The chapter, “Life as a Square Peg: Gets Tougher as You Age,” from the upcoming third edition of Repurpose Your Career, addresses the challenges of working in a career or a workplace environment that does not fit well with your personality. Marc explains how to learn what type of work personality you have, and how to find the unique work environment and qualities that will fit you best, so you don’t have to fit a square peg into a hole of the wrong shape for you.
[1:04] Marc welcomes you to Episode 129 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings this podcast to you; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[1:33] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc reaches, the more people he can help.
[1:54] Next week, Marc will interview Rich Karlgaard, who is the publisher of Forbes Magazine and the author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.
[2:12] This week, Marc will read a chapter from the third edition of Repurpose Your Career called “Life is a Square Peg: Gets Tougher As You Age.”
[2:25] This chapter, along with the two previously released chapters, is now available to the Repurpose Your Career review team. If you’d like to be part of that team, please go to CareerPivot.com/RYCTeam and you’ll receive new chapters as they become available.
[2:48] Marc is looking for honest feedback and would love to get an honest review on Amazon.com after the book has been released.
[2:57] Marc currently plans to release the book in mid-to-late September with both a virtual and a real book tour. He will be in Austin, NYC Area, and D.C. during the months of September and October. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[3:15] Reach out to Marc at Podcasts@CareerPivot.com if you’d be willing to give him some advice on venues or groups that would be interested in hosting an event.
[3:28] “Life is a Square Peg: Gets Tougher As You Age.” You play a role at work. The closer that role is to your authentic self, the happier you are likely to be. We act on the job to fit into the culture. We behave as we believe our boss or team expects us to.
[3:54] Many business cultures show little value for interest in the arts, expect employees to follow the rules, award employees for being extroverted, want you to check your emotions at the door, and value strong, engaged leadership. Some of these behaviors may differ from how you normally function.
[4:17] When you’re younger, it seems easier to be an actor at work. The older you get, the more exhausting it is to put on ‘the show.’ After decades of acting, you just want to be left alone to do what you do best. You don’t want to pretend interest in things that aren’t relevant to doing your job. You know your job better than your boss does.
[5:01] This is especially hard when you’re a square peg in a round hole. Some people are square pegs because their personality doesn’t lend itself to the social dynamics of the workplace. That is Marc’s situation. Marc is an introvert but he has to act the role of an extrovert.
[5:24] Some people are square pegs because the culture of their industry doesn’t fit them, like an engineer who is highly emotionally intelligent. Sometimes they came to a job from another country and everything about this culture requires them to act in a way that is different from how they grew up behaving.
[5:44] Marc has been working with quite a few square pegs who do not fit into the traditional roles that organizations define. Some squeeze themselves into those roles and end up unhappy and unhealthy. Stress wreaks havoc on their health.
[6:09] Personality Square Pegs: Marc, an introvert, used to be able to stay in character as an extrovert for a long time, in his 20s, 30s, and 40s. In his 50s, staying in character became exhausting. Periodically, Marc would be completely depleted, which was not how people knew him. He would take a long time to recharge, especially if drained.
[6:41] Our society is biased toward extroverts. Extroverts make more money. They are taken more seriously as leaders. They are perceived as more competent. Susan Cain pointed out in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking that many of our great thinkers and artists have been introverts.
[7:03] That’s only one kind of square peg. There are others.
[7:08] Creatives: Creative people have a high interest in music, art, and literature. Many creatives have abandoned those interests because they can’t fit into what our economy values or is willing to pay for. These people often express their creativity in colorful spreadsheets or attractive Powerpoint presentations.
[7:32] Autonomous: Autonomous people don’t like staying between the lines. They want the freedom to do it their way. They’re good in chaotic situations where they get to make the rules.
[7:44] High Empathy: People with high empathy treat people with kindness and caring and want their colleagues to treat them in the same way. Marc has worked in high-tech for most of his career. High-empathy people are not generally welcomed or considered the norm.
[8:01] Low Authority: Low-authority people would prefer having a colleague to a boss. Trying to micro-manage them is not pretty. Their personality is largely incompatible with today’s work environment.
[8:18] Industry or Company Mismatch: The Project Manager. Marc had a client who was a top-flight IT project manager. Her boss would give her a project; she would run it for a year, then her boss would give her a new project just like it. This was a dream scenario for a lot of project managers, but not for her.
[8:45] Unusual for her profession, she wanted to constantly learn new things and tackle new challenges to develop in her career. She talked to her boss who was surprised. He had been keeping her in her comfort zone. That was the last thing she wanted.
[9:12] Musical Technologist: Marc has met multiple musical technologists. It’s very common for engineers to have a high interest in music. Marc talked to “Ron,” who works for a large hospital system. He evaluates systems and stays on top of all the technology the hospital implements.
