No aru taka-wa tsume-wo kakasu

This Japanese tongue-twister is dedicated to skilled older workers. When I was consulting with Boeing early last year pre-pandemic, I attended employee engagement events in Seattle. Boeing employed five generations of workers. A successful future would depend on business/life collaboration among these generations according to their HR. Things were really good for Boeing even 2 years ago. It’s incredible how fast things changed at my client.


An astonishing 57% of US-based employees are over 40. Based on my experience, the average age at Boeing was much higher. An overwhelming percentage of Boeing’s layoffs targeted older generations. My father’s company IBM targeted older workers in their recent layoffs. These actions are certainly not justified.

I’m an advocate for hiring young workers, especially Millennials and Generation Z. The future is now. Younger generations continue to embrace a digital lifestyle that will dictate industry fortunes and economic growth. However, there are clear advantages in hiring older workers who’ve stayed relevant. Chip Conley’s book Wisdom at Work is a brilliant how-to guide on collaboration as an older worker. More tidbits on Chip’s approach can be found in my blog post which was based on youthful company Airbnb.

I really hope Boeing makes a comeback. Some of the best workers at Boeing honed their craft as engineers well into their 60s. I believe companies who figure out how to leverage older workers in these challenging times will outperform companies that decided they didn’t need a grown-up in the room.