Power Station: It’s Time to Rewire, Reboot and Resurge!

If that’s your urge, then take time, take stock and take care. Then, take action.

Are you energized about learning and doing something new and exciting with every coming year since you’ve begun your career?

Whether your response is a yelping “Yes!” a tentative “Well, maybe” or an anxious “Not really, but I know I have to, in some way at some point in the second half of your life, you will experience the natural desire or face a compelling need to rewire, reboot and resurge. The economic realities of this century have eliminated the option of “No way” for most of us, because we will be working for longer than we ever thought. For most people that alone is “new and different.”

It’s not as impossible or untenable as it might seem. Whatever “camp” you’re in, I have good news for you: a rewire, reboot and resurge will absolutely power your life for the better. Just who am I to talk? In my early fifties, I was firmly in the “Yes!” camp of doing something new and different than my long career in marketing, only to embark on a series of soul-wrenching and workaholic career moves that challenged my overall physical, emotional and financial health. The experiences almost led me to believe that I couldn’t overcome even minor setbacks, let alone deal with bona fide crises. Making those career moves taught me a lot about resilience.

My resurge began in 2007, when I enrolled at New York University’s Stern School of Business to earn an MBA at age 55, graduating two years later, on my 57th birthday. Armed with extensive research I conducted while in business school, I started writing a book on how visionary, intelligent and motivated individuals over 40 drive and advance successful organizations, their careers, and their own personal development – despite the fact that many stereotypes cast midlife professionals as “over the hill” or “landing on a short runway.” Business school taught me how effective leaders get the right things done, not just by doing things better, but doing better things. Not coincidentally, I expanded my consulting practice to help other motivated individuals rewire, reboot and resurge. In the process, I’ve met and learned even more from other bold, brave people who are accomplishing more in the second half of their lives than they thought possible – even after great adversity.

Rebooting and resurging in midlife is necessary regardless of your calling, goals, stages, challenges, or roles – past or present. Whether managers or machinists; teachers or technicians; surgeons or salespersons; the fact is that all of us are CEOs – managers of our own lives. In carrying out our own mission and vision, we have much to learn from adapting sound business principles of good strategy (being effective), disciplined operations (being efficient with resources, especially time) and inspired leadership (managing ourselves and motivating others). We are all CEOs – with the “E” standing for enlightened, enriched and empowered.

Feeling the urge to rewire, reboot and resurge? Thinking “maybe”? Still in the “no way” camp?

Here are three Power Lines to get you going!

1. ) Whether your response is “Yesssss,” “maybe,” or “not really, but I know I have to,” you very well may experience a desire to do something different in the second half of your life. It requires taking the time to be thoughtful in figuring out what you really want; taking stock, so you lead with your strengths; and taking care, so you don’t compromise any aspects of your health. Then, develop an action plan to accomplish concrete goals and execute within a sensible timetable.

2. ) Figure out which “station” you’re in before you set a destination or route (i.e. your “strategy” for getting there). Here’s how:

If you answered “yes” and are looking forward to a new career, hobby, relocation, etc., but are not exactly sure what or how, then you’re ready for a first-class ticket on the rewired-not-expired express. You’re in good company: millions of people are determined to mash the myths, slam the stereotypes and bash the biases that older people are “winding down.” Yay, you!

Your route/strategy: Focus on what you really want, figure out what or who is keeping you from getting there, and whether it’s your own diversions, distractions, or other time management issues that are stalling you. Then write down all the things you want to do – in the next five years, one year, six months, all the way down to the current month, week, day and even hours. It doesn’t mean you become a robotic efficiency slave; but, without plans and to-lists, the unimportant “dandruff” in your life (emails, Facebook, Internet overload) will consume you, and you’ll have no time or energy left for what will get you ahead. Focus on “a-head” and get the “dandruff” under control!

road closedIf your replies were more tentative “maybes,” today there’s an abundance of “maps” – reputable information, sound research, and credible advice about why it’s beneficial to start something new and different, and how to deal with roadblocks. Many people who can’t or won’t get going on something new and different focus too much on their weaknesses and external obstacles. Laser in on your strengths – what you do well that you actually like to do. Strengths help you maximize opportunities.

Your route/strategy: Think about whether the pursuits you’re engaged in now are holdovers from the first half of your life. If you’ve already accomplished those earlier goals, then you really need to consider new pursuits. Either you regenerate, or you stagnate! Whether your new pursuits focus on personal goals, career transition, hobbies or community service, always be developing new ways to utilize your brain and maintain your physical health. The more you do physically, the better your brain performs, and a positive mindset accelerates exercise benefits, leading to more energy and more power over your choices.

If your reaction to rewiring, rebooting and resurging veer into the “no way but I really have no choice” zone, for you I have a special affinity and empathy. In this economy, financial and health challenges seem insurmountable. In fact, if you have to go back to work for the first time in many years, or you need to start work in a new career, new industry or new city, then it’s understandable that you’re stressing out. If you’re dealing with divorce, the death or prolonged illness of a spouse or partner, or your own illness, and the financial challenges of all these stressors, then you’re definitely overloaded. You may be too over-committed to sort out all the things you feel you have to do, let alone pursue new and different things you’d like to do.

