Healthy To A Hundred: Lawrence Kosick of GetSetUp On 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Be social — Loneliness can increase the risk of mortality by 26%. People who live longer than average have social networks that include friends and family. During the pandemic, it became more difficult for people to socialize. That’s where the virtual community comes into play. If leaving your home isn’t an option, try joining an online community.
The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lawrence Kosick.
Lawrence Kosick is co-founder and president at GetSetUp, a learning platform for older adults that empowers them to live happier, healthier, and more connected lives. It’s inspired by the work his father did to help older adults many years ago. Kosick has led business development and partnership teams for decades at companies such as IFTTT, Sight Machine, and Yahoo.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I’ve been working with startups since I joined Yahoo back when it was just getting started. I love the power of startups to shake up the industry. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to really reflect on where I want to focus my efforts. One of my goals with my most recent business was to be part of something that made me happy and that I felt had a sense of purpose to improve the lives of others.
My good friend and co-founder, Neil Dsouza, had started doing just that. He inspired me to carry on some of the work that, to be honest, my father, planted the seed for many decades ago. My dad ran a non-profit housing unit for older adults when I was a kid. Every day after school and on weekends, I would go to the building with him and help him out.
I got to know the residents — and more importantly, I learned how much wisdom they had to share. But even though they were full of life and knowledge, they also seemed lonely and isolated. It was like they were left out of everything going on around them. At the time technology wasn’t what it is now, and I ran off to chase it with Yahoo, but the idea of integration and intergenerational benefits stuck with me. Now I’m working to assure that through technology older adults have the opportunity to be connected to diverse communities of global participants and experiences around the world.
GetSetUp is empowering them to learn how to use technology so they can continue to participate actively in their passions, learn new passions, and share their insights with the world.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
One of the most interesting things about my career is how I discovered new ways of using old skills. When I moved from Canada to the United States 27 years ago, the internet was just starting up. So there was really no such thing as having ‘internet experience.’ I had to take the tools I knew from my previous experiences in advertising, business, and marketing and learn how to apply them to the internet. It was fun to think about how to be part of this transformative technology revolution.
Now on GetSetUp we teach older adults how to apply the same skills they have used in the past to the modern technology tools we have today. We empower them in a safe and friendly environment with their peers, and teach them how to navigate the internet confidently and understand how to use the technology, apps, and how to watch out for scams.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been blessed in my life to have had people take a chance on me, opening up entirely new possibilities. I’m a big believer in doing favors just in case I might ever need to ask for a favor….and in life, we often do. It’s how we build our own personal networks. I can think of several people who have helped me in immeasurable ways. Anil S. and Tim R., my early managers at Yahoo in the late nineties, gave me a shot and challenged me in ways that changed my career trajectory incredibly. I’ve also had numerous wonderful angel investors who funded my different ventures based on friendship, belief, and a PowerPoint presentation. I wouldn’t be where I am without these events and the people who gave me a helping hand.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
It is helpful to have a wide range of interests and skills to be a successful business leader, so it is important to keep working on yourself and improving. My top three character traits that contribute most to my success include:
- Perseverance — It takes perseverance to succeed in business. Even when you fail, you must keep trying if you think your ideas are worthwhile. You need to keep trying because you have a strong sense of purpose and confidence in your mission. At GetSetUp, we are determined to build something unique that will empower older adults. To do that, it’s imperative to see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.
- Compassion — It is important to be able to respect the opinions of others and to empathize with their feelings. A good partnership is one where both sides win. If you want to change the world, you need to be in the business of being genuine and kind. When you understand what people need, you can often learn how best to create partnerships that help as many people as possible.
- Authenticity — Be straightforward and honest with yourself, your customers, and your partners. Whether in life or business, everyone appreciates someone who tells the truth. It earns people’s respect. When you are honest with people about your goals and motivations, they will be more likely to help you along the way.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I’m leading the change in healthy aging and creating a space for people to age better. The mission of GetSetUp is to help older adults live healthier and happier lives, and no one else in the space compares with our unique offerings. It’s all about staying mentally, physically, and socially healthy. We’re fulfilling that mission by focusing on the five social determinants of health.
- Economic Stability — We offer reskilling classes to help create financial stability for those over 55. Through our classes, 68% of Learners have gained a skill they could use for a job, their own business, or volunteer work.
- Healthcare Access and Quality — We offer classes on health and well-being, fitness, and managing ailments associated with aging, such as diabetes, stroke, and heart conditions. One popular series is the All About Blue Zones where you can learn to make healthy dishes from these regions. A recent survey indicated that 62% of Learners felt healthier with GetSetUp, and 64% felt more active. And, 31% of Learners rated their physical health as very good or excellent after becoming community members, compared to just 7% before joining.
- Education Access and Quality — We provide a one-stop shop for older adults to learn in classes customized for them and taught by their peers, allowing them to gain the confidence they need to thrive. Some Learners said their confidence improved by 100%, with over 40% rating their confidence as very good or excellent after joining GetSetUp, and 0% rating it as poor.
