3 Proven Strategies for Older Employees to Enhance Their Skills and Advance in Their Careers

The belief that older employees are less adaptable and less capable of acquiring new skills is a misconception that needs to be challenged. We continue to see a focus on the “40 under 40” in popular business publications and an emphasis on promoting and showcasing young startup founders and business professionals.

Ageism is a huge thing in the professional world and there are 3 things that seasoned workers can do to stand out:

Seek out professional development opportunities within the company.

Take a look around your organization and see if there are opportunities to get on projects so you can learn a new aspect of the company. See if you can cross-train with someone to do a new job responsibility. There are some opportunities you can take advantage of if you look.

Take online courses or attend workshops to learn new skills.

Experienced workers should continue to add skills to their toolkit to remain relevant and marketable. They should research current topics and take a class or sign up for a training session to learn more. You are never too old to take up a new skill or learn about current marketable skills.

Build a strong professional network and leverage connections for career opportunities.

Definitely learn to network and connect with people inside and outside of your organization. Have coffee with people in different departments at work to learn about their area. Attend meetups and networking groups on a topic you are interested in learning about external opportunities.

I’m sure if you do some of these things you will be able to improve your chances of enhancing your career.

New To Recruiting? Listen To This Podcast

There are a lot of podcasts on the subject of recruiting.

And honestly, I’ve tried listening to most of them.

But the one I keep coming back to, over and over again, is DGRecruit by DanDan Zhu. You can find it here: https://dgrecruit.libsyn.com/

If you are new to recruiting, here’s why I would recommend blocking an hour per week to listen and study every episode:

Reason #1: She is an expert in recruiting

She knows her stuff!

DanDan talks about all facets of recruiting from how to cold call, how to interview candidates and clients, and whether or not you should start a firm. She used practical experience to show you how the industry works. She has a lot of experience to share and is willing to share it.

Reason #2: She helps those trying to learn

I’ve personally reached out to DanDan and she did not hold back.

She gave me her best advice and didn’t charge me for it. She really wants people to be successful in this space and tries to help you navigate it with her dos and don’ts.

If you are trying to learn she is your teacher.

Reason #3: I like her in-your-face style of presenting the information

Some people make things sound pretty and easy.

She lets you have it between the eyes when it comes to what she believes in. She will tell you what she thinks about the industry, your approach to it, and what it takes to be successful. If you don’t have thick skin then I wouldn’t listen to her podcast because she is sharing a lot of gold but you have to be willing to receive it and digest it.

I’m going to continue to listen to her podcast and learn as much as I can about the recruiting industry. I suggest you do the same if you are interested in getting into it.

3 Reasons Why I Think Everyone Should Have a Side Hustle

I’ve read several books on side hustles over the years. Chris Guillebeau is one of my favorite authors in this space. I love his book $100 Startups and The Side Hustle. If you’ve read them, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But if you haven’t, here’s why:

Reason #1: You Can Develop A Skill You Want To Have

You may be working a job that you have to have but are not fulfilled by it. The reason may be you aren’t doing things you want to do in that job.

Starting a side hustle is the best way to develop those skills. If you want to learn how to speak in front of people try to teach in a classroom as an adjunct instructor as an example.

Reason #2: You Can Have a Creative Outlet Away From the Norm

Everyone needs something away from the daily routine and grind for themselves. It helps balance you out and allows you to recover and regain strength to go back to your normal life.

Having a side hustle can help you with your creative side. You can explore and try things you wouldn’t normally try just to stimulate the right side of your brain.

Reason #3: You Can Make Some Extra Money

The focus doesn’t have to be on money but it definitely can help if you make some money from your side hustle. A lot of people need extra money for all kinds of reasons so applying your gifts and talents to a venture that can bring you some extra dollars doesn’t hurt at all.

I believe everyone should have a side hustle, from the CEO to the janitor, so they can be productive and continue to learn.

You Don’t Need A Lot To Start A Business

A lot of people who should start and operate a business don’t because they think they need a lot of stuff to do it. They think they need a lot of equipment, a lot of money, a lot of people, and a lot of office space to just start.

You can start your business with a laptop, a cell phone, and your energy

I started my executive search practice from scratch a few years ago with no office, no staff, and no outside investment. I had my energy, expertise, and vision. 3 years later I have served over 23 companies by helping them find directors, vice presidents, and CEOs. I have a brick-and-mortar office and a virtual one. I have an executive assistant now and part-time staff.

You don’t need all of the things you think you need to get started.

