While much of my writing has focused over the years on the entry of Millennials and Gen Zs into the workforce, another key trend I will explore in my upcoming book, The Remix, is the simultaneous expansion of the workforce on the other end of the spectrum:
Marci Alboher knows. She is a longtime expert on the changing workplace as well as vice president of strategic communications at Encore.org, a nonprofit that has been fueling the movement around encore careers. (Their tagline is: Second Acts for the Greater Good.)
I first met Marci back in 2007, when each of us had a book released that year – Marci’s was One Person, Multiple Careers and mine was the first edition of Getting From College to Career. As fellow members of the “Class of ’07,” we’ve kept in touch over the past decade, and Marci was among the first people who came to mind when I conceived the idea of the Remixer – someone who takes a best practice of one generation and “mixes” it in some way with the best practice of another generation (or several!) to achieve a positive end result.
Marci is a Remixer in her current job and in the way she has built her own career. We’ll start with her work at Encore: Encore.org is an innovation hub tapping the talent of the 50+ population as a force for good. According to Marci, “The reason we are doing this is that our society is going to have more older than younger people. We are working to catalyze and promote new models for intergenerational collaborations.” In other words, she explains:
“We are trying to create a world that works for people of all ages and taps the talents of people of all ages.”
One of Encore’s core programs is the Encore Fellowship. Sometimes called an “internship for Baby Boomers,” the program, according to Marci, is actually a hybrid of an internship and a consultancy. Encore Fellows bring expertise, typically from long careers in the private sector, to nonprofits that need their skills. As Marci puts it, the program helps to “create a new rite of passage for what it means to move from one’s prime income-producing years to one’s ‘legacy years.’”
As Marci explains, we don’t really have a word for someone who makes such a passage. “We need new rituals and pathways to replace the retirement party and proverbial gold watch.”
Encore, in other words, has remixed retirement.
Encore was founded in 1998 by author and social entrepreneur Marc Freedman (still CEO and president), who saw that our growing aging population was being abandoned as a resource. Marci joined the team in 2008, and in 2013 she wrote The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.
Marci doesn’t just think about intergenerational collaboration for her job; she tries to live it. When she’s not focused on her Encore work, she dedicates a lot of time to her role as a board member of Girls Write Now, a writing-oriented mentoring organization for high school girls.
And early in her career as a journalist, Marci found a way to remix her professional network by joining… a poker game.
“For me,” Marci told me, “poker was a busy, urban woman’s answer to golf as a way to break into a mostly male-dominated professional network. I first joined the game when I was a freelancer and got invited by a New York Times editor. He was 20 years older than me and we hadn’t discovered anything in common until we started talking about poker.
“Joining that game 15 years ago, and the people I’ve met through it, truly changed the trajectory of my career. At the time my game started it was for business journalists — editors and reporters — most of them men. Now it’s become a fully gender-integrated game for people in writing, arts and media.”
In one of my favorite remixing examples, Marci told me that the older members of her poker network used to ask the group to help find job opportunities for their children. These days, she says, it’s the reverse: Baby Boomers are scanning the LinkedIn pages of their Millennial kids as they hunt for their “encore careers.”
Marci and her fellow management team members at Encore have also worked to intentionally remix their own staff. “Encore made a big transition in the last five years,” Marci explains. “A quarter of our staff are now millennials and GenXers, whereas the earlier team was primarily Baby Boomers.” We intentionally age diversified because we realized, How could we be talking about the importance of age diversity when our own workplace did not feel very age diverse?
“And it is changing the way we operate in so many ways. One of our biggest initiatives right now is the Gen2Gen campaign, which is mobilizing the 50+ population to stand up and show up for young people. But so much of that is working alongside and learning from young people. So we want to make sure we’re walking the walk.”
Thank you to Marci Alboher and Encore for the incredible work that you do for all generations. If you’d like to learn more about Encore, the Encore Fellows program and Marci Alboher, please visit Encore.org or follow Encore and Marci on Twitter.
Do you have a Remixer to recommend for a future newsletter and my upcoming book? Please let me know!
Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.