High50 http://www.high50.com/us A global community for people over the age of 50. Reach out. Reboot. Read on. Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:38:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 High50 Entrepreneur Mike Anderson: I quit running national newspapers to create a tech start-up http://www.high50.com/us/startup/mike-anderson-high50-entrepreneur-from-newspaper-man-to-app-guru-how-he-started-the-chelsea-apps-factory http://www.high50.com/us/startup/mike-anderson-high50-entrepreneur-from-newspaper-man-to-app-guru-how-he-started-the-chelsea-apps-factory#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:01:06 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74234

The Chelsea Apps Factory (CAF), based in an old factory building in Fulham, is a hive of industry. Whiteboards that cover the walls are filled with multi-coloured diagrams of the processes that produce the ‘enterprise apps’ (apps for businesses) that are designed here.

Mike Anderson, an ex-newspaper man, is the man behind it. From starting with just three people in 2010, Mike now employs 70 people, with plans to increase that to 100 by this summer, and is the number one business apps company in the UK.

It creates apps for large corporates including Ladbrokes, KPMG and Waitrose, and is in discussion with a number of clients to build apps for them on a global basis. 

Why I created a tech start-up 

A tech start-up may not have been an obvious move for Mike, having had a career in print publishing of more than 20 years. He started the Metro newspaper in 1999, had a spell running the Evening Standard, and worked for Rupert Murdoch at Wapping.

He was MD of The Sun and the last MD of the News of the World, and the man behind The Sun’s move into online gambling with Sun Bingo,

But when he saw people queuing round to block to buy a smartphone, he became intrigued by mobile. Despite being surrounded by colleagues who were going into a spin about what mobile would mean for their business, he became convinced that mobile technology was the future.

He also had a more emotional motivation to take on a new challenge: he had lost his wife and has three children, and wanted to be able to tell them “we are not going backwards, we are going forwards”.

He says: “If you can cope with that type of tragedy and loss in your life then you can go forward and there is nothing to fear in life.”

The key moment in our business growth

Soon after starting, CNBC TV commissioned CAF to build an app that could play a news feed of its content to people attending the World Economic Forum in Davos.   

Later that year, an American came knocking on the door needing help developing an app to be used by the 2,000 sales reps in his pharmaceutical business. It was a £250,000 deal for CAF and a crucial moment for the business.

These two deals made Anderson realise that this was where the real money in apps must be: apps for businesses to engage their staff and run their business, rather than apps to engage customers. He decided then that CAF should concentrate on selling business solutions or ‘enterprise apps’ rather than merely apps to play with.

Meet another High50 Entrepreneur: Johnnie Boden of Boden

Like the iPad, CAF will be five years old in June. In that time, Anderson has been through a steep learning curve about how to be successful in this business.

“Most of my staff are young and I always say, ‘Don’t be intimidated by the grey hairs as you can look them in the eye and tell them you know as much as anyone can know about this business, since you’ve been doing it as long as you possibly could.’

“When you start a business at 50 you probably have some kind of exit plan: you need to build something that someone can acquire.

“We have been working hard at scaling the business and now have plans to grow from 70 people to 100 people by the summer.”

Mike’s three biggest mistakes

1. It was difficult to find anyone with any experience in a business that is only five minutes old. We hired some of the wrong people, but we also had success in hiring some of the right people.

2. It took me some time to realise that I was not the managing director of The Sun any more. I was just a bloke with an idea in the start-up community.

3. I wish I had recalibrated faster. I spent money as if I was on a large salary and it took time to remember that I wasn’t.

Meet another High50 Entrepreneur: Skye Gyngell of Spring at Somerset House

Mike’s three keys to success

1. The key to learning is that nothing lasts forever, good or bad. When it’s bad it will get better and when it’s good, suck it up and enjoy it.

2. Metro was a success and Sun bingo was a success. I think I can see things other people don’t see.

3. In my 30s I would never have said I can see things other people can’t, but now in my 50s I feel confident enough to say it and believe it.

Mike Anderson’s top tips for starting a business over 50

1. Don’t do anything unless you are 100 per cent committed. Somebody told me to look for the hundred: anyone that is 99 per cent fails; anyone that is 100 per cent wins.

2. Take the nice things you have and learn how to make them genuinely competitive. For me it’s a network of friends and business people that I can call on and that’s why CAF has risen above its competitors. The benefit of being older is you have a bigger network, so make them something of value.

3. Keep it brutally simple. In the end, we’ve built clever processes that we have got very good at.

4. Life is series of things you know fuck-all about and that never stops.

Chelsea Apps Factory has developed an app called iCukoo, to support a number of charities. With the app, every time you hit the snooze button on your mobile phone alarm, you donate a small amount to one of five charities: Maggie’s, National Literacy Trust, Parkinson’s UK, Prostate Cancer UK or Starlight. iCukoo is available on iTunes, and an Android version will follow.

Filmed by Tom Byfield for High50

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How to use LinkedIn effectively to find a job (top tip: don’t wait until you’re looking for work) http://www.high50.com/us/life/how-to-use-linkedin-effectively-to-find-a-job-top-tip-dont-wait-until-youre-looking-for-work http://www.high50.com/us/life/how-to-use-linkedin-effectively-to-find-a-job-top-tip-dont-wait-until-youre-looking-for-work#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:01:02 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74601
Career. Use LinkedIn to find a job over 50. 620 Photo from Stocksy

Building connections on LinkedIn now can pay off when you come to look for a job

A well-written LinkedIn profile is a ubiquitous part of job seeking, as well as a vital snapshot of the contribution you make within your current organisation. Whether you are actively on the job market, building a portfolio career or still climbing the corporate ladder, it is not acceptable to have a lame profile, or to get your PA to write one for you.

Show that you are tech savvy by crafting an edgy profile that portrays your years of experience as an asset, not a liability.

Put a photo on your profile

LinkedIn says you are seven times more likely to be contacted if you have a profile photograph. You look completely digitally challenged by not having one: it means you have something to hide or you can’t work out how to upload a photo.

