Faced with low retirement savings, extended longevity and rampant ageism, the baby boomer generation (born 1946-1964) is in the throes of a career and financial crisis. With less than 25% of the generation financially prepared to retire, the majority (between 60 – 70 million Americans) are going to need to keep working for as long as possible. But how can they find jobs or start businesses in a marketplace that appears unwilling to appreciate them for their experience and wisdom.
Career coach John Tarnoff is convinced that the future is promising for boomers – IF they are willing to engage with the “new” economy in a new way. In "BOOMER REINVENTION: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50," Tarnoff lays out a proven methodology of 5 key steps and 23 actionable strategies to give boomers the resources and confidence they need to pivot to a sustainable second act, encore career – one that can be not only financially successful, but personally fulfilling as well.
In BOOMER REINVENTION, Tarnoff, a non-traditional career reinvention coach, psychologist, and former Hollywood executive, provides a comprehensive, flexible, step-by-step guide for anyone over 50 to create the second act career of their dreams. Rather than fitting job seekers into predetermined job categories, he advocates developing a career vision based on their untapped talents and skills honed by decades of experience and wisdom, and implementing it through 21st century tools, techniques and practices.
Fired 39% over the course of his 40-year career, Tarnoff shares the secrets to turning his own setbacks into successes, and interviews seven other boomers who reinvented their own careers. Overcoming significant obstacles in the process, they utilized and benefitted from the same methodologies Tarnoff has outlined and shared in this book. He stresses that career reinvention is not an overnight process or a quick fix. Nor does it necessarily need to be a radical plunge into the unknown. It may, in fact, entail re-committing to and reinvigorating a current job or existing business from a new perspective.
What makes Tarnoff’s method so effective are his positive, yet contrarian viewpoints, for instance:
• Don’t try to figure out what job or business you can fit into out there in a sea of job postings. Instead, figure out what job or business is already inside you, and network your way to the decision makers who will embrace your skills and talents, and make that heartfelt vision a reality. • In order to create a new future, you must reconcile your past. You must first deal with all the old baggage and self-limitations that are likely standing in your way. • Embrace your age, don’t hide it. It’s time to reframe your beliefs about who you are and what you can do, and to leverage the wisdom and experience you’ve acquired. • Stop feeling that having been fired or downsized is shameful. At this point, it’s time to be grateful for the lessons those experiences taught you.
For those who both want and need to keep working beyond traditional retirement, Tarnoff’s practical strategies offer a flexible DIY solution for late career professionals at any stage of the career reinvention process, including:
• Create a “Living Vision” of where you see yourself in one year’s time. Make it expansive and ambitious, but keep it realistic! Make it at least 50% believable. • Your resume won’t get you hired. 85% of jobs are filled through referrals. Use social media to build relationships and an active professional network. • Don’t feel daunted by tech: Boomers invented the digital revolution (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc.) Embrace it! • Nail your interviews by thinking like a consultant, not an employee. Turn the interview process to your advantage and be a problem solver before you even get the offer. • Ignore ageism. Be confident – but not arrogant - in what you know and who you are. Show by your attitude that you’re there to be of service and to provide value.
The Boomer Reinvention methodology is not a quick fix. It is like training for a marathon, using Tarnoff’s steps and strategies to build conviction, stamina, confidence and purpose. BOOMER REINVENTION is an indispensable guide to encourage self-reflection and effect change, leading the reader through the necessary steps to make career reinvention accessible and achievable.
John Tarnoff is a reinvention career coach, speaker and author who helps his fellow baby boomers transition to meaningful and sustainable careers beyond traditional retirement. Fired 39% of the time over his 35-year career as a Los Angeles-based film producer, studio executive and tech entrepreneur, he reinvented himself at age 50, going back to school to earn a counseling M.A. in Spiritual Psychology. This transition to a career focused on training and career development brought him back to entertainment, where he served as Head of Show Development for DreamWorks Animation from 2003-2009, developing culture-changing creative leadership training and college recruiting programs. Currently, in addition to his coaching/speaking practice, he co-runs the Los Angeles-based Entertainment Industry Management master’s degree program for Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of "Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50." Learn more about him at http://johntarnoff.com.
The workplace has changed--in the way we apply for jobs, the way others view our experience, and the talents that employers value (hint: it’s not experience). In Boomer Reinvention, John Tarnoff offers dozens of strategies and tactics for changing your life in the second half. Although the main focus is work, I found this book applicable to life in general. John is realistic. For example, he’s candid about ageism, suggesting we not try to hide our age when looking for work. He says it’ll come out anyway, and besides, do you want to work for ageist people? He’s also optimistic, saying, “Ignore any bias you encounter. Just roll right over it.” He’s inspiring. For example, he shares that we older people acquire higher levels of thinking that aren’t accessible to youth, like “gist thinking” (pattern recognition).
John goes into just enough detail about how to build a platform (personal visibility) both online (LinkedIn as an example) and in real life. Here’s a nugget about in-person networking: “Don’t lead with your need.” I loved Jung’s sundial metaphor for a long life; the concept of being a magnet and not a hunter; his “No More Victims” approach; developing a Living Vision; practicing affirmations; how to mind-map and in what sequence for which situations...I can see why John is a coach. He has an arsenal of information for cultivating your best life, and that applies to non-career areas as well. In spite of the fact that I’m already as reinvented as I want to be, after reading the ebook, I bought the paperback to highlight, dog-ear, and annotate. It’ll be in my bookcase forever as a tool for living my best life.
