Season 1
39 Minutes

Ep. 15 | Chip Conley | Ways of Becoming a Modern Elder


Chip Conley, 60, was Airbnb’s Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy. Chip helped grow Airbnb into a hospitality company with more than a million hosts in 191 countries. He is a TED speaker and the author of multiple best-selling books including his most recent, “Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder.”

When Chip was hired at Airbnb at the age of 52, he claimed the role of an elder in a company of mostly twentysomethings. Chip has reclaimed the power of elderhood ever since. In 2018, he founded the Modern Elder Academy in Baja California Sur, a wisdom school dedicated to helping people navigate midlife and their FOURTH ACTS.

THE IMPERFECT SHOW NOTES

To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.

These show notes come via the Otter.ai service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Chip Conley  00:00

Yes, I was 52 at the time, I’m 60 now, so 52 I joy I came to the office for the first time I realized, oh my god, these people are so young. I knew the founders were young, but the founders were 31 and 29. There were three founders 231 29 but the average age in the company was was 26. So I was twice the age. And within the first month, someone called me that, you know, Airbnb is modern elder. And I said, What does that mean? What does that mean to be an elder? And they said, that means you’re as curious as you are wise.

Achim Nowak  00:33

Hey, this is Nowak, executive coach and host host of the my fourth act podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your for that? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected for thanks, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you’re listening on. Let’s get started.  I am delighted to welcome Chip Conley to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. When you Google Chi[ Conley, it tells you that Chip is a hotel. Yay. I love that word. In 1987 chip founded joie de vivre hospitality where he created and managed about 50 boutique hotels. chip is best known to many for his role at Airbnb where he in 2013, became head of global hospitality and strategy. chip has written several best selling books on business and leadership. Most recently, the extraordinary wisdom at work subtitled the making of a modern elder. I want to talk with chip about his reclaiming of the word elder and the mission and work of his Modern Elder Academy. I cannot think of a more perfect guest for the mind for that podcast than Chip Conley. So welcome.

Chip Conley  02:03

Thank you again, it’s just a joy to be here. And I don’t know if you can hear but I’m here in Baja. And there are birds in the background.

Achim Nowak  02:12

Yeah, rub it in, rub it in. I am in South Florida, where it’s usually beautiful, but it’s raining outside right now. Okay. Oh, I life I love to start every conversation with a simple question. Who did Chip Conley want to be when he was a young boy? And what were your dreams of growing up? What did that look like in your mind?

Chip Conley  02:36

When I was growing up, I wanted to either be President of the United States sportscaster or a movie star. So clearly, I wanted to be on the stage. What’s funny about all that was that I was a bit of an introvert. And one of the things I said to my father when I was 12 was Dad, I want to be a writer. When I grew up, I want to write for a living. My dad said writers either poor or psychotic. And Mr. Both and I did not know what a psychotic meant that didn’t sound good. So that was at that point, the what I thought would be the end of my writing career. And of course, I became an entrepreneur and and then started writing about being an entrepreneur. And so yes, those are those are my my dreams and aspirations in my teen years.

Achim Nowak  03:23

When when you brought out the big guns like I want to be a president or I want to be an actor. Was that a secret? Wish I did you share that with mom or dad? And if you did, what, what was their reaction?

Chip Conley  03:34

Well, the actor was purely something probably about seven years old, and you had to dry yourself when you’re later and I drew myself as an actor. So those really probably not something I thought of when I was 19 years. President Yes, I was very politically interested. And very curious about it. And so my parents did that something that I might might might want to do someday. You know, it’s sort of not an easy thing to aspire to. But I think the thing Yeah, the thing that really spoke to me more than anything was I liked writing. I liked reading from a young age and I felt a little embarrassed by that you thought even though Ernest Hemingway is a very much a guy, generally speaking, the way I saw in my community was being a writer is means that you’re not very masculine sort of like a nun, a masculine thing and I was a pretty good athlete so I you know, I checked the box for the masculine in that way. But yeah, I was secretly this much more private, much more internal person with a bit of an imaginary life that I wanted to write about.

Achim Nowak  04:41

As well, two parts of interesting any dream that doesn’t fit a certain stereotype is interesting when we share it with others but also admitted to ourselves, right? Yeah, and, and dreams don’t they don’t necessarily screen you’re going to make a lot of money. Our challenge Dreams as well. Right. And I the fact that you had a bunch of those are really cool, but you still wanted to be president.

