Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Next Bus Stop

Given the levels at which we operate ($100,000+) the average age of our membership is in their mid to late 40s. As such, when it comes time for them to make a career change – either voluntary or involuntary -- it usually doesn't take too long before we start hearing from people who in one way or another are saying to me "Dave, it is a lot harder making a change once you get past 45." My sometimes too flippant comeback is "Welcome to the NFL." I then usually tell them that among other things, if they haven't sat in on our FastTrack webinar How To Land The Job You Want When You're Over 45 featuring Jean Walker that this would be a something to consider.

One of the things that Jean does in this program, is she asks people to share resources with each other, and one of the ways in which she does this is to ask us to share with the group a book or books from which others on the call would benefit. We end up with some very potent lists. One of the books that almost always shows up is Jim Collins' book entitled: Good to Great. If you haven't read it, I would certainly recommend it, but that is not why I mention it here. I mention it because in the book, Collins uses an analogy about "getting the right people on the right bus in the right seats."

I love the analogy because it really captures the reasons that either caused people to make an involuntary change or motivates them to make a change on their own. It also reminds me why over the years our membership has shifted from largely senior-level executives who were looking for executive-level jobs because they had been put through the shredder during the recession of the early 90s to a membership that is currently and predominantly made up of senior-level executives who are not only very concerned about the direction in which the bus they happen to be on at the moment is going, but who also are acutely aware that whether they like it or not, the bus could come to a screeching halt and they would have to find another bus.

In short, it all reminds me of that old quote "failing to plan is planning to fail." Back in the days of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, the conventional wisdom was that if you were loyal to the organization, the organization would be loyal to you. It took the recession of the 90s to destroy the myth once and for all and for executives to really internalize the fact that at the end of the day, nobody cares about you more than you. If you are not proactive in terms of trying to manage your professional work life, the only thing you can be sure of is that "the world is going to happen to you" no matter what, so you had best be your own bus driver.

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