Don’t hire anyone over 40

auntaliceI need to rant about this again, unfortunately.

I recently had breakfast with a colleague in the speaking business. She works at a large non-profit. One of the “advisors” from a large, established tech company told her that they need a new person in charge of all marketing. Several times this gentleman (who was in his 60’s) said … “Don’t hire anyone over 40 years old.”

Here it is again…only younger people understand marketing or social media! If you are over forty, you just can’t pick up knew technology! You can’t possibly understand younger people! You can’t possibly understand the new digital world! People over 40 can’t possible be good at in this cultural shift.

EXCUSE ME?!?! What’s Age Got to Do with It!

Let me list a few of my virtual mentors. All are proficient in marketing, digital marketing, social media, business and sales!

  • Chris Brogan
  • Patricia Fripp
  • Jeffrey Gitomer
  • Seth Godin
  • Daniel Pink
  • Mari Smith
  • Alan Weiss

And allow me to mention my mother. Until a week before her death in July, she was reading and comprehending 5 books a week! Our politics differed greatly but we could have discussions about our different perspectives. Let me mention, she was 95 years old when she passed!

I’ve seen this mistake happen over and over again. All I can say is that I’m happy that successful companies get it. Older people can still learn new skills and apply their knowledge of business to make it successful! Yes, some individuals don’t want to change. That is a minority of individuals over the age of 40.

This post contains a reprint of an article I wrote from my old Information Technology life. It’s interesting and unfortunate how this story never gets old (pun intended). I was asked for a short video story by “women over 45 speak” about how an “older woman” deals with transitions. Here is the video I created based upon the request. The full article from my old life follows.

