Third Act Podcast

Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.

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The Modern Elder with Chip Conley


This week’s guest, Chip Conley, was coined the Modern Elder by Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb. After Chip sold his highly successful boutique hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, he met the young founders of Airbnb and became strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership and Brian’s mentor. But this role turned into a “menternship”, where he imparted his wisdom to the young Airbnb team but in return became a digital intern.

This led him to launch the Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first midlife wisdom school. Participants of the Academy learn to repurpose a lifetime of experience into the modern workplace and find their own “menternship”. In this episode, Chip talks about what he calls his “Baja moments” of modern wisdom and how people can use that wisdom to give their lives a new purpose.

(02:50) Democratizing hospitality with the Airbnb team
(04:20) Menternship: a mentor and intern at once
(05:52) Finding your own menternship to lend your wisdom
(07:27) Being a modern elder
(09:09) Ageism in Silicon Valley and beyond
(12:15) Suggestions for CEOs to be create a more accepting workplace for modern elders
(18:03) Life is not a one-tank journey
(20:26) Chip’s Third Act & the Baja Aha
(26:00) Advice to reinvent your own career in your elder years

Listeners can connect with Chip on LinkedIn. Learn more about the Modern Elder Academy and enroll in one of their programs on their website. Chip’s book, Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, is available at most major booksellers.

To hear about more Third Act stories, subscribe to and follow the Third Act podcast at And if you enjoyed listening, please leave a review at

Liz Tinkham (00:18):
Hi, this is Liz Tinkham and welcome to Third Act, a podcast about people embracing the third act of their lives with a new sense of purpose and direction. The third act begins when your script ends but your show’s not finished.

Liz Tinkham (00:32):
Today, I have a very special episode. I mean, I love all my guests because they so inspire me to use my time, talent and treasure in pretirement. But, through his work with the Modern Elder Academy, today’s guest, Chip Conley, is focused solely on people like me—so you might want to hang in. Chip was coined the Modern Elder by Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb. After Chip sold his very successful boutique hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, he met the young founders of Airbnb and became their strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership as well as Brian’s mentor. What happened, though, is that this role turned into a menternship, whereby he imparted his wisdom to the young Airbnb team, but in return he became a digital intern. This learning led him to launch the Modern Elder Academy, the world’s first midlife wisdom school. Participants of the Academy learn to repurpose a lifetime of experience into the modern workplace.

Liz Tinkham (01:28):
On today’s show, Chip talks about what he says are his “Baja moments” of modern wisdom and how people can take that wisdom and give it new purpose. It sounds like something I need and something you’re going to love. On with the show.

Liz Tinkham (01:47):
Chip, it’s great to have you on the podcast today. Where do I find you?

Chip Conley (01:50):
Liz, I’m in Baja, luckily.

Liz Tinkham (01:52):

Chip Conley (01:52):
It’s beautiful, sunny weather down here.

Liz Tinkham (01:55):
Oh, great. What’s the temperature down there?

Chip Conley (01:57):
You know, today it’ll be about 78, probably.

Liz Tinkham (02:00):

Chip Conley (02:02):
It’s 65, 62 at night so it’s a little bit cooler, so very nice.

Liz Tinkham (02:08):
Oh, how gorgeous, how gorgeous. All right, well let’s dive right into it.

Liz Tinkham (02:12):
As I mentioned in the intro, you were the head of hospitality for Brian Chesky at Airbnb, but also Brian’s mentor. I was just saying, I was rereading your book in preparation for the interview and I just want to read a quote from Brian in the forward and I want you to comment on it.

Liz Tinkham (02:32):
He says, “Chip consistently demonstrated the reciprocal power of a modern elder. He affirmed that while we have a story to share and something to learn from one another.” What did both you and Brian learn from the experience of you coming in and being a modern elder to him?

Chip Conley (02:46):
Okay. Well, let me give you some background on it.

Liz Tinkham (02:50):
Yeah, please do.

