Archive for the ‘ageism’ Category

Flight Attendant 'Too Old' at 83?

March 19th, 2012
By



There was a nice article in the N.Y. Times over the weekend about a United Airlines flight attendant from Hawaii, who is still working at the age of 83. His name is Ron Akana, and he's been doing that job for 63 years. It's evident he loves what he does. But it raises some questions about when one should retire, and passenger safety on airline flights.

Comments posted on the site where I first saw the article link suggested that Ron might be a liability in an emergency due to his physical condition. An anonymous commenter said he was on a flight that Ron was working, and claims the UAL flight attendant is hard of hearing. I don't know if airlines do regular sight and hearing check-ups, but it would seem reasonable for that type of job.

The other issue raised by the article is money. After he turned 70, Ron was earning over $100K per year through a combination of wages, pension and Social Security -- they call him a "triple dipper." He says it's "vacation money," implying he doesn't really need the job to get by. Which I think is great, since I personally don't like the idea of mandatory or early retirement. For most people, being put out to pasture when you still have skills or experience that can be put to good use, is not a good thing.

However, at a time when so many people are out of work  -- "young" whippersnappers in their 40s and 50s, compared to guys like Ron -- is it really fair that he keeps holding on to a job that does have physical requirements? Have you seen how much stuff people are cramming into "carry on" luggage they try to jam into overhead compartments? I've been on a few planes where the flight attendant had to risk hernias while helping passengers with their heavy bags. On a more serious note, unruly passengers can be a real threat in the air, and you have to wonder whether an 83-year-old person can handle such altercations without suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Here's the link to the NYT piece, which may or may not work for you, since they have a paywall. (If you're registered with them, you can access up to 20 articles per month for free.)

What it does remind me though is flying is not nearly as fun or glamorous as it used to be.

*******

High school sports have been preempting some of our regular Career Changer TV weekend time slots, but you can DVR or watch the current episode during the day. Visit www.CareerChangers.TV for the schedule (Mondays through Thursdays rarely get preempted). You can also watch video segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Mahalo!

Golden Opportunities in Gray Market

March 3rd, 2011
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Mixed in with thirty-four spam-bot "comments" on my last post about the lamest Oscars broadcast ever, there was a question from an anonymous poster: "Why is this in Career Changers?" For someone who isn't familiar with my blog, it's a valid question. But spammers have gotten very cagey and now pay people to insert key words and vague queries into comments that trick blog moderators into "approving" them and posting the spammer's link, usually semi-hidden in the commenter's name or email address. When in doubt, if it looks like spam, reads like spam, smells like spam, I just delete it as spam.

Anyhow, for those who are new readers, I sometimes go off on tangents about the entertainment biz because I am a screenwriter and also produce a local television show for OC16, called Career Changers TV. Moreover, the movie and TV industry are vitally important to Hawaii since productions filmed in the islands create jobs, and help bolster tourism through international exposure on big and small screens. My screed against the Oscars was also meant to point out the glaring disparity between what Hollywood studio execs think will make money, and what changing demographics actually show is profitable: i.e., there's gold in those silver-gray haired audiences that hunger for intelligent movies, which don't involve comic book superheroes or infantile jokes about pudgy boy-men characters who somehow attract gorgeous women.

The reality is aging Baby Boomers are having a major impact on the economy. Nationally, they spend a trillion dollars a year. In Hawaii, one out of every seven people is over the age of 65 -- and many of them are literally sitting on land or in condos worth half a million or more, thanks to appreciation of property values over the last two or three decades. Yet they seem to get short shrift from many businesses and marketing professionals. That may be starting to change though.

For example, locally we have a relatively new publication called Generations Magazine, published by Percy Ihara -- who happens to specialize in reverse mortgages, which is a way for land-rich seniors to tap the built-up equity in their homes in order to cover rising expenses related largely to aging. If you or someone in your family is 60 or older, I highly recommend you check it out. The magazine has a good mix of articles that reflect the needs and desires of the senior market... everything from pragmatic advice on taxes and health care, to features on places like Las Vegas and Rumours night club in Honolulu. (When I moved to Hawaii in 1985, back in my drinking days I was known to have danced on a table or two during their "Big Chill" music theme nights.)

