Friday, November 27, 2009

On being an optimist

I was asked the other day what it takes to be a rebooter. I think the single most important requirement is optimism.

An optimist has a strong sense that whatever path he or she takes, it’s going to work out fine. Part of the reason, I believe, is that an optimistic person works harder at making things turn out right than a pessimist. When you are sure things are going to hell, they usually do. I don’t know what the actual correlation is, but my instinct tells me it’s a strong one.

It takes more courage to be an optimist when the going is tough. I was moved to look up some quotes on optimism. Here are the best ones I’ve found so far:

For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else. – Winston Churchill.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. –Helen Keller.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill.

I’m not suggesting that being an optimist will land you a job. But I would suggest that pessimism is a less effective option!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reinvention of self -- again

Three years ago I did a collateral reinvention when I started teaching an online course in Crisis Communications at the University of Maryland University College.

This has turned out to be a very satisfying reboot. I’d always harbored a desire to teach, and UMUC is a great place to realize this goal. While I would still like to try the classroom in-person mode, teaching online has quite a few advantages that in-person classes do not have. Asynchronous teaching and learning can be very convenient for both the teacher and the student.

This fall I’m branching out yet again, adding a new subject to teach in addition to Crisis Communications. The new subject is Intercultural Communications and Leadership. The material looks very interesting and challenging, and I’m looking forward to engaging with a new set of students in a different academic discipline.

Nancy J. Adler, author of International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, one of the textbooks we’ll be using, frames the teaching task this way in her first chapter:

“Focusing on global strategies and management approaches from the perspective of people and culture allows us to understand the influence of national and ethnic cultures on organizational functioning. Rather than becoming trapped within the commonly asked (and unfortunately misleading) question of whether organizational dynamics are universal or culturally specific, this book focuses on the crucially important questions of when and how to be sensitive to culture.”

The company I spent most of my corporate career working for – Pacific Gas & Electric – had only minimal international operations, but my consulting career has carried me into several large organizations that operate around the world. I get a firsthand look at the interplay of communications and culture almost every day. The world is now the business arena. As Adler puts it:

Managing the global enterprise and modern business management have become come synonymous. The terms international, multinational, transnational, and global can no longer be relegated to a subset of organizations or to a division within the organization. Definitions of success now transcend national boundaries. In fact, the very concept of domestic business may have become anachronistic. Today “the modern business enterprise has no place to hide. It has no place to go but everywhere.”

I feel certain that the teacher in this course is going to learn as much as the students. Considering who the teacher is, probably a lot more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tag, you're out!

A while back, I wrote somewhere (I thought it was in this blog, but I can’t find it) that the creation of was a rebooting for me, and I needed to learn how to manage a website.

Well, this summer I decided that the time had come to quit procrastinating and learn HTML and XHTML so I could do my own tinkering with People told me, “Sure, you can learn it. I learned it, so surely you can.”

So I enrolled in “Publish on Web Using HTML/XHTML” at Foothill College. It was an online course, a delivery method with which I’m familiar because I teach an online course at the University of Maryland University College. I was excited about learning something new, and about being on the student end of an online course.

I got into it, and early on I discovered that the people who invented the web were smarter than I thought. Way smarter. These languages are not simple. And they are mercilessly unforgiving. Make one mistake in an opening or closing tag (don’t ask) and HTML simply refuses to perform. It just sits there, lines and lines of code on your computer, and because you left out one punctuation mark or got some tiny part of the syntax wrong, it does nothing.

Talk about user unfriendly. I felt it was user hostile!

To make a long story short, when I bombed the mid-term I realized that I had bitten off more than I had time to chew at this particular moment, so I withdrew from the course. Licking my wounds, I left the field of combat and said, “OK, I’ll come back another day.”

A month or so later, in a completely unrelated development, I was participating in a virtual meeting with a person who is an expert in HTML and XHTML, and we were discussing modifications to a work-related website. I could see his computer screen on my laptop. At a certain point he began writing new code to change the look of the page.

There, before my very eyes, I saw a person writing HTML as fluently and easily as I am writing English in this post. More than that, he was thinking in HTML, the way fluent translators can think in second and third languages. It rolled across the screen, all the tags and colons and semicolons and quotation marks and styles, marching across the virtual page in perfect order and form. He clicked “publish” and voila! There was the web page, looking exactly how he had told it to look.

