Taking Care of Business – 21st Century Style

file221263244327Following are some keen gleanings, amusing musings, and plain common sense for mature professionals who get a lot done – with and for other people, taking care of themselves, their teams and their businesses. These are culled from workshops I’ve run recently for mature professionals, classroom exchanges I’ve had with business students in various universities, and “heard on the street” revelations that surprise even someone more over 40 than I want to admit!

1) In today’s workplace, karma is as karma does. If your default leadership mode now that you’re a seasoned professional is to be all dictatorial diva and command-and-control queen, then you’re practicing the outmoded, discredited management principles of the 19th century.  What worked in the factory-driven Industrial Revolution (or in The Devil Wears Prada) is negatively Neanderthal in this environment of self-actualization and self-driven career professionals. Team disenchantment that’s allowed to fester leads to massive defections, operations challenges, and external backlash. If you’re “that guy,” keep in mind this commonsense advice from a variety of leadership experts:

  1. a) Learn to analyze complex team situations – because no one management theory works for all employees in all industries or companies.
  2. b) Develop a broad repertoire of behaviors and knowledge about when to use them – focusing on optimizing your team’s strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.
  3. c) Develop the self-control and self-discipline to go beyond your natural leadership style and adapt to a rapidly changing environment – not everything is a “turnaround” situation. 

harvard bus review2) Learn how to manage yourself, and manage how you learn, before you can hope to manage others – including the leaders to whom you report. A classic Peter Drucker article about how we learn is even more relevant today than when it was published 15 years ago in the Harvard Business Review. I assign it to students as well as mature professionals, because Drucker demonstrates:

a) your preferred ways of learning drive whether you consume and process information efficiently and effectively;
b) you take subsequent actions based on how you learn, and therefore, what you think you know;
c) those actions govern the responses you’re likely to receive (pro and con) from your direct reports as well as your own management;
d) if you’re not learning anymore, it means you’re bored, and if you’re bored, your job is on the line.

3) Should leaders focus on frenetic output and efficiency no matter the company or situation? Or, should they build in time for thoughtful consideration, reflection and resetting of strategies, desired outcomes and potential impacts? Recent media stories skew bipolar for both sides:

social media logosa) The camp that says we’re battling insomnia because we’re multi-tasking, pinging, Tweeting, Linking, Facing, and Pinteresting well beyond reasonable latte hours – BUT we ALL should be getting a “minimum” of seven hours of sleep. Here, please note that mattress manufacturers, sleep app marketers and pharmaceutical companies create a lot of this “reportage” because they’re only too happy to push worry and “remedies” to those of us who sleep six or fewer hours a night, and we do just fine without new mattresses, rain simulators or sleep drugs.

sleepb) The camp that loves the cliché that “Sleep is vastly overrated.” That cliché should be relegated to the Industrial Revolution and its outmoded factory management techniques, in any case. Its proselytizers are supposed gurus of how to get more done, all of it!, most of it!, work!, play! – in four or fewer hours a week, supposedly with games, virtual assistants, and gargantuan gulps of 20-ounce cups of Coke. Phew – who has time to dump all that Coke, let alone sleep!

c) Try this instead – the antidote to all this frenzy! Tony Schwartz’s Life@Work column that ran on Valentine’s Day in the New York Times, extolled the virtues of purposely building in time in our day to be offline, rather than off and running, unless you’re using that run as time to think and reflect. That kind of deep, insightful, refreshing, brain-cleansing reflection focuses us on several important priorities: 1) what we truly need and want to accomplish, 2) when such activity really needs to be done, and – 3) here’s the wakeup call for many of us who think we’re indispensable – does it absolutely, positively, need to be done by YOU? Read the article

If you’re a mature, professional leader and you’ve been “taking care of business – and working overtime,” remember that song was recorded back in the 1970s – even if it did briefly surface again in the 1990s! Wake up, it’s a new century! Time to give some deep thought to your default management style, its impact on your team and your management, and whether you need to be offline thinking more than you’re overtime working.

