I'd like to take you back
about seven years in my life.
a few days before Christmas 2009,
I was the director of operations
at a consumer products company
in San Francisco,
and I was called into a meeting
that was already in progress.
That meeting turned out
to be my exit interview.
I was fired, along with several others.
I was 64 years old at the time.
It wasn't completely unexpected.
I signed a stack of papers,
gathered my personal effects,
and left to join my wife
who was waiting for me
at a nearby restaurant,
Fast-forward several hours,
we both got really silly drunk.
So, 40 plus years of continuous employment
for a variety of companies,
large and small,
I had a good a network,
a good reputation --
I thought I'd be just fine.
I was an engineer
in manufacturing and packaging,
I had a good background.
Retirement was, like for so many people,
simply not an option for me,
so I turned to consulting
for the next couple of years
without any passion whatsoever.
And then an idea began to take root,
born from my concern for our environment.
I wanted to build my own business,
designing and manufacturing
biodegradable packaging from waste --
paper, agricultural, even textile waste --
replacing the toxic,
disposable plastic packaging
to which we've all become addicted.
This is called clean technology,
and it felt really meaningful to me.
A venture that could help to reduce
the billions of pounds
of single-use plastic packaging
dumped each year,
and polluting our land,
our rivers and our oceans,
and left for future
generations to resolve --
And so now at the age of 66,
with 40 years of experience,
I became an entrepreneur
for the very first time.
But there's more.
Lots of issues to deal with:
manufacturing, outsourcing, job creation,
patents, partnerships, funding --
these are all typical
issues for a start-up,
but hardly typical for me.
And a word about funding.
I live and work in San Francisco,
and if you're looking for funding,
you are typically going to compete
with some very young people
from the high-tech industry,
and it can be very discouraging
I have shoes older
than most of these people.
But five years later,
I'm thrilled and proud to share with you
that our revenues have doubled every year,
we have no debt,
we have several marquee clients,
our patent was issued,
I have a wonderful partner
who's been with me
right from the beginning,
and we've won more than 20 awards
for the work that we've done.
But best of all,
we've made a small dent --
a very small dent --
in the worldwide plastic pollution crisis.
And I am doing the most rewarding
and meaningful work of my life right now.
I can tell you there's lots of resources
available to entrepreneurs of all ages,
but what I really yearned for
five years ago
was to find other first-time entrepreneurs
who were my age.
I wanted to connect with them.
I had no role models, absolutely none.
That 20-something app developer
from Silicon Valley
was not my role model.
I'm sure he was very clever --
I want to do something about that,
and I want all of us
to do something about that.
I want us to start talking more
about people who don't become
entrepreneurs until they are seniors.
Talking about these bold
men and women who are checking in
when their peers, in essence,
are checking out.
And then connecting all these people
across industries, across regions,
across countries --
building a community.
You know, the Small Business
Administration tells us
that 64 percent of new jobs
created in the private sector in the USA
are thanks to small businesses like mine.
And who's to say
that we'll stay forever small?
We have an interesting culture
that really expects
when you reach a certain age,
you're going to be golfing,
or playing checkers,
or babysitting the grandkids
all of the time.
And I adore my grandchildren --
and I'm also passionate
about doing something meaningful
in the global marketplace.
And I'm going to have lots of company.
The Census Bureau says that by 2050,
there will be 84 million seniors
in this country.
That's an amazing number.
That's almost twice as many
as we have today.
Can you imagine how many
first-time entrepreneurs there will be
among 84 million people?
And they'll all have
four decades of experience.
So when I say, "Let's start talking more
about these wonderful entrepreneurs,"
I mean, let's talk about their ventures,
just as we do the ventures
of their much younger counterparts.
The older entrepreneurs in this country
have a 70 percent success rate
starting new ventures.
70 percent success rate.
We're like the Golden State Warriors
of entrepreneurs --
And that number plummets to 28 percent
for younger entrepreneurs.
This is according to a UK-based
group called CMI.
Aren't the accomplishments
of a 70-year-old entrepreneur
every bit as meaningful,
every bit as newsworthy,
as the accomplishments
of a 30-year-old entrepreneur?
Of course they are.
That's why I'd like to make the phrase
"70 over 70" just as --
just as commonplace
as the phrase "30 under 30."