Although we weren't able to squeeze Percy's segment into the March CCTV show, which premiers tonight at 8:30 PM, I posted it on our website and YouTube Channel. The reason we didn't have room is we have special features on the Wilhelmina modeling open call that was held at Windward Mall last month, and I didn't want to cut any of that stuff out. Even if you have no interest in being a model, there's some great lessons on how to land your dream job in Roman Young's story towards the end of the episode. Plus, you might recognize some of the faces who tried out. And it wasn't just your typical tall, thin young girls they were looking for. In fact, Wilhelmina Hawaii managing director Ryan Brown was really excited about a grandmother who walked in and said he thinks they could get her modeling work right away.

So you never know. Maybe you weren't cut out to be a model or published novelist when you were younger. But hang around long enough, keep learning and pursuing your real passions, and you just might be a late bloomer like the 73-year-old writer who won an Oscar for THE KING'S SPEECH screenplay this past weekend. (BTW, that was meant for the anonymous commenter, spam-bot or not, who questioned why I wrote about the Academy Awards -- it's called subtext.)

To view the Generations Magazine video and find info on CCTV air times, please visit our website or YouTube Channel.

You can also learn more about Percy's magazine and reverser mortgage services by going to www.Generations808.com or emailing him at percy@generations808.com.

Reimagining Ourselves

January 25th, 2011
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Ever since I started producing the Career Changers TV show for OC16 a little over a year ago, I've been emailing myself links to lots of articles about job hunting advice... most of it pertaining to full-time work for people in their 20s or 30s. The reason is depressingly obvious: if you're over 40 or 50, all the interview/resume tips in the world may not make much difference in a bad job market. Yet that age group is growing in numbers and our population is living longer. Retirement is becoming a luxury that many Baby Boomers can't afford -- unless they're retired government workers with generous benefits, that is.

So what can we do about it? If you have a job or business, you have to continue learning new skills and get better at what you do. If you're out of work, you may have to be retrained for a different occupation or go back to school. Either way though, you still have to look beyond your current situation and think about what you'd like to be doing 20-30 years from now. Mary Catherine Bateson has written a book, "Composing a Further Life," which is about how best to use this "gift of time" that comes with living longer. She suggests you take on new projects and follow passions that you can continue to develop once you retire from working full time.

Here's an excerpt from the L.A. Times review of her book (my emphasis added below):

Bateson's most famous book, "Composing a Life," was published in 1989. It spread, word-of-mouth, hand to hand, around the world — reprinted dozens of times in more than a dozen languages. The message was: Life is an art form, not a linear, predictable process. We do the best we can at each potential turning point, given the information and the self-knowledge we possess. It is the kind of book fans keep multiple copies of, to press into the hands of friends busily agonizing over how to exert their will over the course of their own lives.

In this new book, Bateson encourages a similar, lapidary approach to the question: What are we going to do with this gift of time? "How, in growing older do I become more truly myself, and how does that spell out in what I do or say or contribute?"

Although my wife looks forward to the day she can retire, I do not because I'm a writer and want to continue creating until the day I die. To be honest, I dislike the concept of "retirement" (other than for physical reasons). This notion that people should be put out to pasture at age 60 or 65 rankles me. In fact, I think for many people, early retirement is an awful thing. Sleeping in late has its charms, but when it becomes your daily life and there is no purpose in your activities other than whiling away the hours, is that really living? Traveling is wonderful... but after you've been around the world, what then?

Of course, it's different if you have a spouse and kids you have to support. Since my wife and I don't have children, we've had more freedom to do what we want, career-wise. But getting back to Bateson's book premise, I agree with her view: we should see our lives as a work of art that we have a hand in creating, here and now -- and for the future. What do you want to be doing when you're 65 or 70 that will still give you satisfaction and make you happy?

