Appreciate Your Antique Assets

A great source of dedication and experience, seniors can excel throughout the entire organization.

Surfing through the TV channels recently, I paused to watch a few minutes of the popular Antiques Road Show program. I was amazed at the value we place on antiques in this country, how they appreciate with time. Indeed, the older they get, the more they’re valued.

Certainly you’ll agree that we’ve all been guilty of trashing some pretty valuable items during house-cleaning occasions, be it old comic books, furniture and such. My guilt centers around discarding my father’s mortar, pestle and scales after he retired from the pharmacy business.

This set me to wondering about the “antique human assets” that we live and work with, how we should look at them in a whole new light. I know, the hair is thin and the torso isn’t; bifocals adorn wrinkled faces; and have you noticed the gait and memory aren’t quite as quick? On the flip side of that same record (whoops, dating myself again), the great majority of seniors have firsthand experience with events that most people have only read about. Their pride, discipline, work ethic and vast store of knowledge will wow you. They’ll show up on time, they’re eager to do a good job and they consider sick days merely as an added bonus.

Older is Wiser
Perhaps a few well known examples can set the stage for some personal favorites of mine.

Winston Churchill became England’s Prime Minister at age 66 and led his country through World War II, when he was well into his 70’s. Ronald Reagan restored pride in the U.S. in the 1980s while he, too, was in his 70’s. And Benjamin Franklin was Postmaster General at age 82.

So just when is it too late for older workers to keep achieving? Obviously, the answer comes on a case-by-case basis, but don’t be guilty of judging an old book by its dusty cover. I called my sister in Upstate, N.Y., last month and she answered the phone quite out of breath. Concerned, I said, “What’s wrong Pat?” She replied, “I just got off the ski slopes and had to run to get the phone!” Did I fail to mention Pat is 73? A major inspiration in my life, she’s a retired school teacher who went on to become a registered nurse at age 65. Eight years later, she still works full time and overtime, not because she has to but because she wants to.

I work with a 73-year-old who has an absolute passion for improving our store image and who does an excellent job getting things done right. A great buddy of mine from my AMA days was named “Rookie of the Year” in his softball league at age 71. New York Association of Convenience Stores Hall of Famer Bob Seng, now in his 80’s and the subject of Convenience Store Decisions “Legends in Retailing” this month (see p. 20), is busy writing a book. He volunteers for SCORE and works part time to keep busy, and he remains as sharp as that proverbial tack.

The list goes on. In my eyes, the most amazing employee Wal-Mart has is an 81-year-old lady who takes care of the health-and-beauty section of a store in Georgia. She is amazingly spry and keeps the entire section flawless. My point by now is obvious. Take a minute to look around your company—or at your job candidates—and see if you don’t recognize a few antiques to appreciate. They’re dedicated, educated teachers committed to doing a great job. In other words, their presence is priceless.

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at


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