Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time to Reboot America

Thomas Friedman, the highly respected New York Times columnist and author of numerous best selling books, has a great column today, Christmas Eve. The headline:

Time to Reboot America

He makes a strong case – so strong, so urgent, I want to quote liberally from it:

“We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

“To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering. These rocket scientists and engineers were designing complex financial instruments to make money out of money — rather than designing cars, phones, computers, teaching tools, Internet programs and medical equipment that could improve the lives and productivity of millions.

“For all these reasons, our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.

“That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.”

Friedman is not the only national figure calling for rebooting America. Almost every day someone in government or business or society at large is calling for the reinvention of our country, or some huge part of it, on a scale not seen in decades, maybe ever.

For such a rebooting to happen, I think we need much more than government bailouts and stimulus packages. We need for people by the thousands and millions, at every age and in every walk of life, to face up to and overcome the hard times by rebooting themselves and their organizations – their governments, schools, companies, churches, civic and charitable organizations.

Remember that the term “rebooting” and its counterpart “booting” were adapted for computer talk from “pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps.” It is time for some major pulling up on our own bootstraps. We collectively got ourselves into this mess. We collectively need to get ourselves out of it.

It is the challenge and the opportunity of our lifetimes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bring back the wooly retiree

Scientists are talking – seriously, it seems – about the possibility of regenerating a wooly mammoth, a furry elephant-like mammal that went extinct toward the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. With the mammoth’s genome now decoded and DNA available, the experts say it could be done for about $10 million.

By today’s standards, when “trillion” is the new “billion,” that sounds pretty cheap. But we think it would be a better idea, and much less expensive, to bring back some wooly retirees.

We’re talking about bringing them back into the active, productive, vibrant life of the rebooter. Out of the TV room, out of the lounge chair, on their feet, doing things, and back into the mainstream.

Now of course, retirees haven’t become extinct, but going into a passive, do-nothing retirement bears some similarity to going extinct, doesn’t it? Withdrawing from the active life, shutting down the inner computer and basically checking out of life accomplishes about the same thing as disappearing.

Maybe we should start considering the passive retiree as a missing person. Perhaps not physically missing, but mentally and emotionally and psychologically missing.

Rebooting offers a healthy alternative to retirement “extinction.” Continuing to work, volunteering, going back to school, teaching, consulting, turning that lifelong hobby into a business – all are ways to recharge the batteries and bring oneself back into life on earth.

And the really good news: no danger of a retiree Jurassic Park!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rebooting: an idea whose time is still here! started up a year ago in September. Back then, the economy was fairly healthy and optimism was strong. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 13,820 on September 21, 2007, on its way to 14,164 in October. The Consumer Confidence Index was in the 80s, on its way to the 90s.

It seemed like a good time to launch a website dedicated to the proposition of reinvention, restarting, and rebooting – especially after “retirement” from a conventional career.

Now the Dow is barely above 8,000 and the consumer confidence index is at 38, its lowest point since it was first devised in 1967.

Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 240,000 in October. Job losses over the last 3 months totaled 651,000. In October, the unemployment rate rose from 6.1 to 6.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons increased to 10.1 million.

Many retirees have seen much of their savings wiped out. People are still talking about rebooting, but now it’s about rebooting the whole country – or at least the whole economy.

So is one of the basic ideas of rebooting – continuing to work after retirement – out the window? Is reinvention no longer an option? Are so many people out of work and the economy so far in the tank that there simply aren’t any jobs for people looking to start anew?

I think not.

Maybe the possibility of staying on the job, or finding a new job, is off the table. But there are many other ways to reboot, and now is the time to explore them. Here are a few ideas from (

• Start your own business – maybe consulting in your field of expertise, or some other field. In her book, Starting Over: Reinventing Life After 60, author Pat Skilling Kellerman tells story after story of people over 60 who have turned their interests into businesses, including pottery, woodworking, cooking, selling wallpaper, owning and operating a bed and breakfast, song writing and farming, among others. You may not grow “too big to fail,” but you may do very well, as have many of the people in Ms. Kellerman’s book.
• Volunteer at a church or local non-profit. There are scores of organizations that need willing, capable and experienced volunteers in virtually every area -- financial, marketing, fund-raising, general management, hands-on work, you name it.
• Go back to school.
• Become a teacher.
• Join the Experience Corps. Go to
• Join the Peace Corps. (
• Pursue a paid Encore Career, as championed by Marc Freedman, Encore.Org ( and Civic Ventures (
• Volunteer elsewhere and do good work. Go to the website and you’ll find thousands of opportunities, and even if none of them are in your area, maybe you’ll get some good ideas there.

Yes, even with so many gloomy signs and downward-pointing arrows, there are still opportunities for personal reinvention. Despite the dark clouds, there are rays of hope and optimism. At the upper levels of government, on the Obama transition team, in Congress, among the scholars and pundits and commentators, there is talk of rebooting – rebooting the economy and, indeed, the whole country.

In hard times, Americans have always risen to the occasion. We will do so this time, too.~

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Knocked down by the financial hurricane? Get up and reboot!

The financial crisis that toppled major Wall Street banks and snarled credit markets around the world has also taken a toll on nest eggs, forcing people to rethink when - and even if - their savings will allow them to retire.

More than half of people surveyed in an Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday said they worry that they will have to work longer because the value of their retirement savings has declined.

Associated Press, Oct. 1, 2008

Talk about an inconvenient truth. I know the feeling. I watched the monster eat a giant hole in my IRA in September.

There is unanimous agreement that we have a crisis on our hands. And even though linguists and scholars have debunked the popular notion that the Chinese word for crisis (weiji) incorporates the words for both “danger” and “opportunity,” thinking Americans have to be hoping they can find the opportunity in this danger.

So where’s the opportunity in our current crisis? I believe it is in rethinking the old notion of “retirement” as a period of rest and relaxation, and instead deciding that this is the time to reboot oneself into period of extended productive contribution.

It might be continuing in the same line of work, starting a new business, consulting, or taking up an “encore career” in a socially meaningful (and paid) role in such fields as education, health care or community work. has been promoting the idea of working beyond the so-called “normal retirement years” for reasons other than financial emergency. But a financial emergency definitely gets your attention. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, “Nothing focuses the mind like losing your life savings.”

Fifty-five percent of people surveyed for the AP-GfK poll said they were worried that the financial crisis would reduce their savings and force them to postpone retirement. The poll, conducted Sept. 27-30, was based on phone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,160 adults. It had a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

In a previous blog (July 31, 2008) I wrote about the new book, Working Longer: The Solution to the Retirement Income Challenge. The premise of that book is that even without a financial crisis, many people will have to work longer than they thought they would just to maintain their standard of living. With a crisis, the number is undoubtedly larger. can help. I invite you to click over to the site ( and check out the possibilities. There are dozens and dozens of ways to reinvent yourself. And if you’ve already done it, tell us your story so we can share it with others. Look for the heading, “Submit your story” for the easy steps to follow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Staying Healthy and Vigorous All Your Life

The headline on the story in the August 26 New York Times says it all: “Living Longer, in Good Health to the End.”

