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Livestream: 66 years + bizman = trendsetter
At 66, when most people hang up their proverbial boots and look forward to spending more time with family, Paul Tasner, decided to venture into what he terms “the most rewarding and meaningful work of my life.”
The former director of operations of a consumer products company in San Francisco was fired in 2009 when he was 64. Refusing to give up on an active life, Tasner took up consulting, even though his heart wasn’t quite into it. “So, 40 plus years of continuous employment for a variety of companies, large and small, was over. 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,” he says.
It was then that Tasner began to think of working on green solutions. “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.”
And unlike consulting, this was an idea that Tasner was passionate about. “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,” he says. And so now at 66, with 40 years of experience, Tasner became an entrepreneur for the very first time.
The journey, however, wasn’t smooth as he had to face challenges that were common among businessmen but unique to one with his years. Speaking about getting the funds for his venture, Tasner says, “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 and intimidating. I have shoes older than most of these people.”
But after being operational for five years and having witnessed revenues doubling every year, Tasner had only one qualm — he wanted to connect with more entrepreneurs his age but did not find any role model. “That 20-something app developer from Silicon Valley was not my role model… I’m sure he was very clever,” he says eliciting laughter and applause from his audience.
Looking forward, hesays that he wants to encourage more “seniors” to take up businesses and for “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.”
TED TALK CORNER
SYNOPSIS: It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Take it from Paul Tasner — after working continuously for other people for 40 years, he founded his own start-up at age 66, pairing his idea for a business with his experience and passion. And he’s not alone. As he shares in this short, funny and inspirational talk, seniors are increasingly indulging their entrepreneurial instincts — and seeing great success.
QUOTEWORTHY: 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 per cent success rate starting new ventures. And that number plummets to 28 per cent for younger entrepreneurs. This is according to a UK-based group called CMI.