- Neighborhood and Built Environment — We offer a safe virtual community. Our community is accessible to those with mobility issues, in rural locations, or who have safety concerns. We are building a global neighborhood through our virtual community.
- Social and Community Context — Studies show that loneliness can increase the risk of death by 26%. We provide a positive social environment for our learners to grow and develop with peers, and 67% felt more socially connected than they did before joining GetSetUp.
Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.
I would say that right now I’m on the mythical quest of my life on our journey to start and grow GetSetUp. Nothing quite gives you the elixir of life like striving to help assure that millions of people around the world can live healthier and happier lives through connection and empowerment. Plus this journey is one we are all walking in together. Each member of our team is helping to create a better life for their loved ones and themselves to age well in.
Our journey started by looking at our parents’ aging process and realizing how much it needed to be improved. They needed a space to be empowered, meet like-minded people, and learn new skills so they could continue to grow and develop as people.
On the way, we have met amazing people including investors and partners just as passionate as we are about the need to transform how we age.
We have relied on the voices of our learners to gain insights on the journey and work to fine-tune a virtual aging experience that leads to long-term health and wellness benefits, a reduction in care costs, and happier people. While we haven’t found an elixir to live forever, we have found a pathway for millions of people to make sure the second half of their lives is better!
Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)
Living a long and healthy life is really all about enrichment. Enrichment comes in many forms from mental enrichment to challenging yourself to try something new or to accomplish a goal. The best parts of life are around life long learning and exploring new things from people to places to skills. So the 5 things I think that you need to live a long and healthy life all revolve around ways to live life fuller through personal enrichment for the mind, body, and soul.
- Find purpose — Common ways to find meaning are starting an encore career, a passion project, or volunteer work, the benefits of which include mental and physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being, and depression prevention.
- Eat healthily — Studies have shown that people’s diets in Blue Zones lead to longer lives. Try to reduce your intake of high-calorie foods and refined sugar and eat a plant-based diet with limited meat.
- Stay physically active — People in Blue Zones don’t join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. For example, they grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work. They walk rather than take a car. In other words, they live in places where it’s easy to be active without having to think about it.
- Be social — Loneliness can increase the risk of mortality by 26%. People who live longer than average have social networks that include friends and family. During the pandemic, it became more difficult for people to socialize. That’s where the virtual community comes into play. If leaving your home isn’t an option, try joining an online community.
- Explore new interests — Constantly be enriching your life and pursuing your passions. Not only is learning new skills good for your brain health it also helps you stay vibrant and healthy all around.
Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?
I like to practice gratitude by taking time every day to reflect on things that are going well in my life. This might mean thinking about what you’re grateful for or writing down five things that made you happy that day.
Staying fit and healthy is very important to me. I take care of myself by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep — all of these things help me feel better about myself and more energized to take on life’s challenges.
Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?
Only about 25% of the variation in human longevity is due to genetic factors. That’s great news because it means lifestyle is the most important factor in long life and the one over which we have the most control. So, while there’s not much we can do about our genes, there’s plenty we can control in our day-to-day actions like our diets, how much we socialize, and how physically active we choose to be.
Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?
The best way to bounce back from setbacks is to keep a positive attitude and focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do.
I believe that the most important thing is to keep your eyes on the prize and think about why you want to achieve your goal. It’s easy to get discouraged or give up when things don’t go your way, but focusing on why you’re doing something instead of what’s happening around you will help you stay motivated and keep going. So, for example, just as GetSetUp was launching, Covid hit. We had to pivot and change our business model to adapt. A big part of that was realizing that people were isolated during the pandemic and socialization was key. We weren’t originally including the social component in our class offerings. It turned out to be a huge success — a recent Learner survey indicated that 67% felt more socially connected than they had before they joined GetSetUp.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Winston Churchill said:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
I truly believe you learn more from your mistakes than from your success. Given our current mission at GetSetUp to create a safe and empowering learning community for older adults, we are navigating those waters. We’re creating something that’s never been done before. So we have and will make many mistakes, but we always learn from them. Our team isn’t afraid to fail and try new things. If we fail, we learn a lot, get up, and take our next step closer to success.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would continue the work we’re doing at GetSetUp — empowering older adults.
People are living longer than ever before. This is wonderful, but it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. The world has changed in many ways since we were young, especially new technology, and it can be difficult for older adults to adjust to these changes.
We’re working to empower older adults through many areas from health and wellness to fitness and nurtion or personal enrichment, plus now we are focusing more on job skills training. People are staying in the workforce longer than ever because of financial needs or because they want an encore career. In order to be viable candidates, upskilling and reskilling are necessary. We are offering classes that help with this and offered our startup accelerator program for entrepreneurs 55+ and we are looking forward to following their journeys. We’ve also launched a Estamos Listos, new classes for Spanish-speaking Learners.
I believe that if we empower older adults to be active members of society — and change the perception that they are passive recipients of care — we can create a better world for everyone.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
Follow the company on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/getsetup/
Join a class at www.getsetup.org
Or join our community-led sessions at https://community.getsetup.org/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.