Marc Freedman, hailed by theNew York Timesas "the voice of aging baby boomers [seeking] meaningful and sustaining work later in life," makes an impassioned call to accept the decades opening up between midlife and anything approximating old age for what they really are -- an entirely new stage of life, which he dubs the encore years.
In The Big Shift, Freedman bemoans the fact that the discussion about longer lives in America has been entirely about the staggering economic costs of a dramatically aging society when, in reality, most of the nation's 78 million boomers are not getting old -- at least not yet. The whole 60- to 80-year-old period is simply new territory, he writes, and the people in this period constitute a whole new phenomenon in the 21st century.
The Big Shiftis animated by a simple premise: that the challenge of transitioning to and making the most of this new stage -- while deeply personal -- is much more than an individual problem; it's an urgent social imperative, one affecting all generations. By embracing this time as a unique period of life -- and providing guidance, training, education and support to the millions who are in it -- Freedman says that we can make a monument out of what so many think of as the leftover years. The result could be a windfall of talent that will carry us toward a new generation of solutions for growing problems in areas like education, the environment, and health care.
About the Author
Marc Freedman is CEO and president of Encore.org, an organization he founded in 1998. Freedman is a member of the Wall Street Journal's "Experts" group, a frequent commentator in the national media, and the author of four previous books.
Originator of the encore career idea linking second acts to the greater good, Freedman cofounded Experience Corps to mobilize people over fifty to improve the school performance and prospects of low-income elementary school students in twenty-two US cities. He also spearheaded the creation of the Encore Fellowships program, a one-year fellowship helping individuals translate their midlife skills into second acts focused on social impact, and the Purpose Prize, an annual $100,000 prize for social entrepreneurs in the second half of life. (AARP now runs both Experience Corps and the Purpose Prize.)
Freedman was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the World Economic Forum and the Schwab Foundation, was recognized as one of the nation's leading social entrepreneurs by Fast Company magazine three years in a row, and has been honored with the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. He has been a visiting fellow at Stanford University, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and King's College, University of London. Freedman serves or has served on the boards and advisory councils of numerous groups, including the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, the Stanford University Distinguished Careers Institute, the Milken Institute's Center for the Future of Aging, and the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program.
A high honors graduate of Swarthmore College, with an MBA from the Yale School of Management, Freedman lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife, Leslie Gray, and their three sons.
The New York Times, April 30, 2011
Calls The Big Shift an imaginative work with the potential to affect our individual lives and our collective future.”
The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2011
Says its an invaluable and inspiring read.”
USA Today, April 25, 2011
Hails Freedman as a natural storyteller, a deep researcher and a forward thinker.”
New York Journal of Books, June 2011
thorough, thoughtful, and exceptionally well written .Page One is a most encompassing volume on the issue of the future of journalism and newspapers Highly recommended."