Why I Tell Everyone My Age
Leveraging What Others See As A Disadvantage
This morning while scrolling through my Medium feed I came across a post written by Nisha Chittal, “Why I Never Tell Anyone My Age”. I sipped on my coffee at Starbucks, started reading through the post and knew I was going to have to write a response.
In a nutshell, my reaction can best be described as calling bullshit on nearly everything in the post. Now, to be fair everyone approaches interactions with others differently but personally I disagreed with everything in the article.
There’s Always An Angle To How People Perceive You
There have been numerous times when someone initially perceives me as a naive 20-year-old. Now, what would be the advantage to this?
Did someone look at you and think, “This person is really young? Probably inexperienced”. Great! Now you can stress how much of a hustler you are because you’re the young go-getter.
What about the flip side? Did someone look at you and think, “This person is too old.” Awesome! Now you can stress how all the experience you have makes you a perfect fit.
I’ve leveraged being seen as the young naive developer at a company after getting hired. It allowed me direct access to the executives in the company for “mentorship”. The benefit was being able to circumvent my boss when I wanted a feature implemented in the company. Eventually, I landed a project that should have gone to one of the senior developers in the company.
You Control Exactly How To Be Perceived
Here are some quotes from the article,
having found out my age, she(older coworker) suddenly could only see me as just another twenty-two-year-old: too young to be taking on such a level of responsibility at work.
when you tell someone your age, you give them the power to decide how you’re perceived.
Just last week I was at the Montreal TechCrunch event pitching my company GamerBet in a room with ~1000 people. It came up in a conversation about how old I was? Well, I’m 24.
See, the person who asked at the event had the same reaction that Nisha points out in the first quote. The difference is that I took control of the situation. I explained to them what I’ve accomplished in relation to my age.
Standing there with this stranger, walking them through my major accomplishments and then throwing down the age card of only being 24 changed everything. All sudden, the conversation changed from, “You’re too young to have the experience to build a +$100m company” to “I want to invest in the company”.
Still not convinced? Put on a white coat and walk into a hospital. Hell, put on the white coat, walk anywhere and the majority of people are going to think you are a doctor.
Perception can be entirely controlled & rigged in your favour.
What Happens When You Don’t Tell Them?
It is not a matter of, “If people will find out” but instead a question of “When will people find out?”. Do you have a LinkedIn or Facebook? Did you list educational information on it? Well, then I have a general idea of how old you are.
People gossip, someone will eventually find out and then everyone will know.
See in the situation of not telling anyone you’re not in control of how others are perceiving that information because you are unaware of them knowing.
Telling someone your age in my opinion provides an advantage over all the people not saying anything if you’re able to control the perception and get the one you’re looking for.