Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category

Finding a Job: Moving from Employment to Engagement

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Previously, we talked about the challenges of finding gainful employment and how the rules are changing when identifying and interviewing for an opportunity.  Employers are savvy and know they can benefit from the amazing resources and talent available – so how do you make yourself standout from the crowd?

Consider the old way versus the new:  employ vs. engage.  Not only is this a different process, it’s also a mindset.  Companies are looking for talent that is fresh, updated, are quick learners and who can take the ball and run with it.  More of a “here’s what I can do for you” versus the old “here’s what I can do.”

Engagement is about getting people’s attention, offering something of value and then creating buy-in or participation.  It’s not spouting your accomplishments or data dumping, waiting for the other person to be impressed. 

As a Baby Boomer, your 30 years of stability aren’t necessarily a bonus – they may signal lack or creativity or innovation to a different generation.  Don’t take that as a personal slight – it’s just one more way the employment process has changed.  Instead, identify key successes, challenges resolved and obstacles you overcame to demonstrate your value and skills.

When writing UPSIDE, Bonnie and I were very aware of these shifts, so we dedicated an entire chapter on how to leverage your value by identifying your existing marketable skills.  You can download one of the key exercises, the Power Core, to jumpstart the process for free (  Once you determine which skills are valuable in the current economy, you can then start identifying which industries need your abilities and offer opportunities.


The Downside of Hard Times: Feeling Rejected and Discouraged

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Just the other day, Sharon Cohen of the Associated Press wrote a story of Baby Boomers aged 50+ looking for long-term work.  The article expressed the despair and rejection qualified candidates feel while searching for gainful employment.  It evoked tough memories for me as well, when I was laid off the first time in my career, almost 25 years ago.

Ms. Cohen’s article chronicled the efforts of the job seekers – looking online, scouring the classifieds and even networking groups of other unemployed.  I ran into the same issues – sending 100s of resumes to blind ads, knocking on storefronts with help wanted signs – and like many of my Boomer colleagues, I was told more than once that my knowledge and skills made me “over-qualified” for a position.  The frustration and rejection can be overwhelming.

While these are traditional, classic methods, they are not the way most employers find great employees – the rules have changed and Boomers need to be aware of where to channel their time and energy. (more…)


Boomers, Happiness and the American Dream

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Can you develop your own American Dream?  Can you accept that your lifestyle may be different than the last generation?  Can you still be happy?

In our book, Upside:  How to Zig When Life Zags, we discuss the meaning of happiness.  Our premise is that even during a recession and hard times, it is possible to be happy.  One of the core elements in the book is the idea that happiness comes from many things other than material possessions. We also emphasize the importance of reworking your American Dream to fit the new reality.

A new survey conducted by MetLife indicates that many are pursuing their own version of the American Dream.  Beth Hirschhorn, executive vice president and chief marketing, says “people are adapting and pursuing their own American dream.” There is a de-emphasis on material values, even to the extent of accepting lower living standards.

“The American Dream for many – higher education, owning a home, a great career, providing a financial safety net and building retirement assets – is either unachievable or irrelevant. Posted on:  Dream’s dark hour By GREGORY BRESIGER January 7, 2012

Survey spokeswoman Laura Adams, adds that the American Dream is less conventional and more personalized than previously defined. The average American wants to realize his own dream, not that of a group.

To realize your dream, take the time to discuss with family and friends the elements that determine real happiness.  Look at the components in our workbook,  Take the survey developed by Sustainable Seattle,

Wishing you a happy American dream and one that can be sustained.

Bonnie Michaels


Create a New Holiday Experience—One that Fits the Times

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Make a new holiday experience—one that fits in with today’s reality. Wipe the slate clean and do something different. The last blog included the following suggestions:  Define what holiday means to you (and your family) and keep it simple.  Other suggestions are detailed below:

  • Give to others in greater need

A good case study comes from a woman and her son that volunteer for the homeless by bringing blankets and food donations.  She reflects that the experience gives her joy, resilience and strength in countless ways and it is an excellent way to educate children. She says, “It’s what the holiday is all about.”

  • Bring people together

Use your creative self to hold gatherings of friends and family and plan something unique—games, song fests, sharing memories and old photos of holidays.  Make it a potluck so you aren’t responsible for all the food.

