Written by ajdnqp93 on August 2, 2018 in

Our Guest: Marci Alboher

About This Episode

In 10 years, America will have more people over 60 than under 16. Take heart, though: Many a United States Supreme Court Justice began serving on the nation’s highest bench in their 50s or 60s. Career and workplace expert Marci Alboher believes that this kind of work opportunity epitomizes what’s lately become known as an encore career – a shift in attitude toward work that includes a purpose, a passion, and a paycheck. The key, she says, is to give back by getting out of our heads and into the world. After all, where there is no vision, people perish.

5 Things You’ll Learn

  1. How to change to keep up with the constantly changing world of work
  2. Using your time, talent, and experience to create Second Acts for the Greater Good
  3. Managing work and volunteer issues for those both older and younger than you
  4. Leveraging and transforming those skills we tend to acquire only as we age
  5. Acquiring core beliefs that empower rather than limit

Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to our podcast called Love, Longevity, where we help you to live longer better. Our host, Michael FitzPatrick, Founder and CEO of the Long Term Living Association, otherwise known as the LTLA, interviews thought leaders, innovators, and experts across the country on a variety of issues related to aging and longevity, finances, legal, legacy and philanthropy, health and wellness, relationships and family, housing and transition, caregiving, and more. The goal of the LTLA and this podcast is to change the paradigm as to how seniors and their families view and plan for aging and longevity issues. Now, join us as we welcome today’s very special guest on this episode of Love, Longevity.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Welcome back, everybody! This is Michael FitzPatrick, your host of our podcast series titled, Love, Longevity, and once again we have a fantastic guest with us today. Before I go any further, just to make sure we are on a good audio connection, Marci, can you just let me know that you can hear me and I can hear you?

Marci Alboher:

I sure can, Michael. You sound great!

Michael FitzPatrick:

Okay, likewise, perfect. The title of today’s podcast episode is “The Encore Movement: Tapping the Talent of the 50+ Population to Improve Society.” I am very excited about today’s call, about the content that we have. Also, we are very honored and blessed to have Marci with us today, and I’ll introduce you to her. As everybody knows, the Love, Longevity podcast, through our organization the Long Term Living Association – which is better known as the LTLA, and our tagline is “Your partner for aging options,” – is a company that is looking to really change the way that people approach and deal with the second half of life issues and connecting confused, and frustrated and worried consumers – whether it’s spouses, adult children, the Boomer themselves, or the retiree themselves – with the right experts, with the right trusted resources and the right professionals that serve the marketplace, and creating that process that we have. Things are very easy if you know exactly where to look and the right questions to ask. The biggest problem that most people have, that most families are struggling with, is they don’t know where to start and they’re not sure the right questions to ask. Here at the LTLA, our goal is to connect the consumers with the qualified professionals in a way that’s meaningful, that’s simple and that’s really catered to their personal needs.

Without further ado, I am going to introduce Marci Alboher, who is the Vice President at Encore.org, a non-profit organization, and is one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues and workplace trends. A former blogger and columnist for The New York Times, her latest book is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. Marci is regularly called upon for commentary at media outlets around the world, and she has been interviewed by countless news organizations, including NBC’s Today and Nightly News, National Public Radio, AARP, the International Herald Tribune and USA Today. Marci serves on the board of directors of Girls Write Now and as a mentor editor of The OpEd Project.

Earlier in her career, Marci spent a decade practicing law. I’ll give you some more information about their contact info and the work that Encore does. Marci, we are delighted to have you, and welcome to this episode of “Love, Longevity.”

Marci Alboher:

Thanks, Michael, it’s great to be here.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Why don’t you give the listeners a little background about Marci, so they can connect with you. Who are you? Where’d you grow up? Maybe a little bit about your family, some of the things you enjoy to do. What’s the light side of Marci?

Marci Alboher:

That’s cute, “the light side of Marci.” Well, I can’t start any light side without mentioning my adorable French bulldog, Sinatra. I just walked him on the way over here. I live in New York City, and I love to walk. I walk pretty much everywhere. That’s a big lifestyle thing that I think as we age feels more and more important, and it’s one of the reasons why I just love living in New York because it’s designed for walking. I grew up on the Jersey Shore in a family business. My parents owned a series of small motels, and for many years we lived above a motel. I credit that to this day with why I really love meeting new people and I’m not very shy. I worked in the family business from middle school on, probably.

