Chip Conley, an executive with Airbnb, shares valuable insights on how older employees can stay relevant in the Millennial Age. Conley, a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur, has become a guru @Airbnb where employees are half his age. Yet, everyone seeks his counsel. He accepts the role – reporting to the CEO who’s 21 years younger than him. Conley takes the company to the next level based on this framework of becoming the Go-To ‘elder.’
The concept of ‘elder’ goes back hundreds of years. The elders became the gurus in a village – acting as the community brain trust. The traditional elders always had answers when questions arose in a village.
Conley talks about his experience as a ‘modern elder’ in a millennial company. What happens to elders in a digital world that refuses to slow down? Conley is a role model for the best case scenario.
With answers readily available in the digital age (i.e., using Google, Quora), elders don’t need to have all the answers. They can become skeptics – questioning projects backed by simplistic ‘web-based’ research. Sometimes, answers are not sought by younger employees. An elder stays relevant by sharing the wisdom of experience – especially what not to do. This reduces the risk of bad or impulsive decision-making. Moreover, an elder can spot patterns based on what has worked before.
Conley concludes that young companies need hard questions, not easy answers. A ‘modern elder’ can relate to younger generations and challenge them as they advance their mission. Creating this role is a challenge. Ultimately, everyone needs to find this path. Every company would benefit by employing ‘modern elders.’