August 9, 2021

Generational Differences in Business & Culture Need Not Divide!

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I grew up in the 60s and 70s and life was very different back then, just as my children will say when they are nearing 60 to their kids many years from now. There was the Vietnam War, poverty, racial injustices, politics, inflation, the struggle of youth, gas shortages, an energy crisis, Watergate, and more that would rival many of today’s struggles if we were really honest. In many respects, it was better and in many others, it was not. However, there have been extraordinary and positive changes in terms of women in the marketplace, leadership, technological advances in healthcare, science, voting rights, aid to the needy, and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, we still have vast room for improvement. This generation is learning more in grade school than I did in high school and they amaze me.

Still, I think back to times on my grandparent’s porches and backyards in a simpler time enjoying conversation, neighbors, we kids playing in the tobacco fields, or riding our bikes and using our imaginations for playing all with the encouragement and blessing of our parents. There were fewer distractions in terms of technology back then. We spent far more time outside than inside and rainy days were like punishment to “we” neighborhood rugrats and ragamuffins. Kick the can, hide n seek, capture the flag, stickball, baseball, badminton, basketball, swimming in a pond and fishing were days we lived for. Hold on Gen-X and younger this is not the lament of an old man.

One of my strongest memories is hearing the stories of the “older” generation and watching them interact in business, with family, neighbors, and friends. Hand-shake deals were common because your word was your bond. Cars, antiques, etc., were sold on a handshake no contracts, etc. People knew their neighbors not just from a wave when arriving home from work. I was disciplined and corrected by my parent’s friends with their blessing as were my friends with mine. No one bristled. Political differences were acknowledged, but unity was far more important as we had gone through two world wars and were emerging from the horrors of the nightly death count from Vietnam, the first war really caught in live-action on the news. Entertainers were free from ridicule as they simply reflected in irony the take on American life and celebrities. No offense was taken because we were unified despite our disagreements.

The “working class” was in full force. Both of my grandfathers were hard-working, honest coal miners just trying to provide for their families. They lived simple lives, paid their taxes, worked hard, provided for their family, voted, went to the church of their choice or not, and respect our flag as well as their neighbors, even those with whom they disagreed. If a child fell from a tree everyone in the neighborhood responded to help without question or hesitation. We played with matches, drove vehicles before we were legally allowed to, drink from a hose after a tough baseball game, and yes, we even had bullies back then.

I grew up with a father who showed his emotion. He kissed and hugged me equally with my sister. His father always greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. To this day, my 36-year son and I greet each other with a kiss on the cheek as I do with my 30-year old daughter. My Dad was a “hugger” so I am by default. However, I’ve learned through the years that this can be threatening or uncomfortable for others.

I say all this to say to the generations in business and life from the 1950s to the present that we need to learn from each other. We need to listen, be patient with each other. We need to correct when correction is due, but we need to allow for some grace too. Business has changed since began my professional career in the early 80s. Oh, I was always employed and working in the 70s but I did not enter the “professional” world until 1982.

We old folk thrive on the ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit, passion, and drive of succeeding generations. We aren’t threatened by you but learn from your spirit and imagination. However, we too, have something still left to offer. Be patient with us and our “old ways” that seem archaic. Many of them are good, noble, tried, and true throughout the ages. However, marvel at your grasp of technology, culture, and business. You have no idea how much we learn from you and how we really do cheer in your corner! So if we hug you, or say something that’s inappropriate for today let us know and teach us so we can learn the way.

Something we would like you to learn from us is to be patient and sloooooow down and don’t go so fast! Consider, ponder and think things through, listen to wise counsel and act from an intentional plan, not emotion or gut that can hurt you in the end.

This life is too short not to learn from each other, even from wise old buzzards. Let’s share ideas, collaborate and relate, let’s learn from each other with respect and debate. Your wisdom and counsel are not refuted because we have learned the value of wise counsel, whether young or old it is the truth and we want to help you accomplish your goals!

So my young colleagues I beg your patience while we learn from you. But don’t brush us off with “that’s old and we’re new!” We want the best for our clients and friends. We can suspend judgment to help you along and we recognize that one day not far from here you will be facing the same things with your children and our grandchildren in a day not too far ahead.

My young colleagues and clients challenge me to learn, grow, think and change where I need to. I’m excited for you and want to leave you in a better position than in which I began.

At Webspeak Media our design team is multi-generational and we get it! We work with a diverse palette of clients, businesses, and generations. Our goal is to help them tell their digital story in a way that increases brand awareness, digital traffic and results in a solid ROI. We are constantly striving to learn, grow and help our clients expand their digital footprint. Contact us today to learn how we can help your company grow!

Monty Carter is the Storyteller and a Brand Strategist for Webspeak Media in Greer, SC Contact us today to help tell your digital story!

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