As a first career, I became a lawyer, which was a really bad fit for me. I had nearly a decade of knowing I was in the wrong career and not being able to figure out how to get out of it. I think that’s really led me to a lifelong quest, which is about thinking about the world of work and how it’s changing constantly, and how we need to change constantly to keep up with it. I wanted to do something that mattered. I wanted to do something that felt like a better fit for my skills and my talents. I fell into the law, just like so many people fall into an early career. In my 30s, I transitioned to writing and journalism, which was kind of an inkling that I had, that I was always attracted to writing, and I thought that would be a great fit for me. I got very interested in reporting on stories about the very thing I had just gone through, which was career transition. My personal experience led me to what became my life’s work, which is I’m a student of how the world of work is changing and how we need to change to keep up with that.

For about a decade I wrote, mostly for The New York Times, about the future of work and careers. Along the way, I wrote my first book about the idea of slash careers, about people who need many slashes to describe what they do, which is an increasingly popular trend. That work also led me to the work I do right now, which is how demographics in the growing aging population are going to affect what work looks like and purpose in the second half of life. We are quickly becoming an aging society, and in 10 years we’ll have more people over 60 than under 16. People are not slowing down; people are wanting to contribute well into the years that used to be called retirement, whether that’s in paid work or high-impact volunteering. I left journalism to join Encore.org, where I now work, and we are an innovation hub. We’re trying to innovate new models and new stories for what purpose, engagement and continued work looks like in the second half of life. That’s what I do today.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Wow! Encore is really focusing on, as you mentioned before, the demographic shift that’s happening. Even just from the financial perspective – years ago, people worked for the same company, maybe for 30 years or so, and they earned pension income. When they retired, they had Social Security and pension income, and whatever they had otherwise to supplement the difference. Today, the largest source of income for retirees is Social Security, and pension income is kind of going by the wayside. The second largest source of income for retirees is working income. A number of them are doing that because they want to, but there’s a series of them that are doing it because they have to. Tell us a little bit about the encore movement. Tell us about Encore, and what is an encore “career,” as you referred to it?

Marci Alboher:

Sure. The encore movement is individuals and leaders in their communities and in our institutions who are trying to forge a new stage of life, the second or third act of life. It’s all about continued purpose and income. The encore career is kind of a part of that, people who are working longer and are forging these kinds of second acts – we call them second acts for the greater good – using your time, talent and experience to both make a continued living but also to continue to have an impact in the world. We call it purpose, passion and a paycheck; that’s really the three ingredients of an encore career. The encore movement is all about the individuals and leaders who are really trying to make that a reality, and trying to make the most of our aging population, and think of new ways to create opportunity, for people to engage at every stage of life in ways that have a lot of impact.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Give me some examples. You’ve been dealing with this work for quite some time, and you live through it personally in terms of making a career transition and so on. You wrote the book on it, right? So what do you see in folks that are nearing that what was once considered retirement age, that are maybe in a different mindset today? What are some of the things they’re most concerned about, worried about, excited about? What are some of the things that you see with people you’ve written about or that you talk to?

Marci Alboher:

As you said, one of the new definitions of retirement is a new kind of work. That work is often driven by different things than work was driven by early in your career. People are often claiming that they’re not in the financial state they want to be, so many, many people need to continue to work, but they may not need to earn what they used to earn. Maybe you’ve downsized. Maybe the kids are off to college. Maybe you’ve re-shuffled your expenses so that you could work a little less. The income is certainly a big piece of it for many, many people. It’s this huge desire to remain engaged and relevant.

