Ageism is Real – And It’s Your Fault

Paul Hebert Bad HR, Coaching, Employee Development, Generations, HR, Learning, Learning and Development, Paul Hebert, Talent Management 6 Comments

“But Paul, you’re different. You like that technology stuff.”

That’s what I get when I bring up a new way to manage a process with a new project management tool. Or when I try to introduce a web-based collaboration platform. Or even when I suggest we use group collaboration in Office 365.

Real truth? I don’t always like “that technology stuff.” What I do like is improvement. What I do like is speed paired with accuracy and consistency. What I do like it more profit, less internal costs.

What I don’t like is you being old.

Whether you’re 25 or 65, age is not your limit nor your excuse. Age isn’t a measure of time on mother Earth. Age is your NES. Your Net Experience Score (trademarked, servicemarked and Marky Marked).

Your experience in business (or the world for that matter) SHOULD be the value you bring to a situation, of having seen changes and how success was achieved in the past. Age should be about learning and applying that knowledge more successfully because you have greater context.

Age should be revered and leveraged for success. Age SHOULD mean you have the ability to learn more, learn faster, and teach more. But today I feel like age is becoming an excuse to slow down and extract value vs. added value.

I’m probably smarter, better and more effective in my 30th year of business than I was in my 10th. I’ve seen more. I’ve experimented with more. As they say “I’ve seen some things man! And some stuff.”

In other words I have a high Net Experience Score.

But I’m not OLD.

But you might be.

And if you are – you own it. You created that impression (or that reality.)

But I can help you. Come in close grandma and grandpa. Turn up your hearing aids. Put on your coke-bottle glasses. Take another hit of that ginkgo biloba. I’ve got a few simple rules that will keep you young and enhance your NES.

How to NOT Be Old

When I hear people complain about being old or everyone else being young, I get wavy lines in my eyes and I start to warm up from my head to my toes. No one is forcing you to be old! You are doing it to yourself!

But I’m here to help. Below are “Paul’s Rules to Staying Forever Young.”

Never use the word Millennial

Use that word at your peril. When you use that word (and I’ll throw in any generational label) you signal you are not the future but the past. Using that term tells your audience you don’t understand the vast majority of today’s employees. Just don’t say it.

Never call it “the Twitters”

C’mon. Do you really need to say that? Even ironically it is problematic. You might as well pull out the walker with tennis balls on the front legs. It’s better to get a Twitter account and use the tool.

Never tell anyone “I don’t have time for that technology stuff.”

Said everyone right before their retirement party. Really – you don’t have time to adopt the tools of the trade in 2019? How long would you allow someone to work for you that said “I don’t want to learn how to use the phone – it’s devil’s tool!”? Technology is today’s telephone. It’s openers. DO IT!

Don’t ask “Does anyone know how to show my screen on the TV?”

Being able to share your computer screen and set it up so that you can extend your monitor to use the Presenter function in PowerPoint should be on the first screening question for any job in a client-facing position.

And then ask… “What is Presenter view? How do you do that?”

Again, you wouldn’t hire someone who couldn’t use a pen or the phone. These are minimums people.

Never copy your hand-written notes and mail them to someone.

Seriously? Yes. It happens. Sometimes you might actually get someone to scan them and send a PDF. That’s a bit better.

Never ask someone how to use the copier.

I know the new ones have codes you punch in to track your copies and are networked so you can pull up what you want to be copied from the printer closest to wherever you are. That isn’t that hard. Figure it out.

I’m sure there are a ton of other examples (feel free to drop them into the comments, maybe we can write a book!)  but these are the ones that seem to come up in almost any meeting with people “of a certain age.” I refuse to be in that crowd. I have way too much experience to have it simply evaporate because I couldn’t Google something or  watch a video on how to do a vlookup in excel, or create a podcast. The day I say “how do you….” Before I’ve tried to learn it myself – get my gold watch ready.

The Perfect Age

This post was instigated by something I read (I think on Medium) that suggested to be successful always act 35.

My interpretation of that is:

– When you’re 25 act 35. When you’re young stretch your confidence.

– When you’re 65 act 35. When you’re old stretch your curiosity.

That is perfect

BTW – I just celebrated my 35th birthday a few weeks ago. Time to learn tuvan throat singing.

Paul Hebert

Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.

Comments 6

  1. I’m curiosity confident after this read…but that twit I mean Twitter thing… not sure I get it.
    Great post Paul ..
    Your friend,
    Marky Mark

  2. Paul – loved your article. It’s so true and it’s one of the best, if not the best, article I’ve seen on this. Age is not an excuse.

  3. Fantastic way to turn the tables on ageism – and your closing takeaway on the “always act 35” dictum is brilliant and appropriately cheeky. Looking forward to more content like this!

  4. Great post. As someone who works in the outplacement space and manages a lot of clients who tackle ageism every day, I also think that your advice is some of the best that I have seen. There is a major price to pay for anyone who does not remain curious and who do not push themselves to be an active learner.

  5. Kris Dunn
  6. Nice piece Paul. I have walked a mile in your shoes. It’s funny people can remark about the “old guy” and that seems to be ok with most folks.

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