How To Operate With Gravitas Even If Young

Every career has a sweet spot where you're living in the Goldilocks Zone. Before and after this period you're battling prejudice... 'too young or inexperienced' or 'too old and past it'. I recently wrote about how to avoid age discrimination for those who are older and now we'll cover the topic for those at the front-end of their careers.

As I write this I'm speaking at an annual 4 day international leadership conference that's been running for two decades. It's been a privilege to share the stage with Michael McQueen who is 20 years my junior but in my opinion was the best speaker by far at the exclusive event. He delivers with genuine insight, gravitas and humility and I invested some time with him to understand how he operates beyond his years both on and off the stage.

Some people have 10 years of experience, others have 2 years repeated 5 times, but Michael has learned timeless lessons of embracing the wisdom of those who have gone before him.

He is an avid reader and student of success. He's worked hard on himself to become a masterful consultant and presenter. The main picture in this post is not a baby photo of Michael but here is what he told me he has embraced in his life form an early age to operate at the highest levels.

Remember your manners - it may not be sexy, but old fashioned good manners are a powerful way of achieving credibility and gravitas with older generations. remember, good manners will always open doors that a good education or great talent can not.

Be present - the danger of always looking for the next opportunity, the next key conversation at the networking function, your Facebook newsfeed or emails is huge. Make eye contact. Focus on the person you are speaking to and stay in the moment to build trust.

Aim to be interested rather than interesting - while you may been keen to show how capable you are, being a good listener rather will earn massive respect. Ask for questions, ask for advice, then listen. You will learn heaps but make the other person feel valuable.

Be humble - avoid the trap of appearing arrogant in your desire to seem knowledgeable and competent.

Don't take yourself too seriously - laugh at yourself and be willing to take some risks. And remember, you won't get it right every time.

Slow down - there is something disarming and attractive about a young person who can remain calm. It engenders strength without toughness and certainty without arrogance

As much as we may like to believe that it's not about age but instead about ability, you need gravitas and wisdom to succeed. Here is Michael in action talking about the next generation coming into the workplace. Book him for your next event if you're focused on generational change or market disruption and need an inspiring and brilliant speaker.

And now a brilliant piece of bonus content... these kids operate way beyond their years! There really are some brilliant ads out there.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: Chris Madeley Evil baby!