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Sean Pillot de Chenecey interviews the Economist Andrew Scott.
Andrew is the author of ‘The 100 Year Life’ and a global authority on the implications of longer life and technology. Andrew, a Professor at London Business School, discusses longevity and the future trends shaping the world of business and society.
The discussion includes:
- Longevity as a positive thing
- The integration of technology into work
- The older worker: teamwork, innovation and experience
- Attitudes to work and lifestyle and how we need to adapt
To buy Andrew’s book, The 100 Year life, visit http://www.100yearlife.com/
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (00:04): Hello. This podcast is care of Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau representing a select group of the world’s finest thinkers and thought leaders. Founded in 1999, today Speakers Associates operate out of nine offices across seven countries covering the UK, Europe and Middle East. I’m Sean Pillot de Chenecey, author of The Post-Truth Business and Influences and Revolutionaries. And in this series, I interview a range of fascinating individuals, proudly represented by the bureau. These change agents and industry experts give an update on their specialist areas of knowledge, and also on their motivations and viewpoints regarding the future of business. Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Andrew Scott, who’s an expert on future trends, shaping the world of business and society. He’s a global expert on the implications of the longer life and technology for business and society and is the author of the acclaimed book The Hundred Year Life. So Andrew, hi.
Andrew Scott (01:12): Morning, Sean.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (01:13): So tell us in terms of the key issues that you described in The Hundred Year Life, perhaps you could just take us through precisely what the key issues were there and what the implications are for business and organizations and governments. As we sit here at the beginning of 2020.
Andrew Scott (01:32): Right. So we’ll start with easy ones. So I kind of believe that on the whole, we’ve got this issue wrong. There’s a lot of talk about an aging society around the world. Countries are aging. Every country is seeing an increase in its average age. Every country is seeing an increase in the proportion of people aged over 65. And this is all set up as a problem. Old people are a problem. They don’t work. They’re not productive. They get ill. We have to pay pensions. How can we afford to get old? But what’s extraordinary. If you look at the statistics is on average around the world, we’re living longer and we’re healthier for longer. That sounds like brilliant news rather than bad news. So I like to talk about longevity rather than aging. Over the last a hundred odd years, life expectancy, best practice
Andrew Scott (02:16): life expectancy is increased by two or three years every decade. That’s a pretty amazing statistic. It means that every generation’s living six to nine years longer than the previous generation. But I don’t think anyone really gets that because we keep doing, having an aging society. It’s as if everyone thinks we’re gonna be older for longer, but because we’re aging better, actually younger for longer. And the opportunity to me is how do we make the most of that? Because if you think about that statistic every 10 years, life independence has gone up by two or three. That’s like me saying to you at the end of day, Hey, you’ve got another six to eight hours. The day’s gone from 24 to 32 hours. What would you do, Sean, if you had another eight hours in the day, well, how would you spend those eight hours?
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (02:57): Probably reading. I should imagine
Andrew Scott (02:58): Absolutely. What a lovely thought you smiled immediately. I’m so glad you smiled. If I’m on your side, I say, I just sleep. I’m exhausted. But of course, what we all want is more time and that’s kind of what we’ve got. So rather than bemoan, oh, there’s more old people. We actually think, hold on a minute, actually the link between biological and chronological age is changing. I’m younger for longer and whatever age you are, you’ve got more time ahead of you than past generations. So what do you want to do with that time? And just as we changed the whole day for me, if the day was 32, not 24 hours long, I’d get up earlier. I’d go to bed later. I’d have a wonderful sleep in the middle of the day. I’d get my work done in the morning and I’d play in the afternoon. I would restructure the day and that’s kind of what I think society needed to do with the length of life we’re talking about now.
Andrew Scott (03:40): According to the UK government, a girl born today in the UK in 2020 has a one in five chance of reaching a hundred. How do you plan for a hundred year life? By the way, the average is around 90, 91. So we hadn’t created life for this. And just as the 20th century, we created teenagers and pensioners. So I think we’re seeing a reshaping of the life course, and that has enormous implications course for us as individuals. And the response to the book tells me that individuals already aware of this and doing lots of things differently. Massive implications for governments at the moment, they’re sort of obsessed with the pensions crisis, but it runs much deeper than that. Like what you do about education, if you are working to your seventies. And then of course, corporates enormous because I think there’s two ways in which it impacts on corporates.
