Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

  • Take Back the Name: Stop Negative “Senior” Stereotyping!

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    Remember when we were in high school and achieving “Senior” status was the Holy Grail. It was the same in college. The senior class was highly revered; it was the font of wisdom and experience for the undergrads. No one was more “with it” than a senior. It was a powerful position oft lauded with reckless abandon – in fact, if memory serves, the more reckless abandon the more the senior was lauded.

    It wasn’t until we joined the work force that “Senior” became a pejorative epithet. Not an instant metamorphous, it accrued bit by bit as our seniors’ workplace tenure increased. Each year, each crop of new corporate mogul wannabes, ambitious, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and innovators slowly but surely pushed older employees into the “establishment.”  This was not a good establishment but, rather, one that connoted stodgy, unimaginative, over-the-hill and senior (bold is to emphasize the thud). We need to revamp the definition of senior to include such positives as:  dynamic, creative, energetic and treasure trove of experience and wisdom. In other words – very savvy!

    AARP did not help. Their market focus was so successful that 50 became synonymous with retirement. And their image of retirement was a good thing – like a lifetime achievement award. That was their pitch but the folks actually approaching 50 dreaded the AARP member invitation. It arrived in mailboxes like a death knell. We were crossing the Rubicon from living and working to retiring. On the other hand, the young, eager-beaver workers loved this blueprint because they needed room at the top to move up the ladder. You’d think we’d know better today. But AARP is still thriving; it is one of the most profitable nonprofits in the country, if not the world. And negative senior stereotypes remain rampant.

    We also need to stop saying, “sixty is the new fifty, seventy is the new sixty,” etc. That just pushes the problem down the road, and we all know what happened to Sisyphus. Remember that king in ancient Greek Mythology who was cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity…

    It’s time to redefine seniors and retirement through new role models such as Robert Chambers, who at 60+ founded a nonprofit organization, Bonnie CLAC, in rural New Hampshire and, in less than 10 years, was invited to a White House press conference, where President Obama hailed him as one of the nation’s greatest social innovators.

    There are lots more seniors like Robert. It’s time to take back the name!

  • Mea Culpa!

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    One of my trusty readers took me to task today, thinking I had maligned seniors who might be “looking forward to the comforts of a rocking chair.”

    This was certainly not my intention and I do apologize. I personally adore rocking chairs. I think their appearance in airport lounges is the single best addition to air travel since Lindy landed in Paris. I have rocking chairs in my garden (above) and one in every room of my house except the bathrooms. That being said, I am sure that once some ingenious soul invents a rocking commode I will install it immediately.

    My intent was to tell those readers who were not contemplating creating their own business but rather were looking forward to the comforts of a rocking chair not to waste their time reading that particular “boomer enterprise” posting.

    Rest assured I would never demean anyone’s ambitions nor the rocker in which I do most all of my creating thinking.

  • Gray Hairs – the Secret to Successful Boomer Enterprises???

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    That’s right! Stop pulling or, even worse, dying that gray hair. It’s your badge of gravitas – a sign that you are wise and experienced and quite possibly your greatest asset in launching a new enterprise.

    Tired of doing the same old tedious job? Been pushed out of that boring position due to our bum economy? I was going to say it does not matter what your situation, but it does. If you’re bored and have no interest in changing the stagnant-quo or have been made redundant and look forward to the comforts of a rocking chair, this blog’s not for you.

    On the other hand, if you’d like to jump start your life again, it’s never too late. It just takes a big dollop of gumption and an abundance of passion. For heaven’s sake with today’s life span, we’re looking at another 30 years ahead of us. Let’s make the most of them. I’d passed the mid-term mark when I launched CyberSeniors with 12 brave, gray-haired students in Maine and in five years of blood, sweat, tears and little sleep grew it into more than 28,000 senior students nationwide. Further, I have developed more enterprises since then and have no intentions of stopping as long as the creative juices are flowing.

    Just look at the hundreds of Civic Ventures Fellows and Purpose Prize Winners who, after they had turned 60, embarked on a new careers to help solve some of the world’s most critical social problems. Their stories of passion, commitment, perseverance and success are inspiring. One example, Tim Will, a former telecom executive, had thought he was retiring to North Carolina. Once there, however, he was struck by the number of laid off factory workers in his region. Tim brought broadband and economic prosperity to Appalachia by training those laid off workers in sustainable farming and connecting them, via the internet, to gourmet chefs dedicated to supporting “locally grown” produce in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. Today, Tim is creating jobs and protecting the environment.

    Then, too, if you need some practical tactics to move your inspiration forward, I’d recommend Will Keyser, a 71-year-old neighbor from Vermont. Will has a portfolio of fascinating businesses which he currently manages simultaneously with great aplomb. One of those enterprises is Work Savvy, LLC with a website rich in resources for Senior Start-ups.

    Before we know it some young whippersnapper is going to attempt to die his or her hair gray. We must warn them that no amount of white shoe polish will imbue them with the experience wrought from 60+ years of living and working. We’ve earned those stripes!

  • Entrepreneurial Boomers

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    The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College is doing some innovative projects – research, workshops and publications – on older workers.

    This month it published Fact Sheet #26 which provides a fascinating snapshot of entrepreneurship and the older worker.

    It cited, for example, a 2009 analysis of data from the Kauffman Foundation on Entrepreneurship in which individuals aged 55-64 “experienced the largest increase in entrepreneurial activity from 2007-2008 (0.31% to 0.36%), making it the age group with the highest entrepreneurial activity rate.”

    And for those of you who might be thinking that the current economic environment, layoffs and the dismal lack of job opportunites forced this entrepreneurial activity, another 2009 survey from the Kauffman Foundation, generated these results: “80.3% of respondents stated that inability to find traditional employment was not at all a factor in starting their own businesses. Only 4.5% said this was an important factor.”

    We’d love to hear some of your entrepreneurial thoughts – a new business, a new way of doing business, entrepreneurial ideas for your interview with the company where you’d like to work???

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