Comeback Careers with Ginny Brzezinski

Ginny Brzesinski and her sister-in-law Mika (you may have heard of her) have a new book out about making a career comeback in your 40s, 50s and beyond. It’s filled with valuable insights and advice from experts (including our co-founder Jenny Galluzzo) as well as a roadmap to pivot or relaunch a career. We had the chance to ask Ginny about her personal experience and inspiration for writing Career Comeback.


Tell us about your own personal journey and how that inspired you and Mika to write this book? 

I spent 12 years on Capitol Hill as a press secretary — a job I loved.  When my boss, Senator Bill Roth of Delaware, lost his re-election bid, I was 7 months pregnant with my second child and my oldest was barely one.  I took that election loss as my own personal off-ramp and embraced being an at home mom for seven years. When the kids were school aged, I got my real estate license and set up a business in residential real estate sales, a career that gave me flexibility and did not require a commute.


Fast forward ten years…as my kids were getting ready to fly the nest, it occurred to me that it was time for me to fly the nest as well — to seize the opportunity to do something meaningful and challenging, something I could love for the next 20 years.  I saw my kids transitioning into super exciting things, and I thought, why not me? But I had no idea how to do that – who changes careers or starts something new in their fifties? I did not know what that would look like or how I would get there…or if I was crazy since I was…gasp…over 50!  It was the perfect midlife storm.


So one morning as I was sitting there, contemplating how to make my next move and watching Mika on Morning Joe talking about her Know Your Value movement, it occurred to me that Know Your Value could help women like me who did not lean in or who had hopscotched their work life around kids.  I also felt that Know Your Value was not talking to women in Mika’s and my own age group. We “mature” women (seriously, we need to come up with new, more flattering verbiage here) have different wants and needs and challenges than Millennials. I thought that Know Your Value could help. So I texted Mika (it may or may not have been an all caps text…) and said KYV needs to help women like me, stat!  We have value too! And Mika texted back (while live on air, no less): Let’s do something together – join the team and we’ll write a book.


At the time, I didn’t think she literally meant a book.  I mean, who just says, let’s write a book? But I said yes, and here we are.


In researching this book, what was the most surprising you discovered?

I was surprised at how many women (like me!) had insecurities about their age and career zig zags.  To me, they appeared totally together, intelligent, amazing, experienced and strong. For so many, their confidence in the career area was crushed.  That’s why we came up with the #strongerwiserbetter hashtag. We all need a little reminder of how awesome we are, and how much value we have.


What do you think are the most important attributes that predict success in a career comeback?

The women I talked to who had successfully returned, transitioned, or started something new had been resilient, unafraid of failing, willing to learn new things, intellectually curious and they didn’t give up.  If they were returning after a career break, they had also been realistic about starting over and willing to play the long game – they realized that their first job back might be a lower level or for less pay, but that they would prove themselves and rise.


What is the goal of this platform and what do you hope to teach women about how to think about their career paths?

We wanted to know: how do you reboot, relaunch, return to, or reinvent a career at age 50?  Or 40? Or 60? And how can you create a career and life that provides purpose and financial security at age 50 and beyond?  With this book, we created a road map to find that comeback career, from revving up your networks to rebooting your resume and aligning your digital footprint with your goals — all through the 50+ lens. But as importantly, we help with the inner journey – rewiring your mindset, calling BS on ageism and building confidence.


Women often psych themselves out before they even get started—what do you advise women who lack confidence or think they cannot have a new career in their 40s and 50s?

We learned so much about the fears and deeply personal feelings women have when they are looking to make a comeback after midlife.  We put up barriers and find reasons why we can’t do things. Just get started – make it a priority.


A few mini tips from our book —


Build confidence through knowledge and expertise.   Make sure your skills and knowledge are relevant – relevancy trumps age every time!  Check out the LinkedIn profiles of people who are in jobs similar to ones you might be interested in.  Compare their resume to yours and see where you might need to brush up or fill in skills. Take a volunteer or pro bono project to freshen your resume.  Keep up with your industry, so when you are ready to go back you are conversant and knowledgeable in interviews.


Own your story.  Don’t apologize or be embarrassed about a career break or your age!


Rev up your network — 85% of jobs are found through connections – start having strategic conversations with people and let them know you are interested in returning or transitioning to a new field.  People want to be helpful – they may not have a job for you, but they may be able to connect you with someone in the field.


There is so much fear in this process!  But don’t fear failure — fear never trying!


Most of all, call BS on ageism, starting with the ageist narrative in your own head.  Turn your age into an advantage! Remember, with your age not only comes wisdom, maturity and experience, but you are more available – no more maternity leaves (!), no more carpools (or fewer), so much less drama.  You can put 120% into something, and that is a huge selling point.