Isn’t that the way we all want it to be?

I think so. This article, by Jane E. Brody in the Times’ Personal Health column, is one of many I’ve seen lately offering encouragement that the final years of life don’t have to be a prolonged period of discomfort, distress and suffering.

“There is increasing evidence that the societal burden of increased longevity need not be so drastic,” says the article. “Long-term studies have shown that how people live accounts for more than half the difference in how hale and hearty they will remain until very near the end.”

Dr. James E. Fries of Stanford University in 1980 put forth the idea that good health and vigor can be extended well into a person’s 80s, and illness and disability can be compressed into a short period at the end of life.

Many studies have come to a consensus conclusion that genetic factors – such as the amount and proportion of HDL and LDL cholesterol in the blood – account for only about 35 percent of the length of a person’s life. The rest – roughly 65 percent – is determined by environmental factors.

It’s never too late to adopt habits that predict a healthy old age, according to Dr. Richard S. Rivlin, an internist and director of the nutrition and cancer prevention career development program at Weill Cornell College.

“While measures started early in life are most likely to have the greatest health benefit, older people should never feel that turning over a new leaf at their age is anything but highly effective,” he is quoted in Brody’s article.

He said people in their 70s can do a number of things to help prevent hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. These include restricting calorie intake, limiting saturated fats, replacing simple sugars with fiber-rich whole grains, and eating plenty of high quality protein.

Another very important measure that people in their 70s can take to stay healthy is to make exercise a regular part of their daily lifestyle, including aerobic activities that elevate the heart rate, weight-bearing activities that strengthen muscles and bones, and stretching exercises that reduce stiffness and improve flexibility and balance.

Many long-term studies have pinpointed exercise as the single most potent predictor of healthy longevity, in women as well as men, Brody writes. She concludes: “It’s not that very old people… can exercise because they are healthy, these findings indicate. Rather, they achieve a healthy old age because the exercise.”

Friday, August 1, 2008

What top scientists are learning about memory

For anyone worried about memory loss, here is a book with the greatest title ever: Can’t Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research (Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, 2008) by Sue Halpern.

Halpern’s book is a report on the current state of scientific and medical knowledge about possible preventatives or treatment for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Capturing the subtitle of her book, here is her summary of the state of good news (as of the time she wrote the book):

• The sorLA gene had been discovered, enabling scientists to use a whole new way to explain what was going on in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
• Thanks to a new imaging technique, amyloid plaques could now be seen in a living brain.
• There was a growing open-source Alzheimer’s gene bank.
• Preliminary data from a Mayo Clinic-University of Southern California study of the Posit Science program had shown that people who completed the training had significant improvements in auditory memory.
• Biomarkers in the blood and cerebral spinal fluid could show Alzheimer’s nearly a decade before there are symptoms.
• Exercise had been shown to cause new brain cells to grow in old brains. That process, neurogenesis, had been shown to improve memory.
• A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was not necessarily a “sentence to die from Alzheimer’s.”
• Memory loss in older people was normal.
• The first neural prosthesis, an artificial hippocampus, was close to being tested in living animals.
• The first round of immunizations for Alzheimer’s disease had been completed, no one had gotten sick, and the method of delivery had worked.
• The majority of researchers were working from discoveries that the sticky plaques that had defined Alzheimer’s for years were not the “bad guys,” but that the bad guy was soluble beta-amyloid, which Alzheimer’s patients had in toxic excess. “And while no one yet knew why that was,” she wrote, “the retromer theory put forth by Scott Small and his associates offered a plausible explanation.”

The not-so-good news, at least for me, is what Halpern was finally told after asking many scientists if working crossword puzzles helps stave off dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“You know what crossword puzzles are really good for?” said Dr. Michael Merzenich, professor of integrative neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, and developer of a computer-based program for children with language-based learning disabilities. “Doing crosswords are really good for… doing crosswords. Do the puzzle every day and you’ll get pretty good at it.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Merzenich concluded, crossword puzzles don’t do anything for memory.

What? You mean remembering that “adit” means “mine opening” doesn’t mean I have a great memory? Rats!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Working longer: A solution for more people in the future

A major premise of is that it makes sense to stay active after “retirement.” There are many reasons – physical and mental health, economics, and preventing the waste of experience and knowledge, among others.

In fact, we believe that “retirement” in the conventional sense – withdrawing to a passive, unengaged existence – is a bad thing.

One of the reasons for continuing to work described on is the need or desire to continue to make money – other than Social Security or a pension.

Now along comes a book whose main message is that many people will have to work longer than they thought they would, just to maintain their standard of living.

The book is Working Longer: The Solution to the Retirement Income Challenge, by Alicia H. Munnell and Steven A Sass (Brookings Institution Press.)

The book was reviewed recently by Harry Hurt III in the New York Times. Munnell and Sass “note that the nation’s retirement system, as embodied by Social Security and Medicare in the public sector and I.R.A.’s and 401(k) plans in the private sector, is contracting in its ability to replace workers’ lost income – even as life expectancy is increasing,” Hurt writes.

I think this book is most likely to be a very important contribution to the conversation about retiring/not retiring, encore careers, reinvention and rebooting. I plan to say more about it in future blogs.

“About 19 percent of men and 33 percent of women who survive to age 65 will live to age 90 or older and have to support themselves for almost 30 years,” Munnell and Sass write. “The arithmetic does not work.”

The authors cite numerous studies that turn up these very inconvenient truths:

• For people who retire at 65 today, it is estimated that Social Security will only provide the equivalent of 39 percent of their incomes after deductions for basic Medicare contributions.
• Those who plan to retire in 2030 can expect net benefits of only 30 percent of their incomes.
• In 1989, 66 percent of American employers provided post-retirement health care benefit programs. By 2006 that number had fallen to 35 percent.
• Americans do not save enough. In a 2004 Federal Reserve study, the theoretically possible or simulated amount of money owned by people aged 55 to 64 was $314,000. However, the actual average savings was only $60,000.

Munnell and Sass recommend that people postpone their retirements from the current average age of 63 to age 66. Four more years of work changes the ratio of retirement to working years from 1 to 2, meaning 20 years of retirement and 40 years of work, to almost 1 to 3, or 16 years of retirement and 44 years of work.

Working longer, the authors say, would delay the need for people to tap into their I.R.A.’s and 401(k)’s, increasing their total assets and the future income they can produce. It would also maximize the benefits of Social Security, which are about one-third higher for recipients who are 66 than for those who are 62.

The authors raise other important issues, which we will discuss in subsequent blogs: whether older workers will be healthy enough to continue to work, whether they will want to, and whether employers will be willing to employ them.

If you’re interested in ordering the book, please click here
click here. The link will take you to the resources section of, and Working Longer is the first book listed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Early Retirees in New Ventures, Mostly for Fun

A recent article in the New York Times described a new breed of entrepreneur rebooters now coming on the business scene.

