Pam Witzig wrote this excellent blog last week about everyone being so politically correct about race, gender, preference, disabilities, etc. Except for one sector –people over 50. Our society still discriminates ruthlessly against this sector.
Just when you reach the age when you have all this marvelous expertise and experience, society and big business tries to put you out to pasture. The bias is so ingrained that few ever even speak about it. Kudos to Pam.
That brings to mind an experience I had a few years ago at the Irish Consulate. I walked into a networking meeting about ∏ an hour in and everyone in the room was engrossed in conversation in groups of three and four. I looked around and saw the typical scene in a tech setting – a bunch of young (men) guns talking in groups and trying to impress each other. I knew that I knew more than them and so wasn’t interested in approaching any of those groups. I then saw a group of two or three grey haired men and decided to join that group. I walked up to them, and it turns out I already knew one of them – an extremely prominent venture capitalist. He was speaking with the Irish Consul General to NY. We were introduced. The Counsul General and I spent the next 30 minutes in hot conversation about innovation. It turns out he was one of the architects of the peace treaty between the North and South of Ireland. He knew plenty about innovation. We exchanged cards and stayed in touch for the two or three years he was in NY. It was a wonderful connection. Additionally, I renewed my relationship with the VC.
I bring up this story to point out that had I not specifically welcomed the opportunity of speaking with the grey hairs in the room, I never would have had that experience.
So when you’re out and about and hiring or networking give the grey hairs their due. They’ve probably been around a lot longer than you and can provide an enormous wealth of experience and information – if you’ll just let them.
Here’s the link to Pam’s post: www.witzig.com/blog.