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Where's 2023 Going?
Q1 Check Ins & Evaluations
From the sounds of my last couple of Elderberries posts, it sounds like I do little but holiday in warm, sunny sites and ogle over my gorgeous grand-daughter. But in these wonder-years of work-from-anywhere on almost-anything, and heading into spring - and the end of the first quarter (an annual vs. a lifetime Q1), I thought it was time for an update.
As I was saying to hubby over breakfast this morning, part of the purpose of letting down the boundary between the personal and the professional (as I have done in this blog, sometimes to my own, embarassed chagrin), is to show that you can have it all - eventually. I was 47 years old for my first book, 52 for my first dog, 60 for my first grand-daughter and 60 for getting into Harvard! And that behind every professional facade lies a complex, multi-faceted human. One of the many joys of Q3 is to let it all hang out and not to have to limit yourself to any single reductive title, interest or occupation. Have it all, be it all, do it all.
So, after announcing my 3 goals for the year back in January, and sharing my love of the Self Journal that helps me keep track of what I’m up to (a bit too much), and it being International Women’s Day March 8th (always an intense time not only of self-reflection, but for all of us women) here’s my pit-stop, Sunday morning reckoning.
Writing, podcasting, teaching, connecting
So this could also be in the next chapter, as the goal of my 4-Quarter Lives podcast is to influence - individuals, companies and countries (why play small? Time is running out). To offer role models of our new, longer lives and how people are embracing and using longevity to redefine each quarter. It’s also to influence companies. Season 2 of the podcast is focusing on how companies are adapting (or not) to shifting demographics. Where we are now reminds me very much of where we were on gender issues when I started on that topic 25 years ago. The moment the theme hits the mainstream, big time. But you wouldn’t know it to talk to companies. Most are blissfully still ignoring the subject. They won’t be for much longer. I found a few trend setters and featured them. If you know of any others, please let me know, happy to include them.
Unilever’s Morag Lynagh, Director of the Future of Work, talks about a new U-Work policy that creates a kind of internal gig economy to flex work for all ages and stages
Fuller’s Dawn Browne shares why and how the company started a specific recruitment campaign for the 50+. Because generational balance delivers bottom line results.
Susan Wilner Golden talks about her wonderful new book Stage (Not Age) which outlines the $22 trillion longevity opportunity and offers case studies of companies leading the way.
It’s DigitALL International Women’s Day this week, so coming out of years of crazy pandemic and declarations of the end of women’s progress, I thought it was good to find some wisdom and perspective. Who better than Harvard’s Claudia Goldin? An eminent labor economist and historian, she’s one of the most eminent and intelligent voices on the status of women I know. I recorded a podcast and wrote a recent FORBES blog (both of which I’ll share on March 8th with all elderberries subscribers), on her book Career & Family - a Century Long Journey Towards Equity. It’s deep, fascinating and reassuringly optimistic.
The flip side of the good news on women is the worrying trends for men and boys. It’s time to focus on boys and balance! They need help. Too long left out of the conversations about women (and the reason I always refused to work on ‘women’ but always on ‘gender balance’). And the continued challenge in too many countries (ok, all countries), for all these brilliant, high-powered, ambitious women ready to take on the world to find good men to marry. So this FORBES piece was titled The Tragic Disconnect Between Men And Women – No Sex, No Babies, Lots Of Loneliness, Shrinking Populations. Also on this theme of investing in boys, thanks to friend Juliet for forwarding Professor Galloway’s blog, titled Taking Affection Back.
Another piece, hot on the heels of UK PM’s Rishi Sunak call for getting the still-retiring 50+ back to work, on how this depends on companies waking up and embracing the realities and consequences. It was titled Wooing Midlifers Back To Work? Time To Adapt To The New 3rd Quarter.
Part of my dream to get midlife transition programmes everywhere in the world, I’ve been getting involved in speaking and sharing some of all this with different universities, including the University of Toronto, UC Denver’s new Change Makers programme, the Advanced Management Programme at Catolica Lisbon Business School and INSEAD’s Lifelong Learning series (coming up March 9th).