[9:36] Electronic Medical Records and related technology have accelerated the rate of change. Ron has a huge interest in music that he put aside for years. Ron can keep up with the technology but he doesn’t want to. What was once fun is now a lot of work. He spent the last years caring for elderly parents. He is done fitting into the round hole.
[10:23] The Creative Technologist: “Sam” wandered into technology a long time ago when he graduated from college. He has worked in IT departments of large companies and gotten pretty good at it. Now he’s in IT security, a hot area, but he is sick of it. He is both mentally and physically tired. In his 50s, he no longer fits into the round hole.
[11:01] He is physically fit and can do his job but he no longer wants to do it. Sam is highly creative and would love to marry his technical knowledge with some form of art. He is now exploring video options with virtual and augmented reality. Can he make a go of this and keep putting his children through college at the same time?
[11:27] Cultural Dyslexia: These are people born in an indirect culture, such as India, China, Japan, but who spent their teenage years in a direct culture, such as the United States and Europe. They attend Western universities and acquire Western personality traits. They do not feel they belong in either their birth culture or their adopted culture.
[12:00] We will see a lot more cultural dyslexia as people move around the world. Marc has seen cultural dyslexia cause people great angst as they try to fit in that round hole.
[12:18] Square Pegs and Financial Requirements for the Second Half of Life: Marc was blessed that his first tech startup job left him debt-free in his late 40s. Marc had children in his late 20s. Many others waited to establish their careers before having children. Many in their 50s are putting children through college.
[12:48] We have lived through two horrible recessions that decimated retirement savings and children’s college savings. Many square pegs feel they have no choice but to stay in their ill-fitting niche. This is one reason Marc and his wife moved to Mexico. They enjoy a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life.
[13:16] For many people, the task is to define and then find their own unique career hole. Marc shows his process for helping square pegs find their unique career hole.
[13:28] Define Your Career Hole: Another way to put this is “Know thyself.” You cannot target your ideal working environment unless you know what it is. You cannot find your unique career hole if you can’t define it. Can you clearly articulate what your ideal working environment looks like? For 99% of you, the answer is no.
[13:54] Reflect on when you’ve been happy in seven different areas in your career: Boss. When did you have a boss you really liked? What made that person a good boss? Team. When did you have a really great team? What was the makeup of that team? Value. When did you feel valued at work? What made you feel valued?
[14:20] Structure. How much structure do you need at work? Who should create that structure? Variety. How much variety do you need in a day? Emotions. Do you need a supportive emotional environment at work? Activity. How much activity do you need?
[14:40] You can use Marc’s Career Reflection Worksheet to help with this. Once you have clearly defined when things were really good in the past, go back to times when things were really bad.
[14:54] Marc uses the Birkman Assessment with his clients to pick out situations that highlight what causes them stress. Once you have identified those situations, you can determine how to avoid them. You can clearly identify the shape of that unique career hole. You can start the search, locating your unique career hole.
[15:15] Now, you have figured out what kind of peg you are and what kind of career hole you need. Create a list of open-ended questions you will use to investigate the companies where you’re thinking of working, to find out if they fit the bill. These questions will evolve, over time. Marc lists sample questions you might use.
[15:48] Develop a set of questions for each of the seven areas above.
[15:52] Next, target companies within your industry or profession that can hire you. You can dutifully use your questions to determine what companies have a unique career hole that matches your requirements. It will take a great deal of tenacity and patience.
[16:11] For some square pegs, it means going to work for themselves. For others, it means working for small organizations that are willing to create unique career holes for you. Do you know the shape of your unique career hole? Are you ready to define it?
[16:27] Find restorative niches. Marc appears to be an extrovert because he is a great public speaker. He can work a networking event with the best of them. He can meet and mingle with strangers with ease. When Marc is done, he is exhausted!
[16:46] Marc’s extrovert abilities did not develop overnight. In 22 years at IBM, he slowly became “a geek who could speak.” He was paid more money to do this. By his late 30s and 40s, his back would spasm one or more times a year and down for a week or more.
[17:07] Finally, Marc had a disk rupture and after taking three months off for bed rest, he kept going. Now that he is over 60, he has to be careful how much public speaking he does. Like other square pegs, Marc has to learn to take time to recover.
[17:23] Recently, Marc presented a workshop in Dallas, on working for a multi-generational company. He drove for three hours from Austin to Dallas in the morning, listening to podcasts, gave the two-hour workshop, and drove three hours back again. The time in the car gave Marc a restorative niche.