  • Stay out of the malls

My advice is that it is too tempting with all the hype, music, and sale signs.  Go shopping for what you absolutely need, or better still, find it online. The need vs. want syndrome can be addictive. (See exercises in Upside:  How to Zig When Life Zags,

The Center for a New American Dream, suggests giving oneself—providing gifts of time or experiences that will be remembered.  Examples:  give a friend her dream, sign her up for a class, purchase a gift certificate for a spa, or give tickets to a community theater. 

  • Attitude, attitude, attitude

Bring your best attitude to the season.  It will affect all members of your family.  If you are showing more doom and gloom about your current circumstances, it will affect everyone you care about. It is difficult to remain upbeat in these difficult times but the upside is that you have a choice on how to react.  Your willingness to be motivated and have fun despite your circumstances will strengthen you in the long run.

  • Look forward and not behind

It’s not what you don’t have but what you do have.  It is a time for being grateful for everything we do have.  Asking family members what they are grateful for is an excellent way to bring people together.  After all, the greatest gift is that you have family and friends.

Have a Happy and Meaningful Holiday!

Bonnie Michaels


Tips for Surviving the Holidays When Times Are Tough

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

It’s not an easy time for many of you—job loss, mortgage issues, tight budgets and fear of the next shoe falling.  Don’t despair.  There is an upside and a way to enjoy your holiday in spite of difficult times

This is definitely a time to erase the past holiday experiences and make a new one. Wipe the slate clean and do something different.

  • Define what holiday means to you (and your family)

Our holidays have become a media frenzy experience instead of our own.  What doyou really want from the holiday–sharing, laughing, reflecting, remembering, reawakening spirit?  Once you define what you want the experience to be, you can create it without a lot of money and stress.

As I think about a time in my life when I was a single parent and broke, my daughter and I made lots of gifts and had time together to laugh and create. I didn’t feel bad because I didn’t have money to spend.  I actually liked the time with my daughter that was removed from my busy life.  Shopping doesn’t bring you closer.

This year I received the best present from my daughter—it was a poem on what I meant to her.  I treasure it to this day. It is far better than any store bought gift.

  • Keep it simple

During times of great stress, it is easier to plan your holiday buying and decorating to a minimum.  Think small.  Remember to go back to that holiday definition and make the experiences come from within instead of objects.  House decorating can be a family affair with all members coming up with one object or idea that can be put together by the family.

With small children who have high gift expectations, communicate that this year might be different. Explain why.  Remember you are doing a great justice by keeping your kids in the loop of family issues. (It will prepare them for their future.)  If there are financial difficulties, it is important to handle the message with honesty and compassion but not alarming them.  A three year old doesn’t need lots of details but some explanation on why gift-giving will be different this year. It doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.  And that really is up to you in how you communicate. For example,

“Santa is only bringing one gift this year—there are so many children and only so many to go around.”  You can determine what suits your communication style.

For older children who want lots of expensive techie toys or games, you could consider contributing to an item and then asking other family members to pitch in.

General gift ideas include doing something for someone—a back rub for a partner, a special meal for a parent, a unique sleepover party for your children’s friends, etc.

Check out A Mindful Christmas—How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday by Barbara Kilikevich or Hundred Dollar Holiday:  The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, by Bill McKibben.

More tips in Part 2 next week.

Bonnie Michaels


The Queen of Having it All

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Andrea Woolf wants you to have it all – the self-proclaimed “Queen of Having It All” discovered her gift of coaching others through challenges at a very young age. While other children played outside, Andrea could be found in her mother’s salon chatting with clients. Eventually, the client would reveal their personal obstacle and commit to specific action steps to resolve it by the time they left.


Andrea applied this talent to a very successful corporate career.  While juggling massive projects in a high-pressure environment, she still found that helping individuals achieve their goals to be the most rewarding.  When she discovered the role of executive coaching, Andrea says it was like “finding the glove that fit me.”


Her clients are fueled by Andrea’s core values of integrity, full self-expression and inspiring magnificence.  She believes that all business is created through powerful and connecting communication, which quickly leads to amazing results and successes.  Andrea is committed to inspiring others to own their personal magnificence by thinking and playing bigger while embracing the huge difference they make in the world.


Andrea certainly walks her talk, too.  A confessed ‘recovering perfectionist’, Andrea discovered many of the tools she coaches others with as she wrote her first book, Ignite Your Life! How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.  The need to write the ‘perfect’ book almost immobilized her, but lucky for us, she overcame her self-doubt and busy mind and voila, the book is now a reality!


