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Episode 171: Navigating the Intergenerational Workforce When Relaunching - Charlotte Japp

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Episode Description

Charlotte Japp is the founder of CIRKEL, a company that connects older and younger professionals for mutual personal and professional growth. Charlotte started her career in creative marketing and saw the consequences of age segregation in the workplace. Older and younger professionals needed to connect and learn from each other, but had no way to meet. CIRKEL enables networking across generations – working with both individuals and corporations to bridge the gap. Charlotte was named one of Next Avenue’s 2020 Influencers In Aging and a 2020 Gen2Gen Innovation Fellow. In the podcast, Charlotte discusses three critical areas of focus for an intergenerational workforce, the definition of ageism (and how it doesn’t only apply to “older” people), and the work Charlotte and CIRKEL are doing to connect the generations inside and outside of work.

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Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:00:00] Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chair and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Today we welcome Charlotte Japp. Charlotte is the founder of CIRKEL, a company that connects older and younger professionals for mutual, personal and professional growth. Charlotte started her career in creative marketing and saw the consequences of age segregation in the workplace. Older and younger professionals needed to connect and learn from each other, but had no way to meet. CIRKEL enables networking across generations, working with both individuals and corporations to bridge the gap.

Charlotte was named one of Next Avenue's: 2020 Influencers in Aging and a 2020 Gen2Gen Innovation Fellow. Charlotte, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Charlotte Japp: [00:01:07] Thanks so much for having me Carol.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:01:09] Well, it's great to have you, and I'm really excited to jump into this topic. There's so much to talk about here and I guess we'll start with a question about ageism, because I feel like this, the whole topic of connecting older and younger professionals, almost begs a discussion about ageism. How do you define it?

Charlotte Japp: [00:01:30] There are so many ways to look at ageism, but the textbook definition, I guess, would be that it's discrimination against someone based on their age. And it could be about making assumptions about what their abilities are, what their life experience has been like. In this day and age, it's what their political or environmental beliefs are, in a more general sense that someone has more or less value in society based on how old or how young they are perceived to be. And because I tend to be a younger person in the anti ageism conversation it's always good to remind people that young people experience ageism too, and that they do see people dismiss their abilities or what they know because of their age.

I'm a millennial. So we've gotten a lot of flack for being the “me, me, me generation”, having no humility or awareness for the world around us. I'm actually grateful because I think GenZ is really changing our perceptions of youth and that tie to being obsessed with themselves.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:02:31] And just a followup on that, I'm thinking, is this a US-centric, American-centric type of view? Because I'm thinking about some cultures where the older people in the culture are revered and honored for their wisdom.

Charlotte Japp: [00:02:49] I think that it's definitely a huge issue in the US when you're looking at the ageism experienced by older individuals compared to, I can name Indonesia, for example, I have a friend there who interviewed me for the Deloitte podcast over there. And she said it was the opposite where at her company at Deloitte, in Indonesia, all of the reverence went to the older employees and people like her really felt like they didn't have a voice.

So, the issue still exists and the solutions I would say are still applicable, but it's, it's tackling it from two different angles.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:03:25] And is the extension of this and the work that you're doing have to do with age diversity in the workplace and focusing on age as a component of diversity?

Charlotte Japp: [00:03:38] Yeah. So that's definitely part of it. We're looking at age segregation and this lack of age diversity. And there's a statistic that, there are about 64% of companies that have a DEI program: diversity, equity and inclusion, and only about 8% of those programs actually implement age as a classifier.

So something that they're thinking about when they look at diversity, so that's something that I think we're going to see change pretty drastically moving forward.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:04:08] Yeah, that's definitely part of what we focus on at iRelaunch because as you can imagine, relaunchers, people are returning to work after career break, especially if it's a longer career break, are typically in their forties or fifties or even older when they're returning.

So this is a primarily female workforce and a primarily 40 and older workforce. So we're also pretty focused on age diversity in addition to gender diversity, in terms of relaunch programs being a partial solution to those issues.

Charlotte Japp: [00:04:44] I love that you're focusing on this group, because I think when people think about age or I guess anti-ageism, you start to get images of people in their maybe eighties and nineties who might not be working anymore and they're still experiencing ageism, but there's a really interesting phenomenon happening with this group. Your listeners who are actively working, who are making money and supporting families and doing the thing that gives them purpose.

But they're finding it harder and harder to do that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:05:15] And, we're kind of already getting into this territory of my next question, but do you have certain dividers in terms of “young people are younger than 30, and older workers are 50 and older, and then there's this middle group between 30 and 50 or our older workers, like even in their mid to late forties or are they 60"?