Chip Conley  05:07

Yeah, I think that was partly because I just I, I was always fascinated by Washington DC. And my first job between my first and second year of college was to work on Capitol Hill. And, and so, but then I you that experience that summer woke me up to the fact that Washington DC Yes. Not as idealistic As I thought.

Achim Nowak  05:35

Well, I want to get as soon as we can to the notion of the word elder, which really interests me, the the fourth act audience are, if I just summarize, my folks have had really cool successful lives, but they’re ready to play some more. Before we go there, however, a bunch of your life leading up to you writing a book that in my mind reclaims the word elder, which I love is very much associated with the hospitality industry. I mentioned in the intro. And my sense is there probably were lots of wonderful highs and lots of real lows. I don’t think that as a neutral career, if you would give us a glimpse, if there’s a moment that stands out where you went, this is why I loved working in an industry. What might that be?

Chip Conley  06:27

Yeah, it was usually our annual holiday party. So we had hotels and restaurants and spas all over California, but mostly around the San Francisco Bay Area. And we would have an annual holiday party bring people together, but people could actually bring their families. So it was not just an evening event, people get dressed up, they dance, you know, have beautiful dinner, etc. And we would have, you know, over 1000 people at these events and to actually have my, our employees come up to me with such pride, and introduce their daughter who had just had her quinceanera Now she was 15 years old, or to introduce their son who was the first person first person in their family to ever go to college. I mean, just the level of pride, the sense of connection. I mean, you know, that’s what joy out of Eve means joy of life, and I could feel the joy of life there. As well as the fact that we were an extended family. Because, you know, the hospitality industry is full of people who are immigrants. And so, you know, they often come to the United States without, you know, a family and friends. And so they’re found they’re sort of extended family and friends become the people they work with.

Achim Nowak  07:42

I have to chuckle as you’re speaking because we’re This is going to be an audio podcast, but I’m seeing you on video. And there’s a book on the shelf right behind you. And it says family, and I see photos of what looks like family. So there’s a visual around the importance of family and, and I’m also thinking about the power of work families, surrogate families and, and the kind of communities that we can create when we work in the right way. And the holiday party is a wonderful symbol of the depth of relationship that’s possible at work, isn’t it?

Chip Conley  08:18

Yeah, it’s I think we are thirsty for community in all of its forums. And certainly COVID has accelerated that as well. So to create the conditions for people to feel deeply connected with each other, now is is part of the job of a leader, in my opinion.

Achim Nowak  08:39

I know we, we don’t want to spend the whole time telling war stories. But I, as somebody who has also moved on and exploring new things, which we’ll talk about, if you have to think of a moment in your life in hospitality where you went, why the heck am I doing this? Can you give us one sample?

Chip Conley  08:57

Sure. You know, it was August of 2008. I, our company had gone through the.com bust and 911 we’d survived it and actually thrived pretty well. But now we’re going into the Great Recession soon after that. And I had had my third book come out called peak how great companies get their Mojo from Laszlo. It became very successful and I was giving a lot of speeches and I was realizing, yes, now I can be the writer I want to be and I can go on about these things. And and then what I was feeling was, I was being I felt like I was being brought back into the company because the recession was was hitting us pretty hard. And we were just at opened a lot of new hotels. And then I had a flatline experience I actually died. I literally died and and had to be resuscitated, actually more than once because of an allergic allergic reaction to an antibiotic. And I think it was around that time that I realized, you know, I started this company This company is ready to create joy for our employees, our customers, hopefully our investors, and myself, but I’m not feeling much joy anymore. I also started the company that because I wanted to create the conditions for a family to create and created, and I liked the creativity and freedom, but I wasn’t feeling that either. So it was around that time that I want to have my flatline experience. So I said, You know, I can’t do this anymore at 3500 employees, and they deserve a CEO, who really is engaged and I went from being It was like that there was no dimmer switch here. It was, like, on and then off. Yeah. So over the next two years, during the Great Recession, I had to figure out a way to sell the actually sell the business and move me on to what I would need to do next.

Achim Nowak  10:52

Well, you had the classic wake up call from God right now. But and what I’m hearing is you are willing to listen to God, because not everybody is

Chip Conley  11:03

Oh, for sure. I call it divine intervention. I really did I have any cure. And the irony of it all is here’s the hotelier getting a wake up call in hotels,

Achim Nowak  11:14

I didn’t even get that. But yeah.

