What I learned Last Week at Optimize | Aging 2.0 Annual Conference

Aging 2.0’s annual conference happened last week in San Francisco, California.  Innovators, Aging field thought leaders and industry experts gathered to unveil the latest advances.  


Over eighty exhibitors stood for twelve-hour days to connect and convince the 1,000+ attendees of the value of their products and technology.  Some were in the concept phase and so futuristic with only vague plans for the application.  Others were re-making the existing offerings in ways that bring new appeal and panache to an otherwise utilitarian marketplace.  

Admittedly, I love to schmooze, especially when it involves improving the lives of our seniors. Selfishly, I want every new gadget and fountain of youth in place before I get my gold watch.  I did my best to engage fully in every topic including the final keynote on Google’s self-driving cars (who, by the way can react to a wheelchair bound person chasing a duck on a residential street).  

You see,  we innovators  are so consumed with articulating our target market and urgency of the pain point we are addressing.  We perfect our marketing strategy and projected revenue formulated from our well researched modeling to attract the dollars and attention that spells success.  

Even with all of the Silicon Valley infusioned concepts, my moment of profound learning came from the most unlikely source. Quietly attending each session from the VIP section of the conference was June who gave us, the best lesson of all.

June said ‘don’t call me grandma, call me sage.’

June challenged our concept of who we targeting -  a disease or a person?  She personalized this with, ‘I was sick and inactive for three months.  I lost a great deal of my abilities during that time.  Where are the solutions to make me regain these skills?’  June wants us to address the need to improve the functional abilities of seniors regardless of the diagnosis and trash those labels.   Or as we heard from Mary Grove from Google for Entrepreneurs, “Design for delight and dignity.”