Welcome to 30. Now What?
Posted by Luke on March 17, 2010
I celebrated my 30th birthday on Monday. In some sick way, I was actually looking forward to turning 30. As I blew out the candles on my cake, my wife frantically paced around the kitchen having a mild panic attack knowing that me turning 30 meant she was only 3 months away from forever departing with her 20’s (her birthday is in June). But I felt different. Being a 20-something year old COO, I always knew I was smart enough for the job. However, I sort of felt like a 20-year old trying to get into a bar with a fake ID. I felt like I needed to be a certain age to validate what I was doing. I’ve come to find out that the bar I’ve been trying to get into was an 18-and-over bar and the false sense of validity I felt like I needed had nothing to do with my age.
I’m in a typical ‘good-ole-boys’ industry where the longer you’re in it, the more respect you feel you deserve and typically get. I meet people who proudly tell me they’ve been selling foodservice packaging longer than I’ve been alive. Impressive, I think. I have a deep sense of respect for people who have incredible knowledge and have experienced a lot. There’s no question about that. However, it’s not a person’s age that dictates the respect I give. It’s the scope of his knowledge, the nature of his experience, and how he carries himself.
Not having as many scars from working in the same field for decades, I am still naive enough to think I can drive major industry change. I’m naive enough to think I can out-innovate and out-maneuver those who have grown accustomed to operating in a routine fashion for years. Until my naivety expires, which I hope never happens, I’m going to keep trying to do that.
What’s great about the era we live in is that anyone can do anything at any age. PGA Tour youngan Zach Johnson hadn’t won a PGA tournament before he won the 2007 Masters, the most prestigious tournament in golf. In fact, he wasn’t even the top player on the Drake golf team when he was in college, a school not known for golf. As in Zach’s case, experience definitely would have helped, but it’s not a defining attribute of his capabilities. The same holds true for young professionals, or industry veterans for that matter.
So until I become one of the ‘good ole boys,’ my hypothesis for my next decade is that what matters as much as a person’s age and experience is the ability for a person to learn quickly, adapt to changes, carry himself with a humble confidence, and have resources who can help point to the right answers. I’ll let you know how my hypothesis proves out.