Here’s Good News: It’s Not Ageism, It’s You!

Sometimes, one must title their blog and then duck, or they might get hurt. What do you mean it’s not ageism, it’s me? And, how in the world is this good news? The blowback can be pretty harsh, but you can’t solve a problem if you cannot properly define it. And, I am speaking from my own experience, my own denial, my own pain and my own coming to grips with a new understanding.

Thus, I stick to my title. And it is Good News! You see, many people over 40 (and especially over 50) see ageism is a major threat to their careers and livelihood. Others over 60 are just trying to hang on until retirement. Somehow, during this experience, those claims that 50 is the new 30 don’t ring true. It’s not a pretty sight when a company lets an older person go. This person may face extended unemployment, underemployment, having to start over and worry about what tomorrow brings. Bills pile up while paychecks don’t. The financial and emotional pressure can become severe.

By Allan Thomas Chiulli, DigElearn
www.DigElearn.com

November 15, 2018

Sometimes, one must title their blog and then duck, or they might get hurt. What do you mean it’s not ageism, it’s me? And, how in the world is this good news? The blowback can be pretty harsh, but you can’t solve a problem if you cannot properly define it. And, I am speaking from my own experience, my own denial, my own pain and my own coming to grips with a new understanding.

Define your Digital Savvy starting point with a FREE
Progress to Digital Savvy Quiz at www.DigElearn.com.

Thus, I stick to my title. And it is Good News! You see, many people over 40 (and especially over 50) see ageism is a major threat to their careers and livelihood. Others over 60 are just trying to hang on until retirement. Somehow, during this experience, those claims that 50 is the new 30 don’t ring true. It’s not a pretty sight when a company lets an older person go. This person may face extended unemployment, underemployment, having to start over and worry about what tomorrow brings. Bills pile up while paychecks don’t. The financial and emotional pressure can become severe.

The 2017 McKinley Marketing Partners study focuses on marketing careers, but summarizes the challenge many older employees face:

  • The people most in demand are those who can engage the right target audiences online: Digital advertisers get messages to a target audience, content people make sure messages keep consumers’ attention, and data scientists monitor results and interpret buyer behavior data.

 

Demand greatly exceeds supply for these skills.

  • On the other hand, supply exceeds demand for traditional marketers and advertisers, especially for those with ten years of experience or more.

In fact, the study shows that the market for traditional marketers with ten years of experience or more is virtually nonexistent, suggesting that a mix of low digital skills and high compensation history does not bode well in today’s job market.

So, we need to properly define a correct cause, and cannot afford to cling to a widely accepted correlation that may hide the true cause. You see, ageism is discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. And, while such discrimination may be illegal, it is difficult to prove in a job setting and almost impossible to prove during a job search. In other words, there is not much hope you can claim you did not get hired due to ageism. Realistically, how many of us are comfortable suing an employer before we even worked there? Not exactly a great resume enhancing tactic: I am suing the last company I interviewed with for discrimination!

We need to properly define a correct cause, and cannot
afford to cling to a widely accepted correlation
that may hide the true cause.

First, let’s step back a bit: Many of these ageism-type events relate to one’s lack of sophistication in the digital world. That is, we may not be Digital Savvy. Digital Savvy means we can understand, evaluate and anticipate the impact of digital transformation.  You know as well as I do that there is a digital divide between the younger and older. And, as we get older, our compensation increases and we are expected to deliver commensurate value to our company. But, many of us older types tune out of the digital discussions. Our thinking is: “Leave it to the others; or, I don’t get this stuff”. Twenty years ago, this approach may have been valid. The digital impact was at the edge of the business discussion; an afterthought for the recent college grads to figure out, like updating a website.

Digital Savvy means we are able to understand, evaluate
and anticipate the impact of digital transformation.

Today, however, the digital impact is at the core. The digital impact and the business decision are often one and the same. Those recent college grads of twenty years ago are now senior managers. We cannot tune ourselves out of digital discussion after digital discussion and expect to remain, highly compensated, at the table. Things do not work this way, anymore. The millennials understand this; many of us older folks do not. And, these same millennials do not think it is fair that we older, highly compensated folks may not be pulling our weight.

Inevitably, the day of reckoning comes, and we are shown the door. This may happen as a group. We look around at the people leaving and notice a lot of gray and thinning hair. The people letting us go are noticeably younger, often by a generation or more. So, we cling to the obvious age discrepancies and label this effect as “ageism”. We think of ourselves as victims of age discrimination and then conclude (wrongly) that all of this is beyond our control.

Here’s the truth as I see it: It’s not ageism if you do not understand the impact of digital transformation. It’s not ageism if you do not understand how digital transformation impacts your business and company or organization. It is not ageism if you are Digital Obsolete. And, the fact that becoming Digital Obsolete and being an older employee are highly correlated does not change any of this.

Now, and I need to duck again, this is Good News. You cannot prevent discrimination, but you have 100% control over your own actions. You can overcome becoming Digital Obsolete by becoming Digital Savvy. Furthermore, I know you can become Digital Savvy!

The reason I know that you can become Digital Savvy is that I went through the exact same experience. I remember telling myself that, as CEO of a start-up tech company, I cannot, by definition, be Digital Obsolete. Wrong! This thinking made sense only as long as I stayed in my small circle of like-thinking and Digital Obsolete friends!

It’s not ageism if you do not understand
the impact of digital transformation.

