Friday, July 2, 2010

Youth. Age.

Timothy Egan, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for "The New York Times" wrote an article the other day called "Second Act Aces." It was primarily about Jamie Moyer, the 47-year-old pitching ace for the Philadelphia Phillies. Last week, he became the oldest pitcher ever to defeat the Yankees. Egan writes, "Almost 20 years ago, Moyer was told he was through — to get out of baseball. That was followed by 10 productive years in Seattle, where I watched the ageless Moyer befuddle the steroid-bulked behemoths of the performance-enhancing-drug age.

Egan goes on and cites Clint Eastwood and John Huston, both of whom enjoyed creative and directorial success in their late 70s and 80s. Huston directed "The Dead" from a wheelchair, with oxygen tubes running up his nose.

Mark Twain wrote "Huckleberry Finn" at 49. And Norman Maclean wrote "A River Runs Through It" when he was 74.

Now there's a counterpoint of course. Melville wrote "Moby Dick" at 31. And Hemingway wrote "The Sun Also Rises" at 27.

Agencies seem to throw out people once they reach 50, though their lawyers would deny this. I ask them to consider this from Malcolm Gladwell, in his commentary on Moyer. "His advantages were experience, deception, guile — skills that usually come with added years on the odometer.... For endeavors that require knowledge of craft, and constant experimenting to get it right, age may actually be a benefit..."


richard k bloom said...

Yes, George, you tell the this " age old" story well. I read recently that in the workplace you will have five generations working simultanteousy in the near future. probably not in advertising however. What ad agencies should do and don't is experiment with age.. team a n older hipster up with a younger square..or vice versa.If Wm Buterl Yeats had died at 50, he would be remembered as a minor irish poet.

Tore Claesson said...

I think age is over-rated. Whether it's young age or older age. Creative people show creativity early. Intelligent people show intelligence early, and it normally lasts. Creative people remain creative all through their life. Intelligent people stay intelligent, and sharpen their intellects in the process of living. Generally. Some may write a master piece early. Some later. Some both early, in the middle, and late. Some may invent or discover something amazing early in life, other inventors or scientists may take a lifetime to get there. It's the fundamental set of traits that decides who we are. We can sharpen with age, we can dull. We can tire, or we can grow. The age fixation in our industry is shameless. It's definitely true that if you haven't got into a very high position by 50 yo';re likely going to be kicked out one way or another. And even if you got to the top you're at risk, if you're not running a holding company that is. It's not enough to be just a great copywriter or art director past 50. Photographers and others we work with suffer from the same problem - if they are not superstars - because the young hang with the young. Advertising is not a physical sport where your legs get tired after 40. Happy 4th.

simon billing said...

Oh so true - sez me from the point of view of a 58 year old hack. I wrote about similar here

Anonymous said...

Michaelangelo said that creative is what every man is at 25 and what no man is at 50. There really is no place for old people in agencies. They're too busy looking back at the good old days and complaining that nothing today is any good. Nobody wants to be around complainers.

Tore Claesson said...

@ Anonymous. You're right. There is way too much complaining from the geezers. And the young dudes alike. Each whining about each other.