Today's relevant links:

Book Review: "Composing a Further Life"

Career Questions for Yourself - Good way to look at your long-term goals and happiness.

For daily viewing times of Career Changers TV on OC16, please visit our website or check out our YouTube Channel videos.

New and Old Market Niches

December 20th, 2010
By



Maybe it's the rain, but instead of feeling cheerful about Christmas this year, I'm in a melancholy mood. Shopping for gifts seems to bring out the best and worst in people. On one hand, my inner Charlie Brown is dismayed by the crass commercialization of a religious holiday. Yet I remember being a wide-eyed kid myself on Christmas morning, greedily ripping open gift-wrapped packages while still dressed in my pajamas. But it gets harder each year to buy presents for my parents and grown-up siblings, since we're not lacking for material things. It almost feels wasteful to indulge in obligatory exchanges of stuff none of us really need. I know, I know -- it's the thought that counts... or I should give to the needy and less fortunate. Which ones though? They're so many these days that I get depressed just thinking about it.

And then there's the Time thing. Each year goes by faster as we get older. It's not an illusion. When you're five, a year represents 20 percent of your entire life. At 50, it's half a percent -- a mere fraction. My wife and I are still trying to figure out how to get out out of World 2 in the Super Mario Wii game I got for us last Christmas. Although we chose not to have children, we remain kids at heart... then the annual family gatherings remind us of the reality of aging. It's like those lines in the Bonnie Raitt song, "Nick of Time":

I see my folks, they're getting old, I watch their bodies change...
I know they see the same in me, And it makes us both feel strange...
No matter how you tell yourself, It's what we all go through...
Those eyes are pretty hard to take when they're staring' back at you.
Scared you'll run out of time.

I'm 54 now, and my career dreams of being a produced  movie writer are starting to fade away. I've been studying the book market because I think age matters less in print publishing than in Hollywood, which fears the word "old" in any way, shape or form. I've also been planning to do Career Changer TV segments on future business opportunities related to our growing senior citizen population in Hawaii. Those two seemingly disjointed topics actually are tied together, and came into clearer focus while I was browsing through the book shelves at Borders this weekend.

For writers, it's the best of times and the worst of times. Because of the internet and consumers' insatiable appetite for entertainment/information, there never has been stronger demand for word-driven content. Unfortunately, so much of it is now given away "free" through the internet, it's hard out there for a scribe to make a living. The bright spots I saw in the bookstore -- which also sells music CDs and movie DVDs -- is that there are at least two markets that still want published print products: the very young and the over-50 crowd.

There's no shortage of books for tots, kids and YA (young adult) readers. Older folks and senior citizens have more time to read and tend to prefer print, including newspapers and magazines. Coincidentally, last week we interviewed Percy Ihara, publisher of the reborn Generations Magazine, which is geared to the senior market in Hawaii. He specializes in reverse mortgages and recognized that much of our elderly population is equity-rich but cash-poor. Our seniors are living longer too, so they will need additional health care and assisted living services. But many are still young in spirit and have the freedom to travel or take up new hobbies. Just as entrepreneurs created new businesses to cater to working parents, busy moms and their progeny, enterprising individuals are filling senior market needs by offering things like adult day care.

Looking for the next big market niche? How about this statistic: The over-65 age sector will double by the year 2050 in the U.S., going from 13 percent of the total population to 20 percent. One in every five Americans will be 65 or older. Percy says that "50 today is the new 40" and 60 will be the new 50... I hope so! I also had to smile when I saw his November cover story about "The Big Chill" still going strong at Rumours. That used to be one of my favorite night club hang-outs when I moved to Hawaii in 1985. And you know something? The music they played back then still rocks. Some things never get old.

Here's a link to the Generation Magazine website. (Note: the site has copies of the October and November issues, which you can view to find contact info, etc.) We'll have that story on CCTV probably in February. To find out what's on this week and when you can watch or DVR our show, please visit www.CareerChangers.tv.

