Reuters columnist John Wasik announces his top book picks of the year, including The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, by Civic Ventures founder and CEO Marc Freedman. Wasik writes, "If you're hitting the sweet spot between middle age and retirement, you need to read this book." (Find this column on the Reuters website here.)
Larry Hara, 56, an engineer at Intel in Cupertino, Calif., isn't ready to retire, but he wants a break from his high-pressure job. Like many boomers, he wants to use his talents to make a difference. Hara will get a chance to take that step without walking off a cliff. In conjunction with Civic Ventures, Intel will match interested workers with nonprofits, where they'll work for six months to a year. Intel retirees admitted to the Encore Fellowship program will get a $25,000 stipend and health insurance.
Purpose Prize winner Judith Broder's second act – providing free counseling to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans – took her all the way to the White House, where she was honored this year by President Obama. "It was absolutely thrilling," says the soft-spoken, 71-year-old psychiatrist. She was one of 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal, chosen from among 6,000 nominees.
Purpose Prize fellow Andy Harris is finding fulfillment in his encore career. He developed a college course designed to give U.S. medical professionals a chance to provide care in poor countries overseas. It also enables them to provide care locally – in free medical clinics for the uninsured where course participants volunteer one evening per week.
A serial entrepreneur, Randal Charlton needed a new challenge. He got it by taking over Detroit's ambitious TechTown, a business incubator that was teetering on the brink of insolvency. In four years, Charlton re-energized TechTown, putting more than 2,200 entrepreneurs through training programs and helping more than 250 fledgling companies raise $14 million. For his work, he won a $100,000 Purpose Prize.
In this video, Lyle Hurst – network developer for the Encore Fellowships Network – discusses how Civic Ventures started the Encore Fellows program with support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and Hewlett-Packard. Encore Fellows generally have spent the majority of their careers in the private sector; the network matches the fellows with a nonprofit organization, government agency or private firm with a social purpose.
Randal Charlton's efforts promoting entrepreneurship in the depressed city of Detroit led him to a $100,000 Purpose Prize. The prize honors Americans over 60 who are creating new ways to solve tough social problems. "It's as much a prize for Detroit and the (budding entrepreneurs) as anything else," Charlton says.
Our sputtering economy needs workers with more of that entrepreneurial spirit. Think tank Civic Ventures suggests they might come from an unexpected demographic: workers who are approaching middle age or their retirement years. The group found that one in four Americans between 44 and 70 want to build an enterprise, and nearly half of them want it to be a business with a strong social impact. (This article also appeared in Good.)
Retirement is no longer viewed as a brief period of rest at the end of life. It has become an integral element of the American dream, says Civic Ventures founder and CEO Marc Freedman, who has studied the cultural history of retirement. “People scrimped and saved and deferred gratification to get to it as soon as possible – not even 65 or 62, but in your 50s,” Freedman says.
Nine million Americans between ages 44 and 70 are in encore careers, up from roughly 8 million in 2008, according to Civic Ventures. Encore careers are attractive options in the United States and Canada, where boomers approaching retirement face pension shortfalls and longer life expectancies. (This article also ran in the Canadian publication Money.)