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Aging Onwards and Upwards


Aging Onwards and Upwards

Diane Flynn shares an article and a few surprising facts on ageism.

I had the opportunity to speak at the Ageist Conference last week in LA, a first-of-its-kind symposium to examine the economic and social impact of the modern 50+ demographic. What a dynamic, energized, well-connected community of people who want to change the world and live with purpose.

First, some facts about this market that shocked me. Did you know:

Women over 55 are the fastest growing age/gender workforce category.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Participation by men over 55 in the workforce is expected to decline by 3% in the next 10 years. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

74% of those over 65 plan to work, versus 14% in 1995. (Gallup Poll 2017)

There are now more people over 65 than under 5 worldwide, making the aging population the #1 biggest economic opportunity. (And women are the primary consumers in many categories)

People 50-plus will continue to grow over the next decade to the tune of 19 million, vs. a growth of only 6 million for the 18-49 population.

This means companies better take notice, both because their workforce will be older and because this demographic represents a huge market opportunity.

Following are my 7 favorite insights from the speakers:

1) Don’t just design FOR us. Design WITH us. Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Center for the Future of Aging, emphasized the importance of human-centered design, and that designing the best products and services for this older generation absolutely MUST include the end-users in the process.

2) People with a sense of purpose live 7.5 years longer. Purpose has more impact than any other intervention, like working out, vitamins, or healthy eating. In my coaching practice, I find that most people over 50 struggle to find purpose. I believe it’s why many women start their own entrepreneurial ventures, which provide meaning, flexibility, and social impact.

3) If you’re 50, you may only be half-way through your adult life. Best-selling author Chip Conley had this realization as he joined the Airbnb executive team at 52. Since then, he has adopted new sports and adventures, in addition to founding the Modern Elder Academy in Baja where all ages can celebrate life with like-minded life-long learners. I am looking forward to co-hosting a women’s week there in January for those seeking reinvention.

4) We must move from reverence to relevance, and relevance is equal parts wisdom and curiosity – Chip Conley’s guidance on how to work with those half your age. Relevance is earned by staying nimble and continually learning and growing.

5) Be a peer of whomever you are with. This advice from Norman Lear at 95, who took up a new hobby every 2 years, is profound. Most people feel decades younger than they look, so connecting with multiple generations may be easier than you think.

6) Change INvisible to IMvisible. Those over 50 often feel invisible, whether it’s being ignored by the media, advertisers, or the hiring manager. We all need to change that. A fellow panelist proudly displayed her beautiful long gray hair and said her mission is to change the narrative around appearance. Chip says that when we’re curious and passionate, the wrinkles fall away. We all have a responsibility to make ourselves relevant and visible, and each of us can do our part to shape the way this growing demographic is viewed.


Key points include:

  • The power of purpose
  • Pursuing relevance
  • Bridging the age gap


Read the full article, 7 Insights on Agesim That May Surprise You, on LinkedIn.