Chip Conley (02:50):
It was eight and a half years ago that he and his two co-founders approached me. I was a longtime boutique hotelier, had started a company called Joie de Vivre based in San Francisco, ran it as the CEO for 24 years.

Chip Conley (03:03):
When Brian approached me he said, “I want you to help us democratize hospitality. We’re disrupting an industry we really don’t know.” That’s often what disruptors do.

Liz Tinkham (03:12):
Right, right.

Chip Conley (03:13):
They have an idea but they don’t really understand the landscape. So I joined to help share my knowledge of hospitality and travel. But as Brian said to me when he called me their modern elder, he said, “What we wanted was your knowledge, what we got was your wisdom.”

Chip Conley (03:30):
I think what I offered Brian was more than just knowledge of travel, but knowledge of people, humans. Emotional intelligence is something we get better at with age. And then, what I got from him DQ. I gave him EQ, he gave me DQ, digital intelligence. Not Dairy Queen.

Liz Tinkham (03:50):
A little soft serve is all.

Chip Conley (03:50):
Yeah. Some soft serve, exactly. There you go. I like that, Liz. You’re fast.

Liz Tinkham (03:56):

Chip Conley (03:57):
Digital intelligence. I had never worked in a tech company, I didn’t understand what product was and what UX meant, user experience. I learned a lot about the state of modern companies and the technology industry. Seven of the 10 most valuable companies in the world today are tech companies, so I learned a lot about that.

Liz Tinkham (04:20):
Yeah. You coined this term of menternship, and I love that and I think a lot of our listeners will love it. Tell us about, what is a menternship?

Chip Conley (04:28):
A mentern is someone who is both a mentor and an intern at the same time. A menternship, it means that you have built a relationship maybe with someone, or a group of people, with whom you are teaching and learning. This is what a modern elder is, a modern elder is as curious as they are wise. It’s not about just dispensing wisdom. It’s wisdom seeking as much as wisdom keeping.

Chip Conley (04:53):
That idea really was solidified in the fact that I had over 100 mentees during my eight years at Airbnb, four years full-time, four years as an advisor. But, I would say that about 80% of those 100 mentees were people that I was learning from. So it was a menternship because I was not just mentoring, but I was interning as well.

Liz Tinkham (05:16):
I know in your book, you recommend going back and watching the DeNiro movie of The Intern with Anne Hathaway.

Chip Conley (05:23):
Oh, man!

Liz Tinkham (05:23):
Which is great.

Chip Conley (05:23):
It’s so funny. I was having that experience, and then I watched the movie and I was like, “Oh, wow. This is …”

Chip Conley (05:30):
But here’s the difference between me and Robert DeNiro. Robert DeNiro came in as the intern, but he was truly the mentor. I came in as the mentor, and I was ultimately, truly the intern because I never worked in a tech company before.

Liz Tinkham (05:42):
How do you go about becoming a mentor or finding a menternship? Actually, I’ve been thinking about it. “God, I’d be a perfect mentern.” But, keep going. This is about you, not about me.

Chip Conley (05:52):
That’s okay.

Liz Tinkham (05:52):
How do you do it?

Chip Conley (05:53):
I think some of it … First of all, in this case I was just tapped on the shoulder so that was very, very lucky. Who knew that this company was going to become the most valuable company in the hospitality world, globally? Good on me, good karma I guess came my way.

Chip Conley (06:10):
But, I think generally it’s going out there and being in environments where you’re going to meet people who could use your wisdom. Sometimes, that means moving back into a post-COVID world where there might be networking opportunities, cocktail parties, conversations that go on. It could be Zoom as well. But, there’s opportunities to meet and make yourself available to people.

Chip Conley (06:35):
There are also platforms to do that. There’s something called Mentor Cloud. Oh my gosh, there’s so many different mentoring platforms now that are starting to come out. I would just say, if I was really interested in this, I would go and see what are all the mentoring platforms that exist out there and how could I put myself out there as a potential mentor.

