Purpose

50Plus Entrepreneurship Online: the Importance of Authority

Tillamook LIghthouse - off Ecola State Park - Cannon Beach, Oregon   

Tillamook LIghthouse - off Ecola State Park - Cannon Beach, Oregon

 

My series of blog posts on the 50Plus demographic and entrepreneurship have been leading up to the launch of a website. It will be a home for members of the 50Plus demographic who want to understand how to unleash their inner entrepreneur to generate new income streams to support themselves in the extra years many of us are being gifted by living healthier lives. I am creating educational programs and assembling a set of tools and resources to demonstrate how to use the web to generate new income streams with limited financial risk. I want to customize these offerings to the 50Plus experience, needs and state of mind. In my teaching at Lean Launch Ventures I helped teams of Millennials and a few Gen Xers build scalable businesses whereas at the School of Visual Arts I introduced mostly Millennial students to both scalable and micro-business startups. It is clear to me that the wealth of knowledge, talent, wisdom and experience that most of us in the 50Plus demographic possess is the ideal raw material out of which to build a foundation for a web-based micro-business. That foundation needs to be a subject on which you can claim and demonstrate authority

My business will rest on authority I have earned from experience as a serial entrepreneur, teacher, mentor and self-taught student of the web since the early 1990’s. My teaching to date has convinced me of one thing: the greatest impact on students is always "case studies" of real people who had built or were building real things and could talk in depth about their experience. To provide the best education on how to build an online micro-business I will use a range of case studies highlighting some of my micro-entrepreneurial role models. In fact I will begin doing so in this post. My preference is not just to summarize what I have read or learned about them, I hope to provide audio or video recordings of personal interviews with some, if not all, over time. However, I want to go one step further: I am offering myself as an ongoing live "case study". I will show you how to leverage your own history to build a micro-business by putting details of my own attempt on display. There have been other examples of businesses built with various degrees of public exposure which I have studied, but doing it myself for you will be new, not to mention a little intimidating. I intend to structure the site with community elements so we can interact. I want to see the results of the help you get from me. At the same time you will not only see, but have a direct impact on my outcome. We will be in this together.

The key to generating income in any entrepreneurial venture is finding a need and filling it for others, providing something of value they are willing to pay for. The solution may be a product or a service. To understand this let’s start with a simple product, information that people want to learn. Two of my best online role models are great examples that both started by offering valuable information based on authority. The talented Gen-Xer from my new hometown of Portland, Oregon, Chris Guillebeau, author of the $100 Startup had a cameo appearance in my last post. Chris has been publishing for years on his website the Art of Non-Conformity (AONC) which is still his by-line but no longer his primary URL which has been changed to his name dot com. Chris currently describes AONC on his About page as, “a home for unconventional people doing remarkable things.” He goes on to describe himself by saying, “I write books and travel. Over the past ten years I visited every country in the world—but my next quest is just beginning.” Chris goes on to say “the purpose of AONC is to share the story of how to change the world by achieving personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, we focus on three core areas: Life, Work and Travel.” In the language of AONC my personal goal for my new website is to launch a micro-business that will help change the world for as many of my fellow 50Plus cohort members as I can by sharing what I have learned.

I have subscribed to Chris’s postings on AONC for years, but I only met him this past spring when he threw out to his readers on AONC the offer to be part of a a class he was going to teach on Creative Live in Seattle. It was limited to a live audience of 10, an interesting mix of Millennials, Gen X and 50Plus because the Creative Live format has teachers "workshop" the issues being covered in class with members of the audience one on one to demonstrate how we could actually apply what we were learning.  We spent 4 days doing 3 shows that were streamed live on the web and 27 others that were pre-recorded for release every week day over the following 6 weeks. Chris is an amazing guy, very focused. Chris exudes authority on travel, the subject of the class in Seattle.  His travel authority is rooted in the quest he set out on to visit every country in the world using the alternative “currency” of airline miles. Chris accomplished it over a 10 year period. He visited 193 countries (he is @193Countries on Instagram), which helped him build an amazing following deeply rooted in his authority on travel, His authority has only expanded over the years, allowing him to develop authority in new domains like life and work.

