The alleged quote that the submitter put in the title appears to be completely bogus. Is that so? Googling it  brings up nothing but this HN page and a few other web pages from today.
If the quote was just made up, then this post manages not only to be asinine linkbait, but fraudulent as well. You don't put made-up horseshit in quotation marks and attribute it to someone.
Apart from that, what an unredeemably stupid thread. This is a shining (or should I say a steaming) example of what we don't want on Hacker News. That ought to be obvious! If it isn't obvious to you, please pay closer attention, and kindly don't post anything until it is.
Now off to bed without any supper, all of you.
The larger issue, though, is that these discussions are so lame. Young people think they're smarter? You don't say!
It's also lame that we live in a world where interesting people can't speak their minds. (Most thoughts are wrong. Some are interesting anyway.) In a position like that, make one slip and a thousand cackling magpies instantly descend and start pecking at you. How many such experiences before you're trained to dumb down and sanitize everything you say—two? three? After which, of course, people will criticize you instead for spouting vetted corpspeak. Talk about a lose-lose. We're all poorer for it, because it makes discourse much more tedious.
So it doesn't surprise me that he said that to a room full of young wantrepreneurs ready to kill themselves working 100-hour weeks in hopes of an acquihire (probably by Facebook). It also doesn't surprise me that he blew $100 million on the good cause of helping his home school district -- looked great in the press and continued the narrative he wanted for himself. It manipulates large numbers of people in a way he wants them manipulated. This is his medium.
I wish him the best -- and that maybe he learns a little bit. I know that probably sounds condescending, but Zuck is at a huge disadvantage compared to the rest of us, similar to that disadvantage faced by rockstars: he's at the top of his game. The job has to be a killer, but as far as social feedback goes, he's unlikely to screw it up. When I was 25, if I went in and told my boss he was an idiot, I would lose my job. People would ask me what my problem was, and I'd have a good chance to do some introspection. He has no similar natural social limitations. So he can keep on saying and doing things like this without the opportunity for introspection most of us would have.
EDIT: Removed the first clause, which seemed to be giving some people problems.
Which is perfectly understandable, because that's how humans normally converse, particularly on topics that are not known to be very controversial.
Seriously, what I've found I'm better at:
1. Seeing the big picture. It used to be about the technology; now, it's about people. Technology is the means to an end, not an end in itself (usually; sometimes playing is just fun).
2. Predicting pain points. School of hard knocks and all that. I've also seen a lot of technological change from my first BASIC programs on a TRS-80 and Atari 600, which informs that.
3. Knowing when to be passionate. Some things really matter; others, not so much. Those things that matter need the time and energy they deserve; the things that don't matter, well, don't. I'm much better at letting unimportant things go under the bridge, freeing time, energy and mental capacity for more important things.
This does mean it doesn't come without a cost. Here are the tradeoffs (for me, not speaking generally):
1. Much less time available. Life competes, kids have plays and soccer games, yard work has to happen, etc.
2. The desire to beat my head against a problem for 96 hours straight has waned significantly. I'm much more likely to go off and do something else and come back to it later.
3. Learning is different. It's not slower, but the process is different. For things that have a positive pattern match from the past, learning is very fast; but if there is no pattern match, it takes more repetitions to make it stick long term.
Over all, I think I'm a much better software developer today than I was 15 years ago. My code is better, stronger, faster, and I'm not running in circles as often.
Taken literally, it seems to be true. Your reaction time slows down after 24, as the data shows.
Though I guess we always need the "technically corrrct" comment ;)
It just seems strange that everyone is saying his assertion is unquestionably false when, if anything, the evidence seems to suggest the opposite.
knowledge however, increases.
I don't disagree that being young confers special advantages and powers. Young people can more easily blunder up a wonderful mistake because they have less to lose. That's important. But that's not the only way!
Now I just admit that I am probably clueless and just try to make the best decision with what I know now. It's helped me to be a lot less cocky.
Because chess is more important than family.
I love this place, but will not deny that the Bay Area tech community's hubris is at astronomical levels.
...I'm just glad we're done talking about splitting California into smaller states.
But I won't knock Zuckerberg for being young and naive once. I was too. Hopefully he's growing up a bit and realizing that there is a lot more to success than founder age.