How do you divide people by age?

Charlotte Japp: [00:05:40] Yes. Interesting territory. So at CIRKEL we use Ashton Applewhite's terminology in her book, This Chair Rocks, she writes about olders and youngers. So we'll say, cause it's all relative, right? Everyone is mostly older than someone else and younger than someone else.

So we're all relative to someone else, and it isn't great to call someone old or young, it's so definitive when you put it that way. We do use generations just for the sake of being able to organize our membership. And I did want to point out the workplace according to, I think it was an HBR study, it's broken up like 5% GenZ, Millennials 30%ish, GenX is about 30%, Boomers 30% ,and Silent Generations about 5%. And we actually mirror that same breakout in our membership, which is, I just made that realization. So, it's really interesting because you see this really big representation in Millennial, GenX and Baby Boomer when you talk about the workplace. And so we try to just, the default is just classify someone by their age. We're all trying to be more open and positive about that number and not hiding it all the time as was the tradition.

So, that's kind of the safest bet, it's just the truth, your number. And then just for our sake, like we're using an algorithm partly and partly just organizing in our database. So we do use generations just as a means of organizing people, but we never generalize based on that, that all of our Boomers are one way or all of our GenZs are one way.

We see everyone as an individual.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:07:20] And can you say the name of that author again?

Charlotte Japp: [00:07:23] Oh, Ashton Applewhite.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:07:25] Ah, okay. And what was the book that lay it out on the, was it older and younger or elder and younger?

Charlotte Japp: [00:07:32] Older and younger. Yeah. Elder is a whole other conversation, but the book is called This Chair Rocks, A Manifesto Against Ageism.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:07:42] Ah. Okay. Thank you.

Charlotte Japp: [00:07:44] She's great. And she would be a great guest on this show as well.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:07:47] Oh, interesting. All right. We will make a note of that for sure. We're going to end up doing a mini series on diversity and ageism. So, you know, I did some reading. I know you did an interview with Next Avenue as part of being named the Next Avenue 2020 Influencers in Aging. Congratulations on that.

Charlotte Japp: [00:08:07] Thank you.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:08:08] I think I was one of their influencers in 2017, so a while ago, but I love that you were named for 2020. And I saw that interview. I've seen some of what you've put out on the internet and I'm trying to summarize, categorize what it means to be a member of an intergenerational workforce and what the areas of interaction are. And I also was looking on the CIRKEL website. So I know there's a category that has to do with knowledge sharing and mentoring. And I was also thinking about this category of, I'm calling it operational effectiveness, like how people interact who are in different generations, who are in the same teams at work, or in terms of ideas exchange in the workplace or productivity.

So I just want to know how you look at those three areas, any commentary on them?

Charlotte Japp: [00:09:00] Yeah, there's so much to say when you're bringing these people together from their different generational perspectives. And I think we do focus on knowledge-sharing and that came from a personal experience I had where I was working a first job at a very young company.

And I didn't have a lot of knowledge to tap into because everyone was roughly the same age or maybe five to 10 years older than me if they were my boss or my boss's boss. So I think when you're talking about workplaces you really do need to start leveraging the internal knowledge available and facilitating ways for people to share their skills or share their stories and experiences.

I know that's been really impactful for me when I'm talking to people who are older than me, and I've worked maybe in a similar field, I'm desperate to hear everything, all of the funny stories and the skills that I can learn from. Actually mentoring ties into that because it's a two-way street, I'm so over the hierarchy of the knowledge flow happening from older to younger exclusively, it really should be in both directions. We all know, this world is like changing and moving and advancing very fast. And it's not just younger people who need to be learning and growing, everyone does. We all have aspirations, to get promoted, to have a better career in five years, to really work hard towards a goal. And so mentoring is just a way to facilitate that knowledge sharing.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:10:28] Yeah. As you're talking, I'm thinking about our own team here at iRelaunch. We have people ranging from their late twenties to their mid-sixties on our team.

So we have quite a lot of age diversity on the team and I do see the knowledge exchange going both ways. I'm always learning a lot from I guess people I'd characterize as our "younger" employee employees, and I'm sure they're learning a lot from those of us on the team who are "older" and I pretty much see it every day, so, yeah.

