I am beginning to wonder if I have youth envy. Every day I read about this 20 something, that 30 something, or even that 40 something. No one write about that 50 or 60 something. In 2 1/2 years, I will be a 70 former something.
I don’t really feel much different than I did when I was a “something” or at least I am not aware of that. I don’t know if I am young for my age but then I don’t have many friends that are my age and yes those that are my age are beginning to seem old to me. I sometimes joke that I like to hang out with my friends kids because my friends are too old for me, but there is a bit of truth in that.
I know I have to work at staying young in body and mind but not sure how different that that would be if I was still a “something”. But I am beginning to think that there may be a disconnect in how I think and feel about myself and how those “somethings” see me both physically and professionally. After all, a guy like Mark Zuckerberg was just 15 years old when I resigned from Intel in 1999.
I use to be the youngest guy in the room and now I am normally the oldest.
How we perceive age changes as we age. I think back now on people who played a major role in my life. The first was Joe Kamiya. Joe was a scientist that gave me my first break and hired me (without any credentials or educational background) to develop the first digital equipment used for bio feedback (brain waves). I was 21 and he was 41.
Then there was Prof. Paul Hugenholtz MD who hired me to run the computer department at the Thoraxcenter in Rotterdam . I was 24 and he was 42 years old. By the time I left five years later, I had 30 people or so working for me. I had a position equivalent to assistant professor and was about to be made an associate professor.
My next boss was Moshe Barone at MG Electronics Israel where I ran the International Computer Business for that company as well as its parent company, Mennen Greatbatch I was 29 and he was in his early 40s.
At the age of 34 I went to Digital Equipment Corp which was the 2nd largest computer company in the world. I ran half of the hardware engineering before becoming group manager for small systems. During my more than three years at Digital I had a number of bosses but for most of the time I was there I effectively worked for Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO. Ken was just 18 years older than me so he was only about 52 when I first meet him (I am now 15 years older than he was then).
In 1993 at the age of 38, I left Digital to become President of Franklin Computer. We were an Apple II Clone company that was growing faster the Compaq until Apple squashed us with a Legal Suit. I reported to Barry Borden the Chair of the Board. Barry was 44 years old.
In 1984, I joined Intel Corp. working for Les Vadasz. I was 39 years old. Les and Andy Grove (his boss) were just 48 years old I ended up as Vice President of Corp. Business Development and co founded Intel Capital. When I left Intel in 1999 we had made billions of dollars in venture investments. More than that, my primary contribution was playing a leading role in creating the consumer internet and in particular the residential broadband networks that have made so many somethings rich and successful. .
Les Vadasz was my last boss. I decided to work for someone that would never feel that I was too old, myself. In 1999, I left Intel to run my own advisory business. The Avram Miller Company. I called it that because I had been going to the Allen&Company Sun Valley conference for about seven years. They listed all the companies that were attending. They were companies like Coke a Cola, GE, AT&T and of course The Walt Disney Company. Herb Allen invited me to attend one last time after I left Intel. So The Avram Miller Company showed up right above The Walt Disney Company. I was now too old to be a something but I was still a someone.
I have a great deal of respect for what 20 something can do because I remember being a 20 something. If I have an age bias it is thinking that 50 year olds are old. But of course they are not. There are just older than older than I was and younger then I am now. The good news is I now work for someone that will never think I am old, myself.