Dream Team: Boomers and Millennials

If twenty and thirty-somethings are “where it’s at” in terms of entrepreneurs and ideal hires, and people over 50 have experience and wisdom (if not incredible gratitude for the opportunity), wouldn’t a pairing of these two generations produce even greater results than individually?

Recently as a part of my workout, I played racquetball by myself. Great for conditioning and practice. A high school junior who was lifting weights asked if he could join me.

I’m well over 50 and an OK racquetball player. He’s 16 and a lacrosse and high-level hockey player in great shape with phenomenal quickness and coordination.

I kicked his butt despite backing off my game.

He had the quickness and agility to get to almost every shot. He just lacked the knowledge and acquired skill to make it count. I knew how to play the angles, position myself and what the options were for tough shots to return.

On the ride home I realized this is a great example of the differences between age and experience and youthful vigor and optimism.

I also thought about how powerful we would be as a team in doubles. The mix of his youth and my experience.

The same can be true for start-ups and for established businesses and corporations.

This mix of youth and experience is a growing trend as reported in the New York Times article, Partnerships that Blend the Skills of Two Generations. It’s just common sense that a blending of youthful optimism and energy and older experience and wisdom will generate better, faster and more assured results for virtually any start up.

As long as both generations are open to it and embrace it. Viva la difference!

It makes incredible sense for corporations, businesses, and investors to embrace this “Dream Team” as well. The desire to hire youth is understandable for a multitude of reasons. Yet, every successful enterprise requires a broad-based dynamic. It needs people who have multiple skill sets, varied life experiences and different dispositions and personalities (think of all the sports and orchestra analogies!).

In the corporate world Diversity and Inclusion has become a very hot initiative. I have created several internal videos to promote this for a major global company.

In this initiative “Diversity” is not just about race, creed or color, it is about the diverse backgrounds each and everyone one of us has and what those diverse backgrounds can offer to a company or effort if we are included. Meaning we get the opportunity bring everything we have to the effort.

Older or young, we get wrapped up in what we perceive as the righteousness of our ideas, perspectives or strategies. A lack of humility often leads to us missing fatal flaws or greater opportunities.

As Scott Hoesman, Founder of inQUEST Consulting told me, “I don’t need more of me. I’ve got me covered. ” In other words, have the humility to know what you don’t know. As the president of a major global company said to me, “You never know where the next great idea will come from”.

I titled this blog with the term Dream Team which originated with the 1992 Olympic men’s basketball team consisting of, for the first time, professionals from the NBA. Michael Jordan, Larry Byrd, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson and several others presented an incredibly diverse group of personalities, positions, dispositions and skill sets (and mega egos!).

It’s hard to imagine this line up could have failed in any way shape or form. Nevertheless, it was head coach Chuck Daly who enabled his team to embrace (be inclusive) of their (diverse) differences to assure success. This was Daly’s way of leaving nothing to chance. The result: The Dream Team totally dominated on their way to a gold medal.