation that made Botox, gym memberships and Spanx as essential as bread and water, but “essentials” take on a whole new meaning in a recession.  Considering that many women (and men) between the ages of 55 and 65 are working two and three jobs, with no healthcare benefits,  and resorting to health regimens that at best are questionable and at worst harmful to their health, and you don’t need a battle cry to realize it’s time for a better plan.

For my husband and me, the fact that we are childless means that we had to become our own caretakers – to a certain limit.  Our plan included buying long-term insurance ten years ago when we watched my father die in pain over the course of two years in nursing homes.  That was our alarm clock: We then put in place concrete goals, decision points and deadlines that included downsizing from the home we had bought 30 years ago when I was a bride, and which we sold several years ago to reducing myriad unnecessary expenses.

By anyone’s definition we do not live a Spartan life!  We bought a vacation home decades ago, when we were just starting our careers.  It has been retreat in more ways than I care to detail here.  In addition, we are in a very small but perfect (for us, anyway) condo near Manhattan (but not in) where we each monitor every financial and health decision, keep necessary costs down and eliminate non-essential expenses, defined as those that would cause us more stress if we indulged in them than if we don’t. What works for us certainly isn’t for everyone else, and we also realize that we are extremely fortunate in being able to live where we want to live, and enjoy what we have.

For other boomers, especially those in blended families where the demarcation lines of responsibility and loyalty give new meaning to the words “blurred” or “nonexistent” I can only offer a lot of empathy and encouragement:  It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to plan for retirement!  Even then, there are no guarantees that your plan will succeed, or that a health threat will not thwart your plan.  Therefore, plan for what you absolutely need as well as for what you want (two different constructs, of course).  Plan well, and monitor your plan diligently so you can shift your priorities when the need arises.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  In other words, do not go gentle into that good night.   Not on your life!

 

SOURCES:

http://www.csa.us/pubs/articles/Journal50_7_mccabe_BlendedFamilyTensions.pdf

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/in-blended-families-responsibility-blurs/

American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-amy-ziettlow/caregiving_b_1220053.html

The Coming Generational Storm, Kotlikoff and Burns Kotlikoff and Burns

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] “In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs,” Paula Span, NYTimes, http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/in-blended-families-responsibility-blurs/. February 12, 2013

 

 

The baby boom generation is history-making, life-changing, innovative and unusual.  Boomers take literally the mandate of “…Do not go gently into that good night.” And the boomer cohort is HUGE.  According to  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, the number of Americans entering retirement age will nearly double by the year 2030. How on earth will we, as a nation, look after the health care of about 72 million older adults with few youngsters to support them financially and physically? Kotlikoff and Burns state in  The Coming Generational Storm, that “by 2030, the senior to kid ratio will be three to one!”

Caregiving is a stressful and exhausting task, even in an “old-fashioned” nuclear family.  My siblings and I continue to struggle with decisions we made (or waited too long to make) regarding both my parents, especially my mother, who is 89 and ailing in a nursing home located close to my sister’s weekend home.  While my sister elected to keep Mom close to her, the enormity of the responsibility for my mother’s care is taking a monumental toll on my sister and her husband – more than anyone else in our family.     

Modern blended families add an unprecedented level of complexity to the mix. Second and third marriages create a web of connections (and disconnects), with stepchildren and other more distant family members expressing varying degrees of loyalty and commitment.

Many questions arise:  How involved will children and/or stepchildren be in the long-term care needs of their parents? Who will be required to make difficult decisions if an older person or parent is no longer able to live alone, or make decisions about their own care? In blended families, competing loyalties make these decisions more difficult.  