 

You’re Never Too Young or Too Old to Get a Sponsor – Part 2

The critical contrast between MENTORS and SPONSORS is that the latter can be actual drivers of your career decisions and future mobility – and they put themselves on the line for you. Your Mentor(s) may also do that, but once they do, they’ve actually become your SPONSOR. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from SPONSOR:

  1. Championing you for an internal promotion or similar career-advancing opportunity (such as a high-visibility conference) that you would not have heard of otherwise, or for which you are one of many candidates;
  2. Sharing with you pending industry or company news that s/he has access to before it becomes public, news that could directly affect you;
  3. Putting your name forward as an ideal candidate for a prime position at a firm where you don’t have connections – and/or calling in favors with hiring managers and other powerful people who owe them favors;
  4. Making a compelling case for your hire to a fellow senior-level executive, going so far as to convince the executive to create a position just for you.

Furthermore, the guarantor/insurer benefit SPONSORS provide is not only to you and for you, but to and for the individual to whom they are championing your strengths. Their SPONSORSHIP of you has to demonstrate benefits to all the parties involved, including themselves. A SPONSOR is literally staking her or his reputation on you.

In that vein here are several important things to consider regarding what SPONSORS expect from you:

  1. An accurate view of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and that you can lead with your strengths to minimize threats. Know and articulate your competitive advantages, as the SPONSOR needs a compelling reason to advocate for you. Likewise, be prepared that a SPONSOR will (and should) vet you thoroughly before they agree to serve as your SPONSOR.
  2. A clear mission and vision of your career path and the SPONSOR’S role. This means you have researched your SPONSOR thoroughly – personal, career, charitable contributions, etc. – and you know what his/her priorities are. That way, you can easily answer not only the why-them question but, more importantly, the what’s-in-it-for-them questions they will have, and their expectations of you.
  3. A clearly articulated “ask.” Mentor relationships usually have ebbs and flows, allow for brainstorms and quasi-therapy interactions. SPONSOR engagements tend to be more transactional and specific to the situation, company, job, executive or other opportunity.
  4. Respect for their time and efforts. While this is where the needs of Mentors and SPONSORS are very similar, Mentors often forgive their mentees’ manners and may even forget past lapses. In comparison, if you disappoint, disrespect or embarrass a SPONSOR, there are usually many more negative consequences.

woman headphoneOur final, positive note on Mentors and SPONSORS: The power of please, thank you and an explicit recognition of the gravity that Mentors as well as SPONSORS confer on your behalf cannot be over-emphasized. In the uber-connected, 24/7 social media ecosystem, proper business etiquette is more important than ever – whether you’re gainfully employed, seeking a transition, or trying to build and sustain your client base.

 

You’re Never Too Young or Too Old to Get a Sponsor – Part 1

people meeting 5 20 13From clients as well as students, I field a lot of questions about the importance of having a career SPONSOR, specifically:

1) The role of SPONSORS vs. Mentors
2) How to find a SPONSOR
3) What to expect from a SPONSOR
4) What SPONSORS expect from you.

Those are all questions that serve the mentee or sponsored individual much more so than the Mentor or SPONSOR. Each role has very often different parameters, benefits and expectations.

mentorThis blog deals with the role of SPONSORS vs. Mentors; and how to find a SPONSOR. Part 2 will address what to expect from SPONSORS and what SPONSORS expect from you.

Mentors are usually informal advisors and counselors, perhaps your supervisors, teachers, colleagues or even – and most especially for mature professionals – former direct reports you trust. “Mentor” comes from the Greek guide who helped Odysseus on his legendary journey; therefore there’s both an implication and an inference of altruism. Don’t ignore or neglect to maintain good relationships with younger professionals you helped early in your career, as they may be in good positions to help you later…as Mentors or SPONSORS.

Typical roles of Mentors:

  • …provide guidance, opinion and perhaps difficult to obtain information and introductions that could be useful for your job or career.
  • …are good sounding boards that can help steer you as you refine your goals, consider your options and develop an action plan.
  • …can be short-term or long-term advisors, and they usually get satisfaction from the fact that their wisdom, experience and expertise are valued.

A SPONSOR, on the other hand, is someone in usually a more elevated position of power or influence, with crucial connections. The SPONSOR is a guarantor, patron and ambassador of your strengths, motivations, knowledge and aptitudes – an advocate for you to someone with whom they have a strong reciprocal relationship, often one of “quid pro quo.” SPONSORS open doors to places that other people don’t even know exist, and they have levers others may only suspect, wish for, or deny exist. In many cases, the SPONSOR acts as a protector and defender – hence, the most literal defining characteristic of an advocate.

Mentors and SPONSORS can be the same people, and I have served in both capacities. Mentors are slightly easier to cultivate and engage. The SPONSOR relationship is a different construct, and involves considerable more work and responsibility, depending on the environment and your goals.

