I did something last week I thought heretofore unimaginable. I attended my first AARP annual convention. Held at the L.A. Convention Center, 18,000 folks representing a highly diverse set of professions and ethnic backgrounds, interests and persuasions, converged together for what was a surprisingly rollicking good time.
There is a movement afoot for this particular demographic that has serious consequences for our society. Not satisfied, nor often able, to retire like their predecessors, people of this vintage are interested in reimagining their lives as never before. Helping to navigate the “What’s Next” moment for its members is now squarely on the agenda for AARP, a task that could be the organization’s biggest contribution yet.
For the last several months Motiv has been privileged to work with an extraordinary group of people to produce the first phase of AARP’s Life Reimagined Project. The concept is a social media platform that would connect the 39 million AARP members, as well as non-members, in new ways to help them find the help and inspiration they need to identify and do what they are most passionate about.
An alpha test of the site was launched prior to this week’s convention. While it still has somewhat limited functionality, you can go on the site (www.lifereimaginedproject.org) and view inspiring videos and read stories of real people who have successfully reinvented their lives, find a mentor who can give you the advice you need to move forward, work with a set of fun tools to identify the types of things you are best at, learn the steps to making a new career, and sign up to help others by imparting the wisdom of your skills and experience.
Chris Gardner, the fellow whose life Will Smith portrayed in the movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” spoke Friday about what this need to pursue one’s passion feels like to many people. He said, “Remember those old phones that you press the button and put someone on hold, and then you watch the button blinking and blinking and blinking. What’s your button? Is your button blinking like that? Press your button. Don’t wait until it is too late to give yourself the life you always wanted, that matters only to you.”
One man I talked with was a 78-year old tour director and president of AARP for Guam who said his new life’s work is to expose and bring more people to that tiny island in the Pacific. He was as energetic and proud of his quest as anyone I’ve ever met. Tapping into this type of passion and vitality is what Life Reimagined is all about.
There was a team from a Burbank-based company called Toy Box capturing members on video talking their “What’s Next” plans. Given this film crews excitement about being on to something big, I can’t wait to see the best moments from their collection. Check it out and tell us what you think. We’re listening intently especially for the period of this alpha test through the end of November so that the experience of interacting with this new service and set of tools can be refined further. As with all things social media, no one really knows what’s going to happen, which is certainly part of the fun of creating something like this. Personally I am excited at the prospect to help unleash the considerable talent, passion, and wisdom I know to be a big part of this massive segment of our society.