Oh, one more thing… This video was assembled using professional level video editing software I taught myself !  I guess I’m not too old to learn software and I haven’t lost my curiosity! I have no problems talking with people of all ages. I do ignore those who believe that stereotypes are true! To me and my experience working with many over 40 was that this “advisor” perspective was what was out-of-date!

~~~~Article orginially posted under Strategic Business Decisions, inc.

My mother is the youngest of seven children. All of them grew up during the Great Depression. The oldest girl, my Aunt Alice, was the matriarch of the family. She did not go to college…she, like her siblings, worked to put her oldest brother through medical school. She married but lived longer than her husband and two sons. In other words, she saw her share of hard times. Yet, she still was one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever known. Aunt Alice is still one of my biggest influences in who I am today.

Aunt Alice worked in a doctor’s office setting. She ran the place. She took care of all the patient data, insurance claims, payroll, collections, supply orders, and everything else non-medical. The doctor’s office closed down and she was forced to retire at age 80.

Aunt Alice was bored with retirement. At age 83, she tried to go back to work. Finding it extremely difficult to have anyone hire her, she decided to volunteer for the American Cancer Society.

“What can you do?” the hiring manager asked.

“I can type!” Aunt Alice replied.

“Would you mind typing envelopes?” the hiring manager asked?

“Not a problem.”

IBM Selectric globe samples (plus two Euro coi...

IBM Selectric globe samples (plus two Euro coin to compare size) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bit of history here…before computers were widely used to create mailings, people actually typed each envelope individually to send to prospective donors. Aunt Alice was given about 5,000 envelopes to type each week. The only concern for her was that the American Cancer Society wanted her to use their “electric” typewriter…an IBM Selectric [the one with a little ball that rotated for the right key to hit the paper]. Why was this a problem? Aunt Alice only knew how to use an old manual typewriter. The kind that required you to push a key down firmly one inch before the key hit the paper. This wasn’t going to stop Aunt Alice! She was determined to learn how to use this “electric” typewriter because she was curious about how it worked.

What does Aunt Alice do…call her niece…me!

Starting with what she already knew, the basics, I showed her that the keyboard was the same…only her touch had to be a little lighter (to prevent multiple strikes of the same key). When she heard the end-of-line bell ring, she had to hit the return button (a new key for her).

My mistake was sitting on her right side. Habits take a little time to break. After getting slapped in the face when she tried to manually return the non-existent carriage, I got up and moved to her other side.

Within an half hour, Aunt Alice was proficient using the electric typewriter. She became their best typist until she stopped volunteering at age 90.

Around that time she was seeing these strange letters on TV commercials. “Visit our website at” Her desire to learn something new and her curiosity about this “Internet” thing got her to give me a call. She asked, “What is this Internet thing…come over and teach me.”

Aunt Alice saw a lot of changes during her lifetime (1903-1997). Her mind was still sharp at age 94. She owed it all to being continually curious, taking on anything as a challenge. “Read and you will always learn,” she told me. “Practice and you will always get better.” The same rules she lived by at age 18 helped her transform through technological advances until her death at age 94.

I hear constantly from technologists who state they can’t learn something new. I tell them, nonsense. All you need to do is start with the basics of what you know and you can learn anything. Read about it. Practice and you will get better.

Can’t learn something new? Substitute the word Won’t for Can’t and you will see the truth. Age or lack of experience has nothing to do with learning. Desire and curiosity does.

I hear managers discounting employees saying that they use “old” or different methods. I tell them, nonsense. The basics are still the same. You are just using newer or different technology that can be taught. Again, substitute the word Won’t for Can’t and you will see the truth that you don’t want to take the time to teach. Desire and curiosity is what makes it possible to learn something new.

I’ve coached managers to refrain from pigeon-holing any potential employee. A college graduate, for example, was great at coding in JAVA yet, he was overlooked for an opportunity because it required a newer language. I asked the manager:

“Why was he a good JAVA programmer?”

“Because his stuff worked the first time.”

“Could it be that he understands the basics of architecting a good program and self-tests before giving it to anyone?”

“He probably has those skills.”

“Then let him teach himself the new language. He has the basics which is much more important than the language.”

The same holds true for different modeling techniques. If you technique there and books are available for the rest. It just takes desire and curiosity to pick up a book or ask questions. Managers need to give a person the opportunity when they see he has the desire and curiosity. They need to provide employees the time and incentive(s) to apply their desire and curiosity.
When Aunt Alice was 92 years old, I was driving her to a family baby shower. My aunt was a talker (and a listener). She proceeded to tell me that:

“I’m ready to go if God wants me. I’ve seen a great deal and accomplished a great deal.”
A brief but definite pause…
“unless you can’t read in heaven because I’m in the middle of a really good book!”

What level is your curiosity and desire to learn something new? Do you tell yourself “Can” or “Can’t/Won’t.” Keeping your curiosity and desire high opens more doors to opportunities at any point in your career. You can always learn something new.

Technology changes…desire and curiosity is ageless. Don’t bypass lessons gained from experience for an incorrect stereotype view of the “older” worker.


If you have any questions about how your business story connects emotionally with clients, feel free to contact me at Viditude! I’ll make sure you tell your story through motion and still graphics or help you with a speech that explains it in a way your target audience will understand. I will strategize to make sure you make the right visuals using different mediums to add value to your prospective clients! That’s what makes Viditude different from others! Viditude wants YOU to connect with every visual you create! Together we can talk about your clients and your visuals! I can instruct you through some common mistakes and give you confidence to improve and continue! Your visuals can be slides, motion graphics, images, or video (including talking-head). Your visuals can explain what you do or be a webinar or e-course for additional revenue. The opportunity for you and your use of visuals is endless.

Call 973.619.9353 or email Of course, if you just want to talk about parrots, Scarlet, a Solomon Island Eclectus Female Parrot, would be happy to squawk about their superiority! Her brother and assistant, Obi a black-nosed Rhodesian Ridgeback, will be right by her side.


I’m Pat Ferdinandi. I would love to talk at your meeting about Visual Marketing! People continually tell me how I inspire them to try and give them confidence they can do it. I will make sure you look and sound good on video! Helping YOU to succeed via video is my objective! Call 973.619.9353 or email to schedule me to speak at your next meeting. My examples and stories will encourage you to take advantage of visual marketing to convey your value to your clients.

About Pat Ferdinandi

Digital Visuals Strategist & Creator

Viditude! Montclair NJ 973.619.9353