There is now a special retreat to help ‘older’ tech workers cope … starting in their 30s

The academy – more of a luxury retreat with workshops and heavy doses of wellness options – is dedicated to “navigating midlife transitions.”

Everyone knows that twenty-something workers dominate (and often run) the tech world. But technology has accelerated so fast that even workers in their 30s can be considered “older,” not to mention those in their 40s and 50s.

A recent survey showed that age discrimination for tech founders starts at age 36. And with Generation Z coming into the workplace, even Millennials are feeling alienated and left behind. As Mark Zuckerberg once infamously said, “Young people are just smarter.”


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Enter the Modern Elder Academy, located in El Pescadero, Mexico, was founded by Chip Conley, a former hotelier and Airbnb veteran. He started the week-long “academy,” by charging $5,000 “tuition” and requiring an application to be considered. The academy – more of a luxury retreat with workshops and heavy doses of wellness options – is dedicated to “navigating midlife transitions,” according to its web site, and help you “grow whole, not old.”

Daily schedules, found on the website, include everything from themed workshops to a “wisdom circle” followed by bread baking to yoga and meditation.

Recently, The New York Times reported on the action at the inaugural Modern Elder class. This enabled the reported to witness the ritual “purge with fire,” a cleansing ceremony bordering on satire.

For this ceremony, participants covered themselves with stickers that had “ageist anxieties scrawled on them.” There were people in their 50s on this particular retreat session, but one as young as 38. One man put on stickers that said “Millennials rule the world” and “I wish I was a digital native.” A 47-year-old wrote on his own sticker, “I am not practical or handy.” Other participants covered themselves with stickers saying things like “I’m out of time to try something new,” and “I feel increasingly invisible.”

After they regarded each other’s stickers and walked around silently, they peeled them off and threw them into the fire. Hopefully, that was $5,000 worth of cleansing.

Also available to the participants was private sessions with a shaman, which Conley said involved sitting on a cliff and screaming. Sounds good at any age.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.