Get a picture of you at your professional best, taken after a trip to the hairdressers if it makes you feel better. Recruiters don’t have time now to meet with candidates speculatively so they want to see what you look like from your profile. That means you, not your logo.

Build connections on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a networking site. So, network! It’s not enough just to be on LinkedIn; you have to work it.

Research tells us that it’s not your connections who are the most likely source of future work – it’s your connections’ connections. So the more ex-colleagues, peers, past employers, suppliers, old friends, university mates, people you meet at conferences and so on that you connect with the better. Transfer your whole contacts list on to LinkedIn.

Engage with people and build relationships across generations, not just your peers. Use old-fashioned manners in a digital medium. Congratulate people, endorse them, comment on posts, share interesting information that reflects your wisdom and expertise.

You are a senior, respected person so make judicious recommendations. Never make reciprocal recommendations; they look contrived. Demonstrate that you keep up with trends by joining relevant groups and participating in discussions. LinkedIn lets you message people in the same group, even if you aren’t directly connected to them.

Put in personal messages when you ask people to connect and send thank you messages when they ask you.

Be particularly charming if you are trying to connect with someone you don’t know; they are more likely to accept your invitation if you explain why you have searched out their profile and how connection could benefit them.  

Similarly, accept invitations from people you don’t know if they work for organisations you are interested in, or if they have access to an interesting network. (If they don’t have either, and can’t be bothered to put in a personal invitation, just delete their invitation.)

Connections are just that; they’re not friends or people you recommend, merely people who help you to reach out further. You want a balance of quantity and quality for the clever algorithms to work. 

You don’t need to pay for a premium service if you use it properly by building connections and by optimising your profile with the right keywords for your skills and experience.

Customise your LinkedIn URL and put it on your email signature and CV; again, it shows you are tech savvy and keen to network.

Focus on skills and experience, not job descriptions

Like your CV, your LinkedIn profile should be written with the reader in mind. Show what you can do for your connections or any potential employers. Don’t just tell us everything you’ve ever done in your career. We don’t care!

So don’t just cut and paste your job description. Explain clearly (and briefly) what your remit is, so we understand what you do and how you fit in to your organisation.

Then tell us what you have achieved. Being mindful of your organisation’s social media policy (it’s about time they had one), quantify your achievements so we know how good you are. “Exceeded target by xx%”, “Handled more claims than any other Loss Adjuster in the team”, and so on.

This shows that you are still focused and passionate about what you do and will continue to keep up the pace in a new role.

Decide if you need to put your entire career history on there or limit it to the last 15 or 20 years. You don’t need to put in every separate role you’ve had within the same organisation: people will assume that you have been stuck in one company for too long and can’t see the wood for the trees.

Look at the wording of other profiles or job descriptions from your sector and make sure your terminology is up to date.

Include recent qualifications that are relevant to what you want to do next. But if you moved on from secretarial work years ago, don’t tell us your typing speeds. And nothing dates you more than your O Level grades. Leave out your graduation date, too.

Get the summary and headline right

Like the personal statement section of a CV, the summary should tell us what you have done in the past, what you want to do next and the skills and experience that bridge the two. Put some passion into it, talk about the challenges in your industry that you want to meet.

Show your work by adding recent presentations, documents and links. Keep up the energy level with some contemporary causes that you care about and some energetic hobbies.

Don’t have more than one LinkedIn profile even if you have several strands to your career. The modern polymath just fits all his job titles in his headline: Leonardo Da Vinci: Painter, Sculptor, Architect, Musician, Mathematician. 

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Kim Cattrall on her TV show, Sensitive Skin: Why I’m breaking the taboo about menopause http://www.high50.com/us/menopause/kim-cattrall-on-new-tv-show-sensitive-skin-why-im-breaking-the-taboo-about-menopause http://www.high50.com/us/menopause/kim-cattrall-on-new-tv-show-sensitive-skin-why-im-breaking-the-taboo-about-menopause#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:09:40 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74580
Kim Cattrall Sensitive Skin. Series 1 screengrab

Kim Cattrall in Sensitive Skin: she is becoming something of a poster girl for the menopause

It’s ten years since Sex and the City ended, and despite all her theatre work since, Kim Cattrall has been indelibly etched in our minds as man-hungry, sex-crazy Samantha Jones. Finally that’s changing, and from being the poster girl for sexually empowered and demanding women, she’s becoming the poster girl for women at menopause.  

In Sensitive Skin, a black comedy, she plays Davina Jackson, an ex-actress and model having a mid-life crisis. She lives in a chic Toronto loft apartment, has a hypochondriac husband and a needy son, is facing up to ageing, and has started talking to herself.

Kim both stars in and executive produces it, and the first series starts on Sky TV on Wednesday, 1 April. It has already been shown on Canadian TV and filming for the second series starts soon.

On Woman’s Hour this week, she talked about the time in a woman’s life that it addresses and the questions we ask ourselves.

She says: “It’s the point when a woman has achieved a lot of the goals society set for her – been educated, had a career, got married, had children – and now what?

“[She’s asking herself] what were the roads I did not travel? What am I going to do with myself?

“The man who in my 20s I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, is that still the man? And your children are off doing their own thing…

“I wanted to very much examine and give voice to this kind of woman, who’s at a crossroads in her life and trying to decide who she is now. She’s shedding these roles that have been put upon her, and she’s fulfilled. But now what? What’s the next chapter?”

Why 50 is different for women than men

Sensitive Skin is written and created by Hugo Blick, the man behind The Honourable Woman, and several men have been involved in the writing and producing of it. Can they really understand all of the above?

“Well, in the entertainment world, I’ve seen more scenarios of men struggling with a mid-life crisis than I have with women,” said Kim. “It’s usually manifested in younger woman and a sports car – those are the clichés.

“But for women it’s much more a physical change. It’s almost the opposite to our teenage years, where you’re gearing up; now things are slowing down.

When the menopause hits us

Kim talks about hot flushes as being “a big moment in your life” and recalls her first one, mid-rehearsal at the Donmar, as like being dumped in a vat of boiling water. She called her mother to talk about it and was told, “Oh I can’t remember, I just got on with it”.

