Seniorpreneurship Is Anti-Retirement

Question- Why is seniorpreneurship anti-retirement?

Author, Robert E. Levinson who is still working at age 90 yrs old said that retirement “ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.” Author of “The Anti-Retirement Book” Levinson said, “I just feel so strongly that one should never retire, or if they’re forced to retire they should try to find something productive to do.”


Robert E. Levinson is a long-time businessman and fund-raiser for a Florida College, is Collage educated and said he is comfortable financially. But when he looks around his luxury senior community in Delray Beach, he sees pain and regret.  Many residents seem idle. For example, a retired physician sits in the lobby waiting for people to drop by and consult him on their ailments.  Also, Levinson said, “If you made a survey of all these guys who are retired, you would find that probably 75 percent would say to you, ‘I retired too soon,'”


‘Seniorpreneurs’ are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship and considered by experts such as thew Kauffman Foundation and others as the next boom.

Senior entrepreneurship is the process whereby people aged 50+ participate in business startups.

In a research paper titled “Understanding the Grey Entrepreneur” by Paul Weber and Michael Schaper (2004) the opening sentence reads:

“Demographic trends in the developed world indicates that older entrepreneurs will play an increasingly important part of economic activity as populations age yet this cohort has been largely ignored in entrepreneurship research.”

Marc Freedman, Founder and CEO of in a blog article titled, ‘Universities Cater to a New Demographic’ Boomers said that “As millions of Boomers move into a stage that has no name, no clear role in society, yet vast possibilities there is an urgent need for democratized versions of new educational programs- offered at a cost within reach of the bulk of the population and widely available through continuing education programs or even community colleges around the country.”

Marc Freedman also stressed that with 10,000 boomers a day (USA) moving into the afternoon of life, isn’t time that we rose to the occasion and come up with a new kind of education for this rapidly emerging, uniquely rich, yet still uncharted chapter in American lives?

Question- Do you think that there is enough demand for business or social entrepreneurship education, micro-business training and leadership training?

According to a new survey by, a non-profit dedicated to promoting public interest work among older adults, only 6% have already move into non profit careers- a relatively low proportion, considering the same fraction, or 6% reported having made the switch to non profit careers in 2011- an indication that little or no progress has been made.

On the other hand, Seniorpreneurs (business entrepreneurs) are rising in numbers not only in Canada and the United States but in many countries around the world including South Africa. In my own research for the new book titled, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) As Entrepreneurs: Their Time Has Come, I found that a minimum of 15% have made the switch to small business careers and what is more important 20-25% are planning to become Seniorpreneurs in their 50’s, 60’s,70’s & 80’s. And, what is really astonishing we have people such as Author, Robert E. Levinson and others that are still productive in their 90’s. I can also predict that there will be some Seniorpreneurs still going strong into their Fourth Act i.e. 100 years old and older.

With all this potential for seniorpreneurship there is still a disconnect present that blocks the forward movement for the 50+ Group. For both business and social entrepreneurs i.e. retired engineers, teachers, lawyers, etc. we still have virtually no respect given to their advanced education, work experiences, skills knowledge, contacts and resources.

The prevailing solutions to date regarding education and training courses for the 50+ Group are either stupid or possibly uncaring. Job fairs in not the answer. Then there are ‘Keep in Touch’ Learning Digital devices that is basically ‘kindergarten stuff’. Lifelong Learning for Seniorpreneurs should be more relevant and expanded to have one-on-one mentors and coaches helping seniors with their OWN Seniorpreneur Projects.

Finally, Author Dr. Alex Maritz is an expert in the domain of entrepreneurship and innovation education and training and is a recipient of a prestigious Australian Learning and Teaching citation in entrepreneurship education. 

Taking that seniors come with decades of experience, existing networks, greater financial flexibility and different motivations Dr. Alex Maritz introduced tips for nascent senior entrepreneurs, the following points are shared:

1. You are never too old to startup a small business.

2. Turn passion to profit.

3. Build a community of like minded people.

4. Make your workspace fit your lifestyle.

5. Staff as you grow with part timers.

6. Be innovative with your funding sources.

7. Back to learning basics- Up skill your entrepreneurship education (classes and online).  This might sound cumbersome, but enhancing your business acumen pays dividends.  If you go to classes, it’s a valuable networking opportunity as well.

