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The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

214: Ryan Frederick

What’s the best way to live your next chapter? Ryan Frederick, Founder and CEO of SmartLiving 360 and author of Right Place, Right Time, discusses the approach of industry experts becoming consumers of our products and services.

SmartLiving Assessment 

Order Ryan’s book: Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life

Got Mold? Blog

Listen to Ryan on BTG Ep. 12 recorded at the EFA Conference in Season 1.

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Welcome to Bridge to Gap podcast, the senior living with Josh and Lucas. An exciting episode today, we want to welcome Ryan Frederick. He’s a CEO of Smart Living 360, author of Right Place, Right time, he’s a consultant and a speaker and a good friend. Welcome to the program, Ryan.

Ryan Frederick 

Yeah, thanks so much for having me Lucas and Josh

Lucas 00:58

Really excited about this book that you recently launched. You know, you were one of our first interviews on the Bridge the Gap network several years ago. And at that time we were talking about your passion around senior housing specifically around intergenerational living and we have loved following your content. And we’re so excited that you have finally released this book, Right Place, Right Time, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life. What sparked you in your passion for senior housing and senior care in older adults? What sparked you to finally write a book? And why did you pick this topic?

Ryan Frederick 01:44

Well, Lucas, it’s great to be with the two of you, just thinking back to when we were together a few years ago. And it’s been awesome to see the success of Bridge the Gap and your passion. For me Lucas, this idea of a book is dripping in irony because I studied engineering in college to avoid reading and writing. And then this passion got the better of me. And what I realized going back to our conversation a few years ago about intergenerational living, and the project I co-developed in the Rockville, Maryland area around age friendly, really apartment buildings. And can we create alternatives to traditional housing that broadens the market and helps people meet where they are? I found in that process that people didn’t necessarily know how significant the choice of place was in the context of a longer life.

Ryan Frederick 02:41:

So we spent a lot of time educating people about why this matters about how it’s more about lifestyle and physical environment than your DNA. Your genetics only account for about 30% of your longevity. A lot more is, do you have purpose? Are you socially connected? Are you physically active and financially well and, and so on. And so that took a lot of lot of time, a lot sales time, marketing time. And I realized that, and in some cases I think people took us at face value, but there is some question around objectivity. If your objective is to lease units and they’re there, are we hearing everything? We’re hearing the full scoops? So I walked away from that experience thinking it would be great if there was a more kind of comprehensive way, a book, thinking about this that you could, that people could digest in advance and then they could choose what’s the right like path for them.

Ryan Frederick 03:43

I have a brother-in-law, who’s a successful author. He sold actually millions of copies. And so he gets it, and he’s also a psychologist, so he was getting questions sometimes around aging, and he’s like, “Ryan people don’t know what’s going on, you gotta go help him.” And so he beat me over time and eventually I capitulated. Johns Hopkins is the publisher. I wrote about a third of it, maybe a quarter actually before the pandemic. Thank goodness it wasn’t more. And then I had to kind of rethink how to elevate the pandemic piece. It’s really not about a pandemic so much, but it made me think a bit more about just the idea that we are as we think about place and health, there’s a lot of things to consider. So I think this topic of health and housing is more on people’s radar strains, no matter the age, because of the pandemic. It came out in October, we’re in our third printing. So it’s been a fun exercise. See the impact that it’s had.

Josh 04:46

Well, Ryan it’s so cool having known you and followed you in the industry. We entered the space around the same time, 2004, 2005. And I’ve heard you speak at so many events. Even the event that we were just talking about where we actually formally, I think early, early days, maybe in our first few months of starting Bridge the Gap, we were at an EFA conference and I think you were one of the keynotes there. So you’ve been putting out great content and I love that you’ve put this book together. I can’t wait to read it, and I’m actually going to say this while we’re recording because you promised me off recording that you were gonna get me an autograph copy. So just let it be said for the record now. He did say that everybody, so I am getting a copy.

