dealing with the old guard

In Indian culture, respecting your elders is jack hammered in to your head from day one.  As a sign of respect you must touch the feet of elders, especially anyone over the age 50, all uncles and aunties, and even Indian family friends who are also lovingly referred to as “uncle and auntie”. Pay homage.

These traditions are fine and  should continue to be respected.

However, what about when you want to make your mark on a company that is run by the old guard?  When you first enter into this terrain you have to be careful not to disrupt things immediately. There is a certain way of doing things, which “made this company successful for 20 years.” Any new ideas offered should be expected to be quickly dismissed. Aspects you feel are important, like say the companys website will be replied with, ” just update some information, don’t need a pretty design! and hey its been working fine the past 14 years!” This obviously will infuriate you to no end, but its a part of the learning process. Marketing is a battle of ideas and you’re only deemed credible when those ideas produce results. Bob Dylan famously sang ‘ the times they are a-changin’. Well guess what?  People find change uncomfortable.  New ideas are always going to be faced with resistance. But keep persevering, because the fact of the matter is people want to be sold on a new idea. They want it to work, but are fearful that the negative consequences will outweigh the gains. But the market desperately wants something new. It wants something awesome in a world full of mediocre, boring, seen that before.

How to go about this?

It’s cliche saying… but start small. Incremental changes will slowly gain traction. And it can’t be just any idea thought about on the whim. It has to add value. If you can show that idea creates more value then you have a good chance that it will work. Make it work! You just need that tiny bit of momentum to give you confidence to flex your creative muscle even more. Your boss will gain more confidence in you and eventually get out of the zero-sum thinking. You create more value, the customer receives more value, company is paid for that value, the boss is happy, you are appreciated. And what happens if it doesn’t work? Learn what went wrong and start again. You weren’t expected to produce anything worthwhile anyways, so try anything.

So you can either continue only collecting your blessings.  Or you can start producing value that will eventually lead you to be one day praise worthy. Not just because of how old you are!


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