All posts by Lisa Haas

Cat Suit at 63

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Lynn Price

Yesterday, a gentleman asked my age.  Over time in the past, when asked that compelling question, I’d reply 21 or 29 (perpetually), 30 something, in my 40s and 50ish.  Once in a while I’d shave a couple years.  Yesterday, I replied, 62.

His response, “Wow, you look 52!”  Well, what does that really mean?  I can take that as a compliment with all the nicety assumptions.  Yet I wondered, how did he get to that number – and why does a number have such power over us?

In a current role in retail, numbers play a dual role.  With size, everyone seems to want a size smaller than will appropriately and comfortably fit.  It doesn’t matter if you explain that one designer might run smaller, and another larger.  I kindly suggest they forget about the number.  I wonder, wouldn’t it be great if a client loved a certain fashion item and I could respond with, “let me get YOUR size” without a number attached.

Further, I often hear, “I can’t wear that at my age.”  I kindly respond, “You can wear whatever you want to wear – do you like it?”

As we get older, and wiser, this number thing can tend to restrict us.

At Camp To Belong Summer Camp, I wear oversized T-shirts with my hair in a pony tail.  I’ve put on face paint as a clown for the carnival and stick out my tongue as we sing “Singing in the Rain” so I can catch the raindrops.  On stage, inspiring a professional audience, I wear a suit with my hair curled and make sure I dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ as I speak.

One can say, “Act your age.” Well, I am… acting the age I feel in the environment I am in.  Do I do things to feel young – yes, fitness every day, positive mantras, meaningful connections, ‘special’ creams – but at the end of the day, I am still my age, fit into a size congruent to the designer and wear what I want if I like it.

Some may dream of making and saving more money for the retirement journey.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t sometimes feel guilty or even irresponsible when I opted to make a difference instead of making a living – when I questioned (ever so briefly)  my volunteer hours and pro bono speaking engagements, reflecting on how I should have more money.  My son Tanner relieved me of my questionable state recently.  Speaking around a dinner table of fabulous family and friends, everyone grew silent and looked at him when he said, “We do it for the outcome, not the income.”

We hear 60 is the new 40.  Well, today I am 63.  And 63, well, is 63.  And as for what I am wearing, I can still wear my cat suit !  I’ve had it for countless years.  More recently a complete stranger came up to me and said, “OMG, you are the only person I know who can get away with that at your age – fantastic!”  She didn’t know my age.  And as far as more money, I understand it is a balance, yet as they say, ‘some things are priceless’ and I will continue to make a difference without getting hung up on bigger dollar numbers.

My gratitude journal today has a quote by Charles Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

So this upcoming year, I’m reacting to the age question.  I’m not 21, 29, something, in my Xs, and ish or shaving numbers off, I am 63.  And I’ll wear a cat suit in the size that fits me and continue to make a priceless difference in our world – because I can!! Perhaps if we ask how young are you (rather than how old), we will create a shift that diminishes restrictions. After all, it is just a number! How do numbers restrict you?

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Living Life on Purpose

owl-1705112_1920The idea of “Wise Elder” suddenly occurred to me. While standing at the counter at a full service car wash, I observed the discounts available. “Are you:  Military, Student, or a Wise Elder?” Typically, I avoided the senior, senior citizen, or above X age options in so many other places.  However, this time I swallowed and even said out loud, “I am a wise elder” to the young person behind the counter!  It was the first time, at ‘my age’, I took the discount and the moment of reflection continued.

Ironically, it is AARP who has joyfully invited me to reflect on my lifetime of wisdom, to embrace their slogan of ‘Real Possibilities’, to focus on my life purpose and to celebrate the significance of an encore career.

When I received my degree from the University of Illinois in communications, it was a given to follow that education and related interest into my first career.  My telecommunications journey started at ESPN where I focused on the real possibilities of cable television and on an industry on the verge of bringing twenty-four hour specialized networks into living rooms.

I spent over a dozen years representing eclectic programming networks, thriving as a road warrior, stopping at cable operator locations, whether in mom and pop furniture shops and homes or business centers and high rises to gain subscribers. I invited clients to college football games with ESPN.  I amused my clients by giving presentations wearing a cowboy hat to represent The Nashville Network, then Disney ears to represent The Disney Channel and then a tie to represent Satellite News Network. I stood on one foot giving an example of gravity golf to represent The Golf Channel..  I put on an annual song and dance by wearing a yellow rain slicker as part of a ‘newscast’ and sang, ‘you are my sunshine, please don’t take my subscribers away.’  My colleagues, the clients and the industry were vibrant, enticing, intriguing and rewarding.

