I recently listened to an interview with Chip Conley, author of Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, on the James Altucher Show. He is the Head of Hospitality for Airbnb. He had recently sold his boutique hotel company, which is why the founders of Airbnb sought him out to be a mentor to help them run the hospitality company. At age 52, he quickly realized he was double the age of everyone in the room. He didn’t understand the tech lingo, and he discovered that he had a lot to learn himself.
So while he was acting in the role of mentor, he was also constantly learning. The young techs at Airbnb were eager to tap into his leadership skills and his emotional intelligence – the skills he had built over many years of experience. His specialized knowledge of hospitality resonated with the digital experts at Airbnb. He continued to learn and asked the right questions. He never stopped learning but was able to apply timeless wisdom to solve today’s problems.
The Making of A Modern Elder
That’s why Chip coined the term “modern elder.” The new term redefines the traditional elder role into one of teacher and student at the same time – giving the word “elder” an entirely new meaning.
Modern elders are:
- Prepared to evolve.
- Willing to admit what they don’t know.
- Collaborators with others.
- Prepared to counsel those around them when they have wisdom that could help them perform better.
I relate a lot to the modern elder. My work as a writer began in the print world twenty five years ago and evolved into the digital era. I had to adapt my skills from the past and bring them into the digital age – or I would be irrelevant. So I did just that. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I’ve always been curious and open to learning. That’s really helped me. I don’t mind admitting when I don’t know something. If I need to learn something, I find an expert on that topic and learn from them. I’ve upped my digital intelligence.
I was able to repackage my skills for the modern era. I’ve always spent a lot of time learning new skills and researching new ideas, and it’s helped me grow my freelance writing business in today’s world. I have the common sense and good judgment that comes with decades of experience and specialized knowledge. All of which allows me to help other aspiring writers to build their own businesses. Time has taught me to be a better listener – to look for what’s beneath the surface – or the story within the story. I don’t always have all the answers, but I hope to always ask the right questions.
Lifelong Learning Is The Key To Success
A recent Inc. article cited that most self-made millionaires say the key to their success is they never stop learning. It’s a habit that many of us lose after we leave school, getting put on the back burner as our daily routines take over.
No matter our age, when we throw ourselves into new situations, we stretch and grow – and that’s where the rewards are. When we never assume we’re the smartest person in the room, we can learn and grow from each other. That’s the real value of having the attitude of a modern elder. It’s also why I started the Mighty Writer’s community on Facebook, so I hope you’ll join us there. We share stories and learn from each other, and I’m on to help facilitate the discussion.
Do you think Millenials and Baby Boomers have a lot to learn from each other? I’d love to hear what you think!