Friday, June 09, 2006

Gray Matters

For a number of years now at ExecuNet, in addition to our two bi-weekly newsletters, we have included as part of membership, a series of PDF career guides for our members. The last time I looked I think we were pushing near twenty of them.

They cover a wide variety of career related topics from networking, interviewing, job search research, working with recruiters, and digital dirt just to name a few. One of the most dog-eared (if such a thing applies to a PDF) is when we publish one that has to do with age.

Thanks to the great work of our Senior Editor Robyn Greenspan, the most recent of the guides is called Gray Matters: Experienced Executives Gaining the Edge and when we checked over the weekend, several thousand members had download their copy in the first 72 hours it was posted.

I certainly can both understand and relate to the interest our members have in the topic. For many, if they have been fortunate in life, when they first bump into age discrimination, it is their first "personal" experience on the discrimination front. What I mean is while they likely have seen discrimination in action, they were observers not recipients. It is like the difference in understanding something on an intellectual level versus understanding or experiencing it on an emotional level.

For anyone who has ever experienced discrimination on any level be it for race, sex, age, religion or whatever, the frustration and anger is some of the most intense feelings one can ever have.

So the question is what does one do after the anger and frustration have been exhausted? To me, at least when it comes to the age issue, it has always been a question of deciding how one wishes to use their time and energy.

We all have biases. In my own experience, for most people I know, they lie somewhere in the middle of a spectrum, not on the extremes, meaning while they are there, people are willing to listen and learn. They are, in a word, subject to be influenced.

While not trying to be too simplistic, if a salesperson has done his homework, he goes into the selling process knowing what some of the customer's potential "objections" are and has made his plans accordingly.

In Gray Matters, what Robyn has done is to try and provide our members, particularly those who may not be seasoned in selling themselves, not only with an understanding of the issues, but more importantly, with some ammunition to fight back.

Headline: Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, there is value to experience.

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