The State of Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada


With another New Year starting today I’d like to wish all of my friends and readers of this blog a very Happy Holiday season and a prosperous 2015 New Year.


I have mixed feelings regarding what I am going to write about today.  To date I have already written 36 only blog posts about senior entrepreneurs and seniors issues in Canada and for the most part there seems to be very little interest in this subject matter.  Maybe I’m getting way ahead of myself and I need to have more patience. On the other hand, I think that the Federal & Provincial governments in Canada see the potential of senior entrepreneurship and how this area could improve the quality of life of Canadian seniors; but at the same time this cohort is basically ignored.

As a result, it appears that many Canadians 50 plus have enormous health, education, lifelong learning, and ‘productive longevity’ challenges. If seniors are not provided with adequate training resources and facilities I’m afraid that this group will find it easier to be stuck in the past OR just work and play alone because nobody cares to help them go to a higher level and find some opportunities to give back to society.

Is there any light at the end of this dark tunnel? Remember the popular TV show Star Trek? Instead of being stuck in the past, the Captain of the space ship Enterprise, William Shatner now 83 years old has not quit because of ‘old age’ just being comfortable on his ‘pasture land’, contemplating his past accomplishments.  Instead, William Shatner, a speaker, author and a seniorpreneur (senior entrepreneur or small business owner) is presenly working on a “Catch Me Up” book project.

Shatner advises that seniors need to embrace new technology and accept new challenges at a later stage of life. Seniors have skills and life experience that they can leverage to achieve great things. But in order to do that, they have to ‘catch up’ to the technology of the day.


I believe that there is a huge differents in real activities to help seniors and specifically on the topic of ‘Life Reimagined’ between CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities).

I believe that CARP is basically stuck in the past preferring to focus on getting more entitlements (Health Care) and Pension reform for Canadians rather than discussing and creating new initiatives to help seniors in Canada who want to become more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their pre-retirement or retirement life.  I’m still waiting for the day that CARP will facilitate some workshops for those Canadians who need some more help to shift from a passive retirement to a more productive and meaningful retirement.

Life Reimagined was launched by AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities) in 2013. Life Reimagined is a first-of-its kind source of online and offline experiences that guide people through life transitions by helping them discover new possibilities and connect with a community of people pursuing similar passions and goals.

Life Reimagined online centers on an exclusive, customizable roadmap available at that helps people understand where they are in their journey to achieve their goals and dreams, reflect, and make decisions in planning their next steps.  It also includes a ‘Sounding Board’- a new kind of private social network for people to surround themselves with trusted friends and allies.  Through the ‘Sounding Board’ and other connection tools members of the Life Reimagined community help each by offering advice and support to help reach their goals both big and small.  Life Reimagined Institute for Innovation, is a world class group of thought leaders in the areas of life and career coaching, psychology, personal development, health and entrepreneurship.

Question- What is  Senior Entrepreneurship?

This is my particular area of focus, passion and interest. I think that the leader in this field is my good friend, Elizabeth Isele of Wasington, D.C. who is the Founder and President of Senior Entrepreneurship Works.  Senior Entrepreneurship Works was founded in January, 2012, the organization, designed to help seniors age 50+ launch their own businesses has transformed into a Movement. For Canada to be involved in this Movement it’s critical for both CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and Startup Canada based in Ottawa, ON to adopt some of the Life Reimagined and Senior Entrepreneurship ideas and principles; in order for Canadian seniors to become more active and creative producing meaningful projects.

The Movement is comprised of individuals, organizations, corporations and governments from all corners of the world across sectors in unlikely coalitions creating systems to boost economic self-reliance, vitality and growth for individuals, communities and the world.

Elizabeth’s Senior Entrepreneurship Works is strategically focusing on four pillars to grow and sustain this Movement and amplify it’s impact:

1. Entrepreneurship Education & Training Programs

2. Access to Capital

3. Advocacy and Public Policy

4. Research

The End goal of senior entrepreneurship is changing the negative paradigm of aging to one of positive and creative social and economic opportunities by activating seniors’ wealth of experience, wisdom and resources. This will drive our new economy through their business startups, and boost prosperity for all ages; as they pour investment dollars back into their own communities.


Today, I strongly believe that Canada is a long way from having the right kind of public policy to promote the new trend of ‘productive longevity’.  As a result, I think that the State of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ in Canada is hopeful because of the developments in the USA, but within Canada itself not I think that it’s not very good.


