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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

What Has Age Got To Do With It

Robert Stevenson Blog - Generations

I am so tired of all the conversation about the younger generation verse the older generation. Boomers thinking Millennials just can’t do it and Millennials thinking Boomers are out of touch. There is no rule that I know of which states, good ideas can ONLY come from senior management. We need to get over this generation battle and start pulling together.

Too young to have a good idea, be talented, fearless, or successful … REALLY? Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers, was the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company at the age of 27. Bill Gates became a self-made millionaire at the age of 26 and a billionaire by the time he was 31. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is right behind him at the age of 28. Albert Einstein proposed his theory of relativity at the age of 26. Mozart was performing piano concerts all over Europe at the tender age of 6. Mountain climber Debora Wilson scaled a 4,000-foot mountain at the age of 5. British figure skater Cecilia Colledge became the youngest winter Olympian ever, at the age of 11. Tommy Hilfiger open his first clothing store at the age of 18.

Too old to get it done is also ridiculous. Monet painted his famous Water Lilies when he was over 80 years old. Michelangelo was building Saint Peter’s in Rome when he died at 89. The famous doctor Albert Schweitzer was treating patients at the age of 90. Grandma Moses was still painting at the age of 100. World renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was working until 90 as was Picasso. Famed pianist Arthur Rubinstein received a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall when he was 88.

Every older generation thanks the up-and-coming generation is weak, not ready, will ruin what they have created. I’m a Boomer and my Dad, a Colonel in the Air Force hated what we Boomers were doing. Our music, clothes, attitude, long hair … etc., etc., etc. … my generation was ALL bad in his eyes. But guess what, we did okay.

Every younger generation thinks the older generation is just in the way of progress and doesn’t get “IT.” We can all learn from each other and we need to if we are going to survive in this highly competitive business environment. Fresh ideas create new possibilities and past experience can help us avoid mistakes that have already been made. At the National Security Agency there are 5 generations (iGen, aka Generation Z: born 1996 and after … Millennials, aka Generation Y: born 1977 to 1995 …

Generation X: born 1965 to 1976 … Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964 … Traditionalists: born 1945 and before) all working together helping to keep us safe. In fact, in many companies today 5 generations are on the payroll helping their company WIN and keep clients.

We need to quit making this about age and start making it about success. The next time someone comes up with an idea … grade the idea on the merit of the idea … not who it came from. As Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE once stated, “The hero is the one with ideas.” He didn’t put an age limit on it. Quit letting age influence your opinions and open your eyes to the possibilities of what COULD BE.


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