Leadership Over 50: The Face of the Baby Boomer Woman

We grew up on fresh air and independence.

We invented forts in the empty lot three blocks away.

We scrabbled, and fought with each other, and yelled and laughed and rode our bikes around the neighborhood like race car drivers.

If we watched TV, it was Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin or Saturday cartoons.

We’re women in the baby boomer generation.

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Women over 50 are the face of leadership today.

A recent article in Forbes got my juices flowing about this topic. The title is Baby Boomers, Don’t Be the Office Dinosaur. The author, Robin Ryan, is a career counselor.

Here’s the jist of the article - if you’re over 50, you’re in a group of human beings who risk falling behind in the workplace if you fail to keep up with technology.

It’s true. It’s true of any group, not just baby boomers. Any group, within any organization, that does not keep up with technology risks a loss of job and income.

We’re picking on baby boomers because, well, some of us are lost in those long ago days of fierce independence and creativity. But, we are not letting it dictate what we do now.

I, for one, don’t believe so many of us are clinging to nostalgia and refusing to move on, as we are so often depicted.

The reality is that women, especially, want more than they are being offered.

Baby Boomer women just want to be the boss.

We’ve put in our 20 years on the job and we’re moving on. Moving on to new independence, new creative endeavors, new businesses that remind us of who were were when… when no one trampled on our ideas and pushed us aside because we were women.

The Forbes article makes some good points. It notes that women and men who refuse to keep up, will ultimately fall behind. And it’s no one’s fault but their own.

I admit that’s true. However, the opposite is true also. Many of us have kept up. Many of us have flourished and were first movers on social media. Many of us have knowledge to share. But, younger people look away and don’t want to engage. They only see their parents, in us. And, they have been defying their parents for their entire life, so… so they defy the baby boomer in the office, also.

Let’s not paint too broad a brush on this. Let’s admit that a good many baby boomers and their younger colleagues, friends, acquaintances without the career path, get along just fine. Trade ideas and work together well. I miss my younger friends back in Colorado. I learned a great deal from them and I know I contributed to their education, also.

Now let’s look at this article, Why Marketers Should Be Scared of Ignoring 50 plus Women.

The story revolves around the quote below:

Women over 50 account for 27 percent of all consumer spending — that’s 3 percent more than men of that age. Forbes has called women over 50"super consumers," because, with "over $15 trillion in purchasing power, they are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation in history. 

Money talks, doesn’t it? Check out our spending power!

Is it possible that those women, the “super consumers” are also the women you work with, or women leaving the workforce to start a new business in their second act?

In all of our diversity, women over 50 are both powerhouse, creative, and energetic go-getters, as well as grandmotherly types who know what they know and are a bit resistant to learn new things.

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If you are one of the grandmotherly types, and I am not talking only about those women over 50 in the workplace, but also those women over 50 who are in their second act and eager to start a new business, to be their own boss, you need to learn the technology and the marketing tools (many of which are technology based) to be successful.

I think leadership is the face of the baby boomer woman. I think we will see more baby boomer women taking charge of their life, their free time, their income, and their future. They will work with their younger counterparts and share creativity and build innovative companies and contribute to their local community in ways we haven’t seen before.

Leadership over 50 truly is the face of the baby boomer woman. The baby boomer woman who, in her second act, has money to spend, time to do the things she wants, and a desire to leave a legacy to her grandchildren.

I like to say women create magic out of old boxes and string. That may date me. Talking about old boxes and string, which were things we would find in the attic, all those years ago. When it rained and we were stuck inside, we all clamored into our attics to see what trouble we could get into. Old boxes. String. Old books. Old clothes. The attics of our youth were jammed with content we used to act out the story of the day.

Truth is, that was the technology of the day. It stands today because we still make magic out of old ideas we thought were dead. We make magic out of old boxes and string, and the best of us now turn to social media and online marketing, and a good bit of old fashioned get-togethers, to get that magic in front of the right people.

Yes, sometimes we ask for help. In the right moments, we ask for help. We know we can’t do it all. So, we bring on people who can guide us over the rough spots.

It’s inherent in the desire to be a success business owner, no matter how big or small you want your business to be, that you understand the workings of the business.

And, therein lies the idea of baby boomers becoming dinosaurs. If you do not learn the technology, if you cannot understand the tools, you may not take that business to the next level of success.

When you invest in outside help, make sure they are both competent in their expertise, and willing to teach you how to manage without them.

In Robin Ryan’s article at Forbes, she cautions baby boomers not to think they know everything, already. After all, learning new things is a cornerstone of leadership. She quotes Sunny Kobe Cook, an award-winning entrepreneur and former owner of a large retail chain in the Pacific Northwest, giving this advice:

Leaders embrace learning. So if you think you don’t need to go to a conference (I went to that three years ago I don’t need to go now) you are mistaken. You need to be involved with networking groups, industry lunches, and anywhere that you can go after new ideas, or to try new things if you want to be valuable to an organization. You should be reading journals and studying trends and always be on the lookout for what’s on the horizon and how that might an impact on your job or department.

We’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Are you lost in the technological or business nuances of becoming your own boss? Is that dream of being a business leader by showcasing your special talents and creativity, being held back by worry about next steps? Are you willing to show leadership by reaching out for help?

Nurturing Big Ideas wants you to believe in it, build it, and become it. Believe in your dream. Build your dream. Become the success. Learn the things necessary to have a successful business in your second act - from two boomers who’ve been there and done that!

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