Success at Any Age.

September 19, 2023

Success at Any Age.

May 29, 2023

While in Europe, I eavesdropped on conversations about Joe Biden. In the course of an hour, I heard an Aussie say that Biden has been a successful President "in spite of" his age and a German saying he was successful "because of" his age.

"In spite of" versus "because of" may determine whether there's a new President next year. Without getting into personalities or politics, I'd like to explore this ageism issue in more depth.

No one suggests that Warren Buffett, chairperson of Berkshire Hathaway, is successful "in spite of" his age at 93. Because he's still cogent and seemingly capable, people see Buffett's "perceived capacity" and may even believe he's still metabolizing wisdom based on his daily learning.

When I've analyzed potential new hires in the companies I've led, I've often categorized interviewees based on "experience" and "capacity." I would rate candidates 1-10 on both measures and then multiply the two numbers to get a score.

If I'd added the two scores, someone who might be perceived as having limited capacity (2) but with lots of experience (10) might rate a 12 (out of a potential 20), but if I multiply them, this same candidate would rate a 20 out of a potential total of 100.

Unfortunately for Joe Biden, many voters may perceive him as this 2/10 (capacity/experience) President even though he's had a demonstrable level of success during the past three years. But, based on that rating system, I would score him a 20 out of 100, which is not very good. Based upon this rating (which, of course, isn’t universally believed), Joe might focus more on his Presidential succession than his Presidential success.

So, "perceived capacity" may be a subtle but important factor in how we evaluate others, especially those who've seen a few rodeos. One of the primary ways an older person shows that they've still got capacity is their curiosity and passionate engagement. The more energy and openness you see in someone who may be perceived—purely due to ageism—as "too old," the less you notice the wrinkles.

How do you turn AGE into a superpower as opposed to a detriment? Here's an acronym that might help Joe Biden and the rest of us:

A: Acumen - the skill to make good judgments decisively based on experience

G: Generational Diversity - the ability to value different perspectives and learn from each other

E: Engagement - the perceived capacity and energy for innovating and considering new approaches

Additionally, you’ve heard me say that many older workers offer “invisible productivity,” they make everyone around them more effective based upon their mentorship and wisdom. Might that be the case with Joe Biden? I’m not close enough to the White House to know.

I enjoyed reading this Politico article on whether Biden's age is an asset or liability by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor and a long-standing trustee of the National Council on Aging. He reminds us that Benjamin Franklin co-authored the Declaration of Independence at 70 and, at 81, negotiated an agreement to salvage the Constitutional Convention. France relied upon Charles De Gaulle to unify the nation while in his 80s. In 1983, comedian George Burns signed a five-year contract with the Caesars World Casino and Resort in Las Vegas at the age of 87.

I know I may have ruffled a few feathers with this blog post as I typically steer clear of writing about politics. But, when age intersects with politics (as it increasingly does) in our conversations in the Town Square, you’re going to find me in the thick of that square offering a few perspectives. If I had to guess right now, I would say that our next President will be younger than the age we’ve historically thought of as retirement age, 65 (which means both Biden and Trump are out) as the electorate tends to vote in reaction to who’s currently in office (in other words, Bush led to Obama led to Trump led to Biden).


- Chip

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

wo-sfe-24-012

Still Coming Out: Our Evolving Identity as Older LGBTQ+ People

June 17, 2024
 to 
June 22, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
wo-sfe-24-010

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
wo-baja-24-030

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Still Coming Out: Our Evolving Identity as Older LGBTQ+ People

June 17, 2024
 to 
June 22, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Blue Zones: Optimizing Your Longevity

Jun 17, 2024
 to 
Jun 22, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 17, 2024
 to 
Jun 22, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Blue Zones: Optimizing Your Longevity

June 17, 2024
 to 
June 22, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 17, 2024
 to 
Jun 22, 2024
Baja, Mexico

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA