Archive for the ‘Social Enterprise’ 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!

  • 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!

  • The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work

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    The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work, a free booklet created by Ellen Freudenheim for Civic Ventures, contains many valuable nuggets of information. Contents include: “What Works for You?” and “Think Outside Your Fishbowl.”

    Ellen Freudenheim is the author of Looking Forward: An Optimist’s Guide to Retirement.

    A lifestyle guide for boomers, Looking Forward has been recommended by The Wall Street Journal and ranks among the best-selling retirement books. Freudenheim is also a guest columnist for Retirement Weekly, a service of MarketWatch from DOWJONES, and a frequent guest on national television and radio news programs. She has also written six other books, including Healthspeak, a dictionary of 2,000 health care terms.

    Civic Ventures is is a think tank and incubator, generating ideas and inventing programs, including The Purpose Prize, to help society achieve the greatest return on experience.

    Grab your flippers and jump in!

  • Skoll Foundation Awards $765,000 to Senior Social Entrepreneurs

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    Skoll Foundation Invests in Encore Career Innovation

    The Skoll Foundation has announced that its first Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2010 will go to Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank focused on boomers, work and social purpose.

    In making the $765,000 award, the foundation cited Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, for his vision of inspiring millions of boomers to pour their life experience into encore careers that combine personal meaning, continued income and social impact. “This new and growing workforce for social change could solve some of society’s toughest problems – from education to the environment, health care to homelessness,” the foundation noted in its announcement.

    The award is the first made by the foundation to an organization that is focused on a demographic revolution: a new stage of work for adults who have completed their midlife careers and aren’t ready for true retirement.

    The Skoll grant will help Civic Ventures promote encore careers and make midlife transitions easier with new continuing education programs, Encore Fellows initiatives and the Encore.org online community.

    The foundation also commended Freedman for creating The Purpose Prize, a $100,000 award to social innovators in their encore careers.

    Read the Skoll Foundation press release.

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