Are you on the right stage?

Sometimes, Readers, your replies to my newsletter are better than anything I could write myself. Your responses to “Remote Age Discimination”, this past week were meaningful and deep. Here’s what Ladders member Steve replied: 

“Marc: 

I am always interested in what you have to say even though I am no longer looking for a career.

 I retired as a Colonel, US Army at the age of 48 and was immediately hired with a greater salary than a senior Army officer. Every business was made more profitable and was sold 3 times in 8 years. Yep, I was sold with the company to run each. Eventually, an owner cashed out and I was immediately hired by the next company after the CFO “jumped ship” prior to the company’s end. 

After multiple start ups in Knoxville, Jacksonville, and Baton Rouge; I decided at age 62.5 to stop living from a suitcase and try something new closer to home. I fired off resumes and in weeks had multiple calls and telephonic interviews and was flown to various corporate headquarters, remember… approaching 63 years old. 

My technique was “reckless abandon” :

  • I have proven leadership skills.
  • Proven management skills.
  • Astute in automation.
  • Physical fitness (no pot belly here)
  • Continued education in industry-related OL training.

I have passed your resume search.
I have passed your multiple interviews.
I am here in your conference room.
You obviously want me as a top 3 or 5 candidate.

Do I want YOU?

 I had 4 face-to-face interviews with VPs and each shook my hand and said they had never been interviewed like that before. I had 4 offers and took the one that offered the greatest CHALLENGE, not salary; salary will follow. 

I will be 66 in 3 weeks and turned down a VP job because I love where I am. 

Bottom line; God has given every person skills and some talents, God doesn’t make JUNK. He expects an ROI and you are to FOLLOW, and He will do the leading. Give all you have, hold nothing back, and have an attitude of gratitude, and thank every person every day for just doing their job and showing up (they could be somewhere else). A good coach always has a GREAT team! 

God has navigated your life and you are equipped for the challenge, not disarmed by age, color, physique, or education. At the end of the day you have been a one man actor for a ONE GOD audience; how well did you perform? The VPs who hired you bought a ticket to the show, but the stage is all yours. 

Are you on the right STAGE? 

YOU take charge of the interview; is this the team you want? Is the product moral? Are the people ethical? What are their standards? What behaviors do they tolerate? Make your own list… 

Thanks Marc! Keep up the great work! 

Respectfully Yours, 

Steve” 

Reading Colonel Steve made me sit up straighter, suck in my gut, and motivated me to stare down my to-do list with steely resolve. 

I love his inspiring straight talk and the energy he communicates on paper. Can you imagine in person? Here is a leader you’d want to follow into battle. 

For all professionals, of all ages, Steve provides an example for communicating your value, and even more importantly, communicating your values. It’s a confidence borne of competence. And a competence that comes from humility — how can I contribute today to this world greater and more wonderful than I? 

On a practical note, Ladders member “PT” shared the following: 

“Good morning Marc, 

I have decided to adjust my first name to a more “21st century” name. My given name is Phyllis, which was very popular in the 1930’s. But I was born in the 1960’s. My name is now almost unheard of in someone under 75, perhaps it will trend back to popularity someday? 🙂 

On my official resume, I hyphenate my first and middle names to Phyllis-Terri and when I meet people, I say that I go by “P.T.” which is well received. 

For in person meetings or Zoom calls, I wear a flattering and well-fitting brightly colored shirt or blouse. I do wear glasses, but they are stylish frames and I include tasteful eye makeup so that my eyes are more noticeable. My younger coworkers, once we became comfortable, have mentioned that I appear youthful and they are surprised that I am old enough to be their mother. 

I encourage people to consider the effect of their first name, because the names reflect a certain era. 

Thank you.

Best regards to you, 

Phyllis-Terri C.” 

It’s an interesting and perhaps eye-opening viewpoint, PT — thanks for sharing. In the spirit of further educating ourselves, we also hear from “P”: 

“Hi Marc… 

Just for the record, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m not sure why this subject, was deemed special or surprising enough to write then publish this email. 

I’m an African American woman who has earned two undergraduate degrees and two master’s degrees. I’ve lived the dream of ALWAYS being too much of one thing or not enough of another. Discrimination has always been a part of this country’s ‘proud’ heritage and many of us already know that. 

I can only assume that this message was aimed at majority folk who have always had the upper hand in hiring decisions. People who have had the advantage of NOT being discriminated against until now and are, therefore, surprised or even horrified by it. To those folks I say welcome to the real world and I’d ask how it feels to be marginalized based on someone else’s ignorance? 

No need to respond, just know that what goes around comes around and chew on that for a while. Also think back to how easy it has been all these many years to be dismissive of women, or Black, or Brown, or Red, or Yellow people. So to those who are finally experiencing what this country has reserved for those of us considered ‘other’…welcome to the party hun! 

Regards,
P” 

I think it’s fair to say that many are in disbelief about the scale or scope of discrimination until it happens to them. I mentioned my own surprise about age discrimination’s existence when I got into this business twenty years ago. 

I hope this reminder from “P” allows each of us to have a bit more empathy, a bit more understanding, a bit more appreciation for the trials of those who walk in someone else’s shoes… And, overall, I thank all of you, Readers, for your hundreds of responses, which educated, amused, enlightened, and horrified me this past week.

Thanks especially to Steve, Phyllis-Terri and P for agreeing to allow me to share their words directly with you. I hope you’ll take some fortification, inspiration and education from their words, and find yourself better steeled for whatever else 2020, and the years to come, may bring. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great end of August!