My second online role model is a Millennial, Pat Flynn. Pat lives in San Diego and describes himself as, “a leader in the areas of online entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and lifestyle businesses”. He goes on to say, “(I) overcame career adversity at an early age by finding [my] own path and true passion.” In 2008 as a recent UC Berkeley architecture grad with a good job Pat got laid off as the recession hit. He was scared and said, “with the economy in crisis, I wasn’t sure how, when, or where I was going to find another job, especially one that I liked. It was all a bit maddening. Then a crazy idea popped into my head: I could work for myself.” Pat discovered that a study-reference blog he had initially started as a means to organize his notes as he prepared to test for an elite industry certification was his path to self-reliance. By inadvertently building a sizable core audience he had established a foothold on the web for himself as an authority in a very narrow niche, the LEED exam for architects, almost without trying. The good news: it became his springboard to a multifaceted career on the web as an authority on online business. [Note: Pat’s original LEED study guide effort still generates an average of ~$2,000 / month in revenue in 2016] Since the early days, Pat described has himself as “the crash test dummy of online business”. His primary business now is rooted in his website Smart Passive Income (SPI) where he has been a pioneer in creating transparency around how online businesses operate. The word transparency is largely rooted in the fact that every month, since October 2008, Pat has published a full financial report of all income and expenses from all of his online businesses, a number of which continues to grow. The report is always a fascinating and highly educational read. He has now catalyzed the formation of an informal cohort that follow his lead in writing this type of monthly report. We will delve into his reports and those of others as we go.

The next question is this: how can authority be leveraged to create income? For now, I would like to emphasize a common denominator in both Chris’ and Pat’s approach to making money online. They both have always given away substantial amounts of valuable information. On his website Chris states, “All of the writing on the AONC site is presented freely with no outside advertising. If you’d like to support the project, pass it on to someone who might be interested.” On Pat’s SPI site he does the same thing but is also transparent on the subject of “affiliate” income that he earns when his readers opt to use tools he uses to run his business. Pat only makes money when his readers make the tool providers aware of Pat’s referral, there is no obligation to use anything that he uses. However, being the “crash test dummy” that he is, Pat tries a lot of tools and generally only uses the best in class. Just to be clear, affiliate income can be earned in a transparent, mutually beneficial manner, and it is an important tool many sites use to capitalize on authority. I will address the full range of ways to generate income on the web in much more detail as we continue our journey.

The important point about both Chris and Pat’s business models is that they both pack their blog postings and in Pat’s case, his podcast and live experiments with Periscope, with an incredible amount of valuable free information. It is not that Chris and Pat don’t want to make money, they just don’t want to do it on their websites through constant high pressure, direct, and in your face, offers. Chris doesn’t report his finances in the same way that Pat does, but in the public domain you can see he earns money from a number of different books he has written, two annual conferences he runs in Portland each summer, the largest, now in its sixth year being the World Domination Summit which drew over 3,000 attendees in 2015, a separate subscription based travel hacking website and more. These all represent income streams that sprang from his authority established via the web that has continued to expand over time into other domains.

I have never met Pat in person, but I am just winding down my participation on a “launch team” of over 400 people out of Pat’s private 20,000+ member Smart Passive Income Facebook group. We received early access to Pat’s first major printed book, Will It Fly, a wonderful treatise on how to validate an idea for a startup, providing feedback along the way. It was released today, February 1. The “launch team” was a brilliant marketing idea that was first introduced to Pat's Smart Passive Income audience in the closing months of 2015 by a guest on his podcast.