 

And here is a harsh reality: an older person may wonder if after his death his biological children will treat his surviving spouse, their stepmother, in the same way they treated him.  The grown stepchildren of later baby boom marriages just do not have the same history with the new stepparent, and feel less responsibility to help out. This is from the recent New York Times article entitled: “In Blended families, responsibility blurs:  “The ties which lead adult children to become caregivers — depending on how much contact they have with parents, how nearby they live, how obligated they feel — are weaker in stepchildren. “Older couples in this situation fall through the cracks.”[i]

The New York Times article can be viewed as more than a cautionary tale to add to the woes of boomers who currently may be unemployed, under-employed and dealing with the compounded responsibilities of supporting college-age students, eldercare expenses, diminishing home values, and their own health concerns.  Turn it into a call to action: “We will not go gently into that good night!”

Boomers may be the first generation that made Botox, gym memberships and Spanx as essential as bread and water, but “essentials” take on a whole new meaning in a recession.  Considering that many women (and men) between the ages of 55 and 65 are working two and three jobs, with no healthcare benefits,  and resorting to health regimens that at best are questionable and at worst harmful to their health, and you don’t need a battle cry to realize it’s time for a better plan. 

For my husband and me, the fact that we are childless means that we had to become our own caretakers – to a certain limit.  Our plan included buying long-term insurance ten years ago when we watched my father die in pain over the course of two years in nursing homes.  That was our alarm clock: We then put in place concrete goals, decision points and deadlines that included downsizing from the home we had bought 30 years ago when I was a bride, and which we sold last year, to reducing myriad unnecessary expenses. 

By anyone’s definition we do not live a Spartan life!  Today we are in a very small but perfect (for us, anyway) apartment where we each monitor every financial and health decision, keep necessary costs down and eliminate non-essential expenses –defined as those that would cause us more stress if we indulged in them than if we don’t.   What works for us certainly isn’t for everyone else, and we also realize that we are extremely fortunate in being able to live where we want to live, and enjoy what we have. 

For other boomers, especially those in blended families where the demarcation lines of responsibility and loyalty give new meaning to the words “blurred” or “nonexistent” I can only offer a lot of empathy and encouragement:  It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to plan for retirement!  Even then, there are no guarantees that your plan will succeed, or that a health threat will also thwart your plan.  Therefore, plan for what you absolutely need as well as for what you want (two different constructs, of course).  Plan well, and monitor your plan diligently so you can shift your priorities when the need arises.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  In other words, do not go gently into that good night.   Not on your life!

 

 

SOURCES:

http://www.csa.us/pubs/articles/Journal50_7_mccabe_BlendedFamilyTensions.pdf

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/in-blended-families-responsibility-blurs/

American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-amy-ziettlow/caregiving_b_1220053.html

The Coming Generational Storm, Kotlikoff and Burns Kotlikoff and Burns

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i]In Blended Families, Responsibility Blurs,” Paula Span, NYTimes, http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/in-blended-families-responsibility-blurs/. February 12, 2013

 

 

Tips for Over-50 Career Switchers

Our media cauldron is still spitting out assertions that baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, and continue to moan that there are simply not enough 30-somethings to fill this void. In fact, recent reports indicate there are more unemployed over-50 than at any time in history.

Let me set the record straight, and at the same time offer up some tips for over-50s now contemplating switching careers:

1) Boomers aren’t exactly stampeding to the golf courses or beaches. That hackneyed cliché is an egregious insult to boomers who look forward to continuing their productive careers or starting fulfilling second careers. It is most insulting to boomers who have lost their savings, and even their homes.

2) The work experience and expertise of boomers make some of us costly hires in this economy. Headhunters and American corporate expatriates advise boomers to consider international work, citing India, China and Vietnam as attractive emerging markets. However, some skills may be moot even in a rebound, if the industries or companies that used to need them are mature or defunct – here and abroad. Boomers who are interested in leadership positions should also seek out small or mid-size firms rather than large corporations. Private equity firms, though somewhat dormant right now, look for experienced leaders to fill C-suite positions in their portfolio companies.