Josh 05:32

I am gonna read it, but you really wrote this, you told us for the consumer. And I think that’s really cool because I think all of the executives, the leaders in the world that are listening to this podcast at this moment, many of us consider ourselves experts, but how different it is. And I think anybody that’s listening, that’s been through this can relate when your loved one or someone you know, even as experts start navigating, how do I find care or a place for my loved one to live, who, whoever I’m responsible for, it’s amazing how much more confusing and how much more real that becomes. And so the fact that you have written this, I think that speaks volumes. But I think one of the things you said to us was that that’s also really cool is  what is happening now from the B to B network, the decision makers. So explained our audience the kind of what you’ve seen happen over the last few months with this book release.

Ryan Frederick 06:45

Yeah. So, you know, when you write a book and again, the master plan never involved a book. But it’s hard to write with no purpose for 40,000 words. And so you have to really think deeply about a subject. And so as much as I wrote it to help people learn about this, that maybe thinking about as much as we are. I learned a ton writing it, with the research behind it, with trying to put my thoughts together in a cogent way. Which by the way I hired my daughter, who was at the time was a sophomore in high school as an editor. She’s a really good reader and writer. Actually, I think she would love to be a Supreme court justice in the future. So she’s pretty serious.

Ryan Frederick 07:30

And I think she really enjoyed making dad’s pages bleed. But, I think that one of the things in that process, Josh just to put a, a framing around it is one of these that happens is, we come at it often in the field from a senior housing perspective. I think many people when they’re trying to solve for place that helps them thrive, they’re not coming from it from senior housing. They’re thinking about what’s the best for me to thrive in the chapter that I’m in or I’m going into. It may be senior housing, but it may not. And I very purposely made it not a senior housing book because I talked much more about the good about living longer, and the science about living longer, and why purpose and social connection and physical wellbeing, and financial wellbeing are so important and place is foundational for all of that.

Ryan Frederick 08:24

And so if you’re a consumer and you’re thinking, I want to live a long, healthy life, you should be thinking about place just as much as you think about whether you’re eating right, sleeping well, saving. Sometimes we don’t do that. And, I think that that’s one of the takeaways. Another takeaway to think about is on how we think about place. It’s not just our four walls. It’s what neighborhood are you in? What metropolitan area, are you urban, rural, suburban, what region of the country, what state? Our place is a composite of all of that. In some cases, your physical dwelling may be great, but your neighborhood isn’t. Or you love your metropolitan area, but you’re not in a great neighborhood or  physical dwelling. And so there’s a lot of elements for people to think about. When we play it into our field, more the B2B side, I think one of the challenges, and I see this in the strategy consulting work I do with groups across the country is that as the field evolves, as the the boomers and the psychographic differences change for these consumers, we have to make sure that how we talk about what we deliver and what we build and operate really has the language and resonates with these perspective consumers and their families.

Ryan Frederick 09:40

And so we have to, we have to put effectively lenses on. So we see it not as the industry, but how does a world look like as a consumer? And I think that’s where the book is, I didn’t write it for that, but I think that’s what’s happened. I think that a lot, know a number of leaders, CEOs, leadership teams, sales teams have purchased the book because it helps them, I guess, empathize a bit to say, “well, if I’m on the other side, how do I think about this?” And of the different chapters, senior living is just, it’s a short chapter, really. Actually, ironically, it was the hardest one for me to write, because I knew too much in some ways. It was the one most edited, but I think it helps people say, “what’s my value proposition in this landscape”

Ryan Frederick 10:27

And also from an innovation perspective, one of the questions I think some groups are grappling with is, am I in the senior housing business, or am I’m in that business of creating great places for older adults to thrive, you can get diff different answers when you ask those questions. Last thing on this the question is that I’ve seen, as I mentioned earlier, in my leasing experience for the stories at congressional Plaza, it’s just that education takes a long time. And so if there’s ways that consumers can get educated efficiently on their own time, I’ve seen that be valuable from some senior housing organizations too, because it’s a unrelated entity writing about this, talking about the pros and cons of senior housing. But if they do work on their own and then they come back, they’re more educated, they’re a more informed consumer and you tend to be more efficient then about about narrowing a fit and kind of moving forward.


