Episode #138 – Marc Miller interviews Mark Silverman of Amava.
After 30 years advising, building, running, and investing in a variety of consumer and technology companies in emerging markets, Mark Silverman, CEO of Amava, is now focused on the unique needs of the 1.2 billion people moving beyond career and parenting. Our aging population is creating enormous challenges, but also fantastic opportunities to help people live longer, healthier, more content lives. Mark invites you to join him and support organizations (both for and not-for-profit) bringing innovative solutions to a population looking for social engagement and meaningful connections.
[1:19] Marc welcomes you to Episode 138 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot is the sponsor of this podcast; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
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[2:26] You will receive new chapters as they become available. Marc is looking for honest feedback and would love to get an honest review on Amazon.com after the book is released. Marc plans to release the book in mid-September and do both a virtual and a real book tour.
[2:44] Marc has already recorded multiple podcast guest appearances. One is already out, where Marc was interviewed on the Not Old, Better Show podcast by Paul Vogelzang. Marc plans to have Paul on as a guest to tell his story. You will find a link to this podcast in the Show Notes at CareerPivot.com/episode-138.
[3:12] Marc will be in Austin the week of September 22nd, the New Jersey area the week of September 29th, and D.C., the following week. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[3:25] Marc has two events planned in Austin, three in New Jersey, and is working on a few more. He doesn’t have anything scheduled for the D.C. area, yet. Reach out to Marc at Podcasts@CareerPivot.com if you’d be willing to give Marc some advice on venues or groups who’d be interested in hosting an event.
[3:45] Next week, Marc will be reading the preview chapter from Repurpose Your Career: Playbook for Building Strategic Relationships.
[3:53] This week, Marc interviews Mark Silverman of Amava.com.
Now on to the podcast…
[4:01] Amava™’s mission statement is, “We want you to live a long, fulfilling life. We focus on social engagement because, according to research, it can be more important to wellness than genes, nutrition, or fitness routines. It’s downright scary how dangerous it is to become isolated.”
[4:28] Marc welcomes Mark Silverman, the CEO of Amava, to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[4:45] Marc found out about Mark Silverman and Amava from a member of the Career Pivot Online Membership Community and thought he would like to have Mark on the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[4:59] Mark shares the origin story of Amava. Mark and his Amava Co-Founder KP Naidu had started sharing their personal stories of friends and family. Mark had witnessed his grandfather and his father-in-law decline in health after disengaging. Mark had also witnessed the value of continuing engagement of his parents and their friends.
[5:24] About a month after KP and Mark started their early conversations, they were at a meeting of local business and volunteer leaders discussing the concept of Amava. It was not yet a company. They met Claire, a successful physician who had retired, the prior year.
[5:42] When they asked Claire how she was doing, she talked about the fun she had in the first six months of her retirement. After traveling and visiting family, she found herself with a lot of time on her hands and nothing meaningful to do. She found it difficult to find people to do things with.
[6:44] Claire was only 62, and for the first time, she was struggling to find purpose and friendship. When Mark and KP told her more specifically about their plans for Amava, she immediately asked when she could join. That’s when Mark and KP knew that this was a huge issue for so many people, even for successful people.
[7:07] Whether people are struggling to get a positive start on their new post-career lives, or are just looking to find a few more meaningful activities, and people with whom to connect, Mark and KP realized this was something that they really wanted to pursue.
[7:21] Marc recalls the beginnings of Sun City. It is not a new problem for retirees to find ways to engage in the community.
[7:39] Mark points out that people are retiring earlier and living longer after retirement. How do you make 30 years of retired life meaningful? How do you stay active and connected? It is a massive and growing problem. Research from Stanford, Harvard, and others shows the significant negative impacts on health of disengagement and isolation.
[8:26] When Mark and KP started researching Amava and the solution they proposed they found research that with as little as five hours a week of meaningful activity where you are connecting with other people, you can live a long, healthy life.
[8:42] Marc has no plan to retire. He wants to work less at something he enjoys, and on his terms. Marc recalls his interview with Andrew Scott, co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. Andrew had written an article on NextAvenue called “Is 75 the New 65? How the Definition of Aging is Changing”.
[9:07] Andrew proposed that the mortality rate for a 75-year-old today is the same as it was for a 65-year-old 20 years ago. We’re going to live for a long time.
[9:21] Amava helps their members find meaningful, socially-engaging things to do with their time. This is as important to longevity as eating right and exercising.
[9:38] The Amava editorial team works with employers, non-profits, educational institutions, group travel organizations, and the members, to surface opportunities to earn, learn, give back, or achieve some other personal objective.
[9:55] Amava also offers, from time to time, products and services that are designed to support their members’ socially-active lifestyles. Many Amava members are primary caregivers of a loved one and are looking for advice and support.
[10:08] Caregiving is the one purposeful activity that can increase isolation and loneliness. Amava seeks to help their members find balance through other flexible activities that meet their often-hectic schedules and also help them find support for their caregiving activities through Amava partners and members.
[10:26] Amava has tens of thousands of members. A typical Amava user is somebody who has or is about to leave their full-time job or become an empty-nester. There is a balance of people retiring at a traditional retirement age and empty nesters who have left their careers early and have lost their sense of purpose with the children gone.
[11:08] Among Amava members, age is less important than stage. People become empty-nesters and leave their careers at a broad range of ages.
