Archive for the ‘Inspirational Living’ Category

Seven reasons boomers are successful in their “next act”

May 24, 2013

Robert N. Butler, M.D., a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and founder of the International Longevity Center-U.S.A., had much to say about how boomers view the contributions they can make to their communities, country and the globe. The stereotypes of us declining in our work and productivity are finally starting to change, all because we have embraced youthfulness and  new goals.

Many boomers are not looking at work as something that ends as they age. As they leave traditional “9 to 5” positions, they are starting and succeeding in businesses throughout America. Here’s why.

We know our purpose and passion.

Starting a “next act” can be our way of following our purpose and passion.

For most boomers, freedom from childbearing and raising children, along with the wisdom gained from decades of working to make ends meet, and the soul-searching of growing older have given us a firm grasp on what we see as important in life. We know what we love to do, and how we prefer to do it. We know what we want, and, more importantly, what we don’t want.

Frank Mack, founder of City Antiques in Roswell, Georgia loves running his independent family business out of a 15,000 square foot retail space, with a 3000 square foot warehouse. Everyone knows he has a passion for finding furniture, antiquities and antique books. “I love  recycling, re-purposing and re-loving antique finds for use once again. I left the corporate environment and found my next act in this creative business.”

Vikie Barbos, 60, founder and CEO of the three “Tuscan” assisted living homes in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, Arizona, found her perfect purpose in eldercare.

When families bring an aging relative to her homes, they are invariably shellshocked from caretaking, and the seniors themselves wonder what their futures hold. “They look at me and ask, ‘Do you really think you can help me?’ I promise them I will give the help they need, no matter what time of day or night.”

We know the meaning of value and value-added.

We’re savvy, educated consumers and professionals who demand value in our own lives and want it for our clients. We’ve negotiated and purchased multiple homes, cars, furnishings and kids’ educations. We know value when we see it.

Susan Howington, 55, started Power Connections Executive Coaching, Leadership and Outplacement Service when she was in her own transitional period. At 55, she brings to the country a new paradigm in helping professionals in job search and career management.

The most valuable service she and her team renders is about making connections. “It’s how most jobs are found. That’s definitely our value-add.”

Power Connections provides individually customized person-to person programs. “We want to see and get to know each person, and start tailoring their search process wherever they are,” she says.

In addition, Howington and her team help working and nonworking professionals define their brands and manage their careers through workshops and globally recognized tools such as Harrison Assessment Talent Solutions products.

We’re redefining “youthful.”

We’re younger than ever in energy and spirit. Don’t let the grey hair and increasing facial lines fool you. We enjoy working with young people, and love hearing their hopes and dreams. We often move to healthier cities and towns where we can pursue outdoor activities, lured by communities with walking paths, biking paths and overpasses for busy streets. We’re invading exercise classes in droves.

Eileen Disken, founder of Smart Bodies Fitness in Fountain Hills, Arizona, retired from the New Jersey public school system in 1998 at age 53, with a plan for her next act. Moving cross-country, she set up a personal training business in the desert. She had already achieved the women’s world record for her 24-hour ultra-marathon win in the South Jersey Roadrunners’ race in 1978, and had run the Boston Marathon. In 1973 she competed as the first woman in the Penn Relay Marathon. She started body building in her early 50s.

With abundant energy and a genuine interest in helping others achieve optimum fitness, her motto is “Age is a state of mind.” She gained her clients through word of mouth. Now, 15 years later, at nearly 68, she has 50, most of them successful entrepreneurs, and many of them over 50 themselves.

Vikie Barbos’ business never tires her out. “I’m required to be active and available 24/7, knowing we might need to issue a 911 call. I’m the one who interacts with medical teams for all of my residents.

We’re also a generation who embraces plastic surgery to align our outsides with the youthfulness we feel on the inside. The demand for arm lifts, eye lifts, jowl lifts and liposuction is higher than ever, for both men and women.

We are genuine and authentic in our relationships.

The years of keeping up with the Joneses are over.  We know who we are. The relationships we build with clients, investors and vendors are infused with honest intentions to treat them respectfully.

