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Most of us would like to feel we have made a difference.

Working on a client engagement that included the challenges of transitioning planning for partners in their early 60s, I developed a series of “legacy exercises” focused on work legacy. Ideally everyone by age 50 should be thinking about legacy. 

Starting earlier is even better, as it helps to create a career vision of meaningful work. Perhaps sadly, often busy people tend not to think about legacy till later when they must try to make up for lost time. Legacy is about more than end of life and who to leave money to. It is about work, family, friends, causes, mentoring – what one passes on to the next generations and peers in as broad a sense as you would like to think about it. Primarily it is about values and about continual learning for you and others.

Here are some questions you might start thinking about as an individual or a team.

  • What do you want to be remembered for wherever you are working now? By your clients? by your colleagues? In the context or your role or roles in the organization?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in your community?
  • What would you like to pass on to the next generations – people you work with or know in other capacities?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in general as a person?
  • What can you start to do now or change now to be able to achieve that legacy?

Building legacy can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do in your life. And not only that, it outlives you and, in a way, keeps you present when you are no longer there.

Contact me to learn about our Legacy-Makers Mastermind groups and to receive a free list of “Tips for Building a Legacy at Work.”

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



Data is exploding 2 myths about Gen YMillennials and work.

One is that they all (OK, a large % of them) want to be entrepreneurs, that is, have their own business. The actual numbers reported (by Lindsay Gellman in the Wall Street Journal, 1/14/15) find otherwise.

The proportion of young adults (under age 30) owning a business in the U.S. was 3.6% in 2014. This has fallen from 10.6 in1989 and 6/3% in 2010 according to Federal Reserve data. It can partially be explained by the recent poor economy and difficulty in getting both funding and work experience, but not all of it. Both the risk adversity of the generation and lack of education focusing on entrepreneurism in high school and earlier probably contribute to this outcome, so some programs are starting to be offered in some high schools in the U.S.

The myth is that members of the Gen Y generation aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder in established companies and desire doing “meaningful work” rather than scale the hierarchy.

A survey of over 7,800 workers born in 1983 or more recently in developed and emerging markets countries by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. found that only about 25% felt that their current employer makes full use of their skills. Is the employer just missing out? Or are the employees overestimating their capabilities or misjudging the needs of the business or the market?  Clearly there is a disconnect that has to be diagnosed and addressed.

Interestingly, nearly 65% of respondents in Colombia and Indonesia aspire to the corner office compared with only 38% overall in the developed countries surveyed. Does the environment in poorer countries motivate higher aspirations? Are employees in more developed countries more complacent, or do they want a less demanding lifestyle than the C-Suite offers? Or do they simply want the employers to change?

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

The survey findings raise many questions and provide much to contemplate. Please share your thoughts.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



Despite the media attention that may lead to the assumption that most successful entrepreneurs are under age 35, Whitney Johnson’s HBR blog post “Entrepreneurs Get Better with Age” presents an impressive amount of research finding that most successful entrepreneurs are several decades older. Giving several examples – many of them women, Johnson concludes:

 “As individuals move into [developmental psychologist} Erikson's seventh developmental stage [around age 40-64] creating something new isn't just a "nice thing to do" — it is a psychological imperative. The urge to create, to generate a life that counts impels people to innovate, even when it's lonely and scary. Data notwithstanding, some of the companies among us will continue to allow these individuals to fall into the arms of independent work, if we don't give them the boot first.”

The statistics and their implications suggest to me that

  • There is good reason for Boomers to relish their continually unfolding career/lives making creative contributions.
  • There is reason to hope for solutions to issues that matter beyond technology as Boomers will want to tackle them and may be best suited to do so.
  • The desire and ability to leave a legacy is a strong motivation.
  • Boomers may be more motivated to mentor or help in other ways members of younger generations.
  • With less pressure to “keep score” and to please other people rather than themselves at that stage of life, Boomers may actually work harder for what they decide they want to achieve.

What do you think? Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



This week Maria Bartiromo’s “On the Money” (CNBC, 6/23/13) had a feature on where the Baby Boomers are moving in retirement or whatever passes for their version of the next phase of life with guest Richard Florida, co-founder of “The Atlantic Cities,” reporting on their study. The Boomers’ choices seem like great ones to me and not really surprising given their desire to stay part of the action and pursue continuous learning. The questions center around the impact on Gen Y/Millennials.

The study findings indicate a definite trend of Boomers moving to large cities (New York, San Francisco, and other urban areas such as Portland, Seattle and others). The other growing choice is college towns. Madison WI, Ithaca NY and Ann Arbor MI were cited.

In addition to intellectual stimulation, the Boomers making or contemplating moves are looking for good restaurants, good health care and to be near the action. They also want to be near where their adult children are located to maintain those ties and spend time with grandchildren. And their kids are attracted to big cities where things are happening.

