Boomer or Bloomer, so what is next?

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Boomer or Bloomer

Reflections on the Boomer or Bloomer Summit and the next steps for Wize Move Society 

The Wize Move Society (WMS), in collaboration with its partner Brave Starts from the UK, has succeeded to bring experts and people of the over 50 generation together at the online summit “Boomer or Bloomer – What’s Next” on April 5-7-12.

We are aware of the huge demographic changes and the challenges currently impacting society and the economy. Both organizations are already independently working daily on local and global levels to create more awareness, and more importantly: to ACT.

At the summit WMS intended and succeeded in creating even more awareness. We dove into meaningful conversations, offered great networking opportunities, and defined “What’s Next”. This was well received by experts, business leaders, employers and employees, start-ups, coaches and mentors from all over the world.

Over 100 people actively joined in the conversations with a focus on the future. A poll showed that already 72% considered themselves “Bloomers”; a group ready to shine and be active members of society.

‘I really would like people to call me wildly exuberant until my last breath!’  – Elizabeth Isele

Judging from the comments and feedback of those who attended, the summit was hugely insightful, thought-provoking and a great starting point to move forward. Through our collective efforts and best practices that we will be brought closer to resolving the important issues discussed during the summit.

‘We need to find more ways for older people to contribute. They are key to achieve our sustainable development goals’ – António Gutteres, Secretary General UN, at the International Day of Older People in 2019

 

Summary Wize Move Society: So What is Next?

Looking at the summit from the perspective of the Wize Move Society this is of course a moment to reflect and take the next step.

It became even more clear that our members will most likely go through several transitions until late in life: The Wheel of Change. Whether someone wants to work in an organization, explore the gig-economy or wants to start a or expand their business, it will require the skills to do it.  Moving through transition and into their next phase in life, means to find their purpose, discover what brings them joy and pleasure and translate this into action. Every phase will bring new friends to have fun, a new professional network, and a new support system: working from that collective and being aware you do not have to do it alone. Together we will explore what their needs are and how we can support each other to make it really happen. Focusing on their skills to deal more easily with change, with setbacks and challenges is creating that second bank account filled with resilience!

Since we all want to do this in a healthy way until late in life, together we will keep working on our health; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

We are aware that we can be great entrepreneurs later in life; we bring our knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Statistically we have proven that we can be more successful than those who start at a younger age.

Although we tend to think of those starting a business on their own, that entrepreneurial spirit is also needed in organizations to lead change.

Since many of our members consider working more from their purpose and leaving a legacy, we focus even more on awaking that entrepreneur in each of us. We provide them with the skills needed to start a business. Our innovation labs will challenge our members to explore, to be creative, adventurous, innovative, and together come with solutions for the challenges our generation is facing.

Our experts of Wize Moves @TheWorkPlace, will work with HR leaders, management, recruiters, and intergenerational teams. We create a multi-generational work environment where people of all ages feel welcome, valued, fulfilled, and challenged. We will create awareness that this older generation is an important asset for organizations and can be of great value for bottom line results: They should not be on their way out; they are part of the future.

We are very active to create more awareness outside the community, with our weekly Live Conversations with experts from the industry and our monthly Happy Hour; a moment of fun and joy.

Of course we love to see you all on our Wize Move Society online community for the 50plus generation. Collectively, we work on the many great opportunities that have come up!

Do take time to read the overview of all the different speakers!

More information and registration as a member www.wizemove.online

‘Knowledge is important, but imagination is everything’ – J.K. Rowling

 

The Overview

‘Boomer or Bloomer – What’s Next?’ focused on 3 important topics:

  • The multi-generational workforce,
  • Senior-entrepreneurship and
  • How to spend our best later life.

Multi-Generational Workforce

Speaker Bradley Schurman, author of “the SuperAge”, painted the picture of the important demographic change we are facing: The over 50 population is growing fast: In 2030 over 35 economies will already have 50% of their population over 50 years old.

More inclusiveness of all populations in society needs to be the central theme: stick together as people, keep the economies afloat and make society more just and equitable.