Chip Conley (06:54):
But at the end of the day, it’s probably going to be somebody in your world. It’s going to be two or three degrees of separation from you, someone who knows someone who knows you, who needs your wisdom. But, I would start by thinking, what is it that you have to offer? What’s the wisdom beyond, in my case knowledge of hospitality and travel, wow I didn’t really realize I had wisdom around emotional intelligence and leadership that would be valuable to these guys.

Liz Tinkham (07:21):
Okay. So figure that out first, figure out what you have to offer. And then, you can take it out there.

Liz Tinkham (07:27):
Now, I want to talk a little bit about this notion of being a modern elder. And first, focus on that word elder because … It’s funny because I’ve been telling people about your book and about talking with you. Everyone’s like, “Why did he pick the word elder? It makes you feel old.” I know in your book you said “crotchety and wrinkled.” I’m looking at you and I’m looking at me, and I don’t think either of us looks crotchety or wrinkled. How’d you come up with that?

Chip Conley (07:49):
Well, I didn’t. It was Brian and one of the-

Liz Tinkham (07:52):
Oh, Brian did. Okay.

Chip Conley (07:53):
Brian and one of his co-founders started calling me the Modern Elder. I was the Modern Elder of Airbnb. My initial reaction was like many others, which is I don’t want to be modern elderly. But, I wasn’t.

Chip Conley (08:05):
What they said to me is, “An elder’s not someone who is in the last five or ten years of their life. They’re someone who is, relatively speaking, older and more experienced than the people around them.” At Airbnb, I was 52 when I joined, I’m 60 now, and the average age in the company was 26. I was twice the age. In an environment like that, no doubt I was an elder.

Chip Conley (08:29):
Let’s talk about the ageism that we have in the United States. We live in a place where to be someone with experience and age can sometimes actually be seen as a detriment. I’m a bit of a rebel by nature, so the idea that we’re going to try to win back a word, elder, not elderly but elder, in a way that helps it become relevant again, I like that. It’s a little audacious, but it’s also a true word. It’s a word that describes many of us, given the environments we’re in.

Liz Tinkham (09:09):
Some of my other guests have talked about the ageism that they’ve faced. Particularly, the podcast is targeted in some ways towards women my age, and women in particular really face it. What did you see at Airbnb, and then also through your work in Silicon Valley? What kind of ageism did you see? And, do you see it changing at all?

Chip Conley (09:30):
There are certain industries and kinds of work that are naturally … I don’t want to say naturally, but they tend to be ageist. Being a software engineer in Silicon Valley after age 35. Being in the advertising-

Liz Tinkham (09:43):

Chip Conley (09:43):
After 35, yeah. Being in the advertising industry after age 40. Obviously, being a fashion model or professional sports, those are natural because those are all about your body and your beauty.

Chip Conley (09:55):
But, I think that what I saw in Silicon Valley, I saw people putting Botox in their face. I didn’t see them doing it, but talked with them, because they were personally worried that people would think they’re older than they are.

Liz Tinkham (10:12):
How old were these people?

Chip Conley (10:14):
Mid to later 40s.

Liz Tinkham (10:15):

Chip Conley (10:17):
I also know people who actually lie, in terms of what their graduation date was from college.

Chip Conley (10:26):
What’s going on here? Well, when people like Mark Zuckerberg said long ago that “young people are just smarter,” and numerous venture capitalists have said that they only fund entrepreneurs who are 30 or younger, you start to hear in that Silicon Valley echo chamber, the idea that somehow being older is a negative. And yet, the Kaufman Foundation and others have shown with research that the likelihood of success for an entrepreneur in their 50s is much higher than an entrepreneur in their 30s. Now, some people then disputed that and said, “Okay, well that’s because they’re doing a Subway franchise.” Then, they actually studied this from an industry’s perspective and yes, in fact, even by industry, a technology entrepreneur in their 50s will do better than one in their 20s. Why is that? There’s lots of reasons for it.

