Out today is the new book, Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success–At 40, 50, and Beyond; which was right up our alley so we devoured it whole. Written by MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and her sister-in-law Ginny Brzezinski, the book is a refreshing take on women and midlife career wobbles. Just the mere mention, in one of the early anecdotes, that “women have to create the jobs they want because they are not out there” got our attention. There is not a woman hitting ‘midlife’ and reading this that hasn’t flirted with the idea of going out on her own. Maybe it’s following a dream; or just out of frustration, but that’s just one of the many truths covered in the book.
Why Focus on Mid-Life Comeback Careers?
As Mika tells it… her success with first book Know Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth and the conference that grew out of it was a start. But a conversation with Ginny made her realize that there was a little something missing. And that was more practical tips for the women around her facing the inevitable transition into the third, fourth, fifth decade of their career. Because, let’s face it, many of us thought it would all be over career-wise after hitting 40. Mika talks about her own mental planning to be fully self sufficient by 40. As she and Ginny say straight up: midlife and beyond brings many complexities, not the least of which is the “convergence of gender bias and age bias.” So it was time to get honest.
The Facts about Women & Mid-Life
The word heard most by the writers is ‘invisible.’ Something we have mentioned previously in our writing is this oft used term in relation to older women. But the truth is as powerful consumers; heads-of-household and entrepreneurs, we are anything but. And to quote Mika here: if we only knew our value would we really feel that way? “Knowing your value is more complicated as you get older,” she says. But Mika quotes her friend, former senator Claire McCaskill in saying “We have the receipts to prove it.”
Let us call BS on ‘invisible’ once and for all.Mika Brzezinski and her sister-in-law Ginny Brzezinski (Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success–At 40, 50, and Beyond)
Invisible We are Not
Here are some compelling facts to remind women that despite the challenges in changing careers, starting again or staying the path, we are a powerful group:
- Women’s total purchasing power ranges anywhere from $5 trillion to $15 trillion annually (source: Nielsen)
- Women control nearly 60 percent of the wealth in the United States.
- Women control 80% of consumer spending (source: Quantum)
- By 2030, women will control two-thirds of the nation’s wealth (source: Quantum)
But all of that said, we still earn 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. We are the caretakers and live longer. We also obviously are more prone to career breaks to raise families (Mika & Ginny quote a stat saying that 30% of women take a break). So the picture is clear: we struggle more; face more marginalization. But as a group we are strong and need both our support networks and our truth-telling cheerleaders (thank you Mika & Ginny).
Back to the Book: The Comeback Careers Tips & Tricks
Speaking honestly and writing a book on a topic that seems a bit taboo is such a great start (don’t women just generally ‘keep calm and carry on’?) For so long we have struggled with this inconvenient dichotomy between the influence that women have; the leaders we see; but the invisible boundaries that seem to ensnare us. To date, women at midlife who talk about career struggles and aspirations generally seem to take the tone of telling younger women what to do versus sharing truths with peers (Lean In anyone?)
The book tells stories about women reentering the workplace or making a change. There are tips on creating a strong resume; creating a solid digital footprint; and networking. They talk about ageism; about multi-generational workplaces and how fear is at the root of our insecurity. Mika realized that ‘Knowing Your Value’ was actually quite relevant to the over 40 set, but they have different obstacles to getting there. And, if we could only see the collective power of this group; we could be more personally satisfied and change the world.