The 'Thirty-Year-Old Attitude' Concept in Business
BY TRACY THOMAS
Jack Holt (middle aged), CEO of multinational finance company had set up a meeting with the Marketing Manager at a top advertising agency to find out whether his business could benefit from their advertising services. He had spoken to Mike Krenski (Marketing Manager) over the phone several times before the face-to-face meeting, and was very impressed with his confidence, professionalism and obvious level of expertise in his craft. Arriving at their first face-to-face meeting, Jack was surprised to discover that Mike appeared to be a lot younger than he expected - does this sound familiar?
STEREOTYPES AND AGE
As a twenty-something-year-old in business, it can sometimes be intimidating when surrounded by older individuals who are far more established in their careers. As a coach, I often receive the reaction that people are surprised by how young I am – possibly because they assume that to be a coach, you should be far older. Unfortunately, we live in a world where stereotypes and image do matter; human beings have an innate need to organise information in a way to understand something or someone based on pre-existing intrinsic narratives. These are what lead people to make unconscious (often conscious) judgements of an individual based on things like their age, gender, nationality or outfit.
DIFFERENT GENERATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE
The Center for Generational Kinetics separates the generations into: Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 and later, Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995, Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976 and the Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. Each of these generations differ due to the external factors existing during their time of growing up. These factors influence their mindsets and their attitude and as a result, the way an individual thinks and acts in the workplace is often influenced by their generation. I have spent a lot of time learning about different generations in the workplace and what I discovered was that although people may create their initial expectations based on the age you look, your age is not what leaves the lasting impression, your attitude is. I came across the idea that in the workplace, no matter your age, you should always maintain the attitude of a 30-year old.
ATTITUDE MATTERS MORE THAN AGE
This idea proposes that no matter your age, you should maintain the attitude of a thirty-year-old in the work place. The ‘thirty-year-old attitude concept’ is simply an idea and does not propose that every age always acts a certain and predictable way. For the purpose of explaining this idea, let’s assume that the twenty-something-year-old and the forty-plus-something-year old fall into the stereotypical characteristics of their respective generations. Combine the positive traits of the twenty-something-year-old such as enthusiasm, curiosity, excitement, new ideas and playfulness with the positive traits of the forty-plus-year old such as experience, professionalism, maturity, authority, and confidence and what you get is the perfect balance: the thirty-year-old attitude. In essence, the thirty-year-old attitude exudes the positive qualities of both the older and the younger employee in a business. This is defined as the perfect balance between the young, enthusiastic and passionate twenty-something-year old and the authoritative, confident and mature forty-plus-year old.
The benefit of adopting this attitude in business is quite clear. Professionalism, confidence and maturity in a 20-something-year-old makes their age irrelevant. As you develop in your career, your level of expertise will surely grow, but maintaining an attitude where you are enthusiastic, energetic, curious, open to new ideas and always learning is essential to the sustainable growth of yourself and any business. What are your views on the different generations in the workplace?
About the author
Tracy is the Head of Client Engagement at ActionCOACH and comes from an applied psychology, coaching and digital marketing background.
With an interest in human behaviour and what makes people 'tick,' Tracy loves deep and analytical conversations, travelling, and is always looking for ways to improve her health through food and movement.
To get in touch, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org