Monday, February 14, 2011

Living in a Young Persons World

And so as I approach fifty I found myself applying for a sales position with a company my brother in law had referred me to. 'It's a great company. An internet company,' he told me with a convincing voice. 'Living Social. Tons of potential and I believe Amazon just invested $175 million with them!' Trusting his years of experience working with on-line companies I took his advice and sent in a resume. I mean, if Amazon believed in them...

I soon received a phone call informing they were interested and would like to set up a phone interview. After two other phone interviews I was asked to fly to Washington D.C. for face to face interviews. Now, not having had to interview much in recent years, I prepared as I would for any position, practicing and getting my pitch down. And upon hearing I would be flying out, my brother in law adamantly said, 'No tie. Don't wear a tie.' This is the equivalent of telling me not to hold my breath under water. No tie? I have been told all my life that regardless of the position you're applying for, always wear a tie? 'You know,' he said, 'at Google if an applicant wears a tie, they don't even get in for the interview. Because they think the person just doesn't get the culture.' The culture? Had my years sped by me at internet like speed that I missed this new revolution? Or did I just come from a different generation. My nerves were starting to settle in like a baby does a comfortable blanket.

And then, three days prior to my flying out my wife approached me. 'I'm just telling you this because I told her I would.' Her? Who is her? 'My mom said you may want to think about dyeing your hair.' Now, I'll admit the grays are starting to show. Gods graffiti. But I have been told it looks good on me. Clooney like, in fact. It was at this point in my life that my age hit me in the face like a well thrown Tony Romo pass. Am I actually too old for a job? I'm forty nine for Gods sake! I agreed to no tie but the hair was staying. The last thing I wanted was to screw up a die job and go in looking like Jackson Pollok had experimented on my head.

At the airport, the driver informed me he was picking up two others as well. I met them, she a pretty Southern girl just out of college and he a thirty year old, good looking kid from Cleveland. Turns out there were about two hundred others flying in to interview for positions around the country.

I settled into my hotel room, unable to shake the fact that I may be one of the oldest people interviewing the next day. Dreams of me walking with a cane and driving a Rascal filled my nights, never more aware of my age.

The next day was filled with me trying to convince kids who looked like they may have just received drivers licenses, that I was the man for the job. I avoided any reference to my age, choosing not to tell the obvious jokes and instead treated it like any other job interview, sans tie. When it was all said and done, I was thanked, sent home and told I would be contacted within ten days. I said my goodbyes as my peers set down their sippy cups and shook my hand, all of us wishing each other luck.

The following day, I received a call. I had been hired! My worry was for naught and I actually received an offer. It has now been a month and I have to say it was been great. The company does have a great culture that I find refreshing. It's a culture that looks at doing things new ways. Of not doing something because it's the traditional business practice. And I like that. Too often we do things because that's the way they've always been done. Because we're comfortable and don't want to change. And I am going to take that and try to apply it to my life. To do things differently and not let what has been programmed into me force me to make decisions. With the exception of coloring my hair. The wife likes the gray.

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