Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Baby Boomers: Are We Really That Old?

Despite Baby Boomer’s pursuit to stay forever young, time marches on. When you look into the mirror, who do you see? The kid in your yearbook….or an eerie reflection of your parents? This presentation shares photos of celebrities – past and present – who were famous during Baby Boomer’s youth and young adult years. A few aged well. For others – let’s say a few wrinkles, gray hairs, and extra pounds make them look … “old.”

To enlarge the view to full screen, click on the “menu” icon, then full screen.

Are there any photos that surprise you?

6 Diversity Competencies Successful People Share

Today marks the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We recognize the ever-changing demographics in our country, schools and work areas. These changes have influenced the way we relate to one another and how we do business. Based on the recent tragedy in Tucson and divisive political rhetoric, King’s dream of “one day [living] in a nation where [everyone] will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” has not been realized. Managing diversity remains a business imperative.

An organization’s success in managing and promoting diversity rests heavily on how well it harnesses the array of skills and experiences of its employees while they remain a part of its workforce. How good is it at fostering teamwork? Does it bring together people of diverse backgrounds and styles in order to enhance creativity, solve problems more effectively, and discover new Diversity - Wake Up Everybodyapproaches to old issues? The organizations must do all these things if it wants to achieve its goals and hold on to its best and brightest workers.

Many researchers and industry experts believe that the organizations that excel at managing diversity have six characteristics in common – six competencies form the foundation of a successful team of people who take pride in together achieving greater levels of success.

These six competencies are:

1. Awareness. Organizations and their employees develop and awareness of the benefits that can flow from cultural diversity, and establish and maintain a climate of mutual trust.
(Watch this video! Diversity – Wake Up Everybody – Contact us for permission to use at your next workshop or training.)

2. Inclusion. Minority groups feel a part of and are included in the major decision-making processes of the organization. Their views and ideas are genuinely valued and seen to be important.

3. Tolerance and Understanding. Different beliefs, stated views, actions, and reactions are fully understood and are naturally tolerated and accepted as part of the rich overall “tapestry” of human behavior.

4. Empathy. Warmth, sincerity, and goodwill are extended to every individual and group without applying stereotypes, so that each person feels high levels of mutual empathy.

5. Adaptation and Change. Groups and the organization as a whole permanently adapt and change when bias or prejudice toward people who are different from the majority begin to hold back the organization or the work of individual employees.

6. Persistence and Commitment.   Individuals and the organization as a whole persist in their efforts in their efforts to recognize diversity and cultural awareness shortfalls; commit to increasing overall knowledge; and seek to reap the long-term benefits from people’s differences, rather than insist on similarity.

(Source: Diversity and Cultural Awareness Profile, Jon Warner)

Click here for more diversity training aids, books, workshops.

Grandmothers and Gen Y On Facebook Make Digital Odd Couple

“Is your grandmother on Facebook?” asks Kelly Steffen in her post titled Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation.  A year ago that might seem like an odd question because in 2009, social networking use by folks 65 and older stood at 13 percent. But this year social networking use among Internet users 65 and older grew by a staggering 100 percent, a recent Pew Research Center survey reports. That’s more than 1 out of 4 people in that age group are using the Internet are using Facebook and other social networking sites to connect with long lost friends and distant grandchildren.

This new odd couple is creating a digital conundrum for Kelly and her Gen Y cohorts. She writes, “As happy as I am to connect with her more easily, it’s still a bit strange to have her commenting on my pictures and updates. Another side of me says “way to go grandma!” As a millennial, I often take new technology for granted. Because I’ve been exposed to the growing advances in technology, it comes more easily to me than my grandmother who is completely out of place in the digital world.”

Kelly then did a great job at summarizing how different generations use social media. What follows are her findings:

Millennials (age 18-29)

According to Pew, Millennials are on course to become the most educated generation in American history, largely due to the exposure of modern technology at an early age. As a Millennial, I’ve had more opportunities to have hands on experience with technology than my parents and grandparents. We embrace multiple modes of self-expression by exploring multiple social networking sites and create a large amount of online content.

Social media is just one of their uses of the Internet, and it’s not even the most important. They access the Internet continuously first and foremost for information and for entertainment and secondarily for connection.