3) For career-switchers over 50, there’s another indignation: headhunters and corporations call us “seasoned professionals with a short runway.”Some presume boomers will work only five to ten years more before we retire, and therefore we’re not worth the investment. Glenn Okun, a successful venture capitalist and finance professor, has a very different view: he recently told a group of MBAs ranging in age from late 20s to mid-50s: “You’re all going to be working until you’re 90 years old.”

4) A warning regarding career switching: many boomers jump to nonprofit without considering the risks, especially if the salary is comparable to their corporate pay. Don’t presume that your hard-driving private-sector persona will be welcome everywhere. It’s a very hard transition for individuals who are used to focusing almost entirely on quantitative goals and metrics without considering the cultural ramifications. Again, know what you want and need, especially the ROLE you want to play, regardless of title and salary.

Here are some powerful strategies that reflect the advice of psychological counselors, social workers, management consultants, business academics and executive coaches who work with individuals in transition in their personal lives or careers:

1. Develop a concrete plan of action. Have clearly defined objectives, desired outcomes and a strategy for managing your transition and your finances, along with a firm deadline and benchmarks along the way. Focus on delineating what your key priorities are, what you really want and need from life, what you’re passionate about for yourself and for your loved ones. Be honest about your deal-breakers as well as what you would be willing to compromise.

2. Write in a journal about what’s on your mind, how your anxiety might be connected to past experiences, and what this means for your future. Journals can become powerful personal development tools that impart a holistic view of what’s going on in your life, eventually transforming your vents and rants into insights and solutions.

3. Dare to spend time alone. Friends, colleagues and experts are a welcome source of counsel and support, but if you’ve just had a serious loss, you need time alone to process it, be angry and mourn. If you haven’t developed strategies for being alone to take care of yourself, it could be very lonely, and drive you to fill the void with people, activities and things that could thwart your ultimate goals for moving forward.

Above all, research, train, and learn how to prevent or survive a crash landing.

Remember the infamous news story: a 58-year-old former fighter pilot and trainer with thousands of hours of experience and expertise, who commandeered a massive mess of machinery and flammables with over 160 people aboard, and prevented what would have been their certain deaths, and that of thousands of other people. It was a seasoned professional (to use headhunter jargon), supported by an expert crew of equally seasoned professionals, who shepherded everyone on board that day to walk on water, literally, and return safely to their families.

I dare ask: how many 30-somethings could have done that? Short runway, huh? Run that one by me again.

Launching a Small Business Post-Recession? Branding is just the first step.

Having built my career in brand marketing, I’m often asked about the art and science of effective branding by friends who are launching small businesses and nonprofits – and whether branding is about building awareness, changing perceptions, improving attitudes, promoting purchase and loyalty, and other questions. To borrow a rapid-fire reply often given by pundits and comedians, my answer is “Yes.” It’s about all of those factors that speak to the tangible and intangible features and benefits of a particular brand – whether the brand is a product, service, for-profit or nonprofit entity, or Brand You.

Whenever I attend good networking meetings for professional women in New York City, I want to brand the city as “The Big Cocoon” rather than The Big Apple, its more customary brand. Regardless of how many women’s networking groups there are throughout this city, spanning diverse broad and deep interests, the best ones are like cocoons where there are enthusiastic huddles, breakout sessions, brainstorms, a lot of talking over one another, a lot of exchange of insights, ideas, frustrations and opportunities as women are planning their next big moves, which often involve starting their own businesses.

In the current economic climate, thousands of people of all ages, and not just women, are starting their own businesses. Some stride confidently into setting up a business that they’ve been thinking about for a while. Others are taking on freelance assignments while they continue to network and interview for their next full-time position.

For both of these paths, you need a plan. In this age of pervasive instantaneous social media, you also need a memorable brand.

Here are eight essential factors to consider – from a personal as well as professional perspective if you’re planning and branding a small business.

