Marci Alboher Dares You To Break Out of Your Age Bubble
October 10, 2022
Marci Alboher is Vice President of Narrative Change at CoGenerate, which brings older and younger people together to solve problems, bridge divides and co-create a better future. She is author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life and One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career.

Key takeaways:

  1. We’re living in the most age-diverse society in human history.
  2. Now’s the time to break out of your age bubble.
  3. Embrace the gray and (almost) everything else about getting older.

In an interview, Marci shared her secrets to building an age-diverse network, both in and out of the office.

You are an advocate for generational diversity. Why does this matter so much to you?

I’m obsessed with learning new things and find that having friends and colleagues who are both older and younger is the single best way to ensure that I’m discovering new ideas and ways of thinking. Plus, it’s just more fun to live in an intergenerational world in an intergenerational way.

We’re living in the most age-diverse society in human history – with more people alive at every age than ever before and often five generations in the workplace at the same time. Yet so many of us live in our own age bubbles, working, living and socializing with people our own age. There are so many benefits to spending time and collaborating with people who are older or younger, who bring different experiences and perspectives, even skill sets. And just like any form of diversity, having an age-diverse team helps to ensure that whatever you are working on will resonate with people of all ages.

What have you done in your career to champion the role of generational diversity?

I’m on the leadership team at CoGenerate (formerly, and I’m really proud that we’re walking the talk. We’ve got an intergenerational team of Co-CEOs. Our staff is age diverse. And our fellowships are, too. Our fellows – who are working at the intersection of aging, intergenerational connection and social justice – have ranged in age from 18 to 84. People at the oldest and youngest ends of the age spectrum are often overlooked or left out. Younger people face the ‘not enough experience’ conundrum; older ones are written off for a host of reasons. All of it amounts to ageism.

Outside of work, I’ve gotten involved in organizations specifically designed around strengthening multigenerational community. I mentor and have served on the board of Girls Write Now (GWN), a mentoring organization for girls and gender-expansive teens. Through GWN I’ve met scores of young people in New York where I live, helping me feel so much more plugged into what the future of a multiracial democracy can look like. I’m also a member of Cirkel, a match-making service for people seeking more age diversity in their professional networks. I get a match each month that meets my requests for age diversity (I’m requesting younger people for now, but I could switch that up any time) and topic expertise. I also join Cirkel’s wider community events focused on workplace trends affecting people of all ages.

Were you always interested in this topic?

I wasn’t aware of these issues when I was younger though in retrospect I now think about how much I gained from having three grandparents for most of my childhood, and one who lived to be 103. In midlife a few things happened. First, I hit my 30s and 40s without having children and started wondering how I would form relationships with younger people. To fill the void, I made a commitment to be an involved aunt both in my family and with ‘chosen family’ as well. But my sweet spot is collecting friends in their 20s. I’m fascinated with the time in life when you’re laying the foundation for your career and making life choices that will have ripple effects.

Some of my favorite activities naturally attract multigenerational crowds. For more than 15 years, my mother and I ran a clothing swap where we brought together women of all ages – starting with her crowd in their 70s and 80s, my cohort in the middle years, and a bunch of those 20-somethings. My mom and I share a passion for constantly refreshing our wardrobes on the cheap, and we love the idea of doing that in a way that brings our various friend circles together. Our swap was covered in the Washington Post when a reporter friend became a regular!

You’re a big advocate for “silver hair” – why?

Working in the midlife/aging field for more than a decade changed my perspective on my own aging. When I entered this space, I found so many mentors who leaned into the power of their elderhood, and some left their hair natural to make a statement or because they didn’t care what others thought or just because they liked it. I started feeling angry about the gendered expectations around aging – that men who go silver get to be distinguished and the women who go gray (always silver vs. gray) are somehow letting themselves go.

While I never judge anyone for wearing their hair in any way that makes them feel good, it felt disingenuous to advocate for the value of older people in society while not testing out what it would be like to actually look my age. The pandemic was a natural time to give it a try, and I gave myself permission to go back if I didn’t like the result. While I still have moments of longing for my former look, I recognize that dying my hair in my 50s didn’t leave me with anything close to the deep brown hair of my earlier life. It had gotten lighter and lighter because I was always chasing those persistent grays. So I was already someone different than my younger self.

One thing that helped immensely: I started following a Facebook group for people “embracing the gray,” and I curated my Instagram feed to follow all the silver models and “advanced style” icons. Over time, my conception of what was beautiful started to evolve – and I got many ideas for how I wanted to adopt a new look for a new season of life.

What have been the hallmarks of your foray into aging and what can others learn from your experiences?

When I was a journalist writing a column about the future of work for the New York Times, I discovered Marc’s Freedman work through his book, Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life. I got a chance to interview Marc about that book, and through him I met scores of other advocates, thinkers and innovators who were reimagining what life’s “encore” chapters can offer – both to us individually and as a society.

Two years after that, I joined the organization that Marc founded (now called CoGenerate) and I’ve been studying the field of purposeful and positive aging ever since.

We created programs like the The Purpose Prize (now operated by AARP), which celebrates social innovators over the age of 50, and Encore Fellowships, which has matched more than 2,000 experienced professionals in new roles in the nonprofit sector. As a result, I’ve learned so much about the contributions that experienced people bring to pretty much any endeavor, and what we can become as we age.

Spending time with the diverse group of leaders we’ve supported through our fellowships has fueled my desire to always challenge my own ideas, and to learn from people who come from radically different backgrounds than my own.

Outside of work, my mom, who is thriving at 81, is a big source of inspiration. She’s a reminder that our lives have many chapters and it’s crucial to never stop learning and building community.

How has aging changed your approach to working?

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve committed to paying it forward and sharing opportunities with others. When an offer like a speaking engagement comes my way, my first thought is – Is there someone else this would benefit more than me? In the past, I used to jump at any desirable opportunity. Passing these opportunities along has now become a reflexive practice.

There’s a way in which you start to really know yourself as you age. I’ve learned that it’s hard for me to be creative and solve problems when there’s no space to think, so I’m actively working to put more open space in my life – on my calendar and by getting out into nature as much as possible. As an extrovert who gets a lot of energy from connecting with people, this is an area where I’m always seeking new solutions.

Which work tools/courses/apps have made your life easier?

I’m working to eliminate my over-reliance on tech tools and trying to take long breaks from my phone to do deeper work, so I’m loath to recommend any apps. Our organization does half-day Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day and encourages meeting-free Fridays year round. This year we experimented with a “wellness week,” giving our full team the week of July 4th (in addition to the week we collectively take at the end of December, plus generous vacation time). Taking time away from work when your colleagues are also off can feel immensely liberating and restorative.

What are you currently obsessed with OR one thing you highly recommend?

The book, How to Break Up With Your Phone (thank you Catherine Price!), an impulse purchase at a bookstore counter, was a huge help and I’ve already given it to several others. Charging my phone outside the bedroom has forced me to unplug at least an hour before bed, which feels like a big win for my sleeping habits.



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