Playing it old or playing it young?

Aged

Going all of the way back to high school I’ve acted old for my age.  Call me an “old soul” or whatever, but there was a joke that I was 15 going on 45.  I’m not sure what specifically created that perception, but I felt it was very useful to me as I sold my services as a website designer and systems administrator.  (No one wants to pay a 16-year-old $50 per hour, let them think you’re 20.)

In my first job, I was part of a national program at a major consulting firm, where everyone in the program is fresh out of college when they start. In this case age is known and not a huge issue (aside from the times the consulting firms bills an analyst out as a senior consultant).

Going on through my career, I was still pretty young, but hiring and managing people older than me (almost exclusively). Much of the time I tried to obfuscate my age.  This is increasingly hard to do, thanks to LinkedIn, but you change the way you describe things. I would say, “back in the 90s I was in systems administration” not “back in high school I was in systems administration”

Now the scenario has really changed on me.  I’m out pitching myself, my team and my business.  Being young and starting a company is a good thing, so there’s less of a need to try to make myself seem younger.  However, we’re in a complex financial business where experience is good.  I’ve also had children very young, which I think makes people think I am older.

In the end, I can’t decide whether being older or younger is good.  I guess just being my real age is good.  I think the first step will be to get myself out of the habit of not mentioning that much of my technical experience was in high school.

Do you try to pretend you’re a different age?