I highly recommend Boomer Reinvention for Boomers, GenXers and anyone interested in strategic thinking about the new economy and changing world. It is an invaluable asset for people faced with perpetual unretirement and an important exercise in thought leadership on the future of aging.
I picked up the book because I work in the aging space and follow author John Tarnoff on Twitter, where he posts interesting and useful information and does not spam people about his book (authors, take note!)
The world has changed, and we are headed for a future where many of us can never afford to stop working. Compounding that reality is ubiquitous age discrimination and a technology-driven economy that older adults weren’t trained to navigate. The huge demographic of Boomers means that these forces are coming together in what could potentially be a crisis of forced poverty, as older workers scramble to stay afloat by sending out resumes and “pounding the pavement” – old school strategies that aren’t working in the new economy.
Tarnoff has been there. The strength of the book is the insight he’s developed from personal experience; over his career as a Hollywood executive he was fired 7 times. He’s thought deeply about career reinvention, processing adversity and how to move forward. His non-judgmental perspective will be a welcome relief for anyone struggling with shame, stigma or a feeling of failure. "We have to just chalk this stuff up, wear our battle scars proudly, have a sense of humor about our misfortunes, and be grateful for the lessons.” He believes that second-act careers can be even more purposeful and fulfilling, and older adults can develop meaningful and sustaining roles by moving on from the past with new skills and new thinking.
The gold in Boomer Reinvention is a section of seven vignettes of people who have done it. Facing down a variety of hardships, challenges and personal quests to find something better in their lives, these four women and three men have walked the walk. By implication, Tarnoff’s journey is the eighth vignette. I loved these reinvention stories; they are as rich and instructive as you would guess. (My favorite was the journey of Marilyn Friedman, who lost her job at DreamWorks Animation University after 20 years of building a ground-breaking talent and recruiting program. She’s finding her way through a variety of career developments, including work as an assistant kindergarten teacher, a gig that may be a bridge to the next thing but that she is surprised to find she loves.) These Boomers become entrepreneurs, embrace podcasting, turn their career expertise into consulting practices, land a contract as a senior model. Their solutions are as varied as they are, but Tarnoff is great at burnishing the essential qualities and strategies they needed to pull off their reinvention.
I had a couple of quibbles with the book. The third section is filled with an obligatory “5-Step Method” with accompanying worksheets, etc. It wasn’t as useful as the first two parts. It’s also subtitled, “How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50,” so I expected a variety of How To tools and building blocks would be included. But that’s not really what the book is about. (I’d subtitle it, “Developing a Growth Mindset to Create Your Dream Career Over 50.”)
Boomer Reinvention is about understanding the new career imperatives, confronting the challenges in front of you, overcoming any sense of failure that’s dogging you, wrapping your head around change and embracing technological and other relevant career innovations so you can continue to survive and thrive into old age. By that standard, the book is a clear success. It’s useful, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’d recommend it to anyone.
There are plenty of books that address the topic of working in retirement and most of them follow the same narrative arc: first, a passionate admonition about how work is changing and why you should too; second, career case studies drawing on the author’s own coaching practice or experience; and third, a set of do-it-yourself exercises to guide one through this transition. Tarnoff’s unfortunately named “Boomer” guide follows this same arc but brings in his unique perspective as a former corporate executive turned trained psychologist. He presents the process of reinvention as a five step “methodology” (Reframing, Listening, Accepting, Expressing, Connecting) and offers twenty-three “strategies” for digging into these steps. Positive psychology techniques animate these strategies and most have fill-in-the-blank worksheets (which you can download from his website). There is merit in most of these steps, but it’s an overwhelming array of stuff to do and it’s not clear where to begin; he tries to reconcile this in the final few pages of the book by offering a “three-month sample reinvention timeline” which only serves to highlight the daunting complexity of his approach. He also presents seven well-detailed case studies, but does little to connect their stories to his methodology. My take away from his case studies is the same as my work with alumni making this transition – finding meaningful work in retirement is a very personal process of inner discovery (what do you really want?) that takes years of evolution (there is no quick fix), with lots of trial and error along the way.
This book is more, at least, I find it more often about spiritual development then about how to reinvent yourself. It maybe be probably more useful for people who have or use to have a business and would like to re-brand the business and yourself along with it. The major advice of the book is that people after 50 can STILL contribute tremendously to the current America, society and, jobs market, the country that too often advertised and likely looked at as the young shots country. Thus even though is difficult to find, initially, how book's words of wisdom might be useful to some of us after 50, they are a really good starter in our thinking about yourself in current job market.
Thirty-five years ago I read What Color is Your Parachute? Today I'm reading Boomer Reinvention. I think that means my life has come full circle. In fact, if you find yourself on that side of the circle there isn't a better resource for you than Boomer Reinvention.
My business focuses on helping corporate executives who are leaving the corporate structure and starting out on their own to "retool" themselves. This is an incredible resource.