8. Digital and internet is the new technology.

9. Your mobile device is now a pocket office.

10. Use social media for word-of-mouth marketing.

The 50+ Entrepreneur Movement is moving forward although slowly.  We need more Seniorpreneurs to contact their local, and national politicians to impress upon them that lifelong learning is important to the 50+ Group.  The present government’s mandate is to primarily help the younger entrepreneur (18-39) years old. However; let’s not forget that the more mature group have paid all kinds of taxes for decades throughout their lives, and now they deserve to get more seniorpreneurship education and micro-business training for their OWN Seniorpreneur project.





The Age Of Real Possibilities


Recently I bought a new membership in the AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities) an organization for seniors 50 plus. The term retired persons was changed to real possibilities and the focus is on Life Re-imagined. I also own a CARP membership (Canadian Association of Retired Persons). When will CARP also focus on finding real possibilities for seniors rather than just organizing job fairs across Canada.  I also have a subscription to the CARP’s Zoomer Magazine and with AARP I receive the AARP Bulletin (6 issues per year).


Author, Barry Rand, CEO wrote for the Upside of Aging: how Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, inovation, Policy and Purpose. In an article title, ‘Where We Stand’ Barry said, “the Boomers created the Age of Possibilities because they reject the notion that their possibilities are shrinking as they get older.  They see their 50-plus years as a chance to grow in new and reqarding ways, to unleash their passions, to live the American dream, to make the world a better place.”

Question- How will seniors react to the notion that they have real possibilities in their pre-retirement or retirement life? And, will seniors share their ‘Crown of Life’ with the rest of society or instead adopt a full-time leisure life or possibly settle for a subsistence lifestyle towards the end of life?

Barry Rand also explained that the second aging revolution reflects the spirit of a generation that has lived a life on it’s own terms and that is now determined to keep doing so, but is challenged to find a way forward. This is the right time for both CARP & AARP to organize, develop and add more mentors, coaches and angel inveators to order that we can help more seniors find their way to new Encore careers and/or small business opportunities and activities.

The second aging revolution is about growing more whole, not just growing older. And ultimately, it’s about growing more wise, more fulfilled and more connected to each other- creating a society where all people age with independence, dignity and purpose.  The goal, after all is not just to add more years to our lives but to add more life to our years.


The Encore stage in now set for the emerging Boomer to have and enjoy a for-profit entrepreneurial career or even a non-profit Encore career.

In a research paper titled “Understanding the Grey Entrepreneur” by Paul Weber and Michael Schaper (2004) the opening sentence reads:

“Demographic trends in the developed world indicate that older entrepreneurs will play an increasingly important part of economic activity as populations age.  Yet this cohert has been largely ignored in entrepreneurship research.”

Marc Freedman- THINK ENCORE

Marc Freedom is the Founder of Civic Ventures and co-founder, The Purpose Prize and Experience Corps. In his book titled Encore- Finding Work That Matters In The Second Half Of Life, Marc describes what it means to Think Encore.

The new stage of life is something uniquely new, not a rerun.  Sixty isn’t the new forty, or the new thirty.  It’s the new sixty. The key question for individuals entering this stage is: What do you want to do now that you’ve grown up? Marc also says that, “we need to be liberated from artificial notions such as “retirement age” and the oxymoronic concept “working in retirement”. We need to be liberated, too, from such dreary and bloodless phrases such as “older workers” and “mature workers”.

It’s time to create a new category of thinking and a new language: the Encore stage and the Encore career. The sooner we recognize that we are entering fresh territory, shaping a new stage of life and work between the middle years and true retirement and old age, the more quickly progress will come in grasping the real possibilities of this new period.

Marc also stressed the importance of marketing the possibilities of “the second half of work”. Individuals approaching this phase face an identity crisis as they struggle for a vision and the words to describe their current situation.  Just as important, potential employers need to understand the Encore career, to realize that these individuals are neither passing through nor phasing out but rather embarking on a new body of work for a time span long enough to make investing in them worth the effort.

Consider Launching A Career As A Social Entrepreneur

What is a social entrepreneur? According to the website of the SKOLL Foundation, “Social Entrepreneurs are proven leaders whose approaches and solutions to social problems are helping to better the lives and circumstances of countless underserved or disadvantaged individuals.”

Like business entrepreneurs, the SKOLL Foundation continues, social entrepreneurs “tap into vast reserves of ambition, creativity and resourcefulness in relentless pursuit of hard, measurable results.  But social entrepreneurs seek to grow more that just profits.  Social entrepreneurs have a profound desire to promote the growth of equitable civil societies and they pioneer innovative, effective and sustainable approaches to meet the needs of the marginalized, the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised.”