Andrew Scott (04:26): One is in terms of consumers, the others in terms of the workforce, because there are few younger, people are more older people, older people want to work for longer, but we have a career structure that’s obsessed with recruiting people at 21, and keeping them through and getting rid of them at 65, which so doesn’t work anymore. And then of course on the consumer side, you’re gonna see a shift in the average age of the population, which will bring about a need for new products, but also, you know, what’s underlying this trend is what I call the malleability of age. We know how to age better. Now some of that is about the products and the lifestyle. There’s a fascinating research in science at the moment that says, actually we may make age even more malleable and we may live healthly to 120, but this is an enormous business opportunity too, because I think one of the greatest achievements of humanity the last 120 years is extending life expectancy in the UK by 36 years. And not surprisingly given the enormity of that. That’s a massive business opportunity, which really hasn’t been tapped into. And firms who focus on an aging society, thinking about people in their eighties and nineties are really missing the point. This is about all of life and how we behave differently at every age.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (05:32): I thought it was really interesting. The point we also discussed earlier on, before the podcast started, when we were talking about attitudes towards age itself. And you mentioning, as you did just now that you see about teenagers and youth culture and there’s a certain stereotypical viewpoint that most people have in their mind’s eye when one says youth or youth culture or teenager and people forget for instance, that youth culture sort of officially started in the sort of fifties with Bill Haley and then with Elvis Presley. And then you’ve now got teenagers, the original teenagers like Iggy Pop or something.
Andrew Scott (06:10): That’s a great example. And you’re absolutely right. I think the word teenager was first used in the New Yorker around 1937. And it took about 50 or 60 years to work out cuz previously you had children and adults and the threshold between them was about 12 or 13 years of age. And then when education was extended, you had these young adults without responsibilities. And no one really knew what to do with them. And the first response was to stick ’em in a uniform and that was the Boys Brigade and the Boys Scouts and give them some discipline, but that didn’t really work. And then eventually in the fifties, James Dean comes along and it’s like, ah, that’s what teenagers are like. And now we know that we sort of recognize it, but I think you’re seeing something similar in the twenties occurring now. Just as teenagers was a sort of a social change where people delayed becoming adults.
Andrew Scott (06:54): I have a picture of my father when he was 14 and he’s wearing a suit and tie. He’s got a job. Wow, he’s paying rent. I think he’s married at 17. He’s got a child at 18 in a house at 19. It’s like, whoa, that’s adult responsibilities. But of course, when life is short, you commit early. Then I do those things sort of in my mid twenties. And then my kids ahead early thirties, probably something like that they do. So you are seeing this sort of change in the twenties, but I think people are exploring and there’s all sorts of reasons for that. Some is negative and some is positive. They’re negative for things like it’s hard to afford a house now because they’re so expensive and getting careers going is more difficult. But I think there’s also positive factors too, where people are using their twenties to say, well, who am I, what am I good at?
Andrew Scott (07:39): What do I like? And when I find out those answers to those questions, I’ll commit to a relationship, I’ll commit to a career and that’s a big change in behavior, but also seems to be a really good part about art development. But that sense of playing with your identity of exploring who you are is also something I think you’re seeing in the forties and fifties. And you talk about Iggy Pop sort of being the eternal teenager, but you know, isn’t it just teenagers is a timer transition? You are no longer the child you were, but you don’t yet know the adult you’re gonna be. And that’s both wonderfully exciting and wonderfully nerve wracking. But I think you’re seeing more and more people in their forties and fifties have the same experience. If you are gonna have a hundred year life, I think you’re probably working to your mid seventies.
