Companies Need More of What Used to Be

The experience of older workers may bring balance and new insights to your office.


It used to be that when times were bad, and no one was hiring, you went down a paygrade or two and didn’t whine or complain about it.

Commission-only sales jobs were plentiful and top notch sales people actually wanted them: higher reward for higher risk.

You spent more time talking to the hiring manager than people in HR.

We celebrated new business creation, encouraged it, and looked for new ways to incentivize these risk takers.

Our parents would tell us stories of the most successful people in town, even drive by their houses, to show us what was possible--if we worked hard. And I can still remember when the Ford dealer in my town bought new baseball bats for our Little League team. In fact, I just might call him up today and tell him how important that was to me.

Not everyone got A’s for substandard work. Attendance meant little; it was just expected.

When we got into trouble, the first thought our parents had was not that some adult had it in for us. There was no concept of innocent until proven guilty. We were guilty--and they were mostly right. On the infrequent times when we were innocent, as they found out later, there were no apologies forthcoming. I think they figured they had missed some other infractions.

Our heroes had flaws but they did understand they were role models for mostly youthful worshippers.

Policemen, doctors, CEOs and Presidents were much, much older, and were not like the rest of us.

So the next time your company decides not to hire someone, just because he or she happens to be over fifty, just realize that their experiences--born of a different time and place--might just bring your company balance and new insights.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at or at


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