It was a beautiful thing to see (OK, beautiful to me). To watch someone do so easily and so effortlessly what I had struggled with so mightily was both amazing and humbling.

Bottom line: I have a whole new appreciation for the people who do web design and creation. A huge appreciation. I learned my limitations. I learned that not every rebooting enterprise is a good idea. In truth, I can’t do everything.

Some things are better left to the experts. And HTML and XHTML are two of them!

He became his better self

Last Saturday Ted Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Reflecting on his life and the triumph and tragedy of the Kennedy family, Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times, “The Kennedys counseled us for half a century to be optimistic and to strive harder, to find the resilience to overcome those inevitable moments of tragedy and desolation, and to move steadily toward our better selves, as individuals and as a nation.”

It occurs to me that Ted Kennedy was a rebooter of heroic proportions. From that tragic accident at Chappaquiddick, to that day when he stumbled over the question, “Why do you want to be president?” to the final years of his life, when he was revered as a consummate lawmaker who authored or co-authored many landmark pieces of legislation – he remade himself.

He picked himself up by his bootstraps and became “his better self.”

So many of us these days are at a point in our lives where a rebooting is necessary. It may be that we need to reinvent ourselves for economic reasons, for retirement-building reasons, or for personal reasons that go deep into our spirit. There is a time and a season for everything. This is a time and season for rebooting.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Funemployment is here

There’s a new term to add to the lexicon of the current recession: funemployment.

An article in the Los Angeles Times describes the new state:

“While millions of Americans struggle to find work as they face foreclosures and bankruptcy, others have found a silver lining in the economic meltdown,” says the article by Kimi Yoshino. “These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Some were laid off. Some quit voluntarily, lured by generous bailouts.”

The “funemployed” do not spend their time studying job listings. Instead, “they travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least until the bank account dries up, they’re content living for today.”

The Urban Dictionary’s definition of funemployment: “The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life.”

“‘Recession gives people permission to be unemployed,’ said David Logan, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. ‘Why not make use of the time and go do something fun?’”

If you’re in your 50s, losing your job may not exactly be funemployment.

But there’s no rule that says you can’t take time off to recharge your batteries and have some fun before rebooting yourself. When I “retired,” I took a year off before starting back to work and had a fabulous time. It was the sabbatical I never took earlier in my career, and it thoroughly refreshed me. It gave me time to think long and hard about rebooting, and when I did decide to go back to work, I did so with confidence and enthusiasm.

I’ve often heard it said of work, “If it ain’t fun, you ain’t doing it right.” Some people are proving the same can be said of non-work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Everywhere you look -- reinvention

Here’s a reinvention story inside another reinvention story.

My Google alert for “reinvention” served up this headline from the Boston Business Journal:

“Job crunch: With unemployment rising, reinvention is a necessity in today’s economy.”

Sounded like just the kind of story I like to comment on. I read on. Here are the first four paragraphs:

Some 50 unemployed professionals gathered in a conference room at the
ValleyWorks Career Center in Lawrence on a recent Monday afternoon. On tap was a presentation by two licensed social workers who started the session by asking those in the room to shout out their past job titles.

There was a banker, a grant manager, a computer programmer, a human resources specialist. “Now go back a few years and think about what you wanted to be as a child,” the social worker, Liz Maniscalco, said. The replies were far more adventurous, yet generic: artist, veterinarian, architect, nurse.

“Your attachment to your job attaches a lot to your personal worth,” Maniscalco said.

Most of the people in the room had recently been detached from their jobs — few, if any, by choice. The message from both the staff and jobless clients at ValleyWorks is that the thousands of workers laid-off due to the deeply troubled economy have a chance to craft new identities, to start over — whether they wanted to or not.

I thought, wow, this is a great technique for rebooting possibilities: comparing your last actual job to what you wanted to be when you were a child. If you’re thinking about rebooting and are unsure of a new direction, revisit your earlier passion.

I was warming to the story, when I came to these lines:

This article is for Paid Subscribers ONLY. If you are already a Boston Business Journal subscriber please create or sign into your account to link your valid print subscription and have access to the complete article. Become a Subscriber to receive immediate access to this article and access to additional exclusive content every week.

There’s the other reinvention story – newspapers charging for online access. It’s one way the experts say that newspapers may be able to save themselves in a rapidly deteriorating industry.