Depending on what your problem is you may want a younger person or an older one, or both.
Honestly though, 30 isn't that old. Perhaps it was growing up with older parents (they had me when they were over 40) but I've never viewed even 40 as "old". Getting there, sure. But not old. Old is like 70 -- retirement home.
My parents were in their 40s while I was starting elementary school, and can't help but see that as 'old'.
Most research points to mid/late 30's as the peak of technological breakthroughs (largely determined by age of Nobel winning work). I'd actually be somewhat surprised if successful company founders weren't largely distributed around that same range.
Those are just three of four things that I checked (John McCarthy was in his early 30s). The idea that once you're over 30 you can no longer hack it is absurd, but that doesn't mean that the opposite has any truth to it.
Edit: Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer programs when she was 27-28.
Throwing out some more: Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, and Johannes Kepler.
http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2014/30-under-30/techno... Another 30
Seymour Cray was just over 30 when the Cray-1 came out.
* John Karmack's game engines for Commander Keen, Doom, Quake
* Palmer Luckey's original Rift design
* Feynman's "parallel" computer at Los Alamos
And many many more if you include mathematical / physical discoveries although these
are not strictly speaking "technological feats". I would add that I do not agree with Zuck's statement, no matter how many examples I can come up with (and despite the fact that I'm myself under 30)
I don't know enough about the other feats to comment on them.
It's way impressive how young Feynman was when he was apart of the whole project, though. He was the youngest member.
Larry Page & Sergey Brin with Google
Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, VisiCalc
Pierre Omidyar, eBay (some may say it's not an impressive technical feat, I disagree)
Bill Joy did plenty of amazing work before 30 (including co-founding Sun)
Sandy Lerner founded Cisco and did some amazing technical work pre 30
Bob Metcalfe was around 27 when he created ethernet
Most of the people mentioned in this thread from that era in fact lived into their 70s or 80s (70 for Leibniz, 84 for Newton, etc). That might be a coincidence, but I suspect that reduced occupational hazards played a significant role.
The article is trying to say that life expectancy is reduced by high child mortality, but that's a pretty harsh adult life expectancy too. Surely almost everybody alive was under 30.
Actually, that's still true: a majority of people in the world are under 30.
Newton himself lived to be 84. He published Principia Mathematica aged 45. As the article explains, life expectancy is just an average.
But it is relevant here: if most people alive are under 30, most stuff gets done by under 30s.
This is very obviously not true. For example, more people use PHP than use Facebook (supposing that there is at least one user of PHP who does not use Facebook, such as e.g. myself). I'll let you construct additional examples for yourself.
And if, btw, you argue that the users of Facebook don't "use" PHP, then I'll argue that they don't "use" Facebook in exactly the same way, since their web browser (or mobile client) is an intermediary.
Facebook doesn't really fit into that category. It was MySpace 2.0
That being said, I feel like silicon valley gives preference to younger people in large part due to ingrained social expectations. A young 20-24 year old that pitches gets a lot of lee-way.
They have a passion and fire in them, so anything they say seems more impressive especially because you might not expect it of them. It's like a 5 year old regurgitating some obscure or advanced factoid...wow you say, what a smart young man! Objectively the kid isn't smart, but relatively speaking he appears very smart, especially compared to other 5 year olds.
The standards increase as you get older. You can't just walk in and pitch like you're an idealistic 20-something. You have to project complete confidence...essentially you need to act like the boss society expects you to already be. In contrast, younger entrepreneurs benefit from a sort of stereotype: younger people are "fresher" ideas, aren't held back by convention, etc. Older people are expected to know how to run shit and aren't allowed to just skate by on vision alone.
The most important thing he said that day I can remember was that his company was, no matter what, a "software" company, and even his chief legal team lawyer codes as well, and stressed the importance of understanding and doing coding.
Now, I'm 32, and made a lot of money in my late 20's, and also in my early 20's, but lost everything right before I turned 30 in some legal grow op investments in California. I've never had a successful startup, even though I had a successful affiliate program in college, and am beginning to feel old.
