What could I, a 30something business woman, practically raised in the age of the internet possibly learn from a baby boomer seemingly beyond his time? Everything! Listen up all you 30somethings and Millennials out there; because the new Millennial Boomer is re-defining young and providing a wealth of knowledge and insights that are simply priceless. To all you 45+ guys and gals out there finding great and creative ways to thrive in today’s business world – keep reading for a touching story of a another great Millennial Boomer.
I would like to introduce you to Brian Jacobson, a career recruiter based in the greater Chicago area. Simply put, the guy is stacked with credentials – an MBA overseeing 130+ people as the VP of a very successful company whose office overlooked Lake Michigan. With a six figure income and a long list of successes he is one of those people that knew his blueprint and followed it religiously. With a dynamic wife Lin; who also mastered a career running parallel to his they were truly a couple building an American dream.
For them the “American Dream” blueprint was easy to see: work hard to provide their employers the best they had; live responsibility so they could build a nest egg in the form of a 401k; and simply be the best at what they did. Then – the unexpected; the rules of the game changed.
Until this point in our conversation I experienced from Brian what I call “the veil”. It’s that beautiful draping we wrap ourselves in as professionals. It’s the description of ourselves that we give the world so they see a polished professional that has the answers. The list of successes – both personal and professional creates a weave most onlookers generally never see beyond. They’re the ones that show up looking their best, carry unshakable confidence and are ready to conquer whatever’s in front of them.
However, it’s those that allow a peak under the veil that my heart goes out to. It’s the seasoned professional with a well formed veil and the ability to be vulnerable and transparent when it will help others the most, that we can truly learn from. I am fortunate that Brian is just one of those people. It is this openness and vulnerability that I sensed in Brian’s voice as he started to tell me about how the game changed and what this would ultimately mean for him and his wife.
In their 50’s both Brian and Lin found themselves unemployed. The 401K they’d worked so hard to build was getting beat up left and right. Lin had some opportunities to stay in her industry; however, neither of them made the money they were once used to. The downturn in the market coupled with the heightened use of technology in just about every industry created a perfect storm of sorts and a brand new game with its own set of rules. Needless to say, their blueprint needed to change.
As I listened to Brian share his story (and watched his veil come down), my heart went out to him. How could this be? How does a person that’s used to navigating cutthroat competition in the job market find himself here? I even started feeling bits of fear come over me, asking myself “Sheesh, if this guy can’t beat the odds, what does this mean for the future of other aging executives?”
So I asked him, “now what?” With a defenseless tone he responded: “We made a decision to embrace change and adjust our mindset.” He then began to share how he and Lin began gathering up their resources, digging deep into the technical skills they already had, and learning the skills they didn’t.
I can only imagine the voices of doubt and moments wondering if the new plan would even be possible. Those little gnawing feelings that tell a person it’s just to late to make a change this big. That’s when Brian told me about the voice he chose to listen to – the voice of his younger executive self telling him anything is possible and what he did had meaning. It’s that voice that rekindled a fire for rebuilding on this new blueprint. As Brian said “There was no other alternative, it was not just a want – it was a MUST!”
Wow! From the edge of my chair I asked, “how’d you do it, exactly what was the new blueprint?” He responded, “We started our own consulting firm and recruiting site SirusSearchGroup.com.” With an excitement and fulfillment in his voice he told me about this new business and how along with the ups and downs, long hours, and sacrifices required with any new business he was living with purpose.
Today they spend their days together, make their own hours, enjoy bike rides and kayaking when they want. The decision was to not become victims of the circumstances, instead to redesign their life’s blueprint. It may not be the retired life they originally envisioned, but they still enjoy the benefits of retirement while generating the income they need to live.
I love this! Just because the rules of the game change doesn’t mean the players are no longer significant. The formula of taking a lifetime of knowledge and experiences into a new world with a few adjustments to perform in a business 2.0 world is not only valid – it’s highly rewarding for both those doing it and those of us who still have so much to learn as the 20 and 30somethings.
Thank you Brian for showing us that success is ageless and all ages can learn a great deal from each other. Thank you for being a true Millennial Boomer.