Then, it was my encore career that, unknowingly at the time, came because of education and related interest that was generated outside of my formal education but instead from life experiences.  I spent my childhood in the foster care system. When I became a full-time mom (a dream I had because I didn’t have a mother per se), I began volunteering as a court advocate and shelter ambassador.  I quickly realized the angst of the children immersed in thoughts that they wouldn’t amount to anything or anyone because of their lives in foster care.  Additionally, I was stunned to learn that brothers and sisters continued to be separated in different homes when placed in care, splitting their families even further.

I had made choices when placed in similar care as many of these children.  Positive, purposeful choices with real possibilities to defeat the odds of failure and find success as a college graduate, focus on health, priority of family and purposeful career, and even welcome a relationship with my sister (albeit later than anticipated) as sisters and best friends. I had an awakening to help other children find their way.

From the idea of Camp To Belong to the first summer camp program was three months.  A week of sibling rivalry, sibling connection and ‘you can be anything you want to be’ programming ended with a question by one of the volunteer counselors, who asked, “What’s next.”  My answer was, “I don’t know, but I just fell in love with 32 kids and I’m not going to say, ‘See ya, have a great life.’”

This was the start of my encore career.  22 years later, Camp To Belong exists and thrives to bring real belonging, real possibilities, real purpose to reunite siblings placed in separate foster, adoptive and relative placements – and – encourage the youth to take control of their own destinies.

I think many people do what they have to do in their first careers, just like my pursuit of a career in communications for the cable industry, all the while dreaming of the next thing that they so often do not get to pursue.  I got to it, thankfully.  And now I am humbled to give inspiring keynotes to social entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition – and to rise up the foster and adoptive communities to embrace their purpose.

Encore.  Purpose.  Possibilities.  Now, I am an AARP Purpose Prize™ Fellow. On behalf of all the wise elders out there who took a leap of faith in an encore career, living life on purpose, I take a bow.

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Lynn Price received the AARP Purpose Prize™ Fellow distinction in October, 2017. To see the full details of this award please visit the AARP website.

Interested in an inspiring keynote presentation on social entrepreneurship at any age?  Lynn Price has several to chose from. Just click here to see options and to contact Lynn to discuss your next event.

 

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We Think, We Feel, We Act

lamp-1456125_1920_idea_lightbulbI love a challenge. One of my favorite challenges was during the early days of my time with ESPN when the invention of the 24-hour sports cycle came to be. I was asked, “Do you really think people are going to watch a 24 hour sports network?” from the leadership team.  I remember responding with, “Why not? We will not know until we put it out there so let’s put it out there.”  That was my first step into the entrepreneurial corporate world of telecommunications with ESPN.  The challenge required a leap of faith based on little knowledge. And as they say, look where ESPN is now.

Spending over a dozen years in a corporate career with new and emerging cable networks, I immersed myself in the passion for bringing athletics (ESPN and The Golf Channel), breaking news (Satellite News Channel), country music (The Nashville Network and Country Music Television), and more many genres into the living rooms of hundreds of thousands of people.  There was much research to be done, focus groups to be had, spreadsheets to be created, budgets to be monitored and strategic plans to follow step by step to bring these viewers to the screen.  While passionate about the mission, in corporate settings, the mind has to rule the heart with professional wisdom, accountability and proof before, during and after the launch of an idea.  In order to take the next step oftentimes in a corporate entity, data and analysis has to be presented to obtain financial and leadership backing.  When rolling out the new 24-hour sports cycle for ESPN, we were always counting and reporting the subscriber numbers to encourage advertisers to support our network and prove that people were indeed watching to continue with our efforts.

Now, when working in the non-profit sector, I suggested an idea to bring foster kids to camp each year to be with their siblings. I was told, “I have never heard of that, but it’s a great idea!” I then remember thinking to myself, “Well okay then, let’s do this.” There was not much research to be done, no time for focus groups, the spreadsheets would invent themselves, who knew what the budget was, and the only strategic plan was to take the first step to bring campers to CampToBelong.  While passionate about the mission, in non-profits, the heart often has to rule in what is perceived as common sense, responsibility and outcomes before, during and after the launch of an idea. In order to take the next step oftentimes in a non-profit entity, you have to present the outcomes and impacts on society.  For our new camp, we presented the love letters from past participants and the concept that if we help just one, we have made a difference.  And as they say, look where CampToBelong is now.

In both cases, it is the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed to take an idea into a movement….we think, we feel, we act.  The foundation for corporate settings and non- profit programs are both truly steeped in the optimism and positive attitude that something can be different.  Strategy before or strategy after – subscriber numbers or love letters – mind or heart leadership – the risk is often the same. The main difference is the key performance indicators that are presented to move forward with a vision.

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