They’re musicians, fashion designers, models, kings of finance and queens of countries—all of them are over 70 and all have experienced and learned a great deal throughout their lives. We can learn from them how to grow old without losing our curiosity and lust for life

“I’m not a nostalgic person. I like to live in the present”


They’re musicians, fashion designers, models, kings of finance and queens of countries—all of them are over 70 and all have experienced and learned a great deal throughout their lives. We can learn from them how to grow old without losing our curiosity and lust for life


He found his calling at an early age—and he followed his path without making compromises. That’s one reason why Bob Dylan is the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. One of Dylan’s bestknown songs is “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” He wrote it in 1963, when he was in his early twenties. The times may have changed, but Bob Dylan still does what he wants, even at the age of 76. He started out as a folk musician playing protest songs on an acoustic guitar. Later he switched to electric guitar, a change that put off a lot of his fans. However, he gained more and more new ones because he could tell a story about the human condition as eloquently as Shakespeare or Homer. Throughout his career he has also written dozens of songs that together make up their own canon. It’s therefore all the more astonishing that Dylan recently decided to reinterpret another canon— the Great American Songbook, classic standards immortalized by Frank Sinatra and others. This was a headstrong idea, especially as Dylan’s raspy voice doesn’t seem to fit those mellow tunes. Still, it’s the type of idea that makes people love Dylan, who continually sells out shows, despite the fact that he’s been touring more or less non-stop since 1988 and plays around 100 dates a year. After his “Never Ending Tour” arrived in Stockholm in March 2017, Dylan dropped by to pick up the Nobel Prize he had been awarded a few months earlier. Stockholm wasn’t on his itinerary up until then.

“Nature determines your age, but you determine your attitude”

In shape

Ever since he showcased his steeled body at a fashion show, 80-year-old Wang Deshun as been known as “China’s hottest grandpa.” Is it ever too late to reinvent yourself and make your dreams come true? No, says Wang Deshun, who made his debut as a runway model in 2015 at the age of 79, causing a worldwide media sensation. Wang’s appeal had a lot to do with his age—but people were also impressed by the physique he showed off at a fashion show staged by the designer Hu Sheguang, particularly his ripped upper body, the result of three hours of training every day. Wang, who used to work in a factory and as an actor, began going to a gym regularly when he was 50 and started lifting weights seriously when he was 70. One of his nicknames in China is “laoxianrou,” which means “old fresh meat.” Wang recently said that one way to find out if a person is over the hill is to ask them if they’re still willing to try out things they’ve never done before. Wang’s latest project involves a plan to take his first-ever skydive. He may have trouble finding the time for this, however, as he’s now a much sought-after model who has recently done testimonials for brands such as Reebock and Ermenegildo Zegna.

“We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. No one has a monopoly on knowledge”


Elizabeth II has ruled the United Kingdom for more than 60 years now, and she’s never been more popular. When Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday in April 2016, there was virtually no one in the UK who didn’t wish her well. Even the old punk rocker John Lydon admits that he would miss the Queen if she wasn’t around—and he launched his career and that of his band, the Sex Pistols, 40 years ago with their controversial song “God Save the Queen.” The Queen hasn’t had it easy during her reign over an empire that was already in decline when she came to the throne in 1952 at the age of 27. She then faced increasing criticism as the years went by. In the 1990s, she watched as her daughter-inlaw Diana captured the hearts of people around the world, and it took a long time for many of Elizabeth’s subjects to forgive her for her cool reaction to Diana’s death in 1997. However, as Elizabeth got older, she also seemed to lighten up, even taking part in a James Bond skit for the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics. She has learned that true greatness comes from magnanimity. In 2012 she became the first head of state to preside over the opening of two Olympics (she also opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal). Staying active seems to keep her young: In the pictures for the Diamond Jubilee celebrating her 60-year reign, she looked even better than she did in the 1990s.

“You can’t plan your life. But you should try to understand it”


He clothes pop stars and politicians alike— Paul Smith is still one of the most creative people in his industry, even at the age of 71. Fashion is constantly changing, but style is timeless. Few people know that better than the British designer Paul Smith, who has been in the fashion business for nearly half a century. He started out with a small shop in Nottingham; today he rules a fashion empire with dozens of outlets from London to Kuwait and Tokyo and annual revenues of more than £200 million. This British eccentric is particularly popular in Japan because of his style, which Smith describes as “classics with a twist.” His trademarks are his sense of humor and his colorful striped patterns, which adorn everything from boxer shorts to Mini Coopers. Quirky and a little flamboyant—the mixture has always been popular. For example, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin used to be regular customers, and these days even British politicians love the suits designed by Smith.

“The future may depend on many things, but it actually lies in the hearts and minds of people”


With an estimated net worth of more than US$30 billion, Li Ka-shing is one of the world’s richest individuals. He’s old—but he’s rich. According to Forbes magazine, Li Ka-shing has a net worth of more than US$30 billion, and the 88-year-old, whose nickname is “Superman,” isn’t done yet. “No,” Li replies brusquely when asked by an interviewer whether he plans to retire soon. The thing that drives Li is the poverty he grew up in. He once said that he was never able to get rid of the bitter taste of helplessness and isolation. Li moved to Hong Kong as a teenager. He established his first company when he was 19 and ended up earning a fortune with plastic flowers. Today he has holdings in companies all over the world and in all sectors. He was a big believer in Facebook from the beginning, and in 2007 he invested US$60 million in the company, which was a startup at that time. He has a financial interest in ports from Rotterdam to Panama, and he owns 40 percent of the Rossmann drugstore chain in Germany. Despite his great success, Li is modest in his appearance—for example, he always wears cheap watches. There are more important things in life, after all—like remaining the richest man in Asia.