“Not the hard-driving type who makes the business news pages,” the Times reported in an article by Brent Bowers. “Rather, the laid-back, come-what-may variety. Many of them are part of the first wave of America’s 76 million baby boomers who are taking early retirement and turning their hobbies into small businesses. Very small businesses.”

The Times said the new entrepreneurs see their microbusinesses as a way to give focus to a favorite pastime, get more zest out of life and make a little money. The best part is they do not care if the ventures fail.

Ty Freyvogel, a small-business consultant and investor in Pittsburgh, predicts that the ranks of early retirement dabblers will swell as they discover they have too much time and not quite enough money. “If they do the proper research and can get started without putting a significant amount of capital behind them initially, these types of small start-ups can get going with little risk,” he said.

Three of these entrepreneurial rebooters were described in Bowers’ article.

Carl Boast, owner of Peaceable Kingdom Photos in Moneta, Va., quit his job as a neuroscientist in the pharmaceutical industry five years ago at age 55 and became a nature photographer.

He says he is too busy hiking, boating, reading, writing songs and traveling to fit the definition of an entrepreneur. “I’ve put very little effort into marketing,” he said. “I’m not out to make money or change the world.” He has created a Web site, he says, but it is “buried in Earthlink somewhere” and is out of date.

He makes a few hundred dollars a year, but it's not about the money. What really motivates him, he said, is “sharing my pictures to convey the idea, ‘Wasn’t this a neat moment?’”

Jan Oudemool of Harwich, Mass., 65, retired five years ago from a job as a special-education teacher and not long after began making decorative mobiles in his home.

Last year, he sold about 35 for close to $4,000, more than double the revenue of the previous year, his first in business. He’s pleased with the growth – not so much for the money as for getting his creations out of his house so they won’t clutter up his basement.

He has a Web site, business cards and a niche market. But he says he knows next to nothing about business, did no research or planning for his company and does not want it to grow.

Bowers, the author of the article, has also recently started a business. Formerly a New York Times editor, he took early retirement two years ago and opened a business writing freelance articles and giving occasional speeches.

“I do not know a whole lot more about the mechanics of running a business than Mr. Boast or Mr. Oudemool,” wrote Bowers. “But I guess I’m a quasi-entrepreneur like them. I’m doing this for the fun, not the money. I love being (mostly) my own boss and I am even tempted by the delusion that I may make it big some day.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

Exercise: the spark for your brain

Does exercise benefit your brain?

You bet it does, and if you want to know the many ways it does, get this book: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by Dr. John J. Ratey with Eric Hagerman.

“We all know that exercise makes us feel better, but most of us have no idea why,” Ratey writes. “We assume it’s because we’re burning off stress or reducing muscle tension or boosting endorphins, and we leave it at that. But the real reason we feel so good when we get our blood pumping is that it makes the brain function at its best, and in my view, this benefit of physical activity is far more important – and fascinating – than what it does for the body.

“Building muscles and conditioning the heart and lungs are essentially side effects. I often tell my patients that the point of exercise is to build and condition the brain.”

Ratey is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has put together an wonderfully fascinating account of what goes on inside your head when you exercise.

Ratey describes these almost unbelievable chemical and neurological processes in terms that a lay person can understand. And they make a convincing case that “… you have the power to change your brain. All you have to do is lace up your running shoes.”

For me the most interesting chapter of all was the one on aging. Ratey lists nine ways that exercise keeps you going:

1. It strengthens the cardiovascular system.
2. It regulates fuel (glucose).
3. It reduces obesity.
4. It elevates your stress threshold.
5. It lifts your mood.
6. It boosts the immune system.
7. It fortifies your bones.
8. It boosts motivation.
9. It fosters neuroplasticity (keeps your brain growing).

Considering a list like that, why would anyone let laziness keep them from exercising?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Rebooter

This cartoon by Mort Greenberg, which appeared in the New Yorker, then in a Fidelity Investments print ad in the New Yorker, and most recently in Last Laughs: Cartoons about Aging, Retirement… and the Great Beyond (Scribner, 2007) perfectly captures the ideal of rebooting – Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man, in his studio, busy working on two things at once.

The housekeeper is saying to the visitor, “Oh you know with Leonardo, it’s never retirement, it’s always reinvention.”

The cartoon brings back fond memories of a visit I made some years ago to the Clos Luce manor house in Amboise, in the Loire Valley of France. This is where Leonardo, at the invitation of King Francois I, came to live when he was 65. He happily continued to paint, sketch, and work as an engineer, architect, and festival organizer for the King Francois I court in Amboise, spending the last three years of his life there. The manor house is now a Leonardo museum.

I was traveling with a group of Stanford Sloan classmates, including Mike Fitch, a highly regarded Wells Fargo banker with a well-tuned and mischievous sense of humor. As Mike and I were walking through the models and drawings, we got into some nonsense banter about how Leonardo might have interacted with “Jacques,” an imaginary person who might have been hanging around Leonardo’s workshop (perhaps the guy in the cartoon).

Jacques: “Hey Lennie! Whatcha doin’ today?”

Leonardo: “I’m inventing a helicopter.”

Jacques: “Oh.”


Jacques: “Hey Lennie! What’s a helicopter?”

Leonardo: “It’s something to fly around in and report on traffic.

Jacques: “Oh.”

(Longer pause.)

Jacques: “Hey Lennie! What’s traffic?”

OK, you had to be there. There was much more. Too bad one of our classmates didn’t have a video camera. Our improv routine might have made it to YouTube.

"A well filled day gives a good sleep. A well filled life gives a peaceful death." -- Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doing Good Work and Getting Paid to Do It

Between working at a for-profit business for a salary and working at a non-profit organization as a volunteer, there’s another path for rebooters: Doing “good work” and getting paid for it.

That is, starting a new career by taking on a salaried position in an organization devoted to some higher social good, such as health care, education and social services.

Marc Freedman, co-founder of Civic Ventures, author and one of the nation's leading thinkers and writers on the opportunities presented by the aging of America, documents this growing trend in Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life. He calls it one of the most significant developments of the new century, and the biggest change in the American workforce since the women’s movement.

“Millions of boomers are headed not for an endless vacation but for a new stage of work, driven both by the desire to remain productive and the need to make ends meet over longer life spans,” he says.

"Boomers can capitalize on longer working lives to go beyond their own narrow needs, get down to some of their most significant work and leave the world a better place than they found it.”

Civic Ventures ( and its affiliate ( are dedicated to helping people make such transitions to “encore careers,” working both online and offline. On the Web, members share their stories, their ideas and their challenges. On the ground, the community includes nonprofits, companies, colleges and other organizations that help people explore, prepare and launch their encore careers.

While has no official affiliation with Civic Ventures and, we are proud to share objectives with them and help further this valuable, vital and much needed trend.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 featured in SF Chronicle Sunday Magazine

With your permission, a bit of self-promotion.

