OPTIMIZE Sneak 'Peak': Interview with Chip Conley
Guest blog post written by: Cynthia Seymour
Looking for parallels in the impressive list of speakers and you’ll find Chip Conley and Dr. Bill Thomas share a mutual respect for intergenerational aging, or rather being less age defined. Mr. Conley joins other luminaries at the upcoming Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference in San Francisco November 14-15, 2017 and has much to offer to audience members from all backgrounds. After all he started the iconic Joie de Vivre hotel chain at the age of 26 and joined the disrupter Airbnb in an industry synonymous with youthful genius at 52, but he will tell you it’s best not to let age get in the way.
Q: What defining moment propelled you into thinking about age?
A: My interest in the subject of Modern Elders is captured in this Harvard Business Review article I wrote. Here's a particularly relevant excerpt:
"Boomers and Millennials have a lot to offer, and learn from, each other. Enter the “Modern Elder,” who serves and learns, as both mentor and intern, and relishes being both student and sage. The opportunity for intergenerational learning is especially important to Boomers, as we are likely to live 10 years longer than our parents, yet power in a digital society has moved 10 years younger. This means Boomers could experience 20 additional years of irrelevance and obsolescence. That the number of 65-and-older workers last year was 125% higher than in 2000 presages a national human resource tragedy."
Q: What have been your or your organization's highest points?
A: In the context of Airbnb, our highest point is acknowledging that a growing number of our hosts and guests are 50+ and our best hosts in the world are in this demographic. I’m also encouraged that we've created an Employee Resource Group focused on employees 40+ (a very small % of the employee population) called Wisdom@Airbnb.
Q: What do you see as the single biggest challenge in your category?
A: The tech sector tends to see knowledge as perishable and older people as being not valuable. As such, there's quite a bit of ageism especially in the technical positions like engineers.
Q: What motivates you and your team every day?
A: Creating a world where everyone can "belong anywhere.”
Q: If you had one piece of advice for innovators in this space what would it be?
A: Those over 50 are quickly evolving in their lifestyle choices and the three-stage life (learn, earn, retire) is fading so don't assume that the way seniors have always operated in the second half of their life will continue into the future which means new opportunities will be created like the Modern Elder Gap Year Academy which we're creating, the first gap year program in the world for those looking for a reset in midlife.
Q: There are so many more services for elders than ever before, so why are there so many access issues and families in crisis?
A: Money. It's that simple.
So what can you expect to hear from Chip Conley at the Aging2.0 Optimize Conference? For baby boomers to millennials and all the generations in between who want to remain active producers of good old fashioned GDP, he offers some great advice, be part wise advisor and intern, and keep learning. Mellenial bosses might also appreciate the experience and emotional intelligence mature workers bring to the table. This potential just might lead to the next big trend in organizational advantage for those listening and paying attention.
*Register to attend the upcoming Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE Conference to hear more from Chip Conley and many other thought leaders.