Chip Conley (11:26):
One of the things that, in Silicon Valley though, one of the narratives is, and I know it with the Airbnb founders. Founders who are young are maniacal, in terms of their myopic point of view on, “I only focus on this.” The older you get, the more obligations, responsibilities, and other interests you have. That is one of the risks is that yes, it is true, you live a more full-bodied, holistic life as you get older, and therefore you’re not going to be the 20-hour a day entrepreneur. For some investors, that might be a negative. For me, if you know starting and running a company is a marathon, you know that having that holistic life is probably wise.

Liz Tinkham (12:15):
Yeah. In your book, you give some great advice to CEOs, young or old, about how to become a more accepting workplace to have either modern elders or older people. What do you think, have you seen the adoption of that start? Or, what do you think it’s going to take? And, what can some of our listeners do, who are still out there working? Because a lot of them are in the C-suite of some of these companies, now.

Chip Conley (12:40):
Yeah. There’s a whole collection. Chapter nine of my book, Wisdom or the Making of a Modern Elder, is all about the variety of ways, 10 different suggestions a company could do. Let me give you maybe three.

Chip Conley (12:52):
Number one is there is a growing number of companies that are creating employee resource groups, also known as ERGs, focused on age. At Airbnb, it was called Wisdom at Airbnb, it was people 40 and older, as well as people who are younger, who were their allies. But, there are also intergenerational ERGs in many companies. I gave a talk not too long ago to Humana, the Humana ERG for intergenerational. I think that’s a good one. We have women ERGs, we have African-Americans, we have LGBTQ. We have lots of ERGs, but we don’t usually have them related to age. That’s one.

Chip Conley (13:29):
Number two is here’s a question that any company could start asking on their employee satisfaction surveys. Other than your boss, who in the company do you seek out for advice or wisdom? This is a great question. Now, it’s a qualitative question, it means that someone’s going to have to tabulate that, or people have to tabulate it by hand because it’s not a multiple choice. But, what it does is let’s say you have 500 people in your company, what you can do is see here are the people in the company, the top 10 list for example, that are perceived as the wisest. Now, I would not put out a top 10 list of, “Here’s the wisest people in the company.” But, what I would do is create almost like a heat map and say, “This is where wisdom resides in our company. How are we unlocking that wisdom, such that those people have a broader perspective?”

Chip Conley (14:21):
For example, in one company I know, they took their top four people and they said, “These are perceived to be the wisest people. Let’s offer them the opportunity, for free, for leadership coaching and mentorship.” So that they could potentially then allocate, once they get some training, maybe they take two-thirds of their time to their normal job and now we allocate one-third of their job to actually becoming an in-house coach.

Liz Tinkham (14:46):
Ah, good idea.

Chip Conley (14:47):
Makes sense.

Liz Tinkham (14:48):
Right, right.

Chip Conley (14:49):
Third idea. The third idea would be how are we creating a longevity strategy for the company. Now, what does that mean? If you asked someone 20 years ago, “What’s your Asia strategy? How are you going to, from a customer and an employee perspective, drive your business into Asia?” Nobody would be saying, “That’s a bad idea,” especially if you’re a global company. But, we actually have very few companies out there that actually have a longevity strategy oriented toward older workers and older customers.

Chip Conley (15:25):
There are so many different things you can do as a company. For example, for older workers, do you have a way for older employees who have a lot of institutional wisdom to, over time, reduce their number of days a week that they’re working? From five, to four, to three, maybe to two. And correspondingly, reduce their compensation. Now, this is a great plan. Most companies don’t do this because they have a binary perspective. You’re either full-time or you’re not. But, if you talk to people 60 and older, what they really want is to actually move into a part time plan. You lose great people because you don’t even offer that.

Chip Conley (16:07):
And then, guess what? If people are going to be living longer, and yet the advertising world tends to focus on marketing to youth, what are we missing as companies when our customer base, Airbnb being one of them … Airbnb’s fastest growing set of hosts in the world are hosts 50 and older.

Liz Tinkham (16:29):
Mostly women right, too?