Frank Mack’s clients, vendors and associates are loyal to a “t” as they know he is always supportive of them. His storefront and knowledge are avenues for their own successes. He rents out cubical-like spaces to independent antique enthusiasts who wish to sell products with no leases or city licenses needed. “I’m breaking even after three years in business because I’m surrounded by people who love what they do. We have a ‘main street’ atmosphere in the store, with incredible relationships, and service for the hundreds of customers who shop with us.”

Howington says reputation is everything in building Power Connections. “Our relationships with business leaders and organizations are critical to our success in providing valuable connections to our clients,” she says.

“In eldercare you must have good relationships with your workers, hospitals, home health agencies, hospices and family doctors. It’s the only way to succeed,” says Barbos. “You also must have great relationships with residents’ families.”

Happiness is our first priority.

More than fame, fortune, expensive homes and cars, we value our happiness and the happiness of those around us.

Howington points out that her business success is all about helping clients create the happiness of finding a new job or career path. “Their exhilaration and renewed anticipation about their future is what defines our happiness here as well.”

Barbos is an immigrant from Romania, used to having extended family living under the same roof. She currently cares for her mother at home. She established her assisted living homes as beautiful living spaces for her residents. “I want to create happiness for them, helping them all enjoy each day. I have never treated them like they are old. We keep them active and social.”

For Mack, the happiness his growing venture provides him is unfolding as he creates the largest collection of antique books and medical antiquities in Georgia. “I have found the secret to happiness and success right here. I’m surrounded by amazing finds. I no longer need the biggest house on the block, or the fanciest car. I’m living my dream.”

We know first hand the search for meaning.

We want to make a positive impact on our families, communities and the world. We don’t want to “die with our music still in us,” to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes. We’re willing to keep working  for as long as it takes to do it.

Disken plans to keep training “to whenever.” She cultivates her own fitness daily with runs and hikes. She is a churchgoer and participates in a Mastermind group. “I am always open to means to self-improvement,” she says. “It keeps you fresh and focused on the good in life.”

Barbos is fulfilled with caretaking and a business full of meaning. “Many people don’t understand eldercare. You learn so much from seniors. They all bring something special to others.”

“I make a comfortable living,” she explains, “and I put most of my earnings back into the homes. I have put two kids through college, and now my daughter works with me to manage the Fountain Hills residence. I am so happy she finds meaning in the eldercare as well.”

We know our clients’ priorities.

Disken’s days usually start before the crack of dawn with client trainings at 5 a.m., and often end at 6:30 p.m. Her clients need to fit in exercise before and after work. “I have to meet them whenever they’re available,” she says. “They are busy people.”

She asks them to pursue fitness as a priority in their lives, and tells them, “There are no excuses for not pursuing health as a top priority throughout life. My goal is to instill in them a love of exercise and what it contributes to overall well-being.”

Howington adds that her clients’ number one priority is creating a better life through their next career move, or maximizing their current job situation. Her motto to them is “Outplacement Excellence. Custom Approach. Individualized Attention. Every time.”

To even suggest that aging is equivalent to slowing down is to ignore baby boomer employment trends and the number who are creating their “next act” by starting businesses. Boomers are becoming one of the world’s largest demographic groups, and if they have their way, they’ll be one of the most successful populations in history as well.

Di Chapman is the coauthor of “How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search” on Amazon, and a business and health writer who writes for CBS Local Atlanta, Examner.com, numerous blogs and private clients. She has written four books and countless articles for publication.

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Where the Jobs Are! The Shifting Sands of Opportunities

September 13, 2011

If you don’t read anything else about the job market this year, you MUST read this. And I mean ALL of you, whether you are unemployed and seeking work, or gainfully employed and sitting back because you think your situation won’t change.

The job market sands are shifting metaphorically and geographically. You might be surprised at where the gains in jobs are happening right now – and I mean the industries where growth is actually happening. With all the loud, heated public vitriol about the employment picture in this country, constructive reports about growing industries are few and far between. But, I found one – and it’s a good-sized report that will hopefully give you a boost, or at least a “road map” to help you navigate the future.