Millennials far outpace older Americans in the use of social networking sites, with 75 percent having created a social networking profile.

Generation X (age 30-45)

Generation X uses technology as much as Millennials but primarily when it when it supports a particular lifestyle need. Much of the online content that this generation participates in is geared to online shopping and banking with less socializing than Millennials.

Boomers (age 46-64)

Baby Boomers use the internet and various social networks for travel and recreation information. Although email continues to be the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, many Boomers now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications. These include sharing links, photos, videos, news and status updates with a growing network of contacts.

Veterans (age 65+)

Seniors are less likely to use internet resources for simple lack of broadband access. Pew states that only 6 percent have created a social networking profile. The primary form of communication is email with 89 percent of those ages 65 and older send or read emails and more than twice of any other cohort on a typical day. Maybe this explains why I get at least three “chain emails” a week from my grandmother!

For another perspective on how different personalities approach social media, read 4 Social Networking Personalities. Which One’s Yours?

Isn’t text messaging today just Morse Code v2.0?

When Samuel Morse sent the first electronic message from the U.S. Capitol to his partner in Baltimore nearly 170 years ago, he typed “What hath God wrought?”  I believe nearly every parent of a teenager today might be muttering the same words.

We are in the midst of four distinct generations of Americans trying to communicate with one another using different media.  Communication gaps between parents and kids or managers and employees are nothing new. It’s been the subject of thousands of books.  Experts have made millions and millions of dollars prescribing remedies to bridge the gaps and mend fences. But they’ve seen nothing like the gaps occurring today between the Veterans (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (1965-79), and Millennials (born 1980-1999)… or have they?  Has anything really changed over the past 170 years?

Take the phone for example: According to Nielsen Mobile, in the first quarter of 2009, the average U.S. teen made and received an average of 191 phone calls and sent or received 2,899 text messages per month. By the third quarter, the number of texts had jumped to a whopping 3,146 messages per month, which equals more than 10 texts per every waking non-school hour.  Just for the sake of comparison, at the beginning of 2007, those numbers were 255 phone calls and 435 text messages.

It’s hard to believe that little handheld device we used to call a phone is quickly joining the transitor radio and 8-track cassette in flea markets and garage sales.  Don’t believe me? Just try calling anyone born during the 90s or later.  Good luck on getting a real person on the other end to answer it. Voice mail? Good luck on getting a listen before it’s deleted. Email? You’ve got to be kidding. That’s old school, baby.

That makes the term “phone” almost obsolete. Using that mobile device to call someone is just a vestige of old technology. The older Millennials, also referred to as the iGeneration because these young people have been raised on the iPod and the Wii, rarely if ever use their “phone” to call someone. They communicate almost exclusively by instant messaging and Facebook. (I intentionally excluded Twitter because contrary to popular belief, young people “don’t get Twitter.”)

This explosion of text messages, tweets, and updates of non-verbal communication is stunning.  It has many peoples’ shorts tied up in a bunch. “How will kids today ever learn how to communicate?,” is often the cry heard from multi-generational training audiences.  And the spelling and grammar? “Well…it’s horrific,” parents and teachers proclaim. But historians might see this revolution in communication as just another lesson in history repeating itself. 

Isn’t instant messaging today just Morse Code v2.0?  What’s changed since Morse tapped in that first message? Upon brief reflection, it seems eerily familiar. One person taps a bunch of keys on an electronic device which transmits a message to another party. Only this time the code, all those texting abbreviations that drive grammar and spelling cops crazy, is translated on the spot by the recipient. 

Ironically even Morse’s first message reverberates loudly with today’s texting dissidents — “What hath God wrought?”  It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Gen Y Gets Religion Online

Amazon, eBay, Priceline — we’ve come to accept these virtual shopping places for every day purchases of books, records, travel and even used cars. While the Internet didn’t strike a fatal blow to bricks-and-mortar retail, it certainly changed the way buyers buy and sellers sell.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that religion has also found a new home on the Internet. And that traditional houses of worship are going virtual. In a simple search for “churches in Second Life,” I found the following places of worship listed on the first page: Second Life Synagogue Temple Beit Israel, Chebi Mosque, Chapel for the Holy Mother of God Maria and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

Just as they go online for everything from Facebook to finances, a growing number of young people are finding faith online, most notably in the virtual world known as Second Life.

