“We Need to Talk” – Pilot Series – Research

Event No. 3, March 24, 2021, Why does Purpose matter?

Encouraging findings from our pilot series,  “We Need to Talk”
By Helen Hirsh Spence

For the third in our “We Need to Talk” series, we again experienced a wonderful mix of ages, perspectives, and places of zoom origin.  Our chat box was filled with relevant information, LInkedIn connections, definitions, and resources. This time the group included 25% of participants under the age of 40, 5% over the age of 75 and the majority falling between the ages of 56-74. It was a wonderful mix of students, self-employed professionals and those seeking re-invention.

We are pleased to discover that many  of you who are joining our conversations are being referred to us by “friends”. I think all businesses recognize the value of personal referrals and Top Sixty Over Sixty is no different. Fortunately, our newsletter and email announcements about events are also serving that informational purpose.

Our survey results, at well over 67% before all surveys are in, indicate that everyone (100%) would recommend the series to others, 87 % came away with new ideas and inspiration, 77% will attend future sessions with the balance indicating “maybe”, and over 60% were interested in pursuing the conversation in greater depth. You’ll find that opportunity offered below in our events worth sharing.

A comment from one of our younger participants indicated her keen interest in participating in a forum where the balance of the group has experience and expertise from which she can benefit. This, of course, goes both ways. As one of our age 60+ individuals stated, it was the younger participants who were helping her find employment. They were the ones with the tips, connections, and willingness to support her as she re-entered the workforce.

Intergenerational “collusion” will go far to foster intergenerational understanding and collaboration. Let’s keep that momentum going.  Thanks to all of you who have participated in the past. We hope you continue to enjoy this series and share the inspiration with others.

On April 21st we’ll be taking a closer look at how ageism impacts us individually, socially, and economically and how the movement to address ageism is beginning to take shape.


Event No. 1, January 27, 2021, Making Connections: New Methods and a New Mindset

“We Need to Talk” is off to a good start!
By Helen Hirsh Spence

 We weren’t sure what to expect when Top Sixty decided to launch, “We Need to Talk”, a series of intergenerational dialogues.  In the true spirit of experimentation, we accepted the fact that ‘failure’ would represent a valuable lesson in learning and decided to give it a try.  Fortunately, the outcome was extremely positive.  To date, 100% of participants who responded said they would recommend the series to others.

Our goal is to foster a sense of community, encourage greater cross-generational understanding, and for all participants to generate new connections, one breakout group at a time. With the assistance of some of our participants, we are in the process of fine-tuning the hour-long dialogue scheduled for noon EST on Wednesday, February 24.

Our January format worked well. Val Fox, Chief Innovation Consultant at the Pivotal Point, told us a bit about her personal and professional life. The latter was inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation where Gene Roddenberry imagines a world where “no one has gone before”. Val acknowledges that her entire career was catapulted forward by this introduction to the series which echoed her belief “to live to learn, and to live to explore”. Innovation and creativity have always been hallmarks of her numerous accomplishments.

The theme that ran through Val’s successful business practices, and which aligns with the purpose of our “Dialogues”, is how to build community and enable positive change. Creating community that helps others grow and thrive necessitates overcoming the fear of the unknown, such as using technology or meeting people serendipitously. Through connection, however, we are all able to spot opportunity, ideate, solve challenges, or talk about their importance, and form linked chains, a literal ‘world wide web’.

Val’s theme is central to our purpose as well. The best way to combat ageism, racism, sexism, etc. is to cross those generational, gender, and racial divides. Ageism intersects with them all, although it is largely not even considered as one of the “isms” in about 80% of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. Much of the unsolicited feedback about our session acknowledged how the “Dialogue” brought together interesting groups of people with whom the participants had meaningful exchanges of thoughts and experiences.

This is how community is created and fostered.  Over 90% of survey participants responded that they left with a greater feeling of community, and 85% made 1-4 new connections. All of these encounters will lead to new possibilities, greater empathy and understanding of others, and a diminished sense of isolation and loneliness.

Accommodating the preferences of our diverse group of participants will necessitate coming up with occasional speakers, more time for discussion, and new formats, but with the broad encouragement of last week’s participants, we plan to make it happen.

A few of our other learnings include:

  • Some group members were surprised to discover how open their younger counterparts were to building relationships with them. Younger members admitted that older adults can sometimes be quite intimidating, and this type of format facilitated access to them.
  • Others expressed that it was the younger people in professional circles or on LinkedIn who have been most helpful to them in finding employment in their later years.
  • About two thirds of the group experienced loneliness occasionally or rarely, and yet the majority were eager to make new connections.
  • Mentoring was a theme for several groups. Top Sixty will be exploring possibilities to enable more informal connections across generations.
  • Generational ideas of leadership in the workplace and different thoughts around retirement/careers vs lifestyles was a topic of interest.  Strikingly, general consensus is that there is a need to find ways to enhance intergenerational dialogue and we are on it!

Please mark 12:00 noon EST, February 24th in your calendars today. We will push out more details in the coming weeks.

We’d also invite you to bring along at least one new “friend” to join us for that hour of “possibility” or to quote our inspired speaker, Val Fox, for that “sweet spot in time and space when significant change happens”.


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