Ageism at Work (and Play)

October 18th, 2010
By



Getting old stinks. I'm 54 and that's ancient for screenwriters in the movie biz. Someone once said that Hollywood is the only place where experience is considered a negative. But I'm starting to think it's not just the entertainment industry that looks askance at middle-aged people. While age discrimination is supposed to be illegal, it seems fairly obvious that many companies are shunning older job applicants.

The New York Times ran this depressing headline not long ago: "For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again" ... sigh. Yet at the same time, many senior citizens have no choice but to keep working after seeing their pension funds and investments go down the tubes at the end of the Bush era when the Dow sunk below the 8,000 mark.

Another article in U.S. News & World Report likens the attitude towards older workers as being similar to how women were viewed 40 years ago. Back then, females weren't considered to be physically or mentally up to the challenges of jobs typically done by men. Now it's gray-haired folks who face that kind of discrimination... but isn't there a certain amount of truth to old-age stereotypes?

Take me, for example. I can do basic computer and social media stuff. However, I'm not into texting, don't know how to send photos with my cell phone (and don't care to) and have given up on following new music/fashion/youth trends for the most part. On the other hand, I've probably read more and seen or done a lot more things than my younger screenwriting competition, who primarily seem to get their life "experience" from mediocre TV shows and comic book movies they watch. Snarky dialogue is in; thoughtful conversation is an idiom of the past.

What distresses me most though, is much of this Youth worship stems from aging Baby Boomers themselves, who put such a high premium on maintaining the illusion of a Never Never Land where none of us grow old -- in spirit at least, if not in body. Signs of denial are all over Facebook: the pages and pages of photos taken during high school, college or post-college days when nearly everyone played in a band or hung out with one. A college friend of mine, who was in one of the first all-girl punk rock groups in the 70s just played a reunion gig in NYC. I jokingly noted on her Facebook page that it sounded like it could be a funny sit-com premise: aging punk rock girl band goes on tour -- sponsored by Centrum Silver, Depends, and AARP. Her band mates were not amused. (She later sent me a link to a real group named "Grumpy Old Punks," which does songs in that vein.)

To make matters worse, you have shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance that suggest younger is better when it comes to talent search competitions. Really? How in the world can a 16-year-old sing about meaningful relationships and what it's like to REALLY suffer or struggle, when parents have been sheltering them all their lives? Yes, they may have the vocal chops or lithe bodies that perform amazing athletic stunts. But when I listen to an old Solomon Burke blues number or watch Clapton and Bonnie Raitt on stage, those performers can convey more emotion with a single small gesture than the most talented teenager using every inch of their body or lungs.

And while I'm on my Grumpy Old Writer rant, I have one more thing to add: I love Ellen DeGeneres because she's done so much for gay rights simply by being honest about herself and showing straight people that gays aren't a threat to hetero society. Plus, she's funny without being mean or scatological. But she's gotten sucked into the Youth worship cult too, and regularly brings on stage precocious kids that she or her staff "discovered" on YouTube videos. They sing! They dance! They're so darn cute! Fine... except she's also cashing in on them by launching her own record label to promote these kiddie entertainers. Meanwhile, I know of many musicians and artists, who are talented and have worked a lot harder for their entire lives, and they will never get a shot on Ellen's show because they're "too old." That's a shame too, because young people are missing out on some great stories about life and enduring when times get tough. Instead, you'll see those same kids crying on TV when they get cut from American Idol, saying their life is over at the age of 19 because they haven't become famous yet.

As I told one of my more "mature" friends the other day, I'm grateful to be getting old. It sure beats the alternative.

Today's relevant links:

NY Times article on older workers struggling to find jobs.

U.S. News & World Report piece on the Senior Movement... um, no, not the Depends kind.

Grumpy Old Punks website and Facebook. One of their songs is called, "Anarchy in the Prostrate." Ouch.

If you haven't seen the latest Halloween edition of Career Changers TV on OC16, please visit our website for daily viewing times! We also have a special deal for employers to post job listings on Hawaii Jobs On Demand... enter promo code "CareerChangersTV10" and get 10 percent off the fee!