Chip Conley (16:30):
Mostly women, too.

Liz Tinkham (16:31):

Chip Conley (16:31):
What is the company doing to market to those people? It’s clearly showing a natural tendency to grow, but most companies don’t actually look at, “Okay, what is it that these people need, because these people may have a different need than Millennials.”

Liz Tinkham (16:46):
Absolutely. Yeah, it’s funny because when I retired, it was very much of an on, off. You’re going 60, 70 hours a week, and then you’re done. There’s no …

Chip Conley (16:56):
This is why, frankly, retirement tends to, the research has shown, accelerates mortality by two years.

Liz Tinkham (17:04):
Yeah. I’d totally get that. The good news is my husband, who’s very wise, had curated some great books for me to read, one of them which is Younger Next Year. But, I’m adding your book into my recommended, because that’s just a great way to transition as well.

Liz Tinkham (17:17):
I want to move on. You said something, I was listening to your podcast-

Chip Conley (17:21):
Liz, I love your energy.

Liz Tinkham (17:23):
Oh, gosh.

Chip Conley (17:26):
Let me say one thing and then let’s go back to your question.

Liz Tinkham (17:28):

Chip Conley (17:29):
Sometimes people who are older say, “You know what, I feel I can’t get an interview. If I get an interview, they judge me based upon my wrinkles.” Listen, what I heard from an executive recruiter once was really valuable. She said, “If you show up with curiosity and passionate engagement, they don’t notice your wrinkles, they notice your energy.”

Liz Tinkham (17:50):
Ah, thank you. Thank you. Well again, your book is fascinating, what you’re doing is fascinating.

Liz Tinkham (18:03):
I listened to your interview with Tim Ferriss, and you said something that I totally agree with and I share your thinking on, which is life not being a “one tank journey.” Can you talk more about this notion of, I’m going to hopefully not botch it, middlescents? Middlescents, yeah.

Chip Conley (18:21):
Adolescents as a word is only 117 years old, it was created in 1904. Prior to that point there, if you hit puberty, you were an adult. And then, a psychologist said, “Hey, there’s a thing called adolescence. You’re going through emotional and hormonal changes. It’s the transition phase from childhood to adulthood.”

Chip Conley (18:40):
Well now, sociologists are saying there’s something called middlescents. It makes sense. You’re going through emotional, and hormonal and identity changes, often in your 50s let’s say. But, it can happen from 45 to 65, let’s call it. Guess what? It’s the transition era between adulthood and what might be called elderhood. Now, elderhood’s not elderly, elderhood could last three or four decades.

Chip Conley (19:03):
What does that mean? That means basically, we have an opportunity to look at refueling ourselves in this middlescents period. The way we’ve historically looked at life is you learn until you’re 20 or 25, you earn until you’re 65, and then you retire until you die.

Liz Tinkham (19:28):
Then, you keel over.

Chip Conley (19:28):
The model is broken because frankly, Millennials look at that and say, “That three stage life doesn’t work.”

Chip Conley (19:33):
Instead, what if it is more like you learn, and then you work, and then you might do a refueling. The refueling might be at 40 years old, and refueling might be going back to get a Masters, refueling might be taking a gap year. Refueling, for a lot of women and men, having children and then taking a little bit of time off from work, and then coming back.

Chip Conley (19:59):
The one tank journey is the premise of you fuel up in college or graduate school, early in life, and that tank of gas lasts you a lifetime. We wonder why people are limping into their 50s and 60s, on fumes. This is basically part of the premise of why I created MEA, Modern Elder Academy, which we’ll talk about, and why it’s a midlife wisdom school.

Liz Tinkham (20:24):
Yeah. So talk about it, tell us what it is.

Chip Conley (20:26):
When I was writing the book Wisdom At Work: The Making of a Modern Elder down here in Baja, where I had a home on the beach about an hour North of Cabo San Lucas, I went for a run one day and I had an epiphany, a Baja Aha. The Baja Aha-

Liz Tinkham (20:42):
The Baja Aha.