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine (May 11, 2008) has an article about how I came up with the idea of Here’s the link:

I would be pleased if you would take the time to peruse the article. I’m gratified that the folks at the Chronicle consider a “bright idea,” and I hope you do, too.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The next big thing: Neuroplastics

You remember the line in “The Graduate” when a friend of Dustin Hoffman’s parents pulled him aside and revealed the next big thing: “Plastics.”

Well, the next big thing today may be: “Neuroplastics.” This is the field of medicine that explores the ability of the brain to improve itself through activity or mental exercise.

“The idea that the brain can change its own structure and function through thought and activity is, I believe, the most important alteration in our view of the brain since we first sketched out its anatomy and the workings of its basic component, the neuron,” writes Dr. Norman Doidge in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science..

“The neuroplastic revolution has implications for, among other things, our understanding of how love, sex, grief, relationships, learning, addictions, culture, technology and psychotherapies change our brains,” Dr. Doidge writes.

Today’s New York Times has a related story: “Exercise Your Brain or Else You’ll … Uh…” The lead actor in the story: ELDR magazine editor David Bunnell, who recounts his techniques for maintaining the acuity of his own brain.

“Mr. Bunnell now does regular brain calisthenics, largely avoiding expensive software in favor of simpler solutions,” says the Times article. “He works at memorizing the numbers that swirl around his daily life – credit cards, PINs and phone numbers – and devises mnemonics for remembering people’s names. ‘Smart people find new ways to exercise their brains that don’t involve buying software or taking expensive workshops,’ he said.”

A growing industry is turning out brain health products – both dietary supplements and computer-based products such as math and memory exercises, cognitive assessment and training and other “neurosoftware” programs.

My favorite brain exercises are crossword puzzles and the “Scramble” word game. I’ve tackled sodoku but so far with little success. But I haven’t given up yet.

Now where did I put this morning’s puzzle page?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Now here is a rebooter for the books: Jason Poole

In November I wrote a blog that started like this:

Are you hesitating to reboot yourself because you’re afraid you might have lost your edge, let your skills go stale, or become unable to do what you used to do?This happens sometimes. Self doubt creeps in like an unwelcome visitor, displacing self confidence. You’d go out and really do something new and exciting, but … you are worried that you don’t have what it takes any more.

Well, I just met a guy who suddenly became unable to do what he used to do. Only we’re not talking about playing sports or managing complex projects or creating works of art. We’re talking about the basics:

• Speaking
• Walking
• Reading
• Functioning in society

This is a reinvention story that will amaze you, inspire you and get you to think about the rebooting process differently. It’s Jason Poole’s story, and it’s posted on at [link]

Jason, a corporal in the U.S. Marines, was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Iraq. Half his face was blown away and he suffered severe brain damage. He was unconscious for two months. When he awoke he was blind in his left eye, deaf in his left ear and unable to control the muscles on the right side of his body.

But four years later, thanks to superb medical treatment and extraordinary physical, neurophysical and speech therapy, he has made a recovery that borders on the miraculous.

He continues his recovery today, literally reinventing himself from the ground up. He has had to learn how to talk, read, walk and think all over again. He is providing inspiration to fellow veterans, friends, doctors and therapists, and anyone who comes in contact with him.

And here’s the truly amazing part of the story: Jason is the most positive, optimistic, hopeful and sunny person you’d ever expect to meet. Please read his story at [link].

When I started, I was thinking it would be mainly about rebooting at “retirement age.” Most of the articles and resources on the site are in fact keyed to people who are reinventing themselves relatively late in life.

But web expert and RebootYou collaborator Hugo Evans, who does a lot of behind the scenes work on the site, suggested that I seek rebooting stories of people at earlier stages in life. “What about an Iraq veteran?” Hugo said. “Some of them probably have great stories to tell.”

That turned out to be a terrific idea. I contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto, a few miles from where I live, and through the help of VA spokesperson Kerri Childress, was introduced to Jason Poole. Meeting him and talking to him was an inspirational experience I’ll never forget.

And yes, I am definitely expanding the scope of to include inspiring stories about reinvention at any age. You’ll be seeing more in the future.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Retirement: time to do what you haven’t done yet

Older Americans are generally happy and more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely senior.

That’s the key finding of a massive study done over 26 years by University of Chicago sociologist Yang Yang.

The study, based on periodic face-to-face interviews with 28,000 people from 1972 to 2004, found that older Americans have learned to be more content with what they have than younger adults, Yang said. His study was published in the April issue of American Sociological Review.

However, get ready for the next group of people about to become “older Americans:” the baby boomers. According to the study, baby boomers are the least happy.

Linda George, Duke University aging expert, said that while older people have learned to lower their expectations and accept their achievements, baby boomers aren’t lowering their aspirations at the same rate earlier generations did.

“They still seem to believe that they should have it all,” George said in a New York Times article about Yang’s study. “They’re still thinking about having a retirement that’s going to let them do everything they haven’t done yet.”

My translation: the boomers are going to be rebooters!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Many boomers not planning “traditional” retirement

Baby Boomers seem unwilling to give up work and follow a “traditional” definition of retirement.

In a survey commissioned by Bell Investment Advisors, an Oakland, California-based wealth management firm, 26% of Boomers reaching 60 in 2007 said retirement means "pursuing personal interests and passions without regard to making money, such as charitable work."

Another 20% said their definition of retirement is “nothing changes, I hope to work as long as I am able to.”

Boomers who believe they have enough assets to retire comfortably are most likely to say they will pursue their personal interests and passions, while those who believe they don't have enough to retire or retire comfortably will work as long as possible, the survey said.

To explore out what affluent Baby Boomers are thinking and doing about retirement as they reach this milestone birthday, Bell Investment Advisors commissioned the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) to survey Boomers turning 60 in 2007. ORC conducted a telephone survey of 500 men and women born in 1947 with investment assets of $1 million or more. The survey consisted of 17 questions to assess attitudes and determine financial preparedness.

Bell Investment Advisors provides personalized financial planning, investment management and career planning services.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wanted: Math, Science and Engineering Professionals

I'm departing from the usual practice to bring you this message, which came in an e-mail today from AARP California. I think it's self-explanatory.
* * *
Rewire, Don't Retire!

AARP is proud to alert you to a unique opportunity for retiring or retired math, science and engineering professionals - the opportunity to share your passion for math or science as a California public school teacher. The EnCorps Teachers Program, launched by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2007, is collaborating with AARP and California employers to recruit professionals as math or science teachers in fall 2008.

Through a selective application process, highly qualified retiring or retired employees of participating EnCorps Corporations, inlcuding Bank of America, IBM, Qualcomm, Northrop Grumman, Intel and others will be chosen to teach in California classrooms. To support AARP's members, EnCorps is hosting online information sessions on Thursdays at 12pm PT.

Please RSVP to mail to receive sign on information.
This is an aggressive timeline and an exciting opportunity.