It’s time to make the decision to keep your eyes on the shifting sands of opportunities. And by the word “sands,” I mean the metaphorical job market shifts; and literally, the geography of where jobs are headed inside the United States. Depending on your own personal circumstances, this information may surprise and delight you; or drop on you like a bomb. Nonetheless, it’s important for you to know.

If you’re currently employed, you probably exhibit the tendency to put your head in the – ahem! – sand – about shifting job market factors. Humans seem to have an aversion to smartly gathering up protective information about things when they don’t believe that something will happen to them. I know of many people, and perhaps you do as well, who, instead of dusting off their resumes because there are rumors of changes throughout their organizations, prefer to sit back and say, “I’ll wait to see what happens.” As a resume writer since 1990, I cannot tell you how many individuals I have worked with over the years who frantically called to come in for a resume composition at the very last possible moment of needing one.

If there is ONE word to describe what’s happening in this country and where the jobs are, it’s CHANGE. Yeah, I said it. Change. No doubt, if you’re like everyone else, this is the last thing you want. I encourage you, though, to look at the information I’ve compiled, and enthusiastically assess how it affects you, your career and your life. As difficult as change may be, it holds the potential to be the best thing that ever happens to you! Honest!

Where the jobs are – the top growing industries, and how their jobs are changing.

The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine dedicated a large section of its pages to delivering the jobs-related facts and figures that have now emerged in the rubble of the financial catastrophe around us. There are jobs out there, and some of them are growing swiftly, but they may not be in the places we used to find them. The good news is, if you’ve got your game on, these industries, according to Wired, grew at a pretty good clip from 2006 to 2010. Amen to that! Here is a summary of the list, with some percentages attached to the growing industries:

I won’t beat around the bush on the good news. Wired asked Linked In to analyze the 7 million US members who had switched jobs since 2006 and present the industries to which they had gone. The results? The “renewables and environment” industry grew enormously since 2006, a whopping 56.8%; as well as jobs involving the Internet, which grew 29.8%. Jobs in the wireless industry grew 21.4% from 2006 to 2010 – no surprise there. Jobs in the computer industry and network security grew 21.8%.

Now for a few stats that might surprise you. Jobs in online publishing grew 29.1% since 2006. The professional training industry grew 13.9%. Railroad manufacture grew 9.4% and medical device manufacturing grew 12.5%. The E-learning industry grew 18.7% (we saw that coming), and graphic designers saw their field grow by 7.8%. Who knew?

If you’re in the business of computer games, oil and energy, information services or biotechnology, your field grew by 11.1%, 7.3%, 8%, and 12.8% respectively. But wait! Time magazine reports that Farming income – farming income – was up 27% last year and is still rising. Farming is expected to grow another 20% this year.

The most amazing thing, though, according to Wired, is how the jobs themselves have morphed since 2006. “Old-fashioned industries” are being transformed, with the lines between blue and white collar positions becoming blurred, and educational requirements evolving in ways that are more horizontal than vertical. The hopeful result in all of the shifting trends in job creation is that our country’s middle class will once again start to emerge strong and healthy. This is good news for all of us. Change is happening.

My next segment on The Daily Job Hunt is part two of this report on Where the Jobs Are! Although some of you will claim it’s the other shoe dropping, I think it’s fascinating information that could hold promise for millions of people. Perhaps for you it will put the wheels in motion to a new, promising life. Buckle up and get ready!

Diane Y. (Di) Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching Service. Connect with Di at http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapman and follow her at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi

What’s YOUR Story Today?

May 3, 2011

Boy, have I got a story for you!

If you need a shot in the arm today … or a word of encouragement … or a kick- start to keep going, I believe there is inspiration here for the taking, whatever your challenge is today.

I won’t even pretend to tell you that everything is rosy out there right now. Our recession, and its destruction of our jobs, our savings and our retirement funds, has dished out to us what can seem like an insurmountable hardship. This I know. We’ve talked about platitudes, we’ve talked about getting out in the community, and donating time to great causes. We’ve talked about trying new things, and de-aging our perspectives and physical appearance.

