The oldest guy in the room…

I spent this past week interviewing in person at 3 companies in San Francisco. All of these companies were similar in the following ways:

  • Startups ( approximately 5 years old )
    • filled with young brilliant people (20s and 30s)
    • bullpen type environments
    • bursting at the seams
  • They were trying to solve a problem that I had encountered in my career and therefore were interesting to me
  • None were profitable but well funded

In all cases during the many interviews I went through ( 3 at the first, 4 at the second, and 1 at the 3rd) I was always the oldest person in the room. In the last interview I was basically 2x the age of the CTO and really if I had been more careless in my youth I could have been his father.

I really didn’t start to worry that my age was going to be an issue until I went to the second set of interviews. In one of the sessions the interviewer looked at me and said:

” Don’t you think this will be to low a position for you? Won’t you get bored?'”

” You would have to be here everyday – do you really want to do that commute? (meaning the 4 hour daily back and forth commute)”

Somehow there felt like there was a veiled implication that I maybe:

  1. Overqualified
  2. Too old for the position
  3. And not energetic enough to survive the commute

I now have the impending feeling of doom about the outcome of these interviews and also what I have to look for in the future. Is 48 too old to be starting up in a new company? Do I need to look for more senior positions? Or is this the time in ones life when the only thing that you can do is to startup a new company if I want to do something interesting and stay in tech?

Lots of questions and my head hurts. I have no control over what others do so I am going to have to let it go and come up with a new game plan. I have always had the confidence that I can handle whatever is thrown at me and that my greatest strength is that I love a good problem to solve and I think is one of greatest strengths of a Product Manager.


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