The State of Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada

SEASONS GREETINGS

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

LIFE REIMAGINED- CARP & AARP

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 http://www.lifereimagined.org 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.

CONCLUSION

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.

FUTURE BLOG ARTICLES

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 Amazon.com)

http://www.amazon.com/Encore-Seniors-50-Entrepreneurs/dp/1493793608

2. My website- http://www.seniorpreneur.ca/

3. My Blog address- (37 Only Blog articles) https://seniorpreneur.wordpress.com

4. My Empire Avenue Site- http://www.tsu.co/seniorbiz

5. My e-mail address- joewasylyk@hotmail.com

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.

Lifelong Learning & the Local Public Library

ENTREPRENEURIAL PREPARATION

Lifelong Learning everyday is the key to pursuing an active, creative and productive life.  In preparation for becoming a senior entrepreneur and for successful aging it is very important to consider and study active brain activities.  Richard Restak, a neurologist said that, “aging can be thought of as the result throughout the body of a general wear-and-tear process.”

In all body organs except the brain, increased activity leads to more wear and tear and accelerated degeneration.  In the brain the principle of operation is unique.  Activation of nerve cells doesn’t lead to a general degeneration of function but, instead, to the maintenance of neurons during normal aging.

This is really quite an extraordinary situation if you think about it: the brain in contrast to every other organ in the body, has the potential to improve with use and to keep the edge into the ninth decade and beyond

BAN ‘OLD’ STUDENTS, EH?

In a satire piece written recently by a 30-something, fourth-year University of Alberta molecular biology student wrote in his student newspaper, the Gateway that “old people don’t belong at the U of A.” One of the reasons mentioned for this apparent social exclusion was that mature students ask “too many” questions and that these students often mention “what used to be”.

I understand that mature students have different behaviors and different expectations, but HOW can we create some structures that are more senior-friendly and show more respect for seniors?

CAN PUBLIC LIBRARIES BE THE ANSWER?

I was very surprised to learn that Montreal and Vancouver tied for top spot in a global ranking of the world’s best public libraries, according to a recent study published by the university of Dusseldorf. The name of the study is, Public Libraries in the knowledge Society.  The key for Montreal and Vancouver was offerings such as the libraries digital resources and use of social media.

BOOMERS CLOSING THE TECH GAP

Not too long ago digital resources and the use of social media wasn’t important because only about 1/3 or less of all seniors were computer literate.  Recently, telephone surveys with more than 6,000 Canadians conducted on behalf of the Media Technology Monitor were used to compare technology trends among members of Gen Y defined as 24 to 33-year-old consumers, Gen Z (aged 18-23) and the 47-to-67 boomer demographic.

“While (boomers) have not grown up with publicly available Internet and wireless technologies, they have become avid users of these offerings,” states the report.  Younger people led in wireless technologies eg. early adoption of smartphones and streaming web video.

A significant fact is that the younger boomers in the survey between 47 and 57 were most likely to embrace tablets.  About 36 per cent of the consumers in the cohort said they owned a tablet, which is more than Gen Y (34 per cent) and Gen Z (28 per cent) respondents.

DIGITAL LITERACY @THE LIBRARY

The Stanley A. Milner Library in my own hometown aims to provide an engaged learning experience in the heart of Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

In my own research I have found that seniors have different expectations in the fields of Lifelong Learning and Entrepreneurship.  What better way there is to engage more seniors than having them come to their own local public library.  in fact, Peter Schoenberg, Edmonton Public Library Manager of digital literacy initiatives and web services said, “Rather than borrowing a book and returning it three weeks later you LEARN something, it’s creating a space for hands-on learning,” said Peter Schoenberg.

The SPACE and it’s equipment are designed to allow the community a flexible area to pursue their creative outlets or just sit back and play video games with friends.  Novices can experiment with the space’s hard-and software and avoid the startup cost of a new creative pursuit.  I think that this is a perfect environment for seniors that already have surplus time but now need some empowerment to pursue new and different activities in their pre-retirement or retirement life. 

THE CALL FOR ACTION

It’s my belief that we need to graduate from the traditional seniors’ centers to some new concepts in order to get more seniors to become more creative and productive.  My personal vision is to create community facilities that include wellness/recreation centers (including fitness centers c/w personal trainers), lifelong learning centers c/w program rooms that have senior-friendly hands-on learning.  The lifelong learning centers could start with the local public library as the HUB which through participation there could lead the senior in the direction of their own skills, interests, knowledge and resources.  Also, somewhere in those new facilities we also need space for a deli, coffee and Wi-Fi access for laptops, tablets, e Readers and any ‘other’ future digital products & services.

I think it’s also important to assess the ‘medical condition’ of the senior to ensure they are not trying to do more than they should for the present shape that they are in.  I believe that this new concept of learning would encourage seniors to be more active, creative, productive and prosperous in their second or third acts of their own life cycle.  Also, it would be a more holistic approach for the well being of every senior living well and being fully engaged in their own communities.

FEEDBACK

If anybody has some ideas about how we can create more senior-friendly lifelong learning facilities, please advise below?

SEASON’S GREETINGS

Happy New Year, to everyone reading this Blog article!