Perennials: The Most Exclusive Club That Anybody Can Join
We are building ALEX.fyi for people who want to make empowered decisions about their financial future. As a founder, I am frequently asked, “What is your target demographic?”
Here is the clinical answer: self-directed, internet-comfortable investors aged 50–65. The real answer has much more to do with attitude than age.
We will serve the smart, switched-on men and women who want to own their destiny at any age. They are the Perennials. Serial entrepreneur Gina Pell¹ coined this psychographic term in October 2016, stating: “It’s all about mindset and no longer about a one-dimensional timeline that runs from birth to death.”
In the United States, we are at an interesting time in our history. As a population, we have enjoyed massive gains in life expectancy. Ongoing medical advances portend a continuation of this trend.
This added longevity brings about great opportunity — and costs. While we have more years to accumulate wealth, we will also have to stretch those assets further over the course of an extended retirement.
At ALEX.fyi, our primary goal will be to give our members tools to make informed decisions about building and managing personal wealth. We are also here to remind everybody how important it is to adopt an attitude of continuous personal growth at any age.
While the term “Perennial” is not age-specific, deliberately adopting this mindset may be most critical for many Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers.
Increasingly, hiring and advancement trends are skewed in favor of younger candidates. In many industries, youth trumps qualifications and track records. This is often at the expense of a deep pool of mid-life talent.
Mark S. Wright, CFO of Electro Optical Systems, touched on the age bias issue in a post on LinkedIn, “Confessions of a 50-Year-Old Job Seeker,” and the litany of comments it inspired is sobering. Many seasoned professionals in their 40s and 50s cite their experiences being laid off after decades of hard work, only to struggle in lower-level positions for a fraction of their previous salaries due to “aging out” of the current job market.
The economic and psychological impact of these biases is real. The bottom line is that working longer is critical to building the war chest for the rest of your time on this planet. Put simply, it has never been more important for everyone of productive age to be employed and building wealth.
I am a huge fan of engaging and hiring young people. They bring energy, open-mindedness, new perspectives, and lower costs. Most importantly, they are our future.
At the same time, the mid-life set is teeming with superstars. These are people that are battle-tested and have actually lived up to their potential. That experience goes a long way toward making fewer mistakes and staying on productive paths in the workplace. Employers will benefit from a more balanced view of both experienced and new workers.
Not long ago, I spoke to a gentleman in his late 20s who had posted his availability for hire as a full-stack web developer. We’ll call him Tyler. He possessed the skill sets I’m seeking to hire in-house as I build out ALEX.fyi, so I reached out to get a better sense of what he had to offer.
The conversation was interesting on two fronts. First, his day job was as maître d’ at a downtown NYC eating establishment. Second, his training was a 12-week web development boot camp.
I was a bit taken aback by the latter. Does it really only take 3 months to become a skilled web developer? I remain skeptical, even at entry level. However, if that’s all it takes, I don’t see any reason why it should somehow be the exclusive domain of people under 30.
To Tyler’s credit, I appreciated his desire to work hard and improve his options. Everyone should spend some time working in a restaurant or other down-to-earth service job at one point in life. I certainly did, and so have many people that I admire.
However, it was Tyler’s rationale for making the move to tech that I found particularly interesting. He essentially said that given the strong age bias in the technology industry, he wanted to get involved now, for fear of aging out when he hit, say, 30.
Whether his sensitivity was borne of effective marketing from the boot camp salespeople or a more intimate connectivity with the industry, I will never know. But he clearly felt that pressure, and I sense that it is a pretty real phenomenon.
Here’s the thing: If a 12-week boot camp and a little ambition is all it takes, I think many people should be able to get there — not based on age, but on hunger, hard work, and a willingness to shape shift. It should not be out of reach for anyone in their 40s, 50s, or even 60s looking to continue or reinvent their careers.
My biggest takeaway from that interaction with Tyler was that the current age bias at the expense of Gen-Xers and Boomers should be scariest for Millennials. Whatever the world has in store for “seasoned” folks lies just around the corner for them too.
Older Millennials are already well into their 30s. They are moving out of Mom and Dad’s basement, getting married, and looking to own their homes. How ironic will it be if they have to pay their unemployable parents’ mortgage too? Beyond that, Gen Z is about to start graduating from college and enter the job market. So the push will start to come from below as well…
For those who are already mid-career, fatigue and elevated personal expectations can weigh heavily on morale. Everybody goes through that at some point. The key is to maintain the strength of one’s resolve and think openly about new beginnings. What got you here can take you forward.
I often ask my compatriots in the 40+ and 50+ set the following question: From a professional and experiential perspective, how does the current version of you stack up against your younger self?
I know my answer to that. What is yours?
In the end, every generation has skin in this game and a role to play. As such, the Perennial mindset should be alluring to everyone.
We love Perennial stories here at ALEX.fyi and would like to hear yours. They don’t have to be about famous people — just kick-ass attitudes.
Who is your favorite Perennial?
¹ By coincidence, Gina and her husband, Dave Pell, were classmates and friends of mine from high school in San Rafael, California. I was introduced to the Pells’ content by my very astute wife. She had serendipitously become a follower of Dave’s NextDraft news site and strongly recommended that I follow it.