When I was 22, in college and making more than a plastic surgeon because I figured out how to generate oodles of mortgage leads online during the mortgage bubble, I not only felt different, the world itself was different. Everybody seemed to be happier, friendlier. The world is just simply a different place when you're making lots of money and building things, whether its in internet marketing or in the startup world. The world is a very shitty place when you're stagnant, barely making any money, and just rotting away some like dead animal.
Its hard to even think straight any more. It's like a part of me is just not there that once was. I exercise and eat healthily, but its just not the same. Maybe I need to start getting on some HGH treatment, but that's nearly 30k a year. Its probably more mental than hormones.
So yeah, if you're over 30, you're a slow old man, only if you let it get to you deep down.
I'm 28 now, and feel like I'm getting younger as I age. But not quite as young as when I was 21. There's definitely aging there, I think.
The three things that have produced the biggest impact for me have been:
2. Mindfulness + stoicism (Seneca)
3. Finally earning a good amount of money
Mindfulness I only really managed after a health crisis forced me to deal with the stress constructively. Money I can't advise on.
But barbells are very easy to implement. Takes me about 30 minutes, three times per week + a $40 gym membership.
I'll look into #2. Maybe that can help with #3. When I can think straight and focus, I can stomp my foot on the ground and money seems to spring up around it. Thanks for the advice.
The Miracle of Mindfulness was a good read. Actually, the first ten pages was enough for me. It got me to try being totally mindful for a morning as I went about my affairs, and that stuck with me. I am solidly in the present most of the time.
Letters from a stoic is what I read for Seneca. He taught me that we will lose everything eventually, but accepting this lets us enjoy what we have without fear. And he taught me to rehearse any scenarios I fear and write them down, to see that they're ultimately not so bad, or the common fate of us all.
except for a small slice of silicon valley it seems.
you are mature enough to be a bit more in control, yet young enough to still be... well.... young!
"Why are most chess masters under 30? I don’t know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important."
Then, have a look at this list:
Former world champion Anand hit his peak rating at age 41.
Zuckerberg will learn this as he gets older.
He said this: Do not avoid hiring young people. They are great and terrific and amazing and full of ideas and energy. Give them more power and more responsibility. Just baby sit them periodically and gently guide them when they need it. Value them and utilize them.
Every other interpretation of that quote is just bizarre. Btw, when you are that young and have taken such a deep ownership of life and world, you see things other people just don't see, and one of them is the power of the twenty-somethings. And you might remember the power of 18-20 crowd.
Even at startups, I would guess that the average programmer is over 30 in my area (Charleston, SC). An older programmer here can pretty much live like a king/queen on their salary with nearly limitless employment, assuming they keep somewhat up to date ("up to date" being more like "knows how to use OOP and a standard ORM", not "has a prolific Github profile and uses TDD"). In fact, many of the top programmers you see here are people who left SF or NYC for more stable employment in finance, cushy consulting, and better real estate prospects.
[Disclaimer: I am neither an older programmer nor a .Net/Java dev, but this has been my anecdotal experience]
Then again, I'm probably an old engineer at heart :) I love talking to those guys in their 50s that were programming COBOL or assembler before I was born. I was sitting in a career course thing recently and some of the older guys were sharing their experiences applying for jobs; all I could think was that I'd love to hire these guys if I had the means. Give me a wise engineer any day.
The old guys vastly underestimate the productivity difference between old tech and hip new tech.
The young guys vastly overestimate how much of their productivity is due to their own smarts rather than using hip tech, and don't sufficiently appreciate that when they get older, the experience they've accumulated won't be worth much, either. Re-learning everything every 5 years is only fun the first and second times.
But certainly, years of experience with some tech is becoming less and less valuable, as the tech is changing faster and faster.
I'm 54 and learning node.js recently was a snap. Why? Because I know 10 other languages and have written production code for 30 years.
I have interviewed a lot of young programmers and they talk about all this new cool stuff yet their skills to write core SQL and true production-level code is lacking. If you want to generalise, I can too.
When kids say mistaken things about stuff they don't understand, adults usually just ignore them because they're confident they know better. They don't (ordinarily) get upset. I think people denounce a quote like this for being naive and get upset about it because they worry it might be true.
But on the flipside, there is probably a good reason the US doesn't allow people to run for president before age 35. And most powerful leaders in the modern world are considerably older than that.
