We are so very proud to announce the release of the TEDx Talk of Matt Hirst, my founding partner at AGEIST. Matt, who is twenty years younger than I am, started AGEIST with me 5 years ago when he was but 36 and I was 56. It says a lot about Matt that he was so clearly able to see what was so desperately lacking in the culture around people of my age. That is a rare trick to be able to look into another time and really get what it is like.
Matt is mostly behind the scenes these days, with me being the face of AGEIST, but that does not mean that his influence is not felt throughout everything we do here. That somewhat controversial name we have, that was Matt. All that strategy and ethnographic work we do, that has Matt’s fingerprints all over it. As someone once said, if I am in the Steve Jobs role here, then Matt is the Steve Wozniak of AGEIST.
But let’s get to his TEDx Talk. For those interested, it provides a bit of a back-office look at how we created AGEIST. But where Matt really shines is with his so-quotable use of language. I guess that is what happens when British English is one’s native tongue.
“Imagine a world where you didn’t spend your entire life trying to stay young.”
“We are encouraged to spend a lifetime accumulating wealth, knowledge and wisdom, and only when you hit a peak in these areas do we just sort of disengage and stop talking to you.”
“Pre-1950 there was no youth culture.”
“Youth culture has its heroes, but who are the heroes once you hit 50?”
“The language itself is inherently ageist. It is impossible to use the phrase ‘older person’ without invoking a sense of pity.”
“As a culture, we are infatuated and besotted with youth.”
“The consumers who have built the brands over that last two or three decades by spending their money are now completely shut out.”
“The ad agencies aren’t completely stupid; they can read statistics, they know that the generation of 50+ is the wealthiest to have ever lived. They just don’t know what to do with it. The average age of someone working in an agency is well under 40, so their reference on people over 50 is their parents, which is not really a very cool starting point.”
“What do we do about this? What we don’t do is do a big deal with the AARP. They are the association set up to tend to Roosevelts [retirement] pastures. The people we speak to think of them as the grim reaper. When you get their card in the mail on your 50th birthday you know you are on the clock.”
“We need new heroes. As a 40-year-old guy, I want to know what to value, how to live life, how to judge beauty, to understand what health is really about. But critically, I want to hear this from the perspective of someone who has truly lived it.”
“Today’s 50+ consumer is the first generation to have it all: time, money and energy.”
“Youth and young adulthood are like the minor leagues. It’s where you pick up the skills, where you start to practice. You hone your interests and then you put it all together when you hit your prime in your 50s.”