[17:44] Marc has to allow a lot of ‘alone time’ before and after being around people. If he does not, he is ‘dead’ for the rest of the day. As good as Marc is at being around people and presenting workshops, he is a square peg. ‘Shoving himself’ into that round hole is exhausting, especially now that he is older.
[18:08] If you are a square peg, a restorative niche might be listening to your favorite music while you work, doing creative projects in your spare time, or connecting with people with a similar cultural background. You still need to do the work to find your right-shaped niche, but this will keep you sane while you do it.
[18:31] Marc repeats his opening statement: In pretty much every job, you have to play a role, even if you work for yourself. You have to play a role with your customers or clients. The closer your role is to who you are, the happier you will be.
[18:47] Action Steps: Are you a square peg? Write down what roles you have been playing throughout your career that you would like to stop playing, now. Write down some of your personal square peg attributes and how they could be useful in different jobs and businesses. How can you find a way to work around them, where necessary?
[19:10] Write down some questions you can ask an employer that would help you see how well you and the organization’s culture could fit.
[19:18] Marc hopes you enjoyed this chapter. Marc is very much a square peg. Marc has never fit neatly in corporate roles. He has always forced himself to fit. When he hit his 50s, he found life to be exhausting. Marc now implements regular restorative niches whenever he does things that suck the life out of him, like being around a lot of people.
[19:59] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for the 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is preparing to recruit new members for the next cohort.
[20:11] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[20:25] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Please go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more. They are now starting a writers’ group.
[20:59] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[21:19] Please come back next week, when Marc interviews Rich Karlgaard, who is the publisher of Forbes Magazine and the Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.
[21:35] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[21:40] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-129.
[21:48] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.
Tami M. Forman is the Executive Director of Path Forward, a non-profit organization that creates mid-career returnship programs to ease the transition back to work for people who have taken a career break for caregiving. Path Forward trains HR teams and hiring managers on how to support these programs successfully and provide support to participants to make the experience successful. Tami is building this organization from the ground up, working with donors, partners, and participants to fulfill the organization’s mission. Tami spent a decade as a marketing executive with Return Path. Tami has previously held editorial positions at Simon and Schuster, Houghton Mifflin, iVillage, and News Corporation.
[1:38] Marc welcomes you to Episode 128 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot this podcast to you; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[2:08] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc reaches, the more people he can help.
[2:27] Next week, Marc will read a new chapter from the third edition of Repurpose Your Career.) Marc has released two chapters to the Repurpose Your Career review team. If you’d like to be part of that team, please go to CareerPivot.com/RYCTeam and you’ll receive new chapters as they become available.
[2:51] Marc currently plans to release the book in mid-to-late September with both a virtual and a real book tour. He will be in Austin, NYC Metro Area, and D.C. during the months of September and October. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[3:10] Reach out to Marc at Podcasts@CareerPivot.com if you’d be willing to give him some advice on setting up this tour. This includes venues if you’re from those areas. Marc would very much appreciate it.
[4:27] Marc welcomes Tami to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[4:44] Marc learned about returnships from Dan Corbin who was at Return Path at the same time as Tami. Marc invites Tami to talk about the origin and mission of Path Forward.
[5:10] Path Forward is a nonprofit organization on a mission to help people who have taken time out of their career for caregiving to restart those careers. Most of the clients are women, but the programs are open to men and women who have taken chunks of time away from the paid workforce to care for children or elderly parents.
[5:43] This concept started within Return Path, a privately-held software company based in New York City, with offices in Colorado, Austin, Texas, Indianapolis, and globally. The head of HR was working to help women in technology and doing unconscious bias training. She ran into resistance hiring women who had taken a career break.
[6:43] The VP of HR realized that if she couldn’t influence the behavior of managers in her own company, there was a systemic problem. She worked with some people to put together a returnship, meaning a temporary assignment aimed at someone in mid-career.
[7:09] The program was phenomenally successfully for the six people in the program and for the managers. Other companies noticed and reached out to VP of HR Cathy Hawley and CEO Matt Blumberg to learn how to run the program in their offices.
[7:38] Matt decided to found a nonprofit and try to make a bigger impact by bringing it to many more companies.
[7:48] Marc sees men and women taking time off to take care of elderly adult parents. Tami sees a lot of women with the “double whammy,” who took a few years off to take care of their children and then their mother or father got sick and needed care. Many women have filled both roles. She has also seen stay-at-home dads.
[8:42] Childcare takes longer than elderly parent care, usually, so mothers raising children are out of the workforce longer. The longer the time out of the workforce, the longer it takes to get back into it. People taking a few years off for elder care have less difficulty getting a job. The age range of participants in the program is large.
