W.hen Paul Tasner was 64 years old, he was called into a meeting with the CEO of Method Cleaning Products, where he worked. as a senior director of operations, only to find out that the meeting was an exit interview. It was shortly before Christmas 2009; San Francisco felt festive. His wife and friends were waiting for him at a restaurant. “We greeted each other and I said, ‘They fired me!’ Everyone laughed “.
Tasner told them he wasn’t kidding. He “drank a lot” that night, he says, and instead of feeling anxious about the future, he began to feel good. “I know it is weird to say that I am fired. [But it was] an opportunity to think a bit about what will come next. “
He had spent 40 years manufacturing, packaging and distributing, and he had excellent connections. The consultant paid the bills, but “wanted to quietly fade into the carpentry. I wanted to go out with a bang. It was the last chapter of my career. He didn’t want to end on a boring note. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to find that opportunity interesting. “
Tasner, now 75, says he kept his eyes and ears wide open. “Talking to everyone. Listening. Get an idea of where the trends were, bounce ideas off people. “And in 2011, he and co-founder Elena Olivari launched PulpWorks – design and manufacture packaging from waste. His clients range from Google to Campbell’s. Tasner TED talk – on how it’s never too late to reinvent yourself – has had over 2 million views.
However, when he first got the idea, fundraising was impossible. “Some people were downright rude about it. They didn’t want to lend money to a company run by someone my age. ‘You should be retired, enjoying your September years,’ all these kinds of things. “
Finally he was invited to a face-to-face meeting with a potential investor. “I thought, ‘We finally have a bite to eat.’ But the investor chided him: startups were for younger people; Tasner should enjoy free time and family time.
“I said, ‘If we had done this over the phone or email, it would have upset and upset me … But since you called me at your office and took half a day from my precious life, I’m going to remember what an idiot you will be for the rest of my life ‘”. He is “quite proud” of that replica.
Tasner had come up with business ideas throughout his working life. But he had always discarded them. So were none of the above ideas solid or was Tasner unable to commit?
“I used the excuse of family and financial obligations, which really couldn’t be that frivolous. But truth be told, that wouldn’t have stopped me, ”he says. “My wife would have supported me. The final analysis is that he was scared. “
As an “impulsive” younger man, Tasner could not endorse his ideas, but did so when he was older and more thoughtful. “It doesn’t make sense, does it?” he says. But perhaps in your case the action stems from slower thinking.
“If I had been smart enough to observe my own reactions, I would have known many years ago,” he says. In his first big manufacturing job, he had to work in contact with “interesting and quirky entrepreneurs. I immediately fell in love with these people. I should have rung a bell, this is where you want to be. I should have paid more attention to it. “
PulpWorks is now a decade old and no one at work mentions Tasner’s age. However, her personal relationship with him has also changed. “I am proud of what I have become. During my 60s, I wasn’t really comfortable at my age, with saying, ‘Oh, I’m 64.’ But as soon as I turned around, I lost all inhibitions. I’m an old! Once you are 70 years old, 70 is not the new 30. You are 70 years old! I feel totally comfortable about it. “