White Hair Looks Cool

I worked for just over a decade in Washington, DC at the national headquarters of AARP where I developed an awareness about employment challenges for older workers (people age 40 and beyond) that I share here today with you. AARP switched their marketing focus to appeal to people born from 1946 through 1964, which was a departure from the initial AARP target audience of people born during or before the Second World War. This marketing change was so AARP could remain relevant at least from 2011 through 2029, the span of years that the baby boom generation hits age 65.

Whether AARP is the best organization to benefit you as an older worker (versus a retired person) is not the focus of my commentary here today. But, it is true that AARP consistently has tried to socialize how people today can try to cope with workplace age discrimination.

The marketing phrase that stands out for me is this one: “Age is just a number and life is what you make it.” Various versions of that sentiment found their way into AARP marketing over many years since the mid-1990s. There is some logical truth in that phrase, of course. However, in the real world, how many birthdays you’ve reached has much more significance than being “just a number” for you.

Experiencing age discrimination in the workplace (either while attempting to get hired, or, on the job, itself) in the United States happens to be what’s “normal” for most people. Some career paths, of course, are exceptions to this cultural norm. But, most of us have already learned painful lessons from our experiences with workplace age discrimination.

I work as a professional life coach and business improvement coach. On the personal coaching side, I mentor people who are older workers to reinvent and restart as the preferred way to fight back against workplace age discrimination. The methods I use are proprietary, but I can describe here how this works.

white hair looks cool

Very few people are born with a built-in skill to use their mind always for their own good and prosperity. So, I teach people that skill to augment what’s already in their set of skills. What happens after my coaching, consulting and mentoring is a person becomes confidently skilled at using their mind in proven ways that lead to their own good and prosperity. There is no magic or medications and nothing to take. Anyone with a mind that works can attain this newly-acquired skill.

Older workers know that age discrimination is reality. No marketing campaigns from any organization can diminish this. Age discrimination will not go away for you in the workplace if you attempt to “appear younger” by coloring your hair. White hair looks cool. I am a man who knows a few things about hair.

You can fight back against such workplace discrimination by learning how you can use your mind to succeed personally and professionally and leave your competitors behind.

Reinventing and restarting yourself at any age is neither simple nor painless. But, not reinventing or restarting yourself may lead to you remaining stuck in life. Don’t let that happen.

Your Career Choice Can Ruin You Financially

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be DJs or journalism majors. Your kids will soon after choosing to be in radio or television or journalism become dead broke and they will come begging for you as parents to let them move back in with you. Stop them before they make a terrible career mistake!

You probably have at least heard of Kiplinger, a publisher located in Washington, DC that provides business forecasts and personal finance advice. Perhaps you’ve read their content online. It is worth noting that this company has survived since 1920. I think Kiplinger deserves your trust and confidence when it comes to forecasting financial issues for you, personally, and for business entities in general.

I just read a 2017 Kiplinger analysis entitled “10 Worst Jobs for the Future.”

Kiplinger is warning young people at the start of their career to steer clear of the radio and television industries. This comes as number 5 of 12 such warnings worth knowing about.

A projected decline of 10% (ten percent) in available jobs up through the year 2026 is forecast. The median annual salary of $32,283 is cited for radio and television announcers in the Kiplinger analysis.

A far worse fate than suffering through the indignities of that very low salary level you can expect is this Kiplinger explanation as to why you should steer clear of such careers in the first place:

“More radio disc jockeys, talk show hosts and podcasters are under threat of being silenced. Consolidation of radio and television stations, as well as the increased use of syndicated programming, limit the need for these kinds of workers. Plus, streaming music services offer fierce competition to radio stations and their workers. On the upside, online radio stations may provide new opportunities for announcers. If you’re committed to this career track, consider addressing even smaller audiences and becoming a party DJ or emcee. These other types of announcers make up a small field of just 17,326 workers currently, but are expected to grow their ranks 6.0% by 2026. They typically earn slightly less with a median $32,177 a year, but only require a high school diploma to get started.”