You lose something with age I have found. But, you gain something just as valuable. Thinking fast doesn't necessarily mean thinking better.
How much money a person makes is a very poor indicator of .. well, anything, except how much money got made.
> I would guess that a fair majority of the human race has, at one time or another, been young.
This supports Mark's point more than counters it.
> Most chess masters, he tells us, are under 30, and he explains why. Oops, sorry, no he doesn’t. Turns out he doesn’t know why, so he asks us. This seems something of a failure on two counts. First on his knowledge of the subject itself, and second, on the wisdom of bringing up your own lack of knowledge in a speech about the superiority of your mental abilities.
Not really; the statement is more in the spirit of "here is theory; here is data; data matches theory; I don't know why the data is, though." What matters here is whether most chess masters are under 30; if that's false, he should just say that.
> I have to give credit to Mr. Zuckerberg here. He has made me think, and I am a house divided; 50% laugh, 50% throw up.
What values do these sentences add?
> Jesus, if you so believe, was a simple man, who saved the world. Ghandi simplified his life in order to lead people to freedom. Buddha decamped to the wilderness, as did Moses. Mandela lived an enforced simple life for 27 years in prison because of the importance of his ideas. That is Importance. Those are concepts, beliefs, visions, that require a life of simplicity. Pulling an all-nighter to run a debugger in your cubicle just doesn’t seem the same somehow.
Here he acknowledges that simplicity matters, but says it doesn't matter the way Mark claims it does because it's less admirable or heroic than in the cases of Jesus and co. That's not the point. Mark's argument is simply that young people are smarter because they lead simpler lives, which lets them focus on things that matter, presumably to them. (Not things that are heroic.) And pulling all-nighters to run debuggers in a cubicle is something he says, not Mark.
> The difference is, all those 40 year olds have been through that 21 year old stage and know it well. They have learned how to be more focused, more efficient, more productive in less time so they can actually devote time to the things that really are important, like those kids. These are the people who can teach you how to build a happy, sustainable, productive, and satisfying life while still getting a job done.
He is probably agreeing with Mark here, but they are certainly not disagreeing.
> Take a stroll through the nearest cemetery some day. Look at the gravestones. Read the inscriptions. These are whole lives pared down to one phrase. Search for the ones that say CEO, or Chairman, or Acting Vice President, or President’s Club for Sales. Go ahead I’ll wait. Oh really? Well what do they say? Hmm, Loving Father, Devoted Mother, yes, that sounds about right. They all speak of love, family, the home, the heart.
When Mark made the remark about being younger and smarter, he was at a YC startup event. He was most likely stressing the importance of being younger and smarter in starting a startup. What this man's saying is irrelevant.
Overall, I personally feel this was upvoted to the front page more because of the controversiality of the topic than because of the quality of the article. All it does is throw a bunch of objects at random at something Mark Zuckerberg said at a startup event, and then reiterate a couple (old) irrelevant arguments about wisdom and experience.
However, what does your comment really add other than attacks? Everything you wrote is practically calling the author an idiot, when does it really matter that part of his blog post may be in agreement with Zuck? The author makes excellent points, although indirectly, about how a person's value as a founder/engineer/whatever can't be decided based on age. That sort of prejudice discourages valid innovations and inventions that come from people with experience on two fronts: 1) You're telling older people that they can't contribute. 2) You're telling VCs that older people can't contribute, and VCs often make judgements in far too little time. When you're Mark Zuckerberg, you tend to be listened to.
>That's not the point. Mark's argument is simply that young people are smarter because they lead simpler lives, which lets them focus on things that matter, presumably to them.
The author understands that and he's directly arguing that point. Young people may understand what is important to them, but they don't understand what is important in life. That sort of understanding is important in more areas than you seem to think.
I wasn't trying to attack the author. I was just trying to point out where his arguments were flawed. If any part of my comment was unnecessarily mean-spirited, please tell me.
I pointed out the parts where he is agreeing with Mark as a way of pointing out the flaws in his argument, since his intent was to disagree.
You're right that people are rightly indignant that someone as highly regarded by VCs as Mark is saying such disparaging things about older people.
> That sort of understanding is important in more areas than you seem to think.
