When I jokingly asked him if he’s noticed a big difference between 39 and 40, he looked at me, quite seriously, and explained the thing he misses the most is participating in the young professional groups he’s been a part of for more than a decade. I asked him if there was any upside to entering his fourth decade, and his response was epic: “It’s my time to shine. I’m respected in my field, I’ve honed my skills, sharpened my sword and saved enough to be able to invest in my future. I have a loving wife and beautiful, healthy kids who will carry on my legacy long after I’m gone. I’m old enough to mentor, but young enough to be mentored. I can understand why people say life begins at 40.” Our conversation reminded me of a George Burns quote I heard a long time ago: “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” Sure, my pal will now have to check off a different age box on the Census, he no longer qualifies for our annual “Top 20 Under 40” cover story, he might even grow a new gray hair or two…but at the end of the day, he’s better today than he was yesterday. And that’s not something you can just go out and buy — that something that’s earned.