Many people over the age of 65 staying in the workforce will have a huge impact on the work environment. On the other hand, we see shrinking numbers of younger people, those entering the workforce.

Research from the OECD shows that 83% of the business executives are aware that an age inclusive workplace is good for business growth and success, but only 6% of them acts.

  • We need to show organizations that age inclusive politics are good for bottom line results and that their 50 plus employees are an asset; not a liability.
  • Organizations need to recruit, retain, and sustain older workers
  • Organizations must rethink workforce policies and build workplaces that value all employees. Let’s think for example about flexible work, working from home, caregiving leave, and more dynamic and individualized workplaces that value employees.
‘Age inclusive policies are good for the bottom line’ –  Bradley Schurman

 

Thought Leader, Avivah Wittenburg-Cox, Ali Fellow at HARVARD and author ‘Late Work: From Recreation to Re-Creation’, ‘Thriving to 100 – Through lives 4 Quarters’ and her blog ‘Elderberries’, showed that the extra time does not get tagged on at the end, that we are not “old” longer, but that we end up in this new phase in midlife. All this extra time, actually changes all generations and all phases in life. We already see the younger generations make different choices.

For women grow up at 50, it is the age of adulthood for women! Most of their second phase is just prep for everything that happens afterward. Many companies start discovering that some of these senior women are some of their best talents. The senior women can be great role models of what an aging workforce can look like.

Where Avivah the last 20 years has been working mostly on gender balancing the business world but is shifting now more to generational balance. The workforce under 50 and the one over 50 have different motivations, time scales, pay requirements, etc. Organizations are only just becoming aware of this shift. The question is what this means for organizations on the talent side and on the market side.

For now the 3 stages in life turn into 4 quarters: the new roadmap of life with multiple careers, be educated multiple times and have multiple relationships.

To do this serenely

  • We need better transition skills to move through all these phases
  • We need new people to play, people with who are in the same transition
  • We need to pause occasionally; a sabbatical to rejuvenate; ideally every decade
‘The new 3rd quarter of our life gives the younger generation the choice, that they do have not to do everything in their 2nd quarter … and we will use it to prepare for and lean into the 4rd quarter’ – Avivah Wittenberg – Cox

 

Elizabeth Kiehner, VP CapGemini Invent focused on Workforce in Organizations, shared we are in the era of a cross-generational workforce where we need to create cross-generational empathy and a cross-generational customer base.

As David Bowie said: ‘Ageing is an extra-ordinary process, whereby you become the person, you always should have been’, people grow more and more into themselves. We can (and will need to) educate and re-invent ourselves repeatedly and organizations will also re-invent themselves.

  • Organizations need to improve the employee experience: more listening, empathy, level of understanding, design thinking, and consideration of archetypes
  • Organizations need to re-invent work models such as among others: the physical workplace, the workforce, the use of technology, implementation of reverse and reciprocal mentoring
  • Organizations need to re-invent HR, assign a 50plus talent manager, create a more empathetic and agile organization.
‘We need to focus on human potential at any age’ – Elizabeth Kiehner

 

Senior Entrepreneurship

Wize Move Society is a huge supporter of senior entrepreneurship; not only because we believe in small and mid-size companies as the backbone of our economy, but also because it is statistically proven that those who start businesses in a later stage of life, are more successful entrepreneurs than those starting at a younger age.

Mary Cronin, Research professor at the Boston College and author of the book “Starting up Smarter: Why founders over 50 build better companies” shared some of her learnings and insights from her research. If you start a business at age 63 you are 10 times more likely to have a successful company 5 years later than when you would start it in your 20’s. Although this is proven it is not yet widely appreciated.

On top of it most of these senior entrepreneurs want to make a difference. They want to make the world a better place and are aware of what they are going to leave behind. This desire to make a difference, this purpose, combined with perseverance, grit and determination are important factors to build a successful business.

Most people over 50 have rich deep human connections. They know how to grow these relationships and how to use these relationships to build a business and solve problems on the way.

