Tag Archive: Cross-Training

Launching a Second Career?

“From adversity comes opportunity.” – Hall of Fame Football Coach Lou Holtz

“Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.” – Jim Valvano Farewell Speech

“ … There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”

There was a real question for months-on-end about whether this particular Almost DailyBrett blog post would ever be written.

The reason is simple. It’s much more difficult than anyone would anticipate, launching a second act when one reaches the “difficult” age of 50 or above. This point is particularly magnified for the so-called “privileged” pale male of the species.


No one seems to like these angry white males. Let’s marginalize this irksome demographic (e.g., put them out to pasture).

And yet there is hope for those – both women and men — approaching their Golden Years particularly those with plenty of gas in the tank with what can be called,  a sunny outlook on life.

Didn’t Ronald Reagan launch a second career at 69-years young after six years of uneventful long-term unemployment?

Aren’t the Rolling Stones touring the UAE, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand in their 70s?

Judi Dench at 69-years of age couldn’t make the Academy Awards Sunday night because she was shooting a movie in India. You go girl!

The same is true for the author of Almost DailyBrett. Starting this September, yours truly will serve as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Central Washington University, teaching public relations and advertising to college students.

Yes, this most likely is my incredibly satisfying encore after three decades in political-corporate-agency public relations.

For a wide variety of reasons the recession/economic downturn that stubbornly refuses to enter into full recovery mode, claimed literally hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomer victims during the course of last decade.

In many cases, their P&Ls simply collapsed. They were making five-figures or in some cases, six-figures and the first number was not necessarily a “1.” Despite their knowledge and experience …or maybe because of their knowledge and experience…they became too damn expensive.


It was time to cut expenses and to layoff those who were not going to be part of an organization’s dynamic future. These Baby Boomers reacted by thinking about simply landing another six-figure “position.” Surely someone would be grateful for their services…or surely, not.

After months of furtive searching, burning through inadequate unemployment checks and dipping into savings, joining the ranks of the long-time unemployed, some of these cashiered Baby Boomers came up in many cases with the wrong solution: Start their own businesses and burn down nest eggs. For a few it worked. For most it did not.

Putting out your shingle and being your own boss sounds appealing on the surface, but in most cases it’s a major pain. You have to find the business against strong competitors. If successful, you have to service the business. You have to retain the business. You have to bill…and hope that you will be paid in a timely manner, if it all.

Many took a hint and retired in their late 50s/early 60s, years before Medicare eligibility. As The Economist stated: “A growing number of the long-term unemployed find ways to qualify as disabled and never work again.” The number of DI beneficiaries in 1970; 1.5 million; 2013, 8.9 million. The disability trust fund is due to go broke in 2016.

Okay, acknowledging that an uphill climb still confronts the long-term unemployed Baby Boomer, what are some realistic strategies to launch a second career, get back into the game, and put more hop-and-skip into her or his jump?

Continuous Self-Improvement. Even though you may detest exercise, you need to dedicate at least 30 minutes daily, six days per week (one day off) for cross-training. That means reasonable resistance training with weights three days a week and aerobic exercise (e.g., running, elliptical, treadmill, spinning) another three days per week. This should be a religious experience, meaning you believe you are sinning if you miss a day. At a minimum, you will feel better about yourself and better project a more youthful demeanor.


Calories In; Calories Out. No one wants to hear this mantra, but that along with exercise is the solution to adipose tissue. Serve meals on salad-size plates instead of dinner plates. Think portions. Eat more veggies and fruits. Drink more water. Divide entrees with a significant other when you go out (you will still go home with a Bowser bag). Lose your convulations.

Lifelong Learning. Know what is going on in the world, even if Russia’s latest invasion or the massive U.S. deficit does not please you. Project yourself as engaged in your world, nation, state and community. Devour digital and conventional media.

Embrace Digital. That means as CNBC’s Jim Cramer would say: social, mobile and cloud. Those Baby Boomer colleagues of the editor-in-chief of Almost DailyBrett  that are agnostic to social media all have something in common: They are all unemployed. Write a blog. Participate in social media. Keep up with digital trends. Google yourself. Immediately clean up your act, if necessary.