As a serial rebooter, I’m hoping many of these folks – and millions of others who are in the same boat – can successfully reinvent themselves. And as an ex-newspaperman, I’m hoping that the daily print medium survives. That printer’s ink is still inside.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Complex, unconscious and emotional – moi?

David Brooks nailed it today.

The New York Times op-ed columnist gave a perfect description of how people decide about rebooting:

“When noodling over some issue – whether it’s a legal case, an essay, a math problem or a marketing strategy, people go foraging about for a unifying solution…

“The mind tries on different solutions to see if they fit. Ideas and insights bubble up from some hidden layer of intuitions and heuristics. Sometimes you feel yourself getting closer to a conclusion, and sometimes you feel yourself getting farther away. The emotions serve as guidance signals, like from a GPS, as you feel your way toward a solution.

“Then – often while you’re in the shower or after a night’s sleep – the answer comes to you. You experience a fantastic rush of pleasure that feels like a million tiny magnets suddenly clicking into alignment.

“Now your conclusion is articulate in your consciousness. You can edit it or reject it. You can go out and find precedents and principles to buttress it. But the way you get there was not a cool, rational process. It was complex, unconscious and emotional.”

OK, Brooks was not talking about rebooting. He was talking about the decision-making process used by judges, wrestling with the reality that decisions, including judicial ones, “are made by imperfect minds in ambiguous circumstances.”

But from the rebooters I’ve talked to, and from my own experience, this is how the decision to reinvent oneself is usually made. At we try to offer information and suggestions that appeal to your rational side, but we know that ultimately your decision will probably be based partly or mostly on your emotions.

So give them free rein. Your decision will be better for it.

Are we there yet?

No, we’re not. We’re making progress, but “there” is still a ways off in the future.

The “there” I’m talking about is that re-invented, rebooted automotive future that runs on electricity and not on carbon dioxide-producing, smog-creating gasoline.

Case in point: The other day I saw a Tesla truck (Tesla the electric car company), towing a closed Tesla trailer big enough to carry a car inside. The truck was parked – at a Chevron station. Getting gas.

I assumed (rightly or wrongly, I don’t know) that inside the trailer was a spanking new Tesla, being delivered to someone environmentally savvy enough to buy an all-electric car, and rich enough to fork over $100,000 for it. And the delivery vehicle had to stop for gas. Old fashioned, petroleum-based, 91 octane gasoline.

Looking at the truck and trailer I thought, there’s a message here: that we have chosen a new direction, tentatively and on a small scale – electric cars -- and we’ve set out in that direction, but we have a long way to go. Tomorrow vs. today. Dream vs. reality.

Also: profound vs. superficial. You decide.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I’m here to speak on behalf of the genie.

What genie, you ask?

The one that everybody’s trying to put back in the bottle. Or more accurately, the one that everybody says can’t be put back in the bottle.

Well, of course not. He didn’t come out of a bottle in the first place. He came out of a lamp, for crying out loud. Give the guy a break!

Another thing: the genie that people want to put back in a bottle is usually something really bad or dangerous – nuclear power, for example, or global warming, or credit default swaps.

But Aladdin’s original genie was good – he would do anything you asked. How – or where – did the genie go bad?

These questions are bugging me. I’m thinking of genie because I keep hearing some policy wonk on NPR bemoaning the fact that he’s out of the bottle and can’t be put back in. If I had three wishes, one of them would be for people to get back to the lamp. Maybe that would work.

And where did the idea of “three wishes” come from? I’m guessing from mythology or a fairy tale, but whatever the source, it’s certainly well entrenched in our culture. We have Three Wishes the movie, Three Wishes the TV show, Three Wishes the book, even a catalog of three wishes cartoons and a genre of three wishes jokes.

A lot of people are looking for genies and three wishes to reinvent themselves these days. “Genie, reboot me as a gifted musician.” “I wish I had gone to law school.” “Reinvent me as a star NFL quarterback.” “I wish I had my 401(k) again.”

Not being granted such gifts, people are doing it the old fashioned way, one step at a time. It’s not magic, but it gets the job done.

So I wish you well in your reinvention journey. Oops, I guess that was my second wish. Well, at least I put it to good use!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beyond caffeine and No-Doz

Cosmetic surgery for your brain?

Several months ago we blogged about neuroplasticity, the ability of the human brain to grow new cells. Today the subject is neuroenhancement, the use of drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, Provagil and other so-called “smart drugs” to improve brain functions.