Consider Launching A Small Business As A Business Entrepreneur (Seniorpreneur)

While many seniors have elected to become first time business entrepreneurs after 50, a number of economic factors and a job market perceived to be biased against older workers have pushed a number of people into starting their own businesses.

The need for extra income itself is probably the greatest single motive for self-employment.  Interest in the work itself can also be a key motivation for starting a business. A chance to apply long-honed skills and long- practiced hobbies is a strong driver- especially when coupled with the alternative prospect of unemployment.

For many older workers, neither energy or financial consideration are greater obstacles that that of younger persons. Self-employment is mainly motivated either by a desire for independence of action based on the assets of experience or as a last resort out of economic need against a background of discrimination.

Question- If you are presently over 40 years of age do you think that pursuing self-employment or entrepreneurship is viable for you in your pre-retirement or retirement life?



Boomers/Seniors Will Rock The World


1. Will boomers/seniors become more active, creative and productive in their pre-retirement or retirement life OR will they be ‘put out to pasture’ before their time?

2. Will boomers/seniors share their ‘Crown of Life’ with the rest of society or will their dream die inside them with no voice to express themselves?


It was seniors week in the province of Alberta, Canada June 2-8 and the theme was “Seniors Rock.”  That theme echoed all over the Edmonton, Alberta area with music, song dance, theater performances, tale telling, poetry reading and all sorts of activities, driven largely by organizations (Arts community) for senior citizens.


The chairman of this years Creative Age Festival is Alice Major, Edmonton’s first Poet Laureate (2005-2007).

“Art is really important, it’s been an important part of my life,” she explained. but art for ALL of us is also “about staying healthy, exercising our creativity,” and staying creative is as important as staying physically active.

There’s no limit to creativity, Major suggested. “My favorite story is of Mary T. McDonald, who published her first novel at 83.”



Personally speaking, I also started in the category of ‘Liberal Arts’ by self-publishing a non-fiction self-help book for seniors 50 plus.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to discuss with our previous Mayor, Stephen Mandel the possibility of adding a ‘small business theme’ to the Creative Age Festival; because the field of entrepreneurship and small business ownership can also be a creative event for the benefit of seniors 50 plus. Mayor Mandel suggested that we could add a “business symposium” that would go beyond the current focus on the ARTS. To date nothing has changed to get more recognition for the late blooming senior entrepreneurs and small business owners. I believe that this is one of the reasons why many men 50 plus don’t participate in these pre-retirement or retirement activities.  Even though I benefited from the field of ‘Liberal Arts’ other men are more interested in science, engineering, teaching, entrepreneurship and small business ownership versus the Arts.


On June 19/14 I attended a ‘Special Event’ put on by the Minerva Senior Studies Institute in Edmonton, Alberta. The title of this presentation given by Dr. Jane Simington, PhD. and owner of Taking Flight International corporation. The topic was Health & Wellness and living a meaningful & purposeful life.

Similar to the Creative Age Festival I mentioned above there wasn’t a balance between the 50+ women and 50+ men attending this session.I estimated the attendees to be 90% Women and 10% Men.  Again we find that the men in general are being isolated, made unimportant and socially discountable. It’s a well know fact that women bond together easier and usually have the social skills in terms of networking and meeting other like-minded  people. Proper communication and the skill of asking questions is very important if you plan to startup a small business later in life.

Question- What is living life to the fullest?

Dr. Jan Simington says that “It is about living a life that is meaningful and purposeful AND it is about living a life in which one can feel hope and joy.”


Jeremy O’Krafka, a professor with the entrepreneurship and small business programs at Toronto’s Seneca College and founder of MENTOR network CA says that in Canada small business owners, contribute more than 30 per cent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product).

Low startup costs, social media and options like crowd funding also mean it’s, “never been easier to start a business,” Jeremy said.

The bigger challenge is finding something that’s viable and being willing to take a risk- because there’s still a very high failure rate for entrepreneurs and startups in general.

“Once you’re actually up and running a business to have somebody to give you that 10,000- foot view of what you’re going through can make all the difference in the world,” O’Krafka said.

Working with mentors also means being held accountable, he added.


Today’s boomers and seniors can expect their retirement to be different from their parents.