The news on the job hunting wire can seem daunting. Truth is, the American workforce faces its toughest challenge yet. As Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect says, “America’s leading corporations grow more and more decoupled from the American economy. Their interests grow increasingly detached from those of our workers, our consumers – and our economic future….Unlike any recession in American history – including the Great Depression – this one has come at a time when America’s leading employers can return to profitability without rehiring large numbers of American workers.”

This is a particularly difficult situation for job hunters who are over 45 / 50 years old. We’re in the industrious “boomer” segment of our culture. We’ve always believed that if we work hard enough, we’ll set the world on fire, educate our children, and retire with many good years ahead of us. We’ve certainly made it a prosperous place. The current recession slammed us, and our future.

So, if walking in your own shoes today, while you seek to find ways to re-enter the job market, your community, and your life, seems particularly grueling, I hope this story of inspiration, contribution and personal purpose will buoy you on the choppy seas. The story is about a 56 year-old friend of mine named Beth Sanden, who was partially paralyzed in a training accident while preparing for one of her Ironman Triathlons several years ago. Beth’s life changed in an instant when she was thrown from her bike, breaking her back. Her journey as she learned to live with constant nervous system pain, and even to walk again against all odds, has been remarkable. She is a world-class athlete still today, unstoppably raising awareness and funds for other physically challenged individuals.

With walker, cane, and hand-cycle in tow, she travelled to China last week to compete in the Great Wall of China Marathon outside of Beijing against able-bodied competitors. Beth finished the 26-mile race, conquering the Great Wall of China, in approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes.

My hat goes off to Beth Sanden. She has overcome her physical challenges, reinvented herself, and has become a global emissary for the Challenged Athlete Foundation ( http://www.challengedathletes.org ), helping thousands of others in need of limbs, wheelchairs, walkers, and exercise equipment that can give them back their mobility and participation in the community around them. Beth’s personal favorite is the hand-cycle. It unlocked her future as a competitive challenged athlete.

Beth’s efforts on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation were documented in two news stories presented by ABC in Orange County, California:

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news%2Flocal%2Forange_county&id=8107699

and

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news/local/orange_county&id=8100181

http://www.great-wall-marathon.com/Themarathon.aspx 

Check them out!

Each of us has our own metaphorical “Great Wall of China Marathon” to run at some point in our lives. Let Beth Sanden’s story be an inspiration for your own!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc Executive Coaching, Career Management, and Leadership Development service.

You’ve Still Got It!

January 4, 2011

To say that 2010 went by in a flash is the understatement of the year – unless, of course, you mean that it went by in a nano-second. I heard somewhere that time is actually accelerating its pace, that this sensation of it literally screaming by us at the speed of light might not just be “all in our heads.” Apparently, there are some laws of physics, laws of nature, recent scientific studies, and philosophic observations that all support the notion that we are barreling into the future at a much faster rate than in previous history. So, I want to bring this up right now, while you are fresh into a new year, and perhaps feeling the pressure of a job hunt still on-going from 2010. If you looked into the mirror on this first Monday of the new year, and felt absolute fear about what this year might bring to you as an unemployed professional, I’d like to remind you of just one thing: “Don’t worry, you’ve still got it!”

While the calendar might have turned over in a mathematical and symbolic way, 2010 can be looked at as merely a “chapter” in your life. As the expression says, “Life is not a destination, but a journey.”  It’s an expression I love, because if you truly make the effort to see your life that way, you can live one day at a time, savoring and being fully present in each moment. And even though as Americans we believe that “the pursuit of happiness” is a right of citizenry, we can be misguided about the meaning of happiness, and how it is actually manifested. The happiest of lives will still experience good days and bad, confusion as well as clarity, and dashed hopes alongside joyous victories.

Starting off the year as a professional “in transition” might surely be classified as a life event that qualifies for the “dashed hopes” category. Honestly? It’s not necessarily a chapter you wanted to write. But, the journey is still going forward. Yes, you are only human. You are entitled to the angst that accompanies unemployment as it stretches like a lonely road before you. I believe I can say with certainty that you never dreamed when you lost your job in 2010, you would still be looking for another in 2011.

