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Retired? Not Really.

Retired? Not Really.

By Erica and Karen

We did not dream, decades ago, where we would be today.

Forty years in the workforce. Hundreds of millions in buying power. Vast and varied experience. And a strong desire to continue to contribute and be productive.

We are the first large group of career women who worked until we retired.  We disrupted the workplace. Now we will disrupt retirement. 

From the start, we have been a force for change. Starting out, we forged a path for future generations. We broke through stereotypes--we were not working to find husbands. We confronted discrimination. We proved we were up to the task—we did everything our male colleagues did, and we did it with flair. Finally, we got seats at the grownup's table.

Once we arrived, we changed everything. We came out as women. We wore DVF wrap dresses in the 70’s and Donna Karan chic in the 80’s. We wore colors--on our spike heels and our tote bags. We shopped for groceries at dawn and midnight—and stores accommodated us.

We were a new breed--different from working men, and different from women whose work was mainly in the home. And we had a new image for a new cohort: working girls, a highly visible and valued component of the diversifying work force.

Then we retired. Suddenly, we became invisible. We were hidden behind an antiquated stereotype born in the 1950s. A stereotype that looked like a pale and passive shadow of ourselves. A shadow that did nothing but sit in a rocking chair and take it easy, smelling the roses. A shadow that was happy to exit the power structure. 

That shadow has nothing to do with us. We have experience and resources, and we want to stay in the mix. We want to use our careers as stepping stones to new ventures. So we are exploding the stereotype and creating a new vision. Why? Because we understand the power of images. We need a positive one to get us where we want to go

Once we become visible again we will change everyone's picture of the future. We will no longer be feared as helpless people who will suck all the resources out of the system. People will recognize that we have contributions to make that will increase the pie, not cause it to disappear.

First, we will become a vital part of the rapidly changing labor force. The freelance economy and other new employment models will provide a more strategic match between business needs and worker skills. We will pioneer flexible models to engage that reflect our status and the distilled nature of what we have to contribute. We will team our experience and judgment with the knowledge and fresh perspectives of our Millennial colleagues. We will help them rise.  

Second, we will spend, and the market will figure out that we want cool things as well as necessary things. Our cohort controls trillions in purchasing power. We are lively and educated. We travel, and we like fast cars. We know all about the internet.

Third, we are a political force. We have lived long enough to see that politics affects everyone and everything. We vote and we contribute. We will be strategic in our use of power.

When we were starting out, Ms. magazine gave us a voice. We couldn’t find the same vehicle for the lives we are starting now, so we created Lustre. We still want what we wanted then—to be visible, and to be recognized as the women we are now—building on a strong foundation to create a modern retirement. 

 

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