Tag Archives: innovation

Are You Too Old to Innovate?

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photo by CutandChicVintage

With the Rolling Stones celebrating their 50th anniversary, I was surprised to hear recently that the average age of the band (69) is older than the average age of the Supreme Court Justices (67). More specifically, the Stones are one year and 10 months older than the Supreme Court.

I was less surprised to read last week that the average age of employees at technology companies is significantly lower than the overall median age of U.S. workers, which is 42. See “Technology Workers are Young (Really Young)” from the New York Times blog Bits. Among the companies with the youngest employees are Facebook (28), Google (29), and AOL (30). PayScale, a company based in Seattle, looked at age, gender, and turnover at 32 of the most successful technology companies. Some of the companies with older workers are Cisco Systems (35), Samsung (34), and Microsoft (34). Turnover in the industry is also very high. At Amazon.com and Facebook, the average stay is just 12 to 13 months.

Katie Bardaro, the lead economist at PayScale, explained there are a number of factors in the youth of these workforces. One is skills: “Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tend to know C# and SQL. Gen Y knows Python, social media, and Hadoop.” Another is the current focus of these companies: “The firms that are growing or innovating around new areas tend to have younger workers. Older companies that aren’t changing with the times get older workers.”

What do you think? Does innovation have an expiration date?

How Can You Make a Difference Like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin?

If you want to hear great speeches, I recommend two sources — TED talks and commencement addresses. Walter Isaacson, who wrote Steve Jobs’ biography, recently gave the graduates of Pomona College some great advice: “You are officially credentialed as smart. That’s the good news. The bad news, as you’ll learn, is that smart people are a dime a dozen, and they usually don’t amount to much.”
In telling three stories — about Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin — Isaacson pulled no punches in telling the graduates that the real measure of their professional lives will not be how much money they make, or what titles they achieve, but by what they create to improve people’s lives. He advised the graduates: “At the end of your days when you look back…it’s not just about saying how successful you were, how many toys or trinkets or how much power you accumulated. It’s about what you created, about what you did to make the world a slightly better place because you were here.”
Read highlights of Isaacson’s address, “Three Stories About Steve Jobs, Einstein, And Ben Franklin Prove That Creative Beats Smart.” Or watch it below.