April 2, 2007
59, Number 25
April 2, 2007
Professor offers guide to health, happiness and financial freedom
by kim urquhart
Roger Staubach, the NFL quarterback-turned-real estate mogul who spoke recently at Goizueta Business School, also is featured in international finance professor Jeffrey Rosensweig’s new book, “Age Smart: Discovering the Fountain of Youth at Midlife and Beyond.”
In “Age Smart,” Rosensweig and co-author Betty Liu, an award-winning business journalist, share strategies for uniting together the elements for a long, happy, fulfilling and connected life. The book offers tips and guidelines for the baby boomer generation, ranging from assembling a winning financial portfolio to the latest scientific research on health and aging. “This book helps inspire and inform anyone who wants to seize some control of their destiny,” said Rosensweig.
Staubach was among the celebrities, athletes, politicians and doctors who shared their success stories for aging well. “I think one reason the dean asked Roger Staubach to speak here at Goizueta was similar to why I wanted to include him in the book,” said Rosensweig, who is director of the business school’s Global Perspectives Program. “He fits the model in the book, which is to be able to extend happy and productive longevity by pursuing multiple careers and finding new interests.”
“Age Smart” also includes tips from “extraordinary ordinary people,” who Rosensweig defines as “people who have identified some mission in their life or some passion and had the courage to pursue it.” Many can be found right here at Emory. Carol Gee, an editor and manager at Goizueta, shares how she pursued her dream of becoming a published author at age 50. With no money for college and a dead-end job at a shoe factory, Gee joined the Air Force and used the GI Bill to obtain a college education. She is now author of “The Venus Chronicles,” and her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines.
Rosensweig explains that the inspiration to write a guide to health, happiness and financial freedom began when he turned 50. “I was thinking okay, now what do I do with the second half of my life? What can I learn to stay healthy and active?”
A “eureka moment” came over lunch with his friend Liu and her physician husband, who at the time was a neurologist on Emory’s faculty. The physician mentioned new research that shows brain cells continue to regenerate even as people age. The economist and the financial journalist Rosensweig wondered what this information could mean for Americans who were financially preparing for their retirement, and the idea for “Age Smart” was born.
“We thought: I can bring the finance to the table, she can bring the writing skill,” said Rosensweig. “And through the extensive network I’ve been able to build” — Rosensweig for years served as Goizeuta’s associate dean for corporate relations — “we could interview some truly fascinating and noble people.” After two years of extensive research and interviews, “Age Smart” was released by Prentice Hall in 2006.
The trade book was a departure from Rosensweig’s other academic books. “It must sound very strange from a professor with an MIT Ph.D.,” said Rosensweig. “I wanted to do something completely new, aimed at a wider audience.” His first book, “Winning the Global Game: A Strategy for Linking People and Profits,” received critical acclaim. “When you already have a successful book that portrays your vision, and when you’re a tenured professor, I think people should try to do new things, take some risks, learn something new,” he said.
And Rosensweig said his own book has taught him a thing or two. “My research for the book has changed my life in good ways,” he said. For example, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s advice inspired Rosensweig to take the stairs instead of the elevator to his fifth floor office in the business school. From “the father of aerobics” Kenneth Cooper he learned that it’s never too late to start weight training, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter gave him the idea to record elderly relatives so that their oral history can be shared with future generations.
“It’s never too late to seize control of your own life,” Rosensweig said. “There are practical ways we can try to extend our longevity, but we are all mortal so it is our responsibility to move toward activities that will add purpose and happiness.” In summary of the book’s key points, he added: “Your mother was right, you do need to eat your fruits and vegetables. And we finance professors are right. You better start saving right away, save enough — which could even be 20 percent or more of your income — and invest it progressively, but reduce risk by diversifying.”
Rosensweig is already at work on his next book. “Having tried to personify a key point that we must do new things to create new synapses in our brains, I am now returning to my roots but in a new direction,” he said. “I’m trying to write a book that will show the skills, such as creativity, that will be needed to survive and thrive in a future that will be marked by a global economy of automation and off-shoring of routine job functions.” He added: “I want to research and then point people toward the skills and training that will help them avoid becoming roadkill on a new global superhighway.”
With “Age Smart” now in the marketing phase — Rosensweig hopes to be featured on Oprah — “it’s healthy to start clearing your next path,” he said. “Come to think about it, that’s what ‘Age Smart’ is all about.”