Guest Article: 50 shades of silver: Seeking employment in your 50’s

Guest articles and blogs are industry opinions, anecdotes and tips about marketing. They are also stories about the marketeers that shape all of the above.

It is, therefore, a real pleasure for me to introduce our first guest to La Piccola Blog; Dave Everitt.  

Dave is a Sales and Marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the Technology sector. I worked with Dave from 2006-2008 in the UK at a major PC chip manufacturer;  the David vs the Goliath at that time.  Dave was one of the most brilliant individuals at that company then.  Determined, engaging, sales and marketing downright smart, tech-savvy, and great fun to work with.   Dave lived and breathed the brand.  He defined it through his enthusiasm, creative approach and drive with partners and press in Western Europe. He probably made HQ and the Comms/PR teams sweat slightly at times, but without a doubt massively facilitated their jobs. Dave was instrumental to the creation of that brand ID at that moment in time.

Over the years we stayed in touch via Facebook.   Recently I read one of Dave's timeline posts. He was out of work for the 3rd time in 9 years.  I was confused.   This made absolutely no sense to me.  So, I reached out and asked Dave "why?"
This is his story:  It cites economic recession, an industry that suffered the knock-on effects, ageism and hair-dye.  More importantly Dave explains how resilience and his P.I.S.C.I* approach to job hunting helped him survive, stay sane and succeed.

 Dave Everitt

Dave Everitt

"50 shades of silver:  Seeking employment in your 50's" by Dave Everitt

"I think the key word that summarises my experiences of being out of work 3 times since 2008 is resilience.   I have always been a trend setter of sorts, let's say. This started back in 1973 when I turned up for school sporting a Parker with a rabbit fur-edged hood! Back then many ridiculed me!  We are talking fur-edged hood here!   Yet weeks later everyone had them!    With trend setting in mind it’s not at all surprising that resilience has become the buzz word in today’s business world. 

My first exit from the workplace in 2008 was brutal. My 23-years with the same firm, a high profile, internationally acclaimed chip manufacturer all abruptly disappeared to nothing.   I had grown with the company heading up different remits, including European Product Marketing, a role in which I drove significant growth for a whole range of chip technology.   At the time of my exit, major Banks and retailers went bust and the tech world essentially collapsed.  I recently read that even recruiters were impacted with 80% lay-offs through 2008-2009. My role as a trend setter continued, albeit somewhat inadvertently, along a different path this time with many folk just like myself; unexpectedly out of work. Again, like me, they were coming out of long term stints with strong CVs that were abridged versions of War & Peace.  Upon arriving at the Job Centre with a smile on my face I met with some rather scared staff; they were truly scared, a huge number of capable, degree/master/PhD-qualified and hands-on, business experienced professionals appearing at their door, and no means to help them. 

What color is my parachute?
We were all directed to a local job club, a charity put together to help professionals.  My advice here; find one, create one, engage in one!  The basis of what they do is from the book “What color is my parachute."  The “Tell me about yourself”,  the self-analysis, the awareness of where your passions lie, the STAR stories (Situation, Task, Actions & Results) needed to support your key skills.   Despite this invaluable support, nobody was interviewing nor hiring in the Tech world.  So, what did I do?  I responded to an email invite to consider teacher training.   It didn’t seem to involve a Nigerian Prince requesting a transfer of large sums of money to an offshore bank account so I took a deep breath and signed up!  In 2009 I embarked on a teacher training course in Secondary Physics. A total turn in direction, but what total fun!

 Sense of humour and fun are also key to staying resilient.

Sense of humour and fun are also key to staying resilient.

New directions
My previous roles had been transferring my passion for technology to sales, marketing and media.  What joy to discover that teaching Physics to 11-18 year olds is so similar!  Convey the passion, engage the audience, make Physics relevant and BOOM, a motivated classroom! I loved it! How to inspire an audience!  Magical! However, there was a sticking point: money. My family of two borderline teenagers and a partner whom we had agreed would be a stay at home mum, needed a real income.  Therefore, a new direction had to be found.  Teaching, sadly does not pay.  The unions assume that you’re a new graduate and the pay scales are locked down under union agreement. Pay is not linked to shortage of staff, passion to deliver or experience, but time worked in education. Unfortunately for those reasons I was forced to leave, or rip my family home apart. 

But, as I mentioned at the beginning, resilience is fundamental.  In late 2009 I was contacted by a Canadian firm looking for a General Manager to head up the European business in IT security.  When I arrived at the UK office I found morale was at rock bottom, productivity low with no obvious business growth.  I brought bounce, energy and passion and in real terms turned the situation around from $2m a year to a projected $5m.  But then as soon as things were back on track I got the call from the management team to say, “thanks very much but it’s goodbye.”    I was back on the streets after 2 years, despite my significant achievements in terms of revenue and cultural climate. This time my trend setting matched the patterns in the economic climate.  Cue the double dip recession.

