Key Takeaways:

Pivoting your career is challenging at any time, but as you age there are more and more rewards and challenges with it. The top three reasons people career pivot is for freedom, accountability, and broader horizons. Learn the possibilities to shift your career in the second half of your life!

Marc working on his laptop outside.

If 2020 has taught us one thing, it is that we all need to be ready to pivot, whether in life, plans, or jobs.

Career Pivots for those over 50 is nothing new, but now there is a community that supports it. Marc Miller started Career Pivot back in 2007 at the start of the recession.

“I had been involved with a job club in Austin and meetings exploded at that time to 400 people. I realized they all looked like me when I started to look around - people in their 50s.”

Some of these people had been laid off for the first time in 25 years. Others were looking for something to keep them busy, and others were there to see the possibilities. Marc realized that this specific demographic didn’t have any customized support around their careers or career transitions. People were assuming they were going to retire about this time so there was no focus there.

“The truth of the matter is about 80% of my cohorts can’t retire. It’s not economically possible for them and many others don’t want to.”

Thus Marc started Career Pivot: a community focused on helping older adults over 50 explore the possibilities available to them and navigate career shifts or transitions.

Marc had lots of experience with transitions. As a highly intelligent learning disabled person, he was used to bending the rules. And while he worked for IBM for 22 years he worked across many areas like word processing, drafting, and 3D printers. He became known as “the geek who could speak.” He did stints in consulting, marketing, with non-profits, as a high school math teacher, and with start-ups.

Redefining work as you age

He realized that his pension wasn’t going to cover the rest of his life. The kicker was outrageously high health insurance prices, which led him and his wife to move to Mexico for more affordable healthcare.

“A near-fatal bike accident, where a car hit me head-on, gave me a moment of clarity. I needed to pursue what I was passionate about.”

Career Pivot started off as coaching and consulting for those interested in making career shifts. Marc also publishes books on Repurposing Your Career. He is on his third edition of these books. Plus he plans to do an updated 4th edition later this year once more is known about how the pandemic has affected work.

In 2016 after a surprising self-employment health insurance bill of $1800 a month, Marc and his wife started to explore being expats. Part of that shift meant a shift in his coaching business. He wanted to create an environment where people could help each other with their career pivots, so he decided to create an online community in 2017.

Initially, 14 people were involved in his focus group, where he asked key questions about what participants wanted and needed.

3 Dominant career pivot focuses

  • Freedom - Most people need to keep working but want to do it on their terms - on what they want when they want, and how hard they want.
  • Accountability - Most have been raised to be an employee, so they need to learn how to be accountable for managing themselves, their time, and their end goals.
  • Broader Horizons - There are all kinds of ways to make money. Non-traditional employment is totally unfamiliar to those over 50 and they need exposure to these possibilities.

How does Career Pivot work?

Marc wanted to assure that Career Pivot was accessible to a variety of people, so he did that through a membership model. Members pay $39 per month.

Currently, Marc has a core group of about 20-25 people who have been with him for 2-3 years. Most of them stay for the community. Some people come for a couple of months to a year and leave. Others come and go depending on where they are in their lives.

Marc creates community by having members schedule a weekly call with another member. This makes sure they have someone to lean on and they don’t feel alone in the group or on their pivoting journey.

“A common theme I hear from testimonials is that our accountability partners are essential. They have someone when something doesn’t go right to help pick them up and they also have people to go to cheer them on when it is going well!”

Marc also regularly brings in people from the community and outside of it to share their stories. There is a weekly community call on topics like Storytelling in Business. Marc also uses his certification in positive intelligence programs to really create an immersive experience.

Marc estimates that his group is equally split between men and women and about half the group is over 60. Key insights shared in the group include the importance of talking to others and paying attention to shifts in technology.

“It’s interesting watching people’s mindset shift through these experiences.”

He finds that people who are really ready to explore get the most out of the community, not people who think I just need another job.

“If you want to explore possibilities, we can help.”

Career pivoters

Many GetSetUp Guides have pivoted from other careers. Russ went from working in the publishing industry to leading Guide classes on travel and writing.

“Vicki is a classic example. One thing that has changed with her is her worries focused on money alone. Watching her let go of that focus means she’s at a point she can choose what she wants to do.”

GetSetUp hasn’t only been a great pivot for many members of Marc’s community. It is also a great resource. Marc encourages people to explore their skills and technology through classes like those on GetSetUp. Classes like these help many people to upskill on tech skills to give them a wider use of their talents.

A number of career pivoters are looking to start businesses and use the community for accountability. Right now Marc has 2 mastermind groups with 6-8 people actively starting a business.

“The community is a pretty huge group of people all looking at what’s next. Everyone in various forms of pivots and there to help each other.”

Another example Marc mentioned is Steven who until 63, spent his career as a sexual abuse counselor. He has tried working at a non-profit then spent much of last year remodeling his house. Now he’s looking to get into some kind of e-commerce. For stability, he’s working part-time for smaller organizations and he recently inherited 10,000 vintage toy cars. Another member of the community has a side business that sells vintage toys, so they are helping each other.

“Together the community sees many possibilities that they wouldn’t see on their own.”

Currently, the group has 45 members, but Marc wants to grow the community to several hundred so everyone can help each other. Not everyone wants to work for someone else but most are still looking for financial support options. One man is 75 and running out of money, so now he’s seeing what options are out there. He can’t get a full-time job anymore as he is a caregiver for his wife. So we found him an opportunity to work for the census bureau and IRS.

Another member used to be a TV journalist and news anchor and is pivoting doing voice-over work. He’s exploring recording audiobooks and e-learning opportunities.

“So much work nowadays you couldn’t even do 5 years ago. So we are trying to get people to open up to the possibilities.”

COVID-19 has disrupted just about every industry and career path. It has accelerated the adoption of new innovative solutions as we have never seen before. It is no longer important that you have the experience, it is all about having relevant skills to deal with the disruption. We will discuss the types of disruption both temporary and permanent, the causes behind the disruption, and if you accept the challenge how to adapt to the changes and make and keep yourself relevant.

May 19, 2022

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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