Since When Is There An Appropriate Age For Success?

Huh … I don’t remember seeing a bouncer at the entrance of office buildings to check IDs and allowing only those inside who were “old enough” to be successful.

We often hear about age discrimination in terms of those in the protected class of 40+ who were not hired or promoted due to their advanced years. But I was recently reminded that many of those in the older generation truly believe that if you’re in your 20’s you cannot possibly take on a large scope of responsibility and be successful.

Where have these people been living? Under a rock?

What about the latest 30 Under 30? There are many, highly capable, intelligent, energetic young professionals out there and it’s time for the old guard to take notice and give them the respect they deserve.

If you are one of the many Millennials joining the workforce and are feeling that you don’t get the respect and opportunities you deserve, here are a few thoughts about what you can do to help change the old paradigm.

  1. Prove your competence without acting like you know it all – don’t TALK about what you know … show them. Be on time and come prepared. Don’t spend your time criticizing other’s ideas and opinions without having new ideas and solutions to offer up. The other way you earn respect from others is admitting when you make a mistake, take ownership for it, learn from it, work to correct it and don’t repeat it.
  2. Acknowledge and respect what other’s experience has taught them – take time to ask about the experiences of your co-workers and what key lessons they learned throughout their career. Then let them know how their advice helped you.
  3. Ask questions and listen – start with a curious mindset before proposing your solution. Gather data and gain insights from those who may have a different perspective from your own. THIS IS THE KEY TO TRUE COLLABORATION!
  4. Give others credit – be vocal about what others have taught you, their contribution and ideas. When you give credit to those that do the real work, you will develop a strong loyalty and following throughout your career.
  5. Don’t shy away from the tough assignments or decisions – a common challenge with those newer to the workforce is this desire to be “liked” by others. Many are so concerned about upsetting their co-workers that they avoid confrontations that are often needed to move business along. While it’s important to handle any conflict in a professional manner, if you develop a reputation of not being able to handle the difficult conversations or decisions, you’re basically fulfilling that old stereotype of “being young and inexperienced” and won’t be given the big assignments.

So, should you face the naysayers in your career who think “you’re too young,” use that sentiment as fuel to prove them wrong and deliver results that will knock their old socks off their tired feet.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at