Is your personal brand old?

26Jul09

By 2012, almost 1 in 3 American workers will be 50 or older.  For multiple reasons, just economic ones alone, we know that we must keep older people  in the workforce.  Keep them contributing, performing, succeeding.  It seems to me that this will never fully happen unless we change our minds about what it means to be old.  Well, okay, how?

The NY Times reported that a recent Pew Research study shows that people age 65 believe that old age begins at 75.  People under 30 believe that 60 is old.  The older we are, the older we believe old age begins.  The study also found that most people over 50 feel 10 years younger.  If  Boomers (a basketball in the garden hose known as the U.S. population) feel younger than their years, they need to demonstrate it.  Old people have to own the brand called “old”.  Re-brand it.

How can they re-brand “old”?   Let’s start with technology – something older people are always accused of being afraid of, skeptical about, and no good at.   I have always believed that (experienced + technology) should outperform (less experienced + technology).  In other words, knowledge-based organizations should expect, no, should demand that in general, older people should outperform younger workers.  youngseniormanOf course, older people have to embrace technology for this to be true. 

Here are my 10 very basic technology do’s and don’ts for “older” folks who want their personal brands to be as young as they feel:

  1. Do personally push beyond email, shopping and mapquest on the internet.  Ask others to recommended sites.  Research a topic.
  2. Do keep up with all the ways your organization and its competitiors are using the internet.
  3. Do evaluate social media  –  why, how, and if you should participate.  Facebook or LinkedIn?  Both or neither?
  4. Do not use a technology or social media just to be using it.  Know why you want an iPod, or why to blog. 
  5. Do not boast about texting, Tweeting, etc. if you are doing it.  What’s hot in technology changes faster than you can say AOL.  If you adopt a technology after reading about it in USA Today, you are not an early adopter. 
  6. Do follow some talented bloggers or tweeters in your areas of interest. 
  7. Do consider learning a new language – a technology language.  I don’t really mean become a programmer.  What I mean by a new language is get really good at Excel or PowerPoint or a basic web design software.   Or be expert at using the personal computer, period.  A single learning experience will give you confidence with technology overall.
  8. Do update your personal technology stuff.  The device formerly known as a cell phone is fast becoming the way we access the internet, take photos, record video and audio, and much more.  Get a good one.  And, your laptop or desktop should not be older than a pre-schooler.   Wal-mart will sell you a new one.
  9. Do keep up with what’s out there, whether you use it or not – what is ning, what is mashable
  10.   Do not stop reading a good newspaper – the old fashioned way. youngseniorwoman

 BTW – I am an aging Boomer, so the above advice may be outdated.   What are some areas other than technology, that we can focus on to redefine “old”?

photos from bigstockphoto.com

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