  1. Deliberate and write down your dreams. Include your desires, reasons, aims and financial goals for starting your own business, and your time frame. Do they include the desire to be your own boss, control your own time, be acquired by another firm, attract investors, or work at home while you’re raising children? Do you just want to earn money as a freelancer or consultant in the short run, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do next? Those motivations will affect your personal and professional life.
  2. Write a brief “situation analysis”of your personal and professional deal. Outline your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The most successful business people leverage their strengths and passions so they maximize opportunities to enjoy their work as well as earn money. Of the many good qualities and skills you possess, prioritize the ones that you enjoy, as they are the ones that help you create, build and drive your business. Do the same with your internal weaknesses and external threats, as they could hinder your business.
  3. Envision your business. Start from the perspective of how you’ll remember it when you’re in your 80s or 90s. Home in on your values, ethics, ideals and other motivations that go beyond your basic and current needs, so you also take into account your aspirations for achievement, recognition, altruism, prestige, status, power and influence. Know which needs and aspirations motivate you at your core, because they will affect you in the long run.
  4. Identify resources to make your visions and goals a reality. Most startups fail because they lack adequate resources. Even if you’re freelancing temporarily, you’ll need some cash reserves, a reputable accountant, industry peers and others you can rely on for brainstorming, marketing advice, referrals and moral support. If you’re going to be writing and reviewing consulting contracts and nondisclosure agreements, you’ll also want legal counsel.
  5. Brand yourself – and your business. This requires strategic know-how, courage, creative flair, commitment and persistence. To get you started:
  6. Create a compelling proposition for your product or service. Define a problem, solution and call to action. Your local chamber of commerce has information about strategy consultants, accountants, attorneys and marketing agencies that could help you, many of whom volunteer their services to small businesses.
  7. Become recognized and respected as an expert, i.e., as a brand. To do this, write, give speeches, do presentations and other promotion to build awareness, credibility, trial and preference among your target customers. A website’s a must, but so are a LinkedIn profile, Facebook business page, Twitter posts, newsletter, monthly emails, even a blog or YouTube videos. Keep references, work samples and other evidence of your expertise and experience current and ready to send to those who can recommend, refer or purchase your products or services. Once you gain recognition and respect, your reputation as an skilled technician, specialist, or expert will increase, as will your assignments, preference and repeat business.
  8. Seek out others who have similar interests, experience and expertise to yours. Universities, professional organizations, trade associations, nonprofits, networking groups and other communities, online and offline, are a haven for people who already are experts, want to become experts, or want to align with, learn from and maximize their expertise.

In chapters 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12 of my book, Get DARE From Here!, I focus a lot of attention on branding and planning for personal and professional growth, specifically in: Design (chap. 3), Aims (chap. 4), Access & Approach (chap. 5), Rally (chap. 8) and Exchange (chap. 12). All of these are key levers for women over 40 who want to take charge of the rest of their lives. Inherent in these chapters is the critical message that planning the rest of your life is like planning a business. If you’re financially self-supporting or the main financial support for others in your household, you are a business.

Planning and branding a small business used to be for only the most driven and committed self-starters. Today, everyone needs to think of themselves as a small business – whether inside or outside a corporation. If you decide to go out on your own, it’s important to know and respect your core motivations, focus on your strengths, envision the long haul and, by all means, engage your own “Big Cocoon” of people who will support and champion you. Then, dare to get out there and promote yourself to those who will value your hard work.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Liz DiMarco Weinmann is founder and CEO of the DARE-Force Corp. (www.thedareforce.com), an educational resources company whose mission is to inspire all women over 40 who want to pursue, develop and lead new and fulfilling ventures. She also runs Weinmann & Associates, a strategic consulting firm serving small businesses and nonprofits. Weinmann earned her MBA in finance and leadership from New York University. She is the author of the new 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.”

 

Job-Hunting as a Mature Professional? FLEX YOUR SPECS! There are more ways IN than you think!

northeaster us mapOver the past ten years I have been privileged to lead a rewarding series of workshops for executives in transition, who very much want to land their next full-time job.

