When I was 30, my best friend was FOF. Now that I’m FOF, I’m thrilled to count a number of women, more than half my age, as my friends. I’m fascinated (and sometimes horrified) to see what they’re doing far differently than the way I did it. It’s also intriguing to learn the many ways they’re quite similar to 30-year-old Geri.
It’s especially invigorating to meet young women who respect the FOF generation and think we actually have worthwhile opinions, advice, talent, and, energy to burn. After all, if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be them, now would they?
Ever since I started my own business, in 1998, I’ve been hiring young women (with one or two exceptions). If it weren’t for them, I couldn’t have accomplished all that I have. FabOverFifty is the best example. Who better to help me understand and maneuver the technical and social aspects of the web than young women who grew up with the Internet? It also doesn’t hurt that all their moms are FOF. That means you Sara, Charlotte, Lina, and Sharon.
I recently had the pleasure to meet Becca Niederkrom, another young, web savvy woman. She interviewed me for one of the segments on BeccaTV, which is part of her website, Aginginsider.com. Becca’s “serious” mission is to “empower the technophobe, particularly the boomer and senior, in business and in her/his personal life.” Although I’m not a big fan of the term “senior,” I am of Becca. “I think of myself as the joyful connector of friends and family since 1976 [the years she was born],” she says. “And I have been teaching computers and connecting online since getting my first computer in 1980.”
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 36 and married for just over 2 years. I grew up in Orlando and south Florida and majored in marketing at Florida State University. I now live in Dallas, which is a ‘lil Florida, a ‘lil Texas.
Although I was hired into the Management Trainee Program by Sherwin Williams when I graduated school, I loved returning to my technology and entrepreneurial roots. I was 13 when I began working as a swim instructor for the American Red Cross and started my own business at the age of 17.
Tell us about your business and why you started it?
I saw a huge disconnect between technology and those who were 40 to 50+. Educated and skilled experts in their fields, these people weren’t using gadgets and tech devices, which created a gap with their own children. Consider that someone just a few years older than I am did not have the Internet in college.
I started a computer training and consulting business to help solve this problem. My clients range from attorneys to art dealers to physicians who highly respected in their fields but had no one to turn to who could understand their challenges. Many 40 to 50+ year olds have caught up, but there still are skills to be learned, even if they aren’t used everyday in a client’s work and home life.
Clients shouldn’t be given one-size-fits all computer solutions. There are many different accessories to make the tech experience better, from a left-handed ergonomic mouse and large-font keyboard to simpler cell phones or sleek PERS (personal emergency response systems) that marathon runners or assistant living residents would love to wear.
I was the only one speaking tech to end-users. The retirement communities in Dallas were against all technology advances. I was furious to see so many activity options, with the exception of the option to connect. Technology is the ultimate connection tool. So I began BeccaTV on AgingInsider.com to bring on those involved with the market to tell their stories. My goal is to equip boomers and beyond with information on services, blogs and products geared specifically to them.
Why your interest in the ‘aging’ population?
I feel that they have been written off. Here’s the deal: When I get on a plane, I want to see that the pilot has some gray hair. And that is a theme I want to see in the workplace. I want to continue seeing employers pay for experience. I began my work with the ‘mature market,’ also known as our ‘greatest generation.’ We have so much to learn from those who lived with such heart and soul. I had to make sure they stayed connected to the younger generation by using technology.
I don’t claim to know it all but I do know a great deal about how to make life easier for those with whom I work. I have to get this message out in a bigger way.
What’s your definition of ‘aging senior’?
It’s hard to give just one answer since we all start aging at birth. It’s someone who is in the process of becoming older or who sees a difference in her or his physical body. It’s also someone who is looking to retire from his or her career, someone whose habits have accumulated and affected his health, or someone who might need assistance in some way.
Why do we have to even use the words ‘aging’ and ‘senior?’
Great question. Since I originally began teaching 80- to-100 year olds, I was focused on those ‘aging in place’ (an industry term) and they happen to also be seniors.
I just returned from the Aging in America conference, where the discussions were aimed at ‘Boomers & Beyond’ and the assumption was that that meant senior. But now the word ‘senior’ is being questioned, probably because the largest generation is crossing over the 50- year-old mark. We are all healthier, living longer, working longer and this is really the first time to see that trend in such large numbers.
What have you observed about the boomer generation that makes it distinctive?
The Boomers are a fantastic generation and I think the ones at the forefront of much discussion of our perception of life. Although all Boomers share some common life experiences, cultural shifts, and icons, I believe that it’s a disservice to have such a large group lumped into one generation. Each person is unique and I think the Boomers are bucking all labels.