Is age a curse?

Recently Andrew Ross, at SFGate, ran a thorough and enlightening piece about age and how it is perceived, and importantly, impacts hiring, at firms like Facebook, in Silicon Valley. Here is the quote that kept me from scanning the article and moving on with my day:

“I want to stress the importance of being young and technical,” Facebook’s CEO (now 28) told a Y Combinator Startup event at Stanford University in 2007. “Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30? I don’t know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important.”

This outlook, expressed by none other than Mr. Hoodie himself, Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook states a viewpoint that goes far beyond previous explanations for hiring practices in tech companies, which emphasized that start-ups were looking for younger hires because they were cheaper hires.

Not true, it turns out, but it was more comforting to the tens of thousands of super qualified tech workers who are long-term unemployed, and past the magical age of 44. Or is it 39?

I posted a question to several of my LinkedIn groups asking for answers to the following question:

“What are the things you learned after age 45 that have been critical to your life and career success?”

“In other words what did you learn after you thought you knew it all, at 30 or 35?”

I received a substantial number of responses and eight resumes. I also passed the question around to SJN Sales staff, clients, and vendors. Collectively LinkedIn group participants, IT staff, SJN reviewers, SJN healthcare, SJN Legal, SJN security, and the other sales and technical IT teams that I have run into during the last two weeks of trade shows and annual meetings. All told, we have gathered over 200 specific skills, insights, strategies, business and personal strategies, and many less easy to categorize rules for life, that none of us knew when we were young enough to be a “hire” at current Silicon Valley companies.

I’m going to post small batches of the list over the coming weeks and hope that more experienced IT people will add to our cache of knowledge that only-experience-teaches.

Things I learned after I was young enough to get hired in the Silicon Valley of Today:

  • 1. There will always be a next coolest, break-through, first-ever, disruptive, technology or solution.
  • 2. Friends are the people who you still get to call when your company or product is not in the headlines
  • 3. Trade-show and industry parties are business meetings. Have a plan. Stay sober.  Take notes about who you met and what they wanted to talk about before you go to bed
  • 4. The world didn’t begin or end when the first fax machine, pager, fed-x overnight, laser printer, or CRM software arrived at the office. Whatever arrives this year may fade or disappear eventually as well.
  • 5. Products and services with no business purpose are called hobbies.
  • 6. Hobbies do not pay the bills
  • 7. Nice guys do not publicly compare which girl on the sales team (or at college, Mark) is prettier.  
  • 8. Guys who talk down to women, pretty or not, are losers and not as smart as they think they are.
  • 9. Teams are for accomplishing goals. The more specific the goal, the more likely the team will have the win of accomplishing the goal.
  • 10. Work is good. Satisfying creative work is great. No job has 100% satisfying work. In other words, there is skut work in every job.
  • 11. Family, friends, home life, little league games, trips to the beach, watching your little one climb up the curly slide are not improved by having a phone in your ear, texting, or emailing
  • 12. Number eleven is true even if you are recording and broadcasting the event. Watching and participating is better than sending and forwarding.
  • 13. No-one wants to hear that much about the project you’re working on. No one.
  • 14. No-one wants to hear that much about your smart kids, your sick mom, your appendicitis, or your sales award.
  • 15. Most business books suck.

If you would like the entire list of 200+ items, email me at dtaylor@sjnsales.com.

To read the original SFGate article, it’s here: http://www.sfgate.com/business/bottomline/article/In-Silicon-Valley-age-can-be-a-curse-4742365.php If you would like to add your own reviews of the open age-discrimination hiring strategy described in the article, feel free to comment, email me, or reply on one of the LinkedIn groups.

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About Deb Taylor @ SJN Sales

SJN Sales presents complex intangibles to specific US markets and closes sales. SJN Sales also provides training for professional services providers, from software to health care, who have learned that 'selling yourself' is harder than it sounds.
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One Response to Is age a curse?

  1. Chris Sievert WURLWIND says:

    I’m currently 42 going on 43 and there is a lot that is learned after 30 and even 35… (what you learn is better management overall life, work… Skills come second) But one thought I have on it, can illustrated by life’s experience… I have three children: 12, 16 and 21 years old. On the other side, I have over 25 years of experience in IT. From starting as a tech to running mid-large companies as a CIO, to know owning my own IT Consulting firm. I can tell you I have a world of experience when it comes to IT, however, in the same sentence, I can look at my kids and see the tools(computers, smart phones, tablets…) they have in their hand compared to what I grew up with. I now see myself looking at them when they are doing something new on a device and going wow that’s cool… Today’s kids are simply more in-tune with technology during a stage that the brain is still growing. Adults today are simply trying to keep up (and I see this with all the clients we have). The REAL answer is that technology today is evolving at such a fast rate… When I was growing up all there were was faxes, beepers, cellular bricks and PCs slowly starting to enter the market.

    Just my 2-cents.

    Chris Sievert

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