Search results for reinventing women

Reinventing Women: The Playing Field is Ripe for Change. Meet Karen Rogers-Robinson…

Posted by on Jan 21, 2013 in aging, career | 0 comments

HiResThe National Women’s Law Center recently reported that women continue to lag behind men in terms of job recovery, regaining less than a quarter (24%) of jobs lost during the country’s recession compared to their male peers (who’ve regained 39%). A large part of the problem driving the slower recovery among women has been the loss of public sector jobs. The lesson? While this news may appear dismal at face value, it supports Social Media/Social Technology Consultant Karen Rogers-Robinson contention that today’s financial and work economy truly is “a perfect time to reinvent yourself,” pointing out that “the playing field has been wiped clean for most.

In 2009, Karen was forced out of 21 years of service at AT&T, losing an essential foothold of income and perhaps the dream that many like herself had bought into.  She says that during her tenure, she was “in touch with her inner Boomer” and hadn’t believed that they would force her out, particularly because she had been a top revenue producer and a top performer in her department. Yet, the job had its plusses and minuses; “While I loved the techie geek that I had evolved into over the previous 20 years,” she explains, “I HATED what I was doing! So, I decided that since my children were grown and I had only me to take care of, I should try something new.”

For Karen, this meant taking decades of basic customer service skills, dynamic telephone strategies and web page development she acquired at AT&T and diving into the social marketing and tech landscape. In fact, that transition (which took place immediately following her job loss) landed her initially as founder of  Onyx Mobile Marketing, a firm connecting small business owners to their clients via text message marketing and mobile apps and now, principal of a burgeoning and evolving social media marketing and branding consultancy, SMMMDiva..  Her reinvention? A self-described  “a new and improved version [of Karen] with more bells and whistles.”

Karen says that while she has felt good about the choices she’s made, the change has been drastic and has affected her lifestyle immensely. These choices have also affected her relationship with family members who long relied on her as a financial lifeline. Moreover, while she was undergoing her transition from AT&T employee to social media diva, her significant other also left.

Fortunately, despite the challenges, Karen has a good financial and emotional network in place to provide footing when the ground has been shaky. She says that this an essential in the reinvention process, as is having a strategic plan. However, she notes that she had only been three years away from having a fully vested retirement, adding “had I been smart when the first cuts [at AT&T] started, I would have started my reinvention plan [then].”

Hindsight may always be 20-20 but the time for reinvention might be now. “Why be unhappy and stressed trying to keep a high paying job when it could be taken away at the blink of any eye and not because of how you performed? Life is short; do what makes you happy.”


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Wednesday Bubble: Reinventing Women Open Call

Posted by on Jan 9, 2013 in aging, Work/occupation | 3 comments

New Announcement

Did you catch Monday’s post about Hessie Jones and the path she’s taking to reinvention? If not, you don’t want to miss it!

I’m introducing a new series on Flashfree — Reinventing Women — and I want to talk to you! I want to hear about the career changes you’ve made in midlife, the ‘why,’ ‘what,’ and ‘how’ as well as any other nugget of wisdom that you might impart to others considering a similar reawakening.

Consider this Wednesday Bubble yours’ to burst; this is an open call.

If you are a woman, age 44 or older and want to share your story of your work transition (or transitions), drop me an email at Tell me a little about you, your age and what you used to do (and what you are doing now). I am hoping to find at least 10 more women willing to share their stories, their triumphs, their failures and their lessons.

Reinventing Women. It’s a new movement and it’s all about you!



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Reinventing Women: One Part Courage, Two Parts Happy. Meet Hessie Jones…

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in aging, Work/occupation | 14 comments

iStock_000010779625XSmallAccording to a recent article written by an economist in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s workforce is increasingly comprised of individuals who are older and more ethnically and racially diverse. There are also more women in the workforce than ever before, and by the year 2020, roughly 77 million women in the U.S. are expected to be actively working.

Yet, while the Pew Research Organization reports that having a family and children, and being a good parent still trumps career, women are not leaving their careers to marry or have children. Rather, most choose to balance career and family. However, what happens to that career as women start to age, children start to grow up or leave the home, marriages and partnerships break up and work that once fueled souls and passions no longer appears to do so? What drives the urge to change careers during midlife? What exactly is ‘reinvention?’

When I posed this question a few months back, one of the first women I heard from was Hessie Jones.  Hessie defines reinvention as “rethinking about your life, where you were, where you are and where you’re gonna go, i.e. having the courage to follow the path you were meant to lead regardless of your present state.”

