Inside MassMutual’s radical new learning initiative

sog-extBy Judy Quinn, Contributing Writer

The street-level store looks like a hipster coffee shop, complete with chalkboard murals inside. There are maple-bacon doughnuts in the mornings, and supper clubs at night. Comedian Mike Birbiglia, a regular on public radio’s “This American Life,” performed at the opening. And there are classes with titles like “In Case of Zombie Apocalypse: Why You Should Think About a Will.”

This is the first spin-out project from the MassMutual Financial Group, a $27 billion financial services company founded in 1851. It’s called Society of Grownups, and MassMutual describes the 2,000-square foot facility as a consumer “learning initiative.” It opened in October 2014 near a public transit stop in Brookline, a Boston suburb not far from Boston College.

Here’s how the radical concept was born, and what MassMutual hopes to achieve.

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