I am, at age 68, by many standards, old. I am, in many companies, unemployable. Because I am old. Because I am overqualified. Because I am worth more in compensation than young, inexperienced new people entering the job market will accept — although I’ll actually accept less than most companies think for the privilege of sharing my experience and earning a living wage.
That’s not to say that I am destitute. I have a satisfying career helping people — young, middle-aged and yes, even old, make the best choices in terms of their risk management and wealth accumulation strategies. For those who will listen. And there are not nearly enough of those. Far too many spend more time planning vacations instead of their financial futures.
Many young people today have never seen a telephone that required a wired connection. Many have never seen computer applications that used word commands instead of pointing devices. Virtually none remember the BETA vs. VHS video recording wars. They can’t even fathom that content wasn’t always streamed over their smartphones and tablets and once upon a time required physical media and equipment for playing it. And many who can text at multiple thumbstrokes per second can’t carry on an actual conversation with another person.
In “the olden days,” where multiple generations interacted in family and business situations, the wisdom of the “elders” was passed on to the younger generations so that mistakes could be avoided and so that past experience could be applied to new situations. But today’s “elders,” at least for the most part in the business world, are discarded and ignored. And thus their wisdom and experience is lost so that new generations are given the opportunity to make the same mistakes again and again.
Imagine, if you will, a situation where a finance VP decides that the sales people are making too much money and decides to cut their commission rates. If you look at the spreadsheet you’ll see that the savings in commission will make a big improvement to the bottom line. What you won’t see is how the top line will drop dramatically to offset any calculated gains and begin a downward spiral of the business. FYI, I lived this experience!
Who could predict that? The technology supported the decision. But experience tells us that this is faulty thinking. Uh Oh… What experience? There isn’t any. We got rid of that to “save” costs and “improve” productivity. We did that at the same time we eliminated human contact with clients and customers with new phone tree answering systems. Press 1 to…Press 2 to… Want a human? Sorry, that’s not an option.
Then there’s stuff the other way around. Us old folks, while having a lot of experience in a lot of things, don’t necessarily know that we need WiFi to use our tablet devices or to make sure that we’re not overcharged for smartphone data usage because we don’t know that we need to connect to it. We have the Internet, don’t we? What is this Wifi and why is my 4gLTE bill so high?
I heard a great suggestion at a networking meeting a couple of months ago. How about we put retirement homes next door to pre-schools and elementary schools? Imagine what the oldsters could teach the youngsters and vice versa! I’m computer literate for the most part, but I still have to call my sons for help with operating systems and website development tools. In the “old days” when we needed help with some newfangled electronic device, we called a teenager!
I guess the point of this diatribe is that I think it’s a shame, and a tremendous waste of talent, experience, and wisdom, to dump the old folks and bring in the (cheaper?) new folks. We need both! Too many CEOs listen to too many CFOs who put spreadsheets together based on inaccurate assumptions and build presentations to show how smart they are. And too many CEOs fall into the trap.
But they don’t care. They slash and burn the business and move on to the next one before anyone realizes what they’ve really done. With multi-million dollar bonuses — for being fired! — while thousands of workers lose their jobs, their pensions, and their dignity. What a travesty.
It doesn’t have to be this way, people. We can fix it. But it will take work, inspiration, and education. Will it happen quickly? Not in my experience. It took me 20 years to make Design for Test happen in the electronics industry. But I did it. The device you are using to read this is easier to test than it would have been had I not written a 77-page book in 1979 and “preached and teached” its tenets all over the world for two decades.
I changed the world and I think you can too. At the risk of seeming self-serving, I suggest you start by reading my new book Inspiration Now! It may give you some insight into why I think the way I do and to why you might want to ask yourself why you think the way you do. And whether or not you want to do anything about it..
Because you have that power, no matter what your age, profession, employment status or position in an organization. You have the power to change a great many things, not the least of which is your own set of visions, feelings and actions. No one can stop you from changing yourself. You don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need to do anything but decide that you will use your personal power to accomplish your personal dreams and goals. Because you can. You have that power.
Comments, compliments, brickbats and lambasts are all, of course, welcome as always. Thanks for reading.
Go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQT1BLK to order your copy of Inspiration Now!