Your route/strategy: You are the very person who needs not to rush into anything without first making a concerted commitment to build in private time to take care of yourself, so you also figure out what you really need and want, and what resources you need to help you. You have to make the time and effort to eat right and fit in exercise, even if it’s a short walk. You have to pay careful attention to your finances. Carve out quiet time, to journal, read, jot notes on index cards or on your smart-phone, meditate, pray, get a massage, a manicure or some other respite from your stress. You owe it to yourself and others who rely on you, to take that time. These are all coping mechanisms – for you they may be exactly the new and different things you need the most.

3. ) Dare to “arrive” at your final destination: create your own “Power Structure” and “Bottom Line” for the second half of your life. We all know that “power structure” usually refers to hierarchy in an organization. Your life has a hierarchy too – the Before, the Now and the Future. The Now and the Future should rule your own bottom line. Here’s an exercise I use in my workshops. Using one sheet of 8½ X 11 sheet of paper and a pen (computers and pencils make you think too hard and edit too much), write the following:

— a. Top half: Write ONE (1) sentence about what you dreamed, desired and were good at as a child (ages 10-18);

— b. In the same half: write ONE more sentence: what you dreamed, desired, achieved and were good between the ages of 20 and 40;

— c. In the bottom half and back of the page, write as much as you want on: 1) Your vision of the “perfect life” – when you look back in your 80s and 90s; 2) What you’re dealing with now that is keeping you from that perfect vision; 3) What you think you need to power up in your life – i.e., to rewire and reboot – so you can resurge and drive that vision to reality.

That exercise alone can help you see the many strengths you have and appreciate the opportunities before you, so you get going on your action plan.

Rewiring, rebooting and resurging help us to explore, examine and expand – creating new ideas, new insights, new solutions and new horizons. What energizes me is that the alternate route – to assume that I’ve “had a good run but now I’m ‘done'” – is so demoralizing I can’t even think about stopping now. Most likely, neither can you.

Yes? Maybe? No? Here’s what you need to believe: The power is yours. Use it or lose it. You are your own power station, in control of your own power structure. You are the only one who can take stock, take action and take charge of the rest of your life. You are the only one who can take care of your health, by making time to think, pray, read for inspiration, meditate, exercise and eat right. And, you are the only one who can take concerted action to make a plan, set concrete goals, get rid of the distracting “dandruff” that’s holding you back, access the right resources, stick to a schedule, and advance that plan to make the second half of your life even more powerful than the first.

Think ahead!

Thinking of going back to school, over 40? Just BOOK it! You might love it!

adult ed pic 9 4 2013

An article this week commented that, regardless of one’s age, September signifies the start of a new year more than January does. Ask any student between the ages of three and twenty-two!

Students much older than children are returning to school – now, more than ever. Are you one of them?

As you put away those beach books, or simply cannot put down that beach book you haven’t finished yet, Labor Day swings past, and you can’t help but pay more attention to the Education stories in the media, not to mention the endless back-to-school promotions. If you aren’t interested in school for reasons other than those concerning your children, that’s perfectly fine, of course.

If you in fact are considering returning to school, good for you! Whether you’re pursuing a degree or just taking a course (or six!) in a subject you’re passionate about or want for your career or personal development, going back to school over 40 is definitelydaring but shouldn’t be daunting!

adult ed pic two 9 4 2013Diving back into education after working for more than 30 years was truly one of the best things I ever did. I went back after a series of unsatisfying career moves, where I had landed what seemed very attractive leadership positions with organizations whose cultural norms and values were very unlike what I had experienced in my twenty years as a managing director with global marketing services firms.

Committed to learn from the MBA coursework everything I could about truly effective leadership, no matter the organization or sector, I ended up also loving the finance courses. Ultimately, I earned my MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business, with a concentration in both Finance and Leadership.

When we were kids, returning to school as an adult was either very unconventional or something that immigrants did to study English. But that has all changed. You think, go back to school – not at my age! But, think again! You’d be in great company if you did! In fact, you’d be one of huge numbers: recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education[1] are revealing that adult students are now the fastest growing demographic in the educational arena, with those numbers increasing steadily. Statistics compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics show a whopping 42 percent increase in college students age 25 and older from 2000-2013. And they project that between 2010 and 2019 there will be a 23 percent increase in the enrollment of college students 25 and over. [2]

A college degree looks more and more a necessity and a good investment. There is a lot of evidence that more education is becoming not a luxury, but a necessity. The stats are convincing:[3] studies are showing that 75% of future jobs will most likely need some type of certification or licensure, and those professions that demand a BS or BA will grow 50% faster than the national average.

More women aged 55 to 79 are deciding not only what they want to do in their second half, but that they want to continue learning in some formal way. A report from The American Council on Education, entitled, Framing New Terrain: Older Adults & Higher Education, shows that with older adults returning to college in record numbers, they are daring to pursue new career ideas, found new businesses, and create their lifelong dreams.

No one’s saying you have to put away the beach books forever, but consider varying your reading material. Just as the advice that we must “never wear white after Labor Day” is outdated, so is the notion that school is out of the question after a “certain” age. If I can learn to love studying corporate finance in my fifties, then almost anyone can pursue any interest at all – and at all price points, at any time of the day or night, online or in person. All you have to do is get beyond your comfort zone a little bit and just go DARE.

 

1) http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/focus_archive/Focus_Fall_2009.pdf

2) http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/adulted/index.asp

3) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/visualnewscom/going-back-to-school-as-a_b_3438434.html

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.