Interview with Jim Emerman, Executive Vice President, Civic Ventures
To celebrate May being Older Americans Month as observed by the Administration on Aging (AoA), we have conducted a series of interviews we will be posting on this blog throughout the month. The theme issued by the AoA for this year is “Age Strong! Live Long!” to recognize the diversity and vitality of today’s older Americans who span three generations. The interviews are with several outstanding people who share how they live this year’s theme each and every day, and give us insight into the profound contribution and influence of older Americans today.
Civic Ventures is a think tank on boomers, work and social purpose. Through an inventive program portfolio, original research and strategic alliances and the power of people’s own life stories Civic Ventures demonstrates the value of experience in solving serious social problems. Founded in 1998 by social entrepreneur and author Marc Freedman, Civic Ventures works to define the second half of adult life as a time of individual and social renewal. Their programs include Encore.org, a network for people who want work that matters in the second half of life. Encore.org provides news, resources and connections for individuals and organizations establishing encore careers that combine personal meaning, financial security and social contribution, and The Purpose Prize which grants $100,000 awards for social innovators over 60 creating new methods for solving the world’s biggest problems.
Civic Ventures identifies this growing number of 60+ Americans as a largely untapped resource – what is the special contribution these Americans can and are making in our country? Our point of view is that once we move beyond our primary career we have amassed all this experience, wisdom and talent that can be used in a way that is socially and personally significant. This represents an opportunity to mobilize encore talent that can be put toward issues such as education, health, and the new green economy. This is an enormous opportunity for our country but also for these individuals to leave the world a better place.
How does the Civic Ventures point of view provide a way for older Americans to live the theme of ‘Age Strong! Live Long!’? We believe our society is in the process of creating a new stage of life and work, made possible through a confluence of longevity and greater health. Much of what we think of as “aging” is really becoming an extension of mid–life. Rather than disengaging or winding down—the traditional view of retirement—these years are characterized by a renewed vibrancy for engagement. Health, well–being and passion can be turned into opportunities to bring about a better world. That’s what “Age Strong! Live Long!” means to me.
What do you think will be the legacy of today’s older Americans? Boomers in particular were a generation that thought we could and would change the world. Maybe at this stage of life we actually have the opportunity to leave a legacy that rivals that of The Greatest Generation. And one of the things that we can leave as a legacy is a new whole way of being. Boomers and all generations that follow can have a second half of life based on fulfillment and giving back.
So what has changed? How we think about the issue of giving back has changed. Previously there was only one way this occurred, which was volunteering. We’ve seen with the economic downturn that the way to contribute time and talent is changing. The ability to volunteer has been eroded by the need to work. Extended life now translates to extended work life. There are simply not enough financial resources to stop working and live off of pensions. Retirement savings are not enough to last us to the end of our life. So, whether by choice and necessity, we have to work longer. So the question is, what kind of work are we going to do? We think having the option of an encore career that combines passion, purpose and a paycheck, is the way to tap the talent of this generation. It will make a gigantic difference in the world.
If you are looking for an encore career that combines purpose, passion and a paycheck? Start your journey at www.encore.org.