Archive for the ‘Leaps of Faith’ 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.

Where the Jobs Are (part III)

January 30, 2012

Think Strategically! Think Big! Think … Omaha???

“Dreams are never destroyed – only rearranged.” – Paul Abram Constantine

Susan Howington of Power Connections articulated something to me a few weeks ago that constitutes a new trend in job search throughout the country. She said to me, “Diane, we have a new situation going on here. Job searchers over 45 are having a hard time finding work, as are job searchers in their 20s right out of college. So, what can we offer the two groups of professionals who are benched due to our economic debacle?”

I recalled that, as I was researching the articles for The Daily Job Hunt blog, my eye had been caught by some reports of “downtown” rebirth in some of our nation’s older, smaller, and admittedly, less “sexy” cities. This rebirth phenomenon is being driven by young people who are graduating colleges and finding that there is no place to go but home – to places like Omaha, Portland, and Orem. Their presence in their home cities is driving a renaissance of an artistic coffee culture, teeming with revitalization and energy. Surprise, surprise! Once again, what’s old is new. As Parts I and II of this “Where the Jobs Are” series revealed, trends are taking us “back to the future.”

This benefits not just the recent college grads – but Americans of all ages and educational levels. We’re all in this together, and need to forge new pathways wherever the opportunities are. A good job has always been the cornerstone for the American Dream.

So, let me tell you where there are jobs right now.

You know, as the John Cougar Mellencamp song goes, “I was born in a small town,” so there is a part of me that derives satisfaction from seeing some of our older, more established cities and towns in America spring back to life. Yes, I’ve worked in New York City, D.C., Dallas, Phoenix, and Orange County, but my roots are Midwestern near the Canadian border in North Dakota, which by the way, is teeming with oil exploration right now.

Brad Briggs, a staff writer for StreetAuthority, reported in a November 2011 Investing Answers that there’s a modern-day boom in my birth state, where it turns out shale oil can now be profitably extracted from the ground. Apparently, in the last four years, it isn’t just jobs in oil exploration and extraction that have popped up, but the need for thousands of workers to help meet the demands of the oil field workers who have moved there. Ward Koeser, the mayor of Williston, North Dakota, told Briggs that the town had between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings, and if you feel inclined to move there, you could probably land one of them in one day to one week’s time. Don’t take my word for it! You can read Brad’s article at The ONE Place in America Where Jobs are Plentiful; but don’t stop there -it isn’t the only place!

And, again, just a few days ago, Investing Answers featured a report by Nathan Slaughter of StreetAuthority who reported that when it comes to investing success, the wealthiest investors in the world tend to invest in natural resources. As North Dakota booms in its quest to produce oil, Slaughter reports that there is also a boom in shale oil drilling in the NW corner of Louisiana’s Desoto Parish, which has become the nation’s top producing natural gas field. At this point in history, where there is shale oil drilling, there is opportunity.

As my title promises, there are jobs happening as well in Omaha, which Kiplinger named in 2011 as the “number one best value city for its vibrancy, cost of living, and low unemployment rate.” Greater Omaha hosts over 30,000 businesses, and the city is one of few in 2012 who maintains a triple-A credit rating. Some of the resident businesses there are household names like Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha, Gallup, PayPal, Aflac ,and TD Ameritrade. You’ll also find a footprint there for Google, Verizon and Yahoo!, among many other technical brands.

If there isn’t enough great statistical information to attract a job seeker to Omaha, there is the youthful, energetic vibe of the redeveloped downtown district. Since about 2002, when the younger set decided to meet there for coffee and jazz, the evolution of the downtown area has been a testament to the city’s solid economic health and growth while the rest of us have been licking our wounds.

Look, I’ve talked to a number of my readers who need jobs, but who cannot cut family and friendship ties to a place like California, and I completely understand. But, I also know that it’s easier to whine and moan about why you cannot do something, rather than take the proverbial well-planned leap. As terrifying as it sounds, moving to take a job can be one of the best things that will ever happen to you, particularly when the move is to a place where the buzz of productivity fuels optimism and well-being. I know, because it has happened to me.

