CPL plans to serve as a bridge between employers seeking needed talent and people 50+ who have the capabilities and desire to continue working with employers as well as in entrepreneurial or other activities.


Human Resource Services, Inc (HRS) was organized by Bill Zinke in June 1969 as a management consulting firm to assist employers on a broad range of human resources (HR) services. He was a progenitor of the term “human resources” in 1968, while Vice President-Industrial Relations at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), not just to replace the tired terms of Personnel/Employee Relations/Industrial Relations but also to stimulate companies to horizontally integrate the sub-functions in place of the vertical or siloed mangement then in effect. His proposal was voted down in a meeting of the NAM Industrial Relations Committee, which he views as his most successful defeat.

Having beat the drum for ten years since leaving the NAM, Bill organized a national survey on the “Current Status and Future Direction of Human Resources Management in U.S. Industry” in 1979 that was sponsored by 20 major companies ranging alphabetically from AT&T to Xerox. The results dramatically demonstrated that HR had moved from administration toward a center-stage role, with the more-advanced companies adopting the term “Human Resources,” the HR head serving on the Executive Committee and reporting to the CEO.

As a result, Bill was asked at a meeting with the HR heads of ten major U.S. companies to organize a group of 30-40 HR heads to meet twice yearly, with a focus on strategic HR issues. The Human Resources Roundtable Group (HRRG), now in its 35th year, presently consists of 65 heads in major multinational companies around the world.

As the oldest of the 78 million Baby Boomers were approaching retirement, Bill recognized the impact on strategic workforce planning and the issue began to be discussed in the latter 1990s in HRRG meetings. In 1999, he co-authored a paper with Dr. Elliott Jaques, titled “The Evolution of Adulthood: A New Stage”, that was delivered by Dr. Jaques in 2000 at an event organized by HRS in Washington, DC in June 2000, “Meeting the Employment Needs of the 21st Century: National Conference on the Economic and Social Impact of Demographic Change.” The paper proposed that, because 30 years were added to longevity from beginning to end of the 20th century, a new and third stage of adulthood from 62 to 85 should be added to the traditional two stages from 18 to 40 and 40 to 62 or 65.

An excellent range of other speakers included:

  • Senator John B. Breaux, Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on Aging
  • Peter G. Peterson, Chairman, The Blackstone Group
  • Dr. Christine Cassel, Chairman Henry L. Schwartz Department of Adult Development, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Professor of Geriatrics and Internal Medicine
  • Sara E. Rix, Senior Policy Advisor, Economics Team, AARP Public Policy Institute

Candace Johnson and Sergio Arzeni, OCED talking with Ambassador JamesLowenstein

Examples of the media coverage are included in Material of Interest on the website. A book, Working Through Demographic Change: How Older Americans Can Sustain the Nation’s Prosperity, based on the edited Conference presentations and material contributed by Dr. Robert Butler and others, was published in early 2001. Senator John Breaux (D-LA), distributed copies of the book to every member of Congress with a cover letter signed by him.

The Silicon Valley bubble that burst in March 2001, precipitating a recession, blocked HRS from achieving its stated objectives, and it moved to the sidelines until a better time. With a booming U.S. economy in 2006, CPL organized a second in Washington DC in June 2007 as the launching platform for the newly- created Center for Productive Longevity, “National Conference on the New Human Resources Frontier: Utilizing Older Workers for Competitive Advantage.” Despite the great recession that started in the latter part of 2007. CPL published a book in 2008 based largely on the Conference proceedings. Again, we had an excellent range of speakers, including:

  • Dr. John W. Rowe, Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University; former Chairman and CEO, Aetna, Inc; Director, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging, co-author of Successful Aging (Dell Publishing 1998)
  • Susan R. Meisinger, President, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • John P. Martin, Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • Humphrey J.F. Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

Major U.S. companies eliminated 4.4 million jobs in the following period through year-end 2012, while companies with less than 100 employees created 60 percent of the new jobs during that period. With continued high unemployment and low economic growth projected for the foreseeable future, CPL took the initiative of planning and organizing a series of meetings in 2012 on the benefits and opportunities of entrepreneurship for Baby Boomers 50+ that were held as follows:

Four One-Day Meetings in 2012

As the result of a visit by Bill Zinke to the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City,MO in 2011, a focal point for entrepreneurship in America, CPL organized four meetings in different parts of the U.S. in 2012 titled “Spotlight on Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Baby Boomers 50 and Older”, as follows:

  • March 27 at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, MO
  • September 14 at Babson College in Wellesley, MA
  • October 11 at the Chicago campus of Northwestern University/Kellogg School of Management
  • November 15 at the University of Denver-University College

Carl Schramm making a point

Our objective in holding these events in different parts of the U.S. was to contribute to a national momentum for substantially increased entrepreneurship among people 50+. The recognition that this is an imperative is underscored by the following quote from an excellent book by Jim Clifton & CEO, Chairman of Gallup, titled The Coming Jobs War (Gallup Press 2011, page 2).