”As you get older, there’s an increasing danger of becoming arrogant. That’s why I exercise strict self-control and always ask myself whether I’m being humble enough.”

The Priest

An unusual management style: Kazuo Inamori designs his business strategies in line with the ideals of Zen Buddhism.


The Japanese corporate manager Kazuo Inamori, an 85-year-old multibillionaire, is a man of principle. His leadership style is defined by the principles of Zen Buddhism. As one might expect, these principles include purposefulness, commitment, and action, as well as fairness and serene good spirits. Inamori is not only the founder of the globally successful Kyocera company and the telecommunications giant KDDI, but also an ordained Zen priest. Inamori also moved into higher spheres in 2000, when he took on the challenge of saving the bankrupt Japan Airlines company from total collapse. Back then, at the age of 77, he put the airline back on a steady flight path. He aescribes this success, like many others, to one of his basic principles: “If you want to get eggs, you have to take care of the chickens.” In other words, the well-being of the employees is the key to a company’s success.

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”For each new project, I once again have to learn to trust the intuition of my inner child.”

The Visionary

The buildings designed by the star architect Frank Gehry are eye-catching sculptures


How many people can claim to have made a major city famous practically single-handed? Frank Gehry, who is now 88, can. The Guggenheim Museum that he designed for Bilbao has made the city a magnet for tourists ever since it was opened in 1997. Back then, Gehry was 68 years old. Twenty years later, he’s still busy making cities all over the world a bit more interesting by means of his daringly folded buildings, which boldly ignore the laws of geometry. Examples include the Neuer Zollhof in Düsseldorf (1999, photo) and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris (2014). Berlin recently celebrated the opening of the Pierre Boulez Saal, which Gehry conceived for the conductor Daniel Barenboim. This concert hall is a treat for the eyes and ears. Gehry has received many awards, but in 2005 he was granted a very special honor: In the TV series The Simpsons, he built a concert hall whose design was based on a crumpled letter.


”I’m not finished; I don’t think I’ll be quite easy if I don’t write.”

The Patient One

The English author Jane Gardam began to write when she was 40 years old. Today she’s 89, but she has no intention of stopping.


Sometimes you have to wait for the right moment in order to fulfill your dream. That has been the case for Jane Gardam, who had a lifelong dream of becoming an author but didn’t seriously begin to write until she was 40, when the last of her three children entered school. Since then she has written more than 30 books, and in the UK she is spoken of in the same breath with the great names of British literature such as Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. Her most recent novel, which was published in 2013, is Last Friends, the final volume of a trilogy that does nothing less than transform the decline of the British Empire into world literature. Readers all over the UK have been begging her to write a sequel—but at the moment Gardam prefers to write short stories. At least until the right moment has come.

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“You don’t retire in our business. What, play golf and watch television? Oh, please!”


Christopher Plummer is the “King of Supporting Actors”—and the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar.


He has played all kinds of roles—Shakespeare’s heroes and villains from Lear to Iago, spies and lovers, soldiers and murderers, Rommel the Desert Fox, and recently even Kaiser Wilhelm II. Plummer usually played small roles in big films, but sometimes it was the other way around. It was not until this Canadian actor was 82 years old, in 2012, that he received his first Oscar, for his role as a cancer patient who comes out of the closet in the drama Beginners. “You’re only two years older than me. Where have you been all my life?” he asked the award when he held it in his hands at last. It may be this fine sense of irony that makes Plummer seem so youthful. In any case, he’s still tirelessly making films at the age of 87. When the famous US talkshow host Conan O’Brien asked him two years ago how he managed to still look so good at the age of 85, Plummer answered dryly, “Lots of alcohol.”

”There was a burning desire amongst the children to go to school and to learn, so I decided that this is what I would dedicate my life to.”

The Mother

After ending her career as a lawyer in San Francisco, Olga Murray has devoted her life to children in Nepal.


Murray, who is now 92, is known as “the Mother Theresa of Nepal.” The Dalai Lama has presented her with the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award. However, Murray doesn’t feel like a heroine or a saint. She regards herself as a person who does what’s needed in order to help other people. Specifically, she is devoting her time and her strength to the children of Nepal. When Murray traveled to Nepal for the first time in 1984, it was love at first sight. But she was also appalled by the poverty she saw there. Six years later she founded the aid organization Nepal Youth Foundation. Murray was 65 years old when she started her new life. Since then she has lived in Nepal for more than half of each year. When she’s back home in the USA she’s a tireless fundraiser—and a very successful one. She says that thanks to NYF about 45,000 children now have the opportunity to go to school, receive medical care, and have a better diet. The children simply call Murray “Olga Mom.”


“Never ask a hairdresser whether you need a haircut.”

The Oracle

Wealth has to be shared. That’s the philosophy of the 86-year-old US multibillionaire Warren Buffett.


This financial investor from Omaha, Nebraska is one of the world’s richest individuals—and one of the most generous global philanthropists. Among other things, he’s known for The Giving Pledge, an initiative he founded together with Bill Gates to persuade other billionaires to donate most of their wealth to good causes. Buffett, whose net worth Forbes magazine recently estimated to be €75.6 billion, respects money far too much to waste it. He still lives in the same house that he bought for $31,500 back in 1958, and he doesn’t indulge in any headline-grabbing fits of extravagance. He enjoys the simple things of life—and that also applies to his investments. One of his rules for success is to invest only in companies whose operations he understands. As he puts it, “Invest your money only in companies that can be run by an idiot, because sooner or later that’s exactly what will happen.”