The Day You Become Obsolete


I couldn’t help but to eavesdrop during a conversation at the gym locker room last week. I heard a man named Jim asked someone whom I figured was a owner of a marketing agency, if his business was still doing full marketing campaigns. “Yes, we do.” The interested party then followed up with another question, “even social media?” The man’s answer was puzzling to me in its dismissive nature, “we do all that stuff.” By then I was fully engaged in their exchange. Jim went further to prod, “you know social media is a very different strategy.” Then came the confession, “I’m older than 30, so I don’t get social media,” said the business owner. In my opinion, his days are numbered as a professional marketer. Sometime ago, he decided to stop learning and growing. He’s now obsolete.

I’m a life-long learner. I have made that commitment years ago when at the ripe age of 15,  I taught an 80-year-old cook how to prepare a dish. That day settled one of the most important lessons of my life: I would never be too old to learn. I might not embrace every new communication or technology idea or tool that comes around, but unless it’s illegal or immoral I’ll probably give them a try.

Where should you be investing your time?

What should you be learning?

  • Steve Harden

    That's a good reminder for me to continue to grow in my professional career. It's easy to put your career on automatic pilot and stop growing. That's what looks like the business owner you mentioned did.

  • I spend a lot of time assisting others with their careers and am staggered by the number of people who have slowly become "obselete" over the years. The other problem with many people in this category is that they have a tendency to blame the world around them for their circumstances instead of taking charge.

    The good news is that it's never too late to change.

    Thanks again for the reminder.

    • I agree with you Darren, blaming seems to be the preferred means of excusing their inability to learn and grow

  • Right there with you! Great post. Sending it to my 15 year old son.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The post is short enough your 15 year old should not get bored with it. 🙂

  • Sometimes you just have to jump on in! The water gets comfortable quickly and I know I am always refreshed by learning something new. With all the access technology provides us today, it is impossible to not learn something new all the time. Love it.

  • Thank you for this reminder Maurilio… never too old to learn!

  • I work in a large organization of union employees where learning isn’t rewarded. Time on the job is the only thing that matters. So many people just waiting for the magic day when they can retire then where will they be?

  • Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with a 91-year-old author when I was editorial director at a Christian publishing house. When I expressed interest in her manuscript and asked for a copy, she said, "I don't have one with me. Do you have e-mail?"

    Um … yes. Yes, I do.

  • ksernel

    I remember when I was growing up and my mom was still driving me around everywhere, I would get so frustrated that she would not listen to anything but the oldies station. At that time, basically out of frustration, I committed to myself always to stay hip to current music and not wallow in the memories of my youth (although a good hair metal band day is sometimes a treat!). I have to say that I've been successful at that (doesn't hurt that my husband writes music for a living) and staying "hip" to other various trends in areas like social media, entertainment in general, and even with forging a new path in my career. At the same time, it's easy to get comfortable and avoid change. It's one thing to read about it, quite another to implement it.

    • I sing along top 40 radio tunes with my boys. My wife hates when Lady Gaga comes on and I sing along every word. 🙂

  • That's a great perspective, Lilly: encourage and pick up the tab. I'm doing a lot of that myself.

  • Thanks for the thought, Mitch.

  • christopherbmac

    Ah, old people and computers. Keeping the economy going by providing jobs to technical support agents. 😛 All kidding aside the phrase "when we stop learning we die". This is so true for this guy as a marketer, in the industry he's in he needs to be flexible and in the know and up on current trends or his agency will die.

  • I think that our society reinforces (if not creates) this mindset with the impetus it places upon getting a degree. It almost presupposes that education is something to be attained once and for all.

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