Evangelist for positive aging, marketing strategist,
storyteller and motivator
Richard Ambrosius wears a white hat. He spearheads a movement for pro-aging and champions accurate portrayal of older people in the media. Ambrosius' BA and MA degrees in Political Science inform his work. When not out with his 90 pound Old English sheepdog, Annie, you may find him speaking at conferences and seminars or online where he leads discussions at LinkedIn .
Having authored numerous articles, training texts, and booklets, he leads the way to a new vision of aging. His current book, available at Barnes & Noble.com and Powells Books entitled
Choices & Changes- a positive aging guide to life planning, is a Sage Companion Book Club Pick. Richard Ambrosius, a decorated Viet Nam veteran, was selected as “South Dakota’s Entrepreneur of the Year” by Entrepreneur Magazine.
"Age is Just a Series of Many Beginnings"
Ambrosius' Latest Book
available at POWELLS
A SAGE COMPANION
Ambrosius founded one of the first full-service marketing firms (1982) to specialize in older markets.He has conducted presentations in 49 states and within numerous Fortune 500 corporations.
"For the first time in human history, the prospect of living a long, healthy and productive life has become a reality for the majority of people."
"Perhaps it is time to retire words like retirement, retired or retiree when referring to people in life's second half....
I have been railing against aging stereotypes for 30 years; and now, for the first time, I am beginning
to experience them myself ...."
Richard Ambrosius is an evangelist for positive aging, marketing strategist, storyteller and motivator. He is currently the Principal at Positive Aging®, a consultancy he first launched in 1997.
He has served the start-up brain fitness company, NeoCORTA, two national senior living development and management companies, one of the nation’s first free-standing Area Agencies on Aging, and chaired the Rebranding Aging Task Force for the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) that their Changing the Way We Age Campaign.
In 1976, he began a career in aging as Executive Director of a not-for-profit Area Agency on Aging in Northwest Iowa. In 1980, President Reagan appointed Dick as the youngest member of the National Advisory Committee to the 1981 White House Conference on Aging where he delivered a keynote address on rural aging. He founded one of the first full-service marketing firms (1982) to specialize in older markets.He has conducted presentations in 49 states and within numerous Fortune 500 corporations.
He was selected “South Dakota’s Entrepreneur of the Year”(1997) by Entrepreneur Magazine.
What question have you always wanted
to be asked in an interview?
Why can’t we conquer ageism?
How would you answer that very question?
As the old joke goes, “the problem with apathy is that no one cares.” Ageism has permeated our culture, which has been devoted to youth worship for the past 50 years. With the help of the mainstream media, sitcoms and late night comedians, we have come to mindlessly accept negative stereotypes without realizing we are condemning ourselves to elderhood without purpose but filled with problems we want others to solve.
In institutional settings, older adult communities and aging services agencies, dependency is unwittingly but flagrantly encouraged and communicated. All too often well meant protectiveness gradually undermines autonomy and perpetuates stereotypes. When “being old” is a ready explanation for a health, memory or decision making problem, we rarely search for other causes. Although advancing age does not cause poor health, the two continue to be confused and too often even doctors treat the age rather than the health issue and seldom prescribe fitness and wellness activities.
We can’t even begin to conquer ageism until it is generally perceived as a problem.
If you could trade places with any other person for a
week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional with whom would
you change places?
I can think of many that I would love to spend a week with – Jefferson, Lincoln, DaVinci, Ronald Reagan, Ben Franklin, etc. I would never presume to be competent enough to trade places, but would love to trade thoughts with these incredible leaders.
However, I have always loved western movies and history, so it would be a hoot to spend a week as John Chisum, Wyatt Earp or James Butler Hickok…assuming their skill set would transfer during that week.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Positive, creative, caring, dedicated, visionary
How would you explain a social network in five
sentences to a fourth-grader?
A social network is …
like a special club made up of friends, family and loved ones.
