Age is not a barrier to learning

In 2008, while looking for a job, I met this big shot in Mumbai — tall, handsome, and extremely articulate, this Ivy League graduate was a top leader at one of India’s biggest business conglomerates. At that time, I was urgently looking to move back to India due to family reasons.

But since this guy’s company did not have the right job opening, I reluctantly went back to New York, with McKinsey.

A year later, I joined a private equity fund in Mumbai. And this time, the tables turned.

The big shot I mentioned had left his job and launched a startup that my fund had invested in.

Now, he was reporting to the Board, on which sat my colleagues much younger than him. And he resented that. He would not take kindly to my probing questions.

I have been in both situations — when I was the Trivandrum Police Commissioner, my direct reports (ACPs) were all 20 years older than me.

And a few years later, at McKinsey, the best manager I worked with was five years younger than me.

Age is just the sequence in which we were born — it is neither a privilege nor a burden.

What makes us respect-worthy is not age, social status, or college pedigree, but our knowledge and ability.

The most powerful traits in the world are humility and curiosity. Because humble people keep learning.

And one day, they lead the world.

– Rajan


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