Jacquie Eales, a University of Alberta (Edmonton) researcher and co-author of a report on the costs and contribution of older adults in society said that, “Retirement today is more of a process than a fixed event, in which people move in and out of the labour force.”

While some may work fewer hours a week, others will work on and off, or go in and out of the labour force for a few years beyound “normal” retirement.  Still others will find Encore careers or possibly own a small business after retiring because they enjoy work and miss the social and intellectual rewards of the workplace.


What if potential 50+ entrepreneurs or small business owners were finally recognized for their skills, knowledge, resources and experience experience, what is your idea for a ‘gathering place’ in your own community where the 50+ Group could get together physically and be able to collaborate with other like minded Boomers/Seniors 50 Plus?

This would necessarily empower the boomers/seniors and be able to guide them ‘hands-on’ to suitable resources and people for developing their own project.  At the same time seniors will be in a better position to self-discover their own real possiblities and hopefully, this will be enough to share their ‘Crown of Life’ with their own families and with the rest of Society.




CARP Leadership Is Under Review


Should CARP (Canadian Association Of Retired Persons) leadership be under review? I personally think YES it should be reviewed, hopefully by the membership of CARP. It was found in a recent AARP (American Association Of Retired Persons) survey that many individuals 50+ want to or will need to work after retirement.  The survey says that 80 per cent of the baby boom generation intends to continue working after retirement.


What does this mean for seniors organizations like CARP in Canada or AARP in the USA?  What will they need to do to meet the different expectations of the new 50+ demographic?  In order to cover as much ground as possible at least three questions need to be asked to prepare seniors 50+ for their second or third act in their pre-retirement or retirement life.

1. What jobs will be available and will these jobs be challenging or meaningful enough for the 50+ Group?

2. Do you begin your own small business as a for-profit business senior entrepreneur?

3. Do you give back through community service and participate in a non-profit Encore career as a social entrepreneur?


a) History- In 1984 the late Murray Morganthau launched CARP, with a mission to advance the quality of life for Canadians as we age, with financial security, good health and freedom from age-discrimination as guiding Principles.

When Lillian and Murray reached their 80’s they began looking for someone to take over the helm of CARP.

In 2008, they approached Moses Znaimer, one of Canada’s foremost media innovators.  Moses accepted the challenge and turned his talents and energy into leading CARP as it’s new President, coining the phrase A New Vision of Aging for Canada.

Around the same time, Moses started acquiring ‘media assets’- radio, internet, magazine and television stations under the brand Zoomer Media.

Zoomer Media is a very important partner in CARP’s growth and success, providing access to a suite of media that help to build awareness and engagement with Zoomers (Boomers with Zip) throughout Canada.

b) Advocacy- Susan Eng is Vice-President for advocacy at CARP.  Under Susan’s leadership, CARP Advocacy has shaped the public discourse on key issues such as pension reform, investor protection, mandatory retirement, workplace age discrimination, home care and age friendly cities. Susan’s initiatives are outlined in CARP Action Online, an e-newsletter distributed twice monthly to 95,000 opt in subscribers and on

A major accomplishment was a successful campaign for the elimination of mandatory retirement in federally regulated industries removed the final major piece of legislated age discrimination, effective December 2012.  But older workers still face barriers in keeping the jobs they have, in getting new ones, or returning to the workforce after leaving it to care for loved ones or to recover from the devastation of their savings in the recent market downturn.


Sometimes during 2014 ALL Boomers will be at least 50 years old.  Traditionally, this is the age where many employers begin to analyze when they should act to put some of their older employees ‘out to pasture’.  At the same time, policy-makers have finally started to realize our need to prepare for the ramifications of the boomer bulge’s massive collective move toward the exit.  They’re justifiably concerned about our capacity to absorb the fallout, the spikes in health-care costs, the confounding logistics of general social support.

Janice Kennedy in Postmedia News in an article titled, ‘Ageism an affront to human dignity’ said, “When ageism seeps in, it robs that community of the enrichment that comes of appreciating what all people, irrespective of age, bring to the table.  But it really wouldn’t be that hard to eliminate.  Seniors themselves can start by challenging ageist slights every time they run into them”.

Everyone else?  Try looking beyond the physical signs of age to see a unique person. Appreciate what that person was, and is.  accept that not everyone over a certain age is the same, recognizing instead the diversity in interests, backgrounds, talents and abilities that transcends generational typecasting.

