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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Freedom 55, maybe

This image is from a posting at the SMPS Long Island Chapter promoting Online Onslaught: Social Media and Blogging for the A/E/C Industry on Sept. 17. Ed Hannan of PSMJ Resources Inc. is a panelist. I was invited too, but regretfully couldn't participate. Liz O'Rourke Kupcha at this chapter is one of the pioneers of within SMPS.

A Canadian insurance company advertises its Freedom 55 plan. The idea is, if you sign up with this program, you could retire at age 55 and sail off in the sunset of your dreams.
I'm 55 now, and am not sailing off anywhere. But Ed Hannan at PSMJ Resources Inc., in a blog entry today, reminded me of my age with this impressively valid posting:

..... Let's assume you are a 55-year-old male CEO of a 200-person architecture firm. Now, if you want to market your clients the way your firm marketed itself when you were named CEO at 45, I've got a big bucket of cold water waiting to hit you in the face with a reality check. You can't do it.
He's right. And since you are reading this blog, you know I'm not . . . living in the past. Demographic indicators suggest that many baby boomers (my generation) will need to continue to work well past age 55, or 65 for that matter. And younger people, just arriving in the workplace, will find incredible opportunities as some of my generation actually, truly, want, "Freedom 55."

(Retirement, to me, is a dumb concept. I'll work until I'm 85 if I can -- it is the best way to ensure health in the senior years. As for financial independence, I suppose I have it now, but this will be confirmed within the next decade.)

So, what should we say about the 55 year olds who are trapped sometime in the past, say a decade or two behind? I encounter them quite frequently when they respond to our postings seeking salary-guaranteed associate publishers/sales representatives. We still earn most of our money from the print media, and they think they have the experience and background for the job. (These older candidates often lack good references and recent successful sales experience. I weed them out.) This is not age discrimination, if someone 55 or 65 is really good -- and Bob Kruhm in North Carolina is certainly older than me -- they are welcome to work in this organization. But they had better 'get it' and connect with the values, principals, and marketing methodologies of a much younger generation. (So I am really happy that Bob, on his own initiative, started a blog for the North Carolina construction industry.)

My primary business consultant, Bill Caswell, is also (I think) older than me. Those of us whose chronological age combines with a youthful enjoyment of life and willingness to adapt and introduce new technologies and business models have the best of both worlds -- we have some wisdom and experience, but we are comfortable with blogging, Facebook, and e-letters. Not surprisingly, we also get along quite well with younger people.

And these new-stage marketing models, indeed, work. Today, Chase in St. Catharines sent in close to $13,000 in insertion orders for a project we can, at source, trace to this blog. And I think we found someone who will do very well as a U.S.-based publisher, who is certainly much younger than I am.

The point of this posting is simple: If you discriminate or deny opportunity based on age, you are dumb (and violating human rights and anti-discrimination laws). But if you are 'old' and insist on "acting your age" you will find, indeed, time has passed you by. We are having fun. And I'm happy that I can define Freedom 55 as not meaning retirement.

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