Charlotte Japp: [00:11:02] That's amazing. And I think not to go on too much of a tangent, but I think if you are talking about this knowledge sharing within the multi-generational conversation, there's also this awareness that our education system is a bit outdated. And so you'll see that maybe people are taking a break to go back to get another degree, or, take some time to learn something and then come back to work as I'm sure many relaunchers are, and this model where you're done learning because you get your bachelor's degree or your MBA or whatever it is, and then you got into your work mode. That's gonna change too. So I think the workplace will become a more flexible and dynamic place to not only contribute to the business and the bottom line, but actually to nurture your employees so they can do a better job of that and make more money for you, really.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:11:54] And can you give some examples maybe that you see in CIRKEL where there's intergenerational knowledge sharing or mentoring, or any particular examples that stand out for you that illustrate one of these categories?

Charlotte Japp: [00:12:10] Yeah. So the way that our approach works is that it is basically a facilitated way to make introductions between professionals from different generations and making sure that there is a very clear, suggested exchange in every introduction that we make. So it's already baked into our process, but in terms of success stories, people get out of it, different things. And that's because we are listening to what their goals are. One example I'll give is a man who, I think he's in his mid forties. He has worked in advertising in his entire career. He actually had a small business, his own agency for a while, and realized that wasn't working anymore. So he and his partner split up the business and he came to CIRKEL looking for a way to pivot back to an agency, to work as an employee again.

And he knew that he needed to speak to someone who had that kind of long-term agency experience. And we have a lot of people in advertising, that industry is quite ageist and does tend to push people out prematurely. So for Jonathan, we introduced him to a bunch of people. One of those people was Paul, who is a man in his, I think sixties, mid to late sixties, a long time agency creative director. And for them, they have these, I think they were weekly now they meet every week. And they actually exchange work and give each other critiques. And that's like a really amazing version of two-way knowledge sharing because they have, their various generational perspectives, but they're able to come together, be vulnerable, share something, "this is my work." And then, get advice on how to make it better. And Paul is looking for that just as Jonathan is, even though Paul has had an illustrious career and maybe isn't hustling the same way that Jonathan is, it's still really meaningful. And then, Jonathan's also met other people, like a woman named Ruth where Ruth did have a career in advertising, but went on to do a lot of other things like non-profit, being on the board of a nonprofit and being very active in social causes. And so they've actually continued meeting on their own terms. And it's more about sharing perspectives on the world.

You know, what's going on in 2020, talking about the movement for racial justice all these things that are meaningful to them, but they felt like they were in this bubble where they were just talking to people maybe in their own age group and they weren't seeing the bigger picture. So I like that example because it shows you that you can learn different things from different people and it can still be equally relevant.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:14:40] So I want to understand a little bit more. You referenced how it works in CIRKEL. How does it actually work? Do you become a member? Do you pay a fee? Is it annual? And then what happens? And I know you're giving some examples here, but is it essentially based on the premise that you mostly interact with people your own age, especially maybe outside of work, because you have a certain friend group and your life would be enriched or your work or all aspects of your life could be enriched if you somehow get into an environment where you have the opportunity to meet people of different age groups?

Charlotte Japp: [00:15:19] Exactly.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:15:20] Okay.

Charlotte Japp: [00:15:20] So it's based on the premise, like you said, that we live in an age segregated world, where our social lives tend to flow into these age bubbles, our work lives, even if you have a boss who is of a different age than you your friends at work, the people that you actually gravitate towards naturally might tend to be in the same age group.

And the problem is like I was alluding to earlier with my experience at my first job, it just starts to feel like you're not growing and you're not getting the tools that you need to take that next step. And the people in our lives who tend to be, I'll use my own example, we tend to be older than me. So I'm 30 years old. Those are my parents or my boss. And both of those people carry a lot of emotional baggage where, you know, I love my mom and I tell her everything actually. But for a lot of people there might be tension there. Maybe you don't want to share the nitty gritty of what you're going through with your career.

Maybe they're not really well suited to that kind of advice. Or with your boss, if you're thinking about leaving the company or moving into a different division you don't want to share that with your boss who's controlling your paycheck and your performance review. So there's a lot of baggage there as well.

And when you connect with someone outside of your age bubble, but who is still relevant to your goals, it's kind of this neutral, safe space where you can open up and share. And like I said, have that two way exchange. So with CIRKEL, the way it works is we're a membership. So you apply, you give us a lot of information about your personal interests, your goals, the skills you've acquired, the industries you've worked in.

