Ageism Dapper Man

The Workplace Isn’t Always Fair.

As I write this, the USA is slogging through another Presidential campaign. We have 5 candidates over 70 years old that are campaigning for a very tough job. However, employers throughout the country think that 65 is an upper limit and in a recent study 20% of people over 40 have reported age discrimination.

Ageism is subtle but real. If you are looking for work you’ll hear ageism code phrases like “you are overqualified”, “we’re seeking a recent college graduate”, or “young company seeks energetic professional”.

You would be right to say that there are laws that protect us against age discrimination, but if the company takes clever steps, it can be disguised and you’re out of luck. And to complicate things, even if an organization provides bias training to their employees, it rarely includes ageism.

Take Control Of Your Fate.

Accepting responsibility for putting yourself at risk of ageism is the first step. “I’m too old to learn this tech stuff” “I can’t keep up with the young people” is Bull ___!! It’s up to you and nobody else to not get aged out of a job. Don’t buy into your negative chatter. If you don’t want to be left behind, you have to adapt – it’s your choice.

Here Are Six Suggestions To Reduce Your Risk Of Being A Victim Of Ageism:

  1. Don’t stop learning – here is my previous post on Staying Sharp
  2. Work to stay on top of technology – “Digital Native” is a term used to describe people exposed to technology at a young age. It’s also another code word term used to eliminate older people in job ads. If you didn’t have a laptop in your crib as a kid, you are too old. Leave your ego outside and seek out younger people and ask for help and advice.
  3. Keep your network current especially with the younger generations. Connect with a diverse group of people. Compared to when we started 40-ish years ago, there are far more women and people of different ethnic backgrounds rising to positions of power in all industries. Dive in and interact with them. Be curious. You can only benefit from different points of views. See my earlier post on networking:
  4. Being seen as a tired old grandma or grandpa isn’t a good for you if you want to stick around. This is another situation where you have to take responsibility. If you need to lose weight and get in better shape, make it happen. I know it’s easy to say, but I’ve made it a priority to stay fit and keep my weight down. By the way, don’t dress like you’re the oldest one in the place.
  5. Act as if, act vital, act capable, and act as an equal. Don’t allow yourself to be seen as checking-out, over the hill or inflexible. Our attitudes towards getting older have an impact on our bodies and mind.
  6. Don’t blend in and don’t become invisible. Adapt, remain relevant and have a purpose for being there, it will show. Look for ways to show your value. Don’t shy away from opportunities to push yourself.

Tough Decisions May Be Ahead

With all that being said, tough decisions still may be waiting for you. If you are in a 40 year career, enjoying the benefits of annual pay increases, you may be considered expensive compared to someone with 10 years in the business. Are you prepared to make a tough decision to keep your pay in line with the budget?

Don’t wait, start today. Be proactive in reducing your risks of being a victim of ageism.


Tips To “Don’t Worry And Be Happy” In Your Extra Innings

It’s easy to be discouraged and down when you get to our age. Whether you are entering your 50’s or 60’s, getting older can have a negative effect on our overall attitude and outlook. In fact our bodies don’t work as well as they used to. You feel good, but when you get out of a chair…. The mirror can be a bit too honest with us. Or if you’re like me, when you see pictures of yourself you go “what happened?”

Reality is major setbacks happen in life. We lose friends and family faster and faster as we age. Major illnesses hit us or the people we love more frequently. These blows seem to hit us harder as we get further down life’s highway.

As you approach or enter retirement, you lose the identity you’ve been carrying around for years: “I’m a teacher” “I’m a plumber” “I’m a nurse” “I’m an engineer”. It can be a blow to your ego when you start thinking “I used to be a (Enter Past Career Here)”.

Don’t buy into the “Old Fart” stereotype.

Sam Harris, author of Waking says “We make the mistake of viewing life as a journey to a destination. We should be viewing life as a series of experiences that only end when we do.” Even as we age, we have a ton of these experiences in front of us to enjoy. In fact there are our families to enjoy and our grand kids to spoil and love. We can still explore and learn.                                                         

It’s up to us if we’re going to be down in the dumps like Grumpy Old Men or smiling and living every day. Don’t wait until you find yourself in a hole and you discover you’re still digging.

Here are some tips that can help you maintain a positive outlook:

  • Take responsibility for managing what is going on inside your head. What are you focusing on? How do you talk to yourself? Be positive and spread it around.
  • Don’t let your body decline; your mind will be next. How are you staying fit and physically active? Are you eating well? See my previous post:
  • Be proud of your experiences and success, and act that way.
  • Make a list of all the good things that are going on in your life. Start each day with a gratitude list, 5 things you are grateful for.
  • Make yourself feel happy. Stand up straight and make yourself smile. Do it in front of a mirror and get a laugh. If you want to go hardcore do as I do; when I’m done with my morning shower, I turn the water to full cold for 1 minute. It snaps you out of any funk you may be in and when it’s over, you feel like the day can only go up from there.
  • Lose The News. Turn off the news on TV and on the radio. There is nothing going on that you can influence or that has an immediate impact on you. If something serious happens, don’t worry, you’ll find out. In truth, I am guilty as anyone. It’s easy to drive to and from work and listen to the 24-7 gloom and doom reports about how bad the democrats or the republican are. And by the time you get there or home you’re depressed. Listen to audio-books or subscribe to free podcasts on any subject you want like art, hunting, cooking, science, or history. Use the time to learn something.
  • Have a purpose, a mission. Keep engaged with 2-3 core pursuits. Mine are this blog, fitness and joining our condo board.  Start developing them now, before you need them.
  • Use the time at home to learn a new skill or hobby. I’m trying to learn the Ukulele. See  my previous post on Staying Sharp:
  • Get out and reconnect with friends and family you’ve grown a part from. Loneliness is a serious issue with seniors so pay attention to this now.
  • I’m not a very religious person, but the Serenity Prayer offers serious life advice:  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”

