By Vince Giuliano, Melody Winnig, Michael Giuliano and Chen Hua
Version updated April 13,2014
This is a different kind of blog entry than the usual ones, not about the hard sciences involved in aging. Instead, it is about about a practical initiative that is related to the societal developments that are co-evolving with the biological ones with respect to aging. The three previous blog entries on The evolving narrative and social transformation of aging detail the background to the initiative of concern here, particularly Part 3: major initiatives and activities that are reflecting and driving the changes in narratives of aging.
The original version of this post stated “The initiative described here is an entry in a competitive contest sponsored by the TEDx-Fulbright Social Innovation Challenge. The Challenge is a contest to determine who participates in giving a TED talk that will be telecast internationally describing a project that represents a major social innovation. Vince is among eight semi finalists, of which four will be offering Ted talks as well as access to key people who might assist in the funding of the project described.” Further, we invited you to vote for the project on a TEDxFulbright page. We are pleased to announce that we won the voting contest, receiving the most votes and therefore became a finalist in the challenge competition. Thank you for your votes that led to our win. Our team went to Washington DC and Vince indeed gave a short TEDx talk advocating our initiative as part of a day-long TEDxFulbright event on April 5, 2014 Though we were a finalist in the Social Innovation Challenge, we did not win the first prize. That went to a different initiative that is already operating and demonstrating clear social benefits, However, we believe that our participation as a finalist in that event engendered significant interest in SEQUEL, and resulted in personal contacts that will most likely advance the cause of the SEQUEL social initiative.. Again, thank you for your votes.
The initiative we proposed in the TEDx talk was more focused than that described here, addressed to healthy and energetic retiring baby boomers who have had a dream of launching an entrepreneurial venture but not quite knowing how to proceed. The essence of the approach is to connect them with successful younger-generation people with successful entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of how to raise venture capital.
The following description of our proposed initiative is structured as was requested by the Ted Fulbright people. First, a short video submitted related to the initiative:
Please describe the social problem that you are trying to solve.
People are living a lot longer and retirement is becoming a late-midlife, rather than an end-of-life event. The issue at stake here is what are these retiring people going to do with the rest of their lives? Retire classically and essentially drop out of the social system of productivity and possibly be a drag on society? Or continue to work or otherwise contribute socially and economically and achieve fulfillment in the process?
When Social Security was implemented in 1935 life expectancy was 64 years and the retirement age was set at 65 years. Now, life expectancy is 80 but our official retirement ages have budged little. As a consequence more and more people confronting compulsory retirement are healthy, highly functional and capable of working or otherwise contributing significantly to society for many more years. Some look for another job, do part-time work, adopt a new career, do volunteer work, become family caregivers, or move to fulfill a long-standing personal dream. Others seeing no other option may simply accept retirement, effectively resigning from social participation.
Quality of decisions made at this point in life is an immensely important issue, not only for individuals figuring out what to do with the next 20 or 30 years of their lives but for nations and the world in general..There are 76 million “Baby Boomers” in the US now reaching retirement age at a rate of about 3 million a year. On a worldwide level there are more than a billion people coming to retirement age in the coming decade. From an economic perspective, the question is whether these elders will be vital contributors to society or whether they will be an economic burden that could possibly become unsustainable. The issues are utilization of human capital and trillions of dollars of either added or foregone economic productivity.
Yet, retirement or change of career beyond the age 60 can be a major life transition – posing challenges that are unique to every individual and fraught with uncertainties. The challenges include overcoming interior psychological barriers and dealing with deeply-entrenched social perceptions about the incompetency of older people. They include self-assessment of continuing health and mental competency, financial situation, job and employment skills, professional status and reputation, educational level, family situation, entrepreneurial bent, need to care for sick parents, and dreams of “What I would really like to do.”
National and local resource organizations have started mobilizing to address this challenge and have created many interesting initiatives. Many of these initiatives are detailed in our blog entry on Major initiatives and activities that are reflecting and driving the changes in narratives of aging. . However, our sense is that the response so far is nowhere up to the challenge. We think most retirees do not utilize resources that could be available to them. Recent study indicates that only 16% of retirees in the US continue doing paid work although many more say they wanted to do that. Dealing with the psychological readjustments necessary to go for a new career late in life and knowing about available resources, and evaluating and using them to facilitate a real career transition are daunting tasks. Many retiring people do not know how even to start thinking about the situation.
