Guest: Hotelier. Author. Social Alchemist- Chip Conley

How to reinvent yourself later in life:

It has been said that knowledge speaks and wisdom listens. Now, is it just a coincidence that owls, an animal associated with wisdom, have some of the best hearing in the world? According to our guest, the secret to reinventing yourself later in life lies within our accrued wisdom. In this perception-changing episode of Breakthroughs with Jordan Murphy, American hotelier, hospitality entrepreneur, author and speaker, Chip Conley, graciously shares his thoughts on how to reinvent yourself later in life though his coined term- a modern elder.

Chip is an inspiration and role model for all demographics. At age 26 he founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality and remained CEO for nearly 24 years before selling it off. As if that wasn't enough, Chip also earned his bachelors and master’s degree in business from Stanford University. Chip was soon approached with an opportunity that would teach him it's possible to add value and reinvent yourself later in life. In 2013, Airbnb asked if he'd help evolve the company into a hospitality industry disruptor. Airbnb now has over 1 million hosts operating in 191 different countries!

Chip's challenge lay in the fact that he had never worked in a young, confident, tech company such as Airbnb. However, if you want to reinvent yourself later in life what better way than to overcome your fears and try something new!? Chip quickly realized there was an irrelevancy gap that many other "elders" were facing as well. It soon became a bit of a revelation that he was just as much an intern as he was a mentor on this new venture in his life.

The irrelevancy gap:

Chip noticed that individuals began feeling irrelevant around their 40's because of the growing reliance on digital intelligence (DQ). "Medical technology is allowing us to live longer while power in moving younger. There's this period of life where people feel they're being 'put out to pasture…when they still have a lot of integrity and wisdom to offer." It was during this period that Chip realized it's never too late to reinvent yourself- even later in life. Staying relevant is your responsibility and one of the most powerful things you can leverage to create relevant value is your wisdom. Your ability to bridge this irrelevancy gap is the secret to aligning with your purpose in life.

Modern Elder:

In our current age we see a lot of young entrepreneurs hitting their 'big break', starting disruptor-type companies and becoming millionaires in their mid-20's. These tech tycoons make it so big early on that they don't really have the time to experience/reflect on life. There's no way to just give wisdom to someone; hence the need for the modern elder.  "Typically, traditional elders are regarded with reverence and dispensing wisdom. However, a modern elder is appreciated for their relevance, not reverence. Relevance means that they are just as much in a state of learning as they are teaching". Essentially, a modern elder values wisdom as much as they do youth. The young CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, was fortunate enough to realize he needed this. "If Travis from Uber had a modern elder he might just still have his job"!

What is wisdom:

However, there are other qualities such as wisdom, leadership skills, and emotional intelligence that can't be acquired so quick. These other facets are where Chip was able to provide the experience that Brian needed. So, here’s how Chip define wisdom: "good judgement based upon pattern recognition with the perfect alchemy of confidence and doubt". We can break this down into two facets:

  • Pattern recognition- The ability to look back in your life and have the intuitive sense that you've seen something similar before and such and such might happen. This influences your ability to come to an efficient answer much quicker than others. The longer you've been alive the more patterns you've seen. So, it's in your favor ONLY if you've learned from them.

  • Humility- The confidence comes from a place of knowing you don't know everything, but knowing you know some things very well. The doubt stems from a place where you realize you don't know it all but are willing to learn from someone else.

Reinvent yourself: words of wisdom from Chip

  • A great quote: "Be yourself, everyone else is taken"- Oscar Wilde

  • Young and old age demographics can learn from each other if both sides practice humility.

  • Being a modern elder is about making yourself relevant again. Have the humility to learn later in life and cultivate curiosity.

  • "Individuals who are 50+ years old believe more of the myths about 50+ year old people than any other age demographic"

  • The process of being truly present in a situation for someone allows them to feel heard; being present will also aid in overcoming grief.

  • An HR recruiter once told Chip: "When you show curiosity and passionate engagement in the interview, the wrinkles just seem to disappear".

  • Ultimately, do what you love and love what you do.

  • A good habit Chip has practiced is staying curious and asking thoughtful questions with appreciative inquiry. It has allowed him to be less reactive and to hear other people’s premises before casting a judgement.


Books recommended by Chip Conley

Jordan Murphy