Here are a few tips on how to find a SPONSOR, depending on your goals:

  1. Internal advancement: Volunteer to contribute to important task forces and committees whose leaders are executives of considerable power, influence and connections. Many SPONSORS pick the people they think will be stars in the organization, and champion them accordingly.
  2. External visibility, advancement, job hunting: Join at least three professional organizations where you can assume active committee roles that will increase your visibility and enhance your capacity to engage influential executives with the power and inclination to SPONSOR you – for your next job, promotion, etc. This includes becoming active as a volunteer or board member for a nonprofit that you respect and whose leadership you admire.
  3. Prospect Cultivation, Solicitation and Client Engagement. Serving on professional organizations’ committees is crucial for executives who work in consulting as SPONSORS can recommend them to clients. SPONSORS alert consultants to account movement so they can gain entrée to new business before other firms do. Consultants have to be extremely good at what they do, as referrals and other testimonials are prime SPONSOR currency.

Start Something New with Expert Help!

rutland logo 2As the VP of Strategic Initiatives for a small and thriving college in Vermont (www.csj.edu), I have the privilege of working with so many talented individuals who care about providing a quality education for a diverse student body. Many of our students are learning for the love of learning, as well as learning to maximize their best and highest talents in their lives and careers. Part of my job entails teaching MBA candidates, and I am always energized by the Saturday cohorts, who brave the prospect of an 8-hour “sit” – as we call it – for four solid weekends. Their goal is to become better business leaders while juggling their busy lives. (Vermont has thriving businesses, which have demands as tough and rigorous as other areas of the country that are undergoing economic upheaval.)

Starting something new is scary for some, invigorating for others. One of my students this semester is a young athlete who Started out in sports management, but realized that he wanted overall business leadership development. Another was a psychology major who realized he wants to contribute his empathic skills to helping managers work more effectively with colleagues, peers and direct reports. And still another is a more mature student, who held back tears of pride as she indicated she was Starting her MBA because she wanted to be a role model to her adult children.

All of these mature learners, who comprise one of the fastest growing segments in higher education, are braving the courage to Start something new – regardless of how scary, how uncertain, how much time it might take.

Are you longing to Start something new, but feeling blocked, fearful, unsure? Starting something new is can be anxiety-inducing. Believe me, I know!

Before I decided to spend more than the GNP of a third-world nation to pursue an MBA in my 50s (and suffer the terror of sitting in finance classes feeling as if I’d crashed a secret coven where everyone was interrogating me in Satanic dialects), I too DARED to Start something else.

The sight of the World Trade Center falling in front of my eyes led me to conclude that 20 years spent promoting soap and cereal for global marketing services firms was enough, and that it was time to do Something Important! Fast-forward three years and three not really important jobs: turns out, every one of those moves was a False Start.

But those experiences, though excruciating, were so beneficial. Here are just a few of the books that have helped me and other women over 40 Start something new. Not a definitive list, but it’s a Start.

  • The Breaking Point: How Female Midlife Crisis is Transforming Today’s Women, by Sue Shellenbarger. The Wall Street Journal career columnist illuminates through anecdotes and excellent reporting, the many types of work, avocations and fun that women have Started after they hit 40.
  • A Whole New Mind, by Daniel H. Pink. Full of ideas to think differently, explore all types of intelligence (artistic, physical, etc.) to innovate, pursue meaningful work, and stay relevant.
  • I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was, by Barbara Sher. One of the best, most honest books on helping you visualize your “perfect life” – delivered in an empathic, amusing style.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Exercises to plumb your deepest needs and how to tap into your unconscious for ideas your editing mind won’t allow.
  • Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall. Promises to make you 500% more creative – from a marketing guru who creates products and campaigns that convince us to try, buy and stay loyal to stuff we never even knew we needed let alone wanted.
  • AHA! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas, by Jordan Ayan. Not just 10 ways, but thousands! Has unstuck even the most tenacious, stubborn, blank, fearful minds.
  • Write It Down, Make It Happen, by Henriette Ann Klauser. A free-association guide, with prompts, questions and lists to encourage you to think differently, identify goals and aspirations, and, yes, make them happen.
  • Second Acts, by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine, attorney and author/collaborator. Guides you through what they call “sources of dissatisfaction” so you arrive at your personal hopes and dreams.
  • Six-Week Start Up, by Rhonda Abrams. An easy-to-complete workbook for launching a new venture, whether a business, nonprofit or other creative endeavor, especially if you don’t have the time or inclination to pour thousands of dollars into B-school, psychotherapy, or other forms of long-term torture.