Why I’m writing this commentary needs to be explained clearly to you right now: I chose to seek a career on the air in radio back in the year 1970 when I was not yet old enough legally to buy alcohol. More of less four years later I was let go from that amazingly thrilling gig in the Los Angeles radio market, which the second-largest in the United States. I just was not sufficiently talented for an on-air career in the radio industry in Los Angeles. That stunning E-Ticket ride in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard was fast, unpredictable, and, entirely too short.

After I was not talented enough to keep a radio job in the Los Angeles market, I tried to work (part time) in the dead-end markets in both Eureka, California and Bloomington, Indiana. Working in both of those markets proved to be exceedingly depressing compared to working in the Los Angeles market.

My dear friend Evan Haning wrote in 2011 for the Foreword to my book KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever that the profession has disappeared. That was 6 years ago.

Evan Haning always was a man ahead of his time. And, Evan Haning is the ONLY person I knew personally who made it on the air in radio over the long stretch. Compared to me only being on the air in Hollywood at some rock and roll station for a very short while, Evan Haning, who started on the air in the dreaded San Luis Obispo, California radio market, made it from a success in the Los Angeles radio to the crucial Washington, DC radio market and he did so within the cut-throat all-news radio business there. He is one of the few living radio heroes I have.

Pay careful attention to my commentary here: It makes sense for you NOT to go after a profession that is already gone from our culture. I urge you NOT to pursue a career in the radio or television industries. I believe what Kiplinger is saying. So, should you.

You may want to go get a bachelor’s degree like I did in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. But, do not for one minute believe that being on the air at KCPR radio at Cal Poly actually will prepare you to make a living in a career on the air elsewhere. Read about my own KCPR radio at Cal Poly experiences as a possible guide to what may happen to you if you go that route.

Remember that ANY bachelor’s degree anywhere will do the basic minimum—train you to learn how to use your mind effectively. Just do not expect a financial payback for all the dollars that you or your parents invest in your undergraduate education if you choose a major such as journalism that is declining in job prospects. You will need more than merely a bachelor’s degree. You will need a top-notch graduate degree or two from highly-reputable universities that are expensive and not at all easy to get into.

Ironically, now in the wake of President Donald Trump’s claims about so-called “fake news,” which is a false claim that does not stand up to the test of reason, skilled and talented journalists are needed perhaps more than ever before. But, the reality is this: Skills can be taught during an undergraduate or graduate degree program, yes. Getting a bachelor’s degree in journalism won’t give you talent that you don’t already have within you. And seeking a career on the air on radio or television may just ruin you financially even if you go the extra distance to get graduate degrees. You don’t want to beg mommy and daddy to let you move back in with them after you are 30. Mommy will do your laundry. Daddy will curse you under his breath while he gets loaded on adult beverages at the dinner table. And, while your rent will be free, you will end up not being able to look yourself in the mirror for the rest of your life.

These are my opinions. Your mileage may vary.

Getting Back to the Neon Fun Desert

As October 2013 came to an end, so did my Las Vegas life. Or so I thought. Now, as June 2015 comes to an end, I’m getting to go back to live in the neon fun desert.

This feels right. This feels like what is “supposed to happen.” So, I am going with it. I am leaving my home state of California to live and work in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Yes, the weather can be impossibly hot. Yes, there also are other factors about living in the Mojave Desert that are challenging. But, for me, returning to Las Vegas feels like a fulfillment of certain song lyrics: “get back to where you once belonged.

las_vegas_patch_of_blue_in_the_sky

I know now that one must look into the sometimes stormy skies to find a patch of blue. A proper mental attitude can carry you through. You just need to discover how to stay in control of your mind and not let others encroach upon you or your thoughts and beliefs.

My partner of 19 years, Sam Glass and I will once again be locals in Las Vegas.
We know what to expect because we lived there very recently and see what’s what.

