Some Careers Are Better to Do Young

Some careers are better to do when you’re young. Athletics is the most obvious example that springs to mind.

There are others. Compare my two main career interests: entrepreneurship/starting companies and writing/journalism. The start-up tech world seems to discriminate in favor of youth. That is, you don’t see many 65 year-olds starting tech companies.

The writing world, however, seems age-agnostic or maybe even the opposite. There are many older writers who are still widely respected and prolific. More experience as a writer is almost always considered a plus, whereas in the start-up world too much experience can be seen as a negative.

Note that I’m talking specifically about the start-up tech world. Daniel Gross has a recent Slate piece titled How did America’s business leaders get so old? where he discusses Buffett, Icahn, Soros, and other senior citizens who still dominate business.

All this to say, it seems to make more sense to start start-ups while I’m young, and pursue writing full-time later in life.

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6 comments on “Some Careers Are Better to Do Young
  • Ian Ybarra is the perfect guy to talk to / agree with this point. From writer to baseball player in a few years (because you can always write when you’re older).

  • Your rule of 27 for starting businesses seems to have an interesting parallel in fiction writing. That is, with some exceptions, the youngest age that you see writers write important novels is around 27 (Chabon, Eggers, etc…) It seems, it takes about that many years to get good, but, it’s still young enough to be original.

  • An interesting field that is the exact opposite is education.

    A teacher’s position is purely the function of the number of years working in the field.

  • What could undo the young writers? We can’t live without Google. The staccato recall of silicon memory enabled by powerful algorithms of search engines have not just supplied us with the stuff of thought, but has also shaped our process of thought, chipping away our ability to concentrate and contemplate. The one that could’ve been a scuba diver in the sea of words now makes do with zipping along the surface on a jet ski.

    And the older ones have a distinct advantage here, assuming that they haven’t been touched so much by the spell of Google. Left to harp on their faculties of absorbing long reads and frequent jogging of their deep set memories to retrieve information, they resurrect the hopes of leaving behind some fertile literary material for motivating the posterity to read; and by a rare stroke of luck, stimulating a few of them to write as well.

  • Google may have become the young writer’s ever ready meta brain, but how many people under the age of twenty have the range of knowledge or experience to produce great literature?

    Certainly a youth can master technique and even style in writing, yet few have the imagination to create a world in words like the teenage poet Rimbaud.

    I think he’d be better served to use his time and energy pursuing experience and exploring the planet than to spend it trying to be a great writer.

    Age brings one the scope of perspective and depth of insight to assimilate his experiences with his talent.

    A true literary genius burns with passion to write, and nothing will stop him, anyway.

    Persistence is his heart and soul.

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