Andrew Scott (08:21): Oh, even higher. So if you’re in your mid forties, you’ve probably got more work ahead of you than you’ve done already, which does lead a lot of people. When I give the talk to say, wow, I need to do things a bit differently. Of course I could look after my health and look after my finances, but actually I’ve gotta think about what I want to do for the next 25, 30 years of work and how I prepare for that. And that’s a form of reinvention. So that’s where the multi-stage life comes in. In the 20th century. We stretched time and our life around three stages of education, work, retirement, learn, earn, retire, and you can’t stretch that to 90 or a hundred years. The thoughts of anything that you can learn at 20 that still be relevant in your mid seventies, no longer seems appropriate. I think we’ll see, you’ll probably get quite bored doing the same thing for 55 years. And then with technology coming along and very ageist policies in corporations whereby people aged 50 often lose their job. There’s a lot of midlife reinvention that needs to be done. And we’ve got to seize that opportunity cuz if people are living for longer and are healthier for longer, that should be good news for the economy. But if we discard everyone in their fifties and there’s no opportunity for them to retrain, that’s a terrible situation.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (09:29): I think, I mean, just as one example of that, that I find fascinating is, and I think, again, you alluded to this earlier on with regards to the age of the workforce. I mean I spent many years in advertising and it’s a well known stat that the average age of an advertising agency or a media agency or PR agency is about 23. So you’ve got an incredibly young bunch of people with a couple of people at the top who are the, who are derided as the out of touch sort of graying elders. And one of the results is that is you have a workforce that in no way reflects anything like the world outside the doors and people wonder why, for instance, the world of marketing often churn out stuff that is entirely irrelevant,
Andrew Scott (10:16): Great point. And, you know, it’s interesting cuz there’s gonna be a real clash between the average age of the consumer. Who’s getting older and older and those industries. So design industry, advertising industry are all not terribly well orientated to understanding this older market. And there’s all sorts of stereotypes there. And it’s interesting if you think about the diversity agenda, because one of the few areas where you are still allowed to make stereotypical comments is around age. Mark Zuckerberg once said young people are just smarter. Imagine saying that about any other demographic group. It would be an outrageous suggestion. And actually there’s not a lot of evidence that young people are smarter at any point in time. Your brain has a strength in one area rather than other skill shift over time, but there’s awful an awful lot of skills to be up from older workers, but we haven’t designed work for people aged over 50 cuz there didn’t used to be many of them, but as we age better, there’s more and more people looking to be engaged.
Andrew Scott (11:16): And so a lot of ’em actually doing startups. That’s very interesting. The age group 20 to 30 and 60 plus is the fastest growing area in terms of people doing startups. And I do think you are likely to see given how big this older consumer market’s going to be a big growth in firms who understand that market cuz they’re led by older individuals. But your point about advertising agents is interesting cause that’s really strong. So you know, the software industry, coding, design and advertising are very young, but it’s much more profound than that. So take the consulting firms, they tend to have a notion of retirement in sort of early fifties. And that’s a real challenge cuz the whole model is of a pyramid structure with a few people at the top earning large amounts of money and everyone else lower down desperate to get the promotion to get in that situation.
Andrew Scott (12:07): But if 53 you’ve still got 20 ideas of work left. So either those people leave and do something different or they’re forced out and set up a rival company that poaches their book away or you keep them employment, which then creates big challenges for those who are younger. So, you know, my favorite example of this is family firms where if people are now living to their nineties, when do you actually get to take over? And of course the great example of that is a Royal family. When I think Prince Charles is 71 and still hasn’t got the job.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (12:32): Definitely hanging on.
Andrew Scott (12:33): Extraordinary. And so, you know, the, you know, that just hints that some of the sort of hierarchical structures and I find firms get obsessed with the notion of generations. But I think that’s to misunderstand, what’s really happening here. We are inventing a new map of life as Laura Carstensen from Stanford cause it. And everyone, whether you are 60, 40 or 50 or 20 or 30 is saying, you know, I’ve got more time ahead of me than past generations. I need to behave differently. And that means they want different things. They’re more forward looking. There’s more demand for flexible work. And particularly the value of options gets very, very high people don’t wanna commit longer term. So I think, you know, there’s a huge sea change in terms of how you deal with your workforce with here. And then let’s say the consumer opportunities are just spell binding. If you can come out with a product that helps people live another year of healthy life, just think how valuable that, how much people are about to pay for that. It’s extraordinary.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (13:25): I know, I mean, for instance, markets that are just state the stunningly obvious are obsessed with this are the health insurance market, for instance, who, if they’ve been selling health insurance to consumers, just presuming that they be conveniently dying age, you know, eighties suddenly finding out that obviously their customer base, is still hanging around and therefore has a huge cost implication for the business. But can I just ask in terms of, I mean, I know you mentioned earlier on, I mean you travel a fairly extraordinary amount. Are there any countries that really get this and that are leading by example or is everyone messing up to a similar extent?
