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0 to 60 vs Cruising Speed + Hiring guidelines

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Everywhere you look today there are “Help Wanted” signs. But lately not enough people are willing to go back to work. Maybe it is time to rethink who we are seeking for our workforce. Are you looking for high-velocity jackrabbits or proven achievers? Drag racers or Cruiser Class?

I grew up in the automobile era. As a baby boomer I remember that everything cool was about cars (or motorcycles). If you had a good car, you just had to customize it to express your own personality. My first car (in 1963) was a 1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe four door. It’s factory color was tan and it had a 97 horsepower flat-head six-cylinder engine with a standard shift on the steering column. “Three on the Tree.”

As a teenager I was thrilled to have my own car but disgusted with how un-cool it looked. To make matters worse the floorboards were rusted through and the driver’s door had been heavily dented in a collision. But it was mine! I spent weeks on end in the driveway with Dad replacing the old parts and renewing the car. We painted it “midnight metallic blue”, reupholstered the interior in “Naugahyde” (leather-like vinyl) and put cool hubcaps on it. I got a Corvette shift knob to put onto the column shift lever and added a boastful warning sign to the dashboard: “Do not exceed speeds of over 100 miles per hour for more than five hours under normal conditions.” (Remember now, I was a teenager and had no idea how dumb that seemed.)

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I named the car “The Heap” and painted a 3 inch square cartoon of a wrecked car just under its name “The Heap” on my left front fender. (Again, you’ve got to remember, this was a time when we thought it was cool to roll up your T-shirt sleeves, grease your hair, roll up your jeans to show off your white socks and hang a cigarette cynically out of your mouth.)

The engine was very old technology and it had barely enough horsepower to ascend all the hilly streets in western Little Rock, Arkansas. It burned about as much oil as gas too. I’d almost always have to add a quart of oil with each fill up. Luckily prices were comparatively low. Now for the important metric: its speed from a standing start up to sixty miles per hour, known as “zero to sixty”. That was the prime measure of a car’s power and competitive potential. “Take Off” was where the power was measured. Above 60mph is considered “Cruising Speed” and is much more efficient and enjoyable, but take off is where the noise is made, tires are worn out and fuel gets burned up fast. The same is true for an aircraft; its fuel is often used up more for takeoff than for the rest of the journey.

Those were the days of drag racing. (See the James Dean movie “Rebel without a Cause” for details. Or read old copies of the #1 auto magazine of the day “Hot Rod”.) Well, my old heap would barely do sixty on the same day that the race started so it didn’t see any competitive action. But it looked cool to me!

Now, are you ready for the big segue? Stay with me. Here it comes. In the 1960s cars that could cover a quarter mile in under 20 seconds and could go zero to sixty in under 10 seconds were considered fast. My buddy Jimmy Stevens had a car that would do 0 to 60 in 6.4 seconds, and I remember dragsters that did a quarter mile in 9 seconds from a standing start! Today those numbers are considered mild. If you wanted to impress someone you’d spin your tires and race through the gears up to about sixty miles per hour.

But there is another category where the 0 to 60 measure often applies with equal levels of prejudice, (Here comes the transition…..) Age.

In the past people who were between zero and sixty years old were considered good investments and those over sixty were “old.” Nobody took 61+ people’s advice or considered them to be in touch with the real world anymore. Remember the hippie slogan “Never trust anyone over thirty”? Well today those 78 million Baby Boomers are turning 70+ at the rate of tens of thousands every single day! Including me. I was born on the first year of the boom, 1946, and graduated high school in its last year, 1964.

Along with this demographic shift there is a corresponding economic shift. We have seen the youth of the baby boom become the leaders of the world. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and I were all born in 1946. Joe Biden is older by about 4 years. Paul McCartney is just a bit older than me. Bill Gates is younger. Hillary is about my age and Barack Obama is younger. But the vast majority of our nation’s wealth and power is vested in people who are no longer between zero and sixty.

Today the reframing of life to include 60 to 100 is an important consideration.

Highly functional life expectancy is now well above 75 and some folks are still productive well into their 80s. If you reach “retirement” age and still have 20+ years of viable life ahead, you start looking for your next career. No more do we simply seek a part time job to supplement our pension. Today people are seeking bold new challenges and reasons to stay active and involved. Check the findings of Age Wave and its founder Ken Dychtwald. We will see tens of thousands of former retirees re-entering the workforce with vigor in the coming years. So, if you’re hiring, you might want to ask some impressive seniors for business advice and see if they fit with your vision and goals. A bonus is that these folks have an abundance of Common Sense. They don’t buy into the woke mentality or implied guilt and stain of sins committed before they were born.

The one thing that keeps life and health intact is Purpose.

We all need a challenge that is bigger than we are so that we can keep on growing. We need a sense of purpose in what we do. We must find meaning in our life and feel that we are truly necessary. This is much greater than just getting a secondary job. It is also important to recognize that once you’ve traveled the career path once you don’t have the same patience with wasted efforts during the second trip. Spending energy and time on things that don’t hold much value is seen as a waste and we quickly get bored and curious about new challenges. What we put up with in order to “pay our dues” the first time, we find to be depressingly meaningless on the second trip.

We want our efforts to matter and we want our voices to be heard. Challenge, contribution and meaning will be vital factors in Cruiser Class second careers. And there will be lots of job-hopping experimentation. We’ll be trying on second careers like new coats. If the fit isn’t near perfect, then we start searching again.