That’s what most of our mums’ generation did. Thankfully today there’s more information available about what happens during this stage of life. Nevertheless, many, probably most, of us don’t seek this out until it affects us, and can be unprepared when it begins.

It can take a while to realise that things that are happening to us physically and emotionally could be down to changing hormones; that somehow, pre-menopause has crept up on us.

Kim says: “At the beginning of Sensitive Skin my character, Davina, is not even completely aware of what’s going on. The physical manifestations are right there and immediate, but the emotional and psychological part of menopause are not really explored.”

How do I want the rest of my life to be?

For Kim herself, there was a positive effect: “I found myself feeling a call to action. I’m lucky to be in the position that I can find these things that are going on in my real life and explore them.

“It can be scary, as change is frightening. Things have been the same for so long and now things are different. It starts gradually; it’s not just one big thing that happens.

“I wanted to give voice to this time, and use comedy, in the way that Sex and the City did with sexual taboos. I wanted to name it and to explore it and to make it user friendly.”

In an earlier interview on Canadian TV, Kim has said: “After Sex and the City everyone expected me to do another Sex and the City but I took time out, which was sort of meditative, and I thought: How do I want the rest of my life to be?

“And I didn’t want it to be safe. I wanted it to be challenging and to take chances.

“I always feel vulnerable. That’s why Sensitive Skin is so important for me at this point in my life. I’ve been fortunate to look a certain way and as you get older that starts to fade.

“And here is a woman [asking], Am I still desirable? Do I still look beautiful? Do I still have a place in life that is meaningful? Will my life be fulfilling? That’s really the biggest question.”

Listen to the full interview on Woman’s Hour (Kim’s interview is the first 12 minutes)

Sensitive Skin starts on starts 1 April at 10pm on Sky Arts

Or watch the first season of Sensitive Skin online

Kim talks on Canadian TV about Sensitive Skin

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Sarah Jessica Parker Is 50 Today. Happy Birthday, SJP! Here’s Why We Love You http://www.high50.com/us/life/sarah-jessica-parker-is-50-today-happy-birthday-sjp-heres-why-we-love-you http://www.high50.com/us/life/sarah-jessica-parker-is-50-today-happy-birthday-sjp-heres-why-we-love-you#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:12:55 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74565
Sarah Jessica Parker on set of Divorce. 2015. Photo from AKM-GSI

Sarah Jessica Parker, who will be 50 this week, on the set of her new TV show, Divorce, last month

Let’s be frank: unless the biggest cultural tipping point in your life was the 1979 Broadway staging of Annie, or you’re a massive Footloose fan, the main reason Sarah Jessica Parker is on your radar is Sex and the City.

This, however, is not a bad thing.

Call it what you will – taboo-busting celebration of turn-of-the-century female friendship and sexuality, or shoe-slutty triviality at its anti-feminist worst – we can’t help it: we will always heart SATC.

From its launch in 1998 through six years, 94 episodes (and two iffy films) the show had us in thrall to its ballsy, candid and unashamedly glossy vision of 30-something womanhood.

At the centre of it all was SJP’s Carrie Bradshaw, the simultaneously mouse-like and spunky confessional columnist juggling her men, Marlboro Lights and Manolos against a Manhattan skyline, in a succession of increasingly covetable frocks and fripperies.

Was she the best female role model for a generation? Probably not so much, what with the tendency towards fatuous wittering and doe-eyed idiocy over a succession of crappy men.

Did we want to be her? Ooh, yes. We certainly felt less guilty about sparking up a cigarette outside the offices on a gray day.

She almost didn’t do Sex and the City

It’s odd now to think that Sarah Jessica Parker was nearly not ever Carrie, the role having first been offered to Desperate Housewives star Dana Delaney, who refused (“I didn’t want to be in a show about sex”).

And after shooting the pilot Parker herself had second thoughts, confessing: “I felt like it was not the right fit.”

But, having added a no-nudity clause to her contract (nary a Carrie boob on show), SJP signed up. And suddenly the then 33-year-old Parker, a former stage school kid who trod the boards as Annie at 14, and enjoyed moderate success in movies such as Ed Wood and Honeymoon in Vegas, became a global icon.

Of course, many wrongly conflate Carrie with the actress who played her. Letters still pour in to her manager’s office from viewers seeking relationship advice: “It’s crazy,” she says. “I have no more counsel than you would have. I only played the part!”

‘People say I’m a style icon’

Meanwhile, a life lived out in Joe DiMaggio-referencing knickerbockers and appliquéd flowers the size of her own head is not for the actress – a working mother of three – either.

“Carrie’s clothes are not for the real world,” she says. “You’d have to be a real narcissist to dress like that. I’m a bit simpler in what I like. And, while people say I’m a style icon, I’m really not.”

Ditto, while the show smashed boundaries of on-screen female speech (remember the c-word episode?), Parker herself is entirely less bawdy: “If something is really vulgar, I have conversations with the writers where I say I’m not comfortable with that… I basically never cursed either.”

So while we are all agreed that SJP is not, in fact, Carrie, can we agree that Carrie is only Carrie – and SATC only SATC – because of SJP?

And, as Parker is poised to join the 50 club today, let’s talk a little bit about why we heart SJP as much as the show.

From poverty in Ohio to Hollywood star

By rights, she should be nauseating: a stage school brat turned Hollywood megastar whose own brand perfume line includes the twee Lovely, Dawn, Endless and Twilight.

But we’ll forgive her that, not least for fortitude in the face of misogyny (the idiots at Maxim once voted her ‘unsexiest woman alive’, to which she retorted: “Do I have big fake boobs, Botox and big lips? No.”).

Then there is the fact that she slogged her way to the top: born the fourth of eight kids in Nelsonville, Ohio, she has since recalled a “Dickensian” childhood where electricity was scarce and Christmases were few.