“Of the 7 billion people on Earth, there are 5 billion adults aged 15 and older. Of these 5 billion, 3 billion tell Gallup they work or want to work. Most of these people need a full-time formal job. The problem is that there are currently only 1.2 billion full-time, formal jobs in the world. This is a potentially devastating global shortfall of about 1.8 billion good jobs. It means that global unemployment for those seeking a formal good job with a paycheck and 30+ hours of steady work approaches a staggering 50%, with another 10% wanting part-time work.

This also means that potential societal stress and instability lies within 1.8 billion—nearly a quarter of the world’s population.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2012, substantially more than two million people 50-64 were seeking jobs. If only one-third of those people could be attracted to create new businesses, the positive impact on reduced unemployment and increased economic growth on the national level would be enormous.

National Conference on the Entrepreneurship Imperative for Engaging People 50 and Older

As a natural progression from the four meetings in 2012, CPL held a successful event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on November 7, 2013 titled “National Conference on the Entrepreneurship Imperative for People 50 and Older.” This event brought together thought leaders from the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors to engage in discussion and dialogue on the present status of entrepreneurship in America as well as a Framework for Plan of Action, which lists steps that are required to stimulate substantially more entrepreneurship, as follows.

It is important to note the driving forces for the National Conference. They are listed as follows:

Ting Zhang demonstrates a point

  1. The U.S. has a large and growing number of workers 50+, who have reached or are moving toward retirement age, but is faced with a smaller number of younger people entering the workforce; it is imperative that this talent pool of workers 50+ be utilized to a substantially greater extent.
  2. People 50+ have experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and proven performance that enable many of them to continue adding value.
  3. In these challenging times, with high unemployment and low economic growth projected for the foreseeable future, creating a new business is a bright spot on a gloomy employment horizon for people 50+.
  4. Women represent 51 percent of the U.S. population, but only 30 percent of entrepreneurs; this representation should be substantially increased.
  5. Enabling people 50+ to continue working is not only beneficial to them but also contributes to increased employment and economic growth on the national level.
  6. With increased longevity and government social programs that have significantly outdated retirement ages, it is an imperative that people 50+ continue working beyond traditional retirement age so that they can contribute to the country’s economic growth instead of sitting on the sidelines and drawing from the economy.
  7. Documented research (e.g. MacArthur Foundation Study on Aging in America) demonstrates that people 50+ who continue working enjoy better health, report greater satisfaction with life, and live more than four years longer than those who don’t.
  8. Having the large and growing number of people 50+ sitting on the sidelines, instead of enabling a substantial number to remain productively engaged where they are qualified and ready to do so, would require major changes in unsustainable social programs that could result in social unrest.
  9. At a time when life spans have been substantially increased, it is essential that we change the pervasive mindset that people 50+ should be moved to the sidelines when they reach a certain age (pick 55, 60 or 65) regardless of their ability to continue adding value.
  10. The time is now for the U.S. to recognize the transformational impact of demographic change and to review laws/regulations/policies/programs regarding entrepreneurship, as well as other ways people 50+ can be productively engaged.
  11. There is a growing recognition that, with their substantially-increased longevity, people 50+ can continue in productive activities into their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
  12. The pervasive thinking that younger people 20-34 create the largest number of new businesses and are most successful at doing so is mistaken because annual surveys sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation over the past 17 years demonstrate that people 50-64 in the U.S. created over 60 percent more new businesses than people 20-34; the older people also had a better success rate.

Implementation of the Framework for Call to Action

The following is the Framework for Call to Action, which was discussed and approved by participants at the National Conference:

  1. Develop laws, regulations, policies and programs to provide an environment that encourages and supports entrepreneurship
  2. Provide financial, tax and other incentives that stimulate and encourage entrepreneurship
  3. Stimulate and support the development of education and training programs for start-up entrepreneurs 50+ that strengthen the range of skills and abilities required for their future success
  4. Stimulate and support the development of courses and programs in academia that are specifically focused on education and training of people 50+ to become entrepreneurs because their learning needs are different than younger people
  5. Incorporate a focus on entrepreneurship in economics, business, and other relevant courses at the secondary and tertiary educational levels
  6. Build more collaboration between the public, private, non-governmental organizations and academic sectors to develop networks, research parks, incubators and other vehicles that will support the needs and interests of start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs
  7. Create or restructure non-profits to provide a greater focus on entrepreneurs 50+, with an emphasis on attracting more women to become entrepreneurs
  8. CPL has begun to take action on several fronts to implement the Call to Action, with substantial time devoted to planning and organizing the following five two-part events to contribute to achieving a national momentum for new-business creation, for example:

    • We have written a letter to President Obama in October 2013 urging the appointment of a presidential commission to review the present environment for encouraging new-business creation and recommend changes in laws, regulations, policies, tax and financial incentives to stimulate substantially more new-business creation. We sent a follow-up letter to President Obama after obtaining unanimous support at the National Conference for implementation of the Framework for Call to Action.
    • We submitted a statement to the Joint Hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on “In Search of a Second Act: The Challenges and Advantages of Senior Entrepreneurship” on February 12, 2014.
    • We have been advocating to academic institutions that they develop courses and programs on entrepreneurship for people 50+.

    Find out more about the National Conference

    Find out more about Five Two-Part Events Planned for 2014

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