Ken Dychtwald Is Now An Elder Himself And Shares His Formula For Learning, Loving, And What Mattered In His Life

This post is not about aging or retirement, it is about a book written by one of the brightest stars in that universe. I’m talking about the universe of people who are attempting to better understand what it means to retire and grow older, and the supreme commander of that universe is surely Ken Dychtwald.  

Radical Curiosity: One Man’s Search for Cosmic Magic and a Purposeful Life fits the definition of an autobiography: it covers a tremendous amount of ground – from the early 1950s, when the author was a young child, to current day (pretty much Ken’s whole life), it is written in chronological order, it contains a lot of “facts” about people, places, and events in Ken’s life, and though I believe most readers will pick up this 300+ page book because they want to learn more about someone they admire, it is not an autobiography; it is a memoir.  

Autobiographies generally don’t make the reader cry. This book may do that, not because it is sad, but because of the sheer beauty of the writing and the open-hearted disclosure by the writer. The most important reason to think of Radical Curiosity as a memoir is that Ken Dychtwald places much more emphasis on his personal experience and what he learned as he traveled through his extraordinary life. Above all, it is as honest an appraisal of a life as I have read. Dr. Dychtwald shares his thoughts, his fears, his loves, his weaknesses, and his pride. 

Yes, this is a memoir of a white, male, privileged life. However, Ken was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth; in fact, he doesn’t even place his family in the middle class during his childhood. What he did have, in addition to being white and male, was a secure and loving upbringing, brains, guts, an adventurous spirit, and above all, curiosity –– about the world and about human potential. If any of that turns you off, don’t pick up this book! But if you have ever read any of his previous contributions to the literature on aging and retirement, seen him on one of the many TV specials in which he is featured, or heard him give a lecture somewhere in the world, you may find it as fascinating as I did. 

If you are reading this and don’t have a clue who Ken Dychtwald is, consider his body of work: Starting with his 1986 classic, BodyMind, Ken has written 11 books. For the past 35 years, he has been studying human potential in the context of the demographics of an aging population, the boomers in particular, and how the current crop of elders is changing the landscape of retirement forever.  As you will learn in the book, the financial (as opposed to the emotional) high point of his life, came shortly after he launched his eighth book, Age Wave. That landed him on the cover of Inc. Magazine, appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show and 60 Minutes, among others, and led to the build-up of a formidable empire of all things to do with aging, including product lines, media outlets, and Age Wave branded consulting services. Age Wave and Ken Dychtwald were everywhere…and then they weren’t.  

Age Wave never ceased to be a force in the world of aging and retirement, even as it morphed from being a product and service empire to a think tank, research and consultancy. Older adults today can thank Dr. Dychtwald for helping them approach their own aging in a positive way, understanding that later life is simply another stage to be embraced – a third age. The research he and his corporate underwriters (mostly large insurance companies and worldwide banks) do today helps shed a light on aging for everyone. It helps guide consumers and product designers alike to find the best way to make growing older a comfortable, even sometimes exciting, journey.

But Radical Curiosity is not the story of Age Wave. It is Ken’s personal story and he tells it in a very personal way, as though he wrote it for his children––as indeed he did. He tells of the lessons he learned, the ways in which he was able to stay grounded through all the turbulence he describes, and his understanding that his mantra in life hasn’t changed during his 70+ years on this earth: BREATHE, LEARN, TEACH, REPEAT. 

Radical Curiosity is being released this week (April 6) in hardback and Kindle. You can find it on Amazon or you can also ask your local bookseller to order it for you.

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