Ageist and proud of it

24 Nov

(Guest Post by Bill Kellett, pictured, President of Kellett Communications in Yellowknife)

TCAAN recently gave me a Master Advertising Practitioner <<random Dora shout out: “I’m a map, i’m a map, yes i’m a map!”>> designation. It opened my eyes and I am appreciative but I have to ask, based on what did I deserve this designation? Success? No. Mentorship or leadership?  Not that either.  Just experience. Therefore it has to count for something right!

A lot of talk about this being the age of the consumer, at least in the digital sense, leads me to wonder what do I have to offer them? As I write this I know my eyes don’t want to stay open and the glare of a computer screen after 16 hours is bad both for me and my marriage.  And yes, younger members of our team can totally do the late nights (and kudos for their doing so) they way I can only remember.  But the kicker is, my eyes may not see what’s being typed (insert sp. mistake here) but I know what I want to say.  Moreover, I know what I’m saying has value because it has experience and insight ingrained in it.  This isn’t just a cliché about doing it with my eyes closed, I’m really doing it.

So let the team walk in bright eyed and bushy tailed. Let them burn the candle at both ends and let them bounce around the room without the aid of caffeinated substances.  We’ve got it going on us old timers.  We know what worked yesterday. And without us, you wouldn’t know which pot to piss in. Booyah!

This is me in my 30s. What does that all sound like? A load of shit from a guy that wants to stay relevant.

It’s a young persons game. What we’re learning new is second nature to them.  They are the new consumers, the influencer and the target audience all rolled up into one.  Don’t forget it or you’ll get a MAP too.


13 Responses to “Ageist and proud of it”

  1. designingrenee November 24, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    With all of the information overload out there, I would think that someone older and with a great deal of experience can always remain relevant, because said older individual would have been able to identify patterns and trends over a longer period of time, and could cut through more of the superfluous to get to the more substantial.

    There’s a great deal to be said for a finely-honed bullsh*t detector, in other words, and I would hope that someone who was more “seasoned” would be more likely to be in possession of one. Temperance, substance, experience and depth cannot be overrated in the long run. I know that age doesn’t guarantee these things, though. Maybe this is just me in my 40’s hoping to be relevant and useful. 🙂

    The younger need the older and vice-versa. I really count on those younger than me (my teenaged kids, etc) to clue me in to the culture and what tools are being used to communicate. There’s a heck of a lot to sift through, though. I feel far more inundated with messages than I did even 20 years ago.

    Maybe I’m being naïve, but I believe that ultimately, it all comes down to open communication—listening well and sharing generously—to generate momentum and creativity.

  2. bill November 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    thanks for commenting designingrenee. Far be it for me to suggest there’s blanket rules for everything so i think you make a good point – from the right person age is less relevant than how you participate. With respect to patterns and trends however, the control over them is led by youth and they do so at an incredible pace of change. Leadership and mentorship of my team is the single most important thing i do in a day. To give those more connected than I the opportunity to flourish is the best application of experience i can think of.
    Great to hear from you.

  3. designingrenee November 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Good point about youth leading patterns and trends. It takes humility to follow that if one is, er, not so young. 🙂 And humility requires depth of character. Sounds like you’re there!

    Thanks for the opportunity to converse about this. I’m freelance, so it’s refreshing to have this kind of interaction during my day.

  4. dougbrowncreative November 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I think the combination of insane youthful energy and seasoned, wizened experience is essential. While we old duffers look to the fresh grads to keep things immediate, they look to us for our solid grounding in the fundamentals of branding, marketing and advertising. And business. I agree with Renee. We do get better at this stuff, we develop a “gut” for the business and I have never worked with some young hotshot who hasn’t felt there was something to learn from the white-haired droolers in the corner.

    But to take it further, I think the gaffers are able to filter a lot of the current nonsense out and bring a sense of sobriety to the knee-jerky digital world.

  5. dougbrowncreative November 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    This blog post from earlier in the year is my more comprehensive take on the issue. Seems you and I are the two men in balcony Bill.

  6. designingrenee November 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Doug…you said “wizened”. WIZENED!!! I LOVE that word!

    AND you said duffers. And gaffers!

    I’m going to be looking for opportunities to use those words in some form of conversation in the next hour or so, because they are just too delightful. 🙂

    Forgive me. I’m a bit of a word nerd at times.

  7. dougbrowncreative November 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Can’t believe you didn’t single out “white-haired droolers” … 😦

    Sorry Bill! Your post!

  8. bill November 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    happy to share the post Doug. a) your blog. b) your post earlier today made the case for sharing.

    otherwise i think we’re saying the same thing. the irony though is that when we can offer the answer, and so much more efficiently, we don’t get paid the same. we get paid by the hour …

    if that doesn’t make you wish you were young again i don’t know what will.

  9. dianajwalter November 25, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I agree with you both Bill and Doug. Each level of experience and age brings different strengths and weaknesses but the real skill, in my opinion is in being open minded and understanding the other person’s point of view and their reasons for it.

    More experienced professionals need to stay flexible with age (both mentally and physically!) and not become “stuck in their ways” and greener professionals should embrace mentorship.

    Mix experience with spark and you’ve got one wicked team!

    I can happily say that I see this great mix at Copeland. Being one of the youngest team members (though Doug says I’m OLD!) I am always left Zen-like after hearing learnings from more experienced team members.

  10. bill November 25, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks Diana. It’s the nice thing about hanging with Doug – he makes me feel like the whippersnapper. (yeah i said it, but just so the wizened dobronski would understand)

    For Andmerson, i can say managing a younger team is a challenge. Yes there is an expectation by our younger team members to reach heights faster and easier. However, this also reflects the marketplace and all consumers’ attitudes. We want everything faster, better, cheaper and we want it delivered where we are. I think that puts the onus on us as managers to rise to the challenge and deliver the leadership to the younger team that i spoke of above.

  11. andmerson November 25, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Bill: slipped and pressed send before the last comment was done. Here it actually is.

    I read an interesting article a few month ago (couldn’t find it again to post here) that talked about the qualms that some ‘old duffers’ have in working with Gen Y’ers. They said they felt Gen Y’ers have a huge sense of entitlement, always question authority and have no respect for the “way it’s always been done”. As a result, in a marketing environment that some say is youth centric, industry veterans working with Gen Y’ers could feel there is little room for them.

    It’s not that my generation doesn’t respect older workers, it’s that we don’t take age into consideration at all and definitley don’t think it should be a merit for power. We respect experience, wisdom, and mentorships and are eager and passionate to learn. We need you as much as you need us; however, it’s learning how to work with each other effectively that will produce the best work.

  12. dougbrowncreative November 25, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Andrea, I don’t know if you meant this Copeland blog post?
    I know the old duffer who wrote it.

  13. andmerson November 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm #


    Hahaha, Yup! It was the article you linked to. I couldn’t remember at all where i read it. I better start looking for some new places to get information.

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