As I said, the world is always changing and people are hungry to learn. There is a huge amount of interesting things happening at higher ed institutions, that are inviting older people back to campus with very intriguing programs that are not just about enrichment and studying [09:52] but also thinking about reinvesting in yourself and preparing for new kinds of work. That kind of lifelong learning is going to become increasingly common. Then there’s people who really have time in their life and who want to volunteer more, want to give their time to causes they care about, to mentoring the next generation, to passing on skills and experience. For many people, it’s a combination of all that. There’s not one-size-fits-all model. We all need different things; we all want different things. It’s everything from going back and getting a certificate and becoming an entrepreneur in the home healthcare market, something that I’m sure you know a lot about. There’s all kinds of business relating to modification of homes so that we can age in place, to providing various services to the homebound and seniors.

One of the biggest areas of work for what I call the young-old is managing issues for people who are older than them. The flip side is also very true; we see so many people who want to work with younger people as they age, who want to be part of a multi-generational workforce, who want to get involved in work with young people to continue to feel engaged to the next generation and what’s going on. It’s a combination of people looking for work. What are the hot job markets? What are the kinds of roles that are going to tap into the experience that you have at this life stage? You’re probably good at managing people; you may be good at listening; you may be empathetic – all skills that we tend to acquire as we age.

Michael FitzPatrick:

In your experience, what have you seen as some of the limiting core beliefs that folks have in that phase of life? What would be some more empowering core beliefs that they could adopt? In other words, some people I hear say, “Nobody hires people over the age of this anymore,” or “It’s impossible to get a job,” or “I’ve already been there, done that,” those kinds of things. What do you hear, in terms of the limiting core beliefs that people have, that really might not necessarily be 100% true but that their belief system around that could be improved upon if they just reprogrammed their beliefs to a degree that would be slightly more empowering? What are some of your thoughts about that?

Marci Alboher:

Ageism is really the only permissible form of discrimination that we still allow ourselves, and all of us practice it. We practice it against ourselves. All the notions that you’ve just talked about affect our confidence. Can we still learn new things as we age? Can we keep up with younger people who may move quicker than we do as we age? I think it’s really important both to show new models. That’s why one of the things we do at Encore is we tell a lot of stories. We work very closely with the media to make sure there are always stories of older people being very empowered and using their skills in all kinds of ways, and breaking down stereotypes.

There’s a stereotype that older people can’t learn technology. Anybody who’s worked with somebody over 60 knows that’s not the case. People who have remained at work have had to learn new technology every year that they stay on the job. If people take a break, we now need technology to navigate every single corner of our lives. There are older people showing up at the Apple Store every day for Genius Bar appointments, to learn how to be better at FaceTime, to communicate with their grand kids. There are people who are managing all kinds of home services through their phones. I think it’s important to change perceptions and to tell new stories, but also to remind ourselves that we can always learn, and to challenge ourselves so that we are always learning.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Absolutely. In the Good Book they say where there is no vision, people perish. Does somebody feel like they’re being pushed into something or being pulled towards something? We all love to feel like we’re being pulled toward something more compelling. What would you say are some practical tips, some suggestions, for the work that you do for the people that are out there in this phase of life? Maybe they don’t like what they do for work. Maybe they like what they do, but they’re trying to figure out when they can take their foot off the gas a little bit. Maybe they want to do some more philanthropic work or something with a non-profit, or something along those lines. What are some practical tips? Where do people even start?

Marci Alboher:

I would say one important thing to do is to get out of your head and into the world. Start volunteering – if you don’t have that in your life already. One way you can easily do that, and it involves our work at Encore. We have a campaign right now called Generation to Generation, which is mobilizing the 50+ population to stand up and show off for young people in all kinds of ways, and to tell stories of people who are doing that in interesting ways, and to invite others to get involved. If you go to IAmGen2Gen.org, you can sign up for our mailing list, where you’ll get ideas, and you can read stories of inspiring ways that people are getting involved with young people as mentors, as coaches, as virtual conversation partners for English language learners in ways large and small and ways that can be customized for what kind of availability you have.

The other thing I would say is start reading about what interests you. If you join the Encore.org mailing list, we routinely share stories of innovative new ways that people are living and working in this life stage and having an impact. I think you will find yourself going down a rabbit hole of chasing other links and other kinds of stories, and we also do all of that on the usual social media channels. I would also challenge you to find someone in your midst who’s doing something that sounds really intriguing to you, and take that person to lunch or coffee and ask them how they got started. There’s evidence of this all around us – people renewing, people finding new ways to get involved in their community or to re-tool for a new and significant chapter of work. You probably know people right in your midst who are doing these things.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Excellent. Let me ask you this. What are the different age groups that you see for people who are making a difference in the second half of life? What do you refer to as the second half of life?