I’m pleased to be continuing my digital marketing and advertising work of 2 years for an international company headquartered in New York City that understands how to encourage excellence through flexibility in employee work locations. This is not futuristic. This is reality right now.

San Francisco

SFO  

 
One hundred eight years ago, a terrible natural disaster descended upon San Francisco. The April 16, 1906 earthquake and resulting fire devastated the City and Bay Area. But, this is a resilient place that learned how to stand out from all other places in North America. I am working here now in San Francisco on the 17th floor of a building that stands on landfill and no, I am not afraid.

If you follow my posts here bearing the stand out tag, you already know that I relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada from the Washington, DC area during the dead of summer 2012. What was I thinking?

I asked myself that question as I melted under the unnatural feeling of daytime highs hitting one hundred eighteen degrees. Yeah, sure, the summers are damn hot in Las Vegas. But, everyone knows that.

I had to leave the Washington, DC area to move on with my life. There were many things I loved while living in Las Vegas for over a year. I just had to accept that my job meant relocating to San Francisco. And, what do you know? Although the weather is never hot in San Francisco compared to Las Vegas, in real life a person cannot pick a place to live and work based on the local weather.

Being someone who wants to stand out in life, I jumped at the career opportunity to work in San Francisco and left Las Vegas in the rearview mirror. Well, that’s a metaphor because actually I flew on United Airlines.

The most important lesson I have learned in my life is to seek change, explore new ventures, and don’t regret what you leave behind. Now I am in San Francisco, which is arguably the most beautiful city in North America. There is so much to love here.

This also is a very happening place where the economy is so good that people here choose to pay more than most other Americans for just about everything. Did you know that for $4 you can get toast in San Francisco? Bread and butter toast. Like for breakfast. Not some trendy alcoholic beverage!

Oh yeah, and then there’s that rather annoying legacy of earthquakes. Can’t do anything about that any more than I could change the terrible weather in Las Vegas in summertime.

So, to stand out, I urge you to go where you need to go when you need to move on in your life. No matter what. If you don’t want to stand out, stay where you are. That’s my advice based on my life’s lessons. I hope you will explore my other commentaries on this subject here that are tagged with stand out.

Go Buzz Power

GO-BUZZ-POWER-COVER_resizedFor everyone who wants to go out into the real world and harness buzz power: My eBook is available for 2014 in an updated edition. Revised and expanded with new content. This eBook covers the successful use of strategies and tactics in the digital realm that create public excitement about a person, place, or thing.

Birthday Commentary

A few months ago I updated my commentary entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go” — a title from that song from the 1980s by the English punk rock group The Clash. Here is update on the occasion of my birthday, June 29, about how to stand out.

It is good to reflect upon your life at least once a year. Doing so on your birthday makes good sense in my humble opinion.

As I reflect on this day, I realize how far I have come in my life. Literally and figuratively. I relocated from Phoenix, Arizona in 1995 to take a Washington, DC executive speechwriting career job. I am one of those people who loves living in the Desert Southwest, but the career employment opportunity in DC had to become my main priority.

Relocating from the desert to DC was one of those famous Life Changing Experiences, to say the least. I believe that there is very little that DC shares in common with life in the western deserts of the United States. For me, living in the desert developed a deep and enduring bond between myself and the physical environment. The simplest way to explain this is to say that I created a spiritual connection with the earth while living in the desert.

After the Great Recession hit in 2007, although I could continue to make a living in the DC market, I started feeling as though my life path needed to take me back to the Desert Southwest. My answer to the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question was to stay in DC. During August 2012, however, I answered “Should I Go” with a clear “yes!” and I chose to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada.

At this point in time, I have lived in Las Vegas almost one full year. This week in Las Vegas, we are experiencing record high temperatures. When the hot winds hit your face, you learn to take it or you will keep wondering why anyone would choose to live here in the Mojave Desert.

Las Vegas is internationally famous for being a place where you can escape for fun and relaxation. That is as true today as it has been since 1906 when the railroad came to Las Vegas and enabled casinos and hotels to exist here as viable businesses.