[9:57] Marc has a man in his online community who got laid off, took care of a parent, and now is being asked what he did for 18 months. “Taking care of Mom” is not very well received at the tech startups he is trying to penetrate.
[10:17] How is a returnship different from an apprenticeship? The DOL has a specific definition to meet guidelines for a registered apprenticeship, but employers may use it less formally. Tami advises to anyone looking into any “ship” program is to get a strict understanding of what the program offers.
[11:16] Tami considers a returnship to differ from an apprenticeship mainly in the amount of training supplied. Tami notes the Microsoft LEAP program which has a training component alongside a work project component as a “classic” apprenticeship. A returnship is about just the work.
[12:03] People coming into a returnship have either directly applicable or transferrable experience they can put to work within the context of the returnship. They may need mentoring and would receive new-employee training. They have the basic skills.
[12:45] Some of the companies Path Forward works with do have a training component as part of their returnship because they want to expand the types of people they are able to bring into the program.
[13:01] Tami says during the interview process is the time to make sure you understand exactly what training and development the program offers and what the expectations are of you.
[13:20] Marc notes that tech sector jobs would provide some training because of rapid change in the industry. Tami says that tech companies are having trouble finding people to maintain legacy tech stacks. Younger people don’t know how to do it or don’t want to.
[13:50] Tami has worked with companies that have proprietary software where every engineer would have to be trained to work with it.
[14:17] Understanding what the expectations are is very important. Tami is aware of organizations and programs, such as a boot camp or an online course, available to teach specific skills to people returning to the workplace. The training alone would not be enough to get you a job, so the returnship work piece makes the difference.
[15:07] Besides tech skills, returnships can work for any company hiring for any professional job. Path Forward has had the most success in partnering with tech companies in Northern California, New York, Denver, and LA. Technology has an acknowledged gender-balance problem alongside a talent problem.
[16:08] The gender-balance issue, combined with the overall scarcity of talent, are the factors that lead to the success of returnship programs at tech firms. People out of the workforce are an untapped pool. Other industries may have gender-balance problems but no shortage of talent. They don’t feel the same pressure to bring in more people.
[17:36] Tami’s advice to people looking for opportunities, in general, is to go where “the people aren’t.” Go where the jobs are plentiful and the people seem to be less so.
[17:46] The ideal candidate for a returnship will have a background that matches what the job is. Someone who’s making a big career change will not typically be as successful. If you are making a career change, first get a lot of advice from people in the new career. Take a course. Take a consulting position. Accept a lower position.
[19:36] If you worked in marketing, do a returnship in marketing. If you worked in engineering, do a returnship in engineering. That’s where the 16-week boost, getting you back in the seat, with a manager who can see what you can do, is really successful.
[19:55] Tami sees that people who have a certain degree of resentment about the sacrifice that they’ve made and have ego issues about salary or position have a more difficult time than people who are open and have humility about them. It is better to be excited to be back and accept the opportunity after spending the time with family.
[21:04] Marc recalls last week’s episode with Andrew Scott on the 100-Year Life and their conversation about mindset in CareerPivot.com/Episode-127. If you don’t have the proper mindset you will not be successful.
[21:43] Tami shares a case study of Marina, in her mid-40s who made a career pivot from selling CDs by direct marketing at BMG Music. That world has gone away. However, her marketing skills were very transferable to different markets and channels.
[22:58] Marina got a returnship in marketing at Return Path and ultimately landed on marketing analytics, where she still works, three years later. She also took the Hubspot digital marketing course to do her own reskilling. There are a lot of vendors in various industries who make free training available to increase their potential talent pool.
[24:22] Tami shares Lisa’s story who was an engineer at IBM and had last coded using COBOL and Fortran. She had an EE degree, not a CS degree, because that wasn’t expected when she was studying. She had taken some software courses. Then she was out of the workforce for 20 years.
[25:14] Lisa wanted to get her Master’s degree, but her college-age son told her that wasn’t how it’s done anymore. He recommended she take a couple of classes and go work for someone who would let her learn on the job. She got a returnship at Return Path as an engineer. She is still there and was promoted to a team lead position.
[25:52] Besides her technical skills, they recognized her leadership and organizational skills she used as a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. She could inspire a team and get things done.
[26:45] Marc spoke a couple of years ago at an Austin Community College coding boot camp. He explained that a lot of the plumbing has changed, but none of the concepts has. You can learn how to replumb things and use new tools. Sometimes you have to spend your own time and your own dollars to get trained. Look online.
[27:30] Always be learning. You can work for 20 years in one job and get laid off when your job is not relevant. Constantly be in a mode of learning and staying relevant.
[28:47] After the dotcom bust companies slowly stopped spending money on training their employees. It’s up to the individual to find their own training and stay up to date.