 

 

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

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 recent 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 an extremely creditable Amazon affiliate, Create Space. 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.

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.

 

Are You Suffering from Deadline Dandruff? Here’s How to MAKE SOME HEADWAY!

deadlines clockAre you procrastinating? Most mature professionals are juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, and often fear or resist tackling something out of their comfort zone. The reason, subconscious or otherwise, is that they think, after that’s done, well, then what? Or, they postpone finishing up a project or relationship or other endeavor because their daily lives demand it. For them, it’s other people’s priorities that drive them.

Other women turn prioritizing, organizing and meeting deadlines into a science; still others know it’s closer to an art. Even then, their to-do lists are filled with what amounts to “deadline dandruff” rather than actual “Big Deal” accomplishments that help them move forward toward a significant goal. So, what have they actually accomplished – except to knock some deadline dandruff off their minds, without actually making any – pardon the pun – HEADWAY.

But there comes a point in our lives or schedules or to-do lists that we realize it’s later than we think. It’s now or never. If not now, then when? One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, writes in his kick-ass book called Linchpin that at some point you have to be content with “good enough,” and moving quickly to get the mundane things on your to-do list out of the way, off the list, done, and done.

Godin calls it “SHIPPING” – as in, get it out the door! On the other hand, SHIPPING is hard. SHIPPING means you’re acknowledging that you have only so much time in your life to perfect the project, or resuscitate the relationship, or primp up the place before you have to declare it whipped, zipped and shipped. We all tend to seek out something to tackle that will soothe or entertain our frazzled nerves right now, because it’s so much easier than doggedly completing a really critical task or a long overdue project that will deliver actual benefits.

So, go ahead, Ship it! Schedule it, work on it, get it done. Whip it! Zip it! Ship it! Stop procrastinating! This will help:

1) Create a to-do list that has a BIG-THREE, MUST-DO-TODAY mandate. This may seem like “duh.” But limiting yourself to those BIG-THREE, MUST-DO-TODAY on some days, helps you prioritize what’s really critical. Even if those BIG-THREE items have multiple parts, just getting past those smaller hurdles will help you conquer the BIG THREE. But remember, writing it down is important, but merely writing it down WON’T MAKE IT HAPPEN. We have to actually take action and do that thing that’s long overdue. Recent studies are showing that writing things down and telling people you’re “doing that” can actually delude us into thinking we’ve actually DONE IT – and we know the truth. It doesn’t get done until you get it done – or SHIPPED!

2) Do the hard one first. Tackle that biggest looming item first. It will give you a boost, (and a sense of relief) which will help you finish the other jobs more easily.

deadlines eat that frogBrian Tracey calls this “Eating the Frog.” Check out his book, Eat That Frog, 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. He doesn’t delve too deeply into the psychological whys and wherefores of procrastination, but goes straight to the “do” heart of the matter. In clear and concise terms he instructs you to tackle your “frog,” that one task that will lend the greatest results first. Eating that biggest, ugliest frog on your to do list each morning can greatly increase your sense of accomplishment. This book is an easy read, and it might be a good one to read before going to sleep, since that supposedly aids in moving your unconscious self to action.

3) Do 15-minute-drills: Fake yourself out. Just tell yourself, “I will do only 15 minutes on this job, and then I can do something else.” Very often, you get into a groove, lose track of the time, and you find you are still working at it after the 15 minutes is up. But remember, you have to SHIP it by an urgent deadline – imposed by you or someone else.

4) Clear away distractions. Turn off your phone, log OUT of Facebook or Pinterest, try noise-cancelling headphones, and put your novel, i-pod, or whatever, in another room.

5) Let go of perfectionism. Don’t wait for the “right” time, or the “right” piece of software before you can complete the job. Remember, Voltaire said, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Aim for excellent, not perfect.

6) Promise yourself a reward: A treat you can look forward to will provide
some additional incentive to get the job done. Or tell yourself you can’t have
that Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate until you have completed the task;
negative reinforcement sometimes works as well!