But, months after replacing myself as CEO, I was 60 years old and floundering in my search for my next opportunity. I wanted to hear a company tell me: “We love you and that you are exactly what we are looking for.” Here’s what I got: Silence, which is painful. Or, and this is where it becomes cruel, they told me that I am overqualified. Overqualified is polite language for “You are Digital Obsolete – too expensive, too little to contribute.”

I did have a couple of phone interviews with executive recruiters, but I never heard from the person again. How rude! I wanted to scream, “Does anybody know what is going on?”. Then, I wanted to shout, “What is wrong with the world?” Finally, I began to wonder, “What is wrong with me?” The outward pressure started to turn inward. This can be a very difficult time. If this sounds familiar, or is something you worry about, then it is time for you to take action..

What we need to understand is that we live in the Digital Tornado, that is, the rapid career obsolescence created by digital transformation’s enormous, unpredictable and accelerating disruption. The Digital Tornado has winners and losers. Sadly, the losers are the Digital Obsolete, who often believe they are victims of ageism. We become Digital Obsolete when we lack the digital knowledge base and perspective to effectively compete in a Digital Age.

The Digital Tornado is the rapid career obsolescence
created by digital transformation’s enormous,
unpredictable and accelerating disruption.

Once we are Digital Obsolete, no one is going to hire us at our accustomed level of responsibility and compensation. To me, this meant: Bye, bye CEO positions! What may also be surprising is that technical people can become Digital Obsolete. For example, software engineers can become Digital Obsolete through their continued micro focus in their area of expertise.

The Digital Obsolete also believe that their Digital Literacy is a valuable asset. They believe that Digital Literacy, that is, knowing how to use Office365, Google search, iPhone apps, Facebook and LinkedIn, somehow equates to an understanding of digital transformation. The reality: Digital Literacy is assumed for professional careers and is no longer enough for you to win in the Digital Tornado.

Here is the key takeaway: You win in the Digital Tornado by becoming Digital Savvy. And, better still, becoming Digital Savvy has nothing to do with age! Becoming Digital Savvy is not a deep dive into technology. Rather, it is about gaining a digital knowledge base and perspective for a business (and technical) person to make effective decisions in a Digital Age.

Here is the best news: The reason you can become Digital Savvy is because you want to. And I know this is because I went through the same journey and can show you the way. This is the same step-by-step, easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow path to Digital Savvy that I used. The path that I know works. This path works because when someone shows you what is important, and makes it simple, you can learn very quickly.

You win in the Digital Tornado
by becoming Digital Savvy.

Once you are Digital Savvy, digital transformation works for you, not against you. You hedge career risk and create career upside. You become and remain relevant. You create career confidence and enjoy peace of mind. And, if unfortunate things do happen in your career, you are much more competitive, prepared and can face your future with confidence.

So, what is the key to becoming Digital Savvy? Well, we believe it is Continuous Bite-Sized Learning or CBSLSM. CBSL creates many continuous small improvements that add up to a big difference. Here’s are some highlights of our educational research:

  • According to Bersini’s Modern Learner Profile, busy employees have 5 minutes per day to learn and
  • Neuroscience shows learning is best when people are asked to absorb 4 to 5 pieces of information.
  • A 2015 Dresden University of Technology Study shows learning works better and faster with smaller slices of content. The study showed a 22% gain in Retention and Learning Efficiency from bite-sized learning.
  • A 2012 Study by Boyette concluded that 94% of learning professionals state Bite-Sized Learning is preferred by their Learners.

The educational research shows that people:

  • Have about 5 minutes a day to learn,
  • Prefer smaller bite-sized lessons, and
  • Have better retention and learn faster with bite-sized learning.

So, CBSL (Continuous Bite-Sized Learning) provides the best path to Digital Savvy. This learning is not only easy, but it is fun—when you start to Get Digital, your perspective changes—you see your career, business and life differently.

CBSL (Continuous Bite-Sized Learning)
provides the best path to Digital Savvy.

Here is your first step: Define your starting point with a free quiz.

Please take the free Progress to Digital Savvy quiz at DigElearn’s (my company) website www.DigElearn.com. There are 30 straightforward multiple-choice questions that should take you 10 minutes or so. Maybe your score will be good; maybe it will be horrendous. It does not matter because, now, you have a starting point to measure your improvement.

Then you have two paths to Digital Savvy: The first is self-study.

We provide free digital learning material on our web site. Also, you can download the Table of Contents from my book Winning in the Digital Tornado. These resources will provide you a path to become Digital Savvy. And, I’m thrilled I could help you!

Or, if you are pressed for time and prefer a more structured path to Digital Savvy, join the DigElearn.com Founder’s Club (www.DigElearn.com).

This is a great way to catch up and stay ahead of digital transformation. The DigElearn Founder’s Club uses Continuous Bite-Sized Learning through daily bite-sized emails, a 20-module step-by-step, bite-sized digital learning program and user forums. All of these materials are available 24/7/365 whenever and wherever you are. This easily affordable bite-sized learning program works for you.

Please check us out at www.DigElearn.com. You will Win in the Digital Tornado and dump ageism in the garbage bin.

Allan Thomas Chiulli is the co-founder of DigElearn, an online digital learning membership experience at www.DigElearn.com and the author of Winning in the Digital Tornado. Both are guides to digital transformation for business and technical people needing to catch up and stay ahead of digital transformation. Readers may take a free quiz to measure their Digital Savvy at www.DigElearn.com.

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