Chip Conley (20:43):

Liz Tinkham (20:43):
I love that.

Chip Conley (20:43):
The Baja Aha was, why is it that we don’t have schools that help people repurpose themselves, and cultivate and harvest their wisdom in midlife and beyond?

Chip Conley (20:55):
After the run, started working on the business plan, bought a lot of the land and homes around me, and created this campus. Three and a half years ago, we opened with what’s known as MEA, or the Modern Elder Academy. We’ve now had 1250 alumni from 25 countries. It’s become so popular that we have now bought a 2600 acre ranch outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico for our second campus. And then, we may have a third campus, also in the town of Santa Fe.

Chip Conley (21:23):
It’s really exciting. It’s disrupting a combination of higher education because it’s saying to the higher education world, “You know what, you may go out of business if you only focus on people 25 and younger. And, many of you are going out of business because of COVID.” What if you were to actually take your campus and, if you’re about to go out of business, as is true for many liberal arts schools, what if you just said, “Our new program is we do one year certificates for people who want to take a gap year in midlife. We help you to repurpose yourself.” I think that’s great.

Chip Conley (21:59):
And then, the other thing it’s in many ways helping to disrupt is the senior living community. We have homes and this is not a retirement community, it’s a regenerative community.

Liz Tinkham (22:12):
Tell me, why do people go? Give me some examples of what people do there, what they learn, et cetera.

Chip Conley (22:18):
I’ll give you three quick case studies.

Chip Conley (22:20):
One is an entrepreneur, she’s sold her company, she’s 52 years old. The average age of people who come is about 54. She doesn’t know what’s next for her. She’s had a successful life and the question she has in her head, “I’ve had success, but what’s significant to me? What could I do that actually would give me a sense that I am serving the world as opposed to just myself?” That’s a person whose thinking we call it same seed, different soil. “I’ve got a talent, a seed, but now I’m going to do it in a different industry,” or do something that feels like what’s often called an encore career. That’s one profile.

Chip Conley (22:59):
The second profile is the person, let’s say it’s a man who is 60 years old. He has a little bit of retirement savings but not a lot. He has worked in a career as a mid-level manager in non-profits and he is in an industry, frankly, where he’s not seeming to be respected anymore. He’s trying to think, “Oh man, I’m experiencing ageism all the time and it’s affecting myself. I lost my sense of confidence. I need to go and try to restart my batteries around what it is that I can do in the world.” In that case, the first person is a very successful person, the second person’s someone who doesn’t feel successful. They may be in any industry. Half of our people get a scholarship, so we have lots of people who can’t afford to come to the program and we welcome them.

Chip Conley (23:53):
A third kind of person is maybe somebody who is actually younger, maybe a coach, maybe they’re in the business of helping coach people around their own age. They might be, instead of 55 or 60, they might be in their early 40s. But, they’re also somebody who’s precocious enough to say, “I am an elder in training. I want to learn how to become wiser, and I want to understand how to actually shift my mindset on aging, even at a younger age.”

Chip Conley (24:23):
We’ve had people from age 30 to age 88 come to our program.

Liz Tinkham (24:27):

Chip Conley (24:28):
Yeah. That was spectacular.

Liz Tinkham (24:30):
Wow! I have to ask. What did the 88 year old come to think about it, do you know?

Chip Conley (24:35):
She came because Paul Hawken, a famous entrepreneur and environmentalist, was doing a program and she’s a huge Paul Hawken fan.

Liz Tinkham (24:43):
Oh, okay.

Chip Conley (24:43):
She came, she also was 88. She was saying, “I want to rethink where I take my career next.”

Liz Tinkham (24:52):
She’s living that 100 year life.

Chip Conley (24:54):
She is, for sure.

Liz Tinkham (24:56):
88. We’ll put it in the show notes, how to find the Modern Elder Academy. But, when will you guys reopen, in terms of live classes?

