Advertising: Mature Brains Process Ads Differently

Companies have been aiming their marketing to people over 60 in very specific but perhaps unsuccessful ways, based on assumptions that may not be valid. A new report from Nielsen NeuroFocus, the Berkeley, Calif.-based agency that specializes in neurological testing for consumer research shows that mature brains respond very differently to marketing messages. They are more emotionally balanced, and have a longer attention span. This evidence flies in the face of the traditional belief that older brains cannot adapt easily and no longer learn well. [Hey, if I can submit my own brain as a “specimen” the fact that I learned quantitative finance principles in my mid-50s surprised me as well, except that I was tenacious about learning it!]

The neuroscience field is releasing results of research showing convincing evidence that the mature brain retains plasticity, or the ability to change as a result of experience, even at later stages of life. This is also the reason why EXPERIENCE MATTERS – there’s only so much book learning that the younger adult mind can do, especially in the era of over-divulging, over-diversion, and over-distraction – all of which often leads to distortion of: input, information and interpretation.

Here are some of the findings, bulleted, for ease [with my editorial comments in brackets]:

  • Boomers do not want to feel old or be treated as such. They do not respond well to ads that portray stereotypes and they steer clear of messages that feature older people. [But please stop featuring buff 30-somethings in clothing ads that are meant to appeal to sizes 12 and up.]
  • Boomers want to be spoken to honestly. [Yes, but that doesn’t mean our lives will be less than enriched if we don’t use your products, or that something terrible will happen without your company’s anti-depressants.]
  • To that point, mature brains, being more emotionally stable, respond better to positive, rather than negative, fear-based advertising messages. According to Nielsen NeuroFocus, marketers should deliver upbeat advertisements that focus on the benefits to the baby boomer. [Memo to pharmaceutical firms: stop portraying women in their fifties as if we are back in the 1950s, as in mid-20th century!]
  • Mature brains have broader attention spans. [Could be because we’re not on multiple mobile devices, all of the time, at the same time? We actually look at and listen when we care about something.]
  • Boomer brains respond better to advertising messages that are simple; research shows they may ignore those that are rapid or cluttered. [However, about certain products – such as pharmaceuticals or financial services – we want all the information; just don’t make it so filled with jargon, because we mistrust that.]
  • Advertisers are still guilty of ignoring baby boomers, although they are strong and influential in terms of purchasing power. Boomers are on track to spend $7 billion online this year, and they are dining out again. [News alert to fast-food and quick-serve restaurants: take a page out of Panera’s playbook. The firm boomers love to love is doing better in some areas and time slots than McDonald’s and Chipotle – the latter two still banking on 20-somethings who can eat only so many burgers and grinders. Panera’s 58-year old Harvard MBA CEO knows where his bread is – literally and figuratively. In this recession, baby boomers are flocking to Panera for meals that are lighter on the waistline as well as their bank accounts.]

Check out the research:

Nielsen NeuroFocus

Plant Seeds of Renewal in Your Brain this Spring!

plant-164500_640This year, it seems like there is no spring season in sight… after a hard, very long winter. If you live in the northeast, you may be waiting to plant your real garden, due to the hideous weather we’re all having (hail the size of golf balls here in Vermont the other afternoon).

But what a perfect opportunity to plant seeds of renewal in our brains. Here are 7 SEEDS of ideas to get you growing and sowing. After all, Mother Nature herself needed seven days to get the earth in BLOOM, and even SHE rested!