So, now for the message that I want you to take away as you read this. I know you’ve still got it! The skills you have on your resume are still in tact. Your executive and professional history is still on record. Your triumphs and achievements are still with you – no one can take them away. Your educational background is still yours to keep forever. Your wisdom about life and work, and their challenges, solutions, and outcomes is still finely honed. Your talents are many, and bring value to your relationships.

You’ve still got it – the ability to make things happen, to generate success, to collaborate, to bring team members to the table for a worthy goal.

The year 2011 is going to be about changes – changes in how we work, how we think, and how we measure success in our lives. It’s going to be a year that starts a process of valuing flexibility and creativity in working styles. You’ll be called upon to work in teams with multiple generations, and diverse talents. You’ll be asked to define the future in new ways, and to change your perspective on the meaning of well-being, a job well-done, and the impact of your life on your  relationships, community, and country.

Susan Howington just released another blog post in her “Fuel The Economy” series. She’s taking a bold perspective on what we can do to help all of you who are unemployed. The bottom line in her message is “We can hire you!” We can hire the unemployed. You’ve all still got it! And you deserve to be working.

Keep going! 2011 is just a new chapter in your life. Make it the chapter you’ve always wanted it to be. You’ve done it before – and you’ve still got it!

Di Chapman is the Founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer and Chief Writer of Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement, Career Management and Coaching Service.

Finding Balance at the Speed of Life

October 27, 2010

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Ghandi

Yes, I know I’ve used that quote in my writing many times, but if you’re in transition, losing sleep over the future, negotiating for a new job, or hopeful that an offer is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel, Ghandi’s wisdom bears repeating. I’m reminded of traveling from Paris to Lyon, France, on the TGV high-speed “bullet” train years ago. High above the ground, the train clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour and more. The countryside literally flew by.

Doesn’t it seem like life right now for most of us is a speeding bullet train, with the added uncertainty of the stability of the tracks? We’re speeding faster and faster into an uncertain future, teetering on the rails of life, like a roller coaster dipping and climbing … and we’re holding on tight.

I know all too well of which I speak. I used to be Superwoman! Since summer’s end, though, I’ve been behind in everything – I’m like a hamster on a wheel, squeakily spinning it with as much velocity as I can muster, but to no avail. Yes, I’m moving faster, but the complexity of all of the issues and events of life during this recession have slowed me down mentally and emotionally. I’m “still kicking,” but with less clarity, more confusion, and more of a sense of overwhelm-ment than ever before. Superwoman has flown off the planet, and I’ve been left holding a five-pound bag containing ten pounds of overdue everything: blogging, twittering, phoning, reading, writing … you name it. Stop the world!!! I want to get off!

Can you relate?

Trust me, I have always been one focused professional, never making excuses about my shortcomings, always returning calls promptly, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile for my commitments. But, I’ll admit that right now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my balancing act back in swing. If you’re wondering the same thing about yourself, you are not alone. The uncertainty of what our economic future might be collectively, and even more unsettling, what it might be for each of us individually and our families, is enough to knock even the toughest players off their game.

Are you losing sleep over the loss of a job – whether it’s your own, or a loved one’s? Are you uncertain of what changes landing a new job will bring? I just went through that with my husband – eight months of executive unemployment.

My husband and I are thrilled about his new job, and I’ve never seen him happier. However, wait for it – wait for it – we are now in a “commuter marriage.” His new job is three time zones and about 2000 miles away! BUT, and it’s a BIG but (go ahead, laugh, it’s a fun pun!) – we are so thankful that during this time of unparalleled recession for us and our peers, we are blessed with work.

Are you watching the clock on your finances, tossing and turning as the plans you made for retirement have unraveled? I get it. Retirement? What retirement? The AARP Association reported in its most recent bulletin that 51% of American households won’t be able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. In fact, we must change the notion of seniors as “non-contributors” in our society, and allow them to be productive way beyond what we have traditionally considered “retirement age.” It’s an economic necessity to keep us from plunging the largest demographic in human history into poverty, all at once. Thank goodness, “50” is the new “30.” We Americans are going to need to extend our working years into our 70s.