Andrew Scott (14:05): Well, you know, this is it’s hard, I think it’s always hard to sort of measure who’s doing it well because we just dunno the answer to how to live to a hundred years. So we need to experiment. And what I find interesting going around the world is discovering individuals, organizations, and companies who are doing experiments and some of them will work. Some of them won’t. We talked about teenagers, it took 50 years to work out what to do with teenagers. So, you know, there’s a lot of experiments happening globally. And a lot of that is coming about through charities and individuals, some firms are doing some smart things, but in terms of countries, the country that, you know, it’s almost irrespective what question you ask, which country is doing its best at Singapore. And Singapore has got one of the oldest life expectancies in the world.
Andrew Scott (14:45): It’s also got one of the highest healthy life expectancies and it’s doing an awful lot to try and think about how to keep people fit and healthy for longer. How to get ’em engaged in the community, how to get intergenerational work happening, but also critically to do lifelong learning. I mean that three stage life of learn, earn, retire. You can’t now just front load education in the first stage of her life. And I think it’s gonna be really interesting how we expand education at scale to adults and the combination of longevity and technology mean that that’s gonna become incredibly important. So that’s a massive consumer market actually. So how do firms provide that need for learning and reskilling? And it’s not just about learning how to code in Python. It’s about going through quite a profound change in identity and then embarking on a new course.
Andrew Scott (15:34): So I think that’s gonna be a massive, massive area and Singapore is doing quite a lot on that. Japan has also set up a council for the design of a hundred year life. Japan has one of the highest life expectancies as well, and the book has been a huge success in Japan. So I think it’s great. They’ve, you know, the hundred year life book has arrived around about the same time as the council for designing a hundred year life. And yeah, it is that it is about redesigning how we think about work education relationships, and of course health.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (16:05): Can you tell me, so an economist by trade?
Andrew Scott (16:08): Yeah.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (16:08): And now an absolute specialist in this fascinating subject, was there a sort of a, did we say sort of a damascene conversion? Was there an amazing moment of inspiration when you thought this is where it’s going, and this is what I want to really focus on or what? What?
Andrew Scott (16:24): So I always think about lots of, and the great thing about economics is you kind of, I, my interest is an ideas and impact. I love big ideas and I love the way that those ideas can shape the world around us and understanding the future in whatever way we can is, I think what ideas can do. And, you know, as an economist, as a macro economist, I spent a long time looking at what’s gonna happen to GDP and interest rates, the short term stuff, but I’ve always had a very broad interest in the long run trains, like how technology shapes the world, how globalization, how sustainability. And it’s a really good time, I think, to be an economist because people are somewhat less interested than what’s gonna happen at GDP and interest rates. Cuz we seem to put a turning point in history where pretty fundamental things are changing.
Andrew Scott (17:10): There’s this new technology, iron and robotics coming along. We’ve got, definitely a need to change in terms of the environment and sustainability. And we need to adapt to these longer lives. And our current institutions don’t support those new ways very well. So there’s like a gap we’re falling in between. And that of course is leading to all sorts of political problems, rising in equality, rising concern that our current institutions do not provide the lifestyle and the risk insurance that we need. And I think if you look at what’s happening, we’re profoundly changing the notion of what we mean by labor, what we mean by capital and how we produce and what we need. So, you know, this is a big turning point in history. It’s gonna not happen in 2020, it’s spread out over decades, but society is trying to work out. How do I seize the advantages of what all these things can offer and improve things, but things are kind of going wrong.
