Start a Longevity Explorer Circle in Your Community
We Want to Help You Launch a Longevity Explorer Circle
Background on Longevity Explorer Circles
The Longevity Explorers are a unique sharing, evaluation, and ideation community — made up of older adults (in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s), and their friends, families, and caregivers.
The Longevity Explorer initiative combines two important ideas:
- a widespread desire among older adults to find ways to "be useful", and not to be just "put out to pasture"; and
- the idea that it should be possible to come up with all sorts of clever new ideas, products, and services that can improve the quality of life of us all as we age. And that older adults themselves should play a key role — identifying unmet needs, discovering emerging solutions, evaluating, disseminating, and in some cases co-creating.
View this video of Richard Caro describing the Longevity Explorer initiative at the American Society on Aging, March 2018.
You can also listen to an in-depth interview of Dr. Caro by Geriatrician Dr. Leslie Kernisan on the topic of "Putting Older Adults at the Center of Technology Conversations", and see more about the Longevity Explorer initiative here.
How Longevity Explorer Circles Work
Members of a circle meet in-person once a month for intellectually stimulating and socially engaging conversations. At these "Club" meetings, we discuss a very broad range of topics. We see ourselves as exploring the future of aging, and the intersection of aging and technology — and discovering and sharing useful products and services we can use to improve quality of life as we grow older.
Circle members can also participate in optional “Sponsored Explorations", working with external companies to help develop products that improve quality of life as we grow older.
The first Circle started in 2014 and it is still active and vibrant. For several years we ran 5 separate explorer circles in Northern California with our original model in which they were all facilitated by Dr. Caro. Then in 2018 we experimented with a new model, and started three additional circles in which we trained a leadership team for each circle — with the most distant one being in Providence, Rhode Island. We learned a lot about what worked, and what did not. And now we have an expansion formula that we are ready to share more broadly.
Circle Leader Training and Support: The Cohort Model
We’ve received many requests from people wanting to start Circles in their own communities. And spreading the value of Longevity Explorer Circles is part of the mission of Tech-enhanced Life. Therefore, we are launching a new program in the beginning of 2019: the Circle Leader Training Program. This program will guide a cohort of people through the process of launching new Circles in their communities. The training program will involve:
Regular video chats for all Circle leaders covering the process of establishing a circle and facilitating its regular conversations
1:1 support and guidance from Dr Richard Caro
Collaboration between leaders in the cohort, to share insights and learnings
Why do Longevity Explorers participate in Circles?
Read our purpose, goals, and activities document, written by Longevity Explorer community members.
What topics do Longevity Circles Discuss?
Different circles find different types of topics interesting. Part of the meeting is devoted to discussion topics members bring. And part of it is devoted to common "community-wide" topics, that are provided to circle leaders each month.
See examples of past topics here.
What differentiates Explorer Circles from other communities or clubs?
In part, it's the topics. And in part it's the idea that we are working together, as part of the larger community of Longevity Explorers, to discover ways to improve our quality of life as we grow older, and then disseminate those learnings widely to older adults around the world.
In particular, Longevity Explorer Circles are "lean forward" interactions, and not "lean back” interactions. The Club Meetings are designed to be deeply participatory. We find members have ideas and opinions and welcome the chance to share them. So we don't have "lectures" or "expert presentations."
What does being a Circle Leader involve?
Being a circle leader is a voluntary role. You need to feel the overall Explorer initiative is an exciting and valuable one, and something you would be proud to introduce into your geography.
We recommend that Circle Leaders create a “leadership team” of 3 - 6 people for a Circle, comprised of people with some specific skill sets.
As part of the circle cohort training, we help you identify the skill sets you need in your team, and suggest ways to round out the team so all those skill sets are represented.
We will also help with guidance about:
Recruiting circle participants from local communities
Arranging logistics of the meetings
Learning to facilitate productive conversations
Sharing the content of Circle meetings with the broader Longevity Explorer community, and with older adults around the world (via the Tech-enhanced Life website).
What makes a Circle Leader effective?
Effective Circle leaders should have at least one of these two key skills sets (and ideally can find a co-leader with the complementary skill set before launching the circle):
Effective Circle leaders are good at organizing and getting new initiatives started;
Effective Circle leaders facilitate productive conversations that engage participants.
Circle Leaders in the training cohort are also highly encouraged to bring their own ideas and experiment with new concepts. They will have the learnings of previous Circles to build on.
What is the time commitment of being a Circle leader?
Getting a circle up and running requires a significant investment of effort. Once a Circle is running, expect to spend “a few” hours per month.
Circle Leaders in the cohort are committing to leading their new Circle for at least one year.
Does the Circle Leader training program cost money?
What are “Sponsored Explorations”?
Sponsored Explorations are an optional program in addition to regular Explorer Circle "Club Meetings".
Sponsored Explorations are engagements with specific companies that want our help. These companies want to ensure that they are developing products that older adults like our explorers will actually want and need. Sponsored Explorations take a wide variety of forms, and if you are interested you can learn more about them on our Services for Product Developers page.
Regular Explorer Circle meetings are run entirely for the benefit of the members. In contrast, Sponsored Explorations are run for the benefit of the company we are helping. Because Explorers provide substantial value to the companies, companies are charged a fee. This fee gets shared among those involved in the Sponsored Exploration, and explorers who take part always get a portion of that fee.
How do the conversations in Explorer Circles benefit the general public?
We share what we learn as a community with older adults around the world by publishing our learnings on the Tech-enhanced Life website. We are looking for new ways to share learnings and are very open to suggestions!
If you think this sounds like it might be a fit for you and your community, we are guessing you may well have questions, and we would be happy to answer them in a discussion on the phone. However we prefer to do that after people have applied for the training cohort, and selfishly wish to limit the number of one on one discussions we have by focusing on people with a serious interest in being a circle leader. So, if you think this might be for you, but have questions, please go ahead and fill out the cohort application form (apply with the green button below) and we will circle back.