“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat. Instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”—Queen Elizabeth II (age 94)
If you listen to the dominant news narrative about the current situation, you might get the idea that those who are age 70 and beyond are all weak and vulnerable. Perhaps they’ve lived and given their best and should just dutifully prepare to pass the torch to a younger generation. And—for their own good—they should abandon all hope of new travels, adventures, or work.
This perception of our seniors as primarily weak and vulnerable is, however, hogwash! It’s time to redefine aging.
Today we debunk this stereotype and reveal the truth about aging with inspirational role models. As you’ll see, people are leading and succeeding into their 90’s and beyond—not in spite of their age and experience, but because of it! And no matter your age, it’s never too late to contribute or start a new hobby, business or project.
They’re not getting older… they’re getting better!
Perhaps two of the best examples of “getting better with age” are the two leaders of Berkshire Hathaway: CEO Warren Buffett and vice-chairman Charlie Munger. They both started from humble means, working at the same neighborhood grocery store. Besides a sense of humor and a knack for home-spun wisdom, the two also share a love of their work as partners for 42 years.
Aptly nicknamed “the sage of Omaha,” Buffet is 89 years old and widely regarded as one of the most successful investors of all time. But what if he had quit at “retirement age”? As it turns out, about 95% of his wealth was made after age 60! According to business insider and Yahoo Finance, Buffet became a billionaire at the age of 55, multiplying that to over $86 billion by 2018 at age 87.
Additionally, Buffett is known for his philanthropy and leadership. He has become a master communicator and remains a voice of reason and optimism even during challenging times. His interviews and annual shareholder reports are consumed and studied by younger investors for their wisdom.
What gives Buffet his edge? Perhaps it’s his habit of reading five to six hours a day, consuming five newspapers, hundreds of pages of corporate reports, and 50 books per year. Buffet is a veracious life-long learner and he estimates he spends as much as 80% of his workday reading and thinking. “That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”
Charlie Munger is no slouch himself, and also a billionaire. At age 96, Munger is also a life-long learner and avid reader, as well as an author. “The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more,” he says.
Investor and former hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson recently attended Munger’s annual Daily Journal meeting. He observed, “It’s truly amazing that, at 96 years old, he’s getting better with age. I cannot detect any sign that he’s slowing down mentally.”
Alex Griese, a 24-year-old stock analyst who attended, had this to say:
I was totally blown away by Munger’s ability to field questions on a wide variety of topics – ranging from macroeconomics to psychology to value investing – for two hours. He hasn’t lost a step and continues to learn at a rapid rate at the spry age of 96. I really hope I’m as lucky as Munger, who has been able to work on his passion day in and day out for most of his career.
Both Buffett and Munger exemplify passion, commitment, continual learning and what psychologists call “crystallized intelligence.” The latter is a combination of verbal ability and knowledge born of experience that can be demonstrated by older executives. As it turns out, there are advantages to aging that can make seniors wiser and even more productive than their younger counterparts!
The oldest yoga teacher’s extraordinary life lessons
“There is nothing you cannot do,” declared Tao Porchon-Lynch in a statement now emblazoned across her website. Tao lived up to those words and inspired many others to do so, as well.
Until her peaceful passing earlier this year at age 101, Tao was the world’s oldest yoga teacher, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. She began practicing yoga at age 8 and never stopped, teaching several classes per week until she was a centenarian.
Along the way, Tao lived an extraordinary life of adventure. She marched with Ghandi (and later with Martin Luther King, Jr.), helped her aunt hide refugees from the Nazis, modeled for Coco Chanel in Paris, moved to Hollywood where she contracted with MGM as an actress on The Bob Hope Show (and others), sat on the Panel for Peace with the Dalai Lama, climbed Machu Picchu, produced documentaries, wrote an award-winning book, and trained more than 1,600 yoga instructors.
At age 87, Tao began competitive ballroom dancing with her dance instructor, Vard Margaryan, 70 years her junior. Together, they amassed over 750 first place wins. When she was 96 years young, they wowed the judges on “America’s Got Talent” which led to other television appearances. (This was AFTER three hip replacements!)
“I don’t believe in getting old,” she said in an interview. ”Look how many beautiful trees are hundreds of years old. They are losing leaves but they are not dying—they are recycling. In a few months, spring will start up again. You can learn so much from nature.”
Tao’s advice to stay young at any age? A positive mindset and staying active. Her morning mantra was, “This is going to be the best day of my life!” She told The Times, “Whatever you put in your mind materializes. Within yourself, there’s an energy, but unless you use it, it dissipates. And that’s when you get old.”
Age is no barrier to accomplishment and contribution!
Bob Matteson was a runner in college with a nickname of “Rapid Robert.” He stopped running for a full fifty years, focusing on his career in the military then public service. Later in life, Bob resumed running, becoming the self-proclaimed “Geezer Gazelle.” At age 92, he completed a six-event sweep of world track and field records for his age. That included a mile-long run, which he completed in 13:11.
