Experience Matters

I remember being an FNG straight out of college and thinking I would rule the world within a year. I remember pushing hard and wanting to do more. What happened to that ethos? Every kid straight out of college today has zero ability to think for themselves. I thought it was me at first, but many I talk to lately observe the same reality: College grads are stupid.

This makes me think about the startup scene, where there is so much activity in what would seem to be the only area of growth in the economy right now. A few observations:

1) So many of these newbie grads need to go through an accelerator program to gain basic skills
2) Corp training programs are necessary for any corporate exposure
3) Grads have zero ability to write. I see “KK” vs “ok” as an example. What the f is that? Abreviating “Okay” as “OK” at least saves two keystrokes. Kids are so stupid.

These are all logistical examples of how kids can’t think. But when I think back to my own experiences and eagerness straight out of college, what I now realize is that kids lack context. Context is only created by years of experience. Experience lets you tell stories of things you actually did, not read about in a case study or some silly role playing classroom excercise. People communicate by context, by sharing war stories, by establishing common ground based on what they have done. A doctor can share experiences with an electrician (ie problem solving) and reach common ground so that they can relate. But any newbie has no frame of reference to establish any sort of reference, short of sports that is.

Everyone has ideas. Many are good, many suck. But what is important in the business setting is the ability to convey those ideas. The smartest FNG under the sun will fail if she can’t relate those ideas to customers, partners, developers, employees and managers. It just never works. Context creates the ability to connect.

Now that I am older I finally get it. I walk into seminars or meetings and meet new people all the time. Inevitably my ability to work with them is predicated on building common ground. I do this by getting to know them, know their resume/background/life and then sharing stories. I then use these “social bridges” when we need to work together. These bridges form the conduits by which team dynamics create a network whose abilities are greater than the sum of its parts. Relationships are everything. They are built on shared experiences. Without experience, how do you build?

Yes, being old and telling old timer skinny ski, green screen, impact printer, DOS 5.2, floppy drive, rotary phone, UHF/VHF, carburetor stories matters. It matters a lot.

About Josh Rutstein

I am an aspiring entrepreneur and hopeful political candidate. Father of 2 very special girls, husband to an amazing woman, and passionate American. I snowboard whenever possible and follow a 20x mentality for exercise. I also play golf and ultimate frisbee and am a die hard New England Patriots fan and season ticket holder. Everyday I wake up wanting to make this country a better place, someday I hope to actually succeed.
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