It was such a pleasure to meet and work with talented, educated, highly skilled professionals, most of them in transition not of their own volition, and all too many of them in a serious state of shock, denial, anger.  On top of all that there’s the engulfing sense of shame and fear about their future job prospects, as well as the financial burdens.   Here are some of their challenges, how to deal with the most pressing roadblocks, and a few good books that will help.

The Challenges:

1)    Shock and Denial:  Many executives are determined to land a full-time position in a “reasonable amount of time” that is the same as or very similar to the position they left.  This time frame usually coincides with that of their severance package.  But if the reason their jobs are gone is that they were combined with or absorbed by talent that is often younger, less expensive and more flexible, this determination to “replace” the lost job and its perks often leads to even greater disappointment.

2)    Reluctance to network: This stems from lethargy or confidence challenges regarding its benefits.  The workshops prove that support from peers in a similar situation is invaluable!  Peers or mentors can become avid sponsors – I’ve seen it happen many times over the past few months with women I know who landed great jobs because they got outside of their own cocoon.  Sometimes this was due to someone much younger who was in a position of influence and wanted to help.  That’s hard for a lot of mid-career executives to accept. But it’s the reality.

3)    Shame: Many of these execs have been breadwinners, and are now suffering from shame.  Shame definitely becomes a firewall for some women and men who can’t see the value in joining professional organizations.  However, joining – and becoming active and visible in – networking groups, professional associations or a cause they care about would help them see there are other accomplished people out there who have risen past any notion of shame. They proudly announce they’re “in transition” and explain what they’re looking for as their “Big Next.”  Joining helps them to see there are myriad ways to contribute and expand their experience and expertise, and to meet mentors, sponsors and hiring managers.

4)    Inflexibility to pursue what could be valuable options outside their current experience and expertise – i.e., franchising, consulting/freelancing, starting their own business, etc.  The research that led to my book unearthed all sorts of women and men whose names (or the organizations they started) are now so well-known that few recognize their drive and subsequent success came after a huge adversity punch to their souls in mid-career.

5)    Fear: This is a big one; many attendees of my workshops report being “paralyzed with fear.”  Fear of networking, fear of failure, fear of making the wrong next move.  The reluctance and/or apathy I so often see with regard to their willingness to take advantage of tools for personal evaluation could be more about fear.  Professionals in transition sometimes fear these tests since they point out more deficits or deficiencies than they want to acknowledge.  Instead I encourage them to see the assays as an opportunity to benefit from a fresh look at their strengths and how to optimize them.

DEALING with these challenges:

For visionary, intelligent and motivated executives to combat these challenges, here are the three main areas of focus:

1)    linked in buttonMaximize LinkedIn:  there are more articles on the web regarding the benefits of using LinkedIn than I can possibly cite here, but the most critical reason to be there with a good profile to attract the work you really want to do and are good at (I rewrite mine once a year or more) is that almost every corporate hiring manager checks LinkedIn for profiles before looking anywhere else.   On top of that, if a hiring manager receives your resume and you’re not on LinkedIn, with a strong network and good skills profile that matches their needs, they often put your resume aside.

2)    Personal branding: I’ve written on this quite a bit, and there are dozens on books on it.  Pick the two or three that resonate with your strengths, motivation and where you want to land, and work the exercises.  There’s no substitute for the intrapersonal work you need to do before you can do the interpersonal connecting.  If not now, then when?

3)    Networking in generalto paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the most inspirational women of all time, who also happened to be one of the great networkers well before the word became the 21st century catchphrase for connecting every possible interest, “You must do that thing you think you cannot do.”  Join and become very active in your industry’s professional organizations.  Comment selectively on business blogs and your industry organizations’ websites.  Participate in local philanthropic events where hiring managers in your industry also contribute.  You don’t have to have a lot of money to do this, but you do have to spend your time wisely.  Know how and when to cultivate contacts – and remember, you have to give to get.  It sure beats sitting in front of your laptop all day sending mass emails to black holes scanned by computer software that doesn’t care a bit about you and your potential.

