Boomer reinvention versus retirement: it’s in our generational DNA
As most everyone in car-world has heard, Jeremy Clarkson, 55, lead host of the BBC’s long-running TV show “Top Gear”, was sacked recently. It seems he was, well, a Boomer behaving badly in what Auntie discreetly referred to as a fracas.
Clarkson’s irreverent style, the automobiles – from the exotic to the bizarre – and the show’s goofy stunts made Top Gear a favorite on this side of Atlantic, especially among marketing’s car guys. BTW, for the punctilious, car guys is a collective term – some of the smartest car guys in the business are women.
Down but not out, Jeremy has the Beeb back-pedaling after a million fans reportedly petitioned for his reinstatement. And in breaking news (April 23, 2015) The Guardian says co-host James May won’t renew with Top Gear without him.
Regardless of how things eventually play out, Clarkson’s career illustrates two of the five strands of DNA that bind the Boomer generation together. In this case, the Peter Pan syndrome, the refusal to grow up – ok, make that grow old – and constant reinvention.
Thought leaders are discovering that, far from slinking off into obscure retirement, Boomers have been creating new businesses like never before.
Underscoring this new interest in Boomer adaptability is a 2014 study by The Kauffman Foundation. The research found while the Boomer share of America’s entrepreneurial activity grew dramatically 2003-2013, that of Millennials and Gen X actually declined.
The fastest growth rate of all was among Boomers aged 55-64. Believe it or not!
Boomers reloaded: three ventures that make a difference
In addition to the Peter Pan syndrome and adaptability/reinvention, another shared strand of Boomer DNA is “uncool.” After reaching age 50 we disappear from mainstream brand advertising faster than Cinderella’s magic coach at the stroke of midnight.
Allegedly, we can no longer adapt, switch brands or respond to new ideas.
Tell that to legions of Boomers who reinvented themselves in businesses of all types; here are three that make a difference and caught our attention …
The Midlife Gals … Gone Gray, engages us with the funny side of aging. Kelly and Sal relaunched themselves as creators of comedy content: “just two Texas sisters saying what you’re really thinking… yes thinking…yes, that’s right…but don’t get us started! Oops, TOO LATE.” Among others, we like Happy Friggin’ Birthday and also Mission Accomplished, celebrating their move to Hawaii.
Maine-based Ed Brazee, Chris Toy and Jill Spencer created BoomerTECH Adventures in the midst of their own reinvention after lifelong careers as educators. It’s a cool, empowering new business concept: in-depth workshops and 3-day retreats in beautiful Maine locations that teach Americans in the 50+ space to “Take charge of their devices. They leave ready to create, connect and contribute as tech-savvy Boomers in our digital world.”
After star adman Alex Bogusky, of Crispin Porter + Bogusky fame, left the agency business he transitioned into an investor/mentor role at the Boomtown Accelerator, a hot new Boulder, Colorado, incubator for startups. Only a few months past his 50th birthday at launch in 2014, Alex was described by the press as a “veteran.” Oh well, it comes to us all eventually.
Disruptive marketers who want to learn more about Boomer reinvention should start by looking into Generation Reinvention by Denver-based consultant Brent Green. Be prepared to run out of Post-it notes tagging paragraph after paragraph, it’s that good.
News from the Boomer frontiers: reinvention is a lifestyle
From Hawaii to Maine to Colorado, out on the Boomer frontiers, away from the centers of last century marketing dogma, the adaptability and economic power of the 50+ space is not news. It’s never been in doubt; we have adapted all our lives, why stop now?
For the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965, reinvention is a lifestyle, not a fad. There are 93 million of us – the 15th most populous “nation” on the planet. We don’t like to brag, but we have far more spending power than any European country.
It’s time for skeptical brands to learn from the Boomers: reinvent your thinking! We’ll show you how.