Likewise, try to understand that not every senior is hard of hearing, confused, a drain on the system, needy, crotchety—or even sweet, for that matter. Remind yourself that discrimination is discrimination, no matter how benign you may think it is.


On Friday, May 2/14 I personally attended the CARP (Edmonton Branch) Annual Meeting. The guest speaker was Susan Eng, VP of CARP Advocacy.

Because of the presence of Susan Eng I expected some ‘big things’ to happen since I assumed that are own membership would be chomping at the bit to experience first hand Moses Znaimer’s ‘A NEW Vision of Aging for Canada’.

First of all, I was disappointed in the attendance numbers probably estimated to be under 50 people.  CARP Edmonton Chapter 13 region has more than 2,700 voices and there are more than 11,000 CARP member voices throughout the Province of Alberta in Canada.  Obviously, there is a dis-connect between the number of actual number of members and the activity level of the current membership.  The average age attending this meeting is probably estimated to be 70+.  Would this explain why there is such a strong CARP focus on the subjects of health care and pension entitlements/pension reform?

If CARP wants to become an advocate for the more active, creative and productive senior 50+ it will basically need to change from supporting the predominately older and more passive senior, to help those that are still in the game and want CARP to focus on some NEW subjects such as Financial Literacy, Financial Education, Lifelong Learning, Productive Longevity and Entrepreneurship & Small Business Startup Training for Seniors 50+. I know that this will be a difficult transition for many seniors and for CARP itself.  To provide some help in this area I have written a new book titled, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) As Entrepreneurs: their Time Has Come.

It was also mentioned in the CARP Edmonton Branch by Susan Eng that they intend to create and organize ‘job fairs’ across Canada for the 50+ demographic.  I think that this is a starting point and it could help some CARP members however; many seniors including myself will not be interested in ‘job fairs’  A very important new trend to notice is that most of today’s seniors are highly educated and highly skilled eg. Doctor’s, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, Professors, Teachers, Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners.  These people will demand more new opportunities that are suitable to their own lifestyles and finances, and go beyond just having ‘job fairs’ related opportunities.

I think that we will definitely need to expand the scope of the present CARP Advocacy to go beyond ‘job fairs’ and provide more challenging options for post-retirement careers.  I’m thinking about CARP possibly creating a new VP (Productive Longevity) position for Seniors 50 Plus. We also need government and private sources (foundations) to provide more time and resources and to give seniors more business support, and also some new opportunities for seniors to become eg. business and/or social entrepreneurs.  This will enable more seniors to enjoy a more meaningful and useful retirement life. At the same time seniors will continue to be productive in their retirement years and as a result, not seen as being primarily leaches of the Tax Payer funded Government entitlement programs.




Playing ‘Old Person’ On The Encore Stage


If your are a person in the 50+ demographic, are you ready to find your calling in life?

The transition from a long 30-35 years in the corporate life to a for-profit small business or a non-profit social enterprise is not an easy one; especially if your not in your young body anymore.

If your already standing at the side of the encore stage, what need in the world will ignite your passions in your heart, tap into your personal gifts and educational background, and bring new vitality to all?

Isn’t it time to think of seniors 50 plus as entrepreneurs or even active and productive encore career participants, and not the traditional image of seniors as primarily being unproductive and only concerned about entitlements.  So, where does this traditional negative image of seniors come from?


An example of trying to define the traditional negative image of seniors is found in the book titled, ‘Enjoy Old Age’ written by authors, B.F. Skinner and M.E. Vaughn.  These authors explain that all the world’s a stage, and you are not the first to play the part of Old Person.  The audience has seen the play thousands of times and knows your lines better than you do.  The role you are expected to play is not flattering.  The Old Persons who have walked the boards before you have been crotchety, stingy, boastful, boring, demanding, and arrogant.  They have complained of their illnesses and many other things.  The audience expects such a performance and will not tolerate many changes. And just as an audience will laugh at everything a great comedian says, so it will interpret your slightest gesture as the skillful portrayal of a familiar, and usually unpleasant, character.


The Reverend Sam Shafer, a parish priest living in Oakland, California stated three questions to help you find your calling in life.

1) Who am I? Distill what you have discovered about yourself during your life and uncover the attributes that have been elusive or buried for a long time.  It is also helpful if you are nobody but yourself in a world that is always trying to make you everybody else.  Fight one of the hardest battles a human being can fight……discover a new purpose in life that will require you to live more authentically.  Do not bend to the outside forces around you.