Young people are not only creating their own religious identities, they may also be changing the future of worship itself. Looking to the future is the challenge. Many religious organizations are realizing that to shepherd the millennial flock, you must meet them where they live … online.

“I think [this] generation is really turned off by the term religion,” LifeChurch.TV’s Pastor Bobby Gruenewald says. LifeChurch.TV boasts 80,000 congregants through the web. They log on to hear sermons and chat with other worshippers.  Other online congregations are popping up daily where they connect with the digitally connected faithful through faith-based phone apps, worship Web pages, online scripture readings, even prayer websites. And… tweeting is encouraged.

The Internet also levels the playing field between young people and the authority of the church, giving them a sense of control that previous generations never had.

This may also explain why a recent Pew Research Center study on Generation Y and religion found that while young adults are the least overtly religious American generation in modern times, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades. According to a new Pew Research study, one in four Millennials (as the generation between 18 and 30 years old is also known) are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29. But belonging does not necessarily mean not believing in the minds of these Millennials.

A Lifeway Christian Resources study offers additional insight into what appears on the surface to be just another widening gap between the generations. Seventy-two percent of Millennials say they are more spiritual than religious. While the study did find that fewer of them attend worship services, pray or read sacred scriptures, I wonder what percentage might gravitate toward online or virtual religion when it comes to prayer.

“Online, what people are doing is seeking out truth,” Rebecca Phillips, vice president of social networking for, “and it might not be in the traditional way of a pastor speaking from a pulpit.”

Second Life was created by Linden Lab in San Francisco in 2003; its founders imagined a social platform for an idealized online society. Membership has soared to 18 million and 1 billion hours logged on “in life.” Second Life has established a thriving economy that grew 93% in 2009 and transacted the equivalent of more than $1 billion. It has become a popular venue for politics and education.

For a quick introduction to Second Life, you can download a free excerpt from my book, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization and view this YouTube video, An Introduction to Second Life.

A Gen X Reviews Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization

I just read “GEEKS, GEEZERS and GOOGLIZATION” by Dr. Ira S. Wolfe. This was an interesting book in that it made you think about differences between the generations.  I think there are 2 key learning points from this book;

  • We need to treat people the way they want to be treated – not the way we want to be treated.  Recognize them as individuals – who have different learning, communication, etc. preferences and view points
  • The generations have different viewpoints about reality that can be in conflict if not recognized – they each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Without re-printing the book I’ll summarize here some information about the different generations I found valuable:

Veterans (born before 1946)

  • Performance Evalation: Don’t tell me anything if there isn’t a problem
  • Training Preference: Learns best in classrooms, lectures, experts
  • Likes organized, factual information
  • Rewards: tangible symbols of loyalty, commitment, and service including plaques and certificates

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Performance Evaluation: Tell me how I’m doing once a year – especially if it’s tied to a salary increase or a promotion.
  • Training Preference: Casual, training with participation
  • Communication: Face-to-Face or by phone, agendas are guidelines
  • While in the past they rebuffed authority now they respect and expect it.
  • Rewards: personal appreciation, promotion, recognition

Generation X (1965-1979)

  • Performance Evaluation: Prefer ongoing positive feedback
  • Training Preference: prefer immediate feedback, coaching
  • Communication: Face-to-Face or by phone, agendas are guidelines
  • Doesn’t respect hiearchial authority – wants interaction and participation, respects competency
  • Rewards: Free time, upgraded resources, opportunites for development

Generation Y (1980-2000)

  • Performance Evaluation:  desires frequent and instant feedback
  • Training Preference: Participative, more active learning
  • Rejects top-down authority – will leave if challenged by authority driven culture
  • Rewards: awards, certificates, tangible evidence of credibility

Being a Gen-X-er myself I found reading this interesting – as I sometimes have problems fitting into a corporate culture.  As I read some items it resonated with me – the need for more frequent and actionable feedback, the desire for more work-life balance, the challenge with bureacracy, etc.   I find myself, as I interact with web technologies,  understanding more how the Gen-Y thinks and feels -as concept of checking facebook, twitter, etc. doesn’t seem that much different than taking personal phone calls at work. 