There are many more helpful ideas in my book, Get DARE from Here™! – 12 Principles and Practices for Women Over 40 to Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest of Their Lives. Here are a few:

1. 90-Day ACTion PLAN: DARE to establish and commit to conscientious habits for achieving your Aims. You need an ACTion plan that requires you to tackle at least one Aim every day that will get your closer to ADVANCE your PLAN, and it is helpful to manage our time in chunks, so we can see three months out.

2. Design your life: Looking back on your life in your 80s or 90s, what would you like your life to look like? How can you make changes today so that Design is enacted?

3. Know your three most important Aims you have for your life, career, and community. What do you need to do to enhance your ideal Design?

4. Identify three ACTS toward any of those Aims that you could start in the next three months, and the resources you will Access & Approach to help you. 90-day plans, why they help manage chunks of our time so we see three months out.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


© 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.

 

 

 

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 Hunters Over 40: Time to get past the long, cold winter of discontent

Job Hunters: How to Spring Forward, Make Rain Happen!

men joggingAs we hope and wait for a reasonable weather pattern that actually looks as if it somehow reflects the fact that it’s March, many over-40 executives in transition between jobs, or those who are employed but job-hunting, have been feeling more overwhelmed, discouraged and listless than ever over the past two months. The postponements or outright cancellations of networking meetings, job interviews, valuable education seminars and the like, caused by one of the worst winters in recent memory, have made even the most tenacious procrastinators hope for some kind of deadline, deliverable, or other indicator that they need to be somewhere, produce something, anything, that will want them to get out of their caves (literal or figurative) without having to suit up as if they’re drilling for oil in Alaska!

So here are just a few suggestions to fire up your motivation for a renewed job hunt or career rejuvenation – with the hopes that you become your own “rainmaker” and thaw out your networking and selling skills along the way. After all, we all know we’ll soon have more reasons for sunscreen that don’t have anything to do with protecting ourselves against the glare of bright white ice crystals on a brutal afternoon jog in 18-below on frosted sidewalks!

  1. business cardSpring is a great time for new business cards, especially if you’re re-starting your networking after a few months indoors. I’m astounded at the number of job hunters who, because they’ve left a company’s employ, don’t carry their own business cards! It doesn’t matter who you were at your former company and what you did, if you don’t have a card that tells prospects who you are now, your expertise and what you’re seeking in your next position, you’re communicating that you are in a “holding pattern” with no contact information for the people you meet who actually want to keep your info handy. Always have business cards with you that demonstrate what you’re looking for next in your career.
  2. Where there’s rain, get covered – a cover letter! Many job hunters over 40 fail to realize that cover letters regarding the specific company’s market position, financial profile or other personalized insights can land them in an “A” pile that makes the resume a secondary priority. State your career objectives in cover letters, comment on specifics, detail clearly why you’re interested in the organization, and then customize your resume accordingly.
  3. The only three questions every resume needs to answer. Does your resume sell your strengths, fit and motivation to the organization you’re pitching? Not customizing your resume to serve the type of opportunity you’re seeking is like writing the same ad copy to sell food, wine or electronics. Customize your resume to the company you’re pitching.
  4. It’s spring, do you know where your mentors and sponsors are? Make sure you know the answer to that question by listing all the people you already know that could help you in your job hunt or career moves. Are they connectors, mentors or sponsors? Connectors can help you access information or introductions. Mentors guide and advise. Sponsors – the most valuable resources – are like your personal agents. Sponsors can be advocates and ambassadors for your candidacy. Identify, research and cultivate at least five sponsors. Work that list, contact them for informational interviews by phone or Skype, and persuade them to introduce you to potential hiring managers or clients.
  5. Do it full time, lose the fool time. Yeah, I know, tough love for job hunters, but if you’re really serious about the hunt, you should be working on it at least 9-to-5 every day, and not by surfing job sites, emailing people who don’t know you and, worse, who don’t care. Instead, use your evening and weekend hours to do research on your priority companies and hiring managers, customize your resume, or draft intro letters to those you want to meet. Your weekdays should be spending in meetings with connectors, influencers and hiring managers, attending the strategic networking events these important resources also attend, and getting involved in organizations (including nonprofits) that can help you fill resume gaps.

umbrellaSo, although it seems we’ve had the worst winter on record, and the polar vortex has all but swallowed up our action plans, it’s time to plant new seeds, get the right gear in place, get out there and do more than pray for rain.

Spring forward, Make rain happen!

 

 

 

 

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