James Brown, irrepressible, vivacious, and endlessly energetic, is out there living life in the most positive ways imaginable. Having a rather famous namesake is a high bar to live up to, but James is absolutely doing it. Long-time resident in what may be the least racially diverse state in America, he never considered it a problem and it was, from his point of view, more an advantage as there were so many new people to befriend. Having spent time with James, one can’t help but feel better about one’s self and the world around us. His positivity is infectious. There is seemingly nothing that he is unwilling to try or do to elevate those around him.
A highly accomplished Emmy Award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, producer and television host, he is using his skills to help all of us visualize and empathize with an older population often rendered invisible by media today. More than just informative, James Brown makes us smile with delight at the people and the world around us. We are huge fans of James.
How old are you?
78 years old.
What is the mission of Living With Pride?
Mission/Vision: To ensure that our aging population is not forgotten and has the right tools, resources, and information to thrive in the fourth quarter of their lives. To become the voice and resource of the senior population via a multimedia broadcast/podcast and social media platforms offering resources and remedies for issues that impact their lives, so they can be viable economic and social assets to their communities.
The Helping Hustle
Why did you start it?
Recovering from the aftershock of divorce and being an entrepreneur, I found myself in an aging conundrum of life not knowing what to do and where to find the resources that will enable me to adjust and take life in stride. Whom can I talk with? Like many of us, I felt lost and alone. I found that having spent my life as a contributor to our society, that didn’t matter – which angered me, and I decided to do something about it. The more I researched the climate and such, I realized that the system could use some basic help with communication and conversations as it impacts our population. No longer would I exist in a community that was designed around healthcare, fitness, and wellness and yet it talked at rather than to people my age. As an older adult, I knew that I can do something to help all sides and, with no regrets, I selfishly began to use my media experience and somewhat savvy and make Living With Pride an advocate for all aging populations and their families, because everyone will get old.
How are you leveraging intergenerational connections to help you manifest your project?
By engaging young people in every facet of our concept. Because aging is universal, intergenerational connections can be a valuable resource for helping to manifest our project. One of our partners is the Children’s Media Workshop; we are taking people my age into the classroom nationally to work as mentors and educators with experience. Once we establish the portal, it will be a consistent process of sharing and building relationships with the total population; young people will become old people, and there is no escaping that reality, so we need to teach them how to be better older adults.
“I hustle day and night, even in the face of things that I don’t know or legitimately understand”
What skills did you learn from your previous work life that you are bringing to the new endeavor?
My skills/background have afforded me the ability to inquire and question the reality of a particular situation or issue. That being said, I hustle day and night, even in the face of things that I don’t know or legitimately understand – and that’s everything that I am facing; which confirms that I, like so many other individuals, am facing the same issues. I have learned how to pursue a story, market the story, and address the process of leadership. I have learned that people require truths in their lives, and I will be one of those truths!
What has your career been before Living With Pride?
My career has been in television production/producer/host of several nationally distributed television shows: The Clubhouse TV (Golf), 1000CC Raw Thrill (superbike), Divorce the Talk Show, marketing an award-winning broadcast, TV journalist (Emmy). I was a featured reporter at ABC 4 Utah, 9 years; host and producer, New Horizons, a community-based television on PBS’s KUED for 13 years. I played a key role in the development of Salt & Pepper Marketing. I also founded and was president of a full services advertising and marketing agency and Salt Lake City Studios.
What are some of the new skills you have had to learn?
Communication: Making sure that I can effectively communicate with older adults as well as their caregivers and families; I find that this is essential. This is a must if I am providing appropriate input as a messenger and resource for this population. In addition, empathy, cultural competency, knowledge of aging, problem-solving, patience, and flexibility are key skills that I have learned and improved.
“Hurdling the roadblocks has been a complex and challenging process”
What are the roadblocks/difficulties you are facing?
Many. Being older myself, I find that it’s harder to build support for change. Hurdling the roadblocks and making changes to the system for the benefit of older adults is and has been a complex and challenging process, but it is also an important and rewarding one. It has required me to be persistent and creative, and have the ability to build partnerships and coalitions in order to overcome the various roadblocks and challenges that may arise each and every day. The biggest of these is getting the financial support that will enable me to accomplish quality production and distribution of this much-needed resource and service.
Utah is becoming more diverse, but there is still a racial divide. How does that impact older people of color?
With respect to the diverse aging population of Utah and people of color, there is a tremendous impact on economics, housing, healthcare, and other outcomes; many minority groups experience worse health. The system needs to systematically be fixed so that it impacts all of its citizens mutually.
Do you feel there are specific compounding issues concerning people of color and age?
People of color often face discrimination and disadvantages in many areas of life, including education, employment, housing, and healthcare. For older people of color, age can also be a factor that compounds other challenges – ageism, and discrimination in the workplace. Life is a bitch, and they are not getting rich.
What is your ambition for the next 5 years?
To build our nonprofit organization as one of the foremost media platforms of integrity, honesty, and truth, that helps a solid foundation of advocacy for older adults and our humanity.
What music are you listening to?
R&B, Classical, Pop, and Country. Sly Stone, Barry White, The Doobie Brothers, The Stones, Motown, and much that came out of the ’60s and ’70s. As you get older, it seems that music is a soothing process and not so much a particular artist or genre. In my early years, I was concert coordinator for Sly & The Family Stone.
What are your 3 non-negotiables in life?
Let me Love, Let me Live, and Let me Give.
The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.
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