The emphasis on youth and physical perfection may be leading to a crisis in Silicon Valley and beyond.









  • vanity – the fact that you are too interested in your appearance
  • odds and sods – (infml; BrE) different kinds of things that are usually small and unimportant
  • to undermine – to make someone less confident, powerful, or to make something weaker, often gradually
  • punchline – the final phrase or sentence of a joke or story, providing the humour or some other crucial element
  • over the hill – too old; no longer fit, attractive
  • cutoff – a fixed point or level at which you stop including people or things
  • tousled – (e.g. hair) untidy
  • a given (noun) –  a known or established fact or situation
  • to stake out – to explain your opinion clearly and defend it in a determined way
  • well-trod – already done or discussed
  • take (noun) – the particular opinion or idea that somebody has about something
  • unpolished – not refined or cultured
  • rumpled – creased (e.g. shirt)
  • to don – to put on a piece of clothing
  • to hunch – to lean forward with your shoulders raised; to bend your back and shoulders into a rounded shape
  • coiffure – hairstyle
  • equipoise – balance
  • humbly – modestly, sheepishly
  • fad diet – novelty diet that is popular for a time
  • retinue – a group of assistants accompanying an important person
  • (all) of a piece – if one thing is of a piece with another, it is consistent with it
  • dazzled – if you are dazzled by someone or something, you think they are extremely good and exciting

Answer the following questions:

  • How old is old in Silicon Valley?
  • What does this kind of culture lead older workers to do?
  • Who is this fixation on physical appearance a greater problem for?
  • What were early Apple employees like?
  • What are tech founders expected to be like today? Why?


Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with the words in bold (explained in Glossary)

    over the hill               undermine                 vanity

tousled           odds and sods           dazzle

  1. Amid the ……………. that drift through my Twitter feed every day, I occasionally find a really interesting article.
  2. He tried to ……… me with his business credentials.
  3. Don`t try to ……… your teacher`s authority as you will greatly regret it.
  4. In Silicon Valley, it’s commonly believed that if you’re over the age of 35, you’re seen as …………… .
  5. His …………. hair looked as if he had just climbed out of bed.
  6. The young hotel staff is ………. though well meaning and friendly.
  7. The handsome actor’s ……….. was well-known.


 ANSWERS: 1. odds and sods; 2. dazzle; 3. undermine; 4. over the hill; 5. tousled; 6. unpolished; 7. vanity



  • What is the best/worst age to be and why?
  • Do you worry about getting older?
  • Are the aged respected in your country?
  • Can you think of some problems of an aging population?
  • Do you consider yourself a vain or a humble person?
  • Can you think of a fad diet? Have you been on one?
  • Have you ever undermined the authority of your teacher/boss, etc?


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