Page 45 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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help people feel more connected or lead to more hopelessness. Hich- born noted that, while it’s good to see friends and loved ones from across the country, social media also creates mis- leading impressions. The people smil- ing in the photo look happy, but they might be feeling lots of stress in their lives.
“The effect of social media is coun- terintuitive because it makes us feel more connected upfront, but in the long run makes us feel a lot more depressed and isolated,” she said.
Two other groups emotionally affected by the pandemic are very young children and seniors. Hichborn said she sees clients from ages 3 to 77.
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encouraging it as a career option as well.
“It’s a cool experience to share my experience and offer some advice on how to obtain success with whatever they’re looking to do,” he said, add- ing that, over this past summer, he was one of several invited to teach business to middle- and high-school students in Springfield. He’s also been part of programs at the college level, at Springfield College, the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, and other schools.
“Even in college, when I was doing photography,
I was told, ‘get a real job — that’s just something you do for fun; that’s not something you can do as a career.’”
He finds it rewarding on many lev- els to pass on what he knows and to try and inspire others to get started with their own ventures or get over the hump and to the proverbial next level, just as he is doing in many ways.
And then, there’s the children’s book. He’s still finalizing a title, but the work is essentially done.
“It’s about teaching children how to become entrepreneurs at a young age,” he explained. “There will be key words throughout the book and definitions, so when they hear the word ‘entre- preneur’ or ‘branding’ or ‘prototype,’ they’ll be familiar with that language, and they’ll have the confidence, hope- fully, to embark on something.”
Imparting such lessons is impor- tant, he said, noting that he didn’t have that kind of encouragement when he was younger.
When a parent with young children dies, it can create a suicide risk.
“The child has a concept of mom
or dad dying, and they want to see them again,” Hichborn said. “The child might feel like they have to die in order to see their mom or dad.”
Older people who are at risk of sui- cide tend to show warning signs such as saying goodbye to people, giving away their prized possessions, and cleaning out their house. When family members see this type of behavior, it’s important to talk with the person.
“If you see any suicidal ideations or any warning signs within a family member, don’t beat around the bush — ask them directly, ‘are you feeling suicidal? Are you having thoughts of
harming yourself?’” she said.
If they’re not having those thoughts,
Hichborn added, the question will not encourage people to start thinking about it. “It doesn’t work that way.”
In addition to asking direct ques- tions, Burgess suggested active listen- ing and being supportive.
“Sometimes the most important thing to do is listen and acknowledge the person’s experience,” she said. “They don’t need you to fix it, they just want to be heard.”
Hichborn recommends a safety plan displayed on the refrigerator to help a person who might struggle with suicidal thoughts.
“The plan can have support people to call and emergency numbers like the
police, suicide hotline, or poison con- trol,” she explained. “Everything is writ- ten out in a place that’s easily seen, so when someone isn’t thinking straight and their thoughts are all over the place, they don’t have to think about what to do — it’s right there.”
Stay Connected
Though we might feel alone in our thoughts, Burgess encouraged people to reach out to those they are comfort- able with to talk about their feelings.
“What’s profound about the pan- demic is that it’s a collective experience everyone is going through,” she said
— and one that no one should have to confront alone. v
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Family members can help educate their older loved ones by asking gen- tle but probing questions about what may be going on, the webinar partici- pants noted, and encourage residents of senior-living communities to call an administrator if they encounter a suspicious e-mail or think their infor- mation may have been compromised. And, of course, they should empha- size the importance of protecting passwords and other sensitive infor- mation, not clicking suspicious links, and shopping only at reputable, well- known websites.
“If it sounds like it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true,” Helm said. “I like to talk with senior citi- zens about having confidence in the skeptical skills they had throughout life. These are scams that happen to be on a computer, but they’re scams we grew up with since we were kids — bait and switch, or acting like an imposter.”
She takes a broad view of threats, having served in the U.S. Navy for 29 years. After her retirement as a cap- tain, she taught military operations, specifically on integrating cyberspace operations into wargames.
“That was an opportunity to talk about how cybersecurity or cyber operations can affect operations that you traditionally would not think they would impact,” she explained. Now, in her role with the Mass Cyber Center, she knows there are few areas cybersecurity doesn’t impact — and that older Americans are often espe- cially at risk.
“Today,” she said, “we all know this has great consequences to our daily lives.” u
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]
    Lenny Underwood, seen here donating 200 pairs of his socks to Square One, has long made philanthropy and working with area nonprofits to help advance their causes part of his business plan.
         “When I was a child, I tried a lem- onade stand and tried to sell things like Blow Pops and water balloons in the summer months, but I didn’t think that was a business, and it wasn’t instilled in me to start a business,” he recalled. “Even in college, when I was doing photography, I was told, ‘get a real job — that’s just something you do for fun; that’s not something you can do as a career.’”
Developing Story
If Underwood had solved that puz- zle in the bonus round of Wheel of For- tune, he would have won a pair of Mini Coopers. Looking back, he can say with hindsight that he’s not sure what he would have done with them — prob- ably sell them.
It’s a moot point because, as he said at the top, he wasn’t familiar with the phrase in question and certainly couldn’t nail it with the few letters at his disposal.
As for the ongoing puzzle of entre- preneurship that he’s currently trying to solve ... it’s equally difficult in some respects, but he has a better handle on the answer. And it has nothing to do with making quick work of anything. Instead, it’s about handling myriad challenges, pivoting when neces-
sary, and, in the case of socks, having designs on success — in every respect. u
George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]
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