Her love of the stage was borne of visits to free matinee showings. Her mother – a schoolteacher divorced from her father, and whose second husband was frequently out of work – encouraged her acting talents. After Parker landed her first New York stage role aged 11 in The Innocents, directed by Harold Pinter, the entire family moved to New Jersey to help to further her career.

From there she toured in The Sound of Music, before getting her big break as Annie on Broadway in 1979.

A radical transformation

The New York Times described her transformation from character actress – the skinny, frizzy-haired sidekick in 80s high school TV series Square Pegs – to Hollywood icon as: “One of the more radical transformations in the history of the American entertainment industry… that could be accurately classified under the heading Revenge of the Nerd.”

By the time she landed the role of her lifetime, she had garnered plaudits for parts in LA Story alongside Steve Martin and as Nicholas Cage’s fiancée in Honeymoon in Vegas, as well as wife of Ed Wood in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic.

A seven-year relationship with troubled Firstborn co-star Robert Downey Jr, a brief fling with Nicholas Cage and some high-profile dates with John F Kennedy Jr also afforded her gossip column status that was sealed by the time she married Matthew Broderick in 1997.

The pair had their first son, James Wilkie, in 2002, and their twin daughters Marion Loretta and Tabitha were born via surrogate in 2009.

That decision, made after years of trying to expand their family, sparked a tabloid furore, leading to the door-stepping of the surrogate mother and an Ohio police chief being convicted of stealing personal items from the woman to sell to freelance photographers.

Although usually favoring the avoid-and-ignore method of dealing with online comments, attacks on her family have been hard to bear.

Parker recently spoke about being moved to respond to one tweet that questioned whether she was the mother of her daughters.

“I kept scrolling and then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, did she just say that?’ She, not subtly at all, said that my children are not my children. There have been a few – let’s say half a dozen times – in my career when I have wanted to respond… But I wrote back, ‘What? Like, is this fun?’”

Next for Sarah Jessica Parker: Divorce for HBO

Now, as the actress sips well-deserved cocktails on the beach in Turks and Caicos this week, where she and her brood are holidaying to mark Broderick’s 53rd birthday – and, quite possibly, her own 50th – what next for SJP?

There’s her shoe line, inevitably enough, created with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus for American department store Nordstrom. Earlier this year she created her own design of the Fendi 3Baguette bag for charity.

But most exciting is her imminent return to HBO. A full decade after the end of SATC, SJP is bound for our TV screens as the exec producer and star of Divorce, a show penned by Britain’s Sharon Horgan. 

According to Deadline, “It tells the story of a very, very long divorce and will be filmed in New York, where Sarah Jessica Parker lives.”

So. We have shoes, television, and NYC.  Welcome to 50, SJP – we’re with you on the ride.

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Sarah Jessica Parker is 50 on Wednesday. Happy birthday SJP! Here’s why we love you http://www.high50.com/us/life/sarah-jessica-parker-is-50-tomorrow-happy-birthday-sjp-heres-why-we-love-you http://www.high50.com/us/life/sarah-jessica-parker-is-50-tomorrow-happy-birthday-sjp-heres-why-we-love-you#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:03:45 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74533
Sarah Jessica Parker on set of Divorce. 2015. Photo from AKM-GSI

Sarah Jessica Parker, who will be 50 this week, on the set of her new TV show, Divorce, last month

Let’s be frank: unless the biggest cultural tipping point in your life was the 1979 Broadway staging of Annie, or you’re a massive Footloose fan for whom Rusty Rodriguez really floated your boat, the main reason Sarah Jessica Parker is on your radar is Sex and the City.

This, however, is not a bad thing.

Call it what you will – taboo-busting celebration of turn-of-the-century female friendship and sexuality, or shoe-slutty triviality at its anti-feminist worst – we can’t help it: we will always heart SATC.

From its launch in 1998 through six years, 94 episodes (and two iffy films) the show had us in thrall to its ballsy, candid and unashamedly glossy vision of 30-something womanhood.

At the centre of it all was SJP’s Carrie Bradshaw, the simultaneously mouse-like and spunky confessional columnist juggling her men, Marlboro Lights and Manolos against a Manhattan skyline, in a succession of increasingly covetable frocks and fripperies.

Was she the best female role model for a generation? Probably not so much, what with the tendency towards fatuous wittering and doe-eyed idiocy over a succession of crappy men.

Did we want to be her? Ooh, yes. We certainly felt less guilty about sparking up a fag outside the offices on a shitty grey day.

She almost didn’t do Sex and the City

It’s odd now to think that Sarah Jessica Parker was nearly not ever Carrie, the role having first been offered to Desperate Housewives star Dana Delaney, who refused (“I didn’t want to be in a show about sex”).

And after shooting the pilot Parker herself had second thoughts, confessing: “I felt like it was not the right fit.”

But, having added a no-nudity clause to her contract (nary a Carrie boob on show), SJP signed up. And suddenly the then 33-year-old Parker, a former stage school kid who trod the boards as Annie at 14, and enjoyed moderate success in movies such as Ed Wood and Honeymoon in Vegas, became a global icon.

Of course, many wrongly conflate Carrie with the actress who played her. Letters still pour in to her manager’s office from viewers seeking relationship advice: “It’s crazy,” she says. “I have no more counsel than you would have. I only played the part!”

‘People say I’m a style icon’

Meanwhile, a life lived out in Joe DiMaggio-referencing knickerbockers and appliquéd flowers the size of her own head is not for the actress – a working mother of three – either.

“Carrie’s clothes are not for the real world,” she says. “You’d have to be a real narcissist to dress like that. I’m a bit simpler in what I like. And, while people say I’m a style icon, I’m really not.”

Ditto, while the show smashed boundaries of on-screen female speech (remember the c-word episode?), Parker herself is entirely less bawdy: “If something is really vulgar, I have conversations with the writers where I say I’m not comfortable with that… I basically never cursed either.”

So while we are all agreed that SJP is not, in fact, Carrie, can we agree that Carrie is only Carrie – and SATC only SATC – because of SJP?

And, as Parker is poised to join the 50 club tomorrow (Wednesday), talk a little bit about why we heart SJP as much as the show?