Marci Alboher:

We hate to put ages attached to these kinds of things. One of the interesting things about the world today is that we’re all aging differently. Whether you have children or not – and if you do have children, how old you were when you had them – has a lot to do with where you feel like you are in your life. There’s no one track the way there used to be. Just the way there used to be pension plans and formal retirements for many, many people. We loosely talk about the 50+ second half of life, and many people start planning for this stage in their 40s. If they’re still working, they think about what the next stage of work may look like. They may start doing a lot of things on the side – taking classes, connecting with people, volunteering, getting on a board of a local organization, figuring out a way to start mentoring other people. We find as people get older, they get deeper into this.

I always recommend to plan as soon as these ideas start to sounding interesting to you. Read books like the one I wrote, like The Encore Career Handbook, which will give you all kinds of ideas and exercises, and stories of other people who’ve made these transitions. The interesting thing is you can start this process wherever you are. Some people don’t really feel any urge to start this until they’re 60s. I have to be honest, I watched the RBG movie last night, a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court Justice. Clearly, she never felt the need to slow down; she’s an outlier at 84, doing the same job she’s been doing, which she began in her 60s. You can argue that her career as a Supreme Court Justice was her encore career – started at a time that many people would have thought of retiring.

Michael FitzPatrick:

You said there’s no one track, which I think is very, very true in today’s day and age. What would you say the big trends are that you’re seeing right now and the themes at the work at Encore?

Marci Alboher:

Two things – this idea of aging as a spectrum, I think, is a real theme and that you really don’t know where people are in their lives. One thing we’re seeing a lot of is the Baby Boomers interacting with the generation ahead of them, often as care providers, care managers, even just concerned family members. There’s a really great book right now by a guy named John Leland, who’s a reporter for The New York Times, who spent a year – he’s in his 50s – getting to know six different New Yorkers over the age of 85 who are aging in very different ways in that stage of their life. I think that idea of older people, of people in mid-life, really trying to understand and interact with the generation ahead of them is a very big trend. Obviously in the care field, those generations are coming together quite a lot. His book is called Happiness is a Choice You Make, and I think it’s a very interesting look at how those two generations are interacting with each other.

Our campaign, the Generation to Generation campaign, is actually going a bit in the other direction; we’re looking a lot at the role that people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond can play in the lives of young people, particularly people outside of your family. Many people in this country right now don’t meet people of other generations if they’re not at work, or not in school, or not knowing those people through their families. What would it be like to mentor a young person who’s not related to you, to get to know somebody who is of a very different cultural background?

Our campaign is thinking a lot about how to bring the younger and older generations together in ways that cross a lot of interesting boundaries – boundaries of socioeconomic class, boundaries of race and culture – so that’s another interesting trend. I’ll say in the last one – and I’m wondering what your experience of this is – it seems a lot of younger people are coming into the field of aging. I’m finding that more and more that – and not just thinking about aging as gerontology, but thinking about aging as what happens to us all across the life spectrum. Aging is not just something that happens when you hit your 80s. Aging is happening to us all the time.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Everyday; it’s very true. Can you share a story of somebody that you know, or people that you’ve worked with? Maybe not names, if you don’t need to, just a story of somebody has taken advantage of this second half of life, in terms of a transition, and what they did, and what they did before, what they were struggling with and what they ended up embarking upon, or what difference they made or it made?

Marci Alboher:

Sure. I was just having coffee on Friday with a journalist friend of mine who had a really, really astounding career as a journalist. She wrote a lot about women entering the workplace and the careers of women. That was a very big issue for women coming of age, and she was really writing about her peers. She’s now in the higher 60s, and she retired from her last journalism job in New York last year. She did a fellowship at the Stanford Center on longevity because – she had not really been writing about that field; she had started writing about retirement a little – as she was aging, she got very interested in the longevity field, and at the same time she also became a mentor in an organization that I’m involved with called Girls Write Now, which pairs professional women writers with young women in high-need schools in New York City.