Figure out the problem you want to solve and find the least expensive way to solve it for your market

Ask yourself “What problem can I solve and who will pay me to solve that problem?” Then develop the solution for them and give it to them.

Creating a service is the easiest thing to start. See what kind of service you can create with your gifts and talents.

Tip #1: Find a problem to solve with a service. You were designed to solve a problem on this planet. That is why you exist so figure out what that problem is and how you would solve it.

Tip #2: Create a website to advertise your service. Someone said if you launch a perfect website then you waited too long. Get something out there and iterate its development as you learn. Use Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, or some other platform to create a home for your venture.

Tip #3: Find one customer and deliver your service. Your goal is to find someone to pay for your offering. If you can’t find someone to pay then find someone to give it to so you can figure out how to make it better. Then you can charge someone else once it is better.

Tip #4: Tell everyone you did it and do it again. Mark Cuban, the billionaire Shark Tank investor, said you only have to be right once. When you get a paying customer, then you can market your service to others and use that success story as a part of your advertising. Now you are in on your way to building your business.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need everything in place to start your venture. Start it, learn as you go, get things as you go, and continue to refine it until it looks like your vision.

4 Techniques for Productivity While Listening to Audiobooks

These last few weeks I’ve been diving into audiobooks. I think I have listened to 8 or 9 books. Being a musician I leaned into that audio space to consume more content and it is working for me.

Here are a couple of tips if you want to get the most out of listening to audiobooks:

1. Take notes while listening

The best way to retain what you listen to is to take notes. That can be hard in the car while you are driving but I would find a way to take notes on your phone while you are listening to an audiobook.

2. Listen during commutes or exercise

The best time to listen to audiobooks is passively. If you are on the treadmill at the gym or if you are driving to work on the highway, these are times when you could be consuming audio content.

3. Use speed control to adjust playback speed

I was riding with my son and he was listening to an NPR podcast but the person was speaking really fast. I could understand them but I thought it was strange that they were talking at a high tempo. My son had the podcast set to 2X for the playback speed. He said I should try it. When I did I consumed 5 books in a week. Now I’m listening to everything at 1.5X playback speed.

4. Utilize bookmarks to mark important sections

You can set up bookmarks for different sections of the audiobook if I’m not mistaken. You can then go back to specific sections and listen to them as much as you want. Sometimes you might need to hear something again and again before you get it.

I’m so glad I learned to listen to my content in podcasts and audiobooks. Now it is time to go make a few.

The Simplest Way To Overcome Fear

Everyone struggles with fear. I’ve heard the word used in an acronym Flee Everything And Run.

Personally, I have for years dealt with my personal fears by first acknowledging them and then trying to understand why I had them.

But what changed for me was that fear is a necessary evil that gets you beyond who are think you are to who you really are. And as soon as that clicked, I started to understand that overcoming fear wasn’t that hard—I was just doing the wrong thing.

Here’s what I should have done instead:


As an example, I had the dreaded fear of speaking in front of people when I was in middle and high school. I hated it period. I was always afraid of what people thought of me when I would get up to speak or go to the board to do math problems. Then I realized that to go to better places with better opportunities I had to overcome that fear. So I faced it and started putting myself in situations where I had to speak.

That led to joining a fraternity which led to graduating which led to becoming an adjunct professor which led to becoming an entrepreneur. Being able to face and overcome fear is a superpower we all need. It doesn’t mean that you do get afraid – it means that you do whatever you are trying to do anyway.

Courage is something we all need a little more of in our lives. But to get to courage we have to step through fear. Your best life is on the other side of it.

The Single Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned Working In Information Technology

Not all lessons are created equal.

Some lessons we learn are small. They are little reminders along the way of what truly matters.

Other lessons are giant. They fundamentally change the course of our entire lives.

Over the past 25 years working in information technology before starting my executive search firm, this is the single most important lesson I’ve learned about the industry:

The head of IT might be a finance person

When I started in the space in the 1990s (that sounds so far back in history today) I thought you could rise to the top of the IT organization by working hard and getting promoted until you reached the top IT job of CIO. I made my plans to be in each job on the corporate ladder for 3 to 5 years until I made it to the top.

Then I noticed something after a couple of years. The person in that job was never an engineer or developer. They were always people that were consultants or finance people. Every person in the CIO role for just about every company I’ve worked for, and I worked for 8 different companies over my corporate career, did not have a technology background.

I wrote a post about the best advice I got was to get an MBA. I understood why when I started see this trend. The IT department at the highest level is looked at as an investment first. Because of that the leadership team has to have more of a business background to manage the technology and the investment in the capabilities that it provides for the company.