Influencing - Unleashing the ‘old’
Some of you have signed up for my short, sharp, 3-Mondays in March Midlife Rethink programme. I look forward to seeing you there! It’s my attempt to digest much of what I’m learning about all of the above and sharing it, in community. Starts 6pm (London time) March 13th, you can still join if you are tempted, 20% off for all paying elderberries subscribers (email firstname.lastname@example.org for the discount code).
the joy of individual coaching is that you both learn from all your clients, and can share with them all you are learning. So I rejoice in the brilliant men and women I accompany on a part of their personal and professional journeys. It lets me check all my theories, research the latest issues on the ground, and see if my ideas and suggestions resonate.
Encouragingly, my new work on midlife, ageing, longevity and the gender differences in this phase of life has been recognised by a We Are the City award as one of 50 Trailblazers of 2023. This is a particular honour as the other 49 are actually seriously incredible. And a bit of confirmation as you wander is always welcome.
With the help of my wonderful, brilliant, strategically-minded friend Juliet Warkentin, I revamped my personal website with the help of an amazing tech and design team. A particular shout-out to astonishingly talented photographer Sarah Victoria Bates and make up artist Amanda Clarke, who made me look better than anyone else ever has. If you need a branding revamp, I highly recommend the whole team. All feedback welcome! AvivahWittenbergCox.com
Physical and mental wellbeing
Inspired by the ever-inspiring Harriet Green, I moved this dimension to the top-3 of my priority list. If not now, when. It works!
Culture - you guys know I’m a serious culture vulture, and that my return to London after a year in the US has been like jumping back into a heady intellectual bath. This week we saw a wonderful musical at the National Theatre, Standing At the Sky’s Edge. Everything I love, nice music, great voices, an overlapping story of three generations and the personal and historical forces that shaped them. Also spent a good part of last night bing watching Shrinking on Apple TV. It was recommended to me by so many people, and they were all right. Amazing acting, wonderful writing, deeply human television (by the same team that gave us Ted Lasso). If culture reflects where society is going, we are doing all right! And far better than the doom-sayers would have you think.
Social - busy in the neighbourhood, our women’s network is weaving and knitting together. And because my husband complained about our sexist lack of inclusion, this afternoon we are starting monthly Sunday afternoon drinks in the neighbourhood pub, with the gentlemen. I’ll keep you posted. Tomorrow night, we are hosting our 2nd Generations Over Dinner with fellow Substack writer (Mastery in Your 20s) and Gen Z wunderkind Charlie Rogers who is charged with bringing young folk - and cake! Which reminds me he has also asked me to speak about career-building to a group of young ‘multipotentiates’ later this month. A term I didn’t know, but you can probably understand from the list above.
Physical - OK, been upping my exercise regime, including 5 days with my son’s personal trainer in Dakar, on his rooftop, every morning! This was a brilliant way of not-so-subtly getting super-reluctant-and-exercise-hating-spouse to join me. Also lots of weight and strength training at my local PureGym, including a rather relentless and repetitive Circuits class at 9 am Saturday mornings (husband now joining me!!). Why this has to be so early in the morning, I don’t know. I much prefer my uber-civilised evening yoga and pilates class at the Rambert ballet’s wonderful purpose-built rehearsal building next door. I adore these, and feel at peace with the world every time I leave these glorious sessions with the soothing, compassionate voice of teacher-dancer Pieter Symonds. You can grab a bit of her here, online.
So now I’m late. I should have posted this half an hour ago. What I thought would be a short recap of a couple of months has turned into a long ramble through the morass of what life looks like 3 months into a year back after a year away. But that’s OK. Part of the joy of this age and stage is that there are very few rules. And I know no one really cares about my noon deadline except me. And I’m ever grateful for all of you who accompany my wanderings and find some meaning in it, and share your own thoughts, reactions and experiences in reply mode. Keep it coming!
Next week, I have some really BIG news in the offing, but I will wait until it’s 100% confirmed before sharing it. Just a hint? Some of the very best things in life come in very small packages.
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