2) How do I function best?  How are you wired and in what circumstances do you perform best?  What natural talents and learned skills do you have to contribute?  You may have knowledge of your abilities, but other gifts may be waiting to be discovered.  You need to carefully assess your natural talents, favorite skills, and the fields of knowledge you have gravitated towards most of your life.  What have you been praised for doing well?  What experiences have you had that ignited a passion?

3) Why am I here? Take a leap of faith that you were put here for a purpose, that you have been given gifts you require to achieve your mission.  What is the place that you can provide the greatest good?  Finding that place may not be easy, clear, or concise because it is a work in progress.

A providential force beyond your control is always going before you and opening doors for you to walk through.  It may take two to three years of shedding old ways of thinking and then you will discover your heartfelt passions.  New pathways will become clear.  Remember that the journey is an integral part of the mission, and both the passionate heart and the needs of the world are constantly changing.


This is the most exciting time for most seniors 50 plus who want to become more active, creative and productive in their own pre-retirement or retirement life.  When your standing at the side of the encore stage think about people like Paul McCartney, 71 year old musician who tirelessly gives 3 hour performances at an unheard of number of new live concert appearances every year OR Susan Boyle, 50 years old who stood at the side of the encore stage in a Britain’s Got Talent appearance and boldly declared that “I’m going to rock this audience,” and she did putting on a stellar performance even though the crowd initially was laughing and snickering.

Cicero in the middle ages said that life is a play with a badly written last act. If this is not your particular fate you’ll need to find out HOW you can play the ‘old person’ in modern dress and more important to learn some new lines and a new stage business.


Again, B.F. Skinner in the book, Enjoy Old Age’ said that “when played with skill the part of ‘old person’ is marked by tranquility, wisdom, freedom, dignity, and a sense of humor.  Almost everyone would like to play it that way, but few have the courage to try.’

If only a few seniors have the courage to re-invent or re-educate themselves to have a  great performance, then I think we’ll need to create and set-up ‘special workshops’ to facilitate a new senior’s mindset; and then provide some hands-on mentoring in such a way that everyone who plays ‘old person’ will give a better performance.

Also, I think it’s important to say that all the seniors cannot be placed in the same box.  Every senior including myself are different as individuals.  Many seniors will need economic security since in Canada we still have 300,000 seniors struggling and living below the poverty line.  Seniors will need multiple sources of income to balance the present and future high cost of living that can be very challenging for most seniors trying to live on a fixed income.  I suggest that the Federal Government could seriously consider a ‘Guaranteed Annual Income’ which could act as an economic foundation for ALL seniors.  This development will allow seniors to get back on the encore stage, without having to worry about paying off the mortgage, paying the rent, or even having some extra money to play a round of golf, or possibly startup a small business or pursue an Encore Career.










The Grandeur of Old Age

Harsh New Reality

In Vancouver, B.C. Canada, the YWCA is receiving 40 applications for every 12 spots in a new program designed for men and women over 55 who want to get back into the workforce.  The average age of participants is 62.

“We’ve had people who haven’t been able to pay their rent or are living at a relative’s or a friend’s couch,” YWCA career adviser Lynda McFee said. “There’s such a need out there with mature workers.”

Participants in the Job Options Older Workers Program may have retired a few years ago, but found they are going through their pensions too quickly, McFee said.  Others are not yet collecting their (CPP) Canada Pension Plan and are desperate for income.  Many have had health issues or stopped work to care for aging parents, and now face job hunting not only as senior, but also with a gap in employment,  Many are single, confused and don’t know what the future holds for them.  The golden age is not so golden after all for many seniors facing retirement hardships.

Gap In Employment

Personally speaking, I realized how important a gap in employment is to potential employers.  The average waiting time for seniors looking for part-time or full-time work is approaching 2 years and more.  My own unemployment lasted several years when eventually I became permanently unemployed with no hope of getting any kind of corporate job.  I was forced to create my own employment which led me to the Encore Stage of my Second Act.

Waiting For The Revolution To Come

David Hurdon is one of the growing number of Canadians who can’t wait, “I need to work,” he says.  Hurdon left his last full-time “formal” job as vice-president of retailing at winemaker Kittling Ridge at age 54.  That was 10 years ago, and since then he has been self-employed and never earned enough to set aside a retirement nest egg. 