From poverty in Ohio to Hollywood star

By rights, she should be nauseating: a stage school brat turned Hollywood megastar whose own brand perfume line includes the biliously twee Lovely, Dawn, Endless and Twilight.

But we’ll forgive her that, not least for fortitude in the face of fuckwittery (the misogynistic idiots at Maxim once voted her ‘unsexiest woman alive’, to which she retorted: “Do I have big fake boobs, Botox and big lips? No.”).

Then there is the fact that she slogged her way to the top: born the fourth of eight kids in Nelsonville, Ohio, she has since recalled a “Dickensian” childhood where electricity was scarce and Christmases were few.

Her love of the stage was borne of visits to free matinee showings. Her mother – a schoolteacher divorced from her father, and whose second husband was frequently out of work – encouraged her acting talents. After Parker landed her first New York stage role aged 11 in The Innocents, directed by Harold Pinter, the entire family moved to New Jersey to help to further her career.

From there she toured in The Sound of Music, before getting her big break as Annie on Broadway in 1979.

A radical transformation

The New York Times described her transformation from character actress – the skinny, frizzy-haired sidekick in 80s high school TV series Square Pegs – to Hollywood icon as: “One of the more radical transformations in the history of the American entertainment industry… that could be accurately classified under the heading Revenge of the Nerd.”

By the time she landed the role of her lifetime, she had garnered plaudits for parts in LA Story alongside Steve Martin and as Nicholas Cage’s fiancée in Honeymoon in Vegas, as well as wife of schlockmeister Ed Wood in Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic.

A seven-year relationship with troubled Firstborn co-star Robert Downey Jr, a brief fling with Nicholas Cage and some high-profile dates with John F Kennedy Jr also afforded her gossip column status that was sealed by the time she married Matthew Broderick in 1997.

The pair had their first son, James Wilkie, in 2002, and their twin daughters Marion Loretta and Tabitha were born via surrogate in 2009.

That decision, made after years of trying to expand their family, sparked a tabloid furore, leading to the door-stepping of the surrogate mother and an Ohio police chief being convicted of stealing personal items from the woman to sell to freelance photographers.

Although usually favouring the avoid-and-ignore method of dealing with online comments, attacks on her family have been hard to bear.

Parker recently spoke about being moved to respond to one tweet that questioned whether she was the mother of her daughters.

“I kept scrolling and then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, did she just say that?’ She, not subtly at all, said that my children are not my children. There have been a few – let’s say half a dozen times – in my career when I have wanted to respond… But I wrote back, ‘What? Like, is this fun?’”

Next for Sarah Jessica Parker: Divorce for HBO

Now, as the actress sips well-deserved cocktails on the beach in Turks and Caicos this week, where she and her brood are holidaying to mark Broderick’s 53rd birthday – and, quite possibly, her own 50th – what next for SJP?

There’s her shoe line, inevitably enough, created with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus for American department store Nordstrom. Earlier this year she created her own design of the Fendi 3Baguette bag for charity.

But most exciting is her imminent return to HBO. A full decade after the end of SATC, SJP is bound for our TV screens as the exec producer and star of Divorce, a show penned by Britain’s Sharon Horgan. 

According to Deadline, “It tells the story of a very, very long divorce and will be filmed in New York, where Sarah Jessica Parker lives.”

So. We have shoes, telly, and NYC. Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose, as they say. Welcome to 50, SJP – we’re with you on the ride.

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How to prepare for an adult gap year: budget, negotiate time off and decide whether to go alone http://www.high50.com/us/travel/how-to-prepare-for-an-adult-gap-year http://www.high50.com/us/travel/how-to-prepare-for-an-adult-gap-year#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:02:26 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74542
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Gap years aren’t just for kids: grown-ups can take them too

An adult gap year has such a ring to it. Who isn’t ready to swap their daily commute to the office for a walk from their wooden hut to the beach in Kerala? 

However, before you fly off into the sunset, there are a few things to take care of. Being in your fifties will hopefully be more exciting and cutting edge than your teens or twenties (all that angst), they usually come with a lot more responsibilities too. Mortgage, anyone? 

This doesn’t mean that an adult gap year is out of the question. Absolutely not, as many an intrepid soul has shown us.

What it does mean is that planning ahead becomes a very necessary part of the adult gap year experience. Unless, of course, you have octogenarian parents funding your year off as you, in turn, fund your offspring’s travels. But that’s unlikely. Here then is a guide to getting it right.

Decide where to go

Do you want to backpack around India or live in France for a year and learn the language? You don’t need to have every last detail planned, but having a broad idea of what you wish to do will impact heavily on the next step.

Work out the cost of your gap year

No matter your getaway of choice, you’ll have ongoing costs at home too. You might still have a child in at college or university, for example. 

Now is the time to pare back expenses as far as you can and put savings in a dedicated gap-year fund. Compared costs for utility bills. Threaten to leave your insurer unless they give you a better deal. Do the Aldi challenge.

These activities could yield some sizeable results. It’s easy to give up your morning coffee this February when you know that next February, you’ll be exploring the Indian Ocean islands in a canoe.

Negotiate time off with your employer  

You might not think it, but some employers are open to negotiating with key employees. If you are such a candidate, and have a good number of years’ service under your belt, it may be that your boss would consider some kind of open-door policy for when you return. 

It might also be possible to do some work while you’re away tripping the light fantastic, if you have access to Wi-Fi. However, this might be exactly what you don’t want. That’s fine, and the point is to look at all options. 

Heed this warning, though: after a gap year, you might not want to return to the nine to five even if your job is waiting for you.

Health is wealth

While you’re stockpiling the pounds for your gap year, make sure you’re paying equal attention to your health. Even if you don’t plan on hiking the Yukon Trail in the Rocky Mountains, get your health niggles looked at. 

A sore knee? Inconvenient to live with now; a nightmare to deal with when you’re sitting in a one-horse village in Asia Minor. A corn on your toe? Enough to derail months of carefully constructed plans.

