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The Culture War: Boomers vs Millennials

I get it, understanding a group of people who don’t understand themselves is challenging. #millennials

We’ve seen many shifts over the past decade. Things like fashion, technology and every moral acceptance, but I feel like everyone forgot to prepare for one of the greatest shifts only seen every 20 years. I call it the “March Of The Millennials.”  A new generation enters the workplace every 15 – 20 years, and with any new “troop” of soldiers of society marching in, you can expect there to be battles and wars.

The battles aren’t for right and wrong they are between WHY and HOW.

Experts would define the millennial generation as anyone born between the 1980s – 2000s. Most would be entering their young adult lives by the turn of the century. Millennials are also known as “Generation Y.” Which I believe is a comical and fitting title as to that is the key that unlocks every one of us. “WHY?” It’s the only question ever asked, and the only question that ever matters to a millennial. Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? Why should I show up to this office cubicle at 9 am if I can be more productive at 2 am in a Starbucks? Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” is a great source of inspiration for this topic.

But why is this shift so much more difficult than generations of the past? My perspective is that society and culture repeat in the cycles of Why, What, How…

  • Why we do what we do.
  • What we do.
  • How we get it done.


Think about it …

– The 1940s – World War II #what
– The 1950s- We’re On Top of The World #how
– The 1960s – Love Not War #why
– The 1970s – Individualism & Personal Identity #what
– The 1980s – Look at what the boomers built; Let’s make it bigger! #how
– The 1990s- So yeah…What’s next? #why
– The 2000’s – Technology; You should use it more… #what
– The 2010’s – It’s more than a computer, it creates culture. #how

For every generation of “HOW” people we encounter there’s a total of 3 generations in the workplace at a time. The longest lasting ones take the mindset of: “It’s been built, just keep it moving.” The middle generation :“Been here and done that, and we need a new t-shirt.” Incoming generation: “T-shirts? No one wants a t-shirt, make tanks, hoodies, and dresses from recycled tree bark because it’s better for the environment.”

Boomers are builders. They understand hard work and what it means to work based off of principal, not reward. ( A lost art for my fellow “Y’ers”). The remarkable thing is that even though there seems to be “the battle of the boomers” going on , if you look past the strategy and into the principle, both generations want the same thing, streamlined effective services that serve a bigger purpose or principle.

What does this tell us about the battle of the boomers that millennials are facing today? We fight for the same purpose, but with the wrong products. We have different values. Boomers value honor. Millennials value communication. The opportunity is raised when we recognize that boomers don’t know how to communicate, and millennials don’t know how to honor. We speak different languages, yet are attempting the same outcomes.

Boomers value honor. Millennials value communication. Just for kicks, do each other a solid, eh?Click To Tweet


So with all that being said…

1  To The Millennials:

Your greatest chance of success is to learn from other people’s failures. Listen to these that have been where we want to go. Don’t shut them down at their strategy merely because it doesn’t involve our technology or trends. Boomers have laid the industrial foundation that you’re building your “great new startup on”. Take the time to honor what they have done and how they made it happen. Show respect to the man and woman who’s done the same thing, at the same job, for the same boss, for 30+ years. We could learn something from that! Millennials can’t stay anywhere longer than a millisecond! Let a boomer remind you what it’s like to have a conversation that connects to the heart of a matter, versus just the next step of your corporate ladder.

2  To The Boomers:

Communication is the core of the culture of every millennial you encounter. They don’t care if it’s good news, bad news, pointless news, etc….They just want to know! Information overload is a part of our everyday life! Do you want honor? Communicate with them and give them something to honor. They will be the most loyal, respectful, productive people you’ve ever encountered. Their intellect is outstanding! They are more creative, more driven, and more passionate about the mission than we’ve seen in a long time! Let’s face it – They need your wisdom, but you need their zeal! They need your work stamina, but you need their technology to speed up what you’re doing. Commenting on their social media post is more meaningful than a pat on the back in person. They will tell you everything you want to know, you just might have to listen with a different set of ears.

Perspective is the power source between purpose and productivity.


Perspective is the power source between purpose and productivity.Click To Tweet