Chip Conley  11:16

So there I was having a wake up call. And reading Man’s Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankl is quite famous book in the hospital that night because I had brought a lot along with me on my my business trip, where I was giving speeches on the book and and so I think there was a lot there. And you know, in many ways, it’s it’s the seeds for what we’re going to talk a little bit later about, which is the academy that we created, because there are a lot of people at age 47 or 55, or whatever age there are 62 who are sort of like lost and feeling like something’s not working here. I’m having a midlife crisis. But you know, I have a whole different perspective on midlife crisis now. But let’s keep going chronologically. We’re not there yet.

Achim Nowak  12:01

No, we’re almost there. I just because you’re associated with a really cool sexy brand, Airbnb. And I just want to acknowledge I have been an Airbnb super host. And it that experience enriched my lives in so many ways. So I’m just speaking from my own experience. With we could spend hours on Airbnb, but I’m just I’m sure listeners are going like how, how does somebody like chip Conley get the phone call with somebody like Brian chesky says, Hey, I like for you to do help us grow Airbnb. Can you just tell us like how he kind of thing happened?

Chip Conley  12:40

So Brian calls me and says, Chip, how would you like to democratize hospitality, democratize hospitality. That’s interesting. And then he starts telling me about Airbnb. Now, this was eight and a half years ago, I’d never used it. I didn’t know much about it. And like many hotel years, I thought it was just sort of this millennial thing that would never go anywhere. But their headquarters was 12 blocks from my home. So this was not an easy, this was not a hard thing to say yes to because it was like, Okay, I can walk to work. But I said to him, I’ll mentor you. I’ll give you 15 hours a week. And then let’s see how it goes. And but within a few weeks, it was like, wow, Brian, you need me a lot more than 15 hours a week, you need me 15 hours a day? And and he said, Yeah, I know. And I said, Well, why didn’t you say that? He says, I didn’t know we needed you that much. Because it was a fast growing company, but was still quite small. Yeah, there was nobody in the company who had a hospitality background or frankly, much of a leadership background. So I became the head of global hospitality and strategy, and was Brian’s mentor. And in many ways, I took what I learned from Jawad Aviv, about how to create a great culture. I applied it there, took what I learned about the hospitality and travel business, applied it there, took what I learned about leadership and entrepreneurship, applied it there. And I spent four years in a full time role helping this little steer this rocket ship with the founders, until I then moved to a strategic advisor role, which I did for four years, as well. So eight, basically eight years total.

Achim Nowak  14:11

So when you started at Airbnb, were you an elder? Man, I have this vision of these these young guys and is saying, Yeah, we need we need an older dude, with some experience. Let’s call Chip Conley.

Chip Conley  14:20

I don’t think they were actually looking I don’t think they actually were looking necessarily for an older person, but they were definitely looking for someone with experience. So okay, that usually will mean an older person. Yeah. What they were looking for. Yes, I was 52 at the time, I’m 60 now so 52 I joy I came to the office for the first time I realize oh my god, these are so young. founders were young, but the founders were 31 and 29. There were three founders 230 129 but the average in the company was was 26. So I was twice the age. And within the first month someone called me that you know, Airbnb is modern elder. And I said what does that mean? What does that mean? To be around an elder. And they said, that means you’re as curious as you are wise, because a modern elder has to understand the context for how to deliver their wisdom. But you’re also, as the person said to me, and of course, they knew it. You’ve never worked in a tech company before. And so you’re working in a tech company for the very first time. And so you better be curious, because otherwise, you’re going to go running for the hills. And that is true. I was very scared the first couple of first few months because I really felt like an imposter. Here, I am supposed to be helping the founders run this company and, and be the wise elder. But at times, I felt like the imbecile you know, then somebody who just did not understand the world. And of course, I was also the head of strategy for tech companies. Like, I’ve never worked at a tech company, what you know, so the lingo was the lingo and everything else was really something I had to learn quickly. And I think there’s something to that, I think that you know, when you are putting yourself as a mid lifer in a situation where you have to actually learn something new. It’s, it’s great. It forces you from a fixed mindset, a growth mindset. And when you’re in a growth mindset, you’re less worried about how it looks. And are you going to be successful, you’re more focused on are you learning, yeah, to find success is learning.