 

It turns out Chris also has another book coming to add to his growing list of titles, entitled Born for This. It will be released April 5th. He too is employing a “launch team” but I am not part of his, having missed a chance to join it. I will cover both of these books in more detail in later posts. Will It Fly is actually my choice of a textbook, or at least suggested reading, for the educational programs that I am creating for the new website. I have used a number of different books over time, but Will It Fly is a classic even before its release. In the spirit of transparency, I should note for my readers that I have no financial interest whatsoever in Pat’s book, I am only an early reader of it, and I am quite impressed by what he has done within its pages.

I intend to pull back the curtain on the new website in February. It is not a finished product, and it still won’t be when I introduce it. It will purposely be a work in progress so that you can see exactly where I am starting, see what I have done, hear what I am thinking and hopefully provide some input on my ideas so I can best serve your needs. I will move most of my past blog posts over to it so that the archive continues to build along with the list of other types of resources. The educational offerings are still being fine tuned, and will take a few more weeks to finalize but I will provide some peeks to get feedback, maybe even form a small launch team for support.

 

Please subscribe to my e-mail list to keep abreast of future posts and the announcement of the new website.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50Plus jobs: micro-entrepreneurs create their own - why wait for "economic development"

$100 Startup Japan Manga Pic.png

 

"No money, no skill, just a tiny bit of an idea and its good for salarymen, office ladies, students, and seniors."

The book in the picture is the¥10,000 Startup, a 2015 Manga-style, Japanese language translation and adaptation of a very successful book published in English in 2012 by Chris Guillebeau, a fellow Portland resident, best-selling author and life-long micro-entrepreneur. The translation of the banner on the cover, "no money, no skill, just a tiny bit of an idea and it’s good for salarymen, office ladies, students, and seniors", immediately caught my eye. Those words could be the first sentence of my call to arms to anyone in the 50Plus demographic worried about a potential coming shortfall of their financial plan resulting from our unexpected good fortune of living longer than expected.

In a recent blog post, I made reference to current data from BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, to estimate the size of the problem facing the 50Plus demographic. The answer: the average Baby Boomer (75 million of the 110 million 50Plus demographic) in the US is likely to fall $36,350 per year short of their own estimate of a $45,500 annual income goal given that they currently have only $136,200 in retirement assets shown in Figure 2. The question stands, can this hurdle be cleared?

 

Figure 2: from  BlackRock Global Investor Pulse Survey  July/August 2015

Figure 2: from BlackRock Global Investor Pulse Survey July/August 2015

Clearing a $36,350 annual hurdle is achievable for an individual with experience, knowledge, talent and a willingness to work—the key traits of the average 50Plus individual. Chris’ original, English-language version of his book entitled The $100 Startup used the subtitle, "Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future", a perfect phrase to complete my call to arms to my 50Plus brethren. Chris was presenting the case for "micro-business" creation based on "micro-entrepreneurship". My only explicit additive would be a simple catalyst: understanding of the power of the Internet to reach almost any other human being on the planet with an offer. That is the basis of success for many "micro-entrepreneurs " today. 

In December 2013, I wrote a blog post entitled “Goal: Job Creation - Scalable Startups vs Micro-Entrepreneur Training.” The $100 Startup was one of three books I referenced. The primary target for the post was my class of millennial students at the School of Visual Arts in the MFA in Design for Social Innovation program. I was using the $100 Startup and Be a Free Range Human - Escape the 9 to 5, Create the Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills, by Marianne Cantwell, to explain the difference between entrepreneurial ventures aimed at launching "scalable" startups, requiring significant financial investment, contrasting them with the "micro-business" model needing, as the Manga translation says, "no money, no skill, just a tiny bit of an idea". Clearly, the first two books carried the micro-entrepreneurship message. The third book I cited was The Startup Owner's Manual by my friend Bob Dorf and his partner Steve Blank which emphasized the “lean” approach to building scalable startups.