I’d like to dream that everything is fine, however; I think that there has been very little or no progress regarding Canada’s role and responsibilities in promoting ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ and Lifelong Learning for Seniors 50 plus.

January 1, 2015 is an important date.  It means that now we can say that EVERY Boomer/Elder is at least 50 years old.  I’s now more crtical than ever to have something in place before this huge 50+ cohort approaches retirement, with a strong possibility that many seniors will have nothing purposeful and/or meaningful to do. I hate to see seniors being unimportant, invisable, politically weak, socially discountable, and economically insignificant.

Myself, I’m going to take an unspecified amount of time (sabbatical) away from my present blogging activities to focus more on RESEARCH in the area of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’ and find out how in Canada we can take this subject to a higher level.  I will be able to study what is happening in REAL time in different countries around the World.

For those friends, readers and the leadership community who want more information about my ‘Seniorpreneur Project’ I have the following references:

1. My new book titled, Encore! Encore! Seniors (50 Plus) As Entrepreneurs: Their Time Has Come. (Available on

2. My website-

3. My Blog address- (37 Only Blog articles)

4. My Empire Avenue Site-

5. My e-mail address-

Thanks for your interest.  If you want to leave any comments or any ideas about how we can expedite the 50+ entrepreneur movement in Canada please feel free to do so below.

Career Reinvention For Seniors 50 Plus


Recently I registered for a career reinvention course at a local centrally located seniors centre. The title of the course was ‘Examine Values, Strengths & Interests With Retirement Dimensions’. The description of the course presented by Marilyn Berezowsky & Ingrid Neitch was as follows: Are you contemplating retirement or newly retired and interested in broadening your retirement activities? The presenters wanted to introduce a new tool that was capable to evaluate your personal values, strengths, concerns, interests and more as you enter this new phase of your life.

In my own judgement I personally viewed this general course as being relevant for any seniors that desired to become more active, creative and productive in their retirement life. So, I decided to register myself to attend this presentation.  I was shocked to find out that there was only one other person already registered, and we needed a minimum of 12 seniors registered in order for the course to go ahead. The final result was that we didn’t get 12 only seniors to participate so the course was cancelled and my registration fee was refunded.

As I mentioned in some of my other Blog articles that in the Province of Alberta there was a Seniors Study recently completed. Some of the preliminary results indicate that in the best case scenario there will only be cosmetic changes made without really looking at the broader picture of studying Lifelong Learning and Career Reinvention for seniors 50 plus.

QUESTION- Is there any hope for seniors in Canada to get more involved in higher energy mental or creative activities?

Bernard Kelly of ‘Retire Laughing’ said that “In Australia seniors’ centres have expanded into associated “men’s sheds” where men meet to develop traditional hobbies- such as wood working. And when men mingle in a social environment they chat about common issues- lifelong learning, entrepreneurship, health, etc”.

Bernard Kelly is Australia’s Retirement Strategist and assists private clients with the four pillars of a successful retirement-your finances, your health, family & friends and your zest for living. And because money gives you options, his particular (wealth creation) expertise is in sharing property investments with couples in late career.

Then, there is John Tarnoff, a Career Reinvention Coach for Boomers who has some very interesting thoughts about reinventing ourselves. In general John said that many of us are blocked from reinventing ourselves into new careers by a linear concept of who we are and what we’ve done. We’re not comfortable with simply cutting the cord and somehow falling into a new career of our own making- as if its that simple. It would be great if our reinvention could be somehow miraculously handed to us, fully formed and available to just hop right into. Many of us take the defensive and defend-able route of planning everything out; setting the right criteria or conditions, and then looking for an opportunity that fits our assessment and our plan.

John Tarnoff also explains that the main lesson here is for us to look past our job description, or perhaps limited belief or understanding of what we do, and see the essence of what we have done in our work, and how we can apply that out into the world. The jobs aren’t always there, but there is always a need for talent, and for solutions to the problems experienced in this society.

CONCLUSION- To reinvent ourselves, we are well served to draw from our unique personal reflections and perspective on the world as a way of distinguishing ourselves in this new phase of our lives. Even if we have worked our entire lives in one company or one field, our struggles and triumphs in getting to our current situation forms a narrative that allows us to connect with others, and establish a reinvented path based on both skills and persona.

WHATS UP NEXT?  In my next or future blog article I want to talk about what ‘senior entrepreneurship’ is in pre-retirement or retirement life  Finally, I want to wish a Happy Holiday & Prosperous New Year to ALL my 50+ readers & friends!  Let’s keep the 50+ entrepreneur movement going around the World!

