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May 2024

InFullBloom Archives


Speaking Engagements

Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Reflections On A Long Career — Part I — Life-long Learning

"If I could turn back time"

I’m a year older than Cher, and we would both “turn back time” if we could.  Who wouldn’t?  We also share having had a very long career — if nothing else — and mine is still in high gear.   But it’s about what it takes to develop and sustain a long career that I’m writing here.  Mostly, for Cher and for me, it takes staying in shape (mentally and physically), staying au courant, and working your ass off.

Lifelong learning and personal growth are at the heart of any long career.  But for a marathon rather than a sprint career, that lifelong learning, that personal reinvention, must be a passion, not just a chore.  And it’s our responsibility to learn and grow; it’s not the responsibility of our employer of the moment.  By all means take advantage of every employer-provided opportunity, of those tax breaks and government programs that support lifelong learning and career programs.  But, in the final analysis, it’s your job to build and preserve your own KSAOCs. 

Everyone must adapt to aging, must learn to work differently as they age.  But the burden of figuring out how to stay relevant, how to accommodate the inevitable loss of physical prowess that comes with age, how to cope with health issues and more, resides with us and not with our employer.  If you’re fortunate enough to have an EAP program at the ready, say thank you and use it.  If you’re entitled to adaptive technology, to public programs in support of your health issues, by all means use them.  But with or without that support, the figuring out part lies solely with us. 

How do you think an aging performer or athlete feels when they realize that everyone in their profession is young enough to be their child?  How do you think a long-standing manager feels when his/her boss is a generation younger?  How do you think I feel when I face a new group of clients who studied many of the major events of my life in their history classes?  Well, you either get over it and show them what you can do — or you’re done. 

Staying competent and relevant is really hard work, and your career today is much less about what you did in the past and very much about what you’re able to do right now.  What matters at work is what you contribute today and tomorrow.  ALL of my clients are much younger than I am, and that affords me some really wonderful learning opportunities as I am constantly exposed to their way of viewing our world of HRM and HR technology.  But what they expect from me in terms of contribution is not conditioned on what I produced a generation ago but rather on what I can produce now.  And that’s entirely reasonable.

Except for the very few, you’re all going to be working as long as I have and beyond.  With defined benefit pension plans (public and private) on their last legs and people living — and functioning — so much longer, I really think that the concept of automatic retirement at 60 or so is entirely outdated.  Yes, there are definitely people whose work has been so soul-deadening or physically and emotionally challenging that they really are burned/worn out by 60.  But for most of the people reading this post, your work is of a very different sort, or at least you have the wherewithal in intelligence, education, and other resources to aspire to more knowledge-based work.  And for you, planning a career that goes well past 60, one which adapts to aging but isn’t ended by it, may make a lot more sense, both economically and psychologically.

So, since “we can’t turn back time,” we may as well learn to flaunt what we’ve got. 


17 comments to Reflections On A Long Career — Part I — Life-long Learning

  • […] Naomi’s blog, In Full Bloom in particular, Reflections on a Long Career – a four part series of […]

  • […] in that period), hopeful of improving my knowledge and mastery of technique, my watercolorist KSAOCs.  This is clearly taking me outside my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing even if it’s a […]

  • […] but also to help us every step of the way through life.  We owe so much to those from whom we learned (and continue to learn) our craft, to whose who inspired us, and to those to whom we pass those lessons along.   And […]

  • Fantastic post.

    One of the many things l really like about Lifelong Learning is the self-directed nature of it. Its great.

  • Laura McKay

    I chuckled when I read this, as I came into the workforce in the 70’s when women were supposed to “have it all.” I was being management fast tracked when I had my first child and soon became aware that for the sake of the family, one parent could have a “career”, the other needed a “job.” I got the “job” and after 40 years and 3 companies was pretty thankful to (as Richard Bolles so eloquently puts it) have the pleasure of assisting my employer to preserve their bottom line. Now at age 62 I am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. No more corporate for me, however. My passion is data processes and I got somewhat tired of being considered a freak.

    • Naomi Bloom

      If I could be so bold as to offer some advice, forget about trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Instead, figure out what it would please you to do over the next 5-10 years. I really think that growing up, in the sense that my own elders meant it, just isn’t going to happen for many of us.

  • Marie Karakanian

    Naomi: Thank you! As usual, you give us another example of how you allow your readers and listeners to benefit from the truth you’ve learned from your own experiences, perseverance and hard work. Another attribute I like to add to your list is the persistent/unwavering courage to face and manage change in one’s life and career as at times it comes unexpectedly and tries to knock you down. Marie

    • Naomi Bloom

      Good additions Marie. There’s an old sailor’s expression that fits right here: “Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Publilius Syrus (or so I believe) is the source of this wise saying.

  • Andrew McCarthy

    Hi Naomi – this is a terrific post. It reminds me of my grandfather, who taught medicine at Cambridge, Yale and then the University of Florida. To this day, I remember him showing me a picture of the one word that hung above his chalkboard throughout his career:


    From an early age, he reminded me that staying interested, engaged and curious was key to success in the world. He worked until he was 88. He came home from his office at the University one Thursday, feeling poorly, and passed on that Saturday. One of the big lessons in my life, for sure. Thanks for sharing!

  • I’m a year older than Madonna, and although I’m not performing at the Super Bowl this year, I’m looking forward many more years of valued contributions. An open mind, lifetime learning, energy and a having a unique perspective are the keys. Thanks for this post.

  • This is a post I’ll share with my team Naomi because I firmly believe that we have to continuously reinvent ourselves in order to stay relevant AND to continue to be given challenging opportunities. You are someone who is both an inspiration on that front and someone that people look to for direction. I also admire that you are a constant teacher of people who aspire to learn and do more and you support each of us in unique ways. Many leaders do not pass on what they know or the lessons they have learned. Honored that you do that with me.

  • Naomi, the highlight of my career has been mentoring the younger talent in the companies where I’ve worked. Nothing gets me more excited than helping them grow in their careers, and it definitely helps me stay relevant. Excellent post on a timely subject.

  • Naomi,

    Staying Competent and Relevant is hard at any age – especially when others are happy to use your competency and relevance to fake their own.

    For me, I’m grateful to have such strong intelligent women like yourself that have lead the way and continue to share guidance and wisdom. For those of us Gen Y’ers not to arrogant too listen, it makes us better at what we do and will result in a long career for us as well.


    • Naomi Bloom

      Sarah, One of my inspirations for keeping “hard at it,” is the excitement, the learning of working with my much younger colleagues and seeing the world through their very different lens and life experiences. As to the “lifters and shifters” among the so-called talking heads, that’s been going on forever but is magnified tremendously via social tech. One wonderful aspect of a long career is that I’ve been around to see the careers of a good many “lifters and shifters” implode. And they know who they are — or soon will be.

  • Nimish Mehta

    This is a great post Naomi. Truly wise. Thank you!

    Nimish Mehta

  • Debbie Brown

    Bravo-great post- I have learned from you to learn the young new things to stay relevant- and I must admit it has been new and enjoyable- Thank you.

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