Being on top of things in the tech world can give you an edge in pretty much any industry, and CRE is no exception. Being comfortable on multiple devices and platforms can help make the connections that make business percolate. There’s an expectation out there for a tech savvy approach, and definitely a preference for working with those who are in the loop. Certainly technology makes us all more efficient and responsive. It also creates an image as a capable and tuned-in professional. A certain level of tech-savviness gives those with whom we work the impression that we are on top of things. This is connected to our society’s fondness for all things youthful and new. According toPew Research, one in three American workers is part of the millennial generation. Their influence on how we work is undeniable, but we risk missing out on some important experiences and opportunities if we forget the baby boomers.
In business, the energy and innovation of youth is of great value, but it’s not the whole package. Experience and maturity can add depth to a professional’s abilities and to our overall human experience. That essential element of human contact and caring enriches everything. As the trailer for the movie The Intern tells us: “Experience never grows old.” It’s true that some of the ideas and skills that older people found useful years ago no longer apply, but there are some universal skills that can only be acquired through experience. These are always valuable.
A little background on the plot: Robert DeNiro’s character, Ben, is a 70-year-old widower who is finding that retirement is a little dull. Looking for a challenge, he applies and is chosen for an internship with an online clothing shop headed by Jules, who is played by Anne Hathaway.
The movie proceeds to illustrate some of the characteristics that make up the workplace for the millennial generation- Jules likes to ride her bike through the massive company offices. Her employees are the classic start-up dudes, casually attired and collaborating in a mod open office.
Ben represents the old-school value of a nice suit and good manners. Most of all he illustrates the irreplaceable and irresistible value of the experience and perspective of older people. Whether we’re talking about colleagues or clients, we can learn a lot from experienced individuals. Whatever the business, we all work with people, and life experience creates massive insight into human behavior.
The baby boomer generation has been able to observe how things play out over time. They know the value of patience and kindness, and how to bring out the best in people. Decades of experience create a trove of information: anecdotes about acquaintances that illustrate important principles of business on a human scale. But, they also have to want to take the bull by the horns and realize that change is imminent.
It’s critical that the millennial generation not overlook this tremendous resource that is right in front of them. As Americans enjoy better health, living longer and many more productive years, the boomers have a great deal to offer. The Intern teaches us some great lessons for any business: celebrate the good things, however small; keep moving; and leaders set the tone for an organization.
This is a once-in-a-century opportunity when these and other demographics will work together to create the most productive workforce we’ve potentially ever seen; the amazing thing is that everyone will be included. The sooner we capitalize on the benefits of this unique value proposition - the better.