The Future Of Seniors’ Centres

Question- Seniors’ Centres- Should They Go or Should They Stay OR Is There Another Way?


University of Alberta researchers from the Faculty of Extension have teamed with the Alberta Association of Seniors’ Centres (AASC) to explore how these gathering places fit into the province’s social and health-care landscape.

Supported with a $70,800 grant jointly awarded by Alberta Health in 2013 to the U of A, AASC and the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE), the researchers are pinpointing the challenges facing these community gathering places, to help government and seniors’ groups answer pressing questions about future sustainability.

Lacking a one-size-fits-all standard, the question of how these organization should meet the needs of baby boomers entering their golden years is complex.

The KEY to unraveling this complexity is found in the question- How do we meet the REAL needs of the baby boomers and the large cohort of people, the millennials coming after them and do we continue funding the present seniors’ centers?

Jason Daniels, Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension said that “the solution to this problem comes from changing the public’s perception. These centres are not just settings for the elderly to be entertained, but instead gathering places facilitated by the community for seniors to share their stories, skills or have a casual conversation over coffee.” And, Jason also added that “there is no model of what a seniors’ centre should be.”

To add some more support for this particular vision of seniors’ centres is Luanne Whitmarsh, CEO of the Kerby Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Luanne said that “Without seniors’ centres, there’s a void in how people continue to be engaged in their lives as they age. These centres keep people out of hospitals, they increase quality of life, they matter.”


The year-long Alberta Seniors’ Centres Study research uncovered some key issues.

A lack of consistent funding and a struggle to attract new, younger senior membership for future sustainability are two main issues. Linked to that is a need for qualified leadership in senior’s centres, in areas such as program development and specialization in working with an aging population.

Diana O’ Donoghue, the City of Edmonton Seniors Team Accessibility Liaison said that, The benefits to seniors is just to be engaged in their communities, creating social networks, because once you transfer from work to retirement sometimes you lose those social connections.”


Jo Ann Jenkins, newly appointed CEO of AARP (American Association of Real Possibilities) wants us to reimagine what it means to get older. Let’s disrupt aging. Let’s upend our thinking around what it means to get older, she said.

In Canada, we do not focus per se on ‘productive longevity’ which is encouraging seniors to become more active, creative, productive, and prosperous in our pre-retirement or retirement life. CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons practically all of their focus is spent on improving government health-care polices and/or implementing pension reform. As a result, CARP spends a lot their time and resources on trying to get more entitlements for Canadians. This is not a strategy about increasing the quality of an active, creative and productive life for seniors. It’s about aging and decrepitude. Seniors are literally being ‘put out to pasture’ before their time.

To disrupt aging, we need to own our age. We need to get to the point where we’re no longer defined by the old expectations of what we ‘should or should not’ do at a certain age.

We don’t want to be defined by our age any more than we want to be defined by race or sex or income.

The 50+ Group are a generation of makers and doers who have a desire to continue exploring their possibilities and to celebrate discovery over decline.


Most seniors that I know or don’t know want to keep physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit for as long as they can. At the same time the transition to pre-retirement or retirement life is an unknown. In an endeavor to increase lifelong learning opportunities for seniors I think that we will need to add more options or choices to our current seniors’ centres. Let’s keep the basic amenities that most seniors’ centres offer but at the same time let’s go outside these centres to get more seniors involved directly with other options such as more libraries, more lifelong learning centres; and more discussion around other ideas such as ‘senior entrepreneurship’ and retirement transition workshops. The main dilemma is that too many seniors sometimes don’t know where to look, who to talk to, how to find the information or where to go?  A possible solution to alleviate some of these problems is scheduling weekly workshops with like-minded 50+ people , discussing some real possibilities and then planning a course of action, that is reasonable and appropriate for each senior that is involved in this kind of program for the benefit of Seniors 50 Plus.

Question-  Do you have any ideas as a reader about what we should do with Seniors’ Centres?

Thanks for reading this Blog.  Any comments that you have would be appreciated.

Life Reimagined Communities

Health-Care and Pensions

Susan Eng is vice-president of advocacy for CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons). As I already mentioned in earlier blog articles our American friends have made a significant change to their name AARP.  It’s now understood to be American Association of ‘Real Possibilities’ changed from Retired Persons. Of course real possibilities is looking more forward than just saying retired persons.

In Canada the primary focus of CARP is on Health-Care and Pension reform as compared to the American organization, AARP is looking to the future by building Life Reimagined communities and real possibilities for seniors ‘productive’ longevity.

