Form vs. Substance: Why Boomers Can be the Best Choice

Joe dies, goes to heaven and walks up to the Pearly Gates only to find a huge back up.

St. Peter approaches Joe and apologies profusely and tells him he’s going to have to wait down in Hell for a few days until things get cleared up.

Joe is indignant. “I’ve spent my whole life walking a straight line. Never drank, smoked, fooled around or even cussed,” he said to St. Peter.

St. Peter apologies again saying it will be just a few days and he’ll be back up in Heaven at the front of the line. So “poof” he’s sent down to Hell.

And it’s great. Incredible! Wonderful!

Fun, great food and drink, golf, everyone is his friend…he never had this much fun in his whole earthly life! Before he knows it, “poof” he back at the Pearly Gates with St. Peter telling him to go right in.

But Joe says, “Wait a minute. That was great down there. I could use an eternity of that. Here it looks a bit boring.”

St. Peter says, “It’s your choice. You’ve earned it. But once you decide, that’s it.”

Joe ponders, picks Hell and “poof” he’s sent down.

And it’s HELL! Fire, brimstone, torture, agony…HELL!

Joe sees Satan walking by and runs up to him asking, “What happened to the great time?”

Satan puts his arm around him and says, “Over the weekend you were a prospect. Now, you’re a client.”

Rarely have I heard a joke that rings so true to life.

In the creative world my production company has lost a few potential projects to entities due to their sexier reputation, blind luck creative concepts and sometimes unrealistically low budget estimates. Later we would learn of the client’s ultimate dissatisfaction both working with the agency and the end results of the project (including unexpected cost overruns).

They were great treating the client (employer) as a prospect, but lousy for what really matters.

In business and employment, making a choice between a millennial and a baby boomer to hire or invest in, can often come down to a choice of form over substance. Often form (false assumptions) wins out.

Nowadays, the form can be the hot perceptions of millennial value (not to deny that there can be huge upsides). Or the misperception that anyone over 50 is done, too expensive or set in old ways (some are, many aren’t).

Today, it seems safe to hire or invest in a millennial. Just as many years ago the credo was, “nobody got fired buying IBM”.

Except, IBM was a proven enterprise that delivered results. It was top dog for good reason as opposed to the sexy choice, which can often be based on a few high profile successes, or key attributes that come with many downsides.

I have heard corporate employees bemoan the HR target of hiring “young talents” at the exclusion of experienced and seasoned professionals.

There is an appropriate place for both.

When it comes to hiring and investing it is most critical to consider the full picture and what kind of person you want to fight and persevere through the challenges.

Especially, people with the experience and ethic to help you avoid them in the first place.

And perhaps lead and mentor millennials with those desirable attributes.

Heaven may have looked too conventional to Joe, but it was a proven place. He would have received what he needed: eternal happiness and love.

Younger people may be the sexier choice. But when it comes to critical fundamentals, experience and confidence, the less trendy choice may help employers and investors avoid Hell.