Attitude Beats Age

Attitude Beats Age

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

kg_charles-harris

In writing my post on Ageism in Silicon Valley, I came to think of a good friend of mine who was an extraordinary developer. 

Two years ago he was, in essence, one of the people around 50 with great knowledge and skills, but with little knowledge of how to rejoin the burgeoning Silicon Valley entrepreneurial development workforce after having been focused on other projects for several years. 

 He eventually landed a gig at a young technology startup, one which was badly managed and where he was underpaid.  However, he liked the technology and some of the people he worked with.  But the environment was relatively toxic and he considered leaving quite soon after joining the company.

After slugging it out there several months, he slowly transitioned into a role of being mentor/manager – simply because of his greater experience and maturity.  In fact, despite his frustration with how the company was run, he managed to maintain productivity among the engineers and foster a better environment.  This, of course, had the effect that he became slightly less frustrated.  However, he still harbored thoughts of leaving quickly.

He started discussions with a few other startups – ones where he knew the work environment was positive.  He could easily do this as he now had a track record and people spoke highly of him.  But then a bomb went off – one of the largest internet companies on the planet put in a bid to acquire his company (unfortunately I cannot divulge any detailed information). 

Today he’s a senior manager in one of the most popular internet properties, one which most younger, hotshot, MIT or Stanford engineers would do anything to be able to work at.  He’s the “grey head” among the “young guns” and if he stays at the company for two years he will not have to work another day in his life.  The added upside is that the acquiring company has a fantastic company culture and he’s really happy at work.

This is almost a fairy tale story, but it’s real.  I don’t expect most of you to experience such a surreal ride, but the moral of the story is that nothing good can happen unless you go out there and make yourself attractive.  This means that you will probably not get full value for your past experience, but it does mean that because you do have experience you will progress faster than the younger team members – you have actually learned a lot of the lessons they’ll have to acquire over the next 15-20 years already.

Get out there!

Also, if any of you read this and want to be referred to any startup companies, we are always searching for people and I know several others in the same situation.  Feel free to contact me— [email protected]

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