One easy way to have conflict is to keep assuming the other person has the same values and expectations as yourself –  and choose not to follow those.  We assume they are in the wrong – and they often assume the same.  We need to step back and verify if we have the same expectations, the same values – to avoid meaningless conflict.  We aren’t the same in all areas – and recognizing that (even if we don’t agree) can help make for a more productive and enjoyable workspace. There is much more to this book than just generational differences- as it brings out personality styles, where we are in a careers, in order to help manage people.  Again I think the point is a one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work anymore – as people are just too different. 

The world keeps changing faster and faster – with technology becoming disruptive.  This technology affects how we interact with each other – e-mail vs. phone, IM vs. phone, social networking, text messages, etc. (How many of you are texting far more today than you were before – to the point you don’t call people anymore).  I wonder if the affect of technology has a way of pushing the “older” generations toward the “newer” generations (albiet with some resistance).


I also just realized something fascinating about the generation Y in terms of start up businesses.  There are a raft of “Web 2.0″ companies popping up – many of which don’t seem to have a business model (i.e. how will they ever make money?).  One of the common values of this Generation is wanting to make a difference – not just make money.  So to them (which drives this Gen-X’er crazy) they may not care if they’re making money – as long as they’re making a difference.  Additionally this generation has generous support from their parents (helicopter parents)- so their perceived risk levels are lower (if you’re living at home you don’t have a lot of expenses).

Thanks to Andrew at A&L Enterprises Tech Line for this great review.

The High Price of Laying Off Younger Workers

The Millennial generation is in the midst of experiencing their first recession. This experience has caused them to witness a new side of corporate America…and they don’t like it one bit.  This could spell trouble for corporations down the road. To paraphrase an old English idiom, “hell hath no fury like a generation scorned.”

SBR Consulting, a Charlotte firm specializing in helping companies attract, retain and reward different generations in the workplace, has just published their first of three studies on how the Great Recession is affecting the Millennial generation. The results suggest that due to poor management and poor handling of layoffs, 70% of respondents who were laid off would not go back to work for their company and 55% are either unsure or do not want to work for corporate America again.

It also reveals another significant clash of styles between generations. Veterans, born before 1946, and older Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1954) pledged loyalty to the company in good times and bad. Layoffs were taken in stride because what was good for the company in the short term was good for the employee and community in the long run.

When older generations were laid off or even fired, they did not talk about it at home. They certainly did not broadcast it to the world. The Millennial generation, however, was raised on 24/7 breaking news and instant messaging. They share personal information readily. They are not afraid to talk about being laid off. They are even moral vocal about how their layoff was handled. These conversations and perceptions are then shared with hundreds of friends and thousands of strangers via social media sites like FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

That’s bad news for any business that handled a layoff poorly. Not only is this news spread virally, but now that Google and other search engines are indexing tweets, updates, and blog posts, this bad news creates a permanent digital imprint for anyone to see. A battered reputation poses a significant risk for any business that handled it badly.

The study found that early warnings of layoffs and respect throughout the process meant a great deal for Millennials that were subsequently laid off from their jobs. “It’s not personal, it’s business” does not work for this generation. They take layoffs personally.

Only 34% felt the company cared about them during the layoff process and left with a positive perception of the company. Compare that to the 64% who received no warning of a looming layoff. Only 12% of this group felt the company cared about them during the layoff process and left with a positive perception of the company.

Also posted on my blog Workforce Trends at

It’s Time to Worry About Gen Y Joblessness

While the Great Recession appears to be over, a return to normalcy seems far off. At least that’s according to a recent article published in The Atlantic.

If you can believe what you read, “there are good reasons to believe that by 2011, 2012, even 2014 unemployment will have declined only a little” off the near 10%. The effect will be an “era of high joblessness [that] will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults.” That’s not surprising considering that the current unemployment rate for all workers between the ages of 16 and 24 is hovering around 19%! And it’s worse — much worse for young black males between 20 and 24 years-old where the unemployment rate is a whopping 35% (compared to 19% for while males).

With anemic job creation and even slower Baby Boomer attrition, the author of How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America believes this job slump could “change the nature of modern marriage…plunge inner cities into despair and dysfunction…and warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years.”

Is he right? (If the torrent of Congressional exits is any indication, it’s a pretty good sign that joblesseness and economic recovery in the near-term won’t be pretty.)

