I was at a conference earlier this week, hanging out with the other exhibitors. Speaking with different marketing, business development folks from different industries. There were seasoned professionals. Entry level sales people learning the ropes. A mixed and diverse crowd from product to service providers. Inevitably the conversation would turn to the state of business and how we were gaining and retaining clients/customers. I started testing out my generational marketing positions, to see if others are seeing and experiencing what I am seeing and experiencing. Is my hypothesis of the generational shift in management impacting direction all in my head, or am I on to something? I spoke with one gentleman about 10 years older than me. A true Baby Boomer. He was being asked to do things differently than he’s been doing it for decades. He didn’t get all this marketing and outreach. What about relationships and how they used to do it? He wanted to go back “there,” wherever “there” was. He was being challenged by the times and he was definitely outside his comfort zone. When I referenced the Millennials, his retort was: “Is that the ‘entitled generation’ they’re always talking about?” And then he went on a mini rant.
You are running around, lamenting the advent of technology, the evolution of business practices, your resistance to change, and “Why can’t we go back to business as usual?” and you call THEM entitled?? Is it not as arrogant and entitled to expect the business world to never shift its axis because it will force you to change and evolve? To grow? Learn new things? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to use a certain software because it will be too expensive for you, the service provider, to upgrade and train your staff? And, besides, no one in your office wants to learn how to use it anyway? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to receive information the way YOU want to send it, not the way they want to receive it? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to slow down because you do not want to catch up? And when I start playing with the numbers, are not these members of this so called “entitled” generation the spawn of the Baby Boomers and older GenXers? The same ones who are now lamenting their existence? In my program we discuss making others feel less than to make you feel better about yourself. And is that not what you are doing every time you dismiss a Millennial as “entitled”? Are you not attempting to make yourself feel better in your own limited world by refusing to open yourself up and see where the Millennials and younger GenXers are getting it right? Millennials put family and personal life first. They want a true work/life balance. They cherish experiences. They don’t want to waste all of the daylight hours in an office with artificial lighting. They are happy to get the work done, they just don’t see why it has to be done between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (or 8:00 p.m. to prove how “loyal” they are), or within the walls of your ivory tower rather than from their laptop at home. And they are not necessarily driven by the same dollar that you are. While my peers bitched, moaned and complained about their Blackberrys interrupting their personal lives back in the ’90s, I embraced mine as liberating me from my desk so I could go have a life. And I never looked back. I don’t want to go back to the “way things were” any more than my great grandparents wanted to go back to the horse & buggy days once they bought the first automobile on their block, or the telegraph v. telephones, or rail travel v. air travel, or landlines v. cellphones, or card catalogs v. Google. Every generation will bitch and moan about the next. (Really?? Twerking??) But it’s not going to stop it from coming, changing, or the world evolving. And, yes, it’s happening at a quicker pace. So be careful when pointing that one finger towards “they” who are “entitled.” I was taught that when you point one finger out, there are three more pointing back at you.