The Age Delusion
Who are the sharpest thinkers you know, able to come up with snappy ad libs that leave you all “I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that? A lot of those great minds reside in heads with graying hair. I’d rather hear insights and analysis from an older comedian, pundit or business exec than from a twenty-something with a new take on branded content.
Don’t get me wrong: youth most definitely has its place. Young people instinctively make and understand hot trends. They find niches that people who are used to things a certain way might not notice. They know about going viral, making noise, getting attention, working long hours.
But youth is transitory. What is young will inevitably age. Respect your elders because sooner than you think, you will be one of them. And then, perhaps, ageist Silicon Valleyites will understand how much more than they those elders knew all along.
Experience gives the olds two key characteristics: wisdom and perspective. There are no shortcuts to either one. Back in the day, when it wasn’t possible to rely on Google or calculators or a dating app, oldsters developed intellectual muscles and street smarts that still pay dividends. Yes, people can be up to date on the latest in adtech even if they remember Nixon’s resignation.
When you’ve been around the block a few times, you know what works and what doesn’t. You are also not learning on the company (or clients) dime. People with experience design brilliant creative campaigns and write copy that grabs the public and doesn’t let you go until it’s shaken money out of their pockets.
According to US Census data, this year the Millennials (born 1981-1997) will eclipse the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) as the largest living demographic group. They’re even making “Gen X” (1965-1980) look old. The Millennials are 18 to 34 and they’re about to change the world – assuming they can pay off their student loans. They’re definitely sharp – raised on technology, with a higher rate of advanced degrees. I respect them a lot – and I hope the reverse is also true.