Monday, January 19, 2009

Leadership

Blink:
Starting tomorrow, it will be up to each one of us to be great leaders in our sphere of influence to help President Obama achieve his vision of hope and change.

Read On:
Tomorrow, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I am excited mainly because he can finally execute against his vision of hope and change as Commander and Chief. Time will tell whether he truly is a great leader. Regardless, we must all come to the realization that the man can only do so much; it is now up each one of us to be great leaders in our own sphere of influence – family, friends and community.

Over the years I have read numerous recipes for leadership written by Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, to name a few. Disclaimer: I do not profess to be a leadership guru, especially in light of my current business model to outsource all of my company tasks versus internal infrastructure. However, I have had my fair share of leadership experience with my sphere of influence to formulate my simple four-step recipe:

Pragmatic Idealist – Great leaders see the big picture. They understand that life is a journey, a series of baby steps, thus works towards the long haul. Remember there are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. Goal achievement is a long distance race. Just ask Lance Armstrong.

Role of the Day – Great leaders are like stand-up comics, they improvise and play to the crowd. Leaders understand a majority of the time they need to be a servant to people, their primary goal is to make everyone feel good. However, there are times they need to act like a dictator. I also used the stand-up comic metaphor, because leaders need to maintain a sense of humor as they waiver back and forth between receptive and unruly crowds. Not easy.

Persona with a Capital “P” – There are three components in achieving persona: A.) A positive attitude 24/7 even in times of adversity, B.) A charming infectious personality (a.k.a. poker face) so nobody can read what you are truly thinking – just ask Bill Clinton; and C.) Physical appearance counts. Whether you are leading a multi-billion dollar global company or a creative advertising agency, you must have the look. Just ask Steven Jobs – cool looking dude leading a team of young innovators.

Life is Gray/Ambiguous – All decisions are complex, there are no right or wrong, thus black or white decisions. There are good decisions, mediocre decisions or bad decisions. Leaders just know how to make decisions and move on. They have learned to corkscrew – asking themselves what worked, what did not work. Corkscrewing is a topic for another day.

Remember to lead!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Retirement Postponed

Blink:
As we begin the New Year, it is understandable that last year’s meltdown of our financial system has people anxious about their future. Add to the mix the evolving trend of older new dads/second families and boomerangs; male baby boomers will experience retirement postponement.

Read On:
Trend spotters predict now that Americans are living more healthfully to 75 and beyond, less are considering retirement at 65. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there are at least 5 million people 65 or older in today’s labor force. According to a survey conducted by Merrill Lynch in 2005, 3 in 4 baby boomers indicated they had no intention of pursuing a traditional retirement – gold watch followed by golf outings and pinochle by the pool. Bottomline: Americans are living longer, thus working longer because they love their work. Then again, most are being forced to work longer thanks to financial reasons, especially in light of the 2008 meltdown of our financial system. Baby boomers retirement portfolios evaporated. In addition, health care costs continue to rise. Social Security checks, on average of $1,000, barely contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. However, it is time to examine two other contributing trends to why baby boomers, especially males are working longer.

The first trend is what has been labeled Old New Dads/Second Families. Three factors have contributed to the significant increase in the birth rate among fathers over 40 since 1980 – career women that have pushed back childbearing, divorce and the combination of biology along with success enabling men to physically father children well into their 50’s and 60’s. Let’s look at the numbers since 1980: an increase of 32 percent among fathers aged 40-44; an increase of 21 percent among fathers 45-49; and an increase of 10 percent for fathers 50-54. Sounds like there will be a lot of Dads still paying college tuitions well into their 70’s, thus necessitating the need to work.

Watch out for the boomerangs! Boomerang is the term coined for young adults that choose to return and cohabitate with their parents after living alone. Historically boomerangs tend to increase proportionally with economic downturns since it represents an easy option of maintaining the middle class lifestyle they envisioned upon graduating college, but could not achieve thanks to a tighter job market, the increased cost of living and the burden of repaying college loans. Statistically, 54% of American males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, and 14% between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four live with their parents. Sounds like Dad is not going to enjoy the benefits of being an “empty nester”, but is going to have to continue working to keep the lights on in his “cluttered nest.”

Remember to cancel your fantasy golf lessons!