My Journey to become a “Modern Elder”- Chip Conley Style

By, Kari Henley, Co-Founder, Age Without Borders

People always ask me, “Why are you working in the field of aging?” Most of my friends and colleagues had no idea such an industry even existed, and most people spend very little time thinking about getting older whatsoever.

And yet, to me – exploring our inner attitudes around aging is the final frontier of personal growth, and the global longevity boom is a societal issue that is about to slam the world in the face. We can innovate and evolve, or face a crisis. I’d rather learn to surf this wave, and be a part of the solution.

I started Age Without Borders in 2016. I was freaking out about turning 49, and had a burning desire to assuage my curiosity about midlife and aging. I created a startup with a global team ranging in age from the 20’s to 80’s who helped me to interview over 100 thought leaders from 40 countries about the next chapters of life. We produced two summits that reached thousands of viewers from 72 countries, and grew into our current role as consultants and experts in building virtual communities, events and experiences. It has been a blast.

I was first introduced to Chip Conley a year ago, and am so thrilled to host him as our final guest expert on our Age Without Borders World Tour on December 5th at 8am PST.  The story of how I came to engage with Chip is worth sharing…

Last November, I attended the Aging2.0 conference in San Francisco. Chip was the final keynote speaker. I must admit- I had no idea who he was, and almost didn’t stay. I had a migraine, and sat down next to someone on the balcony who was talking my ear off. I excused myself and started walking out the door. Yet, something made me stop. I had a shiver on the back of my neck. I promptly pivoted on my heels, turned around, marched back inside and this time was moved to sit in the second row.

Chip came on stage, and I was riveted. He described starting Joie de Vivre hopsitality at age 25, sold it at 50, hit midlife, and wondered what to do next. He was approached by two young punks starting some company called Airbnb, knowing nothing about tech. He nearly declined the offer, but instead decided to explore how to be both a mentor and a student at the same time. He led from behind this time, and it worked.

After leaving Airbnb, Chip wrote, “Wisdom@Work – the Making of a Modern Elder” at his new home in Baja, Mexico, where he was learning to surf and building a new chapter of life. He then came up with the Modern Elder Academy for those in midlife transitions to reflect, connect with peers, and revel in the “liminality” of this in-between time.

As Chip was describing the book and MEA, I knew he was going to become one of the biggest voices and leaders in this industry I had come to love. I found myself writing in my notebook; “I will one day meet Chip Conley and attend the Modern Elder Academy.” I had that shiver on my neck again. Two minutes later, Chip invited those of us in the audience to apply to the beta sessions. I must have dropped my pen. Destiny was calling.

After postponing two dates I could not attend, I finally headed to Baja in June. I was smack in the middle of some huge personal transitions. It was precisely the perfect time.

The beauty of the Modern Elder Academy is immediately apparent in the gorgeous landscape. The high arid desert and sparkling Pacific Ocean seems to speak of reflection, maturity and transformation.

The campus is warm, stunning in design, décor and beckons one to kick off their shoes and sigh. Chip’s background in hotels and hospitality contributed to an ideal setting for getting to know others, having time alone to reflect, and a family style schedule that created deep intimacy very quickly.

I learned a lot. I cried a lot. I laughed a lot. Our group built driftwood lines in the sand, baked bread, talked in large and small groups about deeply moving and reflective topics, walked to local beachside restaurants, made home-made margaritas, danced, shared poetry, balanced rocks, and explored our vulnerabilities. Our group and yours truly even made it into the promo video.

Each person from our group of 13 came from entirely different backgrounds and stories; yet all deeply identified with this experience of midlife being a time of dissolving one part of ourselves to make room for another.

A metaphor was introduced of early adulthood representing that of a caterpillar; busy focusing on the details of work, homes, family; followed by midlife representing the chrysalis or cocoon as a time to reflect, and transform; and finally the ‘third act of life’ being that of the butterfly exploring anew. It came up again and again as we marked the solstice- the longest day of the year.

I am delighted to identify as a “modern elder.” I am committed to running a business built across the generations and geographic regions. I will soon be 52 and I have lost all fear of getting older. I admire my friends in their 70’s and 80’s and hope to be just like them when I reach their stages of life. I am inspired every day by folks who had to take care of their spouse, parent, grandparent or friend, and pivoted to starting new products and services to serve the higher good. I love my team.

I will be interviewing Chip from Copenhagen, Denmark where I am proud to be accepted as a new Board Member for the International Federation on Ageing.  Chip will be hanging out in Baja with the latest crew at the Modern Elder Academy, Judy Rough, my co-founder will be minding the fort in Colorado, and Gabriel Monteiro, our International Director, joins from Paris. It is a very small and wonderful world.

