With the holiday season and a new year on the horizon, I’m feeling reflective and nostalgic. This year, it’s especially so as we start in on a whole new decade—2020!
Fairly regularly, I have conversations arise with one common denominator: age. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been more sensitive to the issue since turning 50. One of my favorite quotes with a twist is, “Getting older is mandatory, getting ‘old’ is optional.” I believe that is true in life, from athletics to business.
Here, in this article, we are addressing the business aspect. But, please, consider applying it to plain old life as well.
If you fall into that 50-plus camp as I do, I hope you’re enjoying all the positive aspects to your years of hindsight and wisdom. There is no doubt that in my case it was earned with trial and errors—plural.
This is a great time in our careers and our lives—we’ve learned a lot over the years, and have the energy, passion, knowledge, and desire to contribute and maximize the ROI (return on investment) of our respective companies, as well as help the industry at large. Furthermore, we want to help bring up young talent and set the stage for the future. Again, what an exciting time in our careers!
But, there is another side to this issue. Increasingly, I have fellow industry vets contacting me looking for new jobs. As you would expect, the reasons vary, however their needs and motivations are all very similar. They need and/or want to work while continuing to leverage their knowledge, skills, relationships, and many years of experience to contribute to the industry and to a company’s success.
HERE ARE A FEW LESSONS AND INSIGHTS I HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY:
• Keep growing and developing your skills and network in the business. Reach out and work with younger generations, beyond your longtime friends
• Stay relevant in terms of technology and relationships
• Update your resume, and make sure that it’s accentuating your skills and attributes that are needed in today’s environment in a format and language that are equally as fresh
• Stay hungry. Don’t go into an interview thinking that all your experience and 20-plus-year relationships are going to get you the job. Times are a-changin’ and so must you
• Do your homework for interviews. Don’t just wing it because you’re a “been there, done that” sort of person. Show them that you’re ready to join their team:
• Don’t make statements like, “Back in the day…”, “When I was your age...”, or other references that accentuate your many years in the business. And don’t use your “experience” as a way to establish your dominance in the room
• Do ask good questions that may lead to understanding their needs and how your experience can contribute. There is a time to leverage your expertise and relationships, but play those cards carefully
• Don’t be a know-it-all. Be humble, and acknowledge that you can learn from anyone, irrespective of their station or age. Knowledge and ideas come from anyone
• It’s nearly 2020! Get a new haircut and buy some clothes that are up-to-date
• Exercise and eat right. Are you wishing for the fountain of youth? Guess what—it’s the water fountain! Hydrate, exercise, and eat more of that stuff we’ve been growing and pushing all these years
Every so often, I half-jokingly say that a company is looking for the 35-year-old with 20-plus years of experience for $35K per year. We can’t do anything about some companies’ unrealistic wants and dreams, but we can do something about ourselves. There is a whole new world out there, and your knowledge, skills, and experience are all valuable. I encourage my fellow industry vets to leverage those years and, at the same time, not rely on them alone. Let’s keep it fresh—keep learning, growing, expanding our knowledge and relationships, and stay hungry!
I can’t wait to see where this new decade takes us. See you all in 2020!
Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.