Please describe your solution to the problem
Ultimately, we see the need for an integrated service which we have named SEQUEL. The SEQEL service is organized around the event of retirement or career change late in life. It involves personal interaction of an older person in career transition with a volunteer or paid retirement coach. It involves live and cyber networking with accessible employment counseling and placement services, job opportunity data bases, health and vitality evaluation and maintenance services, personal life planning experts, financial counseling services, educational counseling services for seniors, services fostering entrepreneurial startups, other individuals facing comparable issues, and other community based resource individuals and organizations. SEQUEL helps retiring people to know about and connect with relevant community resources, including government and private service agencies, health clubs, churches and synagogues, senior centers, libraries, health agencies a wide range of professionals, and peer group individuals facing similar issues. The technology involved includes a number of web tools. Some of these are for personal competency and situation self- assessments. Other tools will facilitate linking to and drawing upon community resources. The service will offer data bases of local resources, web “mashups,” and social and geolocation-based networking websites that facilitate easy networking to such resources, and proactive live community networking among resource groups and individuals. Another expected benefit of the innovation will be closer community integration of retirement support services.
However, such a comprehensive SEQUEL service must be created in the context of what exists and ultimately the brunt of serving the world’s retirement seniors must be met by nationwide and community networks operated by others. There already are a number of organizations offering a variety of interesting programs to assist people through the retirement transition. Some of the resource organizations are national, some are local, some are faith or spirituality-based, some have a psychological focus, some are focused on health issues, some are offered by individual counselors, some have large organizations like the AARP behind them. Others may be based in a local church or senior center. Together, these organizations suggest numerous positive approaches including psychological counseling, personal emotional support, self-assessment of personal resources, and health assessment. However, our impression however is that many or most retiring people are unaware of and under-utilize these resources and essentially muddle through the retirement transition as best they can.
There seems to be no end to good ideas and positive approaches. Yet our perception is that they are little used. We believe pulling together these ideas and coordinating approaches into an effective highly person-centered and community based service is needed. Such a service would combine live counseling and networking with new forms of cyber networking and empowerment. And this service has to be one that can be rolled out on a national and eventually an international basis.
We do not know how best to do that right now; we don’t think anybody does. What we are proposing is a proactive and mutual discovery process that we would engage in with many other actors already on the scene to arrive at the service mixtures that are needed on a local level. The central components of tuning the solution involves 1. Bringing the importance and nature of the problem too much greater public awareness. 2. Working with other organizations already constituted to address the problem, forming multilevel partnerships to establish how a much more effective and coordinated approach might be created, and 3. Conducting pilot programs to learn how best to create and operate the comprehensive SEQUEL service we have identified.
SEQUEL must achieve its objectives via networking with others and starting with forms of organization that already exist. For example, networking among retirement-related resource organizations is already being initiated by a local branch of ENCORE in the Boston area.
Please explain why your solutions is innovative and/or unique
In general, we see the innovation of SEQUEL to be in our approach to the problem of late-life career transition issue rather than a specific solution to the problem. We believe a solution or solutions can emerge from the actions we are proposing.
The uniqueness of we are proposing is the declaration that there is an extremely important issue that needs addressing by society, that despite many well intentioned and well-designed efforts by sizeable players, these needs are not generally being well met now, that a great deal of public awareness needs to be focused on the issue, and that working with the key stakeholder organizations we can contribute to arriving at better and more-integrated solutions that exist now. We see SEQUEL as an initially a small effort that might play a very important catalytic role in mobilizing a more effective configuration among the personal retirement related services and initiatives that are already out there.
Please describe the short-term and long-term size and scale of your social impact
In the long term there is a possibility that we could help catalyze and foster a major transformation in the perceptions of and about older people and late life transitions they undertake. The scale implications are immense since the lives of billions of people could be affected and the economic consequences could be vast – in the trillions of dollars and profoundly affecting the economies of nations.