Quotation- Susan Eng in her recent advocacy article in Canada’s Zoomer Magazine, October, 2014 edition says that, “the challenges of aging have morphed from private angst to public discourse. One after another, be it access to care, control over end-of-life decisions, retirement security or the right to keep working, our issues topped the legislative agenda. The question is not whether but how we move forward on them.”

I understand the importance of Health-Care and Pension reforms to improve the quality of life for seniors eg. dementia care, home care and cost-effective drug prices for seniors.

However; the Canadian Medical Association is partnering with CARP to call for a national seniors’ strategy, “moving beyound Health-Care to include ALL the challenges of an aging population.”

Also, in another post by Susan Eng dated September 25/14 titled, ‘Top 10 Reasons not To Start a War With Seniors’, Reason #5 mentioned that “Canadians are under-saving and a significant minority face the prospect of a substantial drop in their standard of living in retirement.”

Job Fairs Are Not The Answer

I also mentioned this before in previous blogs that Susan Eng is apparently planning to set-up Job Fairs for Seniors across Canada. I think that what is not fully appreciated is that many seniors living today are highly educated and thoroughly  experienced and they are looking for more challenging opportunities. I also understand that Susan Eng is very busy saying, “the here and now still needs our attention.” If this is the case i would recommend that we need to organize and develop a business symposium  to discuss how sentiors today and in the future can become more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their own pre-retirement or retirement life. Another topic for this new business symposium could be the subject of Senior Entrepreneurship.

Life Reimagined Community in the USA

I think that Canada is fortunate to be able to look at what AARP is presently doing in building Life Rewimagined communities in the USA.

In Canada, as well as in the USA the phrase ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ is appropriate because there is an absence of a real retirement plan.  The familiar financial plan produced by having you sit down with your financial advisor is only a part of the answer. Since many new and existing retirees could spend 30 or more years in their retirement life, the time factor is often ignored by seniors and their own financial advisors.

In the USA Adults of all ages- from 20-99- all think about “What’s Next” but often wonder where to start and how to make it real. That’s why AARP brought together top thinkers to help create Life Reimagined, an inovative new program that helps each of us identify and achieve our goals, no matter where we are in Life. Whether it’s starting a new career, building a new business or living a dream. Life Reimagined provides REAL help to pursue our possibilities and connect with a community to make it happen.  AARP also wants to build each community as a Life Reimagined community to host a series of Life Reimaged events and programs over the next year.

QUESTION: How do you discover your new life possibilities?

Nearly everyone, at one point or another asks this question. What’s next? for most, it happens at midlife, but for others, it’s prompted by different reasons. Whether life is changing, a chapter is closing or something is shifting, you just know it’s time to move into the next phase of life, but you don’t know what that means.

Authors, Richard J. Leider, Founder & Chairman of Inventure and Alan M. Webber, Editor of Fast Company learned that this new stage of life is ripe with potential, and this phase is called Life Reimagined. To guide readers through this stage, Life Reimagined serves as a GPS, redefining what it means to begin this next phase, moving readers away from conventional paths and toward unfamiliar territory that’s ready to be explored.

Life Reimagined is just one part of a broader movement initiated by AARP that provides practical ways for rewaders to:

* Discover and utilize their own special gifts.

* Leverage and connect with their support system.

* And take advantage of new possibilities.

QUESTION: What does Life Reimagine say?

At the heart of Life Reimagined is a manifesto that calls upon each of us to live our lives with choice, curiosity and courage.

It says that each of us is an experiment of one. That there is no one-size fits-all answers for this new phase of life. Each of us has the freedom to choose our own way, in our own way, throughout all the years of our life. No old rules, no outdated social norms, no boundaries of convention or constraints of expectation.

It says that, in a world of change, there are two constants: having your own purpose and being connected to others.

It says that Life Reimagined is a journey of inner and outer discovery. And that the ultimate discovery each of us can make is self-discovery.

It says that none of us should go it alone on the journey into this new phase of life. Isolation is fatal.

Finally, it says that as we learn to reimagine this new phase of life, we will end up reimagining every phase of life. Thinking differently about how we live the second half of life will inevitably change we live the years in the first half.  As we understand the choices that are open to us as we age, we’ll see that those choices are there for us at anytime.

Strengthened by these truths, equipped with a map of the new territory that lies ahead, supported by the stories of countless pioneers of Life Reimagined whose real-life examples show the way forward, Life Reimagined offers each of us the promise of a life of real possibilities.

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.