In 1938, Ed Sullivan wrote in one of his newspaper columns that “youth is wasted on the very young“. He was paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, who once said: “Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world — and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”

What does this have to do with management? Several years ago, I got quite angry when an older, more experienced friend, declared to me during the course of a conversation that “people under forty are unfit for management positions“. He was over 50, wealthy and quite accomplished. I was in my early 30s and had already become a director at age 25. I had done a great job in that position — not that I was saying it; people in executive management had said it of me, repeatedly, during my appointment. So I thought my anger was justified. I asked him to clarify and he said something to the effect of, “there are certain things you can only understand, directly related to the management of people and organizations, after you pass a certain age“. Well, that didn’t make sense to me, but I chose to let it go. There was no point arguing with him and possibly ruining the friendship. 

I am now over 40 myself. And the funny thing is that as I approached and passed this age, I began to have certain realizations that collectively, allowed me to finally agree with my friend’s statement. He’d had the benefit of experience on his side when he said it. And the cumulative benefits of dealing with many more people, at all levels of employment and management, during his long career (which still continues by the way, because the fellow has an insatiable work appetite.)

Now I also see the wisdom of Shaw’s statement (which is also attributed to Oscar Wilde in some instances). Beyond the surface applicability of mere skin beauty that tends to be there in abundance when one is younger, I see a deeper meaning that has to do with the experience of age, which would certainly be very handy to the young. 

What I also see nowadays, paradoxically, is a lot of young people promoted to management positions. To further clarify, I see a lot of (mostly) inept young people promoted to management positions, making one big mistake after another, because they don’t have the life experience and the work ethic of an older person who has dedicated themselves to their career. Perhaps this is to be expected when the current mantra is that “you really should change your job every couple of years”, which is the sort of idiotic thing young HR managers say to sound smart, and it’s exactly the sort of thing that promotes superficiality in one’s work ethic and the sort of bullshit CVs you see these days. 

I’m not saying I didn’t make mistakes in my job as a director at 25. I can think of several right now, off the top of my head, some of which still embarrass me. But I did a good job, as good a job as I could do. I gave it my all, earnestly. It turns out that in this modern world of ours, where youth is prized more than experience, that my performance as a young person in management was an exception, because most young people I see in management are a disappointment to say the least. They’re no good, and they’re not even trying. They’re not giving it their all. They’re bullshitting their way through their jobs and their lackluster, inadequate performances are accepted as-is, because “you can’t get better people nowadays, there’s a skilled labor shortage”. 

Really? There is one? In an ever-growing world, with 7.2 billion people (at the moment), there’s an HR shortage? What a shame… I wonder how much worse this shortage will be when we’ll be at 8 billion… And how come we didn’t have a shortage of people during the Great Depression, when there were only 2 billion people in the world? You know, back when (mostly) experienced people were promoted to management positions? 

I think we are somehow confusing youthful enthusiasm with leadership potential; energy with stamina; bright faces with optimism; intelligence with wisdom; knowledge with experience; a tailored suit and good cosmetics with a good work ethic. There’s a lot of confusion going on. I suppose it’s to be expected when so many changes are taking place in the world. Perhaps in this day and age it’s easy to look at the worn, exhausted faces of older employees and believe they can’t carry the load of a department or division or company, but it’s not about the cosmetics; it’s about the experience, the ability to look at the big picture and the small details. These are things that come with age, with dedication to one’s career and yes, with wrinkles and white hair. 

If you’re stumbling onto this post randomly and you don’t know my website, you’re probably waiting for the pitch. Well, there isn’t one. I’m not selling my services. I’m busy enough with my own work. Thanks for reading this and carry on. 


Management: wasted on the youth


Dr. Eugster on aging, work and exercise

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Charles Eugster, he’s 93 years old and began working out when he was 80-something. He’s a living, breathing example of the kind of life we could all have when we’re older. In this TED Talk, he offers enlightening truths about aging as it currently is throughout the world, and as it could be.


