Dale Klein Joins The Re-Invention Connection

Hello Boomers,

The latest Baby Boomer Entrepreneur to join The Re-Invention Connection is Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist Dale Klein.  We hope her story of Re-Invention will inspire you to find the answer that is right for your future.  

The Re-Invention Connection by Dale Klein, M.A.

Questions are the most powerful aspect of communicating, particularly with ourselves; what questions have you asked yourself lately? In fact, I’m confident that in large part I’m the entrepreneur I am today because of the questions I’ve been posing to myself for quite some time.  Let me give you an example:  Why am I in this job? How did I end up here?  What other options exist for me? 

Do any of these questions sound remotely familiar?  While questions can be very telling, at some point you also want to provide answers.  As I look back at my career history I believe I’ve been questioning myself for the better part of my work life.  This stemmed from my sense of dissatisfaction and frustration and often being in a quandary about how to resolve those feelings.  After all, I had pursued a “stable” professional path as a Speech & Language Pathologist, earned an advanced degree and was in an industry where there was high demand.  Seems like it all pointed in the right direction and yet those questions nagged at me, relentlessly. 

Without any particular direction, I decided to make a change.  Since I no longer identified with being a clinician, how about becoming a Supervising Speech & Language Pathologist?  While that may sound like a reasonable question, there was one small problem.  This is a highly coveted role and therefore openings were virtually non-existent; so much for making a change.  Not being willing to maintain the status quo, I came up with the proverbial “Plan B.”  Since my clinical experience afforded me familiarity with healthcare, I decided to begin my search for a management position within this arena.  Of course this prompted yet another question:

What are my qualifications to become a manager?  Unfortunately I lacked a sound response but desperation overcame me and before long I found myself on my second career track.  Recognizing that I was indeed capable of being hired it seemed only reasonable that at long last I would have found the “missing puzzle piece,” but after multiple job hops it was apparent that wasn’t the case at all.  What else was left?  Now that was a tough question! 

Between investing 8 years as a clinician plus another decade or so as an administrator, I could feel the “clock ticking” and still no answers to my ongoing questions. Towards the latter part of my management experience I revisited my initial profession and became aware of what was known as Corporate Speech Pathology.  As interesting as this sounded, it clearly meant becoming an entrepreneur and the mere thought of the word sent chills down my spine.  As you may have suspected, I now posed a new set of questions to myself.  They sounded like this: Are you crazy? How will I survive? Do I really have what it takes to run a business?  The more I considered this route, the more rampant my self-doubt became.  And then…it dawned on me that I didn’t have to bite off more than I could chew. 

My next decision was to explore this pathway on a part-time basis while holding down my full-time job as an Internal Medicine Practice Manager.  It certainly made for some very long days plus giving up weekends but it was the only feasible way I could see approaching this.  Additionally, it afforded me the financial security from my full-time job.  In some ways it was analogous to putting my big toe in the water without jumping in all the way. 

When looking back at this conservative decision, I still believe it was the right one for me.  During this period there was considerable trial and error, largely because I didn’t have a mentor or really anyone to offer me guidance.  Once again, my reliance on asking questions came in handy as I quickly realized how little I knew about business start-up.  To promote my services, I contacted The Knowledge Network (local adult education program) and gave my pitch which lead to conducting a 2-hour workshop several times a year.  This proved to be an ideal way to get my name out and start building my credibility.  

After six years of offering my services in the evenings and on weekends, the year was now 2000 and a new wrinkle presented itself.  My employer’s corporate office based in Oakland, CA, decided to divest of the Northeast and that meant the writing was on the wall for me and several thousand of my colleagues.  My job or what had come to be my “safety net,” was quickly coming to an end and that coupled with turning 45, struck me as terrifying.  My first instinct was to dust off my resume and get myself right out there pounding the pavement in search of my next “safety net.”  Of course there was the outlandish option of ramping up my business, full-time! What ensued consisted of many heart-to-heart talks with my spouse, enormous self-doubt, cost-of-living calculations, etc.  Throughout this time I repeatedly asked myself: Am I ready to take the leap and become a real entrepreneur; do I truly have what it takes?  As the days quickly slipped by and my job soon ceased to exist, I took the plunge; I told myself if I’m not ready now, when will I be?  

That was July of 2000 and as I write this it is the first quarter of 2011…and I’ve never looked back!  During my tenure as an employee I’ve worked for some tough employers but none quite as demanding as working for myself.  Today, I’m filled with immense pride as I realize that this is a labor of love and each day holds unexpected surprises.  As a business owner I’ve made my share of mistakes and don’t imagine that will change any time soon but each one has made me savvier.  Fortunately, I’ve also experienced several successes that have propelled the business and helped to create and fortify my reputation. 

Running your own business doesn’t come with an owner’s manual but keep in mind you don’t have to know all the answers up front.  My advice is as follows:

1. Determine if there is a proven market demand for whatever service or product you’re providing; you may have a brilliant idea but if you can’t sell it, it will always remain an idea.  Unfortunately, ideas don’t pay the bills; that’s a reality any business owner must face.

2. Sell yourself; it’s key to your success, irrespective of how phenomenal your product or service may be.  Your target audience can probably purchase your product/service from a competitor, but there’s only one of you; learn how to sell yourself!

3. Networking is the single most cost-effective way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the business world and there are multiple routes to accomplish this.   Networking is one of the best means to stay connected and ensure that you remain top of mind for your clients and prospects.

4. Prepare to persevere despite the rejections and lulls. Hard work pays big dividends; give it all you’ve got and you’ll never regret it.

5. Seek outside expertise that allows you the freedom to grow your business; devote time to working on your business as well as in your business. 

My question for you is: What extraordinary idea is calling to you, just waiting to be developed into your own inimitable creation?  The answer lies within you. 

Learn more about Dale’s business on our site at http://www.myboomer2boomer.com/communication.html or go to Dale’s site at http://www.profitablespeech.com.  When you want to speak like a “pro,” there’s only one place to go… Profitable Speech, LLC, A Sound Investment.

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