We try to get a 360 picture, so not just the resume and there is a fee. Right now we're charging $55 a month, but there's a really great annual price of $264, it's worth doing that. And we do think this kind of networking is a muscle that you need to flex every month. for at least a year, really for life if you ask me. So you sign on and on the first of the month, once we've collected all this information and we have our beautiful pool of interesting people we make one-on-one introductions. So that's always on the first of the month and there's a ton of context that we provide. It's the opposite of a cold intro.

We have your photos in there, some context about what's your superpower and things like that, your bio that we actually write for you. So we really hype you up and make you shine. And then a little section about why we're making the match. And that's where we make the suggestion of what we think each of you should teach the other that will help get you closer to your goals.

The idea is that you're making these introductions every month as a way to diversify your network in a really thoughtful way and not the randomness of LinkedIn. Who answers a cold In-mail? I mean, unless it's really compelling, there's just a lot of sales on there as well.

So, this is the opposite of that. And that's where you see people really start to open up, because I think when you do come from different backgrounds, you kind of need that personal connection first, to build the trust and the openness, and then you can get into the nitty-gritty of, " I really need help understanding how to promote myself better on LinkedIn can you show me how to do that?" Or, "I'm leading a team with this new role and I'm really freaked out ‘cause I've never been a manager before. Can you help me with that?" So the things that are sometimes a bit more soft skills oriented and sometimes more hard skills, right?

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:18:42] You know, I recently had the opportunity and I was informally matched with this person who's a young manager, and there's someone else in that organization who asked if I could mentor the person, and I've never been a mentor before, and I wasn't even sure how that was going to work.

Actually I think this person is 30 years old, and I am 61 years old and it was a very enriching experience for me. As the mentor first, really not knowing how it was going to work or if I was going to be good at it, but then over time sort of developing that relationship and just realizing that there was a lot to talk about and to offer and also to bounce off the person in sort of test ideas to see, "Oh, is this helpful to her or is it not helpful to her?"

I can see how sort of formalizing this a little bit, or giving people these networks and options for doing this on a little bit of a bigger scale, but still very curated could be an enriching experience for everyone involved. So thank you for walking us through that. That's really interesting. And actually, let me just jump to this question about the whole intergenerational workforce, because I'm thinking about it in the context of our audience of relaunchers because of course, as relaunchers and most of the people at iRelaunch and our broader audience know that I'm a relauncher myself, and I took an 11 year career break and I was a financial analyst at a Wall Street bank.

And then my company collapsed while I was on maternity leave with my first child. So that began my career break and I was home for, I had three more kids, I was home for 11 years and I was home from 1990 to 2001. And I went back 11 years later as a financial analyst into an investment management firm. So that's my sort of pre and post career break transition in a nutshell. And I'm only running through that and also just to tell our audience who doesn't know that about my background, that when I went back to work in 2001, and of course, no one was talking about relaunching then, there were no programs and I didn't even know a single other person who had done this.

But I was 42 years old and I was working for a 37 year old. So most relaunchers are going to come into a situation when we're in our forties or fifties or above, and we're going to be working for someone who's younger than us, who's younger than we are. And then we also have a situation where increasingly we're having relaunchers come back and work for people who used to work for them.

So that's been kind of an interesting dynamic but I just wanted to know if you had any specific recommendations for relaunchers knowing that that is typically what our situation looks like age wise.

Charlotte Japp: [00:21:31] Yeah. First of all, just major kudos because it's not easy to come back to work. I do see a lot of relaunchers who are joining CIRKEL and I see that there is this lack of confidence in some of them where they really overlook all the experience that they have. I remember recently looking at someone's resume and I was amazed. It was like, amazing experience at some huge brands and she was actually part of the foundation of the very early days of building those brands. She had no confidence and it was bizarre to me because I'm just like, "Wow, I want to learn these things from you. You've been at the ground level and you've built things."

It's really frustrating to see that because actually just to use that example before she even met her first introduction. I think she got a little spooked and started getting overwhelmed with maybe a child that had gotten sick and totally dropped the ball on her introduction, which is total faux pas for us. But, I could see that it was like part of the intimidation of it and it kind of killed me because I was like, "Oh, you had so much to teach this person and you don't even realize it."

So that's the first piece. So if you're already back to work and even if you're working for someone younger or that you used to lead them, then that's a big hump that you've gotten over and major congrats.That's the first thing.

And then the second was just that from the perspective of someone my age, and a lot of my peers, I think it's worth reiterating that young people really appreciate hearing and learning from older colleagues. And I wouldn't shy away from hiding any information, if you've been through something before definitely share it. Because that's how we innovate, we learn from the past, we apply new updates in technology and all that good stuff and we innovate and make it new. But I think the pitfall is sometimes when you're sharing something that you've done before and it actually maybe hinder someone from moving forward with an idea.