For now, I’d like to suggest you look at some productive ways to keep going to meet the road ahead of you, wherever it leads. I want your “take-away” today to be a renewed energy and resolve, courage to keep going, an “aha!” moment, or just plain inspiration for staying the course. I’d like you to take some action right away:

  • Look at yourself as part of the solution to our tough times, even if you’re in transition right now, looking for a job yourself. Doesn’t that give you a perspective of potential, instead of fear or lack?
  • Get out and circulate in the community, and consider taking a volunteer position or a “day” job in a busy place that will keep you meeting new people and feeling like you’re contributing to life.
  • Be proactive about the upcoming mid-term election and get out and VOTE! The biggest issue of this 2010 election is JOBS, hands down. Be a part of the buzz. No matter what your political party or inclination, pull that lever in the polling booth. It’s powerful! And while you’re at it, why not volunteer to help build a great turnout?
  • Count your blessings and start each day anew, with expectation of great potential in everyone you meet and everything you do. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Look for a “break” and the good in everything you see!

Finally, lighten up on yourself. Take a breath! My message here is “If I can do this … you can do this, too.” But it takes courage, acceptance, patience, and resolve, and the willingness to see that the struggles many of us are experiencing this year are the gateway to truly understanding what it means to be human, and to live a life of purpose, passion, and transformation. It can be a pathway to self-improvement and a new happiness in the simple things in life.

You can do this! Honest!

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. executive outplacement, coaching and career management service. Her Linked In profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

The Energy Formula for Success

July 13, 2010

“Passion + Purpose = Potential2

Look closely at yourself in the mirror. Are you the kind of person employers are looking for?

I have the distinct privilege of being able to interview talented and oftentimes amazing people as a lifestyle reporter and guest host for the Internet radio show “Better Times After Fifty.” An underlying theme in my interviews reveals that every success story I hear on the air shares some very important characteristics with the others. Successful people know what they love to do; they know what they love to offer their customers, employers, and employees; and they know how important it is to fulfill their missions of helping people change their lives for the better. They’re crystal clear about this. Their passion and purpose exponentially created, and affects, their success. I don’t think it’s coincidental.

What is it that comes together in sync for the success stories of the world? I believe it’s passion and purpose that channels the energy of success, and the result can be an exponential burst of potential. As you seek a new job, it may be time to press your own reset button to resurrect a fire in your belly, to muster your enthusiasm and desire to radiate the knowledge, talent, and capability you can invest in a future employer. Perhaps a snippet from my own life can be an inspiration and help to yours.

When my inspirational quotation teddy bear business was featured in the Simple Truths’ book Customer Love, it was an amazing affirmation of my commitment to bringing my “best self” to every transaction. Throughout lean times and great times, I have always insisted on living with the energy of passion, purpose, and potential. Many of you, too, have given your all to careers where you performed at peak capacity 40, 50, and 60-plus hours a week, year after year. It wasn’t always easy to put on a game face and charge into work with all cylinders firing. But, you did it, and by doing your best to contribute to the success of your past employers, you sowed a portfolio of talents that you can offer another one going forward.

My inclusion in Customer Love motivated me to study the book and read all of the stories related within it. I’m glad I did. The “lessons” and principles portrayed in Customer Love will raise your energy for living every day, for every interaction you have as you look for work, and most certainly for every job interview. Customer Love could literally be a guidebook for anyone who wishes to “knock the socks off” of a potential employer. Even if you don’t think your job is one that actually serves “customers,” reinventing your own perspective to one of a “customer service” mentality will drive up your energy level, enthusiasm, and ultimate success at finding a job. These characteristics are what employers look for as they sift through a line of job applicants.

If you’re struggling with the “Why me?” question that often follows a job loss, another book that can hold pearls of wisdom for you is Betty Mahalik’s Living a Five Star Life. I found two helpful nuggets in Betty’s book. “We often make our experiences harder than they have to be by our resistance to change, growth or stress,” she says, “…use stress to take you a step closer to …what you want to become.” Later in the book, she quotes an unknown source who said, “Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through life without any obstacles, we would be crippled.” Perhaps loss of a job can be an unexpected transition to living a better life.

