No matter how much technology changes the way that we work, companies will always be in the market for wisdom. And what’s the best way to get the knowledge and insight they need? By hiring a “modern elder.”
That’s the argument Chip Conley, an entrepreneur and strategic adviser for Airbnb, makes in his new book, Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. As the former head of one of the world’s largest boutique hotel chains, Conley experienced culture shock when — at age 52 — he was hired to help shape Airbnb’s global hospitality strategy. It was his first time working for a technology company, an industry where coding and algorithms are king and employees often are considered over the hill by the time they turn 40. What Conley discovered, however, is that when older and younger workers collaborate, everyone benefits.
In a world that venerates 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, specialized knowledge, and the ability to collaborate and coach – never expire.
Part manifesto and part playbook, Wisdom@Work ignites an urgent conversation about ageism in the workplace, calling on us to treat age as we would any other 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.
The book is divided into 4 main “Lessons”:
- Lesson 1: Evolve – The world is constantly changing—as are we. Which makes it that much more important, in periods of transition, to evolve out of outdated perceptions of who we are and reframe them with ruthlessly edited beliefs that connect with our soul.
- Lesson 2: Learn – Teaching and learning are symbiotic. You can’t be a teaching legend without living on the learning edge.
- Lesson 3: Collaborate – Try to encourage everyone to participate in group discussions, especially those representing diverse demographics and view-points.
- Lesson 4: Counsel – The value of a wise advisor who can embed some of his or her hard-won wisdom into hearts and minds is so great that some industries have adopted an apprenticeship model that helps to embed mentorship into the organizational design.
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, Wisdom@Work will help you write your next chapter.
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