I stopped worried about getting old (ironically) a long-time ago.

It happened when my oldest was seven. He had just discovered baseball and was shocked to learn that his father was a baseball fan ,too, and had been since the age of seven.

"Who did you see," Peter asked.

I started telling him about the players I loved when I was his age: Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Tony Oliva, Juan Marichal and the like and he was enthralled.

When I was done rattling off names he asked what he thought was the most logical question in the world.

"So, you saw Babe Ruth play, right."

At that moment, I realized I would always be old his eyes and so I never worried when the first grey hair arrived.

I got to thinking about this other day when I re-read a classic business review article from 1985 and the author was talking about S.W.A.N.s and I realized two things right away.

1. It had been literally decades since I had heard the term.

2. It remains a great short-hand for the type of employees you want to hire.

The author of that long ago business review article was arguing that you always want to hire SWANs.

The S stands for smart. There is absolutely no substitute for intelligence. You can teach a lot of things, but you can't teach smarts. You want to have as many smart people as you can.

W is for work, as in those people work hard. Intelligence is worth little if you don't apply it.

A is for a characteristic that I don't think is celebrated enough. Ambition. It is lovely to think that your employees are hopelessly devoted to your company. They might be. But odds are they are more devoted to their careers. There is absolution nothing wrong with ambition--providing the person has the N characteristic we will talk about in a minute. The "trick" is to make sure their interests are that of the organization are identical.

N could also be a surprise. It stands for "nice." Being nice is under-rated. You spend a lot of time with your fellow employees. It helps if you like them and they are not only helpful but ethical.

Hiring smart, hard-working, ambitious who are nice is the way to go.

We need to bring back the term SWANs.