Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Paul Irving is Chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and distinguished scholar in residence at the University of Southern California Davis School Of Gerontology.

Paul spent much of his life as a corporate lawyer as chairman and CEO of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a law and consulting firm. He is also the author of “The Upside of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy, and Purpose,” a Wall Street Journal expert panelist and contributor to PBS Next Avenue and Forbes. When he came to the end of his term as CEO he enrolled at Harvard to look at ‘something new, something interesting’. There, he was asked to do a research project on the impacts of population aging in cities in the U.S.  They came up with an idea about ranking U.S. cities, knowing how ranking systems attract interest and attention, and it was called “Best Cities for Successful Aging”.

Eventually Paul became the president of the Milken Institute which is based in Santa Monica, although they have offices in Washington D.C., and Singapore. Each of these is involved in spreading both domestic and global prosperity and improving health.

One of the things that the Institutes are now focused on is this question of how population aging will affect individuals, families, communities, businesses, and societies.

Some of the trends Paul is seeing in the workforce include:


  • Across the world populations are much older
  • Workforces are becoming more diverse
  • Enhancement of opportunities for women over the last several decades, the increasing diversity and inclusion in leadership positions
  • There is a risk of talent loss and talent shortage as a result of retirement


  • There is a very clear need for people to work longer and aspiration for people to work longer


  • The HR culture has become much more complex



As Paul points out, “we have about a billion people today over 60 in the world. By mid-century, that

number will more than double, the number of people in their 60s in the United States will more than

double. We have ten thousand people turning 65 a day in the US, and we are now at a point where there

are more older adults than kids and teenagers in the world. So the bottom line is that we have a

historically unprecedented demographic shift, unlike anything that humankind has seen since the



The operating assumption is that older people are:

  • Unwilling to learn,
  • Unable to evolve, and
  • Are less effective performers than the young people


The evidence is simply not there to back up those claims. They are ageist expectations that come from a fear of aging, a fear of death, a fear of physical change and a lack of recognition of the complementary skills of young people and old people.

As Paul mentions, organizations can benefit from hiring people over 50, because they bring important things to the table including balance, judgement, wisdom, and experience. And several companies are specifically bringing in older employees for this reason. Companies like Airbnb, BMW, and Michelin have programs and incentives in place to make sure they they have employees ranging in age and experience because they understand that it is critical for their future success.

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What the Milken Institute does
  • The impact of the aging workforce
  • Examples of companies such as Airbnb, BMW, and Michelin who are bringing in older employees who can share their wisdom, experience and training
  • What will happen to organizations not paying attention to this trend
  • Paul’s advice for older workers
  • How to create policies for older workers


Direct download: Paul20Irving_podcast_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:18am PDT