[29:03] Managers making hiring decisions are very risk-averse. The returnship concept gives them permission to take a chance and not get in trouble. Companies working with Path Forward know the executives have sanctioned the program.
[29:44] For listeners in cities without Path Forward returnships, think about ways you can do work for someone so they can see what you can do, in a way that lowers the risk for them. That might be freelancing, pro bono work, or volunteering. Build a website for a community group that’s doing something interesting. Showcase your real skills.
[30:36] Networking is crucial. One way to network is to do work with someone. Another is to take classes with others. Get out from behind the computer and into the world. Find ways to work with people. That’s Tami’s last advice to listeners.
[32:02] To learn more, sign up for the newsletter at PathForward.org/participant for news about every partner they sign. There is a page of other returnships at companies not working with Path Forward at pathforward.org/return-work-programs-around-us. There is also a Facebook page at Facebook.com/PathFWD and Twitter at @PathFWD.
[33:21] Marc thanks Tami and hopes you enjoyed this episode. You might call this a movement of creating programs that help people reenter the workforce after a career break. Marc invites you to go back and listen to Episode 80 with Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO of iRelaunch found at CareerPivot.com/episode-80.
[33:59] Marc is working on setting up an interview with one or both of the people Tami mentioned in the interview. You will find links mentioned in this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-128.
[34:17] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[34:29] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves. Marc will be spreading out new cohorts as the community starts some new projects.
[34:51] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more. They are now starting a writers’ group.
[35:35] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[35:59] Please come back next week, when Marc will read a new chapter from the third edition of Repurpose Your Career.
[36:09] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[38:51] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-128.
[36:21] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.
Andrew Scott is a Professor of Economics at the London Business School. His research, writing, and talks focus on the macro trends that shape the global environment, from technology, longevity, globalization, through to interest rates and exchange rates. His work on longevity emphasizes the positive impact of a longevity dividend. It isn’t just that there are more old people but that how we are aging is changing. Andrew’s 2016 book, The 100-Year Life, on this theme, became an award-winning global bestseller translated into 15 languages. He has been an advisor to a range of corporates and governments on a broad range of economic issues and an award-winning public speaker, combining, insight, clarity, humor, and a motivation to action for anyone who hears him.
[1:31] Marc welcomes you to Episode 127 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[2:02] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc reaches, the more people he can help.
[2:22 Next week, Marc will interview Tami Forman, who is the executive director of Path Forward, a non-profit organization that creates mid-career returnship programs. (If that interview is delayed, Marc will read a chapter from the next edition of Repurpose Your Career.)
[2:58] This week, Marc is speaking with Andrew Scott, co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. Marc introduces Andrew with his bio.
[4:09] Marc welcomes Andrew to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[4:27] Marc reached out to Andrew after reading his article “Is 75 the New 65? How the Definition of Aging Is Changing,” on NextAvenue.org. Having interviewed authors Ashton Applewhite, Patti Temple Rocks, and Chris Farrell about ageism, Marc wanted to segue with Andrew into talking more about aging.
[4:58] Andrew says we have made a mess about age. Aging brings to mind ‘end of life.’ Chronologically, everyone’s aging at exactly the same rate — one year, every year.
[5:30] As a macroeconomist, Andrew looks at trends that shape the world. He noticed that, on average, we are living longer and healthier lives. Governments are worried about workers aging out of the workforce, causing problems for Social Security and pensions.
[6:12] Andrew wonders how does the good news that we are living longer and healthier turn into the bad news that we will be a burden on society? There are two things happening. First, as the birth rate declines and people live for longer, the average citizen is older. Everyone focuses on that.
[6:36] The exciting thing is that, on average, we are aging differently. In essence, we are younger for longer. A 78-year-old in the U.S. or the UK today has the same mortality rate as a 65-year-old from 40 years ago. We are in better health, but because we look just at chronological age, we don’t notice that. We need to look at biological age.
[7:33] Marc turns 63 next month. Marc lives a very different life at 63 than his father lived at 63. Marc’s father had been forced to retire at 60. He lived for 15 more years, but it figuratively killed him. Marc will not let his life pass on.
[8:12] Chronological age tells how many years since you were born. Mortality risk tells how many years until you die. The average American has never been older but we are also younger because our mortality rate is lower. We have a lot more years to go.
[9:05] In the Twentieth Century, we created a life based on a 70-year life expectancy — a three-stage life of education, work, and retirement. That creates a sociological sense of age — what you should be doing at a certain age. That’s where corporate ageism comes from.
[9:38] The average age of the Rolling Stones is seven or eight years older than the average age of the U.S. Supreme Court. We need to change our sociological norms. Andrew points to CareerPivot.com and NextAvenue.org as examples of experimenting with new rules for longer lives.