Her advice to others?  “The only thing between you and your dreams is YOU!”  How very true – that’s why in order to have it all, you must let go of expectations and doubts and embrace the possibilities.  Learn more about Andrea’s inspiring work and sign up for your free chapter newsletter at


This eight-part blog series, exclusively for, highlights the Every Woman Visionary. Each of these women, along with myself, are featured in the first-ever Spirited Woman 2012 Directory: Resources For An Inspired Life! ( set to launch on 12/12/11. It is an exciting time for women, and the FREE magazine-style digital directory – rich with inspirational stories, resources and more – is our gift to you. Women from six countries and over 25 states participated in the directory.


The Rules Have Changed

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Today, November 27, The Diane Rehm Show,, focused on the loss of the American Dream. (I encourage you to listen to the podcast.) There were many poignant stories of individuals who followed the rules—did everything right and still fell behind.  There were many reasons why—loss of job or health, cost of health care, lack of education, government services, union issues, housing, etc.

As we know, in this political climate it will be a long time before the government is able to do anything substantial. However, there are still some things individuals can begin to do on their own.  In Upside:  How to Zig when Life Zags, we encourage individuals to reinvent their American Dream—that means start over.  Wipe the slate clean of expectations, things that worked in the past.  In today’s world, we must constantly invent. We must also think about alternatives in every aspect of our lives—where and how we live, how to educate our children, how to save money, and how to protect our health.

As I watched the frenzy on Black Friday, I was amazed that people are still being tempted to spend even during these difficult times.  I have nothing against purchasing goods but that day could have been spent enjoying family and brainstorming the next steps for many during this transition.

None of this is easy but we aren’t alone.  We must find the courage and the mental and physical resources to move on and find the answers.  We must be strong and commit to being resourceful and find others with which to share the journey.

I wish you luck on this difficult journey.

Bonnie Michaels


The “Need vs. Want” Addiction

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

During my vacation trip to Africa, I didn’t have my cell phone.  There were a few days of withdrawal especially with email.  I survived but I now that I’m back in the US I can admit to being addicted.

In our book, Upside:  How to Zig When Life Zags, we discuss Need Vs. Want and ask readers to seriously ask the question as they make daily choices—especially in this economy.  Do I really need this item?

“I need that toy”! Exclaims a child to his mother is a store. This often-heard phrase is a reminder of our society’s use of the word need.  We need shelter and food—but what else do we really need?  Abraham Maslow created a diagram in 1943 that outlines basic needs of mankind.  Shelter and food are the essential foundation of the hierarchy, and once those are satisfied, love, acceptance, meaningful work and social relationships follow. (Excerpt)

In an August 19 article in the Chicago Tribune, a reporter, Mary Schmich, writes about getting her cell phone deluged in Lake Michigan in a wet biking splash. After days without a cell phone, she still managed to get her story written—no easy task. She had some words of wisdom as she was going through cell phone detox, “Life is largely a series of itches. We mistake cravings for necessities, dependencies for needs.”

As we know cell phones and other “tech toys” make life in our busy world easier, but what are the lessons that we can learn from Mary’s experience?   In retrospect, without my phone I was able to be fully present and not distracted. I had a richer experience and was able to quiet my mind and enjoy my trip more.

As you go through your work week, be aware of those things in your life that you feel you really need.  Try going without a phone, computer, or other devices.  See if you can determine those things you crave vs. necessity– and, avoid those itches.

Bonnie Michaels


No Vacation Nation

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

You may be surprised to know that Americans work harder than our counterparts abroad.  While Europeans enjoy months at a time of “holiday,” Americans remain hard at work.  The numbers on relaxation and vacation are in – and they are not in our favor! (more…)


The American Dream Revisited…It’s time for Innovation!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Economist and best-selling author Juliet Schor has a new video describing the new American Dream: The film shows why economic and job-related strategies from the past that don’t work in today’s economy.  It depicts, in her words, “what a post-consumer society could look like, with people working fewer hours and pursuing re-skilling, homesteading, and small-scale enterprises that can help reduce the overall size and impact of the consumer economy.”

In our book Upside, we talk about the need for creating your own career crystal ball of the future. This film is an excellent example of our concept: taking advantage of emerging job opportunities based on the needs of the future.  It also takes into account the need to pay attention to our dwindling resources as that affects job opportunities, too. (more…)