So I applied for a job at Cox. It’s a four-mile bike ride from my home, in the area with the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the southeastern United States. Cox used to be one of my 40-hour-a-month clients-on-retainer for about seven years, until the tail end of the recession when a restructuring eliminated my point people and projects. (I touch on this briefly in my book as part of the backstory before I started riding my bike every day.)
I had been running my own freelance corporate writing business successfully for years while raising my girls and this significant hit sent me in a new direction where I got to spend the last few years doing an exciting mix of projects and writing books while also providing critically-needed ongoing support to my younger daughter (who is now on her way to college) following a medical emergency. Prior to having children, I worked on staff for three other media-related companies (Fairchild Publications and USA Today in New York City, and Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta) and can see myself making a difference back in that ever-evolving arena (plus I worked at the worldwide headquarters of UPS — is there a spot on their global-ebike-delivery project management team?), although, frankly, I am wide open to a plethora of opportunities right now. I am specifically looking for a company or organization with a strong triple-bottom-line sustainability commitment that values diversity not just in race, gender, and sexual orientation, but also age. Is it Cox? Is it the City of Atlanta? Is it McKinsey? Is it somewhere that I don’t even know exists? I don’t know yet.
The fact that some people consider age to be an impediment when hiring is unfortunate, but look, I get it. I was in your shoes (and you may be in mine someday soon, too, especially if you are thinking of having children). I remember when a Senior VP at USA Today turned 35 and I thought that was old, and when a video producer coworker of mine at Turner had a daughter graduating from high school, for goodness sake, so my god, she was old — and I am now actually older than both of them.
People don’t like to talk about this. I’m talking. It’s been a surprise to me that this is the age at which I feel most energetic; most able to not only contribute significant expertise but also to adapt and learn quickly since I see the big picture more fully; and least stressed by the need to juggle other responsibilities (specifically parenting). I frankly don’t see why more companies are not actively pursuing professionals who are now beyond the kid years.
My younger daughter gave me a video yesterday that she made for me for Mother’s Day where she had spliced together a bunch of scenes of me dancing (which I do a lot). I just wanted to share a 7-second snippet with you. This is what 54 years old looks like:
Last night, I discovered that several articles of mine are still running on one of Cox’s websites, and I enjoyed re-reading the one titled Everything I Needed to Know I Learned by Unicycling. Here are the six lessons I identified (you can read the full article here):
- Get over the fear of falling by learning to fall gracefully
- Relax your back, remember to breathe, and keep pedaling
- Lean into the wind or get blown over
- Keep your focus on where you want to go, not where you are
- Don’t worry about how silly you look. Who really cares?
- Celebrate the joy of achievement, no matter how really useless the skill
And so I’m leaning into the wind, pedaling forward, keeping my focus on where I want to go in life, and not giving a second thought to how silly I may look.
See here for links to buy my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike, on Amazon in all global markets. I’m an indie author and your support is greatly appreciated. A portion of proceeds from the sale of all books is donated to help more women and girls ride bikes. Currently, that means funding my ability to do “Pedal Power with Pattie” Basic Bike Skills Classes for Women for free.