 Source:  Office for National Statistics (GB)

Source:  Office for National Statistics (GB)

Drawing on resilience
Not quite the dramatic plunge of 2008/2009 but from 2010 to 2013 it dipped. Recall Resilience!  I formed a Limited company to establish a consulting services business and started hunting for any sort of work. At the same time, I also undertook Mindfulness counselling, a mechanism to help restore my self-esteem.  I had to address those  dark moments in which  I truly began to wonder if I could ever be of value to anyone ever again.  Tough times.  

I read once that executioners are trained through brain washing techniques to establish zero self-worth so they no longer perceive value in others either.   This reality created in the brain is very real. Positive thoughts truly create positive outcomes; negative thoughts are incredibly destructive, so I advise to always  to focus on the positive.   This of course is not always easy.   Recently after two phone interviews and a face-to-face meeting with an excited hiring manager I was then fed these lines: “We do not think you are a good fit.  We are quite a young crew here.”   I was 51 at the time.   Whether illegal or not, that kind of feedback inevitably drags you down, and initiates thoughts of hair colour change.

 This is me previous to any shades of silver issues....

This is me previous to any shades of silver issues....

Staying mindful
Along with mindfulness classes I most recently attended Heart Math classes. I have also kept my spirit intact thanks to inline skating classes, Tae Kwon Do and spinning classes.  For me these have all been important social, active and energising activities. Don’t get stuck at the PC applying for jobs 24/7;  that will truly drag you into some very dark places...

This time it took until 2013 to find the next role.  By now I was highly experienced in the art of building a CV that aligns with the job description and finding opportunities by exploring connections in my network of contacts. Social media (Facebook or LinkedIn) is the place to make a noise in my opinion.  Get that connection, feed the CV in and fine tune it to align 110% with the job description. The CV is only needed to get you the interview.  Cut and paste the required experience and then add a relevant achievement to demonstrate the skill; for example:
“Able to work in the team, with a team or lead the team:  I defined the product strategy and led the EMEA sales and marketing team to take overall unit share in laptop computing in Western Europe from 5% to 12% in 18 months.”

Now then, let’s go back to our chart. The UK GDP took a dip in 2015, and again in 2016 and once again at the end of 2016.  So yes!  You guessed it already!  The trend setter is out of work again, looking for another role. This time, the frustration of age response interviews that I mentioned earlier has me seriously considering dying my hair! Perhaps #grannysilvergrey?   It is all the rage now!  My latest conclusion is that grey = 50’s and white = 60’s.   I went white in my 40’s and now, as I am in my 50’s, much of my hair has emigrated anyway.  

My 5 top tips for job hunting
So, all irony aside, what has kept me going?  What has kept me truly resilient and sane?   My martial arts training in Tae Kwon Do addresses my fitness, but it also provides the foundation for my approach to job hunting.  Tae Kwon Do has 5 tenets:  Perseverance, Integrity, Self-Control, Courtesy & Indomitable Spirit. The latter means “not to tame”, or unbeatable. They say everything we do has a purpose.    Taking these as a base, here are my 5 top tips for job hunting in your 50’s:

1)    Perseverance, tenacity and belief that now is not forever.   Something great is coming is a mindfulness position that you must undertake.  Easy to type, very hard to do. 
2)    Integrity.   Keep it honest. Background checks, referees, references, common network contacts can all be checked.  Some may think they can embellish their Resume/CV.  This is not a wise move.
3)    Self-control. Keep that large prefrontal cortex fully engaged. Keep impulses under control and build out long term goals. Writing out a 6-sentence summary of who you are, what you are passionate about, your successes and what you are looking for.  These will force you to understand the real you. This may be your greatest lesson.
4)    Courtesy.  Despite the pressure of applications, interviews, rejections, travel chaos, money and family worries, recruiters not responding, timelines extending, etc., stay civil and polite.  A recent interview had me fly to Edinburgh from London, individually meet members of a large team, get green lights from all and still I did not get the role.  However, a short time later another role with the same team opened, the dialog reopened and continues. People buy from people; it’s you they are hiring first, not what you do, even if your ego tells you differently
5)    Indomitable Spirit. This is the most important tenet.   It equates to:  don’t let the situation get you down! Remain unbeaten!  Keep your smile!  Your energy! Keep you! Be proactive and brave;  explore your network of folk you know in order to get connections to folk you don’t.  Watch TED lectures.  Follow Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Brené Brown.  

On top of all that, be open, always keep learning and you will find your resilience."

* Footnote 1:  P.I.S.C.I is a mnemonic derived from the good luck of the infamous Cornish Piski that reputedly carry a tiny luck charm (those from Cornwall will know well!)

Contact me here if you would like to be a guest on La Piccola Blog.

