Good News, Older People: You Don't Have To Be Gen Y To Keep A Company Fresh

Old people at a computer

Does old media need new minds? 

Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself,  thinks not.  Age isn’t the defining cool factor, he says, it’s creativity.

“To me it’s certainly less about your age, in terms of your actual date of birth. It’s all about, can you see your organisation, and can you see your industry with an entirely new set of eyes,” says Taylor.

Finding that unique business angle and creativity requires something Taylor calls “Vujà dé.”

Vujà dé was coined by comedian George Carlin and is the opposite of Déjà vu. “Déjà vu means going into a situation you’ve never been in before that feels like it was a previous life — like you’ve seen it before,” Taylor explains. Vujà dé means looking at something you’re vastly familiar with in an entirely new light.

“Can you look at an industry you’ve been working in for 20 years, or a company you’ve been part of for fifteen years, and somehow look at it as though you’ve never seen it before? Can you use all of your expertise, but a new set of eyes, to develop a really distinctive and disruptive perspective on the way forward?”

This is more of an innate skill.  It can’t really be learned, and it’s not something that comes with age. While companies looking to successfully pivot may need to hire new people who can look at the world this way, that new hire doesn’t have to be someone in their twenties.

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