  1. To PLANT your SEEDS of accomplishment for 2015, first decide what you want to reap. Do you want to learn valuable new skills, gear up for a brand new, exciting and fulfilling career? Develop new connections, friendships and relationships? Maybe you have an even loftier goal, such as starting a multi-million dollar business. Decide what you want your full-blown PLANTS to look like!
  2. Once you determine how you want your flourishing GARDEN to look, you need a plan to make it happen. If you want to learn a new skill, why not sign up now for a finance class, a computer class, a ballroom dance class or music lessons? Why not learn a new language?
  3. If your goal is finding a new career, June is the perfect time to set up informational interviews or networking sessions where you talk with people about their jobs and figure out whether their career might be a perfect career for you. Even with all the slush and muck in the streets, people you want to know are ready to come out of hibernation for a quick lunch or espresso. [For more helpful tips on job-hunting in these challenging economic times, click here.]
  4. If you have to literally crack open your copy of What Color is Your Parachute, then don’t wait for evidence of moth larvae infestation between the pages before you buy yourself the new edition. No one writes about career reinvention, midlife crises or having a “Plan B” the way that Richard Nelson Bolles does.
  5. If you haven’t taken a career assessment test since you wore miniskirts the first decade they were in style (which would also be the decade that Cher could scowl and smirk with the lips, eyes and forehead that Mother Nature gave her), then sign up to take a Myers-Briggs personality test (www.mbticomplete.com). Even though Myers-Briggs experts say that your personality traits stay the same as you move through your life, taking the test again will reaffirm for you who you are today, and what type of job would be a good fit for your personality now. At the very least, it’s a way to PLANT new SEEDS in your own head, and then in others’ heads.
  6. Speaking of heads, two (or more) heads are sometimes better than one. If you want to develop new networks of friends or relationships, make sure you have a profile on a business social network like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), or update your professional profile, and make plans with people whom you haven’t seen in years. Or, how about hosting a dinner party for six friends that you think would have fun together brainstorming the next move in their lives – even if you have to order in? Or, go to a panel sponsored by your alma mater or the local YMCA, so you can be exposed to new ideas while meeting new people.
  7. Finally, this might not sound like an activity for a “day of rest” but if your daydreaming time tends to veer toward visions of having your own business, maybe this is the perfect time to PLANT the SEEDS for that. Decide what type of business you want to start that fits in with the rest of your goals in life. In entrepreneurial finance, the term “lifestyle business” is used to define a business that will also allow you to have a normal life. And, we’re all for that! Start researching the industry you’re thinking about entering, and the companies that might be your competition. Then think about what you would need to do to put together a kick-butt business plan.

    SEED that need and get yourself in full BLOOM!

 

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

northeaster us mapIn the last few years I enjoyed leading 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 executives, 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, 2015. 

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.  

 

 

 

$1,750 or $175,000-Plus – Questions to consider for your own reinvention in 2014

cap and diplomaAs so many of us think about new year’s resolutions to make, many mature professionals consider going back to school to get professional training or expand areas of their intellects that intrigue them. I’m all for that, if you have the time and money to pursue something that will benefit you – financially, emotionally, physically, whatever your motivation.

It so happens that in my business consulting work and the workshops I produce for executives in transition, the most-asked question I get is should I go back and if so, should I pursue an MBA. I’m asked that one a lot because I earned my MBA in mid-career, and over the age of 50. I had a specific goal and plan in mind, and it worked for me.

mba biz cardThe MBA is a hotly discussed degree, for anyone over 21 and up. However, the dollar amounts above, in the title, are not salaries or billable-hour rates but rather tuition ranges for one course – for example, a marketing course at NYU, and the going rate for a two-year Executive MBA program at a top school. So, considering that the costs of earning an MBA today are climbing steadily, executives over 40 need to consider whether the investment in an MBA will be worth it in the long run.

Add to that question, the increasing number of MBAs who are jobless, “aged-out” of the workforce, or under-employed, and the question of whether an MBA is necessary for entrepreneurs is the new twist on what has become the business world’s favorite conundrum: good investment or waste of precious time and money?

Following is a NY Times article that is one of the best I’ve seen on the topic. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get into Stanford or Harvard. Read the piece and decide for yourself, and share your thoughts.

Click here to read NYTimes.com: Assessing Whether Entrepreneurs Should Get M.B.A.’s

 

 

 

Part 3: To Plan B, From Point A. 3 Inspiring Stories!

Here is Part Three in a series of blogs featuring three amazing women.

