New Tricks for Old(er) Dogs

I’m kind of amazed how many folks, let’s say, who are no longer 20 something (or for that matter no longer 40 something), who have decided, for some reason, they no longer need to learn.  They seem to have completely abandoned all forms of extracurricular education.  I feel, these folks have decided to live in a mundane world, waking up each morning and completing the same tasks assigned to them each day, week, month and year.  The reward for such drudgery? They get to call it “work experience”. Even though, deep down, they know they haven’t had a new work related experience and havn’t learned anything new on their jobs for several years.

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I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I truly believe human brains become atrophied, and many older workers, make their companies dull and boring because they stop exercising their brains. Albert Enstein said before he died, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” which I believe should be everyone’s goal in life, no matter what age, but also in an effort  for them to remain relevant and alive.  

While I’m not saying experiences isn’t important, some older workers tend to embrace this made-up millennial stereotype that they have becoming know-nothing tech laggards, set in their ways, and may also believe their time on the job alone, trumps youth and inexperience.  But they would be wrong.

Having worked as an executive at Venture Capital firms, for more years than I want to mention, I’ve had the liberty to see into the future, in the form of the newest technologies, the latest “change the world” gadgets, fashion and food tastes of the next generation, and medical breakthroughs that are intended on curing diseases that we’ve been fighting for years.

For me to lead and be really good at my job, I must constantly keep learning and educating myself.  Over the years, I’ve had a great many conversation with research scientists, college professors and inventors and I agree with Henry Ford when he said  “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

I’ve found the vast majority of my post college education has come in the form self-learning, desk research, and due diligence on many fascinating companies, but also in my curiosity to review analyst reports, from some amazingly bright, young (albeit less experienced) minds, and business plans from start-up companies who plan to reshape our universe.  Obviously, I’ve had to make sure I’ve challenged myself to keep up with this next generation, and on all of the latest trends, modern science and technology.  Which isn’t always easy to do.
This meant, after graduating from college, I had to seek out ways to continue my education. For instance, while I studied Finance in college, with no formal computer engineering training, I had to teach myself to code and program websites (which I still do today).  


I’ve spent  hours studying Biomedical Science, reviewing and auditing college courses that were necessary for me to comprehend and interpret scholarly articles and intellectual property reports on all sorts of projects, such as the body’s inflammasomes as they relate to health and disease, peptide and protein design, the nutritional effects of “gluten free” or non-soluble dietary fiber in futuristic consumer products, as well as carbon fiber engineering and nano-science.  Recently I’m spending most of my time educating myself on post quantum digital encryption, blockchain innovations, artificial intelligence (AI), customer business analytics, genetic programming, nano-robotics, and the internet of things (IoT), just to name a few very exciting topics. 

What I’ve noticed, is how much easier it is today, than ever in history, for someone to continue their formal (and informal) education and simply learn something completely new.  With the technology which most of us carry in our mobile devices and laptops, we have access to educational resources capable of keeping our minds sharp indefinitely, but only if we really want to learn.  I agree with the quote, “There are few things more pathetic than those who have lost their curiosity and sense of adventure, and who no longer care to learn.” (Gordon B. Hinckley).  I would add, in our current rapidly changing business environment, pathetic is the worker who allows their brain to atrophy and stop learning.  If not for the sake of remaining relevant to their companies, but because learning something new allows each one of us to be closely connected to the future, with the appropriate knowledge of what is happening in the World around us.

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