10 practical tips to writing great website copy

Are you a solopreneur or small business owner?    Is there are a particular marketing problem that you struggle with?   Unsure how to write compelling content?  How to approach PR on a small budget?  Wondering which social media platforms work best for your business?  What is SEO?  What is a CTA?   Need help with the jargon?  How to increase your Twitter following?   The secret to writing a great blog? 

In this post we tackle the topic of website content creation.  Writing copy for your website can be a daunting task.  You have so many ideas in your head, but organising them and putting fingers to the keyboard is easier said than done.  However, it is a skill that can be mastered.  Here are my top 10 tips to writing good copy taking a user case from a wedding planner solopreneur, Ginny Bevan ( in Northern Italy.

1)    Storytelling: Tell a story and gain their interest.  Conjure up a scene in the reader’s head.  Give the reader personal and professional anecdotes that they can resonate with and smile and nod to whilst reading.   Create the experience.   Create the dream in their mind!
Here Ginny has done this quite nicely, by sharing her practical experience of wedding planning and also projecting the reader to the moment of their wedding reception on beautiful Lake Garda, surrounded by family and friends and a glass of prosecco to hand. 

 Conjure up a scene in the reader’s head. 

Conjure up a scene in the reader’s head. 

2) Be bold.  Be confident:   It is important to use a confident tone in your copy,  demonstrate authority in your field and say what you mean.   Less is more.   Use upbeat, concise sentences, avoid generalisations and unnecessary repetition.


“Within close proximity to all of our ceremony locations we can offer you a selection of carefully chosen venues for your wedding breakfast. Italy is renowned for its fabulous food and wine and so it is without doubt that any meal on Lake Garda will be delicious.”
“Within a stone’s throw of all of our ceremony locations we provide a portfolio of personally handpicked venues to host wedding celebrations.  Italy is renowned worldwide for fabulous food and excellent wine so we can guarantee that you will be thoroughly spoilt for choice!"  
Tip:  Add some insights in local cuisine and specialities to underline your local expertise.   And link to your food and beverages section.

 Less is more.   Use upbeat, concise sentences

Less is more.   Use upbeat, concise sentences

3) Make the copy jump off the page.  Liven up your language with adjectives and colourful descriptive copy.  Use resources to hand such as your online thesaurus to do so.   Tease and seduce the reader!     
Before: “This is where our expertise and local knowledge will really help you find the perfect setting to enjoy your Wedding Breakfast. From Liberty villas to lakeside beaches, fine dining restaurants to rustic farms, open air castles to elegant yet understated “trattorias” there is an extensive choice of locations.”
After: “The pure natural beauty of the Lake Garda area brings to the table some stunning locations for truly unique wedding settings!   This is where our experience and local expertise comes into its own.  We have uncovered some veritable gems of locations over our years of wedding planning that truly deliver the wow factor!   From fabulous liberty style villas to picturesque lakeside resorts, haute cuisine restaurants to charming country farms, dreamy open-air castles to understated and authentic Italian trattorias.”   
Tip:  Add internal link to your Location venues as below and configure to open in a new window so the reader can return to current page.  Each page should have a minimum of two to four links so that it then becomes a layered resource.

4) Set the tone and demeanour of your brand
How do you want to represent your brand through your copy? Think about your target audience when determining your style, tone and demeanour of your written words.  Formal? Informal?  What is the purpose of your site in relation to the visitor?  To inform? To sell? To advise?  To entertain? To inspire?  
Ginny's home page sets a lovely tone and pace.  Friendly, business-like, self-assured and to the point.    Reaches out to the reader directly with the use of "you".  It's peppered with some nice teasers about the fabulous wedding venues on Lake Garda.   At this point I am interested enough to want to find out more.   
Tip:  Include a couple of CTA links to other relevant areas of site.
Read more about brand tone and demeanour

5) Write For Your Audience.   Make your copy relevant for them and inspire conviction in your brand/service.  Write in a tone that resonates with them.  If you are unfamiliar with your target audience then you need to do your due diligence and get researching.
Ginny does a great job of this in this section by underlining her knowledge of her target audience and local market when it comes to cuisine requirements. 

 Underline your expertise

Underline your expertise

Tip: Might be useful to add in something along the lines of "as our clientele is for the most part international or as we plan weddings for couples from overseas" to stress that this is your target market.

6) Make it easy for your reader
I particularly like how Ginny has branded her locations here in the sub-menu shown below.  By giving each venue a "personality" or "theme", the reader immediately gets a feel for each venue without having to dive in and read about each location.  This is key for potential customers that are not familiar with your product or service, in Ginny's case, Lake Garda.  
Tip:   Keep it consistent:  It would make sense to follow the same format for the bottom 3 locations too.