She said the most gratifying thing she’d done last year is get to know this high school student who’s an inspiring writer. It was a wonderful time for her to mentor someone, but to also think about her own writing and have this great experience of being part of a community of inter-generational women who are supporting each other in that way. It all tied nicely together. She’s continuing to work in different ways than she’d worked in the past, but volunteering and mentoring is a huge part of that for her.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Giving back is a great way to get, as you said before, out of your head and into the world, and to really connect with people.

Marci Alboher:

It could be a lot of fun, as well. For many people, it’s joyful; it’s not feeling like work.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Right, exactly. I remember hearing a thing from Wayne Dyer years ago, where it was talking about why it is that when you’re taking a walk in nature or going out for a hike, or things of that nature in general, why do some of your most creative ideas percolate in those moments versus working tirelessly in your office with your computer screen? The reason for it is that vibrational force, where nature is a living, breathing, part of life. Plants are living and breathing and things are constantly providing or taking in oxygen, and trees and wildlife, and it’s all growth oriented. All the creative spirit aligns with your own growth vibration, internally, which is why there’s a harmony and why certain ideas pop into your mind when you’re not even trying to think about them versus when you’re sitting at your computer, which is not a living organism; it’s a piece of technology.

When you give back and you’re volunteering or you’re just engaged in things, you are harmonizing with parts of your inner vibration that we’re not even necessarily intellectually familiar with. It just occurs; things start to occur. Beliefs and feelings start to germinate in those moment. That’s probably another reason why it has such a profound impact, because it puts us all in that environment for those things to occur. I agree with what you just said there. How about a fun fact as we –

Marci Alboher:

It’s a different perspective.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Say that one more time?

Marci Alboher:

I said different perspective; I love that.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Yes, yes. How about a fun fact about you that’s something people don’t know?

Marci Alboher:

I love playing poker.

Michael FitzPatrick:

It’s hard to see your poker face on the podcast. People don’t know if you’re good or bad, but you love playing poker; that’s a good one.

Marci Alboher:

It was a really big part of my career. When I started out as a journalist, I got involved in a poker game with a lot of editors and journalists. So many things happened in my career because of that poker game. I think it’s my version of golf.

Michael FitzPatrick:

That’s fantastic. How about one of your favorite quotes? You put down, “Wherever you go, there you are.” That was one of your favorite quotes. Explain that one.

Marci Alboher:

Yeah, I think the reason that appeals to me is because so often we think that if we change our situation, everything will feel different. Very often, the same kind of things that occupy us, travel with us – whatever our job is, whatever our life situation is – so I just think that one of the beautiful things as we age is that we really get to know ourselves. I think it’s a real gift that you hit a stage in life where you realize yes, you can still change, and you can still grow, but you kind of know who you are and that you is going to probably show up wherever you land next.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Marci, thank you so much for everything you’ve shared with our listeners today and for the work that you do. It’s probably so much of the work that you guys do, you don’t even see the impact necessarily because it happens behind the scenes, but there’s probably also so much tangible evidence of the power that you do see. There’s so many people that are impacted by your work that would not be visible. It’s like that old adage of planting a tree of whose shade you’ll never sit underneath. The work that you could be doing could be for decades from now and somebody benefiting from that.

We’re very appreciative of you taking some time with us here on the “Love, Longevity” podcast. I know throughout the conversation here, we’ve sprinkled in the name of the book or a website here and there, but what’s the best way for folks to get in touch with the work that you do and whatever else you have as contact information?

Marci Alboher:

Sure. Everything is available at Encore.org. The name of the organization is our website. I encourage you to check it out, cruise around a little bit and sign up for our mailing list. If you’re interested in social media, we are on all the usual places and you can find the links right on our website. That’s the easiest; it’s all in one place.

Michael FitzPatrick:

Thank you so much again, Marci, for your time. Thanks, listeners, and stay tuned for our next episode. Marci, have a great day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Marci Alboher:

Thanks, Michael. Bye-bye.