I disagree that having an appreciation for love and family is related to being a successful startup founder in the way Mark meant his statement, except perhaps in the vague sense of, say, being happier and therefore more productive. I agree it matters in life.
If I'm agreeing with the author here, if that was his real point, then I believe the title of this submission is linkbait.
>I disagree that having an appreciation for love and family is related to being a successful startup founder in the way Mark meant his statement, except perhaps in the vague sense of, say, being happier and therefore more productive.
I took "the importance of love and family" as examples of things that, along with other undeniable benefits, come with experience. To deny the importance of those things excludes people who can contribute more than simple boundless energy.
Also, can we please raise the cut off if it's really young? Please?
What Zucka said, I'm presuming he did, but haven't checked, has truths & flaws all at the same time. Actually it matters little who said it. This is a great discourse potential. Indeed, I've said similar things in the past,probably way more stupid. What this demonstrates is your IQ to the world, albeit at a singular point in time. But the world is an unforgiving place, & the bigger they are the harder they fall. Reasonable we can assume that the numbers wanting to have a dig at you increases in a power-law-like manner, the `bigger´ you are and the more you say; if he'd thrown the word `women´ in there somewhere, it would have gone-up so much he could have been literally toasted, maybe even contract kill from some nutter. Still, it doesn't demean my respect of him, we all have stupid off-days. One has to look at the (verbal + doing) batting average, but I agree if the verbal average per se is low but it's best not to speak! Question is, are you prepared to cast the first stone? I'm not, 'cause I screw-up constantly. I've tripped over so many of my biases, I'm biased that I've biases.
As for me, I'm 45. Anyhow, that's what it says on my passport, but I don't believe it 'cause I still feel 12 on the inside. Moreover, I consider myself faster, more efficient, more clued-in & way smarter than I ever was. Physically, I was a former multiple WR in deep-sea freediver, but I can still do what I did way back when. So what gives? Secretly I'm running nature's `smart pills´. Want some?
Anyhow, back to the story.
Innovation is not so much about IQ (I know plenty of `box-tickers´ with IQ of +140). But it takes more than IQ & speed. BIG innovation, which is or should really be the name of the game, requires MQ (= CQ + IQ) (C, for creativity & perspective-shifting, M, moonshot). Most people under 30 still have a deluded self-centered view of the universe (even secretly) which makes this incessant sense of self-centeredness difficult to allow for any majorly significant perspective-shifts to do 0 to 1. On the other hand, the `program´ in `old dogs´ is also pretty entrenched, which makes the field fairly level.
One last thing: I actually, paradoxically, agree with him(!), i.e., if you're doing incremental or `me too´ innovation, bu not if you're looking to do or invest in real-world (i.e., physical) moonshot innovation, of the type that will magically defy steadfast & age-old laws of nature, not the 140 characters stuff. Sure 140 characters will make money, but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking altering the real fabric of reality & your existence. In this extraterrestrial landscape the brain-strain & the chasm of difference is so deep & wide (think Mars' Valles Marineris vs. Grand-Canyon) that there simply ain't no way, no how you're going to generate or process, say, condense, the broad based & deep knowledge required to go from 0 to 1 in a short time. It can happen, but then we're talking about a special type of person (another conversation for another time perhaps). I'm talking about the BIG opportunities, the stuff that exists at the intersection of fields & which require really deep, sometimes life-long domain knowledge acquisition; the stuff of Newton, Galileo, Da Vinci, Taleb, & Co.). Some evidence for this:
Peter's experiment wasn't the program per se, it was the young- & smart-guns lack of really deep & really broad basic fundamental education (self imposed or otherwise) that requires more time than going from kindy to even college, where by enlarge you're made to jump through pointless hoops over & over again, ad nauseum. No doubt, there is an education problem & a hack in the waiting. The problem with his approach was that it takes time for flowers to blossom, & to paraphrase Taleb:
“I’d rather be dumb & antifragile [i.e., old & experienced] than extremely smart & fragile [i.e., young & inexperienced], any time.”
- Taleb (2012)
The bottom-line: risk saying or doing nothing & the outcome is certain: nothing. The trick is to have a willingness to alter your position if demonstrably shown to be wrong, 'cause that'll certainly boost your IQ, & most notably. All good!