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!