2019/04/24 19:00 Lisa Taylor + Fern Lebo, “The Talent Revolution”, Toronto Reference Library

Presentation by Lisa Taylor@changepaths @Challengfactory and @fernlebo with new  @utpress book The Talent Revolution: Longevity and the Future of Work, in the Hinton Learning Theatre @torontolibrary.


Lisa Taylor, president of The Challenge Factory

  • Urban Land Institute names as one of Canadian’s top 100 women
  • Military transition back to civilian life
  • 2019 Norway symposium, International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy
  • First career in psycho-geriatrics
  • Second career, corporate communications
  • Adjunct professor at Auburn U.
  • Third career, on Talent Revolution

Fern Lebo, President of FrontRunner Communications

  • Author, speaker, trainer, and coach

Lisa will speak first.

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting,based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Lisa Taylor, Fern Lebo, The Talent Revolution
Lisa Taylor, Fern Lebo, The Talent Revolution


Day after the book launched, in the library where much of this was written

Why the book?

  • Because of demographics, people hitting an age when they would exit the organization, but don’t feel like they want to stop working
  • Resources for people to reinvent themselves at age 50s and 60s
  • No resource for companies, employers, who would hire late 40s, 50s, 60-years olds, in the way they think about talent
  • People dressed up, with nowhere to go
  • Time for employers to wake up on how the world of work is changing
  • How do demographics and longevity fit in, as well as technology?

5 drivers shaping the world of work

  • World of work often discusses technology
  • Had a 12-year technology career, but when in the world of work, it isn’t the only story
  • The future of work is human contribution potential

1. Demographics of longevity:  Baby boomers are the revolutionaries driving change

2. Career ownership:  shift in power between employees and employers

3. Freelance economy:  gig economy

4. Platform environment:  B2B, B2C

5. AI and robotics:  What’s the human impact, what potential does it free up?

We’ve been through revolutions before

  • Horse and buggy:  focus on making more comfortable, but it wasn’t about the horse
  • Buggies evolved
  • Go back to first principles, Aristotle said simplest form
  • Transportation in the simplest way, let’s invent something new, rather than evolving
  • Today, we hear a lot of tweaking around the edges
  • What do we want?  Not building fancier carriages

How would we design the world of work, if we went back to first principles?

  • A dialogue, without being out of reach

Demographics:  the biggest driver

  • Workforces being changed more by demographic change, than technological change
  • This doesn’t show up in the media
  • Aging is not a problem, the alternative is a problem
  • It used to be start career, get promoted, prepare for retirement
  • The retirement age was set in U.S. and in Canada in 1935 at 65, with the life expectancy of 62
  • Retirement was brought in as a workplace palliative program for the aged
  • Now, life expectancy is 82 years
  • Yet all of talent structures, career plans, statistics Canada has 65 as the finish line
  • At 65, nowhere near aged
  • So, is 60 the new 40?  No one wants to go back
  • 60 is a new 60, need a new mental model
  • Start with a foundational career
  • Take ownership of mid-career, not preparing for promotion — transition with purpose
  • If you’ve been an accountant for 30 years, you don’t need to be an accountant for next 20 years
  • Have an ability to choose what you want to do next, with decades to learn, transition and transform
  • The challenge:  individuals have figured it out, companies are slow
  • There are a lot of baby boomers who are hitting this threshold
  • Companies who don’t handle the baby boomers retiring will be like companies who weren’t on the Internet at 2000

Is demographic change a revolution?

  • There are models of revolution
  • 1. Impacting norms, situations and behaviours:  ageism
  • 2. All at the same time, not sequential order
  • 3. Affects everyone, everyone is aging, the workforce is a system, where people aren’t reaching their full potential
  • 4. Understandable patterns, and is predictable:  we can see aging coming, and plan for it
  • 5. Right now, and urgent:  It wasn’t urgent in 2005; a little interest in 2011
  • Since Monday, have done 13 media interviews, spoken twice, and we’re only halfway through the week

If we know it’s important, then what are the myths inside organizations that are thought to be true?

  • What is preventing companies from hearing?


“I don’t know the facts, but here’s what I think” — which is a trouble statement

  • Opinions without facts
  • Biases from fear, media, own experience
  • New term:  fake facts
  • Biggest myths are around ageism

5 myths

1.  Age-based myths are generally focused on performance or costs

  • Aged aren’t contributing their fare share?
  • Older workers paid too much, not encouraged to stay on?
  • Intergenerational performance:  e.g. millennials aren’t loyal; or she’s too old for training?
  • Best-before dates:  people are encouraged to think about retirement earlier?
  • Diminished productivity:  can’t be as productive?