A FEW GOOD BOOKS:

1)    Career Distinction, William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, Wiley, 2007. This is an invaluable “how to” manual instruction manual and branding bible for building a satisfying and successful career.

2)    The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career, Reid Hoffman, Crown Business, 2012.   A great book to inspire you to entrepreneurial endeavors!

3)    Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, Seth Godin, Portfolio Trade, 2011. One of my favorite books; here is quintessential advice from a master on marketing, emotional investment in careers and work, on taking the initiative, on being a leader, an artist!

4)    How to Become a Rainmaker, Jeffrey J Fox, Hyperion, 2000. An introduction or refresher course in the power of selling.

5)    What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith, Hyperion, 2007.  Executive Coach Marshall explores why some people succeed in their careers, and others stall. He offers myriad pieces of advice and guidance, bad habits to break, plus gives powerful examples to drive home his points. Great book you will return to again and again.

 ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

© The DARE-Force Corporation, 2020. 

Check out Liz Weinmann’s 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, by Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA. All rights reserved.  

All of the content on this website and in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation are based on sound business principles and practices of strategy, operations, leadership and marketing, and on current and emerging trends in those referenced business principles and practices.  None of the content on this website, nor in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation, are intended to be, nor should they be, perceived as, practiced as, or applied as, counsel, diagnosis, or treatment for any implicit or explicit mental, emotional or physical health challenges.  

 

 

 

You’ve been Meaning to Write a Book: 6 Tips to Get it Done

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book

People ask me daily about writing a book, since my book was published: “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.

Everyone, it seems, wants/plans/means to write a book. In today’s new self-publishing world, anyone CAN write a book and get it out there.

Are you one of those people? Do you have something to say and just don’t know how to start?

Many authors will tell you to be prepared that you will do almost nothing else for a year or so while you are writing a book. Yeah, right! Maybe, if they’re already household names! They spew on (disingenuously) about the languid literary lifestyle – writing in your pajamas for eighteen hours straight; subsisting on pizza, potato chips and caffeine; ignoring friends, family and creditors. All the while they’re supposedly developing the concept, writing (and rewriting) the book’s outline, doing the research required, and then writing and editing several drafts before turning out the draft that won’t mortify them when they take their masterpiece down to their local copy center to print out and bind for them to proofread before sending it to their publisher.

Hah! Unlike those languid literary lifers, I spent six months writing and then overseeing the editing, design, distribution and marketing plan for my book – while working in my consulting business full time and teaching at two universities, while also trying to have a life. It wasn’t easy, but neither is working with legacy publishers these days (the ones who are left hanging for dear life), which take a huge chunk of your profits and leave all the marketing to you. The work I put in was worth it.

Many of my friends, colleagues, former professors and students think it’s great that I’ve written a book – they are the best support team ever. So, for all my friends, especially all the mature professionals who also have a story, expertise, valuable life skill, untapped artistic talent, or other aptitude that makes them proud and wanting to get loud, here’s a short tip-sheet, taken from my book, that might help you write your book. The same advice applies to any other artistic endeavor you’re thinking of pursuing for business purposes or other fulfillment.

1. Focus on one thing you do really well and figure out how to write about it, shout about it or grouse about it. Think intensively and extensively about it, and you too might be churning out a few thousand words on of insight, inspiration and motivation.

2. Think hard about your particular interests, passions, concerns, hobbies and other worthwhile endeavors you’re drawn to learn more about in the course of your daily life. What’s your story? Everyone has one. And, if you’re over 40, you probably have dozens of them. If it moves you, it behooves you. And, if you can figure out how to move someone else with your insights and ideas, that’s an excellent motivator to start and – ultimately – finish.