Always Think SEO. WordPress, Wix and others give you free plug-and-play tools to build your own personal brand websites. LinkedIn provides you with the tools to incorporate your professional personal photos, presentations, glowing references and career accomplishments. Use them. And then employ social media to spread the word. Update your resume. If you don’t know what SEO stands for, look it up.

Build Your Network. Every LinkedIn connection is a friend. Every LinkedIn Group is a collection of like-minded friends. Don’t rely on the black hole of job boards. Develop relationships. Find the hiring managers. Ask for informational interviews. As you well know, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Consider Going Back to School. It may not be easy to be a Non-Trad Student as earlier reported in Almost DailyBrett, but attaining that elusive undergraduate or advanced degree at a minimum demonstrates tenacity, dedication and commitment. As Martha would say, these are all good things. My new position would not have been possible without my recently earned graduate degree, attained 34 years after my undergraduate degree.

Put Yourself in a Young Environment. The ultimate start-ups are college campuses. No one is thinking about retirement or long-term disability checks. For students, the future is now and it is damn exciting. Think of your future that way as well. If you are 60, you should be contemplating your next three decades of so on the planet…if you are so lucky.clint1

Avoid Starting Your Own Business … unless you really want to. Burning up your nest egg on a business that fails is a double whammy. Find something different that you want to do and can do with gusto. I am really looking forward to resuming my teaching, and in particular mentoring students as they transition from graduates to professionals.

Stay Away from Federal and State Assistance. Are you really disabled? Can you volunteer? Can you take a “job” rather than a “position” to get back on track? We need more taxpayers in this country, not more of those on the dole as evidenced by the record 46 million on Food Stamps.

Find Love. Having someone in your corner supporting you and willing to listen when the storm clouds are the darkest is indispensible. Being able to check the “married” box sends a very positive message, and may prompt someone important to look at your application twice.

That may be just the break that your second career needs.








MarketWatch Lead

Guarding your health during a long job search

8 ways the long-term unemployed can protect their well-being


By Kristen Gerencher, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — It’s been nearly a year since Kevin Brett lost his job as a public-relations executive, the longest stretch of unemployment he’s ever faced.

The only other major break in his 32-year career was a five-month jobless stint in 1993, but he describes this time as far more challenging. Things are starting to look up — since January he’s added about 10 hours of work a week for a freelance client and he’s interviewing for full-time jobs and weighing an academic opportunity — but there have been a few heartbreaks on the path to reemployment.

“I’ve been the first runner-up at least three times. I’ve come so close,” he said, noting that he tells himself to persevere. “But it is disappointing when it’s down to two candidates and then you get the phone call that you’ve always dreaded.”

Brett knows he can’t look for work eight hours a day, so he’s also managed to go to the gym more often, read novels, learn new social-media skills and spend more time with his family when he’s not job-hunting.

“I am probably in the best shape I’ve been since my college days and my stamina is great,” said Brett, 55, a self-described “gym rat” who lives in Pleasanton, Calif. “It’s kept my weight down and I feel great.”

Repeated rejection and increased stress can be a health hazard among the long-term unemployed, who face special challenges in guarding their health as the sluggish recovery drones on. More than 6 million Americans have been out of work for at least six months, comprising a record 44% of the unemployed in March, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The national unemployment rate is 9.7%, just shy of a 27-year high.

Job seekers can’t ward off every infirmity through sheer will power and discipline, but they can stack the deck in their favor by keeping a routine, staying socially active, pursuing hobbies and taking better care of themselves than they would if they were working and commuting, experts say.

“The key is spending some time doing what you like to do,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association in Washington. “You need to continue the job search, but you do need to spend some time for yourself as a way of better understanding and handling your own stress.”

What’s at stake

Whether overall public health improves or worsens during recessions is the subject of some debate. Conflicting research shows people are less likely to indulge in some unhealthful habits if they’re costly, but other health problems that can arise in tough times may offset those potential gains.

People who have been jobless for an extended period are vulnerable to medical and behavioral problems that stem in part from stress, Benjamin said. Excessive eating, anxiety, clinical depression and many forms of abuse tend to rise in hard times, he said.

