Youthquake, Agequake, Entrepreneur: what does it mean to be “unprecedented”?

A blog post I wrote appears today on the Association of Personal Historians’ blog. In it I discuss something that’s been on my mind a lot lately–my cohort of Boomers who are reaching traditional retirement age in unprecedented numbers, with an unprecedented bonus of relatively vigorous years ahead.

Read my post on the APH blog, titled “Looking for an Encore Career? Start a Personal History Business,” or read on for some musings on what led me to write that essay.

Fifty  years ago the mass media collaborated with us in creating a mythology about a “Youthquake”, a generation 76.4 million strong so in love with its youthful self image that we “hoped we’d die before we got old” (apologies to the Who). Well, “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done” (apologies to Neil Young), and I don’t mean the heroin-filled syringe. I mean the needle on the gauge that shows those 76.4 million boomers turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day. The damage done is our ageist attitudes formed in our Youthquake years. We’re the ones with the damage between our ears that leaves us totally unprepared to be the unprecedented “Agequake” generation.

Yes. I’m pondering “unprecedented” a lot right now.

One of the issues my unprecedented cohort is encountering is workplace ageism. It is causing my friends to be terminated from their jobs or find themselves marginalized in blatantly ageist ways–ways they cannot confront without adding fuel to their own pyre.

That's us in the dole line again, if we don't do something about this workplace ageism.

That’s us in the dole line again, if we don’t do something about this workplace ageism.

Many of us are ripe for entrepreneurship, if we can find a business model where that ageism won’t dog our heels. So here’s an interesting little nugget on that from Dr. Bill Thomas, author of Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life, who identified three subgroups in the Youthquake: Squares, Activists, and Hippies: “The Hippies’ cultural heresy fostered the growth of a vibrant and, most of all, creative subculture. …Because they were often excluded from employment in traditional businesses, Hippies often became entrepreneurial. They started businesses, organized cooperatives, and made innovative use of technology.” We did it then; we can do it again.

So yeah, I’m interested in entrepreneurial possibilities where ageism is less likely to be a problem. When I chose personal history–I launched First Person Productions ten years ago now–one of its appeals for me was my belief that “you can never be too old to help older people preserve and share their stories, right?” And that has proven refreshingly true. Like me, hundreds of women and men of my generation are discovering that being a personal historian can bring what a 2011 MetLife study from 2011 study found we are looking for:

  • Income that will help us postpone claiming Social Security
  • Flexible scheduling that allows us to pursue hobbies and manage our responsibilities
  • Opportunity to meet a community need or social challenge

And that is the subject of my post on the APH blog, titled “Looking for an Encore Career? Start a Personal History Business.”

Read on! Right on!


About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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1 Response to Youthquake, Agequake, Entrepreneur: what does it mean to be “unprecedented”?

  1. Pingback: APH Weekly Blog Roundup: Timelines, the 80s, Agequake, and Encore! | APH Blog

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