[10:10] The New Yorker, in 1937, first publicly used the word, ‘teenager.’ It was a new concept. In the 1950s, it became established. Previously, one was considered an adult by around age 14.
[10:54] For most of human history, people were not aware of the day or year they were born. They were “fit and healthy,” or “a grandfather,” or “a mother.” They didn’t know their chronological age. They had a more “real” sense of age.
[11:26] Starting in the Nineteenth Century, governments started keeping accurate birth records. In the Twentieth Century, birthday celebrations and birthday parties began. The song, “Happy Birthday To You”, became popular in the ’30s. Once governments began tracking people by age, they started separating them by age, for school and work.
[12:04] The greatest example of this age separation is retirement at age 65 when you are “old.” Because we are living longer, considering 65 to be old doesn’t work anymore. People age differently. There is a great diversity in how healthy and active people are over age 65.
[12:43] Marc talks about 80-year-olds in the Ajijic Hiking Group, who easily beat him in hiking. These 80-year-olds look at life differently than Marc would have thought they do. It is a mindset. Many are retirees. Marc isn’t retiring, at least for the next 15 years. He just moved his business down to Ajijic.
[13:41] The Twentieth-Century three-stage life worked for a 70-year lifespan. But we learned in the Twentieth Century that age is malleable. You can influence how you age and how long you will live. Diet, exercise, community, and relationships all make a difference. Having engagement and a sense of purpose helps you age better.
[14:30] How do we create this new, longer life, when the three-stage life has us retiring at age 65? How are you engaging in the world and what is your sense of purpose? We are in a social experiment. We need to find how to use time in productive ways.
[16:19] Anthropologists call an ambiguous threshold of transition a liminality. Teenage years are a liminality. The years around retirement are a new liminality.
[17:04] In Andrew’s book, Jane graduates from college, marries Jorge, and they take turns reinventing themselves every 15 years. This is foreign to how Marc was raised, to have a 40-year career leading to retirement.
[18:14] In a longer life, it is important to keep your options open. Reinvention comes by your choice or from circumstances given to you, like being laid off. Reinvention is one of the challenges of a longer life. Andrew tells 40-year-olds that they have more working years ahead of them than they have behind them. That shocks them.
[19:22] In Arizona, on January 1, 1960, Del Webb, opened the first Sun City with five model homes and a strip mall. 10,000 cars drove in the first day. In those days, people of retirement age could expect to live 10 or 15 years. Today, in a married couple of 65, one of the spouses has a good chance of living to 100. What are they going to do?
[20:20] The UK Pension was introduced in 1908. Since then, life expectancy has increased by 36 years. Andrew says it is crazy that the three-stage life has not been changed much in that time. We’re biologically aging better. Most of these extra years of life come in the second half of middle age.
[21:03] For about the last hundred years, roughly every decade, life expectancy has increased by two or three years. That’s like adding six to eight hours to every day. With more time, we would structure our day differently. We have longer lives and we can structure them differently. The average age of first marriages has gone from 20 to 30.
[22:14] The number of people working after age 70 has tripled in the United States over the last 20 years. A person in their 20s needs to think about working into their early 80s. There is time for experimentation and finding what you like and are good at. In your 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, you’re going to need to think more about investing.
[24:07] Almost half of Marc’s online community is over 60; one-third are over 65. One of the common themes is they all want the freedom to keep on working, on their terms. Andrew notes that GenX and Millennials want flexible, meaningful, purposeful, autonomous work; so do workers over 60. We all want that.
[25:09] At every age, preparing for your future self is important. That’s the key mindset perspective. “How do I make sure that I’m fit, healthy, engaged, and have my community and sense of purpose?” In a longer life, you need to be more forward-looking.
[25:58] At 78, you have 13 more years of life than at 65, with the health that a 65-year-old of 40 years ago had. You are younger than your age. There are new options and new possibilities at every age. We work it out as we go along.
[27:20] Marc recalls discussing with Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, that the older we get, the younger we feel, and the longer we want to live. Our view of old age keeps on moving further and further out.
[27:42] Andrew notes the paradox of aging: younger people see the challenges of aging and think it sounds terrible but happiness often increases as people grow older. Andrew shares his explanation.
[28:52] As people get very old and sense that they may be approaching their final decade, they do want to focus on the things that matter the most to them. For most, that will be in their 80s and 90s.
[29:33] Marc contrasts the treatment of ages in the U.S. and in Mexico. There are so many multi-generational homes in Mexico, and it is very healthy. Inter-generational mixing is good. Our U.S. obsession with age led to labeling the generations, separating them further from each other. The generations don’t mix.