In a long and fascinating article in the April 27 issue of The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot wrote that more and more college students are taking neuroenhancing drugs to become higher-functioning for exams, writing papers and doing research. They are often getting them from friends with prescriptions.

This “off label” use of stimulants for nonmedical purposes was reported in various studies to have been practiced by 4.1 percent of American undergraduates overall, as many as 25 percent at one school, and 35 percent at another. In addition, some graduates are using them after college to improve their performance on the job.

“If we eventually decide that neuroenhancers work, and are basically safe, will we one day enforce their use?” Talbot asks. “Lawmakers might compel certain workers – emergency room doctors, air-traffic controllers – to take them. (Indeed, the Air Force already makes modafinil [the generic name for Provagil] available to pilots for long flights.”

The question arises, would such drugs be useful, and safe, for staving off dementia and cognitive impairment in older people? The jury is still out – in fact, the jury has scarcely been seated. There haven’t been extensive studies of this possibility, and those that have been done are inconclusive, according to Talbot’s article.

What about the ethical aspects of neuroenhancer use? One user, a researcher at a defense-oriented think tank in northern Virginia, said, “We should have a fair degree of liberty to do with our bodies and minds as we see fit, so long as it doesn’t impinge on the basic rights, liberty and safety of others. Why would you want an upper limit on the intellectual capabilities of a human being? And, if you have a very nationalist viewpoint, why wouldn’t you want our country to have the advantage over other countries, particularly in what some people call a knowledge-based economy?”

Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher specializing in the ethical implications of “smart drug” use, coined the term “cosmetic neurology” to describe the practice. He told Talbot he thinks it will eventually become as acceptable as cosmetic surgery.

“It makes no sense to ban the use of neuroenhancers,” Talbot writes. “Too many people are already taking them, and the users tend to be educated and privileged people who proceed with just enough caution to avoid getting into trouble… Neuroenhancers are perfectly suited for the anxiety of white-collar competition in a floundering economy. And they have a synergistic relationship with our multiplying digital technologies: the more gadgets we own, the more distracted we become, and the more we need help in order to focus.”

Today a lot of people – too many – need neuroenhancement help to focus not on the job, but on looking for a job.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A new national motto?

“What were they thinking?”

It could be the new national motto, replacing E Pluribus Unum.

Brainless and stupid acts pop up on a regular and recurring basis.

• Pizza company employees videotape themselves doing despicable things to food, then upload the video to YouTube.

• The White House military office approves a photo opportunity project that sends a 747 and an Air Force jet fighter to circle around the Statue of Liberty, panicking thousands of people in New York and New Jersey.

• Bankers, hedge fund managers and financial “experts” spin up new financial “products” that are impossible to understand, sell them to people who can’t afford them, and create an avalanche of defaults that melts down the global economy.

• Tens of thousands of people and institutions entrust their savings, endowments and investments to Bernie Madoff, who runs a Ponzi scheme for 20-plus years, wipes out billions of dollars, and wrecks innumerable lives.

• Celebrities get arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, deny all charges, then enroll in anger management classes.

• Star athletes inject themselves with steroids, balloon up to twice their normal size, break records, then say, Who, me?

What are you thinking right now? If the recession has you recessed, or the depression has you depressed, what are you doing about it? Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself?

No, you’re not, because you’re reading this and you’re thinking about reinventing yourself into a new job, a new career, a new life! That’s really good!

You’re about to reboot into something new and exciting. And even more good news: Five, 10, 15 years from now, you won’t have to look back on yourself in the year 2009 and say, “What was I thinking?”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It’s time to reboot, America!

I’m looking for people who have reinvented themselves. Or are in the process of doing so.

If you’re one of these people, I’m looking for you, because I’d like to tell your story on, the website for personal reinvention.

There has never been a time when so many Americans needed to reinvent themselves, pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. President Obama said it in his inaugural address, and 100 days later the situation is even worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost, with almost two-thirds (3.3 million) of the decrease occurring in the last 5 months. In March, the number of unemployed persons increased by 694,000 to 13.2 million. Job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors.