The first featured Jan Mercer Dahms, the founder of image consulting and brand experience management company: JanMercerDahms.com. Read the blog here

The second blog, from last week, featured Christi Scofield, President and Founder of Ice Breaker Entertainment: www.icebreakerentertainment.com. This is a highly successful (and fun!) consumer products company selling books, games, school supplies, t-shirts, iPhone apps, and more. Read the blog here

A recent networking event held in New York City, and hosted by Jan Mercer Dahms, perfectly captured its theme and promise of inspiring women who want to get “From Point A to Plan B.” The event featured three of my new favorite inspiring women entrepreneurs, all of whom DARE beyond what’s expected of them, and not one of them comes off as “super-woman.”

What they do possess is tremendous DRIVE; they work hard to ADVANCE their plans – and to refresh or reboot when necessary; they want to RULE their platforms, in the most productive and constructive way possible; and they are all at a point in their lives where they want to EXPRESS their experience and expertise.

Enjoy a snapshot of each woman’s story and be inspired!

gurjot3) Gurjot Sidhu: http://www.gurjotnewyork.com, is an upscale clothing firm whose CEO, GurjotSidhu, was a management consultant in one of the top tier firms.

Management consultant-turned-fashion designer, GurjotSidhu recognized first-hand the need for high-quality, conservative and comfortable business wear for women executives. Women who work in consulting run very long hours, and have to look as fresh at an important client dinner as they did on the early morning flight that took them there two time zones ago.

Gurjot designs lines of custom business attire for women that, while stylish, speak of gravitas and professionalism without smacking of old-style 80s power suits. Rather, her designs are flattering without being revealing, and conservative without the boxy look that so many of us remember. While polished and buttoned-up for the boardroom, they are also conducive to long business travel, given her use of the highest quality, natural, breathable fabrics.

Originally from Chicago, Gurjot received her MBA from the University of Chicago, before her successful career in management consulting for the retail, tech, and banking industries. But Gurjot’s lifelong fashion-passion (she studied at the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology in New York) led her to her current path. Combining her talents, skills, and passion, her clothing line is fashion created FOR a businesswoman, BY a businesswoman.

Just as with Christi Scofield, what I love about Gurjot is her refreshing candor, especially given her experience and expertise in two fields – management consulting and fashion – that are not known for their, shall we say, “warm and friendly” cultures. What’s more she shared some of the many challenges she experienced as a wife and mother as she made the decision to pursue fashion design instead of continuing with what many would consider a high-powered career in management consulting. She said that even telling her friends in the suburbs that she was going into New York to attend F.I.T. was a challenge! Wow – Gurjot is just the kind of friend any woman – in business or other worthwhile pursuit – would be lucky to have.

Check out GurjotNewYork.com

Part 2: To Plan B, From Point A. 3 Inspiring Stories!

Here is Part Two in a series of blogs featuring three amazing women. The first, from last week, featured Jan Mercer Dahms, the founder of image consulting and brand experience management company: JanMercerDahms.com.

A recent networking event held in New York City, and hosted by Jan, perfectly captured its theme and promise of inspiring women who want to get “From Point A to Plan B.” The event featured three of my new favorite inspiring women entrepreneurs, all of whom DARE beyond what’s expected of them, and not one of them comes off as “super-woman.”

What they do possess is tremendous DRIVE; they work hard to ADVANCE their plans – and to refresh or reboot when necessary; they want to RULE their platforms, in the most productive and constructive way possible; and they are all at a point in their lives where they want to EXPRESS their experience and expertise.

christi scofieldEnjoy a snapshot of each woman’s story and be inspired!

2) Christi Scofield, President and Founder, Ice Breaker Entertainment. On any given day, at any hour, or especially if you’re having a really bad day- run, don’t walk, to Christi Scofield’s website. Between your hooting and hollering with joy at all the hilarious things to buy, try and contain your envy and admiration for this boundlessly cheery entrepreneur’s whimsy and wisdom. Just because she founded a company I only wish I could have started – if I had her charm, tenacity and sense of humor – is something I got over quickly. Not only is it fun, but it is brilliant! And, so is she.