Join us. The calls are a blast. We use a video conference platform that looks like the Hollywood Squares and has a powerful energy of synergy and connection with virtual breakout groups that is infectious. Aging industry solopreneurs, educators, innovators, and leaders from around the world have been coming together once a month for high level education, networking and community building that is impossible to accomplish at an annual academic conference.

Our 2019 season of the World Tour will be posted soon, and will be making stops in some incredible places with extraordinary modern elders making a difference. See you there!

An Interview with Jim Sugarman of 4GenNow

Intergenerational Workforce Where Communication is Key

Jim Sugarman is a very upbeat guy on an important mission. He is the Boomer co-founder of 4GenNow along with his daughter, Millennial co-founder, Samantha Sugarman. Their purpose is one of social good, creating intergenerational collaboration… one startup at a time. They connect and match solopreneurs with intergenerational business partners from Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Boomer to be more successful. The goal of non-profit, 4GenNow is to unleash an Entrepreneurial Renaissance to fuel economic growth in both urban and rural areas throughout the US and Europe.

Studies have shown that angel investors prefer to invest in startups with 2 or more co-founders with complementary skills and experiences.

The PROBLEM is that most investors shy away from older entrepreneurs at the end of their careers … as well as younger, less experienced business owners who lack the proper background. Matching younger and seasoned entrepreneurs from 4 generations increases the odds of launching successful intergenerational startups. Other matches include investors.

4GenNow is comprised of 1600+ Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X & Baby Boomer entrepreneurs in 35 states and 23 countries.

Jim and Samantha have hosted 2 successful annual Power Partners Summits in Denver, CO in 2017 and 2018.

Please watch as Judy Rough, COO of Age Without Borders interviews Jim Sugarman of 4GenNow.

What do you need in this moment?

Thanks again for being a part of the Age Without Borders Community. You may have even forgotten you were a part of the Age Without Borders Community.  I promise you that you were, and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to post a few reminders of why you thought that was important.

Here is what I want you to know… you are good and kind and want to blend success while taking care of the people you love.  This makes you a special force in this world, and I would like to support you as you endeavor to be this kind of well rounded human being.

If you are like most people I know, you go about life on a pretty high level of busy.

The problem with “busy” is that we are often one crisis away from having our “normal busy” turn into a whole other level of busy. Something we might even call “crazy busy.”

You may be going along life in “normal busy” mode when suddenly a situation arrives without warning.  You drop everything, and take care of someone who needs you.

Maybe a family member or friend needs surgery, or gets sick and needs you for an extended period of time. For those of us with aging parents, this can be a regular experience.  And that feeling that a parent may have a minor crisis at any moment in time leaves us constantly on edge.

Instead of experiencing a profound sense of joy and love in our relationship with the people we love, we wonder  “When is the next shoe going to drop?”

I get it.   I have been there. I have been raising four children, and have aging parents.  To someone else I might need to explain what that looks like. You already know.

Sometimes those of us that care for so many need to take a moment to be cared for.  We need to take some space from the caring and allow ourselves to receive.

In my experience this is the most challenging request you can make of someone who finds themselves always caring for others.

I want you to listen to me and trust me on this… if you do not allow in caring for yourself you will eventually find yourself feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed or burned out.

Right now please stop what you are doing and take a moment now and think about what YOU need.

What do you need in this moment?

Write the answer down. On a sticky note, a napkin, on your arm… writing down self-nurturing acts is the first step to doing it!

Now decide – Is it something you can give yourself?  

If not, how can you receive it?

I’m not even going to ask you to take action on this need (Although you get HUGE bonus points if you do!) What I want for you is that you start to understand you have needs and as the good human being you are, you deserve to have those needs fulfilled.

Next week I will share a few videos to keep you inspired and strengthening that foundation of Self.

In gratitude,

Kari

 Age Without Borders

P.S. I’d love to hear from you when/if you take action on the answer you received!  Just reply back to this email. (Yes, a real live human being reads it!)

One thing you can do when it all falls apart.

By, Lindsay Hopper, Launch Manager Age Without Borders

When someone you love gets injured, or falls ill, everything stops. If you’ve had little kids you know the stress of having to take the day off of work or schedule last-minute care for a sudden fever or cough. But what about when something bigger happens, say with your aging parents, a dear friend, a spouse or a child?

In a moment, they are the only thing that matters. Everything else gets put on the back burner so you can be there to take care of them; work, plans, relationships, self-care all come to a standstill. Sometimes the situation is temporary, an intense period that comes, resolves and then you move on, other times, it seems to go on indefinitely; plane rides every month or two to check in on your aging parents, paid caregivers coming and going as they care for your husband, so much so that your house doesn’t even feel like your home anymore, plus are those caregivers even doing a good job? Frustrations rise within the family as everyone tries to manage care with their own idea of what’s best. 