A former VP of Marketing at Jugnoo and now in the process of yet another change, Hessie says that the first time she reinvented herself, she was only 39. That was 6 years ago, and since that time, she has used her drive and instincts to transform how companies view social media from simply another marketing or PR channel to an essential medium that can fuel organizational transformation and evolution. The key to successful reinvention, she notes, is being in the right frame of mind and possessing the vision to recognize when the timing is ripe for change. Yet, for Hessie, reinvention did not come without a price. “The hours away from home, my passion to meeting people with the same mindset, the need to network and experiment with different technologies/companies caused many disagreements at home. It also left my kids without an ‘attentive’ parent for a time. I received a lot of criticism from both sides of my family, especially when it was apparent that I was not fulfilling my responsibilities as a parent and spouse.” Still, her husband never asked her to step back, believing that her attempts at change are important to her personal progress.

All this disruption appears to have also yielded a deeper sense of self awarenesss. Hessie says that it’s most important to follow one’s heart but not at the expense of the rest of one’s life. “Don’t fight it. Let it guide you to making the right decision for yourself. But do not forsake your family in the meantime.” She shares a pearl of knowledge that was once shared with her; while passion may fuel change, it is important not to let the job take over; having no one to share one’s successes with is a lonely avenue.

Hessie’s courage to forge a new path several times over has yielded a few pearls of its own, including the fact that courage should be wrapped in a whole lot of happy. She says that it’s important to figure out what ‘happiness’ is and conduct a sanity check to see if your present situation is making you happy, adding that when her daughter asked what she should be when she grew up, she told her the following:

Do what you love to do not because of money, but because it makes you smile. Do not stay in a job because it’s safe. Move towards a job that challenges you. And never stop learning.

Is happy the mother of reinvention? Hessie Jones appears to be following her bliss.

What about you?


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Wednesday Bubble: Are you facing a lifetime of burnout?

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in stress | 3 comments

BurnoutStress. It can wreak havoc in so many ways. Researchers have shown that prolonged exposure to high levels of stress, especially when its source is work-related, can lead to burnout, i.e. emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue and a general weariness that affects thinking ability and focus. It can increase heart disease and metabolic syndrome, screw up the adrenal hormonal balance, cause systemwide inflammation and lower the ability to fight off disease and illness. It can lead to sleep disruption and significant mental health issues.

The bottom line is that stress hurts.

However, individual factors and characteristics also affect how vulnerable we are to burnout, and as I’ve written previously, active coping and attitude can often protect against the negative impact of daily stressors and protect health. More importantly, one’s orientation towards life, the way that the environment is perceived and whether or not it is manageable and meaningful is incredibly important; here, an ability to role with the punches can positively impact outlook as well as health.

But back to burnout; does it persist over time, never changing? Or do multiple factors influence the ability to b0unce back from the  burnout bonanza?

Findings of a nine-year study in almost 200 midlife women (ages 49 to 53) reveal some interesting findings demonstrating that some women with high levels of burnout can actually recover while others either stabilize or continue to worsen. The factors that influence this the most? Concurrent changes in life stress, work-related factors and coping ability/attitudes towards life. In fact, when women were divided into clusters reflecting patterns of burnout, the researchers found that high levels of life stress (e.g. concern for ailing parents, or concern for own health or their partner), coupled with a greater sensitivity to stress and job strain was a recipe for prolonged, worsening burnout. Women who had high levels of life stress but more control over their work environment were able to recover from burnout over time. Conversely, women with low levels of life stress, susceptibility to stress, anxiety and high levels of coping and a sense of control didn’t appear to be dealing with much burnout; the ability to draw on internal resources appeared to be protective in across a broad range of wellbeing indices.

It’s important to point out that the researchers did not have the ability to analyze private or individual stress separately from work stress and hence, these two factors are pooled. This means that the findings may have been affected. Still, studies have been fairly consistent in demonstrating the perils of stress and burnout in terms of health and overall wellbeing.

The lesson here is that if you are in extreme burnout, there is hope. Take a prolonged break to reevaluate your life, your decisions and your personal and social resources. If you don’t feel as though you have enough control in your worklife, and changing jobs or careers is an option, consider it; a new series on Flashfree –Reinventing Women — is profiling women who have made similar decisions to drastically change their lives. Exercise your prerogative to take better care of you; after all, you are only as good as the sum of your parts. And finally? Believe that things can change for the better. Nothing is forever and a lifetime of burnout is n0 life.

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