Get all your checks done: gynecologist, optometrist, GP. Not only does this make good sense anyway, it is also necessary for year-long health insurance that covers you wherever you are in the world.

Word to the wise: before you buy a sarong, buy insurance!

So far, so good, but what happens when one partner is ripe and ready for a gap year, and the other is not? My partner Shane and I find ourselves facing this scenario at the moment. I am ready to go – most likely spending some time at an ashram somewhere far-flung – but he’ll stay here as he’s in the middle of changing career.

To take the husband or not?

Shane is 55 and spent years toiling in the mines of the advertising world. Two years ago he threw in the towel to embark on his lifelong ambition of acting. He has made inroads, but the time has come to devote more time to learning the craft, or to give it up. 

He maintains an interest in the commercial world through a partnership in a business, and while this doesn’t take up the same amount of time as a full-time job, it does still involve a few hours a day. 

It has become clear that to devote himself full-time to acting, he can’t have a foot in each camp. Yet the part-time business pays the bills, so we’ve been discussing for a few months now how we can make my gap year work financially. 

His training will involve ten hours of acting classes a day. Ergo, no time to earn bucks to pay for life’s little luxuries such as electricity. The drama course also costs money.

So this gap year, like many, requires the loss of income and an extra cost. 

We’re fortunate in that, with a squeeze, I can pick up the extra bills. We’ve cut costs over the past few months, and have been surprised at the savings we’ve made.

It’s easier to sort out finances, though, than it is to negotiate emotions. Isn’t that always the way with relationships?

We’ve run the gamut, from me feeling benevolent at enabling this opportunity and Shane feeling guilty to Shane getting excited over the courses he’ll be doing and me sitting anxiously in the background crunching numbers.

It’s an ongoing conversation with each other to keep things on an even keel. Relationship experts agree that open and honest communication is pivotal to a happy relationship, and it’s proven to be the remedy for us, even when the emotions you need to share are not of a very pretty variety.

We’ve also found it helpful to enjoy the daring nature of doing something so out of the ordinary. We’re both involved, even though only one of us will be on the gap year. It’s a fun and rewarding adventure to be embarking on together.

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A beginner’s guide to meditation: this is how to become mindful and enjoy your life more http://www.high50.com/us/health/how-to-become-more-mindful-with-a-beginners-guide-to-meditation http://www.high50.com/us/health/how-to-become-more-mindful-with-a-beginners-guide-to-meditation#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:01:27 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74521
Meditation_Beginners guide_mindfulnesss 620 Photo from Stocksy

Sitting quietly for a few minutes a day is the first step to developing mindfulness (the ability to be present in the moment)

Mindfulness means living in the moment, not ruminating on the past or planning the future. You learn to enjoy the moment that you are in.

Becoming mindful could be the most life-changing thing you ever do. Once you have an appreciation for what is going on in your mind, all sorts of possibilities and opportunities reveal themselves.

We all know what it is like when life seems frantic. Thoughts can be whizzing round our heads and we can feel like we are caught up in it all.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean sitting still; it is about making the most out of life and enjoying every second of it. While we are doing all the things we love to do, we learn to keep our cool and to enjoy the lighter side of life.

How can I become mindful?

Meditation is the daily practice that develops our ability to become mindful. It is a bit like a gym session for your mind.

We know that keeping physically fit is good for our bodies, and our minds are no different in that they need to be kept fit and healthy too. They do so much for us that they deserve some attention, and that means both workout sessions and periods of rest and recuperation.

Meditation requires commitment. The more often you do it the more benefits you see. But unlike going to the gym, it doesn’t need cost anything, you don’t need to travel anywhere and the moment you begin you start to feel the benefits.

Sound too good to be true? Well, give this simple meditation a try.

Five new ways to do yoga

A meditation for beginners

Sit on a straight-backed chair, as the spine has to be upright and you want to feel comfortable and relaxed. Place your hands on your thighs.

Once you are sitting comfortably, take a few deep breaths. Then close your eyes.

Count your breaths, one for an in-breath, two for the out-breath, and so on until you reach ten. Then go back to one.

Repeat this until your time is up (set a timer for ten minutes, so your mind is not distracted by wondering how long you’ve been sitting there).

Retraining your brain

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In one sense it is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The complicating factor is the busy mind that most of us have. You will get to three or four and all of a sudden realise that your mind is elsewhere, deep in thought. When that happens, simply go back to one and start again.

This will happen time and time again. Don’t think that you are failing. This is exactly what you should expect. Each time you bring your thoughts back to the counting you are training your brain and creating new mental habits.

Do this exercise once and you will feel the benefits of rest and relaxation. It is not often that we allow ourselves to sit still and focus our thoughts on one thing.

Keep this up every day for a week and you should see change in yourself. You will probably notice that your thoughts slow and you are more able to focus and concentrate. You will then start to see this being reflected in your daily life.

How to lose weight through mindful eating

A physical change in your brains grey matter

After eight weeks of meditating, the difference you have made to your brain would be visible on an MRI scan.

In 2011, a team at Massachusetts General Hospital, led by Harvard-affiliated researchers, was the first to document how regular meditation produced changes in the brain’s grey matter. (The grey matter is the darker neural tissue in the brain and spinal cord that processes information. It takes in signals from our sensory organs, processes them, and sends out a message to our nerve cells to respond to the stimuli.) 

Since grey matter naturally decreases as we age, keeping it in good working order is particularly important as we get older. The study’s senior author Sara Lazar, a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology, said: “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of the reported [cognitive and psychological] improvements of meditation and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

You could do this exercise every day for the rest of your life and still get benefit from it each time.

8 tips to help you meditate

Be somewhere you will not be disturbed, so that you can relax fully without the phone ringing or someone knocking on the door.

Use a timer so that you sit for the intended period. When you first start, you will think you have been sitting for much longer than you have.

When you sit still your body temperature naturally drops so think about this beforehand, and get the room warm or perhaps drape a blanket around your shoulders.

Try to meditate at a regular time each day. Our bodies love routine and so do our minds.

