A new list of 58 achievers over the age of 58 aims to change ideas about age-related barriers and prove that success is not limited by narrow definitions
As inspirational as the 30 under 30 lists aim to be, they also seem to cement an idea that feels like a warning: if you are not successful by a certain age, you are not relevant. Such lists advocate a narrow definition of success, and seem to reinforce the idea that older people have little to contribute. Fortunately, there are people and platforms trying to counter such limiting, ageist ideas.
A new platform is being launched to help older adults redefine their purpose and break age-related barriers. 58 over 58 is a collaborative initiative between WisdomCircle, an age-tech platform that connects senior experienced professionals with meaningful opportunities, and INK, a platform for community-building and ideas. This venture will be launched on 24 September at the annual INK-Talks conference, the theme of which is Futureverse, with a focus on reimagining a future where technology and humanity co-create.
The idea of 58 over 58 is to celebrate the achievements of inspiring individuals over the age of 58 who are embarking on a new journey post-retirement. “We are curating 58 stories of inspiration from individuals aged over 58. We want to showcase what people do as they get older. These are people who are continuing to give their best either to the work that they’re doing, a different stream that they’ve picked, or a nonprofit or teaching,” explains Neeraj Sagar, founder and CEO of WisdomCircle.
Sagar and Lakshmi Pratury, the CEO of INK, called for nominations last year and spent six months looking for stories that stood out, that could showcase myriad ways people can pursue interests and passion, regardless of age. While the list doesn’t have different categories, it is divided by age, area of work and location. The first list, which will be announced on Sunday, features people from 58 to 86 years old.
The number 58 was chosen because people are considered to be retired after 58. “Also, 58 over 58 is a pun against the lists like 30 under 30 and 40 under 40,” Sagar says. The venture’s mascot, which will be unveiled on Sunday, is a gender-neutral tortoise, a nod to the fable of the hare and the tortoise because the initiative is rooting for the tortoise, which lives longer, has a hard shell and is wise.
While going through the nominations, Sagar noticed some common themes: Every applicant believes age is not a reason to hold back from impacting the world. They all wanted to give back, find a purpose, and anchor themselves. More than making money, the drive is to find relevance and respect.
“The stories record people’s transition to who they are now,” Sagar says. “It’s interesting to see when people are free to pursue their interests, without nagging thoughts of money, they redefine work.” Although money is not the driver for many, it is an important aspect for them to feel respected, he adds. For instance, when older adults are asked to help or mentor as a volunteer, one is asking them to give their time, which can erode the respect they deserve for their experience.
With 58 over 58, the co-founders hope the perception of older adults’ place in society changes from passive to active participants and that their experience and skills can be seen as a guiding light for the younger generation. “Each story not only serves as a testament to their personal journey but also as an inspiration for others who aspire to make a meaningful impact, regardless of their age,” the website explains.