The potential problem for the Gen Yers, who are not trying to get away from their parents in large numbers and also want to maintain close ties, is the economics of this trend. With the usually better economically endowed Boomers buying or renting housing in those desirable urban areas and depleting the supply, the younger generation can have a difficult time affording housing where they want to go for work and an active life.

So will this turn out to be another financial obstacle for the Gen Y/Millennials that threatens the future they seek? Or is it an opportunity for the generations living in densely populated areas with so many opportunities to work together on urban issues and create more manageable lives with less commuting and the need to own cars and possessions that are readily available to the public in these areas?

As not only a congenital optimist but also a former urban planner, I am hoping for the latter. Please comment with your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


What if they all stayed – those 52% of all full-time U.S. workers who said in a new Gallup poll that they are not involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work? And worse, the 18% who are actively disengaged? What if they conveyed their attitude to customers/clients? What if their frustrations caused by differences with managers and work colleagues of different generations meant they had checked out mentally or even undermined their colleagues’ and team’s work?

Obviously that’s bad for morale, but what does it cost? Gallup estimates that due to declines in quality control, lost productivity, turnover and high absenteeism, actively unhappy workers cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year. Those are difficult numbers to relate to, but each organization with disengaged workers is likely to be leaving a substantial chunk of change on the table. 

The Gallup stats indicate that women, managers and new hires record higher levels of engagement than other segments of the workforce. Company and team size looks to be one of the best predictors of engagement. Small firms and teams of fewer than 10 people report the most engagement. (Note: Other studies have come to different conclusions about who is more engaged.)

Though age diversity tension factors were not studied in this poll, we’ve observed that inter-generational dynamics are a significant factor too. Differences in attitudes by generation - how one approaches work, demeanor, communication styles and media, perceived work ethic, definitions of teamwork and work-life flexibility  - can and do reduce engagement and productivity in many organizations if not diagnosed and addresse

In fact many polls and studies confirm that generational influences underlie and inform attitudes and opinions on other aspects of diversity and cultural conflict.  Organizations and managers who recognize that, surface the tensions and gaps and adapt workforce friendly methods that facilitate cross-generational conversation and collaboration can emerge as the frontrunners for talent recruitment and retention and great customer relations.  

Wouldn’t you want yours to be one of them?      Please comment.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


This post is a follow up to one I wrote on October 5th titled Follow a Passion to Your Next Destination?

Did the Baby Boomer generation miss the passion train in the first half (at least) of their career life? Is that why they’ve been telling their children, mentees, students and coachees to “follow their passion”? Why was career passion not a central theme for the Boomers even though work has been a driving force in so many of their lives that one of the generation’s notable characteristics is “workaholism. 

Many of the Boomers’ parents lived through the Great Depression and because risk-averse. So they urged their Boomer children to go into respectable and seemingly secure professions or work for big companies that were expected to last and take care of their employees. Boomers may have taken risks in their personal lives (“drugs, sex and rock & roll”) in their youth, but less so in their career choices. And Boomers didn’t typically have mentors and coaches in early career to urge and guide them to follow a passion.

Further, once they made a comfortable living, given adult responsibilities, it was hard to give up the money and status.

In addition to these factors, Marc Miller of Career Pivot, a Boomer in his mid-50s who has found his work passion, cites less than supportive family structures and dysfunction. I don’t know that there were more dysfunctional families when Boomers were growing up, and the divorce rate was lower than today ori n the Gen Xers’ and Yers’ formative years. But it is true that parents were not as child-centric as today.

He also thinks that Boomers were more random in the degrees they sought, rather than strongly driven to a particular career other than what was expected of them. Many of them in college and graduate school had the goal of avoiding serving in the Vietnam War (there was a draft), which pursuing education at least helped delay.

After years in a career and perhaps delayed gratification, many Boomers have found their passion in work or are following a passion now to reinvent themselves in a new career.  Perhaps this reinforces Cal Newport’s point as expressed in my earlier blog post Follow Your Passion to Your Next Destination that you find your passion after working at something and finding you are really good at it.

If that has happened to you, please comment and share your story.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


 How to make members of each generation see they are owners/masters of their career enterprise is a challenge in many organizations. It’s what I call “career entrepreneurship,” and the need for it won’t disappear with an economic upturn. I wrote about it (recently) from a Baby Boomer perspective for Next Avenue.

You need to start learning to ask yourself some foresighted questions such as:

  • What trends are likely to affect my opportunities and roles?
  • What will become obsolete and will require me to change?
  • What do I need to learn and do to keep increasing my relevance?

