February 3, 2009

Staying Fresh

Filed under: Staying Fresh — Joe Grant @ 2:49 pm


Why do we get lazier with more birthdays? Businessman Sleeping at work

When you’re in your 20s you quickly discover school didn’t prepare you so well for business so you sweat to learn what you’ll need to succeed. In your 30s you realize the competition is the big barrier between you and a better (pick it) paycheck, home, car, vacation, etc. You push to do better than the other guy. At 40 hubris creeps in big time. It’s the I-know-it-all decade fraught with danger when you either make big advances or big mistakes. It’s sprint ahead or stall out.

God, then there’s the 50s. You’ll notice you’re breathing harder to keep up with the younger dudes. You fight burnout and labor to stay fresh and engaged while you worry about things like arthritis and forgetting details.

Then if you last long enough in our business (ha!) to be around in your 60’s and can still chew your own food, you’ll probably take one of two paths: back way off the accelerator and count the days ‘til you’re rocking on a porch, or embrace all the new things around you and self-improve with renewed and focused drive. 60s is either turn on or turn off time.

In the agency world those who succeed seem to continually press themselves to learn more – no matter what decade they’re in.

They laugh at the irony that they know even less now than when they were younger. They resist putting client behavior in pigeonholes, or spouting platitudes about ‘known consumer behavior.’ They’ll actually relish ignorance. Because it’s an opportunity to learn so much new stuff and in the process keep young. And stay employed.

Here’s a little inspiration. If you improve just 1% a day, in 70 days you’ll be twice as good. Honest.

So imagine if you did that year after year, in every decade. Hell, you’d OWN the advertising world!

Your 2 Cents 

What do you do to stay fresh no matter what age you are? How do you fight burnout? How do you continually learn?

Let’s hear your thoughts. Please comment below.



  1. Joe, welcome to the blogosphere. It’s fun for us guys in the 50’s…at least when we can remember to write. I’ve tried to turn our organization into a learning organization. That has opened new doors for business and also kept the old guy going. Good luck with your blog. I’ll be watching.

    Comment by Louis Laurent — February 3, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  2. My advice for staying fresh is to launch yourself every now and then into situations you’ve never been in before. Could be a new job (I was scared stiff when my agency boss shifted me into account services from creative, but I grew to love it and developed one or two of those “locks” you’re talking about), new surroundings (travel someplace you’ve never been before, especially if they speak a different language there), or new knowhow (a college course, learning new software, whatever) — and, of course, meeting new and interesting people. We all tend to get into ruts, but there’s a reason why we were born with feet, not wheels — so we can get out of ’em!

    Comment by Sherry Christie — February 3, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  3. Louie, Sherry – Agree. Keep pushing, keep trying new things. We’re learning machines and when we stop, well, everything tends to stop. It’s really about using it (your brain) or losing it. So sad to see some folks vegetate. . . and then, gulp, pass away.

    In business the true learners are the ones who thrive. They face the fear of trying something – the unknown – and jump in anyway.

    Thanks for taking a moment to become the first official commenters. This blog is something new I’M trying! Joe

    Comment by Joe — February 3, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  4. Joe, here you go again re-inventing yourself. Good onya! I am in the final year of a structured exit from the agency that I co-founded 20 years ago in Honolulu. The keep-busy-and-thriving plan is to segue into self employment as an advisor to small agency owners, marketers, and social entrepreneurs. The challenge is grandchildren. Got two, both on the mainland, and the only thing my ladywife and I seem to get excited about is seeing them and cooking up adventures with our friends. It’s a conundrum. I should be out drumming up biz. for the new gig, but I can’t seem to work that in around what I really love to do. Guess you could say I stay fresh through family. Which ties in nicely with my bullet proof financial plan: Party ’til you’re broke, then move in with the kids. Aloha, Buck

    Comment by Buck Laird — February 3, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  5. Buck – Sounds like you’re doing extremely well. Glad to hear it. About the grandkids vs. drumming up new biz… at the risk of getting sappy, you know it’s always best to follow your heart. Nothing is more important. The other principle, which can sound like it flies in the face of our smothering Protestant work ethic, is to follow your energy. What would your life be like if you simply followed your energy, letting it become your compass. Nothing says, after the kind of successful career you’ve had, that you HAVE to be a big business success at this point in your life. Stay in touch and stop back often (or subscribe). I’m hoping Dennis has us come out there again soon so we can see you! Aloha.

    Comment by Joe — February 4, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  6. Joe — Just back from a few days vacation and have now caught up with your blog. Agreed…gotta keep re-inventing ourselves — especially in our 50s! And what could be more interesting than the the business of figuring out how to appeal to people (also known as advertising/marketing)? There’s more to learn in this business than we can ever learn. Guess that’s what makes it so engaging. All the best with the blog!!

    Comment by Chris W. — February 9, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  7. Chris – Thanks for your comments. Only a few people know about THIS little experiment (blog) and I greatly value your/their opinion. I’m uncertain about what to do with this monster – don’t want to merely duplicate what I do on the email newsletters, not sure I want it to become just another “preaching” blog, and frankly don’t want having to write something hanging over me all the time. But I love the idea of the interaction. I’ll continue to experiment before doing an introductory mailing to our newsletter subscriber list. . . so feel free to comment as we go along. Appreciate your input.

    Comment by Joe — February 10, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

  8. 8. Joe – Love the idea and I’ll try to stay tuned in. What keeps me going? Much the same as above. Learning new things, attacking new problems that clients have (such as what the hell do we do in this economy?). Looking over the shoulders of the 26 year olds in the agency and being amazed at how they operate compared to old people like me, and then letting them mentor me. Escape – you simply have to turn off from time to time. Read, although most all business books are about 90% waste and 10% good ideas (kind of like your website – or even your consulting) but you can pick up nuggets of valuable info, see different ways to look at problems, discover perspectives you would never have considered. It’s simply about continual curiosity and the joy of finding something new. Keep this rolling, it could be both fun and informative. John

    Comment by John Ketchum — March 4, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

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