Here are the people I’m looking for, the rebooters, men and women who have:

• Gone back to school to learn new skills and better prepare yourself for a new job and or a new career.
• Started your own business – such as a restaurant, a manufacturing company, a software company, services, consulting, art, photography, crafts, – any new enterprise that you are creating from the chaos of our current economic mess.
• Changed jobs or careers voluntarily
• Changed jobs or careers after an involuntary separation, loss of job, downsizing, “early retirement” before you were ready, or other unexpected event
• Become a volunteer at a non-profit, a church or synagogue, a community organization, a school
• Signed up to serve in an organization like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps

Your story is worth telling because you are taking charge of your life and taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Your story might well be an inspiration to others who are stymied, on the fence or undecided about what to do.

Drop me a line at I’ll get back in touch and together we’ll get your story written to your satisfaction.

It’s time to reboot, America!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I’d love to reboot, but… received the following letter from a visitor to the site. With that person’s permission, I am reprinting it here because it seems to mirror the situation of so many people:

I would love to reinvent myself.

I have teaching degrees in English and Art but only taught HS English for a few months, quit to have my first child. I then was a stay at home Mom for 12 years raising 3 children.

When I went back to work I did it in the office arena. Not much fun there.

I love computers though, self taught everything I know on them, PC and Mac. Almost a geek!!

But the problem is money. How does one reboot without money? All the computer degrees, certificates or courses cost a lot.

My husband still works and although he barely makes enough to pay our bills, I do not qualify for any type of low-income training or scholarships.

So here I sit watching my life go by very rapidly without finding out what could have been.

My gut tells me that there are a lot of people today feeling the same way and experiencing the same kind of frustration. Here’s a summary of what I wrote in reply:

You know how to write. You are a self starter. You are a self-teacher and passionate about learning. You take initiative. Perhaps the most important attribute of all, you want to reinvent yourself.

I disagree that all courses cost a lot. I bet you could find some reasonably priced instruction at community colleges or community centers. Here are a couple of ideas to explore:

1. Go back to school – somewhere, anywhere.
2. Think about going back into teaching.
3. Look for writing jobs.
4. Start a blog.
5. Take time to dig through more thoroughly. As I say on the home page, there's a lot of good stuff there, and something may inspire you.

Simple recommendations. Easy for me to say. Harder to do, especially in today’s real world. I hope they work for this potential rebooter. Maybe they will work for you, too.

Rebooting yourself may not be easy, but it’s not impossible, either. Wanting to do it is the first step. Doing it, though, is what counts.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Necessity – the mother of reinvention

David Brooks, writing in the New York Times the other day, said that General Motors for 30 years has been not in the car business, but in the restructuring business.

“For all these years,” Brooks wrote, “GM’s market share has endured a long, steady slide. But this has not stopped the waves of restructuring. The PowerPoints have flowed and always there has been the promise that with just one more cost-cutting push, sustainability nirvana will be at hand.”

And yet the company’s latest restructuring plan, along with that of Chrysler, was rejected this week by the Obama Administration’s auto task force. GM was given a 60-day extension and Chrysler 30 days to make one try at restructuring on their own. The restructuring saga will continue, at least for a while.

Winston Churchill said famously, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few,” speaking of the RAF’s valiant efforts in the Battle of Britain. Today, with our manifold debts – including the national debt -- rising out of sight and the government printing money like it was going out of style, one might say, “Never have so many owed so much to so many.” And never have so many had such great need to restructure, reinvent and reboot themselves. We’re all in a mess, and we need to dig our way out of the biggest hole we’ve been in for decades.

The phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” means that “a need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.” If necessity is the mother of invention, surely it is also the mother of reinvention. And we’ve got about all the necessity we need right now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thinking in metaphors

Yesterday, as I was waiting for a traffic light to change near a freeway intersection, a huge truck slowly came down an exit ramp with a trailer full of flattened and crushed automobiles.

The thought occurred to me: there goes the U.S. automobile industry, maybe the whole world’s automobile industry. Smashed flat by a perfect storm of devastating forces – bloated gasoline prices, poor design choices, frozen credit, unmanaged labor and other costs, changing consumer tastes and a global economy in the tank

I was thinking in metaphors. My mind was ready for any symbol, any sign, any clue that would help me understand the fix we are all in. I saw a load of junk and it became in my mind the industry that had created it.

It was a bummer of a thought, and it stuck with me for a while. Then a ray of optimism crept in.

Those flattened cars were going to a processing plant somewhere to be further broken down into reusable basic materials, then recycled and made into something new. What had been at first a depressing thought became a positive one. It was EOL (end of life) for cars, and BONL (beginning of new life) for the materials in them.