Beverly Kaye wrote about that change in perspective and approach in her book “Help Them, Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want to Have” (BK Business, 2012). Individuals need to think about role shifts that require mind shifts, and employers need to support this more entrepreneurial thinking as positive for them as well. Some mind shifts include:

  • The goal doesn’t have to be the top position. And if you’re at the top, there are future role shifts that can be satisfying and creative.
  • There are alternate paths for different people at different times.
  • You can choose riskier or safer moves and shift from one to the otherover a career span for what feels right at the time.

In any case, don’t put artificial limits on yourself.

Work has changed. Job discussions and requirements have changed, and training has not kept up. You may have to re-invent yourself – or not. But the concept of what I call career entrepreneurship, taking charge of your own career development, is a winning strategy for anyone determined to succeed.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


In almost every group discussion I’ve participated in with college students and young alums as a mentor, cross-generational networker, coach or friend, the question of following or having a passion in one’s work comes up. It’s become gospel that “passion” is necessary to succeed or be happy in or at work. And at networking meetings we are frequently asked to mention our passions to build relationships. In a discussion at a dinner meeting of students and alumni of the Cornell Women’s Network this summer, I took the opportunity to speak up for those who haven’t identified a passion (yet) or maybe don’t know what passion is for them.

So I was delighted to read a Gen Y/Millennial contribution to the New York Times “Preoccupations” column (9/30/12) titled “Follow a Passion? Let It Follow You.” He explains and explores the myth and relates his own experience. It also helps to explain the new label “Hesitation Generation.”

Cal Newport, age 29, now a computer science professor at Georgetown University, wrote of his generation, ”Growing up we were told by guidance counselors, career advice books, the news media and others to ‘follow our passion.’ This advice assumes that we all have a pre-existing passion waiting to be discovered.

This only makes sense for a small group of people who by their late teens have had a clear passion in sight. (And in my consulting and coaching experience, many of those discover by their 40s that the passion has died for them and their strong focus on it with blinders to other broadening interests has left them ill-prepared for career and life transitions.) For anyone else, the pressure to follow a passion they have identified may be intense and even cause anxiety among those with a passion that they have actually chosen the right thing. Every time Gen Yers’ work is hard or lacking total pleasure they want to job-hop to find a better right choice – not sticking it out long enough to succeed. The Hesitation Generation.

Newport summarizes, and cites Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” for details, the traits that lead people to love their work: a sense of autonomy, feeling you are good at what you do, and feeling you are having an impact on the world, whatever the job is. He says these elements need to be earned and take time (my emphasis).

Newport concludes offering this advice: “Passion is not something you follow. It is something that will follow you as you put in hard work to become valuable in the world.”

Very savvy and perceptive for a 20-something. And good insight for a member of any generation with anxiety that they have/had no passion to follow.

Has this changed your mind about the “follow your passion” gospel? Has it reduced your stress if you have not identified a passion or worry that your choice may prove less than perfect? Please share your thoughts.

Phyllls Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


A new survey of 4,200 people in the US, UK and Germany by Calling Brands consultancy found a high level of desire to work for an employer organization with an underlying spirit that goes beyond commercial and operational goals. The study consisted of interviews with HR and Communications chiefs from major multinational organizations. In reporting on the findings, it was said that this is a change in attitude. No demographics were given except the country of residence.

Related but not the same thing as Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Purpose now appears to be a powerful driver for retention and attraction of employees as well as productivity.

Perhaps the need to spend so much time at work is driving people to seek meaningful intangibles during the course of their work and to feel they are fulfilling a greater purpose than merely profitability. Survey results indicated that an average of 57% of respondents (58% in the US) would favor joining an organization that has a clearly defined “Purpose, ” and an average of 65% said that Purpose would motivate them to “go the extra mile.”




I periodically pass on information from Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures and Encore Careers on this blog to let you know about applications for prizes, awards and other information of note. In this post, I am spreading his news about a highly recommended movie with a sensational cast and a contest. Below are the details.

I’m writing to let you know about a beautiful re-coming-of-age movie, starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkerson, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, along with Dev Patel, the young star of “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” is about adventure, love and purpose in the encore years. If you love to laugh and travel -- and are wondering what’s next in your life -- you’re in for a treat.

And you could be in for a prize, too…if you enter the Marigold Ideas for Good Contest.


The contest is for people over 50 who have great ideas for doing something to improve the quality of life in their communities.

Each month for the next six months, Participant Media -- with help from the voting public and Encore.org -- will select five winners. Each will win a $5,000 grant; one will win the money plus the trip of a lifetime from Road Scholar.

So if you’ve got an idea about how you can make the world a better place for future generations, I hope you’ll enter today.


Spread the word. There’s no time like the present to start thinking about what you’d like to do for an encore!




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