Tag Archives: baby boomers

Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs: Trick or Trend


Thanks to the Wall Street Journal’s 8 Monday Morning Must Reads I discovered USA Today’s Older entrepreneurs find new niche in startups. This doesn’t surprise me at all, but it was good to see it in print. The quick summary:

Over the past decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55 to 64 age group, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City, Mo.-based entrepreneurship institute. The 20 to 34 age bracket has the lowest rate. Kauffman’s latest study shows that about 23% of new entrepreneurs in 2010 were in the 55 to 64 age group, compared with 15% in 1996.

Much as I like these numbers, there’s a bit of a statistical ruse here. Basic demographics. there’s The trend may not be anything more than the influence of sheer numbers. Take a look at this chart:

US Birthrate

The line there is births per year, and the pop up in the line, the blue portion, is the baby boom years. The so-called baby boomers — me included — were born from 1946 to 1958. They are the blue portion of that birth rate line above. So in 1996 we were 50 to 38, and therefore not included in the 55-64 stats. In 2010, however, we were 64 to 52, right in the sweet spot of the statistics. So it might easily be that the pop in the stats isn’t a change in trends, but a reflection of higher numbers of people in the 55-64 age group.

On the other hand, I hope it’s not just statistical distortion. I’d like to think it’s a reflection of increasing longevity and a decline in the strength of the myth or retirement. I think retirement is a social tradition developed in the past for very old people; to a lot of the baby boomers, me included, it’s a nightmare. But careers change and life changes around the ages 55-65, as kids grow up and careers stagnate. And a 60-year-old competent person has another 20, 30 or more years of life expectancy. That’s a long time to sit in a rocking chair. For my part, I posted here just last week about me getting involved in new startups. And I’ve posted here before on how much I don’t want to retire, ever.

Furthermore, there’s a bit of a push and shove in these statistics. Try leaving a job and getting another when you’re 55 to 64. Good luck with that. So you build your own job. And more power to you.


(image: wikipedia)

What You Don’t Know About Second Life Can Hurt You

Recently I heard this called “the second life.” You might have heard the phrase “midlife crisis.” And you’re probably aware of baby boomers turning 60, and boomer entrepreneurship. Retirement? Golden years? Hooey.

Amazing fact: Humans have existed for a few million years, but it’s only in the last century or so that we have this second life. In 1900 the average life expectancy was 47 years, and only 1 in 25 people reached 60.

Think about it: most of us spend our first adulthood marking a living, pairing up, building careers, raising children, and having not a spare moment to think about anything but work, kids, problems, and getting by. We hope we’re developing and growing, but we don’t have a lot of time to reflect.

Then, in what seems afterwards to have been in a blink of an eye, you’re 50 something, and wondering what’s next. Maybe you buy into retirement, and the lure of the golden years, and maybe not. But when you reach 60 you still have a life expectancy of another 25 years or so. And that’s a lifetime. A second lifetime.

I don’t buy the golden years idea, sitting around, beaches and rocking chairs … normal people need something to do. And it has to be something they believe matters.

A couple of Saturdays ago I attended a seminar given by James Hollis, author and psychologist, during which he brought up his version of the second life. It was an interesting day. Hollis has done a lot of writing, analysis, speaking, and teaching about how we deal with the second life. This seminar was built around his latest book, what matters most.

I think I’ve been lucky. What I do now — this blog, twitter, several books, speaking, and teaching — seems as important to me as what I used to do. And I really like it. I posted earlier here Why I’ll Never Retire, and I’m sticking to it.

But what about you? What are you going to do with your second life?