The headline above is a direct quote from basketball great Bill Russell. I used to have a boss who displayed that quote prominently on his desk. I was young then, so I agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Then I got older, and I started to believe that experience mattered (now that I had some).
In the old days of advertising, when you needed a surefire solution, you called in the graybeards. When the chips were down, you needed a battle-hardened veteran who could reach down into their bag of tricks and somehow pull out the answer. It was comforting to know that such people existed.
But now, everything those gurus learned over their long careers is hopelessly out of date. In fact, today, the best ideas often come from the youngest members of the team – those who are immersed in the digital world, and have been a part of it since they could reach the keyboard.
So what should us old folks do now? First, we need to listen more than we talk. We may still be smart, but we need to be humble as well. We’re looking for solutions wherever we can find them. It’s our job to surface the best ideas and to separate the winners from the losers. Then we need to sell those ideas and keep them sold. Turns out that’s where experience actually does come in handy.