I wish I knew that early in my career but it makes sense now as I run my own firm. I treat our technology as investments in our capabilities to help us achieve what we are designed to execute.

1 Big Mistake I Made When I Was First Getting Started In Podcasting

Like most beginners, I made a lot of mistakes when I first started podcasting

But this was the biggest one, by far:

Not Planning So I Could Continue Making Podcast Episodes

Here’s what happened:

I’m a musician and I have all kinds of audio gear. I recorded my own music and distributed it on the internet (CDBaby, iTunes, Tunecore, etc.)

I got into podcasting because all I had to do to get started was record my voice talking about stuff. So that is what I did.

My first podcast was called “The DEJ Show” and I made about 17 episodes which wasn’t bad. Then things happened and I stopped podcasting.

Then I made another podcast called “The Now Narrative” where I interviewed people about starting a business. That went well for about 13 episodes and I got great feedback.

Now I’m thinking about jumping back into it but I want to make sure I can keep doing it so it gains traction.

The biggest mistake I made was not planning the podcast well so I could keep making episodes. I did better with the second podcast but I should have planned out an entire season first before launching.

My biggest takeaway is I need to plan the episodes better and way in advance so I can have a good workflow going and have episodes ready to go before they are published. I also need to explore my niche a little more to make sure there are enough topics and guests that I can interview.

This is why I encourage everyone to see their mistakes (and “failures”) as necessary steps along the path. There is always a lesson to be learned. I’m planning to make a new podcast in 2024 so I will use what I learned to be consistent this time around.

1 Tip I Would Give Someone Who Wanted To Get Started Working In Executive Search

Do you want to get started working in executive search and recruiting? Do you want to own your own business one day?

I have been working exclusively in this space for almost 3 years now. And what I can tell you from starting an executive search practice during the pandemic is that in order to work in this industry you need to have a professional network for getting business, a great mindset to enter the industry, and opportunities to execute and learn from that activity.

Here’s 1 tip I would give you if you wanted to pursue a similar career path:

Learn How To Sell

I don’t know how you feel about the word “sales” but I learned early in my career that nothing happens without a sale. What you don’t realize is that you already have this skill buried deep inside of you. If you have had to convince someone to do something you made a sale. If you pleaded with Mom or Dad for that shiny toy or Xbox and they got it for your birthday you made a sale.

Sales is simply persuading someone to accept your ideas or way of doing things. That’s it. You have to learn how to communicate your ideas so that others first are willing to listen and then ready to accept them.

The best way to get started is to first learn to listen. Then learn how to communicate ideas from what you hear. Then you learn how to overcome obstacles to your ideas. Then you are on your way to becoming a better salesperson.

In recruiting it is a two-sided sale. You have to sell the candidate on the role and you have to sell the client on the fact you can find the person for the role. Sales is very important in this industry and many others as well.

Today take another look at sales. It will benefit you and your career.

The People Who Have Influenced Me The Most

I have always been interested in being the best I can be and creating value for others. I’ve been on this journey now for a while as I approach another birthday next week. But I owe a lot of the progress I’ve made to these people:

My Dad

This man was in my life for only 7 years. He died at a young age of 34 from leukemia. His biggest contribution to my life was knowing how he treated my mother, my brother, and me when we were young. I learned the most about my father after he passed as I grew up listening to the stories my mother shared with me. His approach to taking care of his family and being a creative thinker and entrepreneur is why I’m an entrepreneur today. I owe him a lot and appreciate the short time I had with him.

My Mom

My mom is why I am who I am. She raised me and my brother in the absence of my dad. She was a teacher and went to work when my dad got sick to take care of all of us. She was a disciplinarian, a nurturer, a teacher, a cheerleader, and the police when necessary. She did everything she could to provide the best opportunities for my brother and If. There is a song that describes her called “Mama” by Lunchmoney Lewis. Listen to that song and you will get what I mean.

My Wife

I met my wife when I was 15 years old at a summer program. We didn’t realize that we would be spending the rest of our lives together after that summer but somehow we ended up reconnecting during our sophomore year in college. We got married 2 years later when she graduated and are working on 30 years of marriage together. She is the best thing to happen to me and she continues to help me be the best person I can be. She does not play when it comes to her family and the high standard of excellence we expect from ourselves and each other. She is the reason I am as successful as I have become through her support and encouragement.

These people have taught me so much—and, just like they did with me, I hope to pass along my own learnings to the next person.

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