‘Cause it was like, "Oh, we already tried that 10 years ago and didn't work." And I see a lot of people get frustrated in that situation, whereas it could have gone the other way, like, "We've done this before but I'm game to try it again. I think there might be a better way to do it." And that's how you innovate. So I think it's just another kind of specific example, but I think there's major opportunity if you bring that growth mindset, you listen, and you learn from your younger peers, just as you listen to your older peers.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:24:03] Yeah. I'm thinking about marketing and brand management as an example, I've always felt that the relauncher who was trained in that classic brand consumer product, brand management training from some of the great companies, brings something to the table, even though they've had to now completely update themselves and learn about digital marketing and how to present and build a brand in a digital environment. That the relauncher has the combination of that core background, plus the overlay of the new knowledge is particularly valuable.

Charlotte Japp: [00:24:39] Definitely. And I think, are you familiar with Chip Conley?

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:24:43] Yes, I don't know him, but I'm certainly aware of him and read all about what he's doing, but maybe just briefly summarize for the audience.

Charlotte Japp: [00:24:51] So Chip Conley was one of the youngest successful hospitality entrepreneurs. And, he did well. He retired from his company, Joie de Vivre, and started, well actually interning with Airbnb . So Airbnb was this young tech company in Silicon Valley and they wanted Chip to come along.

They actually wanted him to be their mentor for the founders and Chip kind of redefined this role and called themselves the "mentern", half mentor/half intern. And, he said he was learning from these young tech founders just as much as he was teaching them, and he was also able to learn from these product people and just picked up this whole vernacular about shipping a product and things like that, that he had never known about before, but he attributes all of that to the growth mindset.

And I think it sounds obvious, like, "Yeah, sure. I want to be a learner. I want to learn new things," but really committing to that is a whole other thing. And it's ask questions, be open-minded, don't shut down, don't get stressed when there's a new program you have to learn. We're all learning all the time and you just gotta jump in and go with it.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:26:06] Yeah. You're hitting on a core recommendation that we have for relaunchers in terms of trying to have a fearless attitude about learning what you don't know. And also, we say that subject matter expertise is the antidote to ageism. And the more you update yourself again and get really current in the thinking in your field and the controversies and the experts, and you can be conversant, then not only do you feel more confident but you also get people to focus more on the substance of what you're talking about, as opposed to how old you are or how many years you've had out of the workforce.

Charlotte Japp: [00:26:40] Completely agree.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:26:41] So, Charlotte, can you comment on whether the COVID induced, virtual work from home and virtual environment now is a plus or a minus for people of different ages?

Charlotte Japp: [00:26:57] I've always seen it, always as in this year, seen it as a benefit as a good thing.

I think it evened the playing field when we really needed it. I'd actually be curious to hear a counter argument, but for now, I'll just give you my idea, because I think when we're working remotely, it's first of all shown the world how quickly people adapt. It's not common for young people, GenZs and Millennials to work remotely. That's totally new. And we've seen older people pick up virtual meetings and being on zoom all the time, really fast, so that already broke the stereotype that existed.

And I think on a more geographic level, we're seeing a lot of people move and decide that the city that they are attached to, because it was where their employer was situated and then moving because they're like," I actually don't need to be here anymore. And it's more to my liking to live in this other place," maybe closer to family or whatever reason it is. We can actually be more thoughtful about the environment that we need to prosper.

Where are we happier? Where do we want to work from? It also is more inclusive. If someone has a disability, you can work in a place that is easier for you and you don't have to feel you're commuting, or people that maybe had that disability and saw it as a barrier before even applying to a job or maybe applying for jobs now because they can see an opportunity to work remotely. So I think it's a really good thing. And actually, in a multi-generational way, I think young workers want these same changes to make their work life more flexible. Unfortunately the way our culture works, a lot of times these younger workers are loud and they want the same thing that older workers do, but because they're being loud about it, and they're kind of the hot commodity, the workplace is adapting to them and it actually works for everyone.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:28:56] Wow. Really interesting point about people with certain, mostly probably physical disabilities, who might be motion impaired in some way are on a much more even playing field being able to work right out of a home office.

Charlotte Japp: [00:29:11] Yeah.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:29:12] That's very interesting. And also, I have to laugh when you talk about people, a very broad age group, adapting to zoom. My mother is about to turn 88 and she's right on zoom. Like no problem.

