Zuckerberg Said Older People Aren’t as Sharp. How Wrong Was He?

 

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-old

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  1. AMD Texas Member
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A very interesting post. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

    We have the same phenomenon in show business. A younger screenwriter knows better than an older one what it’s like to be a social media influencer. On the other hand, an older screenwriter knows how to write a movie.

    So how often do the two collaborate on a project to offer a better end product?

     

    • #31
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A very interesting post. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

    We have the same phenomenon in show business. A younger screenwriter knows better than an older one what it’s like to be a social media influencer. On the other hand, an older screenwriter knows how to write a movie.

    So how often do the two collaborate on a project to offer a better end product?

     

    Pretty seldom. Each guy jealously defends their strong point. “I’m hip, but I can’t write!” “I can write, but I’m not hip!”

    • #32
  3. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Percival (View Comment):

    Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

    — David Mamet

    “Fried Green Tomatoes”—“I’m older, and have better insurance.” Do I have the right movie? If not, I’M OLD!!!

    • #33
  4. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    I’ve forgotten more  than a lot of those youngsters will ever know. I can still do fractions without a calculator!

    • #34
  5. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    carcat74 (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

    — David Mamet

    “Fried Green Tomatoes”—“I’m older, and have better insurance.” Do I have the right movie? If not, I’M OLD!!!

    I beat you to it.  :-)

    (#11)

    • #35
  6. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    kedavis (View Comment):

    carcat74 (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

    — David Mamet

    “Fried Green Tomatoes”—“I’m older, and have better insurance.” Do I have the right movie? If not, I’M OLD!!!

    I beat you to it. :-)

    (#11)

    Crap! Oops…! Guess I don’t have the patience to read all the comments; maybe I need to get older? AGGGGGGH!

    • #36
  7. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Brian Wyneken (View Comment):

    Of course there are differences between the old and the young, for instance the “sharpness” component that for many declines as we become more elderly and the plasticity of rapid Brain “growth” for children and young people. But, for most of our lives assuming full function our brains otherwise remain very capable of adapting to learn new skills.

    Nonetheless, there has been for at least several generations these rather silly assertions, popular with leftists mainly, that somehow younger people are just “smarter” than people a generation older.

     

    From before Jonah went off the deep end, into an empty pool:

     

    https://www.adrive.com/public/b667dv/Remnant%20with%20Jonah%20Goldberg%2003-15-18%20clips%20Hillary's%20Pillory%2C%20Lamb's%20Slaughter.mp3

    Head first?

    • #37
  8. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We shouldn’t confuse the sharpness of youth,  technical insight and quickness with running a tech business.  

    • #38
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™. 

    • #39
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    • #40
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    “Never trust anyone over 30.” — said by some young guy who is now 82 years old.

    • #41
  12. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    “Never trust anyone over 30.” — said by some young guy who is now 82 years old.

    In fairness, I don’t trust that guy. 

    • #42
  13. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    TBA (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    “Never trust anyone over 30.” — said by some young guy who is now 82 years old.

    In fairness, I don’t trust that guy.

    I didn’t trust him when he was UNDER 30!

    • #43
  14. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    “Never trust anyone over 30.” — said by some young guy who is now 82 years old.

    Never trust anyone under $30K — most of my graduating class back in 1985. 

    • #44
  15. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    That is certainly part of the problem.

    For a while, Mark and I subscribed to Entrepreneur magazine, for tips on how to build and maintain a successful business.

    Circa 2015 or so, they started having articles about how companies that employed younger people needed to reformulate how the employees were to be  treated.

    Important for the managers or other top dogs to visit with each younger employee every day, or at least once a week. Important to have structured social events in which happy woo woo exercises could occur, so the workers bond with each other.

    Important to have worker evaluations occur often and always in such a way the employee would have  their ego stroked.

    My Lordy, the article offered up so many ideas on ways to make the workers happy, it made me wonder if companies that followed this agenda actually ever got a single lick  of work done!

     

    • #45
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    It’s the arrogance that is weird. Well, not weird for Zuckerberg, but weird that it is so very common among the Kids of Today™.

    It’s probably largely because they’re raised to have very high regard for themselves whether they deserve it or not.

    That is certainly part of the problem.

    For a while, Mark and I subscribed to Entrepreneur magazine, for tips on how to build and maintain a successful business.

    Circa 2015 or so, they started having articles about how companies that employed younger people needed to reformulate how the employees were to be treated.

    Important for the managers or other top dogs to visit with each younger employee every day, or at least once a week. Important to have structured social events in which happy woo woo exercises could occur, so the workers bond with each other.

    Important to have worker evaluations occur often and always in such a way the employee would have their ego stroked.

    My Lordy, the article offered up so many ideas on ways to make the workers happy, it made me wonder if companies that followed this agenda actually ever got a single lick of work done!

     

    Sounds kinda like what Rob Long said about “We Work” places.

    And reminds me of why I stopped getting Technology Review, and some other magazine whose title escapes me.  Their routine seemed to be identifying some issue, and then “What the government needs to do is…”

    • #46
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