Next Application Deadline: April 18, 2008
Final Application Deadline: May 9, 2008

How do I find out more? Go to to see if your current or former corporation is participating

Sign up for the next web-based information session

Apply now!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Personal Trainer links now posted

Back in February I promised to add to the Resources section of information that will help you find a qualified personal trainer.

It took me longer than I intended, but the information is up. Here's an excerpt:

Many people select a trainer by joining a health club, and there are many solid, reputable clubs with highly capable professional trainers. You may want to enhance your selection process by doing some research on the web: we recommend that you check out two organizations that certify trainers: the American College of Sports Medicine ( and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (

The ACSM claims to be the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. The organization’s website says it “continues to look for and find better methods to allow individuals to live longer and more productive lives. Healthy people make a healthier society.”

The ACSM has a locator function to help you find an ACSM trainer near you at

The NSCA “develops and presents the most advanced information regarding strength training and conditioning practices, injury prevention and research findings… By working to find practical applications for new research findings in the strength and conditioning field, the association fosters the development of strength training and conditioning as a discipline and as a profession.”

The NSCA also has a locator function at
You have nothing to lose but a few pounds and some of that flab!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

You gotta check this out!

OK, no beating around the bush with a long lead-in. Just know that a documentary film, “Young@Heart,” about a group of 80-ish rockers whose singing and dancing smashes the notion of a generation gap, opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

And you can see clips from the movie at this link:

“Young@Heart,” produced by Sally George and released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is about the Young@Heart chorus, which started as a collective arts project in 1982 at a center for the elderly in Northhampton, Mass.

“The chorus has developed into a popular local ensemble with an international reputation,” says an article in today’s New York Times. “It has made 12 tours of Australia, Europe and Canada and serenaded Norwegian royalty. Accompanying the singers is a solid core of professional rock musicians who help ground their sometimes wavering voices.”

The movie “offers an encouraging vision of old age in which the depression commonly associated with decrepitude is held at bay by music making, camaraderie and a sense of humor.”

The clips at the link above include a music video of the Ramones classic, “I Wanna Be Sedated.” It will definitely “un-sedate” you!

I can’t wait until “Young@Heart” comes to a theater near me!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More Seniors Logging On

Older people’s use of the Internet is growing, according to the April issue of AARP Bulletin.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 92 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 use the Internet; 85 percent of those 30 to 49; 72 percent of those 50 to 64; and 37 percent of those 65-plus.

Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenburg School for Communication in Los Angeles, notes that older folks are attracted to social networking sites.

Older users are less interested in Facebook and Myspace and more interested in communities with such online activities as chess, bridge, poker, Scrabble or dealing with the physical and emotional toll of a disease.

“Whatever the pretext,” says the article, “community has a pull that isn’t limited by age. More than 90 percent of users on both sides of 50 say that online community is “somewhat” to “very” important, and 100 percent of over-50 users report benefiting from their online communities.”

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The magic of "renew"

I don't usually quote myself, but this time I'm going to make an exception. In launching a discussion on the reboot social network ( I posted these thoughts about the word "renew:"

I just looked up the word "renew" at, and here are some of the synonyms:

Restock. re-create, rejuvenate, regenerate, reinstate, mend.

Renew, renovate, repair, restore suggest making something the way it formerly was.

To renew means to bring back to an original condition of freshness and vigor: to renew one's enthusiasm.

Renovate means to do over or make good any dilapidation of something: to renovate an old house. To repair is to put into good or sound condition; to make good any injury, damage, wear and tear, decay, etc.; to mend: to repair the roof of a house.

To restore is to bring back to its former place or position something which has faded, disappeared, been lost, etc., or to reinstate a person in rank or position: to restore a king to his throne.

OK, I'm not suggesting we restore a king to his throne, but don't you feel a freshness and energy in that list of words? Especially this sentence: "To renew means to bring back to an original condition of freshness and vigor."

Rebooting is all about renewal. I think in some or many ways we try to renew something every day, whether we think about it or not. Even if it's just getting enough sleep to wake up with a sense of "freshness and vigor." (Don't tell me that's not how you wake up in the morning.)

Even if you're sleepy, a new day is a new day. Having one is better than the alternative. And a new day is a good day to reboot!

Friday, April 4, 2008

"All Kinds of Different Moves"

Scott Simon, Saturday host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, Peabody Award winning journalist and accomplished writer, has written a new novel, his second, a political murder mystery set in Chicago and entitled “Windy City.”

In San Francisco today on a tour to promote the book, he was interviewed on KQED Radio’s Forum program by Dave Iverson, sitting in for regular host Michael Krasny.

After an introductory discussion about the book, Iverson asked Simon: “Is there a new book spinning around in your head?”

“Oh yes,” Simon said. “I have a lot of ideas, a lot of novels I want to get written. I like writing novels. It’s fun. You exercise different mental muscles and you’re not repeating yourself…

“I think the important thing is to keep challenging yourself, to do new and different things, so you don’t thread yourself into the ground. This refreshes you for everything. I think it makes you a better artist, which is important for me. I think it makes me a better journalist, for whatever time I spend as a journalist. I also think it makes me a better father and husband, because I’m learning new things.

Iverson: “How so?”

“You’re learning new things. You’re opening yourself up to a wider world. You’re trying new things. You’re keeping yourself flexible and maneuverable.

“Great lesson I learned from the ballet, which I love, and it’s one of my favorite sports, is you can’t keep doing the same moves over and over again without those moves breaking down. You have to do all kinds of different moves to build the whole muscular structure, because that’s what supports you in the moves you want to do.

“And I think that’s true in life, too.”

Profound and muscular thoughts from a very talented individual.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Fooling Around

Happy April Fool’s Day. Or Silly April Fool’s Day. Or Playful April Fool’s Day. In any case, have a Fun April Fool’s Day, because that’s what the day is all about.

Here are two links with some historical (hysterical?) perspective on this auspicious day:

Here’s an excerpt from the explanation at the first link:

“The current thinking is that (the observance) began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from March 25-April 1 (new year's week) to January 1.

“Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious, refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled ‘fools’ by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on ‘fool errands,’ sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a "poisson d'avril" or ‘April fish’ because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

“This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continues on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool's Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.”

So the foolish message of the day is: Rebooting is not a fool’s errand! And that’s no April Fool!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

RebootYou social network launched!

Back on Nov. 12, I asked in this blog if rebooters constituted a community. Defined in Wikipedia, a virtual community is:

… a
social network with a common interest, idea, task or goal that interacts in a virtual society across time, geographical and organizational boundaries and is able to develop personal relationships.

I said I hoped to jump start such a community, and asked readers to let me know if they had any ideas on how to do it.

Well, such an idea is now at hand. I’ve started a social network for rebooters at Ning is a platform for social networks, currently hosting thousands of virtual communities in many walks of life.

I invite you to visit the new social community and join in. It’s easy to do – just click and sign up. Hope to see you there – and back here as well!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Helping pro athletes reboot after their playing days are over

Great story in this week’s New Yorker about former Mets and Phillies baseball star Lenny Dykstra, who is launching a new magazine aimed at pro athletes called The Players Club.

