Why is it so hard for the middle-aged to look hip and cool? How many middle age men get ridiculed for being out of “vogue” and most middle-aged women are labeled Volvo driving soccer moms. Yes, it is true most of us have lost the battle with gravity, and any free time we may have after work and family obligations is not focused on discovering the latest trends in fashion or music. Heck, I proudly admit that I buy shoes based on comfort over style or brand recognition, but does that make me a fuddy-duddy?
Why should I care? I am okay with being a middle-aged man; I believe that the gray hair in my beard is just wisdom exiting my body, while the aches and scars I have accumulated during my youth provide a natural segue into a great story. Shouldn’t an amazing company like Microsoft be comfortable with being middle aged? I mean they had a spectacular youthful run in the 80’s and 90’s. In the 00’s MSFT expanded into new markets during their early twenties and emerged in the next decade as a community leader and technology integrator. Microsoft mainstreamed personal computing, reimagined work productivity and transformed how the world communicates. Yes, there were some missteps, and more than once youthful exuberance got them in trouble but they are still synonymous with technological innovation and value creation. Not a bad pedigree for a middle company,
Sure they aren’t as shiny as Google or Facebook, but why should Microsoft a storied brand succumb to a disingenuine recruitment tactic? I find it hard to believe that Microsoft recruitment tactic is to convince young developers that they are hip and cool? Don’t they know that their recent recruitment effort was like a 45year old balding male divorcee trying to pick up a sorority girl as the trendiest Manhattan bar? Didn’t someone say hey wait a minute, this is not befitting of our brand image?
When I think of Microsoft’s brand image, I think of integration, consistency, and global interoperability. These are not expressions of youth but years of hard work, technological leadership, and innovation. Microsoft should wear the badge of middle age with pride; Microsoft is the elder statesmen in the technology world, the mentor to fledgling startups dreaming of achieving a fraction of the success that Microsoft has achieved.
As I have said before, I don’t pretend to be hip and cool, and I could care less if I am perceived that way. I believe my value to the younger generation is my experience, my ability to put their life into perspective and the vast network of resources that I can engage if required.
Microsoft has the same ability only exponentially bigger. So why are they pandering to millennials with incomprehensible slang? The only explanation that I can come up with is that they are insecure about their brand’s patina? Unfortunately, they are not comfortable with their wrinkled skin and what’s even worse, this recruitment effort was like a Middle Aged woman getting a facelift to turn back the hands of time. Unfortunately, the result in every case no matter how good the plastic surgeon is a plastic façade that scares young people away instead of bringing them closer.
So my advice to Microsoft is to be yourself, engage developers with a vision, test their skills with a real world coding challenges and engage them with a story that captures their imagination. Use your resources to shape their impression, if you want to be hip and cool, enlist a genuine millennial superstar to host a charity concert, have a celebrity chef cater the event but most importantly showcase why Microsoft is a technological giant in the land of start-up pipsqueaks.
Please , for god sakes don’t die your mustache, squeeze into a pair of leather pants and hit on sorority girls. That is totally gross and more importantly not in line with your professional brand image.