All posts tagged Career

“At 57, I Don’t Lean In”

“Congratulations,” Sheryl Sandberg said with a smile as broad as the years that separate our generations when I told her that at 57, I’d recently gone back to a corporate job. “At this stage, I’m standing up—not leaning in,” I continued. This statement did not generate another high-five from the Facebook COO and author of Lean In, a new working woman’s manifesto for success.

Glancing at my business card, Sandberg said, “I’ll find out who you can talk to about Lean In Circles at your company,” before turning to greet another BlogHer ’13 attendee in the crowded Skyline Ballroom in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

A corporate layoff in 2006 interrupted my 30-year marketing career. When I returned to corporate life after six years of teaching and writing, I knew my future called for a new outlook. I had been the prototypical MBA-owning, globe-trotting, leaning in career girl in my twenties, thirties and forties. Now, I’m a fifty-something woman standing up for the pursuit of personal satisfaction and enjoyment on the job and for living every day as if I’m worth it, because I am.

* At 57, I don’t lean in at work because I don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore. I believe in myself and know that I will deliver value.

* I don’t lean in because I already take a seat at the table. I speak up when needed and not just to be heard.

* I work for satisfaction in a job well done and the personal growth that comes from that, not to position myself for the next big move.

* I’m standing up at work rather than leaning in because I know the importance of a meaningful job. It requires my energy, but it’s just a part of my life, not the whole.

* I’m past worrying whether everyone likes me. I’m not sure I like everyone anyway. But I can figure out how to work with them, and that’s what counts.

* I want to see what’s around and ahead of me, and you can’t do that when your nose is leaned-in to a corporate playbook. I will travel the rest of my life gazing at serendipitous experiences outside those pages.

* I still haven’t heard from anyone in Sheryl’s office about the Lean In Circles at my company. It’s unfortunate that she missed the true significance of going corporate again at 57. There is meaning to be found, purpose to be had, and passion to be explored.

My generation must stand up and be counted. We are in vigorous pursuit of the ultimate goal—a life well lived.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., center, poses with students for photographs after her speech at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea
Photo: Woohae Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on LifeReimagined.arrp.og
Life Reimagined AARP “At 57 I Don’ Lean In

And the Transition Goes On

“Why don’t you just say it, you’re retired,” a male friend said after my layoff that produced an unemployment check and a Cobra health insured life.

“I’m not retired,” I insisted. “I’m in transition.”

At lunch with a working friend from the good old days of full employment and a certain path I shared the nascent beginning of my blog.

“I’m writing about women in transition.”

“You’re always in transition,” my male lunch partner said.

He was right. Whether in a job or not, I have always felt in transition. I prefer to think this makes me an expert on the topic rather than someone who always looks for the next patch of greener grass.

When I told my sister about the potential job offer she asked, “Aren’t you enjoying your semi-retirement state?”

Semi-retirement? Is that what my life looked like to the outside? It didn’t’ feel like that inside.

The five years that I didn’t report to an office, I still worked. Not at a corporate office doing the same thing. But I worked. From a home office or at a borrowed desk. At various things. Consulting projects. Committees. Content development. And mostly teaching.

Two hundred students–give or take a few–have sat in my classes and been mentored over coffee and during office hours. Teaching has been the hardest work I’ve ever done. By myself. In front of a room of young adults hoping to advance their careers with the material they are learning in my class. Finding new ways to fill the hours, to bring the principles and theories alive. A three-hour, one-woman show running for 10 weeks straight. Each week required a new script and the ability to improvise.

“I never want to retire,” I tell Husband, who is on the brink of retirement. Teetering so close to being able to nap at will on any one of our couches. To putter in any number of puttering spaces in the house, garage, or outside. To being able to do something else as soon as he discovers or defines else. To being in transition.

Retiring sounds old. And I reject being old, while fully acknowledging being older. So I’m rejecting retirement and accepting rehiring into a new role in a familiar field. Or as I prefer to look at it, I’m just entering one more transitional phase in my life of transition.

Back in Business Again


Going back to work in the corporate world meant going back to business travel. To be honest, the chance to travel was one of the big reasons I entertained the idea of corporate life again. I love to travel and some of the nicest hotels and best airplane rides I’ve had have been corporate sponsored.

My transition back to the 9-5+ has not been without its interesting moments. First time I called a benefit hotline for new hires I was offered a conversation in a private phone booth with the girl of my dreams. I carefully dialed 866 (not 800) the next time and signed up for health and dental with a private conversation, recorded for training purposes

I now commute to the land beyond O’Hare airport. For those of you not in the Chicago region, that means far, far away from my downtown neighborhood. First drive to the office went without a hitch. Second time was full of hitches. Somehow the directions I printed from Google left out step #8, which meant that I drove west instead of north. I am directionally challenged when I get outside of either seeing the lake (it is always east) or being guided by Chicago’s easy grid & numbering system. Luckily, I only have to drive to the burbs once a week.

Which brings me to my latest escapade. I’m sitting in an airplane lounge awaiting my first international business trip in many years. And I am excited. International makes it feel a little less business to me, for some reason. And I’m going to a location where I will be able to visit family, turning the trip into an international business–with a side–of personal trip.

I have been sitting in this lounge for a long time. For most of the inauguration parade, from what I can tell. I’m here enjoying the free Diet Coke and crackers instead of lunch at home because I misread my ticket. I arrived 4.5 hours early for my trip because I looked at my ticket for my return home. This is not a complaint. At least I’m in an airport lounge. And the bands along the parade route are good entertainment. This is just a reality check for me. I’m back in business again. Time to check everything twice, because the difference between a questionable telephone connection or a unexpected layover is just a few digits away.