Your job hunt is all about improving YOU. Stay receptive to the possibilities of finding work in new arenas, or learn to look at the same old job in a new light and with new eyes. Make a promise to yourself that you will bring your best to every interview, every phone call, and every opportunity to connect with others.

Stay energetic, stay passionate, and stay confident.

Commend yourself for the achievements you have attained in life thus far, and define your goals and the value you will bring to your next job. Muster up the fire in your belly. As Emerson once said, “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Even if the man is job-hunting!

Finally, take a tip from Susan Howington, CEO of Power Connections, Inc.  Susan assists executives who are “in transition” after being laid off. She sees job offers coming in to her clients who have polished their appearance, defined their value propositions, and practiced the steps of improving their energy level. “The jobs are out there for energetic applicants,” says Howington. “When clients approach potential companies with an enthusiastic ‘What can I do for you?’ attitude, good things happen. They’re absolutely getting jobs!”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Inc. www.dichapman.com

www.powerconnectionsinc.com

Resolve to be a “Contributer” to Life

June 8, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Presence of Greatness

“Someone out there needs you more than you need them!” – Lt. General Hal Moore

It’s February 15, 2010, President’s Day, and I’m shivering in a brutally cold whipping wind in Montevallo, Alabama. The skies are blue and the sunshine is beautiful, though, and there is an air of expectancy and anticipation that buoys my every step. “Thank goodness I’ve worked in outdoor conditions of all description,” I think to myself. “At least I’m thoroughly bundled up.” The reality is I’ve spent many a production day in sweltering 95 degree heat, with 50 to 60% humidity, trying to salvage a silk blouse and a hairdo. I’d take the cold any day!

I step inside to check on last minute details in my notes, and to make final phone calls; and stop to compliment two polite and lovely women who await the start of an eventful and unforgettable day. They are currently in a quiet hall, chatting softly, giving no hint as to the magnitude of the convocation that will start shortly, or to the growing crowd gathering at the end of the driveway, stepping into line as they exit their vehicles. I take it all in, literally savoring every second of the energy and expectation and excitement that whirls around me.

I can’t imagine being anywhere else at that moment in time, and am still in awe of how God and the universe say “yes” to heartfelt intentions, to a deeply rooted sense of purpose, and a determination to find a way to somehow contribute to the world, no matter how great or how little you are able to put forth. So, literally running from location to location on an outdoor campus with freezing wind at my back, I’m elated at the prospect of what is to come, and know that this will be a day I will never forget.

Like every unforgettable day in one’s life, there is a back story. And my particular story about that amazing day in Montevallo, Alabama is directly related to the gift of a book, and what the words within it meant to me. “In the Presence of Greatness ….” Mac Anderson writes in his forward to the Simple Truths book A Tender Warrior: 5 Leadership Letters To America, “I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by General Hal Moore’s kindness, humility, and his passion for life.”

You see, a year ago, in February 2009, I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mac Anderson in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a follow-up to the inclusion of my story in his 2008 book Customer Love, and when I had the chance to speak to him on a “poster-perfect” day in the gorgeous Arizona desert, I was open to any inspiration and possibilities that a conversation with such an accomplished man could render. I was there with complete “heart, soul and intellect” at attention, and when he put an advance copy of A Tender Warrior in my hands, electricity went through me and sparked what I can only call “a knowing:” I was drawn to the General, and with each touch of the pages, I knew I had to somehow, some way, be in his presence.

So my story today is not just about how I traveled from sunny Southern California to unseasonably cold Alabama to be a part of an event that would honor Lt. General Hal Moore, and it turns out, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., as well. It’s a story about how deeply-rooted purpose gave me the courage to reach out again and again to someone I felt an enormous amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for; and in so doing, found myself in the presence of greatness all around.