So to become successful entrepreneurs later in life and be happy, fulfilled and have an impact in the world

  • We need a purpose
  • We need persistence, resilience, grit and determination
  • We need a deep expertise to look for solutions and a strong network to solve problems
‘We will do best to change the world more readily by not being in silos. We want to be intergenerational in all our efforts’ – Mary J. Cronin

 

Han van Doorn, 85-year-old business-owner and co-founder of the App ‘Are you Okay today?’ shared that he created a solution for his own real life problem related to independent living as a senior, when he founded his App. Since Han didn’t have an entrepreneurial background, it was thanks to an online course on how to start a business and an experienced mentor, that he was able to get his business up and running.

The advantages of his senior entrepreneurship:

  • His age, his vitality, together with his innovative project, is a unique selling point and made it easier to attract publicity all over the world.
  • By solving a problem that he himself had experienced as a senior, people believe his story and join him
  • His experience helps him to avoid pitfalls
  • To be able to grow up vitally, you need a purpose in life!

Han also mentioned some risks of being a senior entrepreneur: taking too much risk and spending all your savings or developing health issues. What is even more important, is to feel useful for the community. As well is the enjoyment of all the positive energy you get out of it, using your talents, learning to become an entrepreneur, and having a lot of fun!

Han states it is one of the best decisions he ever made.

‘When you retire, ask yourself the question: what do I want to become when I am older?’ – Han van Doorn

 

Elizabeth Isele, Founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship states that positive ageing is important for ALL generations. We need to involve intergenerational and multigenerational aspects.

Seniors are the fastest growing natural resource, and the only growing natural resource. Seniors are the solution! Finding a problem and solving it, is the spirit of senior entrepreneurship. Older people may be losing their sight, but they are gaining a new way of seeing.

Many older people want to start a business but have no idea how to start and they have no idea of the value of their experience that they would bring into a business. For many of them the word entrepreneur is terrifying and there are many self-imposed biases.

Elizabeth has developed the ‘Experience Incubator’, where experience is translated into what someone wants to do next. An important step is to decode someone’s entrepreneurial history: decade by decade they share what they are very proud of, why did they think of it, how they have accomplished it, who helped them on the way, what challenges they had to overcome, what resources they needed and found: actually, all the steps you need to start a business!

Many people were most entrepreneurial in the first 10 years of their life. This is the age of curiosity which probably has been lost on the way because they needed to travel the road to what society defines success at school: a job, salary and a house. All risks needed to be eliminated.

  • We need people to get their curiosity back and find their purpose: their WHY.
  • Research shows that we as older individuals not only continue to grow neurons in our brain, but there are also more interconnections between the left and right side of the brain. We need to integrate logic and creativity to achieve innovation as entrepreneurs and think out of the box!
  • The world needs to be convinced that senior entrepreneurship is a valuable asset not a silver tsunami: social reform is needed. An infrastructure, like education and funding, is needed to support senior entrepreneurship. A great example is the EU with the program ‘50plus Entrepreneurship’. It recognizes the fact that if seniors are building businesses at the success rate that is documented then they are job creators. This can be very important to solve youth unemployment. She advices to take it one step further and bring in the younger generation as partners in the business and embrace each other’s talents.
  • We need to start thinking of senior experience as a lifecycle of experience that we pass on from generation to generation; the impact of the lifecycle of the mind and experience.
‘Curiosity is the elixir of life, and it is the elixir of entrepreneurship’  – Elizabeth Isele.

How to live your best later life

All the extra years that are added to our life offer us a lot of opportunities to make new choices also later in life. The mature generations are better educated than ever before, healthier, and more active. So how can you make the right choices to live your best later life? As WMS we love to support our members to move through the transition into the next phase.

Yvonne Sonsino, Global Co-Leader Next Stage at Mercer, author of ‘The New Rules of Living Longer, How to Survive your Longer Life’ shares that companies are more interested in flexible retirement because the value of the experience of multi-generational teams has been proven to enhance the bottom line. They want to decrease the risk of institutional knowledge loss, to provide employees with a continued sense of purpose, to improve workforce transition and succession planning. They want the increase of talent attraction and retention in times of intense skills shortage.