With the magazine as his main vehicle, he wants to encourage athletes in their prime to set aside a half-million dollars a year in a customized retirement account to insure their financial security for later life.

“There are all these hard luck stories (about former athletes),” said Randall Kane, editor of The Players Club. “We’re going to educate these guys to take advantage of this windfall. ‘Keep Living the Dream,’ that’s our working slogan.”

It’s a fun article about a true character who says, “I’m forty-four, with a lot of mileage, dude. A lot of mileage… You get to a point in your life where, yeah, I loved baseball, but baseball’s a small part. I’m going to build something that can change the ---- outcome of people’s lives.”

He describes critical decision points in life as “like the one-one count.” A baseball metaphor, it means that “some moments, and the choices they bring, are more fateful than others (i.e., the next pitch makes all the difference)… If a batter falls behind, one ball and two strikes, he’s in a hole from which, the statistics augur, he will not recover, even if he is Barry Bonds; and if he gets ahead, to two balls and one strike, he wrests control from the pitcher and takes charge of his own destiny.”

Maybe you weren’t able to “set aside a half million dollars” for your later years, but the game is not over. Lenny might say you’re at the one-one count. What decision will you make about the rest of your at bat? A reboot could make the count two and one in your favor.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speaking of brains, how fit is yours?

I’ve just come across a fascinating company and website – SharpBrains, at They’ve got what looks like some really good news.

SharpBrains is a research & advisory firm devoted to helping individuals, companies, health providers, investors, and policy makers understand and participate in the emerging brain fitness field through a variety of market-intelligence products and services.

The company says that brain fitness may grow one day to become as widespread as physical fitness, and brain fitness centers or "brain gyms" may complement today's gyms.

SharpBrains has just released its inaugural report on the emerging Brain Fitness Software Market, the first to define the brain fitness software market and analyze the size and trends of its four customer segments.

Highlights from The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2008 report include:

• 2007 was a seminal year for the U.S. Brain Fitness software market, which reached $225 million in revenues – up from an estimated $100 million in 2005.

• Over 20 companies are offering tools to assess and train cognitive skills to four customer segments: consumers; healthcare and insurance providers; K12 school systems; and Fortune 1000 companies, the military, and sports teams.

• More than five programs have shown results in randomized controlled trials. Cognitive functions that can be trained include: visual and auditory processing, working memory, attention, and decision-making.

Some day soon, while you’re checking out the latest running shoes, heart monitors and iPod carrying cases to use while exercising, you may also find yourself looking over some nifty products to improve the condition of your brain.

Try to get your mind around that!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Prevent Brain Drain: Reboot

Brain drain.

Those scary words describe what the aerospace and defense sector is facing as hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers reach retirement age.

“The problem – almost 60 percent of U.S. aerospace workers in 2007 were 45 or older – could affect national security and even close the door on commercial products that start out as military technology,” according to an Associated Press article by Joelle Tessler that ran in Monday’s papers. A link to the story appears below.

The looming labor shortage that will inevitably result as the Baby Boom generation moves out of the workforce and into retirement is one of the main reasons we started We want to help mitigate the shortage by helping as many people as possible extend their productivity beyond retirement.

There are a lot of ways to reboot. Staying on the job (if given the opportunity), continuing to work as a consultant, working part time, and opening one’s own business are all avenues to continued contribution.

We predict that many aerospace and defense companies will come up with ways to encourage members of their senior workforce to stay on the job for three to five years or more beyond age 65.

As a nation we can’t afford to have everybody walk off the job at the same time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Rebooting, British style

When it comes to rebooting, the British are just as good at it as the Americans.

An article in The Sunday Times of March 2, headlined “Starting a business at retirement age,” says “There is no age limit to setting up in business to exploit your experience. The golden rule is to do something you enjoy.”

The article tells the story of several rebooters, including Rayment Kirby, who started his own business making cameras from traditional designs when he was in his sixties. Now 75, he makes a range of modernized versions of traditional camera designs by hand in his home workshop in Heathfield, East Sussex. He sells them at the auction house Christies and on his own website,

Frances Kay, editor of a publication called The Good Non-Retirement Guide, says more and more older people are setting up businesses. “They are doing it because at a certain stage in life they want autonomy and they don’t necessarily want to be working in an organisation for someone who is half their age,” Kay says. “People are living longer and are healthier so you probably have 25 years between 55 and 80 when you can get a heck of a lot done. There is a lot you can achieve and it can be hugely satisfying.”

Colin Weatherspoon, chief executive of Cobweb Information, a research firm providing information for startups, says, “Consultant-type businesses are a popular choice. Social enterprises and charities are also common – anything that involves advice… There is a market out there for experience.”

You can read the complete article at

Friday, February 29, 2008

Endless possibilities

I continue to be fascinated by the amazing reinventions I hear about. Here are three (and I'm hoping to get their stories on
  • A physician in his 50s who gave up his practice to go back to his alma mater and study philosophy, then teach medical ethics at the college level.
  • An electric lineman who retired from a utility and became a policeman, going through the Police Academy with all the other rookies. (True personal note: I'm writing this in a Starbucks and Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" is playing on the store's audio system!)
  • An audiologist who is giving up her practice to become a minister and provide pastoral services to people in prison.

The possibilities are endless. What's your rebooting story? From what to what? We'd love to share it with others. Go to our website and click on the link in the "Share Your Story" section.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Use it or lose it

On our website,, we offer help in finding an attorney, a financial advisor and a personal coach. In the next day or so we will be adding another important resource: help in finding a personal trainer.

I used to think that having a personal trainer was a luxury that only the very wealthy, or top professional athletes, would have. That was before I began working out with a trainer.

I've had the pleasure and good fortune of working with four highly dedicated and skilled professional trainers over the last 10 or 15 years. And I'm here to tell you that a good one is worth every penny of his or her fee.

These folks are experts on your physical body, just as financial advisors are experts on your money matters and attorneys are on legal issues. They assess your starting condition, help you establish goals for improvement, then take you through a very measured and effective program for achieving them.

Yes, a trainer will push you harder than you will push yourself, but a professional will never push you beyond your safe zone. And that push the trainer provides will give you an edge you probably wouldn't develop by yourself.

A good trainer will boost your self-confidence as well as your physical condition. And it's OK if you're overweight and out of condition to start. The important thing is to start and to stay with your program.

Your body in some ways is like your car, your house, your financial security. They all require maintenance. The old saying, "Use it or lose it," was probably first used to describe your body.

So use it! And have fun in the process!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

OK, I'm new at this!

Personal note:

So I missed a couple of responses to my blog. I apologize to those who stopped by and posted comments -- what lousy hospitality on my part!

The days of negligence are over. So please join in and post and I'll welcome your contribution.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The End of Retirement

“The subject of my remarks is the end of retirement, and the profound effect this is going to have on all of us personally and on the marketing of goods and services in America and throughout the industrialized world.”

