Multigenerationalism can help startups thrive - Albuquerque Journal

Multigenerationalism can help startups thrive

Chip Conley

Editor’s Note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels’ members, investors and startup owners will be writing columns on economic development and startup opportunities in the state. The Angels unite individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.

I was 26 when I started my first company, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which became America’s second largest boutique hotel company.

To be honest, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I ran that company for two dozen years and developed some wisdom along the way.

At twice that age — 52 — nearly a decade ago, I was asked by the three young founders of a small tech startup, Airbnb, to help steer their rocket ship to become the world’s most valuable hospitality company. I became the in-house mentor to CEO Brian Chesky, who was 21 years my junior and whom I was reporting to, and I earned the moniker of Airbnb’s “modern elder.”

What the heck is a “modern elder?” I asked? Co-founder Joe Gebbia told me “a modern elder is as curious as they are wise.” He continued, “Curiosity opens up possibilities and wisdom distills down what’s essential.” I started calling myself a “mentern,” someone who was part-time mentor, part-time intern. As a boomer, I learned as much from my millennial fellow leaders as they did from me. I taught them something about leadership EQ (emotional intelligence) and they taught me something about DQ (digital intelligence). In my more than 7 years with Airbnb, I had more than 100 mentees within the organization, and we were all better off for it.

In sum, this is the first time we’ve had five generations in the workplace at the same time, and it offers all of us a remarkable opportunity to create a new generational compact to solve both business and societal problems by tapping into the rich diversity of talents of all ages. This is truer than ever with startups where often it’s the younger generation with the great idea and the older generation with the moxie, the contacts and the funding to bring it into fruition.

When age-diverse teams are managed well, members can share a wide array of skills, knowledge, and networks with one another. There are dozens of examples of great companies that were startups and today have multigenerational teams working side by side. Whether you’re involved with a startup or an established organization, consider expanding your preconceived biases — identifying those assumptions, adjusting your lens, taking advantage of differences and embracing mutual learning.

My latest venture is the Modern Elder Academy, the first midlife wisdom school. We’ve moved our headquarters to Santa Fe, and I get to spend about a third of my time in the Land of Enchantment. I’ve been participating in the work of New Mexico Angels. It is a great organization and provides not only funding for startups but an environment for menternships — where successful entrepreneurs can share their wisdom with the younger startup entrepreneurs, and those startup entrepreneurs can provide not only investment opportunities but insights into new technologies and ideas. New Mexico Angels is a great example of menternship in action.

Let’s all expand our thinking and embrace the multigenerational world we are in today.

Chip Conley was the founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and an executive team member for Airbnb, and is the founder of Modern Elder Academy.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Multigenerationalism can help startups thrive


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
As wildfires rage, state says unemployment assistance is available
ABQnews Seeker
Assistance is available for weeks of ... Assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning April 10 through Nov. 5
2
Grandma gets honorary degree for aiding New Mexico community
ABQnews Seeker
She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández
3
Oil producers striking it rich
ABQnews Seeker
NM, other states struggle to replace ... NM, other states struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue
4
Governor appoints former U.S. Navy officer to state Cabinet ...
ABQnews Seeker
Dye appointed to run state agency ... Dye appointed to run state agency tasked with natural disaster response
5
Suspect dies over weekend in county jail
ABQnews Seeker
Woman was accused of stabbing boyfriend ... Woman was accused of stabbing boyfriend to death
6
Fifth suspect arrested in 2021 fatal shooting at West ...
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico State Police have arrested ... New Mexico State Police have arrested the fifth and final suspect in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Ryan Saavedra Jr last year. Ajole Guzman, ...
7
Albuquerque issues health alert for wildfire smoke
ABQnews Seeker
The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program ... The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program issued a health alert on Monday afternoon because of wildfire smoke. People with respiratory conditions in the Albuquerque ...
8
Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire now largest wildfire in state ...
ABQnews Seeker
The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits ... The teams battling the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire said Monday morning that the blaze has grown to more than 298,000 acres, making it the ...
9
Additional floors will allow for UNMH's future expansion
ABQnews Seeker
New tower will house updated surgical ... New tower will house updated surgical rooms