When Baby Boomers were young adults, the older generation was venerated and held the reins of power in business and society. Today it is the younger generation that is venerated as being at the core of entrepreneurialism, invention, and innovation.
They’re cool and exciting. Boomers aren’t.
Consider the lyrics in YoungMan (Blues) made famous by The Who in 1970 and originally written by Mose Allison in 1957.
Well, you know in the old days
When a young man was a strong man
All the people, they’d step back
When a young man walked by
But you know, nowadays
It’s the old man
He’s got all the money
And a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said Ain’t got nothing
Got sweet nothing
-Mose Allison (as sung by The Who, Live at Leeds)
Today you could swap young man for old man and old man for young man.
In the sixties, the older generation said to Boomers, “be quiet and conform to the expectations of youth”.
Today younger generations say to Boomers, “be quiet and conform to the expectations of olderhood”.
Well, that sucks.
How ironic, because it was the Baby Boomer generation that generated the power shift. Boomers in the sixties and seventies broke down the walls of convention and removed the gatekeepers. Boomers such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Bezos, and Michael Dell launched their businesses in garages and college dorms. Literally.
Today it is millennials (and Gen Xers) who are venerated and assumed to be the chosen ones for startups and innovations.
Yet, Baby Boomers lead millennials by a two-to-one margin in the number of startups in the U.S. every year. Go out a few years and the majority of startups still in business were started by…wait for it…Boomers.
Then there is the perception that somehow because you’re older your worth and value evaporates.
Where the hell did that come from?
Whatever you have fundamentally been your entire life doesn’t just go away with age. The hopes and dreams, the desires and intentions remain with us always as does our talent, skill, experience and yes, passion.
If you’re a talented engineer, artist, manager or whatever, you will always be that. Perhaps in some, the drive dwindles. Perhaps chosen paths lead us away from our core. But for millions of Boomers with decades of healthy and active life ahead, they are reconnecting with their core talents and desires and they are doing something with them. Often pursuing new things, they had only dreamt of before.
This isn’t a generational conflict. Perhaps Boomers don’t even need the recognition. But they do need to be regarded, embraced and enabled.
Boomer youth made a lot of noise. Today Boomers aren’t making as much noise but they are making an even greater impact.
Once again redefining what it is to be of a certain age.
Once again Boomers are changing things that will benefit themselves and generations that follow.
Ultimately making the age designations in YoungMan (Blues), moot.