While I have been lucky enough not to experience more than one occasion of overt ageism (an interview with a startup with a young age average), I welcome the competition. I would add a few traits to your assessment of the older designer—we are also commonly more competitive and acutely aware (fearful?) of our expiry.
For the walking dead reading this, there are a few things that I’ve found beat back the hands of time:
1. Modern vocabulary:
Keep up with tech terminology and be an acronym killer. I read a lot outside of work hours to maintain a stranglehold on vocabulary that’s being thrown around the office. I also ask people to de-acronym-ize so that no one feels “out of touch.”
2. Modern work tactics:
Keep up with processes and facilitation techniques that come from recent authors. Better yet, get a certificate. Be a go-to expert. Yes, many of them are reheated versions of things we’ve done decades earlier, but no one cares to hear that.
AQ is the new IQ. Learn new ways to work. Ask young people to teach you. Be humble. Be flexible. Be less individualistic, less competitive, more cooperative. Younger workers have collaboration skills for days.
Offering your skills up for multiplication is a gift that gives both ways. You will create new colleagues, apply rigor to your own thinking, and increase your credibility.
[Full transparency: Tech industry, mid-forties, director-level, and fighting like hell to stay on top…and better for it. Bring it on, kiddies.]
**I wrote this in response to https://medium.com/truthaboutdesign/ageism-in-tech-why-older-designers-are-better-than-younger-designers-94c3ab4ac235