Josh 11:55

Well, Ryan, I couldn’t be more excited about what you’re doing and what a great tool this consumer based information can be to us in the industry and what an effective tool for companies be able to give their perspective residents, or just the folks that they’re helping kind of navigate where is gonna be the best place for them. Lucas, I’m thinking out loud here for just a minute, which is, you know, a very dangerous thing that I do, especially when we’re recording. But we talk a lot about out, man, one of the, big bucket things is if Bridge the Gap could ever be a small part of helping to change the public perception of senior housing as we refer to it.

Josh 12:48

But what would the world, what would our industry, this business we call senior housing, senior living look like if all of our administrators, marketing sales, leasing teams, that are typically the front line of helping consumers, helping that adult son or daughter, or helping that older aging person, find the right place, what would it look like if we were truly looking at it through the consumer’s lens and navigating that person to the right place, which may not always be our place? If that is what we became known for how much different would the public perception be? I think that’s a great thought for our listeners. And it’s a great goal for any of us as providers to strive for. What are your thoughts on that?

Lucas 13:48

Well I’d love to hear Ryan comment on that.

Ryan Frederick 13:52

Well, I think we were all scared Josh, when you said you’re you know, you’re, you’re thinking on the fly here, what was coming away?

Lucas 13:59

It’s terrifying, trust me.

Ryan Frederick 14:00

Trust. Yeah, no, I could see Lucas’ face. I mean, I think it’s a great question. I mean, I think part of it’s around trust. I think that a take on a controversial topic for a moment and that’s that’s A Place for Mom, and A Place for Mom’s  done some great stuff. It has connected tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people to a place when they had an urgent need. And without that resource, people would probably either, a lot of those people floundering trying to find a spot that can work. And so I think they’ve done a great service in some ways. The downside has been that they really only refer people to my knowledge in their network.

Ryan Frederick 14:49

And so is that necessarily a hundred percent trustworthy source? Not necessarily. And we’re in an era right now where trust is a scarce commodity, because for a bunch of reasons at the moment. And these are this loved ones or you and these are big decisions and some cases pretty irreversible. When you sell that house and then move in, that’s a big change if you make the wrong decision, it’s perhaps bigger than it looks. I think there is a role, Josh and I think that there how do you have the right, the right type of content? Have it be and ideally more than just place, there’s a lot of factors in it, but I think, I think there is a need, certainly. It’d be great if there was a way for Bridge of the Gap or others to find some mechanism, to just make that process easier for people. I think at the moment, a lot of that burden falls on individuals trying to make sense of it. And then on the sales teams, mapping out, if there was a way that more could be done on the front end, then it would be easier just to connect people to the right, the best situation.

Josh 16:03

Well, I think you touched on a point of it when you brought up A Place for Mom, which I think the original intention and mission of A Place for Mom, I was one of the earth early adopters of that years and years ago. I think the early mission and intention was pure and worthy. And like maybe many things, in growth and things like that, maybe you lose sight of mission or maybe it just gets executed in ways that people don’t understand. But I really believe this kind of changing perception, going back to that, this is a great thought in some of the concepts that you’ve outlined in the books. That, again, just get us thinking through the consumer’s lens. If our focus is ultimately on understanding the consumer’s needs and then guiding them and being a resource to help them navigate whatever that may be, that is the best place for them because of the housing portion, or because of the, the care, or the emotional component or the spiritual whatever component it is, what is best for them?

