Encore: Rekindling the Entrepreneurial Spirit at 65

As a leading edge Baby Boomer, I am proud to be among my age cohorts celebrating 6.5 decades of change. On April 25, I began the next chapter of life along with 8500 fellow boomers. Another like number will turn 65 each day for the next 17 years or so. My first gift to myself was to get in shape for the rewarding and challenging years ahead with a 9 week fitness and weight loss program. In addition to discovering muscles that had been idle for a few decades, I also discovered renewed vitality.

My second gift to myself was returning to the entrepreneur’s world. Over the past 10 years, I have proven without question that security is something you create for yourself. We left SD in 1999 to seek the security of a paid executive position with benefits etc.  Ultimately pursuing security required 4 cross country moves and three home purchases due to two downsizings and one corporate buy out. It was clearly time for a new plan, and where better to pursue a new chapter than where I began a business specializing in marketing to older adults 26 years ago.

So, in June of 2010 we returned to our roots in SD and have had absolutely no regrets. Just before leaving Florida, I joined the “virtual team” of an entrepreneurial, startup brain fitness company called NeoCORTA, which has been an educational and rewarding experience. While rebuilding a consulting practice, I continue as a part-time member of this startup’s management team. The entrepreneurial fire has been rekindled.

Like many in my age group, I have zero interest in retiring when there is so much to be done. I did send out some resumes thinking an encore career in another field might be rewarding. However, after 6 months with not so much as an interview, I concluded there were more productive ways to spend my time and focused on what I loved most – public speaking, consulting on creative strategies, coaching and culture change in the senior living industry.

As a nation, we are very close to a tipping point. US businesses are finally waking up to the wisdom and talent available to them, often at discounted rates, and some are even retaining older workers to take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Businesses and nonprofit organizations are also realizing that they ignore older consumers at their peril, with one in five adult consumers age 50 or older.

As thousands to leading edge baby boomers decide to seek or continue employment, companies need to be cognizant of the new reality of a mature marketplace. All too often, older applicants are not considered because they are “over qualified” or just “over the hill.” The over qualified statement has always presented a paradox. If a ‘qualified’ applicant is willing to accept a position for the stated salary, wouldn’t an excess of experience be beneficial to the hiring company? When presented with this conundrum, employers need to consider that, to the older worker, pursuing meaning and purpose is as important as salary and title.

Sure, older folk have taken a beating in the markets and watched our home equity melt away, but we also have gained increased longevity and quality of life. If we are wise enough as individuals and a nation to invest in a successful aging life style in every dimension of well being (physical, emotional, social, intellectual [mental], spiritual, vocational, nutritional, and environmental), we can lower long term healthcare costs, improve later life quality and take advantage of the collective wisdom of generations that helped build a great country and can help rebuild both a nation and the businesses that serve it.