Andrew Scott (18:04): So for me, that’s kind of where I’m at and the next book, At New Long Life out this year looks at how technology and longevity separately are changing our world and together are interacting, but you ask the damasence moment. I say, I’ve always been interested in the big trends. I was involved with monetary and fiscal policy during the financial crisis. I was on the board of the UK’s FSA after the financial crisis, which was both extraordinary, fascinating and revealing. But having spent 25 years looking at financial issues, I really did want to look at longer run stuff. And I would always give a lecture every year on an aging society at London Business School. And it was what I said at the beginning. It’s pretty dismal staff. There’s more old people, you know, that’s being old, it’s a problem, but just, it was a really miserable lecture.
Andrew Scott (18:52): And, it was intellectually uninteresting and it was just depressing. And also it’s sort of very anti old people, which is a interesting trend in society. But then I just, one day was given this talk and I just looked at the statistics and said, wow, on average, we’re living longer and we’re healthy, ever longer. That just sounds like good news. How have we got it all wrong? And it was that, that got me just thinking through, oh, what’s really happened is we measure age chronologically and we define oldest 65. But what really matters for age is our biological age, how fit and healthy we are. And actually the relationship between chronological and biological age is shifted. We are younger for longer. That’s kind of 70 is the new 60, but really 70 is just the new 70. You’ve got more time ahead of you as a 70 year old and you’re behaving differently, but you’ve got 70 years of life experience.
Andrew Scott (19:39): How do you use that? Similarly with a 50 year old, you have got time to reinvent yourself. One student, one, someone who heard me giving the talk once said, so what you’re really saying is a midlife crisis. Isn’t a crisis anymore. Cause I’ve got time to do something about it. I thought that’s quite interesting. You have, you’ve got more time ahead of you can change and transition more. So it was those sort of moments. Then you start looking around and you start seeing how people behave differently, you know, and you know, I read and I think, and look at the data, but there’s all sort of personal anecdotes that make you think hard. And that photo of my father at 14 was one of them, but my middle son was just graduating from university. And, it was on course for a good degree in economics at the good university.
Andrew Scott (20:18): He says, dad, I’m not gonna get a job next year. And I was really upset by that. I was really crossed and I thought, why am I so crossed? Cause I’m not, I don’t think an angry man, certainly not towards my children. And I thought, okay, why am I anxious about this? And there were three reasons. The first was, I was just jealous. Cause when I was 21 and graduating, I got a job as an economist in an investment bank. And if I look back what a waste of time that was is my life in any way, shape or form better because I went worked for as economist for two years. No, and he’s fit, he’s healthy. He’s good looking, why not make the most of that and really just enjoy yourself. So that was a sort of real insight like, yeah, actually this is this longer life is affecting everything.
Andrew Scott (21:02): Then of course I’d pay for him to get through university and gone without holidays. So I was particularly cross, he was having a two year holiday, but the third thing was I was anxious for him. And you know, you do get anxious about your children. And I said, yeah, it’s not gonna work though. Cuz when I was at university, if you didn’t get a job straight away, you were in trouble. Cuz the next year the firm would say, well, why didn’t you get a job last year? Weren’t you good enough? Did you not know what you were doing? Are you vaguely subversive or uncommitted? He said, it’s not like that anymore, Dad. And I said, Lou, I’m a professor at a business school. I know what I’m talking about is, and of course you should always listen to the young because I dunno what I’m talking about three years later, he gets a job on a consulting company he’s on the, in the graduate recruiting program. And I say, I aren’t you one of the oldest. He said, no, I’m one of the youngest in the program. I think, wow, the world is already changing.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (21:47): That’s absolutely fascinating.
