If you’re older and employed, it’s critical to know how to beat age discrimination in the workplace. For yourself and your job, for your project, team, and company?
How do you turn multigenerational problems into intergenerational power? Answers in this New Way Forward interview with leadership and intergenerational workforce expert Marc Michaelson. He provides older job seekers and employees with the key perspectives and mindsets necessary to earn an income in today’s business climate.
The key to success is adapting to the way business is today, not what we experienced in our careers. Often it is not ageism or age discrimination but rather the fact business leaders need teams that adapt, learn, fail fast/fail often, innovate, experiment, and do so quickly. “Older” workers who adopt the mindset and skillset to embrace this can be viewed as an asset along with experience and their own talents. The point is, don’t wait for the rest of the world to change. Be the change.
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Podcast Transcript: How to Beat Age discrimination in the Workplace
Ageism is a problem, and it’s like the other isms, stupid, it’s usually based on stereotypes and prejudices and assumptions and presumptions that aren’t even true, but they’re also based on misunderstandings, and this is especially important in business. Multigenerational workforces have always existed, and they’re going to continue to exist, but they’ve become real problems for businesses in some cases. The leadership doesn’t knows that there’s a problem. They’re not sure what it is, and it’s ageism. I’ve been working over the last year and a half with some incredible thought leaders on this very issue because the fact of the matter is that you can turn multigenerational problems into an intergenerational powerhouse. You can make it into a business imperative, and it’s a matter of everybody understanding each other. The ageism goes in both directions, both young to old and old to young, and understanding differences, understanding different points of view, different takes on things, different skill sets and things of that sort, when embraced, can become incredibly powerful. And one of the people that I’ve been working with is my guest, Mark Michelson, who is an executive coach. He is a leadership development facilitator. He’s a consultant, he’s an author. He’s worked on corporate programs. He was one of the first to develop the wellbeing program for corporations for over thirty five years, and he’s also recently worked with companies, tech companies in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area. On this very factor because they know that it’s not only a problem to overcome, but there’s a huge benefit to embrace. So let’s start by, first of all, recognizing what the differences are, the differences that we can embrace.
Yeah. Well, I think probably the thing that I’m seeing the most recently and what’s come to mind, and I’m trying to create some sort of frame of reference for this in a context, is that the the folks that are entering the workforce today and have been there for a short time are not afraid of failure. So their their interest in innovation and trying things and doing things that are sort of already. Fire aim, if you will, is natural to them. They experiment. They’re curious. They inquire. They want dialogue. They want to be collaborative and act in the boomer orientation. We grew up trying to do things the right way to get it perfect. And you were you moved up in the corporate ladder if you were working in that environment because of your ability to do the right thing, follow orders. Deal with command and control. All those sorts of things. The folks that are entering at the newer end of the continuum, the folks come out of college when they’re three or four or five years, or folks who want to try things, who want to experiment, who want to break less, if you will. And those boomers managers, the leaders who are curious to work with those folks to help them actually experiment with those kinds of ideas and do that kind of collaboration with somebody who has some wisdom, who has some experience, who’s seen failures turn into innovation and also seen failures turn into horrible results, which could be very damaging to an organization. So the wisdom and the experience of a smart boomer working with an innovative. Inquiring type of individual who is entering the workforce today is a perfect match. It’s a mentoring relationship. It’s a a sage person working with somebody who has energy, curiosity and ambition and the combination of those that chemistry is beautiful. When it works, right, when it doesn’t, it creates friction. It creates resistance on both parties. And there’s a lot of people saying yes when they really mean no. In order to keep their job to transition or translate a imperfect situation until they find the next opportunity with somebody will grant them that opportunity. So boomers who have. Flexibility, the curiosity, the appreciative inquiry to working with somebody who has that kind of energy that’s willing to innovate and take chances.
Nice combination. And I want to talk in just a moment about some of the things that that we ca Do with our Mindset, but still the stay in the foundation of what’s going on. And by the way, a lot of those people who are a couple of years out of college are actually Gen Z. Or you may be better off with the millennial because you’re more mature. Wow. Ok, time does move on. But you brought up a really in a previous discussion that we had this thing about boomers adapting. It’s not just about adapting to the way that millennials are Gen Z or think you also brought up the point that this is the way a Lot of businesses Are nowadays. Now it might not be this way with the insurance agency down the street, but certainly in the tech world. But so many other sectors, it is this speed of velocity of changing, trying, fail fast fail often. So it’s it’s also a business mandate as much as it is a generational thing, correct?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that there are other issues that are sort of creeping into the the dialogue, if you will, which is human resource hiring, practice, talent identification, how we form teams, how we make choices about who’s on what team and the flexibility from people to move from one team to another and not stay stagnant in one space. So the folks who are innovating and and it’s not, you know, the innovations that’s not coming from the younger folks, it’s the chemistry of the combination of the generations that creates the fire. That’s the the new energy, if you will, the energy that’s creating the combination of the sage experience with the curiosity, appreciation and desire to to innovate quickly. And to me, what I’m starting to see that that’s not just resonant in the technical and technology environment, it’s creeping into every sort of business possible. And as a result of that, for boomers who we’re trying to communicate some tips today to, it’s the more that they can increase their growth mindset to see themselves as lifelong learners, to be asking questions rather than thinking that their experience is more important than somebody else’s new, idealistic way of thinking. Those kinds of things clash a lot. So, yeah, go ahead.