Companies are ill-informed about the real costs of their workforce

  • Fail to consider costs of onboarding, training, replacing the new work who just wants to build bio, and moves on after 4 or 5 years
  • Earning potential is maximized at early 40s, so can’t compare 60-year olds to 20-year olds
  • Couldn’t find calculations for loyalty, know-how, expertise
  • Onboarding and orientation costs represent up to 93% of an employee’s salary

2. Diminished productivity

  • Unless you’re doing something (e.g. you’re a brain surgeon), maybe you should quit?
  • Maybe we should count backwards from 82, rather than counting forwards from 65
  • Everyone is an individual, can judge for themselves if they should contribute

3.  Perception of productivity depends on the attitude of the employer, not the output of the employee

  • Young worker more than the mature, they’re not being invited to participate, or be given choices
  • Expectations of retirement are premature, we start preparing for people to leave about age 49
  • No one asks what you would like to do next, a lateral?
  • Maybe instead of an increase in salary, you would like more time off?
  • Capelli 2013, Every aspect of job performance gets better as we age:  insight, experience, expertise, patience, you’ve stopped building your resume, are concentrating on what you want to do
  • Universal message that skill building is only for the young:  ran workshops for Fortune 500 companies, where are the older?

4.  Unintended consequences from maintaining myths

  • Lost opportunities to use talent
  • Employees want opportunities
  • VP of telecommunications company now working at Home Depot, he’s happy
  • Loyalty fades:  older workers are far less likely to leave than younger ones, in 5-year comparison, they’re not going to find jobs easily, so they stay

Misuse or underuse of old workers and their talents is what is expensive


Why go through myths?

  • We are living through revolutionary times
  • Workforce is structured, as if last century
  • True for organizations, policy-makers
  • We make off-hand comments about age, we would never do that on gender or race
  • Models are out of date, revolution not evolution

The future of work:  how do we prepare for the tsunami of retirements?

  • In revolutionary times, we don’t prepare (get things ready for a predetermined outcome)
  • The future of work is ours to shape
  • We need to stop preparing for the future of work, we are all actors
  • We need to shape the future of work

Asked 1000 people on a national conversation on the future of work

  • When you think about your children’s childrens view of work, what are you appalled by?
  • … what do you hope?
  • Then can see steps between

Need to shift thinking, using outdated models, with a finish line that no longer serves us

  • Stop dividing the work by age

My kids will live past their 100th birthday, they need to plan a career that doesn’t end in the 60s

  • Need to conclude a few years before
  • There is a generation now that will provide paths forward

All dressed up and nowhere to go

  • What does it mean to have a world of work, where everyone is vibrant and productive?
  • Why do we keep the old structures?

Video on Youtube:  The Talent Revolution at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IZohQtf-0A

  • Intergenerational workforce


Always children’s children:  (i) fear, dread or dismay; (ii) hope and dream for

Any companies doing something?

  • Journalist asked how long before employers get on board?
  • Typically, see within sectors that have a lot of older workers:  mining, utilities
  • The numbers don’t work, have to get people to stay
  • Premise:  a separate program for onboarding, then leadership development, then succession planning — instead of separating them, making a single curriculum
  • Onboarding into leadership development, working with someone in legacy career
  • Relationship between 3 generations, reduces program costs, forces intergenerational programs
  • See in unionized environments, public sector, as early days

Tied to a larger context, other pieces in world of work, old industrial model, employees are debits not assets

  • Demographics is a driver
  • Career ownership looks at employer-employee, who is responsible for maintaining?
  • Organization used to tell people they’re in charge of their own careers, but then could show career paths where they could go
  • Now, gig economy, doesn’t follow standard career path
  • Not a manifesto against ageism, a strategy on longevity in other factors
  • In the third section of the book, a chapter on employees not seen as assets, not right way, because assets are acquired and depreciated, need a different way of looking at employees as equity

Gen X managers say employees are phoning it in, towards retirement.  What can they do to engage?

  • Disengagement of a 30-year old, why not the same conversation with a 62-year old?
  • First and second books were for companies that didn’t have significant HR
  • The actual level of productivity turns on manager’s perception:  seen as phoning it in, will result in phoning it in
  • Employee needs to recognize, managers need to learn new skills
  • [Fern]:  Perception is often that it’s a kindness to let them coast, it’s not a kindness.

Has there ever been an employer saying why didn’t you come up with this book earlier?

  • [Lisa]: Yes, U.S. pharma company
  • CPG companies had launched “Your Encore
  • Are some signs of early experiments, starting to move to early stages

Governments provide financial assistance, what role should they play?

  • Hopeful
  • What does this mean for pension reform?  Have been working on this for a long time
  • Seeing the first hint of changes in the policy
  • Budget announced last month:  Canada Training Benefit is a small amount, that people can withdraw over their lifetime, should recognize the structure — if you wait 10 to 15 years, the contribution is larger
  • We normally don’t do lifelong learning, with a benefit that increases over time
  • e.g. taking $5000 after 20 years to retrain
  • Comes from Singapore
  • Can only withdraw funds until you’re 65, the Challenge Factory will take this on