A secondary target for the original blog post was government economic development officials. Besides teaching at SVA, I was acting as a consultant to the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development on the creation of a more entrepreneur friendly “innovation ecosystem” in the state. The marching orders of these folks in CT, and elsewhere, is to stimulate the creation of, or the import of, jobs, jobs and more jobs, preferably in fast growing industries. In my experience, when the question of how to do this comes up, the answer reflects economic developer's fondest dream, “we need a Facebook, a Google, an Apple, another Priceline (a CT company), some true high growth companies in this geography. We only need one or two to solve a lot of our job problems”. When pressed as to what they really wanted, the answer in CT was often "just take me to the NY Tech Meetup (where I was active in the Leadership Circle), introduce me to some of your friends and help me steal a few young scalable growth companies".

Lots of public money gets spent trying to seed or create the “conditions” for high growth companies based on the fantasy: they will create the lion's share of the missing jobs. I was challenging this thinking in my 2013 blog post by asking, "why not experiment with some portion of economic development funds by training people to create their own jobs by building micro-businesses"? I pointed out that entrepreneurship is not a genetic trait, it can be learned. Case studies like those in Chris' $100 Startup, Marianne's Be a Free Range Human or about friends of mine who have done it are the best way to teach it. The goal of my challenge: track how many individuals can create their own “jobs” as micro-entrepreneurs by leveraging their existing knowledge, skills and talents mostly via an effective use of the Internet. 50Plus individuals are the perfect test cases for this experiment today. I strongly believe that the “job market,” jobs created by others, especially by "high growth" companies, are not going to be the safety net for the 50Plus demographic. We must experiment. Let's explore the real power of micro-entrepreneurship to understand how it "scales".

This series of posts on the 50Plus demographic has been leading up to the launch of a new website, which I am almost ready to reveal. Historically, I built scalable startups but never a true micro-business. My mission is to build a micro-business in full view, demonstrating to the 50Plus demographic how to leverage one's knowledge, talent and experience, in my case as a serial entrepreneur, mentor and teacher. My goal is to help as many members of the 50Plus demographic as I can create their own jobs. I am not without my own role models. I have been following some carefully over time. They happen to be millennials and young Gen X'ers, folks like Chris Guillebeau, Pat Flynn, Marianne Cantwell and others who took the plunge and figured this out at different points in the last decade and are still doing extremely well. I will hopefully introduce you to some of them along the way. Their stories are amazing. Ours can be too!


If you haven’t done so already, subscribe to my e-mail list to receive notices of my remaining posts in the 50Plus series on this website and the announcement of my new website. I look forward to serving you and getting to know you in the process. Let's do this together!

Serendipity: A Perfect Ingredient to help Solve the Challenges Facing the 50Plus Demographic

   A "serendipitous" four peak day on Jan 10, 2016 near Portland, Oregon on a 2 hour drive never more than 45 miles from my front door all taken from Oregon vistas. Clockwise: Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.

 

A "serendipitous" four peak day on Jan 10, 2016 near Portland, Oregon on a 2 hour drive never more than 45 miles from my front door all taken from Oregon vistas. Clockwise: Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.

Serendipity was the subject of my first two blog posts in September and October 2013. Both posts were different takes on how we can create our own serendipity. I have been a long time believer in serendipity since I can point to a fair amount of it in my own life. I have had enough of it that I strongly believe there are a number of different ways you can increase your odds of experiencing it. I highly recommend conferences and other well chosen gatherings as starting points since they have been a primary source of serendipitous interactions with people, organizations and ideas that have changed my life. In most cases I likely would not have encountered them in any other way.

In 2015, as my focus for this blog shifted from millennials to the needs of the 50Plus demographic, I hadn't yet thought to touch on serendipity again. It was an article in the NY Times the week before last by Pagan Kennedy entitled Cultivating the Art of Serendipity that put it back on my radar screen. Her subtitle makes a point that caught my eye right away, "Innovation isn't all hard work or dumb luck: It's about paying attention". Kennedy’s timing was itself serendipitous because I quickly realized that I had overlooked that serendipity can be a key ingredient in helping the 50Plus demographic to face its major financial challenges in the coming years.

