Cover art for podcast The Big Middle

The Big Middle

43 EpisodesProduced by Susan FloryWebsite

Journalist Susan Flory's podcast exploring the big issues of longer, healthy midlife, rethinking ageing in a world obsessed with youth.Stereotypes are smashed, mindsets are moved in interviews with the world’s biggest thinkers on all aspects of the longevity revolution.<< Longevity Work Age… read more


Chip Conley

Hotelier. Author. Social Alchemist. Disruptor. Student. Sage. Modern Elder. That’s how my guest Chip Conley introduces himself on his website. Click into it and you find this quote: “Young enough to take up surfing. Old enough to know what’s important in life.” That’s from his latest book - number five - "Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder.’’

Susan speaks with Chip on a squelchy Skype connection - hope the echo isn't too annoying - between London and Baja California Sur, Mexico, the paradisical site of his new Modern Elder Academy. Can you hear the surf yet?

Hear what when:
  • How his Modern Elder Academy is a natural outgrowth of his book on midlife transitions and transformations

  • Moden elder mindset: “curiosity opens up while wisdom edits down”

    “The historical idea of an elder was they were regarded with reverence because they had age-old wisdom in a world that didn’t change much.. A modern elder is regarded for relevance, you’re as curious as you are wise.”

  • The colour (pink) and texture (hookers and rock n roll tour buses) of his early days as a hotelier

  • Celebrated Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary liked The Phoenix, Chip’s first of 52 Joie de Vivre boutique hotels

  • The virtuous circle of ‘karmic capitalism’

  • The importance of keeping your mind open

    “Be open to the serendipity of new ideas, especially when they’re serving a greater purpose.”

  • How he became what he calls a ‘mentern’ at Airbnb

  • Why midlifers need to rewire, not retire, grow whole, not old, and maintain a learner mindset

  • He shares tip of a top executive recruiter on how to overcome ageism when looking for work, if you pass the big hurdle of actually clinching an interview

    ”If you show up with curiosity and passionate engagement, it means your wrinkles will fade away. And what people will notice in a job interview is your energy.”

  • Recommends approach of Karen Wickre, soft networking expert and author of book Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count

  • Mutual mentoring - the intergenerational way of the working future

  • References the multistage life beyond the learn, earn, retire model as laid out in The 100-Year Life by previous guest Prof Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton

  • Accumulation is for the first half of life, editing is for the second half

    “That’s a good thing because in our 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, we’re more intentional about what we’re choosing to have in our life and who we’re choosing to have in our life.”

  • Of liminality and the ‘state of gooey’ - anthropological rites of passage

  • The ‘social crucible’ for midlife is pretty much non-existent so establishing the Modern Elder Academy helping fill void

  • My Swiss GPs warning about individual ‘design defects’ tending to show up after 50

  • A challenging medical diagnosis has forced him to look at how he’s spending his time

    “I’m a human doing and I’ve done that really well and I’m a human being as well but I’m absolutely still a work in progress on the human being.”

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