“You’re just too old!”
I hear it thrown around every once in a while. Not specifically at me but more as a general shoutout to voice dissatisfaction that someone simply just not ‘get it’.
But does age really have anything to do with it?
Of course not.
In fact I think quite the opposite is at play;
Using the age argument is like arguing “This time is different” about why something that was a bust in the past will be a success now or “We have the best tech” as a reason for why you’re going to win whenever you enter the market:
High risk arguments with little validity in data.
So if the “You’re too old” argument is a flawed one in itself, what can we use the difference in age for in an extended startup team?
Well, for one youth can be put to superb use – if applied with clear thought – towards something that other people might not think is possible doing. Because the big advantage to a lack of experience is that you don’t know what you’re entering into, and thus you’re more open to risk.
Just think at the warm stove the first time you touched it, because you didn’t really believe that it was too hot. You only did that once, right? And got the hard earned experience.
Youth also typically have an abundance of energy of the sort that comes with eagerness to get out in the world and do something and – for most – a basic lack of other substantial obligations (family, kids, mortgages etc).
So what does age bring to the table that could be fruitful to the young ones?
First of all experience. Not of the kind that stops great ideas in their tracks but the kind that helps the young guns avoid the most obvious pitfalls, so they can stear clear and get a cleaner path towards ultimate success. A kind of a mentor that gently guides without taking over control in any sort of way.
Second, a shoulder to cry on. Now, I do not necessarily mean that literally, although if that’s what’s needed, so be it. No, I mean it more in the sense of someone to talk to and seek support at when the going gets rough, nothing works out, the roof is falling in and you’re just generally feeling like an utter failure.
Because that’s exactly what you need at that point; someone you can went to – and be heard, respected and understood by someone who has most likely been there her-/himself.
So think of these things the next time you feel the urge to claim that people who don’t get you are just “Too old”.