Then another figure of speech came to mind, a simile: those cars are like all of us – people in my town and my state and my country who have been flattened and crushed by the global economic storm, but who are reinventing and rebooting themselves into something new.

President Obama said it in his inaugural address: It’s time for us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get moving again. We are not worthless junk to be thrown away. We are valuable raw material with new possibilities and new purposes.

It’s time to reinvent.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yes, Virginia, there is some good news

The whole concept of has been shaken badly by the economic downturn.

My original idea was that there were a lot of reasons to continue working beyond normal “retirement age” – the value of one’s contribution, the personal renewal factor, the waste of talent from a sedentary retirement.

The need to keep earning money was there, too, but it was a very minor reason.

Things have changed. A lot.

Millions have seen a huge chunk of their retirement savings vaporize. Millions have lost their jobs – well before “retirement.” Millions have lost their homes.

The number of available jobs for anyone – retirees or anyone else – has shrunk drastically. Far more people are competing for far fewer jobs.

Is there any good news anywhere?

The answer is “Yes.” These dire forces are stoking entrepreneurial ideas and energies.

The New York Times reports that “(many) laid-off workers across the country, burned out by a merciless job market, are building business plans instead of sending out résumés. For these people, recession has become the mother of invention.

“Economists say that when the economy takes a dive, it is common for people to turn to their inner entrepreneur to try to make their own work. But they say that it takes months for that mentality to sink in, and that this is about the time in the economic cycle when it really starts to happen — when the formerly employed realize that traditional job searches are not working, and that they are running out of time and money.”

This wave of downturn start-ups is different from those in the past, said the Times. The biggest difference is that “the Internet has given people an extraordinary tool not just to market their ideas but also to find business partners and suppliers, and to do all kinds of functions on the cheap: keeping the books, interacting with customers, even turning a small idea into a big idea.”

I’m betting that you can turn your small idea into a big one. Give it a try!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Coping with forced rebooting

A story by Reuters last week described the sad stories of several seniors who have been forced to go back to work because they lost their savings in Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme:

• A 90-year-old California man working in a grocery store to make ends meet.

• A 60-year-old Pennsylvania widow giving up her retirement to work as a house cleaner.

• A 73-year-old Florida man looking for a part time job after being financially devastated.

This is not the kind of rebooting I had in mind when I started And unfortunately, these are just three of many who are looking at a forced rebooting. Countless others have also lost money because of the economy’s collapse and need to go back to work to pay their bills.

Adding to the pain, millions more are now unemployed than a few years ago making it more difficult, if not impossible, to find that “rebooting” job: too many people on the job market competing for a shrinking number of positions.

What’s a person to do?

Well, I believe the same strategies for reinvention apply, whether the rebooting is voluntary or involuntary. Here are some ideas:

• Be willing so start over, maybe at or near the bottom. Don’t let pride stand in your way.

• Start a business in some line of activity that you love. It will be a small business to start, but a well-thought-out small business can make money – maybe just enough to make a difference.

• Go back to school. Don’t we all need to “go back to school” to learn how to cope in hard times? Going back to school to learn a new skill or brush up on an old one is a healthy and usually productive way to manage a setback.

• Volunteer at a church or non-profit. You may not make money, but you will gain a psychic satisfaction that will be emotionally rewarding and get your mind off your woes.

• Become a teacher or mentor for young people in need.

• Join the Experience Corps (see

• Do “good work” and get paid for it (see

OK, not easy. I agree. But as the old saying goes, nobody said this was going to be easy. The most important requirement for rebooting is simple — the desire to do so. The second most important requirement is belief in yourself — confidence that you can do it. Just remember: What you want to do, and believe you can do, you can do.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dept. of Shameless Self-Promotion

I'm pleased to report that the latest issue of Stanford Business, a quarterly magazine for alumni and alumnae of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, carries a short item on our website, Here's the item:

Trail Guide for Career Changers

After rebooting professionally a number of times, Lee Callaway, Sloan '77, repotted himself once again as an online resource for people -- some retired, some not -- who want to change their lives and take off in new, meaningful directions. Callaway's new venture for new venturers is a website called, which both inspires and informs. It features stories about people who have successfully changed course, suggestions for volunteer and career opportunities, and a list of books, web links, seminars, and more, all designed to guide the rebooter-to-be.

A thank-you tip of the rebooter hat to Kathleen O'Toole, Stanford Business editor!