Speaking with Growing Bolder at age 91, Bob said that he worked out an hour a day in addition to working full time as a management consultant. Still, he found time to travel and in many regional events from 100 yard dashes to 10,000 meter runs.
Bob was known as a civic leader as well as an athlete in his Vermont home town. He urged community improvement through initiatives like the Bennington 2010 project (1985), the Mayoral Charter Project (2003), and Bennington Tomorrow (2010). The local runners group named an award after Matteson, which goes to the high school athlete demonstrating his best characteristics: tenacity, dedication, determination, goal orientation, and ability to maintain a sense of humor in the face of defeat. These attributes earned Matteson an appointment to the Governor’s Commission on Healthy Aging.
In 2009, the Vermont House of Representatives recognized both Matteson’s civic and athletic achievements in a resolution honoring him. “Bob Matteson’s truly remarkable athletic feats should be celebrated as an example of human determination, endurance, and extraordinary skill,” stated part of the resolution. Bob passed in 2015 at the age of 98.
Beating the Odds
Many seniors are proving that they can be healthy at any age and stronger than any virus.
World War II veteran William Lapschies had a lot to celebrate on April 1st. It was his 104th birthday, and William had just recovered from Covid-19. His family came with signs and balloons to celebrate. When asked how it felt to be 104, William replied, “It feels pretty good. I made it!”
In early March, Zhang Guangfen became the first centenarian to recover from the disease after receiving treatment for just six days at a hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak. Her quick recovery was credited to her having no underlying health conditions apart from mild chronic bronchitis, her doctor told reporters.
Ada Zanusso, a 103-year-old Italian woman survived the virus and wants to inspire others who catch it to do the same. She told The Associated Press this week that courage, strength and faith helped her recover. Now she’s looking forward to watching her great-grandchildren play again!
When the going gets tough, the tough get SEWING!
Teresa Provo, an 89-year old grandmother who lives alone in Chicago, Illinois, has been cooped up for several weeks in her apartment due to the pandemic. And of course, she has been thinking about the well-being of her family. So with the stay-at-home order in place, Grandma Terry put on her favorite band—The Beatles—and fired up her sewing machine!
Terry gathered all of her fabric and sewed a mask for every single one of her 50 family members and friends. Each was personalized with fabric featuring their favorite sports teams and handwritten notes of encouragement. Then, she mailed them all over Chicago, Wisconsin, Florida, Minnesota, and California.
When the word got out that her kitchen table had turned into a tiny mask factory, the “Red Hat Club,” a group of elders who enjoy going to local performances and events, joined her to make more for the nursing home residents where Terry lives. Together, they made over 600 masks! “It took us two weeks, but we get ‘em done,” she told the Good News Network.
Raising millions for healthcare workers
Captain Tom Moore, an English World War II veteran, is 99-years old and walks slowly with a walker. As his country locked down for the pandemic, Moore had an idea to stay active while perhaps doing some good. He decided to raise a little money for the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service) through a self-made “walk-a-thon” in his back yard!
Moore announced he would walk 100 laps around his garden (25 meters) before his 100 birthday. Then he asked friends in his small Bedfordshire village if they would donate to an NIH charity as he did so. His daughter set up a fundraising page and set an initial target of £1,000, an amount Moore thought he could fund through local supporters.
Then… the campaign went viral. Major media reported on Captain Tom’s campaign. Donations began to pour in from all over the UK and beyond. Moore’s daughter kept raising the fundraising target, again and again. In just one week, the campaign raised £2.6 million pounds ($3.3 million) for healthcare workers and critical supplies!
Moore completed his original goal of 100 laps. When he hit that milestone, he was visited by a BBC film crew and saluting soldiers (all at a safe distance, of course).
And then… it kept going and growing. Moore kept walking, and people kept giving. To date, £28,495,238—about $36 million—has been raised!
Moore now aims to complete 100 more laps. He will celebrate his 100th birthday on April 30th… probably by walking a few laps around his garden and raising more money!
What were you born to do?
We love all of these success stories! Two people built a fortune together while modeling what it looks like to prosper and lead instead of “retire.” Two others discovered the joy of dancing—or running—well into their 90’s. Three people defied the odds by defeating the coronavirus as centenarians. And two more made a big difference with simple actions, such as sewing masks or starting a backyard walkathon.
What can you do to live your life to the fullest? Is there a business you would start? Something you can do to help others? Or perhaps a hobby you would like to try or rekindle?
Let these stories inspire you to start now, at whatever age you are today. Live each day to the fullest. Be a lifelong learner. While others binge-watch Netflix… get into action! This is the secret to a full and prosperous life.
For more success stories plus some number crunching on how you can prosper at any age, we recommend our book, Busting the Retirement Lies: Living with Passion, Purpose and Abundance Throughout Our Lives. It just might help you redefine aging… and rethink retirement!
And if we can help you with your finances or a referral to a coach who helps people discover what they love to do… contact Partners for Prosperity. We’d love to help!
—By Kim Butler and Kate Phillips