We recently received a comment in our Growing Bolder feedback file and while I’m usually not the one who responds, I wanted to answer to this one because I think it is important.
The comment came from Maggie H. who wrote:
LOVE what you do but HATE that your executive producer does not fit the Growing Bolder profile. Are there no talented 40 or greater-somethings that could do her job? I think you are sending the wrong message. Just my opinion.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on our work. While I’m pleased that you LOVE what we do, I’m equally dismayed that you HATE that our executive producer doesn’t fit what you call “the Growing Bolder profile.”
Let me start by sharing just a little from our early days. Growing Bolder was a startup launched on a shoestring. Team members were handpicked based upon what I thought to be a list of critically important factors of which age was not even a consideration. Building from scratch the kind of media company that can compete in today’s marketplace requires employees with a very unique skill set including a detailed understanding of live broadcast production, a working knowledge of emerging digital technologies, extensive social media expertise, and much more.
Are there people over 50 who have these skills? Of course, but that unique skill set was just the beginning. Even more importantly, I needed someone who believed in the mission so much that they were willing to take a huge risk. Believe me when I tell you that seven years ago, there were few people who thought we would succeed.
Even more important than finding someone with the right skills, with the vision and passion for the mission, was finding someone who could work in a start-up environment and not only thrive in but help create and lead the kind of work culture we wanted to establish.
Building a small team that believes in one another, that rolls with the inevitable setbacks of a startup enterprise, that is positive, persistent, nimble, creative, honest, and fun is a challenge. A single wrong hire in the early stages can doom an entire company. It happens all the time.
Of the many successes that our small team has achieved, I’m most proud of the fact that we are all still together, still believe in the mission and are closer than we have ever been. We are a family. A multigenerational family to be sure but those are the strongest families. We would have failed multiple times with anything less.
In the past 7 years, we have hired only one new fulltime employee and a few part-timers. While their age, gender and ethnicity would likely please you, I can assure you that those factors had ZERO to do with their hiring. They were hired not because they fit perfectly into what you call the “Growing Bolder Profile.” They were hired because they fit perfectly into the team we are building.
For the record, we have about 10 men and women who are on-air regulars on Growing Bolder. I would estimate that their average age is 60. Would we hire producers that are 50 or 60 or 70 or even 80? All day long – if they were the best person for the job based upon a very large number of factors.
The executive producer that has caused your concern has devoted seven years of her life to helping smash the stereotypes of age that diminish people of all ages. She has spent seven years tirelessly swimming upstream in a world in which most media organizations aren’t interested in creating content for the 50+ demographic. She is a major talent who could work anywhere, for any network in almost any capacity. But she’s working for Growing Bolder because she believes in what we are doing. She wants to make a difference for you. She wants to make a difference for those who are 80 and those who 18 by showing it’s never too late to create the life you want.
We live in an ageist society and ageist or discriminatory comments that masquerade as enlightened behavior are especially troublesome. When you reduce something strictly to age, you are being ageist. You are exhibiting the very behavior that you are attacking.
Should cancer organizations only hire cancer survivors? Should companies that manufacture wheelchairs only hire the wheelchair bound? Saying that you LOVE what we do but HATE that our executive producer does not fit “the Growing Bolder profile” is like saying you love a new life-saving treatment for dementia but hate that it was developed by a college student. It’s just silly and it’s wrong.
I’ll end with a final comment about the “Growing Bolder profile” to which you refer: look at the logo above.