[31:43] People are people. Labeling comes about due to a lack of inter-generational mixing. Inter-generational mixing will become more crucial as we all live longer. It is a great way of spreading knowledge and insight. It will help the young be more forward-looking and the old to be more youthful and innovative.
[33:02] Marc recalls his presentation in March on the five generations in the workplace. Many of the audience had never networked with Millennials. One had volunteered in the Beto O’Rourke Senate campaign, where he learned a lot.
[33:43] Andrew has a website, 100yearlife.com, that includes a free diagnostic to look at your finances, skills, knowledge, physical and mental health, and your relationships, as well as your ability to undergo change. A three-stage life did not encourage many transitions. The transitions were: college to work and work to retirement.
[34:20] More than 20K people have taken the diagnostic. There was no real pattern by age. People are the same, whatever age they are. Only one pattern emerged. Men in their 50s had quite narrow (similar) social circles. To transition well, open yourself up to new people and new ideas and find new circumstances.
[36:03] Put yourself into challenging and different situations where you are not as well-known. That’s how you grow, learn, and transition.
[37:02] Marc thanks Andrew and hopes you enjoyed this episode. Marc thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Andrew. What are you going to do with all those extra years? Marc has a plan; do you?
[37:21] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for more than 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[37:35] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[37:50] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. Right now they are forming writing groups. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[38:21] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[38:39] Please come back next week, when Marc will speak with Tami Forman, the executive director of Path Forward.
[38:46] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[38:51] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-127.
[38:59] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.
After several years of different career paths, Kathy unexpectedly fell into something she loves to do — helping people find jobs. Kathy is an award-winning trainer, skilled in the design and presentation of seminars and workshops that have helped thousands of job seekers secure excellent career opportunities. She is the creator and facilitator of Launch Pad Job Club, Austin’s largest nonprofit networking and support group for job seekers, through which members are informed, motivated, and entertained through the job search process.
[1:44] Marc welcomes you to Episode 126 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. CareerPivot.com brings you this podcast; it is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[2:12] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues, to help more people. Thank you for helping expand the reach of this podcast!
[2:37] Marc is recording this introduction on April 30. There were over 8,000 downloads of the Repurpose Your Career podcast in April. That is triple the number of downloads from April 2018. Thank you!
[2:54] Next week, Marc will interview Andrew Scott, co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. What will you do with all that extra time?
[3:08] This week, Marc is speaking with Kathy Lansford, the founder of Launch Pad Job Club, the first and one of the largest job clubs in Texas, founded in 2001. They are discussing current and future job prospects for 50+ workers.
[3:27] Marc shares Kathy’s bio and welcomes her to Repurpose Your Career.
[4:32] Kathy was a job search skills trainer for many years at the Workforce Solutions office. After a break, she went to Austin Community College at the tail end of an AARP grant to help people over 50 find jobs. After the grant ended, ACC took over the project, expanding the services to the general ACC population, as well.
[5:29] Marc met Kathy in 2006 after leaving his teaching job, when he got involved in Launch Pad Job Club. Later that year, Marc joined the board. Kathy is an expert on job search for people over 50. Marc introduces the topic of today’s episode: “Got Hope? Current and Future Job Prospects for 50+ Workers.”
[6:17] Kathy describes negative job trends for those over 50. Ageism is rampant, especially in a youth-oriented city like Austin, where Kathy lives. The skill sets of older workers are not wanted. Age discrimination is illegal but age questions are often asked.
[9:03] Kathy attends a group where people share their frustration at having their age used against them in the job search process before they can present their skills.
[9:37] Ten years ago, the Supreme Court made a decision that makes it harder to prove age discrimination than for other forms of discrimination.
[10:15] In the dotcom crash in 2001, in Austin, the first big layoff was at Dell. The laid-off workers had to sign waivers they would not sue for being laid off to get a severance package.
[13:27] If a company lays off evenly across all age groups, and then hires back only younger workers, that is the basis of a lawsuit.
[13:40] Recently a discrimination suit was settled against Facebook for only showing job postings to young people. Facebook ads allow a variety of targeting. Sellers can provide an email list and ask Facebook to find people who “look like these people.”
[15:29] A Bloomberg podcast recently stated that for some platforms, like Facebook, a $3 billion fine is inconsequential. They will keep doing what they do.
[15:59] Application tracking systems can screen for years of experience to target age ranges. The older job seeker never knows that their resume is never seen.
[16:54] “Conversant in digital speak” and “digital native” are codes for “young.”
[17:41] Kathy points out areas of hope. Lots of big companies are finding that they have gone too far to the young end of the spectrum. Kathy heard from her son in the semiconductor industry that young people don’t want to spend the time to be trained in processes. They quit after 12 to 18 months and move on to the next gig.
