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Growing Old Disgracefully
By David Harder on August, 24, 2016

Growing Old Disgracfully

A few days ago, someone a few years younger than I blamed ageism for his unemployment. I responded quite strongly,


“Well of course you’re not getting a job because you are carrying around that energy.”


Resignation is about giving up and it is usually driven by the notion we are not succeeding because we are old, gay, fat, a woman, a middle-aged white man, on-and-on.


It was 1992 and I was sitting in the ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel next to Boyd Willat the designer of The Dayrunner and many other successful ventures. We were members of The Inside Edge, which was something of a breakfast club for human potential leaders. We met every Tuesday morning to hear authors speak and to connect with the likes of Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Barbara De Angelis and others. It was a heady experience for a newcomer like me.


That morning, my eyes crossed the room towards the entry. A charismatic old lady had just walked in with an entourage. Her face was filled with slightly wicked laughter all framed with curly gray locks.


I turned to Boyd and asked, “Who is that character over there?”


He responded with a bit of awe,


“That’s Emily Coleman. Many think of her as the grandmother of the human potential movement.”


I had no idea what that meant but was propelled to introduce myself. Moments later, I was in front of Emily as she broke into a big grin. After introducing myself, her smile widened and she responded,


“Oh I’ve heard about you. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”


She hurriedly wrote out a note at the reception table and handed it over.


“Here’s my phone number!”


I felt it uncouth to read it in front of her. Next to Boyd, I opened it and read,


“You’re cute! Let’s get together!”


Our friendship proved to be a turning point. I grew up in a violent adoptive home. For years, Emily Coleman was my mother. After that memorable meeting, Emily joined our next program and I witnessed someone who reveled in her entire life whether she was 20, 50 or 70. She was writing a book entitled, Growing Old Disgracefully. Emily believed that in order to stay young and vital we need to be willing to break all of our taboos, all of our set limitations and to never ever resign ourselves to mediocrity.


In the early days of our programs, Emily was part of the support team. She had a unique ability to inspire love, shock and dismay. Emily led the first nude encounter group in the United States and insisted on telling us stories about what happened, in vivid and acute detail. Around her, I learned that laughter, humor and never taking oneself too seriously help keep us vital.


Around her I learned that when we are seduced into becoming a victim or a martyr that is the moment we turn old. I learned the moment we stop nourishing our imagination, we become tired. It is easy to envision a group of teenagers wanting Emily in their midst regaling them with finding ways to attach flowers to her pubic hair because she had nothing to wear.


Yep, she left many of us slack jawed. But, she had set herself free.


After her somewhat crude foray into human potential, Emily went on to help thousands of people find relationships. She wrote books about connecting with others and she shook up our sensibilities.


We had a ritual. I would drive to Newport Beach and cross the tiny bridge to Balboa Island. Every time that I walked into her home, her eyes lit up and she exploded with joy. I remember a life changing moment.


I asked,


“Why are you so excited with me?”


“Because you have a gift and changing the world isn’t for the timid and it can be a lonely ride. I see you.”


Her health failed but she never gave up. We moved our visits from Balboa Island to assisted living. I remember walking down the hall with her and this old guy on a walker smiled and leered as we passed.


She growled,


“Go find someone else you old lech. My heart belongs to this guy, my son!”


Apparently Emily was stirring up competition amongst the men and this guy had become a little too aggressive.


Whenever someone says, “I am too old,” I think of Emily.


When someone declares, “I’m too fat,” I think of Oprah.


If someone announces, “It is a man’s world,” my mind goes to Hillary.


Rules that are not based on truth are meant to be broken.


To Emily:


Emily Coleman


Brought to you by David Harder – President & Founder, Inspired Work



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Virtually every business owner that I know remembers what they were doing and where they were standing in October, 2008 when it became clear the financial marketing was collapsing. At the time, we had one individual who engaged in social networking and the results did not compare to business we obtained from referrals and traditional “feet on the ground” business development. We the economy recovered we realized that social networking has the power to reach large volumes of buying influences in very short periods of time.


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The approach many people use in social networking feels like impersonal junk mail. Someone sends us a note to connect, we accept and one of two things happen:


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