Build the Faith

I was having an interesting conversation today with two of my colleagues, a PR maverick (I’ll call her PR for the purposes of this article), and an award-winning writer (I’ll call her Writer). PR is 34, Writer is 68. Our discussion centered around today’s definition (or confusion) over the 50-plus category. Writer is horrified at the way “elderhood” is treated in North America. She still works, is highly respected, but has had to fight to keep her profile high. Conversely, when PR and her crowd think of 50 plus, they lump 50, 60, 70 and 80 in one broad category.

We discussed John Helyar’s article, 50 and Fired, and while Mr. Helyar wrote a comprehensive, in-depth article on an under-addressed issue, most of his cases were in their early “plus-hood”, i.e. mid to late fifties. While this was the age range he was choosing to target for his article, nonetheless, it was clear to us (me, Writer and PR) that a very large segment of the 50 plus demographic was not represented.

Gen Plus, recognizes two different markets: 50 – 65, active jobseekers needing or wanting full time employment; and 65 – 75, reduced ability or desire to stay in the workforce fulltime, but still needing a certain level of employment for either financial or emotional reasons.

However, regardless of the market, we will require our society to take a leap of faith and keep this workforce…well…working! The Baby Boomer generation alone (not counting Post WWII babies) numbers around 78 million. 25% of our population is going to be in the 50 plus demographic by 2011. That’s a big number. To keep this workforce working will require us, companies like Gen Plus, government, Fortune 500’s, Home Depot’s and beyond to build the faith, focus our energies on 50 plus, restore or instill the concept of elder wisdom and convert the 50 plus energy into captured productivity.

In societies that are more socially networked, (Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia) there are companies like Gen Plus working alongside government to deal now with the aging crisis. In the US, we are lagging behind. We aren’t alone. Many countries, within this century will have to deal with the crisis of an aging world.

It seems as though all of a sudden, the news is filled with the Social Security crisis, the 50 plus workforce crisis, the management shortfall crisis. Everyone is talking, many are thinking, few are doing. AARP championed the Companies who are Senior-Friendly track, but even that falls short of what 50 plus-ers need. They don’t want $10/hour jobs, although they’ll take them if they are in dire need of continuing income. Yet that alone does not come close to addressing the true crisis that starts hitting in 2011.

PR is in awe, in advance, of the looming crisis…when Baby Boomers start to leave their management positions in droves, leaving gaping management holes and yet, at the same time, those same 50 plus-ers are being pushed out of high salaried management positions with no backup succession planning in sight for many major corporations. Writer understands ageism, is saddened by it and classifies her demographic’s job prospects sadly, but succinctly, “They are either computer-savvy or they are dead.” So, how do we take a crisis that will be so monumental and make it small enough to manage? By proactively affecting the individual.

I have a personal mission — to reinvent 50 plus. That is why I built Gen Plus. Any entrepreneur will tell you that they are successful because they see the end result. They passionately believe in their purpose. They live by mission. In the movie, “Field of Dreams”, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) was a corn farmer who hears voices telling him to build it so they will come.

With 50 plus, it will take more than voices to change the respect for the demographic. It will take a gargantuan, communal effort to re-build respect for our society’s “elders.” We must build the faith. My mission, the Gen Plus mission: Build the faith, and society will take the leap of faith.

One thought on “Build the Faith

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