Try to sit in the same place to meditate. Your mind will learn to get into meditation mode when you go to this place.

Start with ten minutes a day. (If this is too much for you to fit in, even five minutes will help get you on your way to becoming a less stressful and more focused person.)

Encourage a friend to start meditating and then you can compare notes and keep each other going. But remember, everyone’s experience is different, and there is no right or wrong.

Don’t judge any meditation as good or bad. If you have a particularly busy mind sometimes, it is just a reflection of how you are feeling at that particular time.

To find out more about training your brain visit Revitalise Days. April booking are now being taken for their one-day sessions, a day spent at a beautiful farmhouse in the Heart of England, eating healthy food and learning mindfulness techniques.

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Salma Hayek: Women in their 50s have consumer power way more than before, and the means to buy http://www.high50.com/us/life/salma-hayek-women-in-their-50s-have-consumer-power-way-more-than-before http://www.high50.com/us/life/salma-hayek-women-in-their-50s-have-consumer-power-way-more-than-before#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:25:41 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74477
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Salma Hayek speaking at Advertising Week Europe in London on Monday, on her work to empower women

Director, actress and activist Salma Hayek has called on brands and businesses to realise that women in their fifties are one of the most powerful groups of consumers to reach.

Speaking at an event at Bafta in London this morning she said: “Advertisers are making an effort [to portray powerful women].” 

“First, women in their 50s have a lot more of the means to buy things. It is not like before [when advertising] people said ‘If you are 50 you are finished’.

“You are supposed to be ugly, not work and stay at home; you are done. You sort of surrendered to what they told you you were supposed to be. No, that isn’t happening any more. I am hot and I am smart.”

Hayek, who says her role as producer and star in 2002 film Frida was one of her proudest moments, also wants the media to represent women in a more realistic way. “I don’t want to be a stick. I want curves, I want to be healthy,” she said.

Women in advertising

“I think that advertising is beginning to discover who we are and what we want, [rather than] before when they were saying ‘this is what you are supposed to be’. We are empowering ourselves more and more and the consumer is changing the advertising.”

Hayek, 48, has worked with cosmetics company Avon on a campaign to end domestic violence against women, and cited it as the brand partnership she is most proud of.

Speaking at the Advertising Week Europe event she said: “Avon just wanted a face… [but] I went to them to ask if they would work with me on domestic violence. I convinced them, and we raised $90 million.” 

She was aware of Avon in her native Mexico because it had ‘empowered women financially’, by allowing them to set up their own small businesses selling cosmetics. 

Salma Hayek: charity work

The star also spoke about her work as co-founder of Chime for Change, a charity set up by Gucci to help to educate, provide healthcare and raise human rights issues for women around the world.

“You do not have to be famous or rich to reach out and extend a hand. If you donate just $5 you can’t begin to imagine the ripple effect,” she said. 

She also announced that she is using social media for the first time, including Facebook and Instagram, to communicate with fans and to raise awareness of the issues she campaigns for.

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Should you sell your house or rent it out? Three ways to let your property and keep your investment http://www.high50.com/us/homes/how-to-let-your-property-should-you-sell-your-house-or-rent-it-out http://www.high50.com/us/homes/how-to-let-your-property-should-you-sell-your-house-or-rent-it-out#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:20:25 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74480
Property. How to let your house. Modern interior 620. Photo from Stocksy

If you love your property but need to move, there are ways to keep hold of it

There are many reasons why you may need to up sticks for a while or consider selling up completely: job relocation, divorce, retirement, outgrowing the property, unaffordability of the mortgage, a desire to travel extensively or a career sabbatical. 

However, leaving your property doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sell it or commit yourself to the inflexibility and possible problems of a long-term tenant, such as the lengthy eviction process should things go awry. There are a number of alternatives that may serve you far better.

They also may be suitable for helping to finance a second home, an option that is expected to increase among over-55s once April’s pension changes come into effect. From that time, a requirement to buy an annuity will be abolished, with savers aged 55-plus free to do whatever they like with their pension pots.

1. A let-to-buy mortgage

With property values continuing to rocket in many areas, not to mention the emotional bonds formed with a home, few people are keen to give up their house easily if circumstances change, such as mortgage payments becoming a struggle.

An alternative option to selling is to do the reverse of buying to let: letting to buy. A let-to-buy mortgage allows you to remortgage to a buy-to-let deal. In the process the remortgage can release equity for a second purchase, a situation boosted currently by the historically low mortgage rates available.

With let-to-buy you simply move out of your property and let it out. The rent received covers the new mortgage and upkeep, while you continue to sit on what is hopefully a rapidly appreciating asset and gain another.

Let-to-buy is good for cash poor yet equity rich clients, particularly if they have a good salary but a limited amount of funds to put towards the move.

It is good for homeowners in hotspots who can cash in on the demand for rentals, and for those finding it difficult to sell or keep up financially, who can side-step the problem with this option. It allows you to  benefit from two properties potentially rising in value.

To go down the let-to-buy route, it is important to first ascertain whether there is a demand for your property from renters. Is it in acceptable enough condition and near good transport links? Particularly rentable are city centre flats suited to young professionals or houses near a good school that will attract families.

With let-to-buy mortgages you can typically borrow 75 per cent of the value of the property you intend to let. Rental income earned from it must cover the mortgage repayments by at least 125 per cent. The number of companies willing to lend on a let-to-buy basis is limited and it is often advisable to use a mortgage broker to find the best deals.

Bear in mind you will have to pay the mortgage during void periods, when there’s no tenant, and you will need to have funds available for ongoing maintenance and the unexpected large costs that may crop up such as replacing the boiler.

2. Short lets through Airbnb 

Letting your property for a few days at a time to holiday and business travellers  can generate substantially more income from your property than a long let, with one tenant for months on end. However, it means rather more legwork and maintenance costs. 

The Airbnb revolution has seen huge numbers of travellers abandon costlier, less homely hotels to stay in more individual private accommodation. Websites such as Holiday Lettings, Home Away and Owners Direct, as well as Airbnb, have allowed many homeowners to rent out their properties or parts of their properties for as little as a day at a time.

