WSJ view of Second Act served-up like cold mashed potatoes
A well-meaning friend sent me today’s Wall Street Journal.com article, Second Acts: Career Paths For Worn-Out Executives. Not only does this article present an elitist view of the type of career transition available to older workers, the vignettes offered are not even newsworthy.
The article profiles senior executives who can afford to follow their avocation, like Mr. Orner (Bank Vice President to Executive Chef at a Yacht Club). It is true that many Traditionalists and Boomers want to have another chance to give back to their communities; many are willing to sacrifice compensation to do so: this is yesterday’s news. But the profile of the Traditionalist who sacrifices by making her own copies and travel plans is demeaning. An older worker who transitions from corporate to nonprofit must surely understand and respect the non-hierarchical and self-sufficient culture of nonprofit organizations. Indeed, the personal assistance "sacrificed" by Ms. Shillings has gone the way of the electric typewriter, even in the corporate world. It is these profiles, not the executives, who are "worn-out."
I’m disappointed that the esteemed WSJ does not look into the more urgent generational issues of the day. I’d like to read about middle-managers, professionals, technicians, and working people who have successfully transitioned from their long-standing careers. Regardless of their status on the rungs of the ladder, Boomers and Traditionalists share membership in the "Sandwich Generation." They are likely to shoulder tremendous financial and emotional responsibilities for their parents and children. Financially, they cannot afford to leave or lose their "First Act," much less take on a lower-paying "Second Act."
The issues are vital to our economic well-being: the discussion needs to go beyond "worn-out" profiles of well-heeled people. Among other things, we need to discuss effective cross-training, an acceptance of digital natives and digital immigrants, and a campaign to promote family-friendly corporate policies. It would be fascinating to examine the synergy that exists between the values of Milliennials, Gen X’ers and Boomers, and harness that synergy to achieve a change in social policy.
The dynamic between generations in the workplace will be discussed at the upcoming Kennedy Conference: The Annual Gathering of Career Management Professionals, in Minneapolis, MN on May 2. Two Boomers and One Millennial will present, "Mind the Gap: Connecting the Generations." We hope to generate some buzz about this topic among our colleagues in the careers profession. To weigh-in before the presentation, please comment here… Look for blog posts from the Conference…Posted by Karen P. Katz | 1 comments