 Make it easy for your reader

Make it easy for your reader

7) Engage the user with Call to Actions.  These are key to encourage the visitor to stay on the site to browse further, directly engage with you and make a purchase or inquiry.
Tip:  Remove Just Click the Contact Us Link.   It is safe to assume that this target audience is Internet-savvy enough not to require instructions to “click on a link”   Use hyperlinked text or CTA buttons with a direct invitation to the reader to engage with you:  
Give us a call / Let’s chat / Follow us on FB /Subscribe to our blog/NL / Request a quote.   Make these CTAs simple to follow and execute for an optimum user experience.  Include a commitment to respond to inquiries within certain amount of hours/days.  

 Create engagement with Calls to Action

Create engagement with Calls to Action

8) Headers, Sub-headers and bullets:  are a tool for engagement.  They also break up long reams of text and give an “at a glance” insight to the reader of what your page is about whilst they skim down. .   Important also to remember to optimise content for mobile consumption.
Tip:  Highlight the sub-headers here or create bullet points:

 Break-up reams of text with bullets.  Optimise for mobile consumption

Break-up reams of text with bullets.  Optimise for mobile consumption

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Struggling with how to market or position your small business?  Contact us today to grow your brand!   

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The moment you realize you have made it! Foreign female entrepreneurs in Italy explain theirs

The moment you realize you have made it! Foreign female entrepreneurs in Italy explain theirs. 
"I’ll never forget the day that I shifted back from being someone’s wife to being "someone" again."

Tips from a life coach - make building your biz abroad stress free

From a dentist and a wedding planner to an architect and hotelier we chat in this series about the great and not so great of doing business in Italy.  In Part Three a professional life coach explains how to make running your business abroad successful and stress free.

Amanda Wilby, an Executive Performance Coach based in the UK,  outlines the following guidelines on how to make building your business abroad successful and stress free.

•    Building a business at any time can be challenging and stressful, and choosing to do this in another country is adding further layers of complexity, so you will need to add-in extra time in your schedules and ‘results expectations’ for this complexity.  Most businesses can expect to see some kind of result after about 2 years of work under culturally known circumstances.  This may be slower within a foreign country and slower still if you are building your business on a part time basis (such as transitioning from full time work or parenting).  There is no such thing as an overnight success.

•    Be aware of cultural bias, but try not to let it limit you.  You may be a ‘cultural interrupter’ that shakes things up for people and it can take time for people to adapt to novelty, so patience and tenacity are useful qualities to develop.  There are two main levels to businesses – the small agenda (what services and products you are offering) and the big agenda – the impact and change you are bringing to the world.  Be clear on what these two agendas look like and you can stand firm, authentic and passionate which will go a long way.

•    With a higher level of complexity, it is a great idea to learn to use your brain efficiently and well so that the time you do have is used exceptionally well.  Often the difference between gaining traction and experiencing progress in a business as opposed to stagnating, procrastinating or being overwhelmed is the thinking processes you are putting behind it.  To learn how to run your brain more efficiently read David Rock’s ‘Your Brain at Work’.

•    Build a business that works for you.  It sounds crazy, but many times we seek freedom by building our own thing, only to build another prison for ourselves – as businesses grow they can become task-masters so think through the business model carefully and think about adopting practices that support you to have creative free time, such as using a virtual assistant and outsourcing tasks to or

•    Set appropriate working hours for yourself and stick to them – it’s important to keep your body and your mind energised (your greatest assets).  Develop your self-management skills so that you can focus easily on the right task at the right time – know your limits and set personal boundaries. Maintain a healthy separation between who you are and who your business is.  

•    Spend five minutes at the end of each day acknowledging yourself for what you’ve achieved or overcome in the day (or the fact you are still breathing!), and another five planning the next day (unless tired in which case leave that for the morning).  Attempt to complete a maximum of 2-4 key things in anyone day, your brain will love you for it!

Next time in the final part of our Female, Foreign and Entrepreneur in Italy series, our group of businesswomen talk about the milestones in their business lives, plus some of the more hilarious moments they have experienced along the way!

The Italian Taxman and Brexit

Italia: An idyllic place to set up the lock, stock and barrel of your business. Right? 

I spoke to a group of successful female foreign business owners in Italy to find out just that.   In Part Two the Grim Reaper, aka the Italian Taxman, takes center stage. Then enter stage left: "Brexit."

Female, foreign and an entrepreneur in Italy

Italia:  founding terra of our civilization and a rich historical melting pot, the bearer of divine wine and fabulous cuisine and a global trailblazer in fashion, design and art.  

An idyllic place to set up the lock, stock and barrel of your business.  Right? 
I speak to a group of successful female foreign entrepreneurs that run their own businesses in Italy to find out just that. 

Suit and boot your brand - Part 1

Welcome to LaPiccolaBlog!  Here we will be sharing some insights and observations into the world of marketing and PR and creating some features and articles along the way.
Suit and boot your brand Part 1:  Some practical tips for the small business