Category Archives: Really Useful Tools

Good News Hunger

How often does a good news rise to the top of the list? Well, today it did in New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof’s wonderful piece on Beatrice Biira, for whom the gift of a goat through Heifer International was the transforming event of her life. The fact that the column was #1 on the most emailed list was an indication of how much we hunger for good news in a time when it is in short supply. This is not only that rare occurrence, but a reminder of how relatively easy it is to make a huge difference in the life of someone who is heading into the oblivion of “one more illiterate African woman, another of the continent’s squandered human resources.”

At 2young2retire, we are often asked for ideas about community service by members of our 50 and older audience. The both good and bad news is: there are more social problems crying out for our help than there are people looking for them. Mature volunteers are in great demand for their life experience and dedication. Just look around your own community, look at the schools, see where and how the other half lives. And if you need a place to sift through the available volunteer opportunities, here are two. Idealist and Volunteer Match.

In the meantime, when you next need a gift for someone who has everything — and that is an awful lot of us in this country — consult the Heifer catalog. As little as $20 can send chicks to a family in Africa or Asia. You get a beautiful card to send to your friend or family member, along with your own message to appreciate the abundance in which many of us live by a happy accident of birth. Make you own good news; satisfy that hunger for uplift.

Sole Proprietor

If having your own business has been a lifelong dream, chances are you will start out as — and possibly remain — a sole proprietor. Legally, a “proprietorship essentially means a person does business in his or her own name and there is only one owner,” according to Wikipedia’s definition. These days the slightly antique IRS category of sole proprietor could includes everyone from the 50-something employee-turned-consultant, to a life or career coach, freelance commercial writer, motivational speaker, cruise ship lecturer, professional organizer, yoga instructor, or massage therapist, to name a few popular late life career choices. There are some distinct advantages to running your own business, tax-savings and the speed with which you can make decisions and respond to opportunity perhaps the most obvious. Anyone with a good idea can get into business at minimal cost. About $5,000 is typical to set up with the basic tools for a home-based enterprise.

Yes, small can be beautiful, and it appears may become the encore career of choice for many. In Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live, Dan Pink predicted an explosion in independent contract workers, soloists and owners of microbusiness, a trend he believes is already reworking work itself. One example in our area of South Florida (more retirement central than a hotbed of entrepreneurial spirit) Kinko’s is open 24/7.

To be a successful soloist, you have to be self-sufficient and comfortable wearing many hats. It also helps to know yourself well enough to know what you don’t know, and what, when and where to outsource, in effect, building your own team of specialist/ sub-contractors. After all, being small in size doesn’t mean you can’t have big ideas. Luckily, there are any number of excellent resources so that you don’t have to go it alone. And many of them market themselves by giving away tons of free, valuable advice (take note). Here are three of our favorites, all small business owners themselves:

  • Terri Lonier’s Working Solo is a must read. See Terri’s excellent piece on Networking for the Terminally Shy.
  • Our former neighbor and friend, Ilise Benun’s excellent Marketing Mentor is another resource that belongs in your toolbox. Ilise is also the author of The Art of Self-Promotion.
  • For guerrilla publicity that really works, Joan Stewart’s Publicity Hound will inspire you to get going. Sign up for her free newsletter. Just say we sent you.

Learning Life, etc.

Eons, TeeBeeDee, and now AARP are moving into the social networking for the 50+ space. Just today came news that The University of Minnesota has launched a new social networking site called Learning Life and we think this could be the wave of the future: focused, useful, and definitely not trying to be all things to all people 50+. In short, a mature way to do social networking for a specific purpose, and a universe away from the ‘see and be seen’ style of the top runners in this hot space. Although it is not age-specific, Linked In is another very grownup approach that focuses on professional relationships. At the moment, all these are gratis to the user, but so were ATMs once upon a time.

Social networking is probably here to stay, in fact, some believe it will become as commonplace as email and may actually begin to compete with it. I have friends — albeit a generation younger than I — who seem to prefer to use Facebook to stay in touch. One benefit: the chain of message is clearly displayed, sort of like comments in a blog. Exchanging photos this way is great, too.

If you have yet to jump in because it all seems overwhelming, here’s a little video that might change your mind: Social Networking in Plain English. The video was created by Lee and Saachi LeFever of Common Craft just because they are passionate about sharing what they know. Poke around their blog. It’s informative and fun.