My message to the 110 million strong 50Plus demographic is this: we have to begin to embrace entrepreneurship to generate the additional income needed to overcome the structural problem of outliving our financial plans. In short, for many, “entrepreneurship will be a necessity, not a choice”. Just to be clear, when I use the term entrepreneurship I start with entrepreneurial thinking. Learning to think like an entrepreneur isn’t based on genetics, it is not a trait that you either inherited or you didn’t. It is a learned behavior accessible to all of us. I am not suggesting it is an easy learning curve, but I can speak from experience as a serial entrepreneur, as well as from teaching others, it can be done.

Tina Seelig, a leader of Stanford University's preeminent entrepreneurship program, provided a definition of entrepreneurship in her book Insight Out. In her words, “entrepreneurship involves building the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to see problems as opportunities and to leverage resources to bring ideas to fruition.” In her book, Seelig presents what she has dubbed the four part Invention Cycle. This cycle is  rooted in using curiosity to spur your imagination, which then seeds creativity to allow one to visualize innovations, which finally opens the door to the act of entrepreneurship to bring them to fruition. Seelig doesn’t mention serendipity. However, reflecting on the first part of Pagan Kennedy’s subtitle, “Innovation isn't all hard work or dumb luck”, I would suggest that "cultivated serendipity" is “smart luck”, which I assume is why Kennedy describes it as being, “about paying attention”. I would hold that smart luck based on paying attention is a perfect additive to the Invention Cycle. My gut says Seelig could agree with that.

The 50Plus demographic is loaded with experience, knowledge and well honed skills. Cultivating “smart luck” by paying attention with the right attitude seems like what the doctor ordered to get us on track to solving our own problems. If any demographic can do it, we can.

Having defined the scale of the problem in my last post, coming up with another key ingredient here, in the next few posts in this series I will explain my thoughts on how this all fits together and most importantly why I am confident that if we stay focused we can succeed in controlling our own destinies. It is not too late! I will share more details of my own experiences and those of others, including stories of folks who have cultivated serendipity in various ways to succeed as entrepreneurs. My focus is going to be heavily skewed towards micro-entrepreneurship, starting small to create our own jobs without taking huge financial risks. This is in contrast to trying to fulfill the dreams of economic development officials looking for the next Facebook, Google, Apple or sharing economy startup to create massive numbers of new jobs in their geography. I will emphasize that working smart in this day and age means acknowledging the power the Internet, not ignoring it. A few more posts will take us to the launch of my offering to the 50Plus community based on a new website later this month or in early February. I am excited to share it with you!

Stay tuned a little longer…..in the meantime please continue to comment here or e-mail me at weg3@me.com.

 

 

 

50Plus Entrepreneurship ..... choice or necessity?

Cannon Beach, Oregon at sunset

Cannon Beach, Oregon at sunset

In a recent pair of posts in August I began to focus on the 50Plus demographic and the needs we already have or will discover in this new phase of life. In the first post Finding Purpose: Good Advice at Any Age I highlighted the need many of us have to find purpose, to do something we love, that will make a meaningful impact on the world. My conclusion was that entrepreneurial thinking will be a necessary tool to find our purpose this time. The second post Diversity Drives Innovation … Don’t Forget Age Diversity picked up with a discussion highlighting how much innovation in this country is currently being led by a highly undiversified group of millennial males in Silicon Valley. I pointed out that at 50Plus we have lots of current needs and will continue to have more, some that are a direct result of the biological aging process, while others that will arise just because we have more time. My conclusion was that we can’t wait for teams of millennial males in Silicon Valley to read our minds. We can’t be afraid to step up and participate in the innovations that will be needed. I closed the second post by saying that I would be writing more soon and hinting at the launch of a new 50Plus focused website. Unfortunately the months of September and October ended up being devoted to traveling to be with and/or take care of three family members on the right tail of the 50Plus age curve all in their mid-90s. These trips interfered with my blogging and launch schedules but strengthened my resolve to help others in the 50Plus demographic understand the challenges of aging in the US, the need for entrepreneurial thinking to establish a sense of purpose and mount the conviction to have an impact, especially on our own financial plans, as we age

Many of you know me but for those who are new let me give you the highlights of my journey. It will help you understand my qualifications to speak about entrepreneurship in the 50Plus demographic as well as to propose solutions based on entrepreneurial thinking.

