Over four decades, Patti Temple Rocks has held senior leadership positions in three distinct communication sectors: PR, advertising, and corporate/client side. She is an inspirational leader, innovative thinker, problem-solver, growth driver, brand steward, and an agent of change. Patti is passionate about fighting age discrimination and helping people understand how it harms individuals, businesses, and society, as a whole. You can learn more about this issue at Imnotdone.rocks.
Listen in for ways you can have this conversation where you work and where you live.
[1:09] Marc welcomes you to Episode 124 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
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[2:02] Next week will be Episode 125. Marc has categorized the episodes. Look for them on CareerPivot.com/podcast. Scroll past the player to find Show Notes by Category, including interviews, audiobook chapters, series, and more.
[3:23] Let Marc know what you think about how they are organized. Feel free to email Marc at Podcast@CareerPivot.com
[4:01] This week, Marc interviews Patti Temple Rocks, the author of a great book on Ageism.
[5:46] Marc welcomes Patti to the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Patti reveals some of her personal passions: traveling and experiencing local cultures.
[6:28] Patti explains the inspiration to write her book. Her boss and mentor, the first women to reach the C-suite at this large corporation, was pushed to the sideline. Patti asked the CEO why, and he said she was “just tired.” Patti knew that wasn’t true, and she started noticing age discrimination from that point on.
[8:45] Patti’s wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to her, and to prepare for the day when the workplace decided it was time for her to go do something else.
[9:10] Patti found a lot of writings about creating a second career when you are not perceived as valuable in your first career. Patti wasn’t ready to go do something else. She still had a lot to offer and give. Patti realized there were others who felt the same.
[9:55] Patti’s book focuses on a message for businesses: You’ve got to change because there is this huge population of us who are reaching the stereotypical retirement age and we’re not going to want to go.
[10:37] Marc has noticed code words for ageism. One term used in his workplace was he “doesn’t have the energy.” Patti says “digital native” can exclude Boomers.
[11:07] Chris Farrell in Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life, says that companies are going to need Boomers. Without companies changing their behaviors, there will still be ageism.
[11:29] When Marc interviewed Ashton Applewhite she had said that Boomers need to change behaviors. Patti saw there was room for her book.
[11:51] In Patti’s opinion, there were a lot of people willing to make assumptions without having conversations about what is in the best interest of the company and the employee. Talking about age is considered taboo. Talking about salary is forbidden. More transparency in business will uncover inequities.
[13:16] People assume that when an employee reaches a certain age, they don’t want to travel or move, or they are not worth training. These untruths continue due to lack of conversation.
[13:40] Ageism exists because we don’t talk about it. Patti remembers a time when there were no diversity and inclusion officers or strategies. Today, we are talking about racism and sexism in corporations and in society. Age does not have that protection.
[15:31] We need to start noticing when workers in their 50s and 60s are being ushered out of organizations. Ask the question, “What’s going on in my organization?” We can make a change. Marc tells of a case of disguised ageism from his corporate history.
[16:30] Patti gives an example of ageism from her own career. Our view of retirement changes as we approach the expected retirement age.
[19:34] Marc will interview Andrew Scott in May. Andrew and his wife, Lynda Gratton, wrote The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. Young adults are probably not going to retire until they’re 85. They just haven’t figured that out, yet.
[20:29] Marc talks about Del Webb, who opened the first Sun City on January 1, 1960, with five model homes and a strip mall. 10,000 cars came through the first day. A lot of the people smoked. They were in their 60s and weren’t going to live for more than 10 years. Today a married couple of age 65 have a good chance that one will live to 100.
[21:53] Patti talks about how Herman Miller has addressed ageism. They realized that if everybody who was eligible for retirement took it at the time of their eligibility, they would have serious labor shortage and knowledge-transfer problems.
[22:47] Herman Miller also noticed that most people were retiring without giving much notice. Those people were also not really prepared for retirement. Herman Miller created a program of flex retirement that encouraged employees to work with their managers to plan for retirement in steps, as much as five years ahead of time.
[24:13] There almost always was a solution that was in the best interests both of the company and the employee. A major benefit for Herman Miller was in being able to plan for orderly successions with the person whose job is being filled making some contributions to the discussions. This program was a win-win.
[25:08] Companies need to realize that it’s in their best interests, from a labor standpoint, to keep their employees around longer. If we Boomers can get people talking about ageism, and treating it as a taboo subject, solutions will arise from that conversation.
[26:13] Patti interviewed many people who had experienced ageism. One obvious conclusion is that older workers are not around because of their higher salaries. It’s up to all of us to continue to prove our value, no matter what our age, so that we earn our salary. In cost-cutting times, that may mean reduced hours or a lower-paying job.
[27:51] 100% of the people Patti interviewed said that if their boss had offered the option to change roles and reduce compensation, they would surely have considered it and more than likely would have taken it. Most people aren’t in a position to completely retire in their 50s or early 60s, if for no other reason than the high cost of health insurance.
[28:30] Nobody should take a pay cut for doing the exact same job but companies can find a way to reorganize someone’s job to use their strengths at a lower salary.
[28:51] Marc is living in Mexico because of the high cost of health insurance in the U.S. Marc also notes that he never was offered at any job the option to do something different for less money.
[29:20] One of the common themes in Marc’s online community is that everybody wants the freedom of when they want to work, what they want to work on, and how hard they want to work. It’s not as much about the pay.
[29:43] Patti has seen through her career that everybody wants flexibility and freedom. It is especially important toward the end of a career. CVS offered a package to pharmacists and store managers to spend winters in Florida. This solved a training and staffing problem and worked out well for older workers. Flexibility is huge.
[32:11] Patti’s hope is that, as a result of this conversation in society, we will all have more choices about our own end of careers.
[33:46] Patti has the idea that the vast majority of people who don’t get employee reviews when they’re supposed to are over 40. It’s sort of decided for us at that age that we care less about career development. Patti says, let’s take control of the end of our careers, not just the beginning of our careers.
[34:28] Marc doesn’t ever want to retire. He wants to work less at something he loves, on his terms.
[34:46] Patti’s book, I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace, is available on Amazon. Patti’s website is Imnotdone.rocks and you can reach out to her there. Patti’s focus in her writings is to continue to raise awareness for this topic. People always thank her for bringing this up. Patti is not done talking about it!
[35:41] Marc thanks Patti and hopes you enjoyed this episode. Ageism is not going away anytime soon. Marc recommends Patti’s book. Let him know what you think of it.
[36:00] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is currently recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[36:11] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[36:27] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[36:52] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[37:14] Please come back next week, when Marc will interview Paul Tasner, owner of Pulpworks.
[37:20] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[37:25] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-124.
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