Chip Conley (25:04):
We’ll have live classes down here in Baja, starting at Thanksgiving. We have two other options, in the meantime. We have MEA Online, which is our online program, one of those starts June 5th and then there’s one starting again in October. And then, we also have sabbatical sessions, which are longer stays with a lighter amount of programming, down here at our Baja campus. But, it’s more COVID friendly because everything’s optional.

Liz Tinkham (25:36):
Your book lists some really great resources for help, in terms of how do you start thinking about the transition, et cetera, so I’m not going to drain all that. But, you’ve made a really lovely, elegant transition into the middlescents, giving back, working at Airbnb, teaching people. What advice do you have for our listeners on how to get started on their journey? Aside from reading your book, what else would you recommend?

Chip Conley (26:00):
Well, often people say they want to put together the list of what it is that they want in their life, or in their career, or whatever. I’m a big believer in editing. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist said, “The first half of your life is about accumulating, the second half of your life is about editing.”

Chip Conley (26:18):
I actually think rather than saying, “Here’s all the things I’m looking for on my next path,” I think what I would suggest you consider is, what is it that you don’t want?

Liz Tinkham (26:27):
Oh, yeah.

Chip Conley (26:29):
What are the things, whether it’s the kind of culture in a company, what kind of boss you might have, what kind of industry you’re in, hours you’re working, people you’re working with. I think often it’s very valuable to say, “Let’s create the filters and the edits,” so that then you know what you’re not going to look at. Because actually, quite often when someone says, “I want to focus on everything I do want,” it becomes the world is my oyster and it’s really hard to filter down what it is that you should be focusing on.

Liz Tinkham (27:02):
All right. So if I’ve retired from my big job and I’m thinking about my transition, first thing to do then is think about all the things I don’t want, which should be easy after living a long life of work, right?

Chip Conley (27:13):
For sure, exactly.

Liz Tinkham (27:15):
Yeah. Chip, I almost named this podcast I’m Not Done Yet, so what aren’t you done with yet?

Chip Conley (27:20):
You know, I think what I’m not done with is completely revitalizing the senior living community world. Retirement communities got off the ground with Dell Web and Sun City in 1960.

Liz Tinkham (27:36):
Yeah, Sun City.

Chip Conley (27:36):
The year I was born, in 1960. The truth is that there are not a lot of people who are, say 70 and younger, who are enamored with the idea of living in a retirement community. I think senior living is getting better at addressing the evolving needs of Baby Boomers, and soon Gen Xers. But, I really think we need to look at intergenerational communities, the communities that have co-working operations, opportunities to mentor entrepreneurs. You’re an older entrepreneur moving into a place, but how could you connect with younger entrepreneurs? Opportunities to volunteer in the community. I think, instead of having a golf course right in front of you, a fairway, how about a farm? You have farm-to-table food.

Chip Conley (28:28):
The three things that people need at age 50 and later, according to Dr. Phil Pizzo from Stanford, are purpose, wellness, and community. That’s what our regenerative communities are all about.

Liz Tinkham (28:40):
You’re building one right, in New Mexico?

Chip Conley (28:42):
We’re building one in New Mexico. We also, here in Baja, we have both our Modern Elder Academy campus, and then a place called Baja Sage, which is a residential community, about a mile away. In the future, we will build it as part of the same complex.

Liz Tinkham (28:57):
Got it.

Chip Conley (28:58):
In Santa Fe, that’s what we’re doing.

Liz Tinkham (28:59):
Got it. Well, thank you so much, Chip, for your time. I really appreciate it. This is fascinating, I know our listeners will love it. I will let you get back to surfing, and more to come. All right, take care.

Chip Conley (29:08):
Thank you, Liz. All right, bye.

Liz Tinkham (29:13):
Thanks for joining me today, to listen to the Third Act Podcast. You can find show notes, guest files and more at If you enjoyed our show today, please subscribe and write a review on your favorite podcast platform. I’m your host, Liz Tinkham. I’ll be back next week with another guest who’s found new meaning and fulfillment in the third act of their life.

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