Charlotte Japp: [00:29:26] Right.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:29:27] And I was thinking, it's not that hard, but you have to sorta, you have to be on your computer or your phone or your iPad or whatever, and figure it out a little bit, and people figure it out.

So, I love that.

Charlotte Japp: [00:29:38] Yeah, I have a question for you actually, because I was going to say that in a way for relaunchers who have kids work from home is great because they're close to their kids, maybe at really formative ages when they would normally be working late hours and things like that. But then I thought about the flip side of that, which is working with kids and that being really difficult.

So, have you seen that play out?

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:30:04] Yeah. So, you know, there's been a lot of press about 865,000 women leaving the workforce in September, and we've been sort of watching the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Numbers come out each month showing hundreds of thousands of mostly women are leaving the workforce because they are just too pressed for attention to the family, and their kids are on zoom school and they have to work too.

So it's that subset of mostly women, I want to say men too, but the stats are showing it's mostly women who have school age children, who are maybe elementary school age. The high schoolers can, you know, fend for themselves.

But the younger kids who have to get on the computer and essentially have a school day, but at home with snacks and lunch and all of that. And because of COVID a lot of people, no one can come in the house. And so there's just, I'd say, a higher level of chaos to be managing within the home environment that is a totally new element than before.

But within the relauncher community, there are a lot of different populations. So there are people who are empty-nesters, and there are people whose career break had to do with elder care or some other non-childcare reason. So, we have quite a mix in terms of who is in the relauncher population, but I would say it could be pretty hard right now for the subset of people who have school-aged children at home and are what, I guess I'll use the terminology that Ann Marie Slaughter uses, that who the person who's the “lead parent”, I think would bear the brunt of that responsibility and sometimes it feels like it's too much.

Maybe people go on career break who weren't expecting to, or they stay on career break longer because they can't imagine how they'd be going back to work right now in this environment. But, we'll see, hopefully we're going to evolve out of this with vaccines and that will turn around over time.

But I have been in the public domain saying today's employees who are leaving for COVID reasons are tomorrow's relaunchers. So there's going to be a lag there and then that population is going to be looking to get back to work.

Charlotte Japp: [00:32:26] Right. We had a CIRKEL member who is a great example of a relauncher because she just completely pivoted, it wasn't necessarily a big break that she took, but she did go back to school to get a degree in HR, human resource management. And she had actually worked at the State Department before, a very different career, just totally pivoted out of interest and started a job right after this master's degree at the entry level of a major agency but getting paid entry level salary, and she took the pay cut and is obviously enjoying her work. But she said, "I was prepared for this because I didn't have kids and I had saved money." And most people, although they want to make a pivot like that, they don't have the means to take that break and get a degree.

So it's an interesting intersection when you look at what money can allow people to do.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:33:24] Absolutely. Charlotte, we're running out of time now, and I need to jump to our final question and the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, which is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today.

Charlotte Japp: [00:33:42] My advice is to network, network, network. Please! You need to connect with people who are different from you. You need to flex that networking muscle, talk to people from different age groups, from different backgrounds, with different skill sets, and we actually call it a personal board of advisors.

So instead of having one go-to soulmate mentor, even if that person is older or younger than you, I recommend finding a lot of different people with a lot of different things to offer you, different backgrounds and skills. And it's like you're sitting at a table with your board, your personal board of advisors, and each of those board members has a specific expertise that you want to learn.

And that way, at the end of this experience, you're becoming a more 360 and well-rounded professional. So talk to people if you need more structure or a place to meet those interesting people, there are places like CIRKEL, and we do welcome all of you to join. But even if you're just naturally meeting people, do make the extra effort and record all the things that you're learning so that you can build those relationships and go back to them with questions.

They say the weak ties are actually stronger than your strong ties. So really reach out to that outer circle and leverage all that knowledge.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:35:02] That's great advice. And thank you so much. It's a great place to wind up and before we do, Charlotte, can you tell us how can people find out more about CIRKEL?

Charlotte Japp: [00:35:12] You can go to our website it's CIRKEL.World, www. C I R K E L . W O R L D. And that's where you can sign up for membership, join the newsletter, we're pretty active on Instagram as well, that's C I R . K E L as well as LinkedIn.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:35:32] Wonderful. Well, Charlotte, thank you so much for joining us today.

Charlotte Japp: [00:35:36] Thank you so much for having me, Carol was a great conversation.

Carol Fishman Cohen: [00:35:38] Yeah, I think so, too. And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the chair and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events, to sign up for our job board and access our return to work tools and resources, go to

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