Oh, well, I was going to say this really applies because I mean, both this is an overarching reality that’s existed. But in so many people that I’ve been talking to experts such as yourself about how do we adapt to a very different world that’s going to exist as a result of this pandemic more than stay at home, but just how it is Going to change the workplace?
Jobs, maybe it’s not jobs. It’s ways that you earn an income gig economy, all this other kinds of things. You know it. It’s talking about what so many people recommend that you do right now, for instance, is this thing where kind of do away with what you did and how you did it to what you can do and capable of be capable of? And how can you apply it in the macro sense in this new world?
But as you’re talking About, how can I leverage not just my experience in a smart and inclusive way, but right my skills and talents where it fits With the Business mandate and the business imperative, I should say right? And and this broad multi age multi generation workforce right that I’ve got. I might need to skill up, but I’ve got the inherent abilities to bring something to the table if I do it in the right context.
Absolutely. You know, the ability to to bring your wisdom and experience to the table with folks who are whether that Gen Z or Millennial or Gen X, that whole progression of age groups has your experience. You’ve been through that that sort of path, if you will, and their path is slightly different than the one we had. But at the same time, it’s relatable. And the more curious you are about their experience and being able to match your experience to theirs and find the chemistry for real, constructive conversation and collaboration in thinking and problem solving and solution. Finding an innovation that’s where the chemistry is best. It’s it’s what I see with a lot of boomer managers and leaders who have arrived, if you will. They they’re at the top of the totem pole, if you will there. They want to advise more than they want to be partnering.
Oh, good point.
Yeah. And I think that that’s that’s and there’s a time for that. The advice is appropriate, so it’s almost like using your life experience situationally. So at times it’s a good idea to be providing advice as long as you set up that advice to be accepted by those folks who you’re interacting with and that that requires you building trust. And the trust comes from you experiencing their world, showing them that you’re interested in their thinking and their how would I say? A different experience at the same age when we were, because anybody that has, you know, you and I have children the same sort of age bracket. I have to be very mindful of what I’m talking about right here when I’m interacting with my with my daughter. She has curiosity and interest and maturity. That I didn’t have at that age at all. Same with mine. This was not even close. Now she has some immaturity on things that are that I could bring value to in conversation, but I have to lean into her smarts to be able to open up her willingness to listen to me. And wise boomer managers are using those kinds of skills and those kinds of approaches in very smart ways. And and I see that.
I think two things come. Two things come to mind. The first place, you’re right about that. And my major takeaway from what you just said is that, OK, my other business, the content creation production business, I have millennial clients. I have millennials working for me. Sure. Definitely. Sometimes there are challenges, whether it be communication, understanding Or Just. This is something I’ve learned and you haven’t yet, but I’ve learned you have to be really, like you said, sensitive to that. But by the same token, what I have to challenge myself is, is that I will find myself sometimes going, No, no, no, what are you talking about and being, Well, wait a minute. Let’s listen. Let’s actually consider this. And once you get in the habit, once I’ve gotten in the habit of doing that, it really makes it more fun. It makes it more interesting and makes it more exciting. It doesn’t necessarily mean we do that, but it leads us to where we want to go or whatever. It’s being prepared to be inclusive of it and Really being open to. Well, let’s go that way. And at times my experience, as well as my particular talents and skills can make a contribution. All right. But that’s that’s harder to do than it sounds. Or what’s been your professional experience?
Well, I mean, you could be right or you could be dead, right?
So what does that mean?
And what do I mean by that is that if you can cut off the energy? Bye bye, your investing in your sage wisdom too early in the conversation. Um, because curiosity and inquiry and influencing another person comes down to build the relationship and you don’t build a relationship by being the smartest person in the room all the time. You, you build a relationship by being curious, and your curiosity can lead to the transfer of your knowledge without it having to be a lesson to somebody else. Definitely, people don’t like the way we did It in my time when I was your age. Oh my god. Ok, Boomer, at least mental Response you’ll get. You don’t want that.
But the fact of the matter is, is that you have to contribute. It’s the style in which you deliver it. So it’s not that what you have to offer is not going to connect, it’s being clear about the fact that who you’re communicating with requires a certain style of communication and influence, and you have to augment your style to build a relationship with them. And the more curious you are in understanding the way they think, the way they live, the way they honor the the gifts that somebody else can give them, that’s so sometimes it’s more about observing than it is anything. So, for instance, I’d put myself in situations quite often with lots of Gen Z and millennials and and folks where I just observed the meeting and watch them interact with each other. And as a result of that, I’m able to intersect at times where I just asked questions about tell me how that how you find this works for you. And they’ll enthusiastically tell me about it, which then gives me a bridge to joining their conversation with something that I have to offer that’s not coming from an old model that worked with my own generation. So when you’re crossing generations, it’s almost like a different language. And languages have different nuances, certain words, I mean, different things in certain innuendos mean certain things and body language needs different things. So the the wisest of the folks who can cross generations, whether it be them, to communicate with us and bring the best out of us or us with them are those who observe, inquire, connect, build trust and listen.
