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In Tom Robbins’s great book Jitterbug Perfume, there’s a reference to the old days when the chief of the tribe was executed at the first sign of a gray hair on his head.
Sometimes being over forty can feel like that (hell, twenty-five feels old in Silicon Valley). But the actual statistics suggest otherwise. The truth is that we’re an enormous, vital and financially secure (read: powerful and influential) group. Consider the following facts about the United States:
- There are ninety million boomers and seniors in the United States alone.
- An American turns fifty every seven seconds — more than 12,500 each day.
- As of 2015, people aged fifty to seventy-five represent more than 40 percent of U.S. adult consumers.
- The fifty-plus audience is the largest demographic in history — and will be for the next fifty years.
- The U.S. Census projects a 75 percent increase in the population aged sixty-five and older by 2030.
- In 2011, the first boomers turned sixty-five.
- The last of the boomer population will turn 65 in 2030.
- People over fifty have over $2.4 trillion in annual income.
- The fifty-plus segment is the most affluent consumer group today.
- Over the past decade, the highest rate of new business creation has been posted by those age fifty-five to sixty-four.
- In 2012, almost a quarter of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs fifty-five and older — a 14 percent spike since 1996.
- Adults aged fifty-plus spend an average of $7 billion online annually.
- More than 50 percent of discretionary spending power belongs to boomers.
- The fifty-plus age group owns over 80 percent of the money in savings accounts.
- Discretionary income goes up $5,000 when kids leave the house.
- Baby boomers are 26 percent of the population but 40 percent of the economy.
I look at these numbers and I see a group that has been hugely successful and continues to remain hugely relevant. I see a group that’s the primary driving force of the economy, one whose ideas still have the power to change the course of society. We have experience, we have capital and we have vision.
Ray Kroc was fifty-two when he went into business with the McDonald brothers to start a little restaurant chain called McDonald’s. Harlan Sanders started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken at age sixty-five. And Momofuko Ando, the inventor of ramen noodles, started selling precooked instant noodles at age forty-eight.
If I wanted to start another business, I’d market it to this group — and if I wanted to go into business with someone, I’d choose someone in this group. We know our passions, and we know our strengths and weaknesses.
My point: If you’re over forty — even well over forty — it’s not too late to change, to start a business or to pursue audacious goals. You still have an important voice. Your ideas, your passions and your points of view matter. Don’t let fear of an ageist society silence you, or keep you from going after what you want.
You can read more information about healthy living and peak performance as you age in my book: “Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick Ass Life After 40”.