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Ageism in the workplace is increasingly an obstacle to working longer. Patti Temple Rocks, author of I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace, shares her story and why she’s fighting for change. Her book offers a portrait of the costs of ageism and recommends solutions that CEOs and HR can implement.
We discuss with Patti Temple Rocks:
- Why she’s on a mission to combat ageism in the workplace
- When she first noticed ageism in the workplace
- The signs and subtle signals of ageism
- Why ageism is bad for business
- How companies benefit from a multigenerational workforce
- What CEOs and HR can do to create an inclusive culture with age diversity
- What she’s learned for her personal journey
- How 5:45 AM Soul Cycle sessions helped in her transition
- Her advice for people who aren’t done and want to work longer
Patti joins us from Chicago.
Patti Temple Rocks is the author of I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace. Her book, an Amazon bestseller, was ranked as one of INC Magazine 9 Books Every Professional Should Read in 2019 and Kirkus described her book as a “compelling argument and a spirited call to action against workplace age discrimination.” Patti is also a Forbes contributor and public speaker.
In close to four decades in the communications business, Patti has held senior leadership positions in four different areas of the industry: PR, Advertising Corporate, and Start-up. Patti is known as an inspirational leader, innovative thinker, problem-solver, growth driver, passionate brand steward, and both an agent for change and a counselor during that change.
Patti was the Managing Director for the Chicago office of IPG Public Relations agency, Golin, and led the agency to consistent growth, while providing counsel and ideas to clients including McDonald’s, Walmart, Humana, Tylenol, Unilever, Discover, Dow, and ConAgra. As the Chief Reputation Officer at Leo Burnett, Patti sat on of the agency’s Global Leadership Council, where she provided global strategic leadership of communications, and experienced first-hand the seismic shifts that were happening within the ad industry. While Chief Brand and Reputation Officer for Dow Chemical, Patti was the principal architect behind the company’s “Human Element” campaign, an award-winning rebranding effort that lifted Dow’s reputation scores by the most significant margin in its history. And as Founder of Temple•Rocks Communications in the 90s, she learned how to serve a wide variety of smaller clients while simultaneously getting married, giving birth, making cold calls, fixing copy machines, and built a successful start-up agency along the way.
Most recently, proving that she truly wasn’t done, Patti rejoined the creative agency world. In April of 2019, she accepted a role as Senior Partner ICF Next (formerly Olson Engage) where they utilize her “Wisdom, Experience & Connections” (Chapter 6 in her book) as she leads Client Impact across their combined advertising and PR group, Brand Engage.
Patti, an avid traveler who never says no to a travel opportunity and a lifelong Cubs fan, is most proud to be mother to Jake, step-mom to Eric and Danielle, and “Gigi” to five-year-old twins, Liam and Teagan. She lives in the Chicago suburb of Geneva, with her husband Bob and her two golden retrievers, Rose and Rizzo.
On First Noticing Ageism
“And so I started to realize that there was a code language that maybe I didn’t fully understand. And so from that moment on, I just think I became acutely aware of some of this behavior that exhibits in workplaces because there is just this unchecked assumption that people reach a certain age and it’s over for them. They either will want to go off and do something different or the organization wants them to, but it was much more prevalent than I realized.”
On Taking Ownership
“…That’s one of the things that makes me saddest about ageism because I think it erodes people’s confidence. And so I think that’s probably why it is hard for people to take the next step…, because you’re not confident that the next step will work. And I’ve always sort of felt like, well, if this doesn’t work, I’ll try something else. So some of that I think must have to do with how I was raised, or I have taken a lot of risks in my career, but I also found when I described what happened with my boss and mentor at the time, I thought I’m not gonna let this happen to me. And I’m not going to be surprised. And if the workplace decides that I’m not relevant anymore, I’m going to be prepared to take that next step to move to that…second act.”
“And that’s when I realized Hell No!… I am still in my first act. I am still good at this career that I’ve spent 30 plus years building. I am not going to go to something else. I’m going to find a way to keep doing what I’m doing. So some of what I think fueled me was I thought I want to change the narrative …in the simplest way: I say, It’s not you. It’s them’ as long as the older worker, so-called older worker is still showing up and doing a good job every day. If the workplace makes a decision that that person isn’t valuable anymore, it’s the workplace, not the person. So I was honestly pretty ticked off when I wrote the book and thought I need business leaders to wake up and realize that they can.”
For More on Patti Temple Rocks
Patti Temple Rocks’ book:
I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace
Next Avenue Article:
The Most Insidious Form of Age Discrimination at Work: The ‘I’m Not Done’ author on the demoralizing practice of marginalization
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If You Plan on Working Longer, How Do You Best Prepare? – Kerry Hannon
No Finish Line – Meyer Feldberg
How to Make a Wise Career Switch – Dawn Graham
We’re All Ageing. Are You Up for a Bolder Approach? – Carl Honoré
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