Many conferences I have attended have sessions addressing the cross-generational divide in the workplace today. Witty and expert presenters codify us by age groups with names like Boomers and X or Y, they tease us for our common foibles, and offer suggestions on how to address each others' needs. In truth, it's the older ones who are expected to accommodate the younger ones while they put up with us. The young 'uns don't pay us no never mind, and never have.
I admit I have experienced my share of frustration with the twenty to thirty-somethings, but they have some qualities I greatly admire, too.
Billionaires and Baristas: Seems the mid-twenties crowd are either uber-smart millionaires working towards their first billion, or they are baristas at Starbucks. Here's the cool thing - they mutually co-exist. Neither looks down on or up to the other, neither would change places, each is happy in their own self-centred world.
The Winner, by a Tie: They don't own ties. They don't tuck in their shirts. They have a one-day growth of facial hair, every day (how is that even possible?) and they look good. Well, not all of them. A lot of them are overweight and out of shape but they still try and pull off this sloppy casual look. But to the ones who can pull it off, congratulations. We were never that cool. I look forward to one of you millionaires giving the keynote address at my next conference looking like you just rolled out of bed as I sit there all suited up out of respect for your coolness.
The Winner by a Vote: Life is just one big reality show to them, and losers get voted off by indifference and apathy and downright freestyle editorial comment on the social networks.
Everyone is a Self-Editing Comedian: and some of the stuff they say in 140 characters is insightful and pretty damned funny.
They're Smart: but not wise, which is a shame. Just once I'd like to hear them give a well-considered opinion, not just a re-#hash of someone else's tweet. I do like the way they drag their fingers across the screen of their I-Pads in dazzling speed as they search for evidence on the net that what I've just said is wrong. Very cool.
They all Want to Earn RIGHT NOW the Salary it Took me Thirty Years to Get: And I'm OK with that, they can have it. "Money can't buy me love..." (That's the Beatles. Look it up, Google it, YouTube it.)
I try to be kind to every one of them. They won't all be Baristas for life; they won't all be Billionaires (I know, I know...but someone had to say it. Were you gonna tell 'em?)
One of them will be my boss when I'm working as a Greeter at Wal-Mart someday, they just don't know it yet. I want them to remember me as that old guy who was pretty cool and "down with it" in the 2010s.