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Coffee & Conversations with Leslie: A discussion of “This Chair Rocks - A Manifesto Against Ageism”

Join us for a fascinating book club discussion for April’s edition of Coffee & Conversations with Leslie. The book is “This Chair Rocks - A Manifesto Against Ageism”. Joining Leslie to talk about their thoughts on the book are Amy Chorew, Cathy Schartetg, and Debra Durbin. Grab your copy on Ashton Applewhite’s website here: You can also watch her TEDtalk there!

Joining Leslie are:

Amy Cherow (Curated Learning)

Debra Durbin (Lyon )

and Cathy Scharetg (Curiosity Coach, Intero)

Q: The real estate industry has been described as one of limitless possibilities, one where outcomes are only diminished by our own limited belief system. (Thank you Cathy!) So I’d like to explore that a bit with a simple mental exercise. Take the age that you are and subtract the age that you feel. My guess is there is a “gap” between the two. The actual numbers aren’t important but the concept is. In fact, this gap has been the subject of research across the globe. What they found (Prof David Rubin, Duke University 2006) is that most adults over the age of 40 feel 20% younger than they actually are. (At age 5 there is no gap. At age 70, or 50 or even 40 – there is) Is this your experience? Why do you think this is the case?

Amy: I have been changing my attitude towards this. In the past I have been afraid to share my age as it would impact peoples perception of my ability to perform in my job. More and more of my clients are retiring now at 55 or 60 and super excited about their next phase of life. The concept of retiring is gaining momentum in a positive way. We will not be a burden to society as we will mostly support ourselves. I am excited to work with and see what the next generation is creating. I am seeing this first hand with my kids.

Debra: There used to be a difference, or I thought there was. At 68, my current age, I’m 68. I feel some changes that I cannot deny are related to being my current age. This was a real turning point year. I think there is a separation between my physical and mental age. On the physical, you have no more time to think about movement-whether you do it or not. You are no longer able to put it aside and think I’ll get to it without consequence. Mentally, I’m benefitting from the never ending need to learn something new all of the time. I can’t remember every name of everyone I’ve ever met, and I used to pride myself on that. I used to remember every address I have ever had. It’s 29 addresses-so, not so much anymore. I’ve always been the most mature, the designated driver, the matriarch of the family. I dated and married older men, I took myself to the symphony and the museum, I’ve had the ability to travel places for business and leisure. I wanted to be better and have more than my family was able to provide. Now I feel I am giving back. I am wiser. I look forward to each year, knowing I will be a mentor and a friend. I want to help women understand how to navigate this world of work, and I still want to be the funniest girl in the group. I recognize my limitations, and honor my gifts. I fear poor health, because health is really the greatest equalizer.

Cathy: I feel the difference in the actual age and “felt” age because of what I was led to believe through family and societal views about growing old.

I thought and believed that aging was something to fear and avoid at all cost. “Old and used” is not as attractive as “new and flashy”. I battled myself, my weight, my self perception to keep myself young and relevant. It is more exhausting to worry about age, than it is to actually and honestly just live it.

Q: Now, for the book. What were 3 of your biggest “ah-ha” moments reading This Chair Rocks?

Debra: Each person brings their own vision of what aging means to them b. We have the double whammy of societal messages of what it means to be a woman and older. Most of use will feel invisible at some point c. Life is short, no matter what age you are. Enjoy the connections and the joy you need. Talk to each other and make it your own. We are all unique at every age. Embrace it.

Cathy -1-I was floored when the book compared ageism to racism. I saw the blatant disregard for the “individual” by labeling the “all”. 2-Seeing what I was doing to myself made me aware of what I was doing to others as well, through my unexamined bias’s. 3-I am inspired by the sense of freedom I feel as I notice my subtle and not so subtle forms of self loathing then willingly releasing them . Oh the Joy of “being me” exactly as I am, in all my splendor.

Amy - !. We are not a burden to society as we have the funds to retire. There is an assumption that people become economic deadweight as soon as they hit 65. We draw aon our resources. The World bank created a new formula on adult dependency relations, which takes these trends into account.

2. 2012 Pew Research center reported that one of every 10 children in the US lived with a grandparent, often in their homes. Programs like social security benefit older people as well as younger children.

By 2032 50 plus age group is projected to drive more than half of US economical activity - our spending fuels industries that include apparel, healthcare, education, leisure and entertainment. The most advanced economies will resolved around the needs, wants and whims of grandparents.

Q: Now, time for another mental exercise. Whatever age you are today, subtract 20 years and go back to the you of 2003. At that time, what did you think being 20 years older would look like? Have your expectations been met? What has surprised you the most?

Cathy-In 2003 I was knee deep in alligators. My kids were 9,7,and 6. My marriage was strained and my real estate business was thriving. I was a highly productive, guilt ridden, 40 something. Drama, caffeine, and putting out fires made me feel alive and relevant. It was unsustainable but I didn’t know that then. I thought Martyrs and victims got extra brownie points. I really thought that I was to live well, tackle hard stuff to make myself relevant, grow old and tired through wear and tear.