Andrew Scott (21:49): So that was all those things kinda reinforced. Yeah. There’s something here. And then of course the response to the book has been phenomenal and the number of people have come up to me after the talk and said, wow, that’s just changed the way I think about things. And they never did that when I talked about the Chinese renminbi or US interest rates. So, yeah, it’s been a really interesting path.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (22:06): And what about the, I can almost say is that the societal or cultural attitudes towards age generally, I mean I grew up in Asia where it was always you accepted that the elderly were highly respected. Whereas generally speaking the west, it seemed to be the old reviewed as being snotty dim, a bit deaf and would they just be quiet? There was a very, very different societal notion of age and what it meant and all the rest of it. Meanwhile cut to the chase and let’s say whatever decade or so ago when the Silicon Valley explosion came and there was a big thing back to the world of work, which seemed to be the end people that get all this, are they young? So if you’re over 40, let alone 50, in fact actually let’s make that 25 or 30, you know, get out of the door sort of thing. And then suddenly we found out perhaps Silicon Valley wasn’t so wonderful, perhaps all these tools that were given to us. Weren’t so great in terms of subverting society and the issues of fake news and all the rest of it. Really interesting now in terms of just what age stands for as you mentioned. And,
Andrew Scott (23:17): Yeah, so we have a lot of hangups about age and it’s a difficult topic because you know, one of the challenges is I think we are aging better, but the key thing about age is diversity people age at very different ways and you can be literally 80 and running a marathon or in a wheelchair and struggling. And we’ve gotta try to get used to that notion of diversity. We do have stereotypes that assume that older people are less capable, but a raft of indicators suggest a couple of things. One is that both cognitively and physically, we are on average aging better and quite significantly, so in some cases. And secondly that, you know, your skillset does change over your life. There’s a wonderful study. I think it’s a BMW factory where what you find is that actually older workers are not less productive than younger workers, which most people assume. They do work more slowly, but actually they make fewer big mistakes.
Andrew Scott (24:08): So actually you can think about team performance and just as diversity always improves any team performance age is a very important part of that. Chip Conley has a great book called Modern Elder where he says he worked for Airbnb’s founders. And he was the Modern Elder, he was just offering business advice that firm with an average age of 26 may not be aware of some of the pitfalls about how you deal with governments, how you don’t make rash mistakes. But also what was interesting was he would say that, you know, the, one of the fastest grow markets for Airbnb is the over sixties. People retiring want to travel and they’d quite like to stay in the house. And 26 year olds just don’t get what they need. They think, you know, a common statistic I’m always told when I talk about aging, is that in Japan, they now sell more adult diapers than baby diapers, which is a harsh reality about an aging society, but is really limiting because most older people in Japan don’t wear diapers and they’re looking for what Joe Cochlin, MIT calls the F factor fun.
Andrew Scott (25:07): And, again, that’s a really big missing market. So we have lots of age stereotypes, which are both out of date and inappropriate and very limiting. You can see why we have those age stereotypes, but again, if we’re reinventing the map of life, we have to think about things very differently. One of my pet bugs is the generational labels of millennials and baby boomers, et cetera, which I kind of see as a form of demographic astrology. I’m a Torian, but I don’t particularly think that the month in which I was born really shapes my character. But other people do. And I love looking at horoscopes too. They’re out of fun, but I think, you know, the chat about millennials is similar. There is something about that generation, but the notion that the difference between the average millennial and the average baby boomer is big, I think is overplayed. And of course, if you look at the range of behavior within millennials, it’s huge compared to the difference between the average millennial and boomer. So it’s about just seeing people as people. But we are very hardwired to think that the number of candles in your birthday cake is a really definitive part of your character and it’s not.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (26:13): It’s really fascinating energy then isn’t, it, it really, really does bring it to life. I love one of the comments that is made in the book that you refer back to sort of Star Trek and Mr. Spock, we marking to captain Kirk, it’s life Jim, but not as we know it.