I am a 50Plus serial entrepreneur bitten by the entrepreneurial bug in my early 40s. My first serious success was working with partners to build and operate broadband systems in four major countries of Europe which led to a healthy exit in 2002. That exit gave me the gift of time to devote to my young family in the formative years for my two sons. I guarded my time and got involved only in projects which didn't require travel that could disrupt coaching Little League, helping with homework and just being present for my boys. In 2009 my focus shifted to not just doing, but teaching, entrepreneurship. It started when I planted a seed for the Innovation Center in the old town hall in Stamford, CT which finally launched in 2012 while serving as an important catalyst for the new state level innovation ecosystem, CT Next. I ran two accelerator programs together with a partner, Andy Moss, as part of the broader state effort that created CT Next. The first program was a pilot to test a curriculum while the second effort was done in partnership with the VC arm of the state, CT Innovations. Andy and I created Lean Launch Ventures (LLV) to provide state-funded stipends to teams in a 90 day program run out of the Westport, CT office of Canaan Partners. For LLV we used the Y-Combinator model of regular office hours plus a gathering once a week to break bread, share updates and listen to stories by guest entrepreneurs from our networks. In the fall of 2013, before we launched another LLV accelerator, the opportunity to teach entrepreneurship to MFA candidates in the nascent Design for Social Innovation program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC reeled me in. It was a fantastic 3 semester experience before Noelle and I, 50Plus empty nesters, decided to make our first major 50Plus life change last December by moving to Portland, Oregon. 

Settling into Portland this year the realization hit me that I had needed more than a geographical change with better weather, I had a deeper need. It wasn't merely the question "what's next?" It was the "what's my purpose" question, what should I devote my time to in order to make a real difference doing something I love? Having made major career changes at least every 10 years of my adult life I knew this one would require more reflection and soul searching than any of the changes in the past. At least I had a starting point, my love for entrepreneurship, both doing it and teaching others how to bring their ideas to life. It had brought me in touch with talented millennials with amazing passion and entrepreneurial drive. I gained inspiration from their energy and willingness to try new things like the nascent "sharing economy". However, as I reflected, I realized in between my formal teaching efforts, I had come in contact with a lot of people like myself, 50Plus trying to answer "what's next?" as well as their own "what's my purpose" question. With my real passion clearly being entrepreneurship, I began to investigate the question embedded in the title of this post - will entrepreneurship be a choice or a necessity for the 50Plus demographic going forward?

The Kauffman Foundation, the self-proclaimed Foundation of Entrepreneurship, publishes an annual report on the State of Entrepreneurship in the US. The 2015 edition, entitled “The Future of Entrepreneurship”, focused solely on Millennials and Baby Boomers, trying to predict what we will each be doing entrepreneurially out to 2020. Baby Boomers are a close proxy for the 50Plus demographic given that we currently span the ages 51 to 69. The report points out that at the moment entrepreneurship is enjoying a renaissance in the US driven by Millennials and Boomers together, each with our own needs. It highlights that Baby Boomers became entrepreneurs in large numbers during the IT revolution of the 1980s and 90s. Many of us, like myself, are now “serial” entrepreneurs which is why collectively we have already started a larger number of businesses during our 50s and 60s than our parents and grandparents. The report holds out hope that, for the sake of the US economy, our entrepreneurial exploits will continue. However, early evidence suggests we are beginning to extend our stays in the workforce opting not to start as many new ventures. The broad summary is that many of us have a very real concern for making ends meet and that unfortunately we may not turn to entrepreneurship as often to solve this problem going forward. 