These holiday letting sites typically charge fees that are modest compared to using a lettings agency.

Short lets have come into their own since the Rent Act was changed in 1993, protecting landlords from sitting tenants. The tenant has no security of tenure if they pay in advance and have arrival and departure dates, as with one of these lets.

You get paid the full rent in advance and don’t have the threat of being landed with a sitting tenant. 

Check the terms and conditions of your mortgage conditions before sub-letting like this, as it can be a breach of the mortgage and can also invalidate your insurance.

However, many mortgage companies and insurance companies are flexible and understanding over this, so it could be worth talking to them about it.

3. Rental to a housing association

The advantage of renting this way is that it could be a lot less bother in terms of management, avoids having to deal with tenants at all, and avoids the commissions you’d pay to a letting agent. It can also provide an assured rent.

But it’s not a suitable option for all locations. In London there is so much demand from housing associations for properties that you are unlikely to worry about voids, but that may not be the case in other areas of the country.

And although renting your property this way can mean less hassle, you may not achieve the rental levels available on the open private market. 

As with short lets, check the terms and conditions of your mortgage conditions before sub-letting, as it can be a breach of them and can also invalidate your insurance.

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Advice for entrepreneurs: how to create an exit strategy and sell your business http://www.high50.com/us/startup/exit-strategy-business-advice-how-to-sell-your-business http://www.high50.com/us/startup/exit-strategy-business-advice-how-to-sell-your-business#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 23:01:40 +0000 http://www.high50.com/?p=74435
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Planning to sell? Spend time working out who your buyer might be. It could be an employee or perhaps a competitor

It can seem a little incongruent to plan your exit when you start your business, but for entrepreneurs in their fifties, who are starting and growing small to medium enterprises, it should be a key part of your planning.

The reason is simple, according to Shelly Buys, a business coach who is increasingly working with people starting businesses after they’ve spent decades in full-time employment.

“Dedicating your fifties and onwards to a new business means dedicating time in your life that is closer to retirement than if you had have started your business in your twenties,” says Shelly. 

This is not negative in the least, but does mean the value you build up in your business will be vital to your retirement plans. 

Sue, 57, is in full agreement. At 47, she set up her industrial PR and media relations company, after a long and highly regarded career as a director for a bi-lateral trade organisation. 

Like many small business owners, Sue’s business represents a considerable asset. She has grown its turnover and its value for the last eight years. This is value that Sue now wants to release as she begins to consider retirement. 

Why you need an exit strategy

An exit strategy first crossed Sue’s mind four years ago, and she’s mulled over it ever since. It’s this year, though, having weathered the recessionary storm and its attendant crisis management phases as clients cut budgets, that the topic has become a higher priority.  

Shelly raises a further point, one again relating to time. “If you start a business in your fifties, you have less time to exit it than if you started one in your twenties.” 

She cautions that this is not an ageist statement, and that there is an exception to every rule. “In fact, I’m starting to see exit strategies included in business courses, and hear it discussed in more places, even at conferences aimed at younger business people.” 

Certainly those in the tech industry are all too aware of the need to have an exit strategy in place for when their app takes off. 

Average age of first-time start-ups

There are so many positives to starting a business later on in life. Not least the skills and contacts book that many of us in our fifties have built up after years in the commercial world.

It’s also becoming clear that entrepreneurs in their fifties, who get turned down by the banks for investment, don’t take no for an answer but resourcefully find ways to fund their own businesses.

Younger entrepreneurs don’t always have that innate resilience, or the network of contacts to ask for seed investment. 

If any more evidence was needed to show that entrepreneurship is not exclusively a younger person’s game, it surely must be the fact that a recent study showed the average age of an entrepreneur in London starting a business for the first time is 55.

It remains useful, though, to have an exit strategy in mind if you start a business in later life due to the shorter nature of your enterprise’s life. When you’re in your twenties and starting out in business, theoretically, there is more time on your side. 

Exit strategy for a small business

“First, there are various exit strategies available to the small business owner, not all of which will suit every small business,” says Shelly.

Plans and structures need to be put in place dependent on which exit strategy an entrepreneur of a small business decides to employ. 

Mentoring, with a view to selling the company to the mentee, is one such option, which appeals to many service-orientated small businesses. 

“I’ve seen marvellous success with this option, as it allows the commercial transaction to take place with a great deal of trust,” says Shelly.

Original owners, who often have close and respectful relationships with the clients they’ve serviced over the years, are able to hand over the reins of the business feeling confident about the new hands at the tiller.

Just because the original owner is no longer part of the business does not mean that their legacy and reputation don’t live on in the brand. 

Understandably, finding the right person to mentor is the first challenge, but the rest of the process requires time too. “You could be looking at a five-year plan,” says Shelly. “Hence, if you start a business at 50, your exit strategy needs to be well thought-out beforehand.” 

It’s worthwhile to remember, too, that other exit strategies also require time investment as, whatever the method chosen, there is always due diligence to be done. 

Sue adds another point. “Settling on the right strategy for your business doesn’t happen overnight, and taking time to work with people to create the right one for what is really the symbol of your blood, sweat and tears, on top of managing a full workload servicing that business, is a big pressure.” 

She understands how having had a blueprint at the start of her business would ease some of the pressure now.

Conditions when you sell your business

That’s not to say an exit strategy articulated at the start of a business stays static. Instead, it becomes a working document, acting as a guideline throughout the years, as to the items a business-owner needs to pay attention to. 

In broad categories, these are the general market conditions (boom can turn to bust quite suddenly, as we have learnt), what your business is worth, growth targets and trends, and your own financial requirements. 

Most importantly, spend some time working out who your buyer is. It’ll help you to market – and speak – to the right person or group. 

Selling your business to a competitor

Competitors could be interested in acquiring your company, for example, because of a patent you have, whereas an employee thinking of buying the company might place higher value on the client list. 

With time being of the essence, you don’t want to waste any engaging with the wrong buyer, not when it delays you realising the value you’ve spent years building up.

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