Some of the options she already sees happening in companies are phased retirement, partial year employment opportunities, internal consulting opportunities and downshifting responsibilities.

Yvonne’s New Rules of Living Longer:

  1. Living longer means working longer: in some countries people are already running out of money before they die. For example, in Japan women run out of money 20 years before they die!
  2. The future is unknown and uncertain: technology and demographic changes influence job design and the skills needed. We need an open mind!
  3. New units of currency will define success and motivation: is money still the most important motivator? Research has shown that 32% of employees would trade salary for flexibility. The experience of a landmark piece can be very motivational, leaving a legacy
  4. Learn from a 4-year-old: the access to technology and the availability of knowledge on the internet. We need a fresh mindset to learning
  5. Take up something creative to keep your (left and right) brain active.
  6. Build a later life strategy; we need to be better equipped to take the right decisions and plan your life. Check for example your health and your finances regularly.
  7. You need two bank accounts: one filled with resilience, one for your money.
  8. Women face tougher challenges: women live longer, and the gender pension gap is on average 26% (in Japan, UK over 40% pension gap)
  9. Treat yourself to some health tech: Apple watches, online health apps, etc
  10. Happiness = Autonomy in later life. Stay in charge, no matter what others say.
  11. Dispatch regrets and dispatch myths: Take action that you do what you want to do. There is more time to decide what your next step will be.
‘Women face tougher challenges: women live longer, and the gender pension gap is on average 26%’ – Yvonne Sonsino

 

Deborah Gale, The Purpose Exchange, The Age of No Retirement (NGO), emphasized that we simply really cannot retire. Let’s reposition ageing related to living. Let’s move from retire to rethink work and what you want to do in the next phase of your life.

Research shows that for people of all ages a sense of “purpose” especially aligned with the ability to earn is very important. Your future begins every single day, you will have a lot of transitions and your purpose will change over the years.

Most important message in this Purpose Paradigm is the intertwined dependencies between your identity, intention, and action

The pandemic humbled us; uncertainty is the price we must pay. Transition is even more unsettling.

  • We need to find our purpose, our mojo
  • We need to decide what to do with it, what are our intentions?
  • We need to activate our intentions
  • We need to find paid work, but we want to matter
  • We need the skills, knowledge, experience, and wisdom for the digital transformation and to be able to work from home
  • We need constant learning to go through next transitions
  • We need to be prepared to fear change; to adopt fearlessness
  • We need to give ‘giving’ more heft: align your social values with your economic values
  • We need to step up the plate…now!
  • We need to make this a time of purpose, of happiness and of success
“We all get holes blown into our lives; they are unavoidable … you have to fill those holes. That is where the opportunity lies. Keep brave and full of life and realize you cannot do it alone… think bigger, think broader, it will always be greater than when you do it alone. We need the changemakers and work from the collective!” – Deborah Gale

 

Thomas Mathar, Insight Manager, Centre of Behavioural Research Aegon, is focused on financial wellbeing. Money is important but the mindset is as important. It is the intrinsic motivation that matters, the concrete and meaningful connection with the future self.

We need to have a good understanding of experiences that give you joy, gratification, and experiences that give you purpose. Having knowledge, awareness of what gives you joy, what makes you happy, and what is aligned with your values.

The purpose is more associated with moments or experiences, that make you feel competent, useful, worthwhile.

Experiences is more about moments or events where you experience something, pleasure, the feeling of happiness, of purpose.

Those who can make a concrete and meaningful visualization of their future self, are more likely to invest in their future self, in their health, education and building meaningful networks.

  • We need to zoom in on our purpose moments, our pleasure moments to really find that intrinsic motivation to create our future based on purpose and financial wellbeing that will define how successful we are.
‘Let’s re-introduce Vitativeness: the love of life, vitality. This is what all of us want’ – Deborah Gale

 

Author: Ingun Bol-de Bock, CEO Move in2 the Future and Creator Wize Move Society

Co-Author: Mary Jane Roy, Thought Leader Move in2 the Future and Wize Move Society 

April 2022

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