September 22, 2011
Does ageism exist? According to Wikipedia, ageism is defined as the treating of a person or people differently from others based on assumptions or stereotypes relating to their age.
Suffice it to say that as we grow older, ageism is more and more prevalent.
It is the expectation that someone ‘of a certain age’ is looking towards retirement and may not be a good candidate for a position, or doesn’t understand the intricacies of social-media marketing or all the gadgets that can help do a job better.
I won’t dispute that; however, I’d like to think that us ‘oldies’ can contribute much to not just our profession, but to the world at large.
We have, for instance, lived through a great deal of technology. I’d like to relate a story of a conference I planned around 1983, when the company I worked for was doing a conference about the merging of data and voice.
We had a speaker who, for various reasons, couldn’t make it in. Teleconferencing was an emerging technology, so we used it to bring the speaker to the audience. It worked. This became a marketing tool and the conference was a sellout and was very successful.
So, while technology has changed and we can build an avatar or use telepresence or heaven knows what else, the innovations of people my age moved this technology into the hands of the average businessperson.
I like to think I’m technologically adept — in fact, I’m not — and I see my job as finding the person who can fulfill my clients’ needs in this area.
So, why do I sometimes feel like a dinosaur without being valued when I look for new clients? I have an enormous amount of experience, have weathered changes in our profession and keep current with what’s new.
Ageism — nice to get a senior rate on the subway or at the movies; also nice to be valued. So remember this, when someone at your conference is ‘of a certain age.’ They bring an enormous amount of life and likely industry experience to events.
Use them, don’t abuse them.
Let’s wipe out ageism! All this, as I turned the magic age of 65 this month.