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In the words of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “Young people are just smarter.”Although in certain ways, this might ring true, in others it most certainly doesn’t.
So if you are a small company that is now attempting to enter the 21st Century of the Cloud, of better spreadsheets and better website data analysis, hiring someone who cut their teeth on Edlin might not be the way to go. (Especially if that individual has never moved on from the once-ubiquitous early programming tool.)
Because young people tend to be much more up-to-date on technological matters. I conceded this fact even when I was a youngster in my mid-forties. Back then, if there was some process I needed to have happen regarding my computer or Blackberry, far better to call on the 20-something son and hand the project over to him.
Sure I felt bad that time had marched on. But refusing to face reality meant I could spend several hours conquering my new computer project, and fail to get it done. While of course, it took him mere minutes to succeed.
However, technology is a field where obsolescence is built in. Other aspects of life, like understanding human relationships, and mastering the subtle diplomacy needed to survive several decades-long friendships as well as a marriage, require wisdom, and not technological know-how.
And wisdom develops over time.
Outdoors Online recently published an article examining this dichotomy.
As the report succinctly stated:
A study, conducted by MIT in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed 2.7 million people who started companies between 2007 and 2014 and found that among the fastest growing tech companies, the average founder was 45-years-old at the time of founding. The researchers also found that a 50-year-old is twice as likely to have a massive success—defined as a company that performs in the top 0.1 percent—than a 30-year-old. “These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs,” write the authors of the study. “The view that young people produce the highest-growth companies is in part a rejection of the role of experience.”
In other words: Success in business, even in the fast-paced start-up world, isn’t just about age-related smarts. Wisdom, a deeper kind of knowing that can only be gained through experience, matters too. And apparently, it matters quite a bit.
All around me the months on the calendar march on. One month is devoted to celebrating African Americans. Cinco de Mayo is now almost a bank holiday here in California, out of recognition for the Hispanic community.
June has become “Pride” month, which offers yet another group of people to celebrate an innate physiological characteristic that many scientists and many gay people believe has more to do with genetics than with choice.
One very pretty spring day a year ago, I announced to a group of grandparents at a local park, all of whom had been assigned babysitting duties over the happy group of toddlers surrounding them, that I felt it was time for a Senior Citizens month.
The remark drew applause.
Whether living to be retirement age is genetics or a choice, aren’t we seniors the group that is now fair game for comics? Should the new “payment platform” Affirm really be allowed to make fun of an elderly gentleman who wears Speedos and despite his athleticism, is mocked by his unfriendly neighbors for his bad choice in attire?
I find it interesting that it was not an older person of color who had to don the Speedos in this commercial, or an older gay man, but a white guy. Our societal dictates right now are that no one is to ever single out African Americans or gays as a target for “humor.” But older white people are the easy mark.
Brad Stulberg, who authored the Outdoorsonline article I quoted above regarding the deep connection between wisdom and age ended his account with this:
All of this points toward a greater theme: Peak performance is complex, and results from a combination of variables. Sometimes the variables that are hardest measure, like experience, matter the most. So try not to sulk at your next birthday—Whatever you’re giving away in age you’re gaining in wisdom.
His full article can be read here: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/an-ode-to-being-oldPublished in