3. If you really want to learn more about a particular subject to the point of becoming an expert and getting recognized as such, do some initial research and seek out others who have similar interests and skills in your area of focus. Want to be known as an expert? Write a book (or other media) on it. (Where do you think the expression, “She wrote the book on it!” came from?) In fact, a  New York Times article details that newsletters are making a comeback. If you don’t think you can spit out a whole book, start with a newsletter. That’s what I did.

4. If you’re considering writing non-fiction or a memoir or how-to (or all three, which is what I did with Get DARE From Here!) to express yourself, be careful about “telling all.” Be sure to think very carefully about what, how and when you want to tell all by publishing, and what your overall objective is for doing so. Edit, edit, edit. Have someone else close to you read it. Then, be sure to consider the consequences before hitting “send.”

5. As a first time author you might want to bypass so-called legacy publishers, and work instead with a credible self-publishing service.  These days, legacy publishers are dwindling in numbers, and there’s no guarantee of making tons of money from your book,  or owning the marketing rights.  Instead, for an upfront investment less than many New York salons charge for one haircut, you can work with a publisher that will help you take your worthwhile message, articulate prose and proofreading stamina the whole distance. Or check out LinkedIn’s new publishing platform, and pretty much anything that content marketing guru and educator Dorie Clark puts out.  

6. If you really want to express yourself fully and with little or no inhibition, write poetry or fiction instead, perhaps short stories or a novel. If you have the discipline and stamina to write and/or edit for at least an hour every day, and publish your novel or series of short stories with a reputable author-publishing service, you need to gain a following via social that helps you sell at least 5,000 units. Who knows, you just might grab the attention of a publisher who will want to sign you to a contract to publish your next book(s). It’s not as much of a long shot as you might think.

This time around, I chose non-fiction, as it had long been my goal to publish a book about and for mature, intelligent and motivated professionals. I’m thinking that my next book, if there is one, will be fiction. No way I will be hanging around in my pajamas to do it. There are easier, faster ways to get a book done these days than ever before. 

Click here to check out “Get DARE From Here!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 – is available on Amazon.

 

Turning Points & Touch Points: A Workshop for Mid-Career Women – 90 days in 90 minutes

nywici logo color of WA few weeks ago, I conducted a workshop for the members of the New York Women in Communications community. NYWICI represents women who work in the media industries: publishing, advertising, PR, and related professions, and many of the women in attendance were in transition because of downsizing, job threats and other challenges. But in that room, they were empowered and enthusiastic! It was proof positive for me that a group ideation session is so much more powerful than individual brainstorming.

What a fascinating evening, working with a group of such strong, dynamic women, and given the chaotic state of the media industries – and I mean that in the plural! Opening the workshop, I shared some of my story, and the many roadblocks that led me to pursue an MBA late in my career. Many of the attendees related to the “been there, done that” element of my career choices and events, and shared their similar experiences with me at the breaks and following the workshop.

Many of the women were surprised to learn that the leadership case histories in business school are mostly about men, written by men, for men. While studying leadership, I realized there was an appalling lack of female representation in the hundreds of case studies about men, so chose to focus on women’s leadership for my master’s thesis, inspired by women who reinvented themselves, later in life.

book cover sharpenedGoing on to write 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, was not only a catharsis for me but has become an area of expertise I am pleased to pay forward for men and women over 40. The book, which has been described as an “empowerment guide,” provides insights, techniques and tactics for developing a personal strategy and career plan. So many of the women I researched are now inspiration for the women I am meeting in career workshops, college courses, online and at all sorts of sponsored events in various venues.

Here are just a few of the women I researched, whose careers inspired the book, and the modern lessons they can teach us.

  • Juliette Gordon Low, who formed the Girl Scouts when she was 52 years old

Juliette was deaf in one ear in her 20s and in an accident at her own wedding became deaf in her other ear. Twenty years later and divorced, she formed the Girl Scouts, which now has 3.2 million members. Modern lesson: You are NEVER too old to start something new!