“The mental-health issues, the stress and behavior issues and the lack of access to health care — all three of those things kick in,” he said. “It can be a pretty serious situation, particularly for people who are long-term unemployed.”

Losing access to health coverage and contact with health-care providers can exacerbate the problems, Benjamin said.

“Anyone who has existing health conditions [is] at risk of those worsening without appropriate medical care, and new things don’t get picked up because some people don’t have the funds to go to the doctor,” he said.

Evidence supports the idea that losing a job can be bad for your health, but that doesn’t mean illness is a foregone conclusion.

People who lost a job because of a business closure had a 54% higher chance of reporting fair or poor health shortly thereafter, and those who didn’t have health problems were 83% more likely to acquire one after losing a job through no fault of their own, according to a study published in the May 2009 issue of the journal Demography. The study sampled about 16,000 people included in the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Suffering this kind of big shock to what we call socioeconomic status has a significant effect on health,” said study author Kate Strully, assistant professor of sociology and epidemiology at the State University of New York at Albany.

The new health problems people developed were typically cardiovascular disease, arthritis and psychological conditions, she said.

“Those are the big three,” Strully said. “The key unifying factor between physical conditions often times was inflammation. The inflammatory process tends to increase when people are under stress, which can affect things like heart disease but also certain types of arthritis.”

What to do

Assuming you have the basics of food and shelter covered, experts say there are some things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing while coping with an extended bout of joblessness. Among them:

  • Try not to take your situation personally. It helps if you can see being out of work as part of a larger phenomenon, said Diane Gehart, professor of marriage and family therapy at California State University-Northridge. “Where you get into trouble is thinking ‘I’m a failure. I’ll never get a job again. I’ve done something wrong,'” she said. “If you start to personalize it, you’re more likely to get depressed, and if you get depressed you’re more likely to be less effective in your job search.”
  • Create a structured work day. Joseph Horak, a psychologist and marriage and family therapist in Grand Rapids, Mich., advises his out-of-work clients to get up at a regular time and go to a particular place to look for a job or learn new skills for part of the day. “They may either go to a desk or a coffee shop or a library and they work,” he said. “That’s going to help them feel better about themselves, a little more in control.”
  • Find joy in doing something unrelated to the job search. Whether you like to run, read books, draw, do woodworking or volunteer at a local nonprofit, pursue a hobby while you have the time. You may miss your favorite activities when you eventually reenter the work force, said Brett, who sees more free time as an upside of his prolonged job hunt. “It’s kind of like a break from the rat race.”
  • Cultivate healthful habits and avoid destructive ones. “It may be a time to pay more attention to your nutrition,” Benjamin said. “It’s not a time to create additional stressors like going on a binge, whether it’s smoking, eating or alcohol.”
  • Get some exercise. Raising your heart rate also can raise your mood, said Horak, who practices what he preaches. “I work out almost every day. It’s one of the interventions I recommend for my clients, even if it’s just going for a walk.”
  • Maintain your support network and invest in your treasured relationships. Surround yourself with family, friends or a trusted counselor. “Ultimately, for most people, that’s where you find meaning and joy in life,” Gehart said. Attending to loved ones also can help you expand your identity beyond your career, Horak said.
  • Practice gratitude. Write down three things you appreciate every day or send a letter to someone who’s made a positive impact on you. Gehart said she’s gone the daily journal route. “It sounds almost too ridiculously simple to be useful, but it’s a very powerful exercise.”
  • Watch for signs of depression and seek professional help if you have symptoms. Symptoms can include an increase or decrease in appetite or sleeping, talking about not wanting to live or feeling hopeless, withdrawing from activities that used to be enjoyable and inappropriate crying. People who become severely depressed need more than just a well-intentioned pep talk — they need to see a doctor or therapist immediately and may need medication, especially if they’re at risk of harming themselves or others, Horak said. “People who have never been depressed have a hard time understanding that,” he noted. Don’t be afraid to call a suicide hotline for help with an emotional crisis. Call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK at any time to talk to someone in your area.

Kristen Gerencher is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco.

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