When David heard about a job fair run by CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons)-a group representing older Canadians; that is specifically aimed at people trying to get back into the workforce.  David was optimistic about finding a good job.

Lisa Taylor says he has every right to be optimistic.  Taylor is president of The Challenge Factory and is an activist promoting a transformation of the Canadian workforce. “The concept of continuing to work in your sixties and seventies is a fairly new construct,” says Taylor after giving a pep talk to an audience of some 200 elders at the event.

Where Is The Beef? (Meaningful Jobs For Seniors 50 Plus)

The problem is that most of the jobs being offered to highly skilled mature workers right now just aren’t that attractive or meaningful.

About 600 people attended CARP’s elder job fair, billed as “work re-imagined,” for example.  But the jobs on offer were not the kinds of things the people were hoping for, said Lisa Taylor.  Lisa saw David Hurdon slumped in a chair looking discouraged; having been offered minimum-wage and volunteer jobs.  There was Mary Kay and Avon, and many less-well-known products to sell door to door or to friends.  There were franchises that required an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There were agencies like the Third Quarter trying to help you find jobs.  Angelina Hamangoda is a lawyer who has worked around the world.  Her last job before becoming unemployed was part-time at an after-school daycare, and she could find nothing at the CARP event.  “I feel very frustrated right now,” Angelina said at the CARP event. “I think all my education is down the drain.”

Open Message To CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons):

I think that there is hope and possible solutions to help the Canadian seniors 50+ transition to a comfortable pre-retirement or retirement life.  At the present time CARP’s strength is basically advocating for more entitlements from the Federal Government.  However; Canada and many other counties are shifting their resources to help seniors 50+ create their own job or small business.  Currently there is a 50+ entrepreneur movement happening around the World that promotes productive longevity vis-a-vis the present passive retirement, more closely related to a leisure retirement and sponging more entitlements from the government.

When we hear of stories such as David’s and Angelina’s given above you would think that alarm bells would be heard by large organizations such as CARP for example.  I personally think that we need a round table discussion group organized by CARP.  At the same time let’s have the seniors themselves create and organize local community coffee meetings which would provide real information from the grassroots.

I’m assuming that CARP is knowledgeable about what is going on in the USA  on this specific subject. Recently I listened to a live conference through the Internet based in Washington.  The US Senate Hearings were discussing the topic of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’.  The partners that participated in these hearings were AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), S.C.O.R.E. (USA Retired Executives) providing mentor ship to potential entrepreneurs and small business owners, the SBA (Small Business Administration) and other ‘senior entrepreneurship’ experts.  There is an urgent need to discuss and implement ways to help seniors 50+ hands-on individually (not going to some useless job fair). Instead of the David’s and Angelina’s of Canada being frustrated and confused we need to develop some suitable community based programs, that would improve the quality of life for ALL seniors and necessarily make them more active, creative, productive and prosperous. The seniors deserve to have some meaningful and important work or even working as an entrepreneur or small business owner in their Second or Third act.

Seniors (50 Plus) Search For Meaning


The dilemma is Seniors 50+ are anxious about retirement and having a healthier longer life, but at the same time they dread the possibility of not having a meaningful retirement life. Seniors need to ask themselves some questions such as Who are you, What do you know, What can you do and What resources do you have on hand to create something of value? Also, What is your present physical, mental and emotional health, and do you need to work on some aspects to help you be a more challenging person in your pre-retirement and retirement life.

Question- Many seniors want to know how is it possible to say yes to life in spite of the different challenges seniors face such as pain, guilt and death?  Can life retain its potential meaning in spite of everything?


The author, Viktor E. Frankl in his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, said that “life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable.  And this in turn presupposes the human capacity to creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive.”  Victor explains this by saying, “In other words, what matters is to make the best of any given situation “The best,” however, is that which in Latin is called ‘optimum’- hence in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which at it’s best always allows for: (1) turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better; and (3) deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.”

Quotation: “Never live in hope and expectation with your arms folded”- Anonymous


At age 65, Colonel Harland Sanders (KFC) turned a setback into a victory.  The Colonel used the cooking skills he learned from his mother and later in life opened a little restaurant that failed when traffic was re-routed away from it.

