“People from all corners of the world who normally wouldn't possibly have the time to participate did because they didn't have to fly to London."
“My 2020 year was going to be another exciting year of traveling around the world working with governments, corporations and individuals, helping them understand and activate the untapped opportunity embedded in the experience of people aged 50+. This is not a dependency demographic, but one with the power to recharge economies locally and globally.
2019 had closed on a high note. In October, I delivered a presentation at the United Nations, after which António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations declared, 'It is essential for society to create more ways for the 50+ to continue contributing – a sustainable world depends on it!'
Then, in November, at the Reykjavík Global Forum , I presented an interactive workshop, 'Think Global Ageing Is a Problem? Think Again!' to a standing-room only crowd of global women leaders from government, business, academia, civil society, arts, media and more. Attendees, who admitted they’d rarely considered older adults as assets and not liabilities, said it was the most innovative, transformative and action-oriented sessions they had ever attended.
After the Iceland forum, I flew to Madrid to deliver a presentation at the Ibero-American Open Innovation Forum, a convening of leaders from 26 Latin American countries and Spain and Portugal, who have the power to make transformative change happen across the board - policy, governments, and corporations. The energy in the room was palpable as attendees were eager to learn how to optimize the 50+ in their regions, and we’re now moving forward to expand our global, senior and intergenerational entrepreneurship programs in Latin America with the support of Segib – Secretaria General Iberoamericana.
But all that in-person education and persuasion came to a halt because of Covid-19. As much as I thrive on in-person conferences and collaboration, I did not want the momentum for my movement to redefine aging and retirement to stop. I began writing and publishing research papers to highlight the data that exists to help ground my arguments in economic reality. I’ve always said theory is all well and good but data drives change.
In a similar – data collection, curation and communication – effort, I co-authored a strategic action plan for a virtual convening hosted by Chatham House: The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The convening was a series of roundtables, involving 83 global thought leaders, to create immediately actionable recommendations on 'How Women’s Experience and Expertise Will Drive Economic Recovery' beyond the pandemic for the upcoming G7 and G20 Summits. It was a remarkable experience. People from all corners of the world, from developing as well as developed countries who normally wouldn't possibly have the time to participate did because they didn't have to fly to London. And once in the Zoom rooms, the leaders were focused, ready to listen, and eager to act. They knew they had to communicate succinctly and decisively because the usual opportunities at in-person conferences to pigeon-hole someone over a coffee break did not exist. Everyone understood that they were all stakeholders in creating a better, more sustainable post-Covid-19 world and, as you can see in the plan, they delivered.
To be sure, I haven't lost any of my passion to create transformative social and economic change. And, though my experience with virtual has been great, at core I’m a people person eager to get back to those important face-to-face, one-on-one moments that happen organically, and sometimes accidentally, that result in unanticipated value. Besides value, these are the spontaneous fun moments that turn the work into joy!" -- Elizabeth, Founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship #Maine