Be Like The New England Patriots, Or The Seattle Seahawks. Your Choice.

In a 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated there was an article about how the Patriots and Seahawks benefited by a book on Stoic Philosophy called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holliday. Here’s a link to the article:

The School of Athens

Stoicism goes back 2000 years and lays out methods for dealing with the hardships we face in life and managing the emotions that go along with them. In my opinion, Ryan Holiday’s book is the best and most accessible source of Stoic philosophy. The Obstacle Is The Way was also recently mentioned by the pro golfer Rory McElroy as his guide to maintaining a positive mind set during the ups and downs of his career.

If you’re like me in your early 60’s, based on the current projections, I have another quarter of my life remaining. I sure don’t want to spend that time feeling bad that I can’t do some things I used to.Quite frankly, there are too many things I can do and too much life left to live. I’m choosing to live instead of waiting to die.


Do you know that in the last 10 years, the number of workers over the age of 65 has doubled? Why you ask? The Baby Boomer generation is hitting retirement age with the knowledge that funding their retirement may be a problem. According to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of those surveyed said having enough for retirement was their main financial concern and are delaying retirement.

But also, these folks have positive reasons to keep working. Let me explain the good and the not so good reasons your baby boomers are sticking around. Here is a summary of the reasons I detailed in previous posts:

9 Reasons Your Baby Boomer Crew Is Sticking Around.

  • People are living longer. While that is good news, someone 60 years old today needs to plan on being around for 30 more years.
  • This also means that more people are directly involved in eldercare, with elderly parents living with them.
  • In 2001, the average 401k balance for people between 55 and 65 was $120,000. The average net worth for the same group was $170,000.
  • According to USA Today, couples retiring at 65 can expect to pay $240,000 in healthcare expense in their golden years. If you don’t have enough stashed away, that could be a problem.
  • By holding off on filing for social security beyond their full retirement date, retirees can expect the amount they will collect to increase by up to 8% every year they hold off. It’s hard to beat that as a low-risk investment these days.
  • Low interest rates are resulting in poor retirement savings earnings.
  • People are still dealing with upside-down mortgages or minimal equity. During the housing bubble prior to the great recession, a lot of people believed housing values would continue to rise to the heavens. Many refinanced to pay for home improvements, college educations and other things. Unfortunately, home values dropped, some below their mortgage debt levels. There has been a steady recovery in home values, but not to where people hoped to be at this time. Some estimates have 20% of baby boomers with are still underwater with their home mortgages or have minimal equity.
  • They may like what they do and believe it or not, like working for you. In fact they have skills they enjoy using and are proud of.
  • They like the socialization they get at work. Except for Bob in accounting, they like the people they work with and are afraid they’ll lose these friendships if they retire.

The Value Of The Baby Boomer Workforce

There are good reasons you may want to keep these folks around. Besides the issue with not having enough young people coming up behind them, these are some other reasons:

  • Low absenteeism.
  • They are settled and stable. They are no longer trying to conquer the world and are unlikely to jump ship.
  • They have a stronger work ethic, the old fashion kind.
  • Their experience. They possess wisdom and knowledge acquired over their 30-40 year careers.
  • This experience also gives them stronger industry knowledge and stronger networks.
  • Older workers tend to be solid leaders and communicators. We didn’t grow up in our careers talking through emails & text messages. We had to pick up the phone and talk to people.
  • They can be excellent mentors for your younger staff members.

Is Your Business Ready For An Older Workforce?

Your business will be faced with people delaying retirement. Are you ready?

There are potential risks that go along with an older workforce. Consider this, baby boomers are more cautious and more alert to work site risks and therefore don’t get hurt as often as younger workers. But the reality is, if they get hurt, they don’t bounce back as fast and may be out of work longer.

The bottom line is you need to take a serious look at the work environment and see if there are any risks you should deal with. Here’s a list of potential issues to look into:

  • Are there any unnecessary tripping hazards?
  • Are there any accessibility hazards such as steps that are too tall, pathways too narrow, or low lying head impact risks?
  • Can prolonged sedentary or repetitive work be minimized?
  • Are there noise issues that need to be dealt with?
  • Is lighting sufficient.
  • You may also want to minimize injury risks by promoting and providing training for health and lifestyle improvements. This could include stop-smoking, flexibility, and fitness

Having older workers around for longer than they or you have planned is a reality for most employers. It’s in your best interest to embrace this and plan ahead to make it work for you and to minimize the risks involved. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.