He was 65, a senior citizen and he was broke.  This is when the Colonel sat on his front porch searching for his meaning of life when the mailman came up the steps and handed him an envelope.  It was from the U.S. Government and contained his first social security check in the amount of $105.  Staring at the check there was something surging within him that said, “My life isn’t over and I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair and take money from the Government.”  To make a long story short, the Colonel made Kentucky Fried Chicken become an almost instant success. Becoming an instant success was not part of the advice given to other 65- year olds.  He said that “If a child of God thinks right, if he is right, he will have the power to rise above any defeat and conquer it.”


Personally, I am still learning and I am also searching for the meaning of life.  On January 15, 2014 I attended a seminar presentation given by Alexis Leclair of Uptake Consulting who said that “Retirement has always been a huge life change.  Although we still call it by the same name, today’s retirement is different.  It’s longer. It’s healthier.  Options are diverse.  Our needs and expectations may not be the same as generations before us.” 

In essence, Alexis talks about the core subjects of needing to matter, finding meaning, valuing work, small business or an Encore career and managing retirement satisfaction and happiness.

Alexis summarizes her thoughts in the following paragraph:

Mattering, because most people have never heard about it but psychologists say it is critical to our happiness.  Meaning, because since dirt was invented, people-retired or not-have wanted to have it in their lives. Work, because it’s gotten a bad rap by media and society, and we need to see work in a different light.  Managing happiness (optimism and resiliency), because ours may have been eroded when our identity, our connections and more dwindled in retirement years.  All of the topics, information and strategies were chosen because many of us never learned about them from our parents or in our busy adult years.


To stay on the theme of seniors search for meaning, I attended another seminar presentation on January 22, 2014.  The presenter was Carol Kodish-Butt, an Outreach Coordinator with (SEESA) South East Edmonton Seniors Association Activity Center.  Approx. 20 members attended this seminar.

Personally, I always thought that seniors have different values and expectations compared to others.  in most cases many seniors will need a ‘hands on’ learning approach in any given Lifelong learning session.  This presentation given by Carol was not a lecture standing in front of the room but it was an ‘in your face’ round table discussion where none of the seniors attending could escape or hide anywhere.  In a lecture presentation usually you have 1-3 questions asked at the END of the presentation, whereas; in Carol’s talk everyone was on the Encore stage by first introducing themselves and then EVERYONE contributing in the 90 minute ‘pressure cooker’ like session.

Instead of being isolated and ignored everyone experienced part of what Victor Frankl shared in Man’s Search For Meaning when he talked about pain, guilt and death eg. one senior in the group shared the fact that his spouse died recently.

In this particular presentation Carol introduced ways to: stay interested in your life when you’re no longer working in a corporate job; figure out what will make your retirement life more satisfying or make you happy; and answer the question- What to do when the dreaded “de-motivation” bug attacks?

De-Motivation, What De-Motivates You?

Briefly, we know that the biggest stigma most seniors have to confront is Ageism.  Even when legislation is in place to stop this practice there are still those forces in corporate life and personal life as well that refuse to give in to this human right for seniors.

Seniors also have the same opportunities to climb ‘Maslow’s’ Ladder i.e. going from the first step your basic needs (food, shelter, safety) through to self-esteem to the highest levels of knowledge and understanding.  At the top of the ladder are the lofty goals of transcendence and self-actualization.

Carol also outlined the possible reasons that can de-motivate you.  These are as follows:

*Fear- still do it.

*Wrong goals- essential vs social self vs self-acutalization.

*Lack of Clarity- try to vision a more meaningful retirement life.

*Value Conflict- prioritize your values.

*Lack of Autonomy- get control over your project(s).

*Lack of Challenge- not small or big just grow from where you are today & enjoy.

*Grief- take time to heal & retire creatively.

*Loneliness- Get more new connections replacing old work connections if needed.

*Burn-Out- Get complete rest & re-energise yourself to perform on Second Encore Act.

*Not Knowing What to Do Next- Breakdown your own situation into more manageable pieces.

Last Quotation:  I’d like to end this particular discussion by a quote from Viktor Fankl when he says, “Just as life remains potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those that are most miserable, so too does the value of each and every person stay with him or her, and it does so because it is based on the values that he or she has realized in the past, and is not contingent on the usefulness that he or she may or may not retain in the present.”







A PERSONAL NOTE- I’d like to hear from my readers if they have been helped through this Blog and what you have learned if anything in order for you to achieve a more active, creative, and productive retirement life?  Any comments will be very much appreciated.  Have the great retirement life that you deserve!  Thanks for Listening.