Now I see the wisdom of simplicity and the humor of my perceptions. I have grown graceful through the power of subtraction. I shifted from being “Male Like” to “Feminine Grace” My views on age, sex, power, and pleasure have shifted holistically.

Amy - I was bored in real estate and started an education company. It blew up when I was asked to rewrite NAR’s ePro. I went back to school for adult learning theory and instructional design as my kids were starting high school. (I was a grandmother at 47 mind you.) For 12 years I was on the road over 200 days a year speaking and selling my products. It led me to get interviewed to be VP of Learning for BHGRE and ERA for 9 years.

Debra This was the first year my husband and I experienced the failure of his start up. He was injured shortly thereafter and we experienced an enormous change in our financial situation. I thought we would rebuild, but our life together was already fragile. I experienced a new joy, golfing with women. I really had no time to just play before. I probably should have returned to work but I was so burned out. Now, I live in a 55+ community with my husband. Yes, I did divorce and remarry, but it wasn’t required for my happiness. He came with a great group of sisters and brothers, and their kids. My expectations are different. I still set goals like I always have. I did not expect to be working as an agent, but a golfing buddy convinced me to come to work for him at his brokerage. Retirement wasn’t in my plans, but my husband wanted to stop working, so we moved to a 55+ community to save on living in the Bay Area. I wasn’t really ready, but it’s been filled with a quality of life that seems to get better all the time. Things change.

Q: Final question before we open the conversation up: what actions would you recommend to further support women in real estate who are feeling the impact of ageism. What can we do?

Amy - Be open and excited to how the next generation plans of getting things done. Research and stay abreast of these trends. Be proud of who you are and have become, and embrace your age!!!

Debra Make it part of the ongoing conversation. Experiences should be shared. No one talked about menopause either, but it’s the culprit in the changes we all feel. It’s a big part of your journey, and we all deal with the fatigue, mood, redistribution of muscle and fat, the lack of sex drive, the skin changes. Here’s the thing: the better we are at sharing how we deal with the challenges and the delights, the less likely we will be isolated and alone; we can learn what works, what is garbage, and we can support each other and be better at all of the nuances. Understanding and supporting is what we are all about with others. I think it’s our time.

Cathy- in my own life I have tried to control things that frighten me. There are real things to be afraid of (out of control cars, hot stoves, assault rifles) and there are things that frighten me that are based on unexamined beliefs around aging, being lovable if you know the truth about me and stereotypes. When I let go of the need to control the second set of fears I begin to see things differently, and then engage more freely in powerful conversations and dynamic questions. We need to talk to one another-openly-honestly and with Love. My advice: Let go of the need to control the process of aging so that you can enjoy the beauty, simplicity, and intimacy of living longer, better.

I feel the freedom of neither defying or denying my age.

It feels a lot like love.

What a great conversation we've been having. Thank you all – what a terrific panel. At this point I want to open it up to everyone that is on the call and see what their thoughts are on the issue of ageism in general or any of the specific questions we have covered.


Learn more about our Special Guests!

Cathy Scharetg: Vice President of Operations Intero .

Cathy’s passion for connecting with people to deliver transformational experiences has shaped her career as a businesswoman in real estate, the co-owner of the iconic Lovejoy's Tea Room in San Francisco and her work supporting women through coaching, facilitation and advisory roles.

Cathy currently serves as an Advisor for OneUpOneDown, the San Francisco chapter lead for When Women Speak, and Service Committee Chair at Soroptimist. She is an accredited public speaker and coach.

Her mission is to ground people in the wisdom and knowledge they already possess instead of always seeking more to little avail.

Amy is a Learning and Technology Trend Expert, Author, Speaker, Trainer, Social Media Maven, and REALTOR. She is an expert on bringing proptech products to the real estate industry as well as creating learning platforms to increase your bottom line.

Amy is REALTOR in CT, and having fun consulting with proptech companies and eal estate firms.

Debra is a highly experienced real estate agent, with over 40 years of expertise across various industries including real estate, interior design, and software businesses in the Bay Area. With her exceptional ability to listen to her clients, she has successfully helped numerous clients achieve their dreams of homeownership, building wealth through real estate investments, and finding their ideal homes.

Known for her warm and engaging personality, Debra has worked with a diverse range of clients, from residential homebuyers to seasoned investors and high-net-worth clients. Her reputation is built on her extensive knowledge of the local market, strong negotiation skills, and a personal commitment to her clients' success.

Debra has extensive experience in negotiating deals for Bay Area companies, which has translated into success for her real estate clients in acquiring their dream homes. Focused on luxury estates, family homes, investment, and retirement properties in the Sacramento region, she is also a skilled real estate investor and homeowner of properties in the Bay Area, Indian Wells, and Roseville. Her investment expertise and market knowledge enable her to identify properties with high potential for appreciation and rental income.

In addition to her real estate career, Debra has also run a private high-net-worth global vacation club for a successful entrepreneur. She has earned numerous accolades throughout her career, including recognition for outstanding performance and dedication to clients. She has also trained and managed global sales organizations for large companies such as Oracle and several start-ups. Today, she mentors local women leaders, and has served as a board director at NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners).

Debra holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from California State University Hayward, where she was named Journalism Student of the Year and interned at KCBS radio.


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