Andrew Scott (26:25): Yeah. And I’m glad you like one that’s, yeah, that’s fun in the new book. And you know, if you think about working careers and education relationships, it is totally changing. And people are sensing, I think this, and it’s an interesting process, cuz I think one of the things everyone’s aware of technology, everyone’s aware of climate change. People fight against this notion of a longer life, which I find interesting. There’s kind of two ways to fight it. One is to deny it’s happen. The other is to deny it’s gonna continue. But you know, it is quite staggering. How many people now living to 80 or 90 and if trends continue, they probably will get more and more people living to a hundred. It is the fastest growing demographic group. And it happens slowly though. The it, the example I always give it’s that like that analogy of the frog in the sauce bin, which doesn’t recognize the change in temperature. Actually, I never know if anyone’s ever done that experiment but that’s what sort of happened. We it’s crept up on us and no one quite realizes it and we still have this obsession with when we were born.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (27:24): And I think, and as we begin to finish the conversation and it’s been fascinating, thank you. That link to the discussion about, or the debate around the environment, I think is fascinating. Cause one again, can bluntly say go back 18 months and quite frankly, most people were just not talking about the environment in anywhere like the way they are now. And one could say again, bluntly it’s thanks to the likes of Greta Thurnberg and Extinction Rebellion that it’s now effectively, if not front page, then certainly either front page or near to it every day in virtue, every media title and this issue of age one would presume is gonna be going precisely the same way that perhaps people have just been willfully ignoring it for years. And suddenly it is.
Andrew Scott (28:09): It is. I think that’s right. I think one of the challenges of the free stage life is it’s segregated the generations. So all people tend not to mix much with anyone else. So we sort of just ignore it. And you know, similar to climate change, obviously climate change is more of a risk. But I agree. This is a long term trend that all companies need to be aware of. And it’s interesting companies are beginning to wake up to it because if you look at the average age of the workforce, it’s interesting how obsessed firms are with the young and the intake. But there’s a bunch of incredibly skilled workers who on current work practices are about to get kicked outta work. And that’s a big part of the workforce. And then you’re gonna see in terms of consumer products, just given the demographic trends and the fact that older people have more money than younger people, cause they’ve had more time to accumulate money is gonna be a massive growth.
Andrew Scott (29:01): And this is the biggest emerging market, the number of older people. So, and it’s kind of predictable. You can sort of see it happening. I think because we’re aging better, firms are being caught out of a bit by it, cuz it’s like, oh, it hasn’t happened yet, but it is, it just will behaving differently. But there’s this huge unrecognized demand for new products if we are aging differently. So 100%, you know, the countries and the firms who adapt now are gonna seize a massive competitive advantage. This is one of the fastest growing markets for the next 10, 20 years.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (29:34): It’s funny. I read a while ago that in terms of the multi-generational workforce, when one is looking at purely through the prism of the future of work. One of the key benefits of the older worker, but again, that bluntly is that they’re far better team workers.
Andrew Scott (29:48): Yeah.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (29:48): You tend to find they again, but it’s sort of blindly, they calm down. And they’re more collegiate, they’re more cooperative. They’re not trying to score points against each other as opposed to the, you know, highly aggressive sort of younger workforce that are out to prove a point.
Andrew Scott (30:06): Absolutely. I mean, I try to resist all age stereotypes cause everyone’s different, but you’re quite right. The evidence does suggest that older people are better teamworkers. In fact, there’s very evidence that productivity is connected to age. It’s much more powerfully connected to education and things like that. But certainly in some sectors, what you find is individual productivity does decline with age, but team productivity improves. So again, it’s about how you measure the productivity of the person cuz if you just focus on their individual productivity, you’re not picking up the true gains that they offer in and the larger scale.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (30:36): Fascinating. Okay. Look, Andrew, it’s been amazing. I could very happily spoken with you all day about this. Just be, as we literally finish off just a couple of, you know, if I could summarize your, your key points, your insights that you like the Speakers Associates listeners to take away from this.
Andrew Scott (30:53): So we’ve got aging wrong. This is a great individual and social opportunity. We can influence how we age only about 75, only about 25% of how we age are genetic. That puts a huge emphasis upon you as an individual to structure life, to age as well as you possibly can. And don’t wait until you get old to do that. That in turn creates whole new career paths, whole new lifestyles and whole new products. This is a fantastic opportunity to be seized. And it’s too often lost in the negativity of thinking about older people.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey (31:24): So Andrew Scott economist, thinker, author. Thank you.
Speaker 3 (31:29): Thank you, Sean.
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Sean Pillot de Chenecey
Foresight strategist, author and podcast host Sean Pillot de Chenecey is an inspirational speaker, who’s also consulted for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Sean has a very deep level of knowledge regarding the genuine issues impacting brands from a cultural, social and business perspective.