Achim Nowak  16:20

A word from your sponsor, that’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my. Fourth, act calm, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. What I’m hearing and I just want to just see if I can invite you to spell it out. Older does not necessarily mean elder or wiser. Right. And you just described the mindsets that are essential for for being a true elder. Yeah. Yeah. Would you speak to that?

Chip Conley  17:15

Sure. So So let’s start by saying elder and elderly are two different things. Elderly is probably the last five or 10 years of our lives, it’s often a time where we need some additional support and services. And, you know, that’s it with how long we’re living these days, it’s often in people’s mid 80s, or later, my parents are both a three and they’re not elderly, and they’re really not so. So I think elder Lee and elder you could be an elder for 30 or 40 years. Because it’s a relative term, it means that you’re surrounded by people who are younger than you. And at Airbnb, that was clearly the case. But you’re right, I don’t think just because you’re older, it means you’re a wise elder. Now you could be an elder, if elder is purely a speaking of relatively speaking, you’re older than everybody else. So you could be an elder, but you’re not gonna be an elder that anyone wants to listen to. If you don’t have a little bit of wisdom to offer, yeah, nor the ability to actually take your wisdom and give it some context. Because if I went into it to Airbnb, and was just talking about how the hotel industry worked, and tried to apply basic rules of thumb, like, oh, a maid cleans 12 rooms in an eight hour shift. That doesn’t matter at Airbnb. Yeah. So I had to look at what do I know my knowledge, take it through the filter of how is this relevant in home sharing company, that’s really a tech company. And then on the other side, say, Okay, here’s what I’m going to deliver to you. Otherwise, I’m just spouting history. Yeah. And this is the challenge with a lot of older people with younger people, is you just spout what you know, that you don’t give it context? And then when they give it context, all of a sudden, people, the younger people are leaning in and saying, Oh, that’s interesting. I can start to see how it relates to what we’re doing here.

Achim Nowak  19:10

A word that I’ve also seen ascribed to you, and that’s, well, one in popular culture is the word midlife or a midlife crisis. How does sort of a reexamination in midlife relate to being an elder or stepping into elder dumb or elder wisdom? How do you see that as a potential connection?

Chip Conley  19:36

Well, let’s start by saying in the and I’ll be brief on this, but this is somewhat, you know, geeky thing I’m going to talk about primitive. In the 20th century century, we had three new life stages, they were discovered and maybe named although they existed before. First one was adolescence in 1904. That word got coined, and all of a sudden teen or teen years, from puberty till 18 was a different life. Stage, that’s the transition life stage between childhood and adulthood. Yeah. And then, you know, a lot of things change as a result of that. The second life stage that got discovered in the 20th century was retirement in the 1920s 1930s, Social Security, pensions, etc. It was a safety net, or in both of these first two life stages got a huge amount of societal support and government policy attention. The third life stage that that got popularized was in 1965, when the when the term midlife crisis actually came to the forefront. And it was, it’s, I mean, so in some ways, the only thing that midlife has ever gotten from society is a bad, a bad brand. Yes, it did not get social security, it did not get public junior high schools in high school, it did not get child labor laws. So what we have is this era of life, that used to be considered just about 15 to 20 years long. And as we’ve had more longevity, midlife has gotten longer. And so sociologists now consider it 40 years long, but we have very little to understand about it. And so part of my process of writing the book wisdom at work, the making of a modern elder and ultimately creating the modern elder Academy, was my recognition that I had five friends during 2008 to 2010. commit suicide, all of them in midlife. And I and these are generally people who are not in terrible places in their life, but they were struggling through something they’re all men struggling through something quite privately that they thought that was only their own affliction. Yeah. And I think midlife is the time where, you know, sometimes it’s the it’s the period of time when you’re supposed to learn, I’m no longer supposed to accumulate now just to edit. Now, does that mean? It means like, you stopped trying to like, live your life for everybody else, and gather and gather and gather and start to say like, what’s really important to you? And how can I go out and double down on that, and there’s a lot more to it. But midlife is to me a calling as much as a crisis. It’s the sometimes it’s the circumstances like my flatline experience at age 47, almost 48. That led me to saying, You know what, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t, after 22 years of being founder and CEO of this company, I don’t want to do it anymore. And unfortunately, for a lot of us, we have to have external circumstances, hit us over the head to say, Okay, now I can change. But more and more of us need to look at what, what’s working and what’s not to determine. How could I repurpose myself? How can I tell it to me, I was

Achim Nowak  22:41

You tell a wonderful story in wisdom at work. And since you wrote the book, I’m sure you remember it. And I’d love for you to share it, if you may, because it illustrates so much what you just said. And it’s about a fellow named Luis Gonzalez, who was the CEO of a company called Intel. And my take was he reconnected to the child, long time dream and passionate and never gone away. Would you share that story with us?