The New Year Feels Different Already

Signs that 2013 will be a different kind of year than 2012:
1. On January 1st Northwestern University won its first bowl game in 64 years.
2. On January 1st I watched a whole football game on television since the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985.
3. I learned more about probiotics and restoring the good bacteria in your gut than I ever wanted to learn while watching said football game.
4. An anonymous friend sent me a five-day pleasure challenge to start the new year, and I’m taking it.
5. In a few minutes I will drive to my new full-time job and first corporate job in five years. I didn’t sleep well last night and my stomach hurts now. Some things never change.

Looking Back at Barbra Streisand and Me

On the occasion of the release of Barbra Streisand’s latest album, Release Me, I discovered that she and I have a lot in common:

She’s had #1 albums in five consecutive decades. I’ve had 1st dates in five consecutive decades. That might be more difficult than singing.

She married James Brolin. I had a crush on him when he played Dr. Steven Kiley in the TV show, Marcus Welby. I wonder if that means I noticed him first.

She played a young Jewish girl who, against religious tradition, dresses like a man in order to study at the yeshiva. I was a young Catholic girl who always wondered why her religious tradition prevented women from becoming priests. I wear a lot of black today.

Both of us are funny girls not ingénues. Neither one of us would have been able to keep Robert Redford.

When she was born a star was born. I was born at 3:30 AM. Stars were out. Unless it was overcast.

I’m assuming that we both need people. Doesn’t everybody?

Congrats Barbra for the continuing success in your career of choice. And while I wish you another decade of singing and reaching the top of the charts, I hope to stay away from first dates.  Imagine my husband hopes I do too!

Looking for Clout with a Capital K





Her lack of Klout dealt a heavy blow to her self-esteem. “I feel depressed,” the twenty-something social media marketer and private-life blogger said. “My score should be higher.”

My heart ached for this young woman. Low Klout in a Klout obsessed world is no good. A Klout score is quantitative support for one’s qualitative state of being a go-to guy or gal. An expert. An influential. A VIP – literally. Event organizers use Klout scores to put together invitation lists to fashion shows and charity events. It has been suggested that a high Klout score on a resume indicates someone’s social media savvy and might open doors to a new job.

Clout has always mattered. Visions of the cool kids cafeteria table and mean girls with perfect curls come to mind. Cliques have self-defined clout. It was just a matter of time for clout to move online, for clout to become Klout, an online popularity rating. Another number to watch.

Numbers dog us from the minute we’re born. The Apgar score measures our newborn health. The ACT or SAT broadcasts our cognitive skills to college admissions officers. When the numbers stop the letter grades take over. Performance reviews grade us above, below or at expectations.
But who needs another number to live by. I have enough benchmarks to benchmark off of, thank you. I have my chronological age and my “real age” determined by my lifestyle and genetics. My real weight and my driver’s license weight.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that real earnings are falling or stagnant, not that I needed to anyone to tell me the obvious. Investment projections sit stalled on the launching pad. The value of my home? Let’s not talk about it.

So while I guess having clout is better than having no clout just like being popular is probably better than being unpopular – at least it was in high school and in one of my early jobs when having lunch with the boss was a sure sign of good things to come – I don’t want to play the popularity game anymore.

My online friends are real friends or at least someone I met once with whom I don’t mind sharing a mundane daily event – “gluten free pancakes today, not so bad,” or exciting news – “published!” I link in with people I know. Really. If I don’t know you the invitation sits in pending purgatory.

At this point you might be ready to say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire. You have a blog and it’s connected to your online networks. You love it if someone “likes” something you write or shares it with their friends.” Oh – maybe that’s my conscious speaking.

Yes, the above is true. Guilty as charged. But I much prefer increasing my reach organically versus strategically building my Klout score. For if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that if someone doesn’t want me eating at his table, then maybe it’s a table I don’t want to be eating at either. Or maybe I’m just not ready for that table. Or it’s his loss, not mine. Believe me, I’ve learned many things about this popularity game.

So, to the young woman with Klout score induced depression I suggest taking a deep breath and then getting back to doing what comes naturally. Reach out and respond to others. Share interesting ideas. Link. Friend. Like. Tweet like a bird. Yelp like a dog. Digg it or don’t. Just don’t push it. Real clout and influence will come when the time is right and not a minute too soon or too late.

Things I Knew

“What do you wish you had known early in your career?” Anita asked. “A lot,” I immediately answered. How to find a mentor. When to trust my instincts. The workplace isn’t fair. I should have known that. I did know a few things that helped me navigate the political corridors of the office and the jungle gym full of career ladders and job slides that lead to the oblivion known as “special projects.” Here’s my ABC list of things I knew and think others might benefit from knowing too:

•Accountability counts
Boys should act like men at the office, and girls like women.
Calendarize is a made-up word.
Drama should stay on the stage.
Extra hours at work don’t always yield extra results.
Forcing square pegs into round holes leaves bruises.
Grammar matters. Really.
How are you? Ask it and mean it.
Incentivize is another made-up word.
Jargon must be learned and kept to a minimum.
•Knowledge is power. How to leverage it is dynamite.
•Loving your job is not required to do a good job.
Melt-downs should be done behind closed doors.
Negative attitudes breed negative cultures.
Opportunities, while often just problems in disguise, must still be addressed.
•Point-of-view. Try seeing things from the other person’s side.
Quoting respected people in speeches beats telling a so-so joke.
Righteous indignation doesn’t work at work.
Second-guessing often leads to second place.
TMI is too much information.
Underwear should never be seen at the workplace.
Volunteering in and outside the job helps you as much as others.
Work, unlike in love and war, all is not fair.
XX-chromosome people communicate differently than XY-chromosome people
Youth is wasted on the young. George Bernard Shaw came up with this one, not me.
any is fine at home but not at work, unless you work for The Second City.


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