These Cruiser Class workers can be great assets. They have experience, maturity, wisdom, patience and insight that you would never find in their younger counterparts. They can truly advance your business and serve your community as well. Your existing structures and policies might need amendment though. They insist on having meaningful and fulfilling lives with plenty of extra time for the grandkids and their latest adventures. They want to enjoy life while making a difference.

So, don’t let the lure of GenX, GenY or Millenials occupy all of your attention. There is a sea of talent out there seeking to recommit to productivity. Let’s all put on our thinking caps and restructure our working world to make room for the Cruiser Class. Maybe the Hare should take a day off and watch the Tortoise show some wisdom.

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Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is an Executive MBA Professor, Author of 20 books, Hall of Fame Professional Speaker, Top 1% TEDx video (2.4 million views), US Army veteran, Singer/Songwriter, and Lifelong Motorcyclist. He is known as "Your Virtual VP" for his advisory work with organizations worldwide. Based in Texas...and proud of it!



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Get Coached, Get Better

If you feel as if your career progression is not sufficent, you likely need a career coach

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No boss, coworker, peer, spouse, parent, relative, friend, or anyone else, will accompany you through each job. You alone will be with yourself every step of your career journey; you’re it! You’re the only one who can increase the your career prospects, the quality of your relationships, your self-confidence, and your peace of mind.

Work With a Coach

I was fortunate early in my career to recognize the need to retain a career coach. In a nutshell, a career coach can help:

* diagnose and sort out your situation and opportunities

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* offer new strategies for coping with office politics and competition from other firms

* show you vital stress management skills

* discover or capitalize on new opportunities

A good coach provides new tools to chart your goals and career path, and improve communication. Your career coach can be your positive personal, behind-the-scenes confidant, consultant, and resource.

The Benefit From a Career Coach

If you lack self-confidence, or feel as if your career progression is not on the right track, or are faced with any of the following, then it’s likely you need a career coach:

1. Organizational changes within your organization especially if they have a direct impact on you.

2. Acquisitions or mergers.

3. Expansion into new markets.

4. Diversification into new products or services.

5. Increased competition to your firm from other firms trying to take over your market share.

6. Increased management or supervisory responsibility.

7. Increased leadership opportunities.

8. A recent or soon-to-be available promotion.

9. A new boss, or leadership shake-up above you.

10. Changes in your role or assignments within your company.

11. In-company competition and power plays, corporate intrigue, jockeying for position, or turf protection.

12. Blockades of your progress by internal feuds or informal political processes.

13. Increased media exposure or public speaking requirements.

14. Increased production or sales quotas.

15. A new project you must lead or participate in developing.

For several years I worked with a career coach – we met only once quarterly for two hours but I would depart supercharged.

An Employment Contract

You coach might be able to guide you on the topic of employment contracts. The notion of generating an employment contract has been around for decades, yet most career professionals to this day know what an employment contract is, how to draw one up, or how to ensure that they only work with a contract in force.

Among other things, my coach advised me on the importance of establishing a contract. When I first heard this, I was amazed. “You mean that I am to march into my boss’s office and suggest that we develop a contract that defines both the company’s and my responsibilities over the next twelve months?” Yes. Exactly!

In all industries, the most valuable people work with a contract. This is true in the NBA, Fortune 500 companies; philanthropic groups; the highest levels of government; and civic, social, and charitable organizations. The top talent works under an employment contract.

A Huge Boost

Among other things, having an employment contract is a great confidence booster. Essentially, it defines your working conditions for the length of a specified term. It establishes your compensation rate. It practically secures your employment.

What’s more, the contract enhances your confidence while you’re writing it, and it gives you practice in assertiveness. This occurs when you first introduce the subject with your prospective or current employer and when you actually conduct the session to consummate the contract negotiation.

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Hear Me Roar

Top achievers are not dramatically different from you or me; they have useful skills and outlooks …that we can acquire

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Deborah Benton, author of Lions Don’t Need to Roar, is a leadership expert. She has observed hundreds of CEOs, COOs, and company presidents, seeking to find what enables them to accomplish so much.

In her book, she notes that while it’s essential to exhibit competence in one’s position, inspire confidence in others, act accordingly at business functions, and become adept at maneuvering within the firm, it takes something more to make it to the top as a strong leader.

Benton says, “Top people are not magical, blessed, or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us don’t have, but can get.” Here are some important tips for those who seek to stand out as strong leaders within their organizations:

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Continually Explore New Options

With al of the advances in every profession and the new forms of competition springing from everywhere, to “coast” today is to “roast.” Top achievers in every profession understand that staying put can be risky, so they take decisive action.

In their book, Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business, authors Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja argue that “equilibrium is a precursor to death.”

The individuals who get things done have the guts to speak in front of others and take calculated risks (recognizing that the experience will be invaluable).

Could this mean that on the path to high achievement, now and then you’re going to fail? The notion of taking calculated risks runs deep among the career achievers.

Be a People Person

A popular stereotype holds that high-achievers tend to be stodgy types. However, Benton finds the situation to be the opposite. Such career professionals laugh and smile often, are fond of telling stories (as long as they convey a point), and know how and when to physically touch others.

They’re also well-skilled in the ability to ask for favors, and they realize how important that makes others feel.

Regardless of how much society advances technologically, those individuals who stand out as strong leaders will take risks, learn from errors, and advance because of their strong ability to interact with others.

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