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.

 

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.

 

 

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

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.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Over 40? Go Back to School!

classroom picGoing back to school to get my MBA from NYU was truly one of the best things I ever did. With the global demand for higher levels of skills and education, adults are re-enrolling in college campuses across the nation and online. The stats are convincing:[1] 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. So a college degree looks more and more a necessity and a good investment.

You think, go back to school- not at my age! But by going back, you’d be one of huge numbers: recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education[2] are revealing that adult students are now the fastest growing demographic in the educational arena, with those numbers increasing steadily.

Baby Boomers know they will be living longer, and demand more from their lives. They want fulfillment, not just a job. More women aged 55 to 79 are deciding what they want to do in their next years. 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 pursuing new career ideas, found new businesses, and create their lifelong dreams.

Go back to school!

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

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

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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.