One evening after a long day of skiing, Christi decided there just wasn’t a good board game to keep her and her friends amused for the evening, so she just decided to develop her own! “Sexy Slang” was born, along with the company she founded, “Icebreaker Entertainment.” The company’s mission is to make high-quality products that will make people laugh and be the hit of the party. Christi held on to her day job in technology sales at HP while developing and testing the game with family and friends.

When the “Sexy Slang” board game took off, she expanded into clothing, taking some of the board game terms and recreating them on t-shirts. Christi’s creative entrepreneurial brain went on to develop products with double-entendres such as notebooks called “Eye Candy” and “Talk Nerdy To Me” and t-shirts with a “Stud Muffin” design that even the most curmudgeonly guy would have to love.

Her company grew from a single board game to a highly successful consumer products company selling books, games, school supplies, t-shirts, iPhone apps, and more. Her products have made it onto the shelves of several large retailers, among them: Kohl’s, Sears, Spencer Gifts, and Walmart, in addition to smaller retail shops. This is an amazing testament in an industry that is notoriously hard on suppliers and where the competition for shelf space is extremely tight. Definitely her own t-shirt should read, “Not your average smart cookie.”

What I love about Christi is her complete and utter candor about what she worries about relative to running and growing her business. Many entrepreneurs speak to how much fun they’re having working IN their business, as does Christi, but she is also rightly focused on working ON her business – the strategy, operations, marketing and finance aspects of it that will help it thrive if the fun ever wears off. Although she too earned an MBA, she is refreshing in that she admits she may not have all the answers, but she doggedly pursues the big questions. A good idea, even for women who don’t aspire to be entrepreneurs.

To Plan B, From Point A. 3 Inspiring Stories of Over-40 Entrepreneurs!

A recent networking event held in New York City perfectly captured its theme and promise of inspiring women who want to get “From Point A to Plan B.” The event featured three of my new favorite, inspiring, over-40 women entrepreneurs, all of whom DARE beyond what’s expected of them, and not one of them comes off as “super-woman.”

What they do possess is tremendous DRIVE; they work hard to ADVANCE their plans – and to refresh or reboot when necessary; they want to RULE their platforms, in the most productive and constructive way possible; and they are all at a point in their lives where they want to EXPRESS their experience and expertise.

Here is the first in a series of blogs featuring three amazing women.

Enjoy a snapshot of each woman’s story and be inspired!

jan mercer dahms1) Jan Mercer Dahms: Founder of image consulting and brand experience management company: JanMercerDahms.com

The host of the “From Point A to Plan B” event,  Jan Mercer Dahms, has been bringing together women in various venues in Manhattan over the past year, through her national networking group for successful executive women, known as“6-Figures – Professional Women. Her generosity in sharing her experience and expertise as a nonprofit executive is as powerful as her drive in planning and staging her events. Jan also happens to be the very busy CFO of International Planned Parenthood.

Wearing multiple hats at the same time seems perfect for her. As she puts it, “it keeps the creative juices flowing freely.” Entrepreneurial through and through, her career has spanned fashion, cosmetics, dermatological pharmaceuticals, media, and education. With an MBA in International Business, Jan has held executive-level finance positions, including leadership positions for organizations such as Teach For America and Medicis Pharma. In 2010, she launched Jan Mercer Dahms & Co.

What I love about Jan is her enthusiasm about her work as a cause, one that brings together like-minded motivated women who share their challenges as well as triumphs in the world of work. I know this because I practically monopolized her at another event recently, asking her dozens of questions regarding a nonprofit that I am interested in. Jan patiently answered all of them, and then some. I also learned that she is originally from Nebraska, and since the Midwest has always been the bastion of courteous and kind personalities, then Jan Mercer Dahms should be its official ambassador!

For more information about Jan Mercer Dahms, click here

Stay tuned for Part Two coming soon!

I will be featuring:

Christi Scofield, President and Founder, Ice Breaker Entertainment: www.icebreakerentertainment.com, a highly successful consumer products company selling books, games, school supplies, t-shirts, iPhone apps, and more.

AND

Gurjot Sidhu, CEO and founder of Gurjot NewYork: www.gurjotnewyork.com, an upscale clothing firm for women.

 

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