Chip Conley  23:07

Yeah.

Achim Nowak  23:07

I think it’s inspiring.

Chip Conley  23:09

Well, he’s also from Florida. So here we go. Florida story since you’re in Florida. So Lewis was somebody who was working 80 hours a week, he knew his family, he was not being good to his family. He also while he was very effective in his work, and he was getting lots of success from his work. As the chief operating officer of a company, he also was feeling a little bit. He was feeling not very significant in the world. He felt the success but not the significance. And so he decided to volunteer for his local fire department partly because one of his childhood dreams and fascinations was fine, you know, you know, the fireman, and he started volunteering. And he actually got some, he took it a step further and got the proper CPR and other emergency tech technician kind of things. And lo and behold, he finally got to a place where he said, Listen, I earned enough money for my family is well taken care of, I’m actually going to quit being a big time business executive, and I’m going to go to being a full time fireman. And because he came into the profession in midlife, which is very unusual. He had a ton of leadership skills. And so he really became the modern elder in his in his community amongst the fire Prophet, fire fighting professionals, and merchant and emergency responders. And so, instead of being the rookie, we just sort of came in and he actually came in as a rookie, but he also had wisdom to offer is sort of like me at Airbnb. I was no background in tech, but tons of background leadership. I ended up having 100 100 mentees at Airbnb over the eight years. So similarly, Lewis basically became very valuable very quickly, because he could take what I call same seed, different soil. He took the seed of his leadership, and now he could apply it in emerge in emergency responders world.

Achim Nowak  25:19

The ability to connect dots with new dots is really powerful. And Louise did that. You have started this amazing place called the modern elder Academy. So you don’t just write about elders, we talk about it. You started a place that supports elder dumb, would you elder listener? elderhood elderhood, elder, elder done, but somebody might think I’m just talking about dumb elders. But no, no, no, no, I wasn’t going for dumb. But give our listeners who may not know what the modern elder academies is sensitive. Yeah, the physical place, but also your mission and purpose for it. Sure.

Chip Conley  26:03

So what when I stepped away from my full-time role, there would be about four and a half years ago, I moved down here to Southern Baja. So Baja California Sur is part of Mexico. It’s the long Peninsula, south of California. It is part of Mexico. So it’s you know, sometimes people think Baja California. Oh, I never heard of that state. It’s the 51st state of South 50. Interstate. It’s part of Mexico, right? And so here I am in southern bar writing my book. And I was going for a run on the beach one day and I had a Baja, aha, an epiphany. And my baja was, wow, why is it that we don’t have midlife wisdom schools, places where people can come in the middle of their adult life, to actually focus on you know what they want to do next, they’re focused on their fourth act or their third act. And so I decided to create a modern elder Academy MBA. We have a physical campus, five acres on the beach here in about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas went on the Pacific Ocean. And since for three and a half years now we have been open, we have 1200 50 alumni now from 25 countries. And people come for either a one week, or sometimes two week programs, but it’s usually one week. And it’s all eight oh, the focus is on how to cultivate and harvest your wisdom and repurpose it. And we call it the the emergence of long life learning, not lifelong learning, lifelong learning is great. It’s sort of a bigger umbrella. But long life learning is how do you live a life that’s as deep and meaningful as it is long? And how do you how do we help introduce you, through our programs, to the things that you actually get better with with age, because most of us are very knowledgeable about the societal narrative of what what gets worth worse with age. But whether it’s emotional intelligence, or it’s being able to create psychological safety on teams, or it’s the ability to connect the dots, as you say, which is systemic and holistic thinking that’s fostered by crystallized intelligence, our vocabulary actually gets better. Strangely, our memory gets worse. So we may have the vocabulary, but we can’t remember the word. Yeah. But there’s a lot of things we get better at, with with age. And all of these things are the kinds of things that can actually help you to report yourself, not just in career, but also in terms of how do you want to live your life. And so we all we also now have me out online, which is our online program.

