In a world that worships the new, bright, and shiny, many of us are left feeling invisible, undervalued, and threatened by the “digital natives” nipping at our heels. But Conley argues that experience is on the brink of a comeback. Because at a time when power is shifting younger, companies are finally waking up to the value of the humility, emotional intelligence, and wisdom that come with age. And while digital skills might have only the shelf life of the latest fad or gadget, the human skills that mid-career workers possess–like good judgment, specialised knowledge, and the ability to collaborate and coach – never expire.
“This equation has helped many people I know identify the difference between practicing happiness and pursuing it. When my happiness feels elusive, I tend to ask myself, “What am I not being grateful for, and what am I pursuing that’s distracting me from that gratitude?”
― Chip Conley,
At age 52, after selling the company he founded and ran as CEO for 24 years, rebel boutique hotelier Chip Conley was looking at an open horizon in midlife. Then he received a call from the young founders of Airbnb, asking him to help grow their disruptive start-up into a global hospitality giant. Chip had the industry experience, but Conley lacked in the digital fluency of his 20-something colleagues. He didn’t write code, or have an Uber or Lyft app on his phone, was twice the age of the average Airbnb employee, and would be reporting to a CEO young enough to be his son. Conley quickly discovered that while he had been hired as a teacher and mentor, he was also in many ways a student and intern. What emerged is the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker: learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve, all hallmarks of the “Modern Elder.”
“Think of your emotions as messages that give you the freedom, rather than the obligation, to respond. Fear protects. Regret teaches. Sadness releases. Joy uplifts. Empathy unites. Emotions”
― Chip Conley,
Part manifesto and part playbook, [email protected] ignites an urgent conversation about ageism in the workplace, calling on us to treat age as we would another type of diversity. In the process, Conley liberates the term “elder” from the stigma of “elderly,” and inspires us to embrace wisdom as a path to growing whole, not old. [email protected] has helped me realise how many people in middle age and beyond want to rethink their lives and careers, but also how few resources we have to support people as they become aware of their surroundings.
Whether you’ve been forced to make a mid-career change, are choosing to work past retirement age, or are struggling to keep up with the millennials rising up the ranks, [email protected] will help you write your next chapter.