We ALL Have Something to Contribute to Life

I remember a day, many years ago, when I had the privilege to meet Alma Powell. “Young or old, you still have something to give to your country,” she said. Now that I’m squarely positioned in the “mature” segment of our population, I think a lot about the wisdom of this statement, and believe that it applies to life as well.

Who’s to say that a person of a “certain age” contributes less to our world than someone of youth and physical prowess? I plan on living at least another 50 years on this planet (I have to – I have way too many plans to check out earlier!!), and not in one mental image of myself down the road do I see a woman who is not giving back to my community, country, friends, family and earth. I will leave this world kicking and screaming if I don’t make a difference. And, honestly, part of the drive within me to do something significant comes from a huge recognition of the trails blazed and conquered by those who have come before me. My achievements are meant to be an acknowledgement of the debt I owe to those who created the life I have, and who did so in uncertain, difficult, and often deadly circumstances. Giving back is part of who I am.

So, when I was offered the chance to come to Montevallo, Alabama to honor General Hal Moore as he was appointed Distinguished National Honorary Chair of The American Citizenship Trust and its American Village Campus; and to see him present the American Freedom Award to his longtime friend General George W. Casey, Jr., and posthumously to General George W. Casey, Sr., a fire in my belly said, “Go!”

I did, and I didn’t look back. In anticipation of what I knew was going to be an amazing experience, in the midst of the events of the celebration weekend, which included the 88th birthday celebration of General Moore, as well as a 10th Anniversary celebration of the American Citizenship Trust, I opened myself up to meeting amazing people like Tom Walker, Founder and CEO of the American Citizenship Trust, and his wonderful, accomplished staff at the American Village.

I met the man called “Driver,” the author of A Tender Warrior, and his lovely and spirited wife Char. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Sobel, of Sobel Communications, a specialist in military history and events, who has interviewed and written about General Moore for publication numerous times.

But, I cannot tell a lie. The event truly came alive for me the minute the beloved Vietnam War hero himself, Lt. General Hal Moore, walked into view, a handsome soldier with a huge, beautiful smile. When he passed by me in the processional, I knew I was right where I was meant to be that day. And when he delivered his prepared speech with strength and conviction and energy, nearly 600 of us were electrified. We were truly “in the presence of greatness.”

Authenticity is Contagious and Powerful

There is one more observation I’d like to share with you about General Moore that I witnessed on President’s Day. I saw what I can only describe as the “magic” of this man. As he spoke about the importance of young people to our future, he was bold at the lectern. As he described his sadness about the blood of his soldiers on his hands, he showed the soft side of the warrior.

When he presented Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., and Casey’s father, General George W. Casey, Sr., with the National Freedom Award, his smile lit up the room. His love for the Army Chief of Staff, who was like a son to him after the death of his father in Vietnam, was demonstrative, and returned with genuine admiration from the man who now leads our country’s Army. Photos snapped of the two men side by side throughout the day reveal a bond so heartfelt, it lifted all of us who had gathered at the convocation, and infused an easy atmosphere in the press room, where I was helping direct the media crews.

But, here’s what I will never, ever forget for as long as I live: When it was announced that “Liberty Hall,” the venue for the convocation that day, was officially going to be renamed “Lt. General Hal Moore Hall,” we saw the purest, most radiant reaction of honest-to-goodness joy and surprise on our hero’s face. I imagine that everyone there that day feels himself or herself to be a better person for witnessing that moment.

“Suit Up” to Make Your Dreams Come Alive

What else did I learn while in the presence of greatness? Believe every day that your dreams can come true. The event at the American Village Campus introduced me to heroes from all walks of life. I saw the manifestations of the dreams of so many people, like Tom Walker, his staff, and Driver. I saw the joy in a beloved hero’s face as he became the official honorary chair of the American Citizenship Trust at 88 years of age. And, yes, I was there to see it and help with it. I suited up. I lived my dream.

If there is anything I would like you to take away from reading about my amazing experience in Alabama, it’s this: if you decide to follow your dreams, no matter who you are, where you are, or how old you are, the incredible can happen. As Geothe said many, many years ago, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement and Career Management Services. Her website is http://www.dichapman.com