Your time is stretched thin, your patience is unraveling at both ends, and your own health starts to pay the price. Burnout sets in, you begin to feel like your life is falling apart, plus you’re not even doing that great of a job at caring for your person who needs you so much, you think, they deserve so much more.

I’m going to stop you right there – yes, If you haven’t already, you will undoubtedly, stumble into the role of a caregiver, and yes, caregiving is always challenging but you have more help and support than you ever imagined.

Yes, caregiving burnout is very real. But you’re NOT alone. You have resources in your community, both professional and personal, at your disposal that you can’t begin to imagine.

Age Without Borders has been working for over six months preparing a Global Caregiving Summit. I hope you’ll join us, you can get more info and a FREE pass here. You will find a true community there of like minded folks- from industry leaders to everyday friends and family like you and I –  who have all been profoundly impacted by caregiving, and have innovated new solutions, tools, resources and inspiration.

That launches on Saturday, but for today, I have one amazing mindshift for you that can change everything.

It’s simple; love yourself exactly where you are, and love “your person” wherever they are. Sometimes when burnout sets in, the sick or injured person we normally adore, who needs us, relies on us and trusts us more than anybody else in their time of need, starts to get, well, annoying. Don’t worry, that is just the burnout talking! Burnout will tell you all kinds of things like, you’re not doing a good enough job, the person you’re caring for is needy, unappreciative, or not trying hard enough, the doctors and nurses and other caring professionals aren’t on your side or just don’t get it. I hear you. Anytime you hear burnout chatting in your head, and you start wanting people or circumstances to “Just be different already!” take a breath, then repeat after me “I love you exactly where you are.”

Now, objectively, what you’re observing is probably accurate, you’re not imagining things! Trust that what you observe is real. But, before you rampage or fall into an emotional puddle, (as burnout will have you do) take a minute, breathe, connect to your heart and love. If for just one moment, love yourself exactly where you are, don’t ask yourself to change. Love your person exactly where they are. Love your care team exactly where they are. Recognize we are all on a journey. None of us have arrived yet and this very experience is transforming us all, inviting us to become bigger, fuller, more complete versions of the person we’re growing into. 

Take this moment to love them as they are… then take action. Trust me, this one shift will change the results you get when you do make the phone call, have the tough conversation or make the decision about treatment or choose a care facility.

Caregiving is a fire, you never walk through it unchanged. It is a catalyst for change on the deepest levels. You are being called. We are here to help.

Join us, starting this Saturday, January 20th. You can lean on us, we are here to support you in your caregiving journey past, present and future. We’ve assembled 50+ world leaders in caregiving to speak in their particular area of expertise. You’ll get support for your burnout, help to find the right facility and care team for your person, the inside scoop on new policy and how to take advantage of it, and activities, exercises and inspiration to help you connect with your person as a person, not just a care recipient.

These leaders and luminaries in caregiving have done seriously amazing things; we have United Nations speakers, policy influencers, a Pulitzer prize winning poet, as well as real caregivers who will share the story of their transformational journey with caregiving. Again, you can find all the details, and sign up for a FREE pass, here.

I look forward to seeing you at the summit! Here’s to you and your caregiving transformation.

PS Join us, starting this Saturday, January 20th, for our Global Caregiving Summit. Over the week we’ll hear from over 50 speakers who will share tools and inspiration to prevent and treat caregiving burnout. Register for a FREE pass here.

Lindsay Hopper is our Launch Manager here at AWB. She helps our big ideas get out to the people who need them most. To learn more about what Lindsay’s up to, visit her and say “Hi!”at lhopper.com.

Canada’s Wise 50 Over 50 Awards Celebrating Encore Entrepreneurs

Age Without Borders would like to congratulate Wendy Mayhew, founder of the Wise Seniors in Business advisors, and the creator of the  “Wise 50 Over 50 Awards” in Canada. Wendy is a an expert in entrepreneurism and has seen the impacts of inaccurate and unfounded ageism both nationally, and in the corporate world. She created the first award ceremony of its kind to showcase the incredible power and success of entrepreneurs age 50+.

According to Business Insider, those aged 55-64 in the US have actually had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity in the last 10 years. In fact,  the founders of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken were all over 50 when they established their businesses.

Check out our lively conversation and get inspired! Do you have a Big Idea? The world is ready and now may be the best time!

The United Nations are Champions for Older Adults

We have been dedicating the month of October to celebrating the United Nations International Day of Older  Persons, which officially kicked off October 1st, and continues with events and awareness raising endeavors throughout the month. The theme this year is:

“Stepping into the Future:
Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.”