Josh 17:10

I think we can never go wrong if we have that at the forefront and regardless to build trust and transparency with the consumer, if we can get to a point as providers where they trust us to know that we’re gonna educate them on who we are and what we do, but we’re also going to educate them on and guide them to whatever is best for them, and we have that at the forefront, I can’t help, but think that that is ultimately one of the big secret ingredients to this cake that we can bake of changing public perception. And so appreciate your efforts and willingness to just spend all the time, right? And I hope you are wildly rewarded for your efforts on this passion project. I hope every listener will go and get this book. I hope you’ll share it with your teams and share it with your consumers that are coming to whatever product or service you offer. Lucas, what a fun time, kind of reminiscing, first of all, on some of the early days of Bridge the Gap, but always awesome to have you on Ryan.

Ryan Frederick 18:25

Well, I so appreciate it. It is a passion project as, as Bridge the Gap has been for the two of you, and it’s been fun to see it play out over time. The psychologists refer to that as intrinsic motivation, you just have that desire. I think we share that a couple of things to that one is I am, it wasn’t part of the master plan either, but what’s happened now is the response to the book has been so encouraging and positive and the notes where it’s made an impact on people’s lives. I found really motivating. And so I’m now in the process of taking some of the content from the book and other ideas and making a more conscious effort of digitizing that, creating some videos around it.

Ryan Frederick 19:12

So you’ll see some of those changes forthcoming on the Smart Living 360 Website. I do have at least once a month provide a blog that’s more consumer focused. Sometimes it makes a more direct link to housing and health like Got Mold, which was a recent one, which I know Lucas is an expert in. But at also what I’ve done is in the book, I have a section early on, it’s an assessment, I didn’t know necessarily what would be received well. But what ended up happening was that piece got a lot of positive feedback saying that was really helpful, because it then made me think as a reader, am I in the right place? And this book is really written for people would say in their fifties, once the kids are gone really through their mid eighties, when they can still plan. Normally when there’s an urgent episode, you don’t necessarily have enough time to read a book.

Ryan Frederick 20:01

It’s like your time is measured more in hours necessarily, you know, days or weeks. But so that assessment tool I’ve recently added to the Smart Living 360 website. So it’s an easy way to take the three minutes and evaluate, “well, am I in the right place?” And I found that has been really interesting to see the results from people that start engaging that thinking because going back to senior housing providers for a moment, if we’re just a place to provide care, while that’s really important. No doubt, especially when it’s mission driven and the quality of care is great. We’re leaving opportunities on the table because we have an opportunity to help people think more deeply about purpose in their life, which is a key driver for life satisfaction. Having something that you get excited about every day, ideally that’s larger than yourself.

Ryan Frederick 20:55

And then being socially connected really, you know, are you part of a community? You have both loose connections and, and then deeper connections, and then are you physically active and so on. So there if we see going back to your point, Josh, if to the extent we’re able to be seen, not just as a efficient way to get loving and and beautiful care, but actually seen as a place to really live the best next chapter in a broader sense, it’s the value problems. There’s so much stronger and you have a bigger impact on people’s lives. So I think that’s also a part of the story to be told and to mention with the assessment tool gives people a chance to say, “well, am I in the right place?” Sometimes it’s, “like, well, wait a second,” I may want an agent place, but now I look at it. Maybe it’s not the best thing, what would be other other options?


I love it.

Lucas 21:43

Yeah. That’s so important. And to our listeners that are really wanting to dive into this, we’re going to  make sure that we put those links in the show notes so that they can utilize that assessment tool. And get that out there. I think it’s the perfect way where you have that engineering background, that critical thinking mixed with this passion, and you’ve been able to create ways to get to resources and solutions in a way that can help many, many people. So we’ll make sure we connect with Ryan and the book and the assessment and everything in the show notes so that our listeners and our audience can be able to use that. What a great time together today, Ryan, we appreciate it, wish you big success with this book and really hoping to see you soon.


Awesome. Well, we really, really enjoyed it and it does bring flashbacks as well to several years ago. So I’m grateful.


Well, great. Thank you so much. And thanks to everybody for listening to another great Episode of Bridge the Gap.


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214: Ryan Frederick