[20:31] AARP is an advocate for older workers. Kathy talks about their five-year grant, open to anyone over 50 and their one-year WESI grant open to women over 50. Women over 50 make up the largest-growing poverty group in the country. The AARP Austin five-year grant was successful in getting a lot of people to work.
[22:49] People over 50 stay unemployed longer. Kathy cites a statistic that job seekers 55 to 64 are out of work 34 weeks, on average. Job hunters 20 to 24 are out of work 15 weeks, on average.
[23:46] Marc had Carol Fishman Cohen on the podcast from iRelaunch some months ago. Kathy talks about the iRelaunch program, aimed largely at caregivers re-joining the technological workforce. GM has had several of these initiatives in conjunction with the American Society of Women Engineers and they hired many of the participants.
[25:32] Because the economy is so strong, with such low unemployment, companies are looking for talent anywhere; they are even willing to look in the “gray-haired world.”
[25:57] Kathy remembers a program from years ago with Eli Lilly and another pharmaceutical firm who created a pool of their retirees to call in for specific big projects at a good salary on a temporary basis.
[27:05] Companies with a strong diversity program are adding older workers to their diversity list.
[28:29] Kathy mentions the Candice Bergen of the Murphy Brown show coming back as a relaunched career. Isabella Rosellini was long the face of Lancôme until they no longer needed her services due to age. In her 60s, they hired her again to represent older women who want to be beautiful.
[29:40] One of Kathy’s clients’ ex-husband has a Ph.D. in optical engineering. After working in startups for years, he taught high school math and physics for 15 years. At age 66, he has just started up with defense contractor BAE Systems who appreciates his expertise and experience.
[30:47] People have to be tenacious to get a good job in tech. One of Kathy’s clients with a Masters’ degree used Jobscan for LinkedIn. Jobscan scores your resume by the keywords in a job posting. They suggest having a keyword score of at least 80% before submitting a resume. The premium version of Jobscan also scans your LinkedIn profile.
[33:17] Kathy’s client made the changes to his LinkedIn profile suggested by Jobscan. He had the premium version of LinkedIn so he could track traffic. Very quickly, the traffic to his profile increased by 300%. A recruiter who visited his profile helped him get a senior-level position with the city of Austin. He is close to 60 and in a wheelchair.
[34:21] Public sector jobs tend not to discriminate by age. They look at your skills, background, and what you have to offer.
[34:49] Kathy shares a case study of a woman unemployed for a year. Kathy helped her with the state application and mock interview through the Back to Work 50+ program.
[35:47] Kathy’s client was turned down for different state positions until she networked with two friends who were at NXP (formerly Freescale and Motorola). Her friends got her connected there. She ended up with a $63K career job at NXP.
[37:23] Tenacity is incredibly important. Older people tend to be tenacious. Pro Publica had an article that half of us over 50 will be forced into retirement, not by choice.
[38:49] Austin now has some of the lowest mobility rates in the last 50 years. People don’t want to move. People are willing to work for less to stay. Some people are tethered by conditions; where they want to live, base salary, or base position wanted.
[40:48] Consider taking a step down the career ladder, or changing industries. Could you get a job if you loosened your requirements? Kathy shares case studies of people who expanded the scope of their search. Be open-minded and flexible.
[43:53] Marc gives a case study of a woman who drove for Lyft and got multiple contract gigs from passengers. Getting out and meeting people got her out of her funk.
[44:55] Volunteering is another way to feel fulfilled by sharing skills you have that others need and value. Sometimes a non-profit will hire people from among their volunteers who are mission-driven.
[46:07] Marc tells of his image consultant, Jean, who has launched a Fulfillment by Amazon business for a pierced earring back for women with sagging earlobes. She sources them in China and sells them on Amazon.
[47:04] There are all types of things you can do to make money these days.
[47:15] Kathy’s closing thoughts: everybody who wants to go to work, goes to work, whether at a job with benefits or a gig. The only people who don’t get a job are people who quit looking and quit believing in themselves. Reach out. Surround yourself with people who are energetic, positive, supportive, and excited. Help each other succeed!
[48:23] Marc thanks Kathy and hopes you enjoyed this episode. Marc has known Kathy for over a decade. Her dedication to helping older workers find jobs is remarkable. Marc wants you to remember the word ‘tenacity.’
[48:47] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for more than 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[48:59] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[49:14] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. Right now they are forming a writers’ guild. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[49:43] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[50:09] Please come back next week, when Marc will speak with Andrew Scott, co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, on what you are going to do with all that extra time in your life.
[50:21] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[50:25] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-126.
[50:34] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.