Achim Nowak  28:33

Amazing. You I think I heard you use a phrase right now that jumped out harvesting wisdom. Did you say that? Or did I imagine cultivating and harvesting wisdom? What does that mean to you? Because I because we can we can learn from outer disciplines. But where my mind when it’s harvesting? What is already within? That’s what I love.

Chip Conley  28:56

Yeah. So let’s let me tell you a story. Because I know you like stories. So. So when I was 28 years old, I start it was two years into me starting my company, we had the San Francisco earthquake earthquake known as Loma Prieta, and lots of people died and Bay Bridge collapsed a portion of it. And nobody wanted to come to San Francisco and I had a hotel, and it was empty. And around that time, I pulled out a journal that I’d never used. And I said, I wrote on the cover of my wisdom book. And what I started to do, and this is sort of my way of answering, you know, this is my way of doing it, you can do it differently here at MBA, we give you a lot of different choices. What I started to do is every weekend, I would make a list of the key things I learned that week, not in the normal in an emotional journaling format, but more in a bullet point format of saying, okay, I learned this, this this this week. And then the next week, I do it again, and I do it again. And what I was doing was I was really cultivating I was really in essence in some ways. metabolizing the lesson As I was having, and that was really valuable for me, because not only did I sort of accelerate my learning, but I was actually codifying codifying it, I actually had books, I have now nine wisdom books with my learning over the last 32 years. So that is a way to cultivate sort of her and then harvested, because when I went through the Great Recession, I went back to my.com, bust 911, you know, wisdom book and said, What did I learn during the last downturn. So there’s a lot to be learned here. But I also think wisdom has a lot to do with intuition and instinct. And, and, and being able to accelerate your intuition and your instinct, currently, by actually seeing what you’ve learned, seeing. So wisdom can be known as pattern recognition. And to recognize a pattern noted in your wisdom book, that is a way to be able to reflect back on it later, when you can use it again.

Achim Nowak  31:04

You’re clearly a writer because I just love the way you use language. So the phrase, I’m saying this for our listeners, the phrase metabolizing wisdom, that really bought me That’s beautiful. And, and we just heard some very specific ways of doing it. As we start to approach the close of the conversation. I’m also hearing that you’re you’re an entrepreneur, you know, you started this thing you started young as a foreigner. Are there any other things that are percolating in your brain right now where you go, I started the elder Academy, but there’s other stuff coming up from me that even if it’s not totally crystallized yet,

Chip Conley  31:45

Well, the thing that we’re actually really fascinated by, it’s been really interesting to see how the modern elder Academy has been so popular. But what’s been interesting is people say, we want to live in a community like this. So one of the things that we’re so we know, we’re sort of disrupting higher education a little bit by saying, hey, why is higher education only focused on young people? How about focusing on some people in midlife or later life? No. But I also think we’re about to maybe disrupt retirement communities by creating regenerative communities, and regenerative communities are based on the premise that when someone’s late, you know, in midlife or later, they don’t necessarily want to go should be shunted off to, you know, a retirement community where it’s just people their age, they want to actually be in a much more, you know, generative environment with people of different generations, instead of living on a fairway, they might want to live on a farm. And, and they might want to have an education piece woven into it. And that’s what we’re doing. So we bought a 2600 acre ranch, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. And we are in the process of creating our first regenerative community, although we actually have here in Baja, we have an academy campus. And then we have a regenerative community here, but they’re not next door to each other. They’re about a mile and a half from each other. So now we’ll do our first one in the United States, all within, you know, 2600 acres.

Achim Nowak  33:06

What I’m also hearing, sort of subtext, and what you’re saying is that there’s there’s a power in being in beautiful environments, which nurture the soul. I mean, I haven’t been to your complex in Bihar, but I’m sure it’s pretty nice place. Santa Fe is beautiful. If you were to think back and think about the wisdom you have now, and it’s not a fair question moment to ask it anyway. And you could whisper it into young, young kids here. What might might you say to him?

