Back in December, I was offered an opportunity to leave the consulting world and join AppRiver as a full-time employee. Having worked with the company for several years, I had the best outsider’s perspective available. What wasn’t clear was how life would be working for AppRiver as an insider.

It’s been 90 days now and what follows is a list of my top AppRiver surprises (so far.)

Average Age: At 45, I expected to be a couple of years older than most of the AppRiver employees. As it turns out, it’s closer to a couple of decades. Most of my colleagues don’t remember Reagan being President, Russians being scary or Chevy Chase being funny.

When I took my first job, some of my coworkers were taking their first steps. Now I have to mentally filter any pop culture reference from before about 1995 or be greeted with a blank stare.

Above-Average Intellect: I may be older but that should mean I’m also a little wiser, right? Well, here’s the thing: Great pay and benefits tend to attract some really, really talented people. As a result, I’m surrounded by brilliant 20- and 30-somethings. (Yeah, that’s not annoying at all.)

Also, when did I end up on the wrong side of the technology gulf? It’s frustrating that my coworkers seem to get tons of useful information from their smartphones. All I get is a fake cigarette lighter and shotgun sounds from mine.

Active Appers: Not to stereotype, but the techno-geeks of yesteryear tended to be ashen-faced introverts with little love for sports or anything outdoorsy. Apparently I missed the part where they traded Dungeons and Dragons for weight rooms and racing bikes. At lunchtime here you can find someone to run with as easily as someone to eat with.

Amazing Benefits: Joel Smith is AppRiver’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, as well as a master of the under-sell. During one of our initial job conversations, he told me about some of the exciting projects AppRiver is working on. As an afterthought, he added: “Oh, and we’ve got health care and that stuff.”

“That stuff” turned out to be a list of benefits that included company-subsidized (or paid) health, dental, life and disability insurance, along with a profit-sharing plan and 401K matching contributions. Just for good measure, it also includes employee chair massages (I’m not joking) and a first class training and development program.

Note to HR: Probably should follow up after Joel speaks with a recruit. Just a thought.

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