For the shorter term, our activities that should result in results that are modest but still of importance: an increasing public consciousness of the issues connected with late-midlife career transitions. Moreover, an expected impact will be bringing enhanced awareness to other service-providing organizations of best practices for effectively structuring and coordinating their activities. And, since learning must be hands-on, we expect to work with a lot of seniors in the positive shaping of their career transitions.
Please describe your implementation plan, including past achievements, pilot project, and accomplishments. Including dates would be preferable
Past personal achievements of Vince relevant to SEQUEL include the experience of having personally gone through a major career transition late in life, at age 77 seven years ago, becoming a well-known scientists in the area of longevity research, having established a major publication vehicle related to the science connected with healthy aging, and having researched and published a number of articles related to longer life spans and their social implications. We have been meeting as a team for several months now and are committed to facilitating the social transformations expected in this century related to longer and healthier life spans. All of us bring strong commitment and passion.
The pilot project we envision will have three major components:
1. Public communications: We have already been engaging in significant public communications via online print, and our TED Fulbright talk will be another kickoff activity. We are in communication with film and documentary makers and hope to secure funding for productions. Also we will be seeking public exposure in the print and TV entertainment media. Among the activities we’re planning is a contest asking people to submit YouTube videos related to how they have successfully achieved career changes late in life. We expect to have all these activities well underway within the first year of operation of SEQUEL.
2. Stakeholder communications and coordination will start out with meetings with leaders of the main organizations currently involved on a national scale (AARP Life Reimagined Institute, the Life Planning Network, and ENCORE). We hope to meet with both national leadership of these organizations and local chapter working representatives and obtain detailed perceptions of what is working and what is not working, what are the needs for expansion, and what are the unique needs that SEQEL can play in the overall process. We expect to scale our activities so that they contribute to existing initiatives and do not attempt to duplicate them. We expect to convene or participate in workshop conferences involving representatives of these organizations within the first year. Emphasis there will be on sharing experience in empowering seniors in late midlife career transitions and retirement and exploring how services of the various organizations can be better coordinated, integrated, and delivered on the local level. Our role will be as a proactive advocate for constant service improvement, research and development, adopting new technologies, and sharing of experience.
3. Our pilot project: we expect to launch a SEQUEL pilot program on a highly local basis, say in a moderate sized town in the Boston area like Somerville, and will seek to partner with the city government and other key local and national-linked stakeholder resources. The program should be in place after 18 months. The exact form of this program will depend on the community, the partners we will be able to generate, and are learning from stakeholder communications. Our major objective will be learning about what works on a community level and identifying service models that can be rolled out elsewhere. Targets are: Launch pilot project: 1 Sept 2014; pilot project fully operational 1 April 2016. Program evaluated continuously, testing of different revenue models. First formal evaluation 1 June 2017. Rollout to other locations to follow based on learning from pilot program. An alternative option will be to participate in such a pilot program with these characteristics initiated by others, should our exploration with other actors indicate that this is the best way we can contribute
Please provide your business plan. Please explain how you plan to make your solution sustainable over the long-term including operational expenses, revenue generation, investments, etc. We understand that getting a project off the ground will cost money, but please demonstrate a plan to achieve long-term sustainability. Including dates would be preferable
How the following plans play out will depend very much on the initial rounds of stakeholder communications and communications with other organizations planning similar initiatives. We do not wish to reinvent the wheel. We do wish to see highly effective vehicles on the road.
TARGET AUDIENCE/MARKET/CUSTOMER – Seniors and others who are facing retirement or work termination or who wish to develop new career opportunities late in life. Particularly, individuals who might need to base their future work or social participation on multiple personal criteria including health and financial status, skill sets, social expectations, local resources, personal networks, and dreams of what they would like to do
STARTUP FUNDING – Foundation funding with a grant of $250,000 that should support the operation of SEQUEL through the pilot phase in the first two years. May be augmented by grants for specific local initiatives.
