Bill Novelli is CEO of AARP, a membership organization of 40 million people age 50 and older, half of whom remain actively employed. AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age. Prior to joining AARP, Mr. Novelli was President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, whose mandate is to change public policies and the social environment, limit tobacco companies’ marketing and sales practices to children and serve as a counterforce to the tobacco industry and its special interests. He now serves as chairman of the board. He was also Executive Vice President of CARE, the world’s largest private relief and development organization.
Mr. Novelli is a recognized leader in social marketing and social change, and has managed programs in cancer control, diet and nutrition, cardiovascular health, reproductive health, infant survival, pay increases for educators, charitable giving and other programs in the U.S. and the developing world. His book, 50+: Give Meaning and Purpose to the Best Time of Your Life, was updated in 2008. Mr. Novelli serves on a number of boards and advisory committees. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, and pursued doctoral studies at New York University.
Transcript: I don’t have a . . . a set of deep, formalized, religious convictions. I think a lot about the big existential questions – you know why are we here, what are we doing and so on and so forth. You know I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that story about Gertrude Stein. She was on her deathbed, and she said . . . she said, “What is the answer?” And she was told there wasn’t any answer, and she said, “Well in that case, what is the question?” And I think we ought to ask ourselves, “What’s the question? What’s the answer?” and so forth. And as best I can tell, the answer is family. The answer is love. The answer is love of country, love of family, all the things that really make our lives worthwhile. And what are we gonna leave behind? What is our legacy going to be? You know there’s a phrase that I like a lot: What did you do with the dash? So you know on your tombstone it’s going to have your birth date and your date of death, and in between there’s going to be a dash. And the question is what did you do with that time in between? What did you do with that dash? I think that’s the big question.