A place where you can talk to grandma or grandpa whenever you want
a place to share you favorite pictures, songs and ideas with others
a place to share with family members that do not live with you
If you could be any character in fiction, who would
What is, or what do you expect to be
the most adventurous thing you have done/will do after the age of 60?
Moved cross country three times pursuing opportunities to pursue positive aging career opportunities…story in its own right. I hope to help make the battle to end ageism an international movement.
What age-related hazards do you
meet almost every day?
Out of control politicians are clearly the biggest threat to my future well being.
What advice do you have about how to
spend your free time?
Stay connected to family, friends and community…find a purpose and pursue it.
In one sentence, what is your best wellness advice?
Stay positive, active and seek balance in everything you do.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane in everyday life?
Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. If you can’t fix it, don’t worry about it.
Define “young at heart” as it
relates to you.
“Young-at-heart” is a trite, overused phrase describing a life stage that can be 30 years of more. To me, what the phrase describes a time to maintain a positive aging self image, love, share with family, and laugh often.
I envision continued involvement in aging issues, teaching others about the power of ageless marketing principles, giving back and spending time with family.
What are the most
significant changes/defining moments you see as happening in the world?
The defining moments will occur between 2011 and 2030 impacting every area of society and business. The aging of the Baby Boom will give the developed nations of the world a consumer base no longer dominated by the young. Later life values are already beginning to influence the generations that follow. Living within our means and assuming personal responsibility will be increasingly prized and promoted. We will slowly move from entitlement to engagement over the next two decades.
The late Dr. Stephen Covey observed that the United States needed a statue of responsibility on the west coast to balance the Statue of Liberty on the east coast. We have never had this much wisdom available. Whether or not our business and political leaders have the wisdom to utilize it is the question.
What is your best
advice for leading edge boomers and older adults in terms of changing aging stereotypes?
Refuse to do business with companies that refer to you as senior citizens, elderly or other pejorative terms either electronically, in print or in person. Let publications, media outlets and advertisers know you resent being portrayed as feeble, forgetful, foolish, uninformed, dependent or greedy. Stop saying you just “had a senior moment!” All too often, it is older people themselves perpetuating the stereotypes that can become self-fulfilling prophecies bring on the memory loss people fear.
What is your favorite line of
From a book for teens by Pat Boone in the 60’s
I hate the
guys who criticize
the vigorous guys
has helped them rise
above the guys who criticize.
If you were writing a short story,
would you rather write for children than for adults?
For older adults…
Who would play you in a film of your
life? And who would narrate it?
I can’t imagine anyone watching such a production. To draw a small audience, my oldest son could play me and my grandchildren could narrate.
Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory? Yes…working in a tourist trap in the Black Hills of SD or over Christmas at Disney World
I have tried a variety of jobs in life so far…
· Worked in my father’s gas station
· Road construction in high school
· Washed dishes to get through college
· Trimmed trees and worked in a meat packing plant
· Worked in a Dairy Queen
· Army intelligence officer
· Probation officer
· Corporate criminal investigator
· Nonprofit executive
· Entrepreneur and small business man
· Marketing executive
· College teacher
speaker and author
Do you have a dog? Cat? And what
A 90 pound Old English sheepdog named Annie…no cats allowed
What is your favorite animal?
Big ole shaggy dogs and horses
When are you going to write your autobiography?
Sometime in the coming decade
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you
think the title should be?
Age is Just a Series of Many Beginnings.
If you won $30 million in the lottery, what would you
do with the money?
Pay off our mortgage, and then my kid’s mortgages and college loans, set up college funds for all our grandchildren, build a summer cabin in the Black Hills, donate 10% or more to charity and church, travel and promote positive aging and ageless marketing.
What are you reading these days?
Killing Kennedy, The Zappos Experience and Switch
What is your greatest contribution to the world to
My three children and the contributions I have made serving older adults, battling ageism and promoting positive aging.