BUSINESS AND REVENUE MODEL
The SEQUEL service is not-for-profit based. The revenue model is a blend of individual membership fees, charges to service providers and member fees for web services and workshop and training programs. Also, royalties from service providers who reach their target audiences via SEQUEL. Possibly, advertising from web-based media.
The products and services include career counseling, access to web-based services and databases, personal guides and mentors, cyber and live workshops, task-oriented social networking websites and private web and live conference groups.
We target full economic self-sustainabiity by month 24 of full operation. By year 5 if successful, projected program has 20,000 members in multiple communities and budget of approximately $3 million and is on steep growth path. Evaluation of social impact will be based on membership growth, participation and satisfaction, and on economic sustainability
Please describe your idea/organization’s status. No preference will be given to this response.
It is an unofficial organization of individuals that have been meeting for five months now, seeking to clarify its mission and not-for-profit incorporation.
Please provide a paragraph bio for each of your team members, including their positions if applicable. Please include relevant past experiences, awards, and accomplishments that would provide further validity towards the team’s ability to succeed. Please also provide their full name, affiliations, email address, and phone number for each team member at the beginning of each of their paragraph bios.
The members of the team have been meeting regularly for five months now and are in the process of forming a Massachusetts Not-for-Profit corporation.
“Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was Founding Dean of a graduate school and a University Professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD’s from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. To get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 440 substantive.entries in my blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first pages that come up will be ones relating to me. Relevant to the proposed project, 1. I have the experience of launching launched into a new career at the age of 77 which has been highly successful, 2. My main vehicle has been researching and publishing substantial articles in my blog www.agingsciences.com. This blog is mainly concern with the hard sciences associated with aging and I have also written extensively on the societal aspects of aging. The blog has a following of 27,000 registered subscribers, 50% of which are international, and on a typical day is accessed by 3000 – 4000 readers. And 3. I have researched societal issues associated with aging and have written about them extensively.
Chen Hua, candidate in the MPA program at the Kennedy School at Harvard, email@example.com
Chen’s academic program focuses on social innovation. He holds an MBA from Auckland University. With cultural and business experience in Mainland China, New Zeeland and the US, he has enjoyed successful careers as a banker, a corporate executive, and a startup entrepreneur. He is now centrally concerned with social innovation and entrepreneurship associated with the shifts in aging of central concern here. He is focusing his personal career on this, and played a central role in initiating this project. He is a strong advocate of the notion of starting a new life after retirement and promoting awareness that can facilitate a long healthy, productive and disease-free life. He lectures on longevity related topics.
Melody Winnig President Vivace Associates, Research Associate at Agingsciences.com
Melody has a Master’s Degree in Information Science from the State University of New York (SUNYAB). She has worked in the field of public relations, as a consultant in development and Internet in the US, Egypt and Latin America, and in art communications. She has in recent years focused on the science and roles of plant-based substances for creating personal and public health. She has studied lifestyle patterns of centenarians and has also focused on shifting narratives of aging associated with the first wave of baby boomers. Working closely with Dr. Giuliano, she is familiar with many of the key frontiers of science impacting on aging. And she keeps up day-to-day with basic relevant research findings and communicates frequently with longevity scientists and health practitioners about these.
Michael Giuliano Planner at Agingsciences.com and Manager for Vivace Associates
Michael has a Masters Degree in Economic Development and Tourism Management from Boston University. He brings a business background, having worked in real estate as a broker/agent for the last 10 years relating to diverse client populations. An important contributor to the SEQUEL team, he has experience in communicating with and organizing project stakeholders, operational and project management. For the last three years, Michael has worked with the team doing research and analysis. He applies his skills in leadership, research and analysis to the role of Operations and Project Manager on our team.
Members of our team recently have just generated a three-part series of blog articles directly relevant to the project being proposed. The evolving narrative and social transformation of aging. Use these links for access. In Part 1 we started by laying out main issues confronting the world that are associated with increasingly aging populations. We do this by reviewing landmark UN and US government studies offering a global perspective on population aging. In Part 2 we list a number of the contrasting narratives related to aging which we believe to be in flux. In Part 3, we identify some of the major organizations, initiatives and activities that are reflecting and driving the changes in narratives.