Say what? End of retirement? Who could possibly be saying such a thing?

None other than William Novelli, executive director and CEO of AARP. Even though he said this in a speech seven years ago, the message is even more true today. Novelli has written similar thoughts recently in AARP the Magazine and in the monthly AARP newsletter.

“Retirement as we have known it, as my Uncle Andy and millions of others practiced it, is largely disappearing,” Novelli said in his 2001 speech to the Institute of Public Relations. “And in its place there is a new, much more vital vision of how most of us will be living as we grow older.

“Now people are thinking of retirement as a beginning, not as an ending. We (AARP) did a survey recently showing that two out of three people 50 and older view this phase of life primarily as a time to begin a new chapter, start new activities, and set new goals.”

Novelli continued: “The most fundamental change in the concept of retirement is that it is likely to involve work. Our research shows that 80 percent of (Baby) Boomers expect to continue working in some form past the age of 65 – either for the money or for the fun of it. Many will start their own businesses. Others will work part-time. Still others will reinvent themselves and begin new careers, sometimes in order to give something back. This has implications for virtually every part of society: education, government, corporate America, the nonprofits, and religious institutions.”

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boomers Hit Social Security Age

Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, the nation's first Baby Boomer, today made history as the first of her generation to receive a Social Security retirement benefit. Having applied online for benefits at, Ms. Casey-Kirschling, who was born at one second after midnight on January 1, 1946, today received her first payment by direct deposit.

As the nation’s first Baby Boomer, Ms. Casey-Kirschling is leading what is often referred to as America’s silver tsunami. Over the next two decades, nearly 80 million Americans will become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, more than 10,000 per day on average.

From a Social Security Administration news release, Feb. 12, 2008

* * *

In addition to collecting Social Security checks, many boomers will also be receiving income from gainful employment after reinventing themselves. And is here to help them do that reinvention into a new phase of work.

It may be the same work, or a new career. But the key fact is that it will be a fresh start, a new beginning.

For many, the receipt of that first Social Security payment could be called a commencement exercise. Only this time, without the Pomp and Circumstance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Get those shoes on and just do it!

Here’s more on the study we mentioned yesterday. Men in their 70s increase their chances of living into their 90s by avoiding smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure to 54%.

Men who had all five conditions had only a 4% chance of living into their 90s.

The study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, followed 2,357 men for about 25 years or until death, starting in their early 70s.

The difference in longevity, according to lead author Dr. Laurel Yates of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is “… not just luck, it’s not just genetics… it’s lifestyle. It’s get your shoes on, get out there, and do some exercise.”

You might say this ought to be published in Duh Magazine (to borrow one of Andy Borowitz’s lines). It certainly makes perfect sense. Smoking usually goes with inactivity, and obesity is a leading precursor to diabetes. Smoking, obesity and inactivity do not exactly lower your blood pressure.

Maintaining your physical health at the highest possible level contributes to energy, mental clarity and the overall vitality you need to reboot yourself.

So get those shoes on and do some exercise. Or get some exercise. Just keep moving!

Monday, February 11, 2008

You might live to be 100!

Reaching the age of 100 might be easier than you think, even if you have heart disease or diabetes, according to a study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The surprising finding might be attributable to doctors who aggressively treat older people’s health problems rather than taking an “ageist” approach that assumes they wouldn’t benefit, according to Dr. William Hall of the University of Rochester.

Here’s a link to the Associated Press article at Earthlink:

The study involved more than 500 women and 200 men who had reached 100. While two-thirds of them had avoided significant age-related ailments, the rest had developed an age- related disease before reaching 85, including high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.

The AP article also described a second, larger study of men in their 70s who greatly improved their chances of living into their 90s by avoiding smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure. More about that study in my next post.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The best thing to recycle – you!

Today I came across a magazine titled “South Bay/Peninsula Natural Pages,” one of several directories published by City Spirit Natural Pages of Lagunitas, California.

The company’s website ( says its directories “are THE place to advertise holistic health, environmentally conscious and socially responsible products and services. We are in our 19th year of publishing natural living directories, and have a combined annual circulation of over one million.”

This Readers Digest-sized magazine has a natural food restaurant guide, a calendar of classes and events (topics range from meditation to fruit tree pruning to contemporary dance), a resource directory for natural living, feature articles, and ads for numerous natural and holistic products and services.

An article on the “conscious consumer” features, among other things, recycling. Recycling has become a way of life over the last 20 or 30 years. We now recycle newspapers, magazines, catalogs, glass and plastic containers, cardboard, computers, cell phones, batteries, scrap metal, and grass and yard clippings. It’s about getting second or additional use from scarce resources.

It dawned on me that is about recycling the scarcest resource of all – us! Recycling ourselves – or reinventing, or rebooting – is all about not throwing ourselves away.

And cycle is a great way to think about moving into a new phase of life. The word comes from the Greek kyklos, meaning cycle, circle or wheel. Wheels, to me, always mean motion, movement. Which is exactly what Rebooting is about – staying in motion, keeping moving.

So, my thought for
today: Don’t throw yourself away just because you’ve finished one cycle. Recycle yourself!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Knowledge is power – and empowerment

A potential rebooter shared some of her feelings with me. While she was experiencing some anxiety and fear about an uncertain future, she also made this strong affirmation:

"I feel empowered to know that with time, the right choice will present itself to me. It may not happen all at once, and it may take several explorations to find out what is a good fit for me."

Reaching inside yourself and drawing on this well of self-confidence is a huge step forward toward reinvention. Couple that with the patience to take time to sort things out, and you’ve got a winning combination.

You can build your reservoir of self-confidence – add water to the well – by becoming aware of all the countless possibilities for creative reinvention that exist.

I’ve tried to present a lot of those possibilities for you on I hope you’ll spend some time on the site, looking into the various possibilities – going back to school, going back to work, doing volunteer “good works,” starting your own business, and others.

“I feel empowered.” What a gift. And it came from within. Another gift!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Soaking up the sun

Enough with shadows already! Let’s “soak up the sun,” as Sheryl Crow sang in her 2002 hit.

And speaking of Sheryl Crow, today she was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” The occasion was the release of her newest album, “Detours.”

At Terry’s invitation toward the end of the program, Sheryl introduced and sang the album’s title track, “Detours.” She said the song was about “the many journeys that we all go on that lead us far away from who we know ourselves to be, and how ultimately that detour demands that we come back and remember who we are and who we want to be.”

That’s a powerful metaphor to consider. I’ve taken so many detours they have long since become the main route. Have I found my true self? I don’t know for sure. I think I have, but I’m always open to new things. I think your true self is who you are right now.

Looking back, I see them more as forks in the road than detours. Call them what you will, they add up to our meandering journey through life. Mine have carried me to a fun and wonderful life.

And now you are very likely at new fork, a new journey of your own: thinking about rebooting yourself. Detour? I think not. Finding your true self? Ah, that’s more like it.

As Yogi Berra says, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” (see

So follow Yogi’s advice. And soak up the sun along the way!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Are you standing in your own shadow?