Ted, a dog at 25

Ted is a dog of 25+ years who belongs to my wife’s mother. He’s been a guard dog all his life. I first knew Ted in 2003, when I first visited my wife’s home. Outwardly, he’s looked the same since then, the way you see him in these photos, so I had no idea he was this old. He was always on duty, guarding their property, barking at everyone who approached the gate, including me. It took him a few years to get used to me, and to obey me when I asked him to stop barking. Now, he just sits in his dog house and no longer barks.

His vision is likely gone. We think he has cataracts. If you look at these photos, you’ll see his eyes are cloudy. He still hears well though, but doesn’t react when people approach him, which isn’t like him. It’s quite possible that with his advanced age, he’s getting ready to leave this world, so I thought I’d take a few photos to remember him. He’ll be missed, the old grouch…

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Still working at 100

At 100 years old, Dr. W. G. Watson is the world’s oldest practicing physician. He’s been working as an OB/GYN doctor since 1947, and everyone in his town knows him. He says he doesn’t go anywhere without seeing one of his patients, some of which he’s followed for over 50 years. And he still makes house calls!

Watch video on YouTube


What do you do all day?

We are defined by what we do with our time. When it comes to our health, that same adage can be re-stated to read: our bodies are the record of what we do with our time.

If you happen to sit in a chair all day, perhaps you wish for a job where you can move around more often. If you have to stand up all day, or run around from place to place, you may wish for the comfort of a cozy chair and a steady desk where you could sit and concentrate on some quiet work. But have you wondered what your job is doing to your body? Just what are the long-term effects of what you do all day, every day?

Desk work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Any job that involves an extended amount of sitting, whether it be an office job or a driving job, just isn’t healthy for the body. It makes you sick, slowly, over time, without realizing it. It deforms your posture, it fattens you up, slows down your digestive tract and metabolism, widens your hips, flattens your curves, rounds out your shoulders and hunches your back. Your muscles slowly atrophy from all that inactivity, and they get replaced by fat reserves. Before you know it, you get flabby and fragile. At first you’re angry, then you get complacent, and finally you accept it as a normal part of growing old. But it’s not a normal part of the aging process! It doesn’t have to be that way.

By the same token, any job that involves an extended amount of standing up isn’t good for you either. It introduces posture problems of its own, puts extra stress on the spinal column, the hips and the knees, not to mention your feet, and can lead to varicose veins, among other things. You get home exhausted at the end of the day, with pain in your joints and your back, and crash into your bed, only to put your body through the same punishing process the next day. Again I say, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the past several years, I’ve seen many people who had the symptoms I described above, and until recently, I used to think it was due to one’s nature or old age, but I was wrong. Those problems could be traced directly to what these people were doing — or not doing. Because, you see, what you aren’t doing is just as important as what you are doing.

In life, it’s very important to counteract the negative effects of any of our activities with their proper antidotes. If what you do all day is sit on a chair, then you must get outside more often, and jog or run or exercise. At the very least, you should do some crunches or push-ups every day. If you stand all day, then you must mobilize your leg and hip joints. It sounds counterintuitive, but think of it this way: if you kept your arms locked outward all day long, wouldn’t you want to bend them at the end of the day? Wouldn’t your elbows feel horrible? It’s the same thing with our knees and hips, except we’ve gotten so used to standing on them all day long, we’ve forgotten that we need to bend them every once in a while, to put those joints through their full range of motion — so do some squats and lunges, and stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles too.

Our bodies were made for motion. They were not made for sitting or for standing up or for lying down. They need constant, varied movement and effort to keep them in shape. If they don’t get it, they deteriorate. We become wrecks of our former selves — flabby, misshapen bags of skin, fat and bones — a sad memory of what we could have been, and no amount of liposuction and plastic surgery and botox is going to fix that, in spite of what some people may think.

Look, if you want to do things right, then you’ve got to figure out what you want in life. You’ve got to figure out what you do with your time all day, and how you can use it better. If you want to start exercising, then you’ve got to carve out time for it in your daily schedule — you need to find the resolve for exercise, and you need to stick to it. If you don’t, just look around you. The majority of people out there never got their act together on staying fit, and they look it. Do you want to be one of them, or do you want something better?