Am I Becoming A Grumpy Old Man?

I am not “old” (I am 61) and don’t believe I am grumpy. I know I am physically aging when I play basketball on Thursday nights. I take multiple Motrin before and after the games and my skills, which were never high to begin with, have eroded. And yes I say “oye” when I get up from a couch. On the other hand, despite my girth I exercise daily and my mind has never been sharper (here too I didn’t start from the highest plane).

But one thing is for certain—with the experience of advanced years in life and business I have become more forthright in my opinions. I am not “grumpy” per se, but my patience is far less than it had been when I was younger, and patience has never been a personal strength. But today I find I have greater intolerance for those who try to blow smoke up my butt.

On a business basis perhaps it is because I have evolved from an ad agency head to a business consultant, a conversion I made 15 years ago. As an ad guy I needed to be a positive influence inside and outside the agency. Clients don’t like agency heads that consistently challenge them and often disagree, even if it’s deserved. Ad people are supposed to be consensus builders and have good “make nice” skills. In truth I am not sure I was ever a star on those dimensions.

But I know I have changed, some might be based on age, and some based on my different role as a consultant. I now feel the need and obligation to speak the unvarnished truth; I will call out any “Emperor” who is not wearing clothes. They respect me for doing so. In fact I believe the role of the independent consultant is to provide wisdom and naked objectivity which is difficult to find within an organization or from a marketing vendor.

On a personal basis my patience, never great, is less so than ever. But the honest truth is I don’t care.

I used to want everyone to “like me”. In fact as an advertising account manager rising through the ranks, likability was an important asset. In fact it was an issue I recently discussed in a Struming, Likability: The Key to Success. My new vision however is that likability is more important on the “front nine” of life and career, and less so on the “back nine” (interesting that I use golf analogies since I hate golf—there goes that grumpy nature).

I am still sensitive to wanted to be generally liked, but I am more than OK with a 3-4 to 1 ratio of likes/dislikes, where I always sought as close to 100% in my youth. With the wisdom of age I now realize that having 100% of people who know you to like you is not the goal, it’s 100% of people you respect is the goal.

Grumpy old man? Not really. But I am certainly more candid than ever. You got a problem with that?

More Strumings


  1. Rich Riley says:

    Outstanding “Strumming”. Well thought out and dead on.

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