But, living in Las Vegas permanently as a local is a whole different experience compared to visiting Las Vegas for just a few days of fun and relaxation as a visitor. From experience, I would suggest that if you choose to relocate to Las Vegas as I did, choose also like I did to relocate here during any month when the temperatures are at their highest. Why? If you relocate to Las Vegas when the weather is cool, doing so will create a very false sense of reality for you regarding how punishing the physical environment can be here in the Mojave Desert. When you experience a high temperature of 120, you will know rather quickly if you are going to be able to survive living here.

Life as a local in Las Vegas has many advantages that cannot be matched or exceeded anywhere else in the United States. Among these advantages are a highly favorable tax environment, a clear and consistent welcoming and encouragement by municipal and state governments towards entrepreneurs, low-cost entertainment of the highest quality, low-cost dining out opportunities of the highest quality, and, overall genuine friendliness of the locals. Vacationing here and attending conventions here is a terrific experience, too.

Infamously, many people move to Las Vegas and then leave within about 30 days. The reasons for their exodus are numerous and personal. You can find part of an answer why many never make it past 30 days here if you consider some of the disadvantages (excluding the famous daily 90+ temperatures during many months of every year) of life as a local in Las Vegas.

Other than the threat of heat-related physical injuries, there can be flash flooding caused by rare thunderstorms. I experienced two successive flash flooding incidents during 2012 and 2013. On the plus side, there are not likely going to be tornadoes or hurricanes here, however, like elsewhere in the United States. Nor are you going to suffer under several feet of snow.

Throughout the Las Vegas Valley there persists the old-fashioned 1960s emphasis upon single passenger vehicles. This unavoidable reality directly results in routine traffic congestion and extraordinarily inconvenient and frustrating parking. Alternatives to this outmoded single passenger vehicle way of transportation are beginning to establish a foothold here in Las Vegas. Pun intended.

Some locals you may encounter in the Las Vegas Valley choose to play by their own rules of public behavior that exist outside the typical bounds of polite society. I cannot go into detail about this without sharing anecdotes that easily would earn an “R” rating.

At the same time, this is a welcoming place. I quickly became involved on the board of directors of the Las Vegas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). I am a serious advocate for everyone who is in the communications fields to join your local IABC chapter and get as actively involved as you possibly can. IABC is a fantastic networking opportunity for communications people. Everyone I have met within IABC Las Vegas have been genuine and welcoming towards me.

In conclusion, only you can answer your own “Should I Stay or Should I Go” question. If you are like me, you may discover after weighing all the factors that choosing to stay where you are is not the best for your career. But, know that choosing to go is very difficult. You should expect emotional and financial challenges.

But, if you are like me, you may discover that augmenting your personal brand requires you to move your life and your career to some other place than where you are right now. I’m convinced that one’s personal brand may need such a reboot or restart from time to time. I urge you to face this kind of life change bravely and with determination all the while knowing that there will be experiences in this journey that are not fun. I’m confident that you, like me, will emerge at the new location a stronger person than you were before your move.

Create Your Own Reality

Throughout Western culture in literature, song, movies and other artifacts there is a common meaning to be found: Each person has the capability of creating their own reality. Tapping into this ancient wisdom can save your life and reinvent who you are.

A very recent echoing of this wisdom came from Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO at GE. Read his simple, yet profound message to a graduating class of college students to see what I mean.

Immelt’s core message is powerful and merits requoting here: “We can’t wait for the economy to stabilize. We can’t wait for a time when there is more certainty. It used to be that you only had to manage momentum. Today, you have to create your own future.”

I’m not sure how I came to be someone who embraces that kind of viewpoint about life. I just do embrace it. Wholeheartedly.

I have been reinventing who I am for many years. Long before I ever heard of the word reinvention, I was doing it in my own life.

That is partly why I write commentaries here on this website. My goal is to share with you what I have discovered to be true. I hope your life can benefit from the lessons I have learned.