Chip Conley  33:37

So what I would say this is a this is a question we can ask ourselves throughout our lives, you could you could ask it as a 15 year old even. What do I know now? That I wish I’d known five or 10 years ago, or even one year ago, if you’re doing it 15, maybe one year ago, but the one that the way I look at it now is like okay, at age 60? What do I know now at age 60? I wish I’d known at age 50. Or, and the reason I say this is Guess what? At age 70? Yeah, I there’s going to be something I’m going to regret that I don’t didn’t learn at age 60 How could I learn that now? And so for me, that’s why I’m learning Spanish right now. I live in Mexico, you know, more than half the time. I grew up learning French, hence, might the name of my company. Yes. And and why not learn Spanish now? And it? Yes, it won’t be any easier at 70 than 60. And it would have been easier to do it at 50. But I didn’t do it. So I’m doing it now. So I think that’s one of the things I would say to my younger my younger self is take a look at what you regret. What are the things and I really have a hard time when people say I have no regrets in life. Because of course you have regrets the things you know you didn’t do life perfectly. What I would I think what people usually mean when they say that is I don’t wallow My regrets. Great. But regrets are a beautiful opportunity to say, how would I do? I just had fairways a moment ago, I mean, just a fairway term, a mulligan? If I could do it over again, if I could do a do over, what would I do over? And why? And how does that influence me moving forward? Yeah.

Achim Nowak  35:25

This links to the final question I really have for you. Because a lot of listeners might be listening to you say, God, this guy is cool. He’s taking risks in his life, he’s done things that. But I cannot take those risks. You know, I cannot start an academy in Baja, I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Maybe my past wasn’t as enchanted or I’m not so in touch with all of my wisdom, as chip Conley seems to be, what would you say to a listener like that?

Chip Conley  35:58

Well, I would say that there’s probably friends of yours who might feel similarly. And wouldn’t. There’s a woman named Elizabeth White, who has a TED talk that I just love. She’s a student of ours. And she also teaches our MBA online program. And she’s she creates resilient circles. This is groups of people who say, you know what, we’re here for each other, you’re here to help support each other, to actually take risks. And to actually try something, you know, you’re 60 years old, and you want to learn Spanish for the first time. Who’s there to cheer you on? Yeah, you are, you want to go down to the, to the modern elder Academy, but you’re sort of scared that it might be just a little bit too emotional to like, you know, too vulnerable. Well, who’s there to be the person who’s going to talk to you every day while you’re down there, you know, and they’re going to do a phone call with you. I think, too often, we think that our fears are ours alone. And there are other people in our midst, who are also in a stage of their life where they want to try something new. But they don’t want to look stupid doing it. And sometimes you actually have to do it together. So for that group, but let’s say you have three or four friends like that, go learn to juggle together. Yeah, learn to juggle together. Why? Because no one’s very good at it, when they first do it, no one’s gonna get killed juggling. So it’s not like a property making the decision to do it is not a life or death decision. And it’s going to give you the start, start giving you the sense like I can try something new in my life.

Achim Nowak  37:34

Our journey always expands when we don’t do it alone doesn’t know even if it doesn’t always feel good to be in the company of others. Thank you for all of your wisdom and insights, I can’t imagine that people aren’t curious about wanting to learn more about you. So if you had to send them to resources, what’s the best place to to learn more about chip and his work?

Chip Conley  37:58

So you can go to the https://www.modernelderacademy.com/ and there’s six different tiles on the homepage to our learning about workshops, or I wonder about learn about sabbatical sessions, which are longer stays. So I want to learn about this regenerative community in Santa Fe. You can learn about us there, me and mine. I have a daily blog called wisdom well, and it is just put wisdom well, and chip Conley in Google and it’ll serve it up and it’s free https://wisdomwell.modernelderacademy.com/. You get a daily email from me, or you can just look at my LinkedIn, LinkedIn. I post we post each of our daily wisdom well posts on my LinkedIn profile. So and there’s also https://www.chipconley.com/ so there’s a lot of different places you can learn about.

Achim Nowak  38:41

We have no excuse to not find you. That’s what you do if you do a Google search for chip Comm. We’ll find you a lot of results. Thank you for the gift of your time and your insights. It was just just a pleasure to speak with you.

Chip Conley  38:58

I appreciate the the empathy you. You gave me with those questions. So thank you. Bye for now, provide

Achim Nowak  39:09

like what you heard, please go to my fourth act calm and subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao

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