How Boomers Boo-Boo With Millennials.

December 15, 2019

How Boomers Boo-Boo With Millennials.

May 29, 2023

I’m beginning to think I should have renamed my recent book, “Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder,” with “How Boomers Boo-Boo With Millennials.” How often have we seen older workers lecture younger workers on how the world works? The irony is that nearly 70% of those in their mid-50s have a boss younger than them today.

My insight is based upon my experience being twice the age of the average employee at Airbnb. In fact, when I joined seven years ago, I reported to someone 21 years younger than me. I quickly realized there was a sequence of how I could build the trust of the Millennials who surrounded me. This progression is outlined in my book and serves as the arc of learning at MEA:

  1. Evolve: Strategically edit historical mindsets, knowledge, and even your role—make sure you aren’t carrying too much baggage from the past.
  2. Learn: Adopt a beginner’s mind and catalytic curiosity—show that you’re passionately engaged in improving yourself, and your inquiries will exhibit an open-mindedness.
  3. Collaborate: Become a wise mediator—tap into the EQ you’ve developed and apply it to teams where many of the younger folks may see each other as competition.
  4. Counsel: Once you’ve taken those first three steps, you’ll be surprised by how many younger people seek you out for advice and counsel, all because you’ve become a role model for them.

Incorporate this sequence into how you build relationships with those younger than you, and “OK Boomer” will turn into “Two-Way Boomer.” And because you’ve likely developed some valuable mutual mentorship relationships, it won’t be long before that turns into “Make Way Boomer.” It’s what happens when you use your legacy to help Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z workers become better at what they do.

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