The two leading US presidential candidates are at or near age 70, yet those 55+ still encounter ridiculous (sometimes illegal) questions when vying for a new work opportunity.
The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) addressed this in an article: Overqualified: Is It Code for Too Old? Here are a few “code for too old” questions and comments called out in the SHRM article:
- Would it be hard working for a boss younger than you?
- Do you think our technology demands might be too much?
- Why would you want this job, given all your experience?
- People here work long hours; that probably doesn’t interest you.
You’re How Old?
Last month, this New York Times op-ed by Ashton Applewhite, You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch struck a chord with hundreds of readers and sparked a flurry of comments.
By the way, Applewhite’s book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Aging is a must-read for aspiring Retirepreneurs, especially chapter 6, titled Not Done Yet – The Workplace. We couldn’t ask for a more knowledgeable or more passionate champion on the virtues of aging. Check out this brief video, where Applewhite explains WHY a radical aging movement is needed today.
Celebrating 65+ Milestone Achievements
At age 77, John Glenn was the oldest person to go into space.
Dr. Paul Spangler finished his 14th marathon at age 92 and this retired US Navy surgeon didn’t start running until he was 67.
Acclaimed artist Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until the age of 78.
And Colonel Sanders? He launched the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise at age 65. A decade later with 600+ franchises, he sold it for a cool $2 million ($15.3 million in today’s dollars).
Sometimes age barriers and stereotypes aren’t just embraced by individuals – they’re institutional.
Walter Cronkite’s last broadcast as anchor for the CBS Evening News aired on March 6, 1981. Later that same year, he crossed the age 65 threshold. At the time, CBS had a policy of mandatory retirement at age 65. Evidently, that policy was soon tweaked, as Mike Wallace (just two years younger than Cronkite) retired as a full-time correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2006 at the age of 87.
The Intern, a 2015 comedy film, stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. De Niro plays 70-year-old widower, Ben Whitaker, who applies for a senior intern program at a growing startup that’s teeming with millennials. If you haven’t caught this flick yet, this trailer should whet your appetite:
Ben patiently endures nearly every “too old” stereotype in the book. And day by day, he wins over his co-workers, as he shares tips to help them advance. Rather than lecture or preach, he models wisdom that can only be gleaned through years of experiences.
Age Reality Check
At age 58, I recognize there are things I don’t do as well as I did in my twenties or thirties, but there are just as many things (possibly more) I do better today. For me, this life chapter is shaping up to be my finest, but it requires a high degree of self-awareness and reflection, as I strive to swim in the lanes where I can swim fastest.
After years of climbing up the ladder, I’m now working on gracefully climbing down, step by step to stay engaged in the work I enjoy, but on my terms and with a schedule that has more “white space” to allow for fun and new adventures.
I’m a work-in-progress who’s living out this work transition more transparently, in the hopes that there are lessons you can apply to fine-tune your own Retirepreneur journey.
What’s your story? What stories will you share to help enlighten others and dispel these myths around aging?