Making Age Work For You...
– Not Against You.
Chatting with a group of women whom I'd describe as "older," one remarked, " At our age..." (which included me). I shuddered. "Does she think I'm as old as she is? Or does she think she's as young as I am?" Oops! My own age bias is showing!
HOW DOES AGE IMPACT CAREER WOMEN?
As an ambitious career woman, I've been driving myself mercilessly, striving for success ever since I can remember. I created a multi-million dollar marketing company with Fortune 500 clients, but it sank fast when I was hospitalized with handicapping back surgery. My energy was sapped. I could only concentrate on pain, not business. Time to reinvent myself, as I refused to allow my business or me slide down the tubes!
Those of us who work independently, or own a business, have to be concerned not only with getting, but keeping, clients. That means discipline in staying in step with constant technological advances. They're challenging because you have to know how to successfully integrate them into a marketing mix. The clock keeps ticking, trying to pull us back into the past. Staying current means you have to keep up with the present as well as with the future. Learning and retaining become more challenging and time consuming as we age.
Another criterion that can work against us: No one can stop age from happening, nor can you really hide it, no matter how hard you try. If your appearance doesn't reflect it, an Internet site can betray you if someone is sufficiently curious to dig deep. Funny, isn't it that age is the biggest bias of all, affecting everyone, men as well as women, yet it gets less publicity than other prejudices! It's as if everyone is afraid to talk about it.
When I passed 50 and got my AARP membership, my mail box became crammed daily with hearing aid ads, assisted living ads, life insurance brochures telling me how to cover funeral costs! Depressing, to say the least, because I had no intention of quitting work. My hearing is fine. And I don't plan on moving in with folks who are passing time idly, waiting to die. Personally, I want to work at my career until I'm carried out of my house horizontally. I plan to keep adding to my knowledge and staying abreast of what's new in my area of expertise.
DO YOU ALLOW AGE TO DEFINE WHO YOU ARE?
If you're 50+, passionate about life, especially your career, you've become much more experienced and skillful than younger competition. But should management downsize, you're probably the first one ushered out of the company doors. Why?
• Your employer figures that you may not have that many good years left
• You're more expensive for the company than a newbie who starts at a beginner's salary with much leaner perks
• Younger people have been brought up understanding and using technology and think with machines: Internet, iPads, iPhones, iTablets, Androids
In case your job "is eliminated," you may want to think about alternatives, especially if retirement isn't part of your agenda. If you send out hundreds of resumes hoping to land a job in your area at your salary level, you may just be dreaming.
The long drawn-out distressed economy hasn't helped matters for the 50+ group. Employers legally can't discriminate against you because of age, so they invent other indisputable excuses. On the other hand, many outstandingly successful people were failures at everything they touched under the age of 50. Yet these failures, many now well over 50, have become an integral part of history, art, inventions, and politics (Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul).
Think outside the box. If you can't find a job within a reasonable amount of time, create one where you're the boss. One of the beauties of age and the Internet is that you can easily build your own business while remaining ageless and faceless.
NO MATTER HOW BAD THINGS LOOK, YOU'LL SURVIVE
A few celebrities didn't get started until they were over 50:
COLONEL HARLAN SANDERS didn't make his mom's fried chicken recipe an international favorite until he was 65! Then he ran with it, franchised it, and became a gazillionaire.
GRANDMA MOSES didn't start painting her all-American primitives, now priceless collectors' items, until she was 76.
TIM and NINA ZAGAT didn't start printing restaurant reviews until he was 51. Both he and his wife had spent their lives as corporate attorneys. But now they're doing something they love, dining in the best restaurants, staying at the most elegant hotels and resorts, and leading millionaires' lives.
MARY BAKER EDDY didn't "discover" Christian Science until she was 54 in 1875. It was then that she had the huge edicifce in Boston, called the Mother Church, built, published the Christian Science Monitor, as well as several books.
EDMUND HOYLE (surely you've heard the phrase, "according to Hoyle") is considered the world's first technical writer on the rules of card games. He was 71 when he first began recording official card gamer rules.
LAURA INGALLS WILDER, author of Little House on the Prairie, didn't have her first novel published until she was 65: Strange because one always thinks of her as a little girl keeping a diary.
RONALD REAGAN wasn't elected to his first public office until he was 55, though he had had moderate success as an actor before he entered politics.
Many character actors didn't get started until they were over 50. Voiceovers is an area in need of more and more people for advertising, internet, and appliance instructions. No face or body needed here. There's a big wide world out there, and it's never too late to conquer it.
In reality, your present salary, no matter how high it is, keeps shrinking as the value of the dollar drops, and the prices of everyday needs increase. Yes, we're on the road to inflation. Social Security is on shaky ground, and your pension won't carry you as far into retirement as you thought it would way back in your twenties.
There are fewer and fewer job opportunities open for anyone 50+ -- man or woman.
Solution: Use your imagination and experience to create a successful consultancy. Do you have a passion for music? Animals? Cooking? Electronics? Turn what you love into a successful business.Margot Teleki, President, Teleki HealthcareMarketing Group,
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