Kauffman Foundations's Vision Statement proclaims they want to support “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” However, the 2015 Kauffman report sets foot on a slippery slope when it states that a significant portion of current Boomer entrepreneurial activity has to be classified as “necessity entrepreneurship". They don't just slip but fall hard when they add, efforts to create self-employment don't qualify as real "entrepreneurship". Unfortunately Kauffman Foundation doesn’t provide a formal definition of entrepreneurship anywhere on its website. 

Babson College is the one college is the US completely devoted to teaching entrepreneurship. The Babson Vision Statement is very different: “We want to be the preeminent institution in the world for Entrepreneurial Thought and Action (their new trademarked phrase) — and known for it. We want to expand the notion of entrepreneurship to embrace and celebrate entrepreneurs of all kinds. We want to put the power of entrepreneurship, as a force for economic and social value creation, in as many hands in the world as we can.” The Babson definition of entrepreneurship really syncs with my view when they say:  “We are all entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship often is associated with startups, and venture capital, and business incubators. But, at Babson, we’ve redefined what entrepreneurship means to include all of the brilliant improvisers who continually assess how to use their strengths and resources at hand to evolve and reach their goals.” Finally, its Mission Statement is very simple: “Babson College educates entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value—everywhere.”

A very important quote comes from Tina Seelig of Stanford University's preeminent entrepreneurship program. In her new book Insight Out, she highlights a long standing saying from the Stanford entrepreneurship programs, "Entrepreneurs do much more than imaginable with much less than seems possible". She punctuated this saying with her own words, "as this message communicates, entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting companies. It’s about starting anything. Entrepreneurship involves building the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to see problems as opportunities and to leverage resources to bring ideas to fruition." Let's hold that thought!

Over the course of my first year in Portland it has become crystal clear to me that with advancements in our understanding of how to live healthier lives coupled with a range of medical breakthroughs, many of us in the 50Plus demographic are very likely to outlive any financial plans we have already put in place. I continue to meet people regularly for whom this is the case, not the least of which are some of my own aged extended family members. For most, the current and likely future state of the job market and government programs for older people in this country will not be enough to avoid this outcome. We are going to have to innovate. Entrepreneurial thinking will be required for us to summon the creativity to come up with new ways to continue earning a living well past 50. The good news is that entrepreneurial thinking not a genetic trait, it is an instinct, we all have it and can learn to use it. If we are going to take care of ourselves to avoid being a burden to our kids in our final decades, we have to continue to be entrepreneurial. 50Plus entrepreneurship will be a necessity, not a choice for lots of us. 

For a definition of entrepreneurship I like Babson's but Tina Selig's is just right, "entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting companies, it’s about starting anything". Entrepreneurship isn't just about taking risks by raising money, although it can be. Applying entrepreneurial thinking to conceptualize and create new forms of self employment is going to be very important. Luckily there are new ways to monetize our experience and authority in a connected world that many in the 50Plus demographic have yet to fully appreciate. We need to take a careful look at all of our options, leaving no stone unturned.

In closing let me extend an analogy I first made in my last blog post. There are 110 million of us in the 50Plus demographic in the USA alone. We have collectively made significant impacts on the world but clearly can't afford to stop. If we were an independent nation we would be the 12th largest nation on the planet. As an independent nation we would need to take a careful look at how an economy made up of a demographic with its youngest members being 50 years old would function. We would undoubtably recognize that we have a lot of needs to fill and problems to solve, some very challenging. It wouldn't be easy but who doubts that we would succeed?

Beyond that simple thought experiment there is no reason why we should work alone. Our borders should be open, welcoming millennials, Gen X and future generations to share their best thinking and talents with those of us that are 50Plus. We will promise to continue to share ours with them. Real innovation happens best with diversity of all kinds, especially a healthy dose of age diversity, rooted in clear entrepreneurial thinking.