Two hours ago I heard a couple of millenials in the gym complaining about the old guys in their office and how they were tired of listening to them talk about how things should be.
“Believe me, when I am 35 I am not going to be stuck in middle management or bullied by wife and kids into doing whatever they want to do.”
I tried not to laugh and resisted inserting myself into the conversation because I understood what they were saying and why, even if they didn’t have a clue.
Am I Really That Old?
Let’s ignore that I am almost a decade older than the old guy in their example because I don’t feel like it. Hell, I feel younger than the guy in the picture above (in November that shot will turn ten) let’s get something out of the way.
Sometimes when I look at my contemporaries I am amazed at how old they look to me.
Actors/actresses/athletes and friends all look much older than I expect them to look which makes me wonder if I look older to everyone too. It begs the question of whether any of that really matters or is it just vanity speaking.
But it also reminds me of multiple conversations I have had with friends about our careers and what we see happening in the work force. Because it is not that long ago that those of us who are Generation X complained about the label and being told we were slackers who didn’t know how to work hard and should just suck it up and work.
The Path Goes Two Ways
I remember being the young guy who desperately wanted an opportunity to demonstrate my ability and to show the old guys there were other ways to do things and I remember the frustration of feeling like I wasn’t being heard.
The benefit of life experience taught me sometimes they were right and the best thing for me to have done was to be quiet, listen and learn from what was going on around me.
Those older guys had learned a few tricks that I was able to immediately incorporate and instead of working harder I was working smarter.
But now that I am one of the older guys I also see how there may have been times where we didn’t listen as well as we could have to the younger team members. There may have been moments where it could have helped us work smarter instead of harder and that is important.
Actually it has always been important but I suspect during the age of social media it can have great impact in some areas than it did before.
I am not talking about the technical side because the so called digital natives often don’t have as much of a leg up on my generation as they think they do.
Pong, Space Invaders and Asteroids might not be the most sophisticated video games but we watched and played as the video game boom occurred and took part in the personal computer waves that came alongside and afterwards.
So while we may reminisce about what life was like when we didn’t have cellphones or had to type our papers on typewriters it doesn’t mean we don’t understand technology.
Rather this comes into play when we are talking about how to help brands and businesses build relationships with people. Because that is what businesses are doing with social media, building relationships.
What has happened in some situations is companies have given control of social media to the young people because it has been viewed as something they are more familiar with and because many of the young people have claimed it for their own.
That is a mistake.
It is a mistake because social media isn’t being used solely by one generation and smart businesses who want to develop relationships with multiple generations take steps to make it easier to do so.
You build a multigenerational approach by including the voices of multiple generations in your social media.
The guy in the picture above didn’t have any trouble remembering what life was like as a single man, a young married couple or a new father but he couldn’t imagine retirement. It was too far away to do more than just put a couple of bucks away and hope one day he would do it.
Ten years later that same guy can envision a time when retirement might be a real possibility and thinks about how to pay for the college the boy in the picture might attend.
Got a little time to worry about all of those things, but it is funny how ten years one direction or the other can bring affect your perspective.
What do you think?