Baby Boomers: Remain Current and In Style


David Byrne’s Big Suit Circa 1980s

As a Baby Boomer, I am becoming increasingly aware of how other people perceive my age group. Seventy-six million strong, Baby Boomers have reshaped the workplace, providing greater opportunities for the generations that follow us. If you are a Baby Boomer and choose to remain in the workplace in the coming years rather than retire, ask yourself: Are you remaining current in your look as a professional? Or are you stuck in the 1980s, still wearing suits with shoulder pads twice the size of your body? If you are, burn them now. Don’t bother donating them to charity because they don’t want them either. It’s time to clean out your closet and update your look. When you remain current and in style, you elevate your level of professionalism.

I recently attended a fun afternoon at a friend’s home, enjoying an image consultant’s presentation. All attendees were asked to bring a favorite jacket or accessory. I chose my favorite robin’s egg blue suit jacket. The little voice inside my head had told me many times that it was outdated, yet, it remained in my closet. Sure enough, I tried it on in front of eight other women and their reaction was clear. “It makes you look old.” Ugh! I then modeled a suit jacket with a more tailored body and shorter cut and voila!…the reaction “WOW! You look fabulous!” resonated throughout the room. I heard the message loud and clear. It’s time to replace the old with the new.

I have seen many Baby Boomers like me in the workplace, wearing clothing that is either outdated or tired looking. The result: The people themselves look outdated. Suits today range in price from affordable $50-$100 new, on sale or at quality resale shops, up to several thousand dollars, depending on your taste (and budget). You can still look like a million dollars with limited funds.

How current are you? Take an afternoon to try on your professional wardrobe in front of a mirror. How does your wardrobe make you look? Youthful? Vibrant? Out of touch? By adding a few fashion forward pieces to your wardrobe each year, including scarves and jewelry for women and new shirts and ties for men, you can take off years from your life.

Now look at your hair style.

Men: If you want to look younger and more attractive, ditch the bad comb-over and shave your head. Yul Brynner started it – shaving his head – in 1951 for the lead role in The King and I and look where it took his acting career. He maintained that look for the rest of his life.

Women: If your hair is big in any way, then it’s stuck in the 80s. Ask your stylist to give you a more current hair cut and style. Do the same with your makeup. What are the current colors? Remember, powder blue eye shadow looked good on Twiggy back in the 1960s (and bright turquoise eye shadow looked good on Mimi on the Drew Carey Show for comic effect only). Ask a professional what make-up complements your coloring.

People will notice the difference in the “new and improved” you. They will most likely ask if you lost weight.

Your outward appearance is one way to demonstrate your level of professionalism. As you mature, remain current in your wardrobe choices so that you look vibrant, vital and stylish. Two questions: What are you doing to enhance your professional look? What simple, inexpensive changes are you making that will help you look more current and in style?

All due respect to David Byrne of the Talking Heads: Nobody wore the “big suit” better than you! I remain a huge fan.

Note: Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.


How Influential Are You?

RedRibbonCutOxford Dictionary defines influence as: “The effect a person or thing has on another; moral ascendancy or power; a thing or person exercising such power.”

Can a person have power and no influence? Yes. Can a person have influence and no power? No. In order to have influence, you must have the power to make the influence work. Can a person combine power and influence? Yes. This is where the real dynamism happens. Power and influence complement each other when handled with grace. Influential people are those who have the ability to get things done, whether they are doing things themselves or encouraging others to get the work accomplished.

As an influential person, people listen to you, they know you will get the job done beyond your own abilities and you can be trusted. If you want to understand how influential you are, observe how often people ask you to join a committee or task force. When they do make the ask, ask them why they thought of you to serve in that role. Their answer will provide you with some insights on how they perceive your talents or skills. Another way to test how influential you are? Call someone you know and see if s/he will take your call! If you are continuously rerouted to another person, you will know you have little to no influence with that person.

Being influential and using that power is based on what you know (your level of knowledge), who you know (who you are connected to), who they know (who they are connected to) and your style of leadership (how you get things done right and within a reasonable amount of time). Pay attention to who trusts your advice when you share information and make recommendations. That will reveal to you whom you influence.

Ask yourself this question: Who do I currently influence? Who would I like to influence and why?


Protect Your Credibility

ThumbsUpYou will have many opportunities in your life to compromise your credibility. Don’t! The credibility that you enjoy today has taken years to build. Why risk throwing it all away? Protect it. It is one of your greatest assets, built on the foundation of your character and competence.

Credibility is a lifelong commitment.

Business mogul Warren Buffett says, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” With today’s social media platform, that five minutes quickly morphs into two seconds.

Credibility is one of those intangibles in life that can change dramatically from moment to moment. Within those moments, you will have choices. Credibility first showed up in the national media in the late 1990s ranging from political and religious scandals to corporate and celebrity debacles. Today, the news continues to be filled with people who made poor choices (and who knew better). When we examine any case, it comes down to one thing: Choice. Each leader or organization had a choice to make: the high road or the low road, truth or deception. Always, always take the high road. When you think no one will know or notice, correct yourself then and there. Your conscience will guide your decisions.

In their book, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their research asked professionals how they felt when they were in the presence of truly great leaders. The top ten replies were: Capable. Challenged. Enthusiastic. Inspired. Motivated. Powerful. Proud. Respected. Supported. Valued. Do you believe people feel this way about you? How do you demonstrate your credibility? How does your behavior align with your actions? What could you do to enhance your credibility? In everything you do, choose credibility. You will sleep better at night.

A mantra to consider: “I choose to protect my credibility.”

Beauty: Still In the Eye of the Beholder

This past weekend, I took my 93-year-old mother, who is an artist, to see artist, poet and former actress Kim Novak at a special public appearance at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. Ms. Novak’s gentle spirit, both on the screen and off, is beautifully portrayed today through her exquisite artwork and poetry. Her inner light shines brightly. She graciously posed for photographs with admiring fans and stopped to give autographs. She stood the entire time, despite her age…81.


My Mom and Kim Novak

As I read her biography, I was inspired by the number of obstacles that she has overcome in her life and her tenacity to adjust and move forward. Two fires destroyed most of her artwork and a nearly complete book manuscript. A diagnosis several decades ago revealed bipolar disorder. Through it all, she adjusted and rebuilt. As I listened to fans talk about her, I heard one consistent message: “She is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.” Hearing those comments reminded me of the recent bullying attacks of Donald Trump, the media and the American public about Novak’s recent appearance on the Oscars. Society’s overzealous obsession with beauty and vanity were revealed through nasty social media posts, mostly about Novak’s face. Kim Novak fought back, sending a strong message to Trump and others: Stop bullying. I applaud her for her strength of character.

If more people looked at a person’s true beauty – what they see on the inside and how that person makes them feel – they would understand that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. When you see things only at face value, you miss so much more.

After shaking Kim Novak’s hand and receiving her autograph, my mother smiled exuberantly and began singing “Heaven…I’m in heaven…” Artist to artist, actress to actress, mature woman to mature woman, these two strangers showed to each other mutual respect and admiration. And what a beautiful thing it was to behold.

How can you see the true beauty in others? The answer: Get to know people for who they are on the inside and take the time to understand their story.