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Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y… and how to keep them straight

What happened to the good old days?  When everyone thought like us Baby Boomers?
I don’t think I’m alone in trying to figure out how to work with the younger generations and understand how they think.
This is one of the reasons I chose to attend an industry leadership forum a few weeks ago. The featured speaker was an expert in the field of managing and leading the four working generations. And I actually got to meet the speaker in person about 2 weeks before the seminar, as he wanted to interview some of the attendees in advance to get a sense of our industry.
The speaker was Seth Mattison, and you can read about him here. He is a 30-something Gen Y (which I learned can be interchanged with the word Millennial). Seth came to visit my office in early January, and he looked just like I would expect a Gen Y person to look.
In jeans.  Wearing a zipped up vest over a nice shirt. And carrying a cup of Starbucks coffee.  Everywhere we went in our building, he would pull out his iPhone and take a photograph.
Does this sound familiar to you? Yes, I learned that is typical of a Gen Y – they are always connected (via their iPhone).
When Seth presented to the group of 75 produce industry professionals, he was spell-binding.  Our group was made up of all 4 generations currently in the workforce, and Seth was masterful at giving examples we could all relate to.
You will clearly be able to identify your generation:  Traditionalists (born prior to 1946), Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964), Generation Xers (born 1965 – 1981) and Millennials (aka Gen Yers – born 1982 – 2000).
Check out this easy “cheat sheet” on who we are and what we stand for:
(If you can’t read the chart, go to
I am a Baby Boomer.  My husband is a Traditionalist. Most of my colleagues at work are Gen Xers and my two daughters are Millennials.  So I was intrigued with the information that Seth shared.
Seth shared with us how to work with each generation. Here’s another snapshot of which strategies to use to recruit, engage, manage and retain each group:
(If you can’t read the chart, go to

 After the presentation, my long-time friend, Rich, and I spoke with Seth.
“Now I understand why it is always so tense and chaotic at my house,” Rich said. He shared with us that both at home and at work, he has all 4 generations, and it really does take some effort to communicate and relate to each of them in their preferred style.
Rich spoke with Seth about coming to speak at one of his company’s management conferences. What a great idea!  Wouldn’t it be easier if we all understood each other better – not just based on our personalities, but on our generation?
For example, Traditionalists are always annoyed with Millennials who are constantly checking their emails and texting on their iPhones, while seemingly engaged in a conversation.

If you are intrigued with this concept, check out Seth’s company, BridgeWorks.

And here’s a photo of me and Seth after his presentation.  On the screen, you can see that he included a couple of the photos he took during his visit to Frieda’s as part of his presentation.
One last thing. After the presentation, I let Seth know that I tweeted about him during his talk. (I didn’t want him to think I was being rude and checking my emails.)  He looked at me funny and we both chuckled.
A Millennial would never think that was rude…because tweeting during presentations is WHAT they do!

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