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Mar 30, 2012

Esquire Magazine - Young People in the Recession

Esquire Magazine - young people in the recession

From Esquire Magazine's article

In the April 2012 issue of Esquire magazine writer Stephen Marche has an important article about what he calls “The War on Youth” - how increasingly in the US today there is a major divide between the old and young in terms of their expectations, financial position, social safety net and life experiences. What worked for the Boomers appears not to be working for the current generation.

This article is important to read and understand whatever your political position or opinion. It reinforces the importance of the Boomers as a customer demographic while also highlighting some of the issues here in the US.

As an entrepreneur in my mid-30’s I fall in-between the two groups this article focuses on (the Boomers and the children of the Boomers - my father was born during World War II not after it. But I definitely see the issues this article raises and see increasing numbers of young people returning to live at home with their parents. 

When I was in college internships were common but not expected, apparently in the past few years that has changed completely, for me the news that over 90% of college students take an internship was one of the most shocking figures in the article (along with the estimate that interns represent a nearly $2B/year labor savings for US businesses). 

I was also, however, struck by the idea that one of the best reactions to this changing economic landscape (by young and old alike) is to start new businesses that focus on selling to the generations with money (i.e. the Boomers among others) while at least in part offering great employment opportunities to the generations that are seeking well paying career options (i.e. the current younger generations). Not exploitative jobs that either do not pay anything (i.e. internships) or which pay wages that are a fraction of what was paid for similar labor in the past (i.e. the “blue collar” jobs that the article focuses on that pay significantly less to new workers than to older workers) but jobs that pay well because the businesses they are part of make money (and share that money with their workforce). 

Perhaps I’m idealistic but I think there are many such opportunities and all around me here in San Francisco (and all over the US and world) I see such businesses being formed every day. These are businesses that are in many cases built using many of the best practices of Lean Startups - building viable, scalable businesses built on addressing real customer needs. 

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Mar 1, 2012

We have launched our Innovation Invigoration offering with Reach 50 Plus from Immersion Active. See http://www.reach50plus.com/innovation-invigoration/

What Would Better Look Like?: Reach 50 Plus - Innovation Invigoration by Beyond Age

 

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Jan 26, 2012

Note from Joel: My intention when founding Beyond Age was to make it a collaborative effort and to have many voices represented. My friend Sharon Kristjanson shared some ideas with me last week and I asked her if she would write them up so that I could share them publicly. After reading this post, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Sharon has a remarkable voice. I’m proud to have her contribute to this blog.

Meryl, Margaret, and Me
I went to see the movie “The Iron Lady” with my daughter and friends, expecting it to be about Margaret Thatcher’s illustrious political career.  While flashbacks of Thatcher in her prime certainly filled the screen, what haunted me long after I left the theater was Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Thatcher’s old age and dementia.  The resemblance to my mother was heartbreakingly familiar.

Meryl Streep was masterful at capturing Margaret Thatcher in different stages of her life, but what really unnerved me was the extent to which I saw my elderly mother up on the screen, with every detail matching exactly – even the extent to which she fooled her doctor into believing she was more lucid than was actually the case. My daughter recognized her Grandma too: the old face, the vacant stare, occasional moments of brilliance, and a perpetual state of confusion – reflected not in a furrowed brow, but in passivity.  When the protagonist lay on the pillow and stared blankly into space, it was my mother’s face in every respect.  In that moment, Streep and Thatcher and my mother were interchangeable.  

And therein lies the chill that stayed with me so many hours after I left the movie theater.  In our twilight years, are we largely interchangeable?  We may differ in the prime of our lives, but in dementia we are eerily similar, with discrete moments that recall our earlier selves.  Streep revealed the vulnerability and confusion of encroaching dementia with exquisite insight.

The movie brought back for me not only the heartbreak of caring for my mother as she lost her way in dementia, but also my fear that this will be what my final chapter looks like, too.  After all, statistics say that about half of us will experience some form of dementia in old age.  Having seen it up close and personal, it terrifies me.  As I cared for my mother and tried to meet her increasing needs, I felt compassion, sadness, and angst at the decisions I had to make.  I also felt anxiety about my own future.  I constantly wondered if I was looking in a mirror.  

Now, almost a year after my mother’s death, I no longer feel raw and depleted.  Instead, I recognize the fragility and gift of life as never before, and I value relationships in a new way.  As I enter my Third Act of life (with thanks to Jane Fonda for coining the term), I walk a tightrope between embracing this time with high enthusiasm and fearlessness, and planning ahead for my final years.  There is a duality that is ever-present, and it marks this stage of life in a very unique way.   

by Sharon V. Kristjanson
SVK Communications LLC
www.svkcommunications.com

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Jan 20, 2012

A fantastic example of an age-related product and campaign (retirement planning) that focuses not on problems of age but on the positives and does so in a way compelling to customers of all ages.

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Jan 10, 2012

A photo of the fitbit booth at CES taken by my co-founder, Joel Shapira. Fitbit announced their newest product at CES this week, the aria a wifi enabled smart scale. This is a great example of a digital heath product that adds value to consumers of any age, but has many great features for an older consumer. Joel is at CES looking for other examples of product innovation.

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Jan 10, 2012

Beyond Age at CES this week

What are the most innovative items being announced or shown at CES this week?

CES is more than just new TV’s (and cell phones) it is also a forum for a wide range of consumer electronics companies as well as companies such as Ford and others to launch their latest products in front of a large audience. There are also many smaller conferences and events that occur alongside of CES. 

My co-founder Joel Shapira will be at CES this week to attend the Silvers Summit (http://silverssummit.com/) and to meet with some of the speakers and companies at the Digital Health Summit (http://digitalhealthsummit.com/). 

He is there looking for examples of companies building innovative products designed for and marketed to older adults - the large pool of customers aged 50-75. We are looking for both companies specifically building products for this market as well as companies with products or services which could be, with some innovative design, be built for the older adult market.

If you are at CES this week leave a note here or contact us. 

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Dec 17, 2011

Older-Adult Playfulness from the American Journal of Play

Older-Adult Playfulness: An Innovative Construct and Measurement for Healthy Aging Research

By Careen Yarnal and Xinyi Qian

‎”Few studies of adult playfulness exist, but limited research on older adults and playfulness suggests that playfulness in later life improves cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological functioning and healthy aging overall. Older adults represent a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, underscoring the need to understand the aging process. In this article, the authors report on the first three steps of a four-step, multimethod approach to test the hypothesis that playfulness is an important component of healthy aging in older adults. “

http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/4-1-article-yarnal-older-adult-playfullness.pdf

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Nov 9, 2011

7 Steps For Creating Disruptive New Retail Experiences

“To truly design a great experience that’s right for your company, we need to look beyond the field of design to sociology, economics, organizational behavior, and even theater. ”

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