[11:30] Mark shares a story about a member who volunteers with Meals on Wheels in the Denver area and was looking for volunteers for an all-day activity. She asked Amava to post the opportunity. The result was finding several much-needed volunteers and creating new connections in her local community for herself and Meals on Wheels.
[12:21] Mark shares the experience of an early Amava member empty-nester and former executive. She was looking for a flexible part-time position with a meaningful social component. The most important thing to her was staying active and staying social, more than the amount of money.
[12:46] Amava suggested a number of local opportunities, both paid and volunteer. She ended up working part-time for a regional espresso shop that had a position in her community. She worked there for over a year and made a lot of connections.
[13:11] A marketing executive grew tired of the daily grind and travel. Instead of a part-time position, she decided to open a small gathering place in her town, where people could connect with each other, and listen to local musicians while enjoying hand-crafted food. While she had challenges, it has become a big hit in the community.
[13:45] Amava helped by bringing together experienced people who knew how to open a shop, and creating awareness in the community for her shop. She was a self-starter and didn’t need a lot of help finding her “next.” It was an incredibly rewarding experience early on for Amava.
[14:19] Amava is looking at bringing people on who can help people set up their own businesses. A lot of people leaving their full-time careers look forward to controlling their own destinies and experience what it means to build something on their own, now that they have time and a little flexibility.
[14:54] In the case of the marketing executive, she reached out to Amava, then started connecting with people in her community, online and in person. Amava’s goal is to help people move from an online connection to experience connection with people in their local community that would support her and help her.
[15:45] Amava members are spread out across the U.S., with maybe 1% of the members outside the U.S. Amava has not reached out internationally, so the international members found them by searching. Amava grows by about five to ten thousand new members a month.
[16:14] Amava is engaging with employers and organizations to help them understand how to communicate with an aging population and to have hiring and management processes that support a workplace that is age-friendly and attractive to Amava members.
[16:45] Many organizations use age-specific labels that can offend. Businesses are not prepared for how to handle over-qualified applicants who are no longer focused on building their career or making the most money possible but want to stay engaged.
[17:09] If the interviewing and onboarding processes aren’t handled appropriately, a lot of applicants can feel as if their years of experience make them less qualified for a less-skilled, lower-paying position, than overqualified for it, creating a bad experience for the employer or the brand.
[18:03] To get involved, start at Amava.com and explore the types of opportunities. A lot of members start by exploring and opening their minds to the various possibilities. Some think that their only path is to do what they did in their career, but less of it. But skills can be used in different jobs, especially if you are flexible in the status or pay you receive.
[18:52] Then, dive in deeper. Over time you will find various kinds of very specific opportunities in your local community, either developed by Amava or by others. Amava continues to reach out to communities where the members live. Amava has a concierge service to match people. So far, hundreds of people have taken advantage of it.
[20:29] The basic platform, to search Amava and look for opportunities is free. Members can sign up for the newsletter and receive opportunity concepts twice a month by email. Some things on the site require a member profile, which starts with your email address and your location. Amava does not sell information and keeps it private.
[21:04] In the future, there will be tiers of membership associated with folks that represent particular types of organizations and want to promote those organizations or services. At this time, the entire platform is available during this phase.
[21:18] The ability for everyone to search for and get inspired to do things with their time for social engagement will always be free to Amava members. Their mission is to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to stuff in their community where they can connect with other people. That aspect will be funded by employers looking to hire.
[21:56] What Amava is building is nothing less than the largest opportunity or experience marketplace for the post-career, post-parenting generation. At their rate of growth, within the next few years, they will have between five and ten million members and between half-a-million and a million opportunities directly targeting that population.
[23:03] Amava is not looking to become a social platform for people to connect online. Their focus is connecting people in a particular stage of life with the real world. By 2030 there will be over one billion post-career people, so there is potential for growth. Their most important focus is on serving members and creating value for their needs.
[24:05] Boomers want face-to-face or auditory communications. Marc tells Millennials in his Multi-Generational Workplace Workshop that if they have a Boomer boss, they need to go talk to the boss. Marc is pleased that Amava is intended for people to talk to one another.
[24:35] Amava is looking to build an organization that is for its members and by its members. Over the next several years, they look to encourage large organizations, employers, and educational institutions to provide opportunities to connect with this member base and to encourage members to post their ideas and opportunities.
[25:26] Mark hopes that everybody will join Amava and start to experience it. They invite your feedback. As they are early in their growth, they always want feedback, even critical feedback. They are very thoughtful about living a socially engaged life.
[26:03] To reach out to Amava, just go to Amava.com. It’s really easy to sign up for the newsletter. You simply put in your email address. You can explore from there. There are a number of support opportunities on the website. You can also write directly to Mark at Mark@Amava.com.
[26:51] Marc thanks Mark for being on the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[27:00] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode. Marc is excited about what Mark and his team are creating. Subscribe to their free service at Amava.com.
[27:14] The Career Pivot Membership Community continues to help the approximately 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project to grow and thrive. The community has moved on to the next phase where community members who have experienced success share their successes and teach others.
[27:32] This is a community where everyone is there to help everyone else out. Marc is recruiting members for the next cohort.
[27:39] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[27:54] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Please go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[28:16] This Fall, they are moving out of the beta phase into full production. If you would like to have input on this project, please and sign up CareerPivot.com/Community.
[28:30] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you listen to this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[28:49] Please come back next week, when Marc will read the preview chapter from Repurpose Your Career: Playbook for Building Strategic Relationships.
[28:59] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
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