“Manning moves out of brother Peyton’s shadow.”

The headline, of course, was about Eli Manning and his MVP performance in yesterday’s Super Bowl, leading the New York Giants to a stunning 17-14 upset of the heavily favored New England Patriots.

His brother Peyton was last year’s Super Bowl MVP. Eli for years has been compared, mostly unfavorably, to his older brother. But he demolished all the skepticism about his abilities, and accomplished exactly what his brother had done, with his masterful performances in the season finale against the Patriots, three tough playoff games and this blockbuster.

I was thinking about the power of moving out of someone else’s shadow into your own sunlight. And it occurred to me that a lot of potential rebooters might be standing in their own shadows, the shadows of who they used to be.

If you are, accept a lesson from Eli. Reinvent yourself as your own Most Valuable Player. Reboot yourself into renewed vigor and contribution. Find a new passion.

Who knows, you might even pick up a few endorsements.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

30-year retirement? Here’s a better idea

One of the big insurance companies ran a full page ad in today’s newspapers with the headline, “How long a retirement should you plan for?”

The headline continued: “Consider this: Hallmark sold 85,000 ‘Happy 100th Birthday!’ cards last year.”

The ad said workers today should plan for a 30-year retirement, citing life expectancy projections that a 65-year-old woman can expect to live until 87 and a 65-year-old man until 84. The insurance company recommends reforming Social Security, boosting retirement plan enrollment and passing (or keeping) tax laws that help reward people for saving.

“Let’s save retirement by saving for retirement,” the ad concludes.

We have a better idea: let’s retire the notion of a “30-year retirement” and instead use a big part of those years for continued productive activity – such as working, starting a business, teaching or volunteering.

By rebooting yourself instead of settling down for a 30-year Rip Van Winkle retirement, you can improve your mental and physical health and, if you so choose, continue to make an income.

By all means, do save for those later years. But don’t ignore the multiple benefits of continuing to stay active. Don’t “retire” right now. Reboot, extend your active involvement with a worthy idea, and “retire” later – way later!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Don’t be afraid of your shadow

It’s Groundhog Day, the traditional day when Punxsutawney Phil emerges from hibernation and either sees his shadow (six more weeks of winter) or not (early arrival of spring.)

In “Groundhog Day” the movie, Bill Murray plays a TV weather forecaster who finds himself trapped by the weather in Punxsutawney, and gets caught in a time loop where the days repeat themselves over and over.

I found a remarkable essay on the movie at the website Transparency ( It says in part:

Whereas most of us go semi-automatically through most of our (very similar) days, he (Murray) is forced to stop and treat each day like a world onto itself, and decide how to use it. In the end, he undergoes a breakthrough to a more authentic self in which intimacy, creativity and compassion come naturally - a self that was trapped inside him and that could only be freed by trapping him.

Your true self – the one ready to do something different – may be waiting on the other side of Groundhog Day. You don’t really want to climb back into your hibernation, do you?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is your learning curve going up?

I was working a crossword puzzle today and came across this clue: “Graphic representation of progress.” The answer: “learning curve.”

Which way is yours pointing these days? Up? Sideways? Not down, I hope!

Here’s a link to my personal learning curve story on the RebootYou website: I realized some years ago that I’m happiest when I’m learning – when the curve is pointed up.

I know many people feel the same way. If you need some encouragement to dive back into learning, spend some time on the website ( I think you’ll find lots of inspiration there, including both resources and the stories of people who have reinvented themselves.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Being of (ultra)sound mind and body...

Today I had an ultrasound test to check my carotid arteries. My doctor ordered the test because an earlier CT scan, designed to look only at the brain, had shown an “incidental finding” of “dense calcification” in those very important vessels. He had ordered the CT scan because of some recent incidents of my forgetfulness and a close family member who suffered from dementia.

Although I had shown no symptoms of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries --my doctor prudently ordered the ultrasound check to get a closer look than the CT scan provided. The carotid artery is not to be taken lightly. It travels up each side of the neck and branches into smaller vessels that supply blood to the brain. The carotid arteries are a common location for hardening of the artery wall to occur.

Atherosclerosis occurs when fat (cholesterol) and calcium build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming a substance called plaque. Over time, the fat and calcium buildup narrows the artery and blocks blood flow through it. When atherosclerosis affects the arteries that supply blood to the brain, it may cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

For some reason, between the time the doctor discussed the CT scan with me and the scheduling of the ultrasound a few days later, I did not become super-worried about the possibility that I would be diagnosed with hardening of the arteries. I realized that this could happen, but somehow it didn’t make me a nervous wreck. Denial? Maybe. Overoptimism? I hoped not.

It wasn’t until the test was under way that I got worried about the possibilities. All of a sudden I realized this could be serious. At one point I could see the images on the screen that the technologist – a sonographer – was monitoring. I’d never seen such images before, but it was clearly some kind of fluid, in some kind of pulsating flow, in some kind of tube. Guess what. My blood, my arteries, being pumped by my heart. O-kaaaaaaay.

Fortunately, the test showed nothing out of the ordinary. I was relieved, of course. But the major reminder for me was that every day we wake up in reasonably good health is a blessing. Every day that blood is pulsing through those arteries the way it is supposed to is a gift. And we should never take a single one of those days, or our health, for granted.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Walking the Walk

A longtime friend of mine, currently a business executive, has an employee who is facing retirement after 20 years with their company. This individual is unsure of what she might do after leaving, and is anxious about her future. My friend wanted to help make the employee’s transition as smooth as possible, and at the same time provide her with more than a pat on the back and a “thanks for your two decades of service.”

He asked me to meet with her and offer her some advice and suggestions, based on my experience to date with His request was gratifying, but it also made me a little nervous. Dispensing advice from the comfort of an arm’s-length website is one thing. Meeting face to face with someone at the “retire/reboot” crossroads, and offering personal counsel, is something else altogether.

The meeting is coming up in about a week. I’ve prepared some thoughts on what I might say, and printed out some pages from the website. I have a book and some other resources that I’m going to give her.

This will be a test for me. I’ve talked the talk for a few months, and now I have to walk the walk. I hope I can provide value for this woman. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Time for a mega-resolution!

I was at the gym on Jan. 5 and the place was packed with hard-working exercisers. Almost every treadmill, elliptical trainer and stationary bike was in use. The free weight section was so crowded it was hard to find any open space.

“All the New Year’s resolutions people are here,” said my trainer. “Next week the crowd will be much smaller and by the end of the month it’ll be back to normal.”

Whether or not you keep those resolutions you make every year, it’s a good time to think about a mega-resolution: reinventing yourself. January is a time of renewal, and there is no better time to kick off a new career than right now.

Our website,, has all the resources and inspirational reinvention stories you need to restart your engines. So take a look, take the plunge and discover the many benefits of rebooting yourself.

And who knows? Along the way, you may be able to check off some of those “got to lose a few pounds this year” items on your resolution list!