It is with the highest honor Kari was able to speak to Sandra Timmermann, committee co-chair for the UN’s International Day of Older Persons, to learn more about this official day (this is actually the 27th year), and some of the global innovations the United Nations is following.

Watch here:

The global rise in our aging populations is a phenomenon that we still tend to sweep under the rug, yet is impacts us economically, socially, regionally and within our own mindsets. The more we understand the global perspectives on aging, the better equipped we will be to manage our own “bonus year of life.”

It is up to all of us to leverage the incredible social capital of our older population to serve, engage and contribute towards making a difference towards a global longevity revolution of positive and active aging for all.

World Elder’s Day Africa- Celebrating “Seenagers”

We are SO proud to be working directly with the incredible team in Lagos, Nigeria to help promote and support the upcoming World Elder’s Day Africa conference; the first of it’s kind in Nigeria to address key issues affecting older adults. Our very own Moira Allan will be giving a keynote address and receiving an award for her global efforts to improve life for elders world wide. Congratulations Moira!

Check out our conversation, and be sure to leave a “goodwill message” as our global liaisons have done on our Facebook or Youtube page!

Here is our video introducing the conference, with a direct message from conference organizer David Ouldare and his team. The realities of limited electricity and wifi access could not be more real than seen here.

And here is their official video for the event:

The challenges in Africa for aging are very real. There are no pensions, and tribal living is giving away to the modern world; with children leaving villages behind to live and work in the cities. Elders are left with no one to care for them. The understanding of dementia and Alzheimers is nearly non-existent in countries like Nigeria. There is rampant superstitions that the unusual behavior associated with normal cognitive decline is associated with being possessed as a “witch” or “wizard,” being cast out of society, and having to fend for themselves.

Yet, despite the darker side, the incredible lightness of these elders always delights me to no end. They are an inspiration to us all, with their jovial spirit – and their voracious use of smart phones. They act just like teenagers, and in fact created a super catchy new term for themselves: the “Seenagers.” Moira and I were on their “Seenager WhatApp” feed, and it was blowing up all day long with pictures, quotes and little notes. JUST like teenagers!

Perhaps the new phrase for the future is: it takes a village to raise a Seenager.

Who Knew About the UN International Day of Older Persons?

Raise your hand if you have heard of  The International Day of Older Persons – observed on October 1 each year. Anyone?  On December 14, 1990 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons, and is now celebrating their 27th year.  We are missing out  in neglecting to focus on this growing phenomenon. Check out my video message to learn why.

It is important to understand why focusing on the needs of people over age 60 is so important: between 2015 and 2030, the number of older persons worldwide is set to increase by 56 per cent — from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and above will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24.

Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth.

According to the UN:

“Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable. It is a reality in some form in all societies, and finds expression in individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalue and exclude older persons.

“Such discrimination shapes how older persons are treated and perceived by their societies, including in medical settings and workplaces, creating environments that limit older persons’ potential and impact their health and well-being. The failure to tackle ageism undermines older persons’ rights and hinders their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political life.”

This month I will be focusing on the efforts of the United Nations, ground breaking aging innovations around the world and more. Stay tuned!

Who is an older person who has affected your life that could use some recognition? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below and on our Facebook page.

How Will You Use Your Extra Season of Life?

The seasons are changing, and this week marks the autumnal equinox – a day when there is an equal balance of light and dark. In the Northern hemisphere where I live, the Fall leaves are turning, and nights are growing cool. In the Southern hemisphere, my South African friend Lynda Smith is enjoying increasingly warm days and blooming Spring flowers. We sat down together this week to talk about the seasons of life, and how lucky we are to have an extra season to use wisely.

Lynda Smith is the founder of the Refirement Network, and is an expert in planning for the second half of life. She coaches clients to examine the internalized limitations that hold us back, as well as teaching concrete tools and skills to “refire” an entirely new career, passion project or hobby. Her slogan is: Don’t Retire – Refire!

In the past 100 years, we have gained an additional 30 years of life, and those in their 60’s are far from the rocking chair! There is a new season of health, vitality and capability that offers time for tremendous contribution and impact. Lynda calls it the “younger-old.”

“Our parents and grandparents didn’t have technology, and didn’t live in a global world like we do,” said Smith. “We need to spend our time as pioneers –we are the first generation pioneering this new chapter of life as the “younger-old.” It is an exciting time to take up a leadership journey for ourselves.”

Check it out:

How are YOU spending this extra season of your life? Are you starting something new, finding your voice, giving back, running a marathon? Post a picture and a comment on our facebook page!