Bad Girl, Good Business

From Boys to Men: Talking ‘Bout Our Generations

Millennials have overtaken baby boomers.

I’m not writing about a war zone (although it may sometimes feel that way). The Census statistics came out earlier this year and here are the facts, according to Pew Research Center:

“Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.”

I work in a co-working space, filled with start-ups and young companies, so, I’m living these statistics. I also have two millennial daughters. Over the summer, the city is swarming with interns, young professionals, and entrepreneurs. I use swarming as a term of endearment — as in bees pollinating flowers and making honey.

My interest in Millennials springs from that — as well as the fact that I was recently asked to lead a workshop at Interbike (a trade conference) to help older bicycle store owners communicate with and work well with their millennial employees (and, I suppose, help millennial employees better understand the people who own the store…and maybe even help millennial store owners learn how to run a retail operation with people of many ages as their customers and team members). In short, it’s all about inter-generational collaboration and respect. Sounds pretty simple, yes?

(By the way, bicycles are things that transcend generations…from tricycle to training wheels to sporty 10-speed to high-end mountain bike and Soul Cycle/Pelotons…we all learn how to ride at some point. Cycling is timeless.)

Like every generation, Millennials have questioned and departed from the beliefs and values of those who came before them. But because of the sheer number of millennials, their technological super-powers, and their ability to significantly change the economy and the workplace in the decades ahead, they are hard to ignore. Any smart business person should not discount them; he should listen to and respect them. They will be the leaders, parents, and innovators of tomorrow. If course they have a lot to learn about life.  But we can learn from them too.

Boomer market researchers and consultants love to study this population as if they are mice in some massive lab experiment. As I was researching this post, I came across hundreds of consultants’ studies about the work habits, views, consumer behaviors, and communication styles of this group. (I have yet to see a study of Boomers commissioned by Millennials. Is that because we still control most of the marketing companies and media?)

Some of these studies do, in fact, read like stale old white papers. This one is actually sort of fun — an animated infographic. After all, why shouldn’t the media match the message?

Just as I don’t like to be viewed as a “typical” 60 year old, lumping any individual  20-something in with 75 million other unique human beings is insulting and short-sighted. Over the weeks ahead, I’ll be focusing on the factors that shaped the behavior and views of many Millennials (which stemmed from Boomer parenting styles, changes in the education system, and the impact of technology on life).

Helping me figure this all out are two Millennials and superstar interns — Bridget and Audrey. Like many women in their age group, they are unafraid of voicing their own views and telling the “boss” when she is wrong. Wee all need that every now and then — Boomer, Millennial, or other. It’s how we learn, evolve, and stay young!

Coming up later this month…

  1. Work attitudes
  2. How to communicate and collaborate across the generations
  3. Technology habits
  4. Gender views
  5. Lifestyle: Eating, travel, fashion, real estate, sex
  6. Job hunting tips for new grads
  7. Boomers: Will we really be working forever?
  8. Things Boomers need to do to stay young
  9. The world ahead

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One Comment

  1. […] Oy…I could go on and on and on. In fact, they were the topic of several of my blogs earlier this year. Here’s one of my favorite business-related summaries. (I also lead a […]


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