  • Jean Nidetch, who formed Weight Watchers in her 40s

Jean was an overweight Long Island housewife, who realized having a support group to help her lose weight was better than doing it alone – which leads me to one of my favorite quotes, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” ~ Helen Keller. Modern lesson: Never underestimate the power of one determined women to cajole her friends into losing weight, saving money, introducing them to their next job, love interest, fantastic apartment, whatever!

  • Mary Kay Ash, who formed Mary Kay Cosmetics at 45

Mary Kay was divorced and pissed when passed over for a promotion. She quit in order to start her own company, with her new husband. One month before the launch he died of a heart attack. Then one month after his death, she went ahead with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Modern Lesson: When life gives you lemons, squeeze them in other people’s eyes; then sell them some mascara!

  • Julia Child, who wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking when she was 49 years old. Ms. Child became famous for her rule of the culinary world, a second career she began in earnest over the age of 50, after enduring punishing treatment by male chefs who wouldn’t take her seriously in the kitchen. Modern Lesson: Do what you love, the money will follow, and you’ll leave others in the dust.

During the workshop, I split the room into small groups where everyone was encouraged to discuss a career challenge. Then I asked them to discuss where and how they could take action against that challenge in the next 90 days. By the end of the brainstorm, they all had their own 90-day plans.

Here are the 10 key points I made in my workshop, which I always recommend for all executives over 40:

  1. Even if you think you’re in a permanent job, you’re really not. These days we are all consultants.
  2. We all think about what we want to do next – think about looking back to the future, as it were – what do you want to say when you look back on your career 10, 20 years from now?
  3. Think about hurdles that are stopping you from doing what you want and what the actions you can take to start advancing you towards your goal.
  4. Only women would think that asking for something like a raise, promotion or transfer means they’re being too aggressive.
  5. Because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should keep doing it – think about your strengths and what you like doing. Think about how that could lead to your next job.
  6. The biggest thing holding us back is the ‘F’ word – Fear – fear of change, the unknown, failure, success – the key is to reach through the fear and make the time to make it happen.
  7. Figure out how to be just the right amount of aggressive.
  8. Getting out of your office can help you in the office – as you can bring back new ideas and a new perspective.
  9. Go toward “the other” – people who are different than you. For example, other age groups, other cities, other ethnic groups, other industries, other faiths – to learn more about the world as it is really is today: uber-connected in more ways that we ever thought possible.
  10. We all need a plan B: think of the “B” as the Business of YOU… Figure out a way to have something that only belongs to you, that is uniquely yours, that will become your brand as well as your stock portfolio, even if you never launch or sell any other product or service but yourself. That’s your most valuable asset.

All in all, I hope that listening to me during a workshop is not unlike listening to your best friend or older sister, a woman who isn’t afraid to “tell you like it is,” and to “get up, get off it and get moving!” Well, OK, it’s more like having Joan Rivers yammering in one ear while Mother Teresa is consoling you in the other.

The best part was that I made a whole new batch of friends, as I heard from many of the women who attended, and of course, LinkedIn with them online and in coffee shops around the city we all love. As I said at the top of this blog: I could brainstorm or email all day from my laptop but there’s nothing more powerful than real connections made in a group discussion about something so powerful, energizing and motivating about taking stock, taking action and taking charge of the rest of our lives! Go DARE!

 

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© The DARE-Force Corporation, 2013.

Check out Liz Weinmann’s 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, by Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA. All rights reserved.

All of the content on this website and in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation are based on sound business principles and practices of strategy, operations, leadership and marketing, and on current and emerging trends in those referenced business principles and practices. None of the content on this website, nor in the other content-driven products and services of The DARE-Force Corporation, are intended to be, nor should they be, perceived as, practiced as, or applied as, counsel, diagnosis, or treatment for any implicit or explicit mental, emotional or physical health challenges.