I also know that young people who are hitting a wall in California, or Arizona, or Florida could be encouraged to go where the jobs are. Isn’t that what WE did in our day? Who among us didn’t hop in our “beater” and drive to a distant place, waving to mom and dad as we backed out of their driveway? As we did then – following healthy job leads to new locales – we might just need to do now.

Any discussion of hopes and dreams brings up the notion of a rewarding job with a promising future. It is the springboard to our desire for homes, marriages and children. The American Dream was built on a good job, first and foremost. It’s one of those times when the dream seems to have died. But perhaps it hasn’t – perhaps, as my dear friend Paul Abram Constantine says, it’s just been “rearranged” – or in this case, relocated.

Diane Y. Chapman (Di Chapman) is the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections, and the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service. She is also a contributor to How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search: Ten Mistakes Executives Make and How To Fix Them,” available on Amazon.

Where the Jobs Are, Part II

September 26, 2011

Pack your bag for a road trip and get ready to roll!

I ended Part I by encouraging you to fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be surprised about where, geographically, the jobs are happening in this country, and what appears to be shaping up into a bonafide trend.

Earlier we talked about industries that have experienced job growth (Yes, job growth!! It does still happen!) in America since 2006, and the nature of changing job descriptions. The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine did an amazing job of discussing where the opportunities are popping up, and how shifts in job descriptions may offer many of us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. The magazine is optimistic about the potential that is shaping up in the job hunting landscape.

I offer you some towns worth checking into, according to Wired Magazine’s June 2011 issue:

Provo-Orem, Utah has become an attractive location for IT talent. Wired reports that Overstock.com recently opened a development office there and plans to hire over 150 employees. Also, Brigham Young University there fosters startups that are ultimately sold to bigger players.

Do green jobs interest you? Fort Collins, Colorado has revved up to meet the growing demand for clean energy.

Waco, Texas has recently attracted three aerospace companies, and is known as an excellent geographical area for aviation maintenance, avionics and dispatch.

Longview, Texas is also hopping, particularly in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Eastman Chemical employs more than 1500 people there.

Moving into the Midwest and beyond, Bloomington, Indiana has become a hub for the biotech industry and is home to the Cook Group, a $2 billion medical device maker.

Reading, Pennsylvania is now the place where batteries are made, including new types for hybrid automobiles. A company called East Penn has received a $32 million grant from the Department of Energy and has hired 150 people to help it churn out over 2.8 million batteries per year by 2013.

Finally, in the South and Southeast, Spartanburg, South Carolina has become a Mecca for plastics production, and hosts the country’s only BMW factory.

Plus, notably, there is renaissance along the I-85 corridor, which Wired reports has become a new region for middle-class manufacturing opportunities. It’s no secret that this strip of Americana has a labor pool of low to no-income Americans, and is among the statistics for the lowest per-capita income in the country. The following companies have established manufacturing facilities along the Interstate:

Hyundai Motor America located and opened its only US factory in Montgomery, Alabama and employs 2500 people. Firstmark Aerospace in Creedmoor, North Carolina produces components for airplanes. Centurion Medical Products supplies kits for surgery implements made in Salisbury, North Carolina, and has recently expanded it operations by 20%. Jobs there include professional positions such as engineers, chemists and biomedical specialists.

Also popping up in the Carolinas are Kemet, a precision capacitor manufacturer in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Comatrol, a manufacturer of hydraulic components in Easley, South Carolina. Atlas Lighting Products, a maker of industrial lighting fixtures, is expanding orders as I blog in Burlington, North Carolina, due to its energy-efficient products. Wired mentions two other companies who are moving forward at a productive clip: Hartness International, a packaging machinery manufacturer, and Wabtec, a railroad components manufacturer, both in South Carolina. Wabtec sells to urban rail systems and recently increased its staffing by 25%.

The opportunities for work in this recession do exist, even though they might require a relocation. Whether you decide to pursue them – or not – is up to you, but if you’re currently unemployed and need to put food on the table, these leads are here for you.

Like I said up top, get ready to roll. Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses. The future in these locations is so bright, you might have to wear shades! Don’t take my word for it. Drop in on Wired and see for yourself!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching service. Find out more about Di at www.powerconnectionsinc.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapmanwww.thedailyjobhunt.wordpress.com and 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.