Within the past 24 hours I’ve read an article reporting that that the level of job dissatisfaction for workers under the age of 25 is at the highest level ever recorded. Another one titled “So You Thought Generation X Was Angry” describes how Gen Y is bearing the brunt of the economic collapse. And a third pointed to how Gen Y feeling left out of job market is causing a big problem for them and the business world.

Concurrently, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) was painting a graphic and bleak picture of an imploding workplace and deteriorating infrastructure designed by Baby Boomers to be paid for by Gen X and Gen Y. In his recent speech on fiscal “state of emergency” he said:

One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits — a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment.

A retired teacher paid $62,000 towards her pension and nothing, yes nothing, for full family medical, dental and vision coverage over her entire career. What will we pay her? $1.4 million in pension benefits and another $215,000 in health care benefit premiums over her lifetime.

He then asked, “Is it ‘fair’ for all of us and our children to have to pay for this excess?” That’s a great question and one which will take a courageous man or woman to look into the eyes of a young unemployed adult today and say, “Yes. I deserve every penny.”

So for the time being, it looks like at least one-fifth of young adults will remain unemployed. Unfortunately when they do get a job, it seems likely that each paycheck will come with a hefty deduction to pay for failures and excesses of a generation gone by.

Is it any wonder then why tension is building between the Baby Boomers and their successors, Gen X and Gen Y?

Also posted on my Workforce Trends blog at

Why Generation Gaps Are About Attitude, Not Age

One of my mother’s biggest complaints in life? Old people! My mother is 86 years old.

For years she has complained about her friends wanting to eat dinner by 5:00 p.m. and be in bed by 8:00 p.m. When she travels, including trips to Hawaii and Europe within the past year or so, she is up early and awake late. She loves to attend concerts and events and often goes to the movies three or four times a week. Her favorite genre is foreign films. Most of her peers won’t go with her. They can’t read the subtitles, hear the sound and won’t pay the ticket price. In fact, one man-friend insisted on taking her to the “dollar-movie” because the sound was loud, the ticket was cheap — and the show ended before sundown. At my daughter’s wedding last summer, my mother was on the run before breakfast, walking and climbing at tourist attractions, and joining us for a late night cap. Her daily dose of activities and level of energy by far exceeds that of most 30-year olds, including her grandchildren! 

What’s my point? Generation gaps aren’t necessarily confined to age differences. A great deal of it has to do with attitude. Some people are old at 40. Others, like my mother, are still young at 86.

During a recent television appearance, I discussed why I called my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization. Initially, the words inferred young and old. But as I completed my research, I realized that geeks and geezers suggest more attitude than age. Click on the image below to view the segment where I discuss that age is just an attitude.


You’re Homesick. Should Your Employer Offer Support?

Just when I thought I heard it all… I didn’t. 

Just a few days ago, another story surfaced about how Millennials — often labeled as the spoiled, coddled and entitled generation — seemed to live up to their billing.  

After reading this post, some of you will be hard pressed to restrain the laughter. Others will likely just shake their heads in amazement. And a few might even get angry. But take it for what it is. Remember this is just one Millennial out of nearly 80 million. Not every child for the past 30 years has been smothered, mothered,and hovered over by helicopter parents. Unfortunately, this one young adult is not unique either. What have we done to out kids?

Here’s the gist of it. The following question was posted on a discussion board in LinkedIn:

Has anyone implemented a successful employee support program that helps employees cope with homesickness?

I used to suffer from homesickness when I first moved away from home. It is common when relocating to a new role, but I wanted to gather opinions on ways of how to combat this, using innovative or traditional methods of support provided by the employer. I have worked for firms in the past that have had external employee assistance programs to help with problems outside of work, but wondered if there are any other effective ways of handling this type of problem. Thanks in Advance. “

Yes, you read it correctly. Scott Fiore on his TriStarr Staffing blog summed up my emotions perfectly.

Programs to help adults deal with homesickness? Is it really the responsibility of the employer now to help people with homesickness? Well, in my opinion I hope not. For me this is a parenting issue. I know that many will disagree with my opinion, and that’s fine — in fact I would be very interested to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.

Me too. What do you think?

Also posted on Workforce Trends (How to Manage Age and Attitude in the Workplace)

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