Well, you you’ve been on the front lines of this because, as I mentioned earlier with your with your clients and you’ve had and obviously we have to be circumspect about not naming names or anything that sure, somebody could go, Oh, that’s that situation, but it’s basically two teams coming together traditional and modern. Let’s call right? I don’t even want to say the age thing. Fail fast. Fail often try hierarchical method methodical, which is too slow. And so you’ve seen the challenges firsthand. And so. In just the. What’s almost the argument for the
The, let’s say,Older worker and the younger worker in? Is one have to adapt more to the I guess the older worker has to adapt to the new way of things a little bit more dramatically than the younger one, but in your experience, I mean, what? What do you almost Wish you could have told the Older workers at the very beginning of that marriage? What do you wish you could have imbued upon them before you? You walk down?
I think it’s to observe and listen and inquire as to why this approach and. You know, I was talking to an engineer yesterday who is in his 50s, and he’s working with a very ambitious young entrepreneur who had hired him to help him design something. And the engineer wants to be very precise and very accurate and very focused on detail. And the entrepreneur is looking for just give me something that I can sell. Yesterday, yesterday. Exactly. So how do you find the the marriage as you just defined there? It’s that moment where each person has to augment their style ever so slightly to understand the value of the accuracy at that moment in time, in a project or a process. So the behavioral style of an accurate engineer or accountant or somebody who into very clear detail, they always go there first and they’re not listening and inquiring as to what the entrepreneur is getting after, which is conceptual, not detail. So there’s a language that needs to emerge between the generations, whereby these cues as to in this particular conversation were not looking for that kind of accuracy in detail. What I’m looking for is some help and direction or some help in stimulating a conversation with an investor. Or things of that nature. So as it pertains to a younger generation that’s leading organizations today that are fueling the economy. Those of us who have certain habits that have built over time, depending on the side of the business we work in the type of work we do. We have to figure out how to work with that ready fire aim. Concept, if you will, of business that didn’t exist at the trajectory that it does today. Right, right. So that’s the certain subtleties and nuances to build relationships and connection and sharing expertise that doesn’t have the same pace that it did in the past, because the difference is in the generations approach to the business world and the economy.
In the dean, you may have heard which was not a tax that went off in my head when you were talking about that too. I mean, even transcends this intergenerational situation in that when you were talking about the engineer and the entrepreneur and I even think about my business and for 30 years since I left television was learning and I still fail at it. Sometimes on how to for lack of a better term is how to manage expectations, right? Which isn’t like, I need expectations, so you don’t expect too much of me. But in other words, it’s that sometimes it’s like I in that world. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing for decades. And sometimes I will over jump what that person is thinking about and also to sometimes I get very bad communication in in the other direction, right? And it really is in the first place in the situation, establishing expectations and educating like, for instance, saying,
Here’s here’s the the successful Process. These are the best practices in order for us to achieve this. So first of all, I’m letting you know that as much as you might want it yesterday. You got to you got to you got you still got to put the bricks in and that that takes effort in time, but conversely, it’s the client me being sensitive to the client and if necessary, drawing it out of them as to let me know the situation. As you said, maybe it’s just I need I need that rough.
I need that Viability or something just to go to an investor. I don’t need schematics and how many owns that circuit has to carry.
Exactly, right. Yeah. And that carries over in organizations with thousands and thousands of people every day, and it reduces performance and productivity to a degree. And that’s why it’s really important that engineers and folks who work in that realm have the soft skills that are necessary to inquire and listen and be curious and not be as determined to get things right at a stage when that’s not what’s really needed. So, you know, it’s the subtleties of all those little things that are very important. And when when you move into an organization that has all these layers of generations working together, you have the bumps and bruises that come from the instincts that they’ve had from the success factors that was set up to them in there as they climbed or they develop their careers or expanded their career, if you will. And when you mix all of that chemistry together, and now we have to be able to, if you will, speak French, Spanish, German and English all in the same room. The metaphor of being each each different part of this generational schematic x y, z, boomers and so on all have a slightly different language. And the key is finding the intersections where we relate the best and bring the best value together, and that intersection is still something that. Organizations are desperately looking for ways in which they can increase the capacity for that to happen faster. Yes, and for that to happen, faster facilitation and management leadership skills are very important. And when you’re when you’re hiring new people into an organization that are coming from the Z generation or millennial stages of development in terms of their maturity, it’s their ability to have a combination of the business savvy and the soft skills together because understanding human interaction and human dynamics is more important than it’s ever been before because we have this strata that’s much more complicated than it was before.
Yeah, when, when, when we were younger, it was up to us to learn the language in the ways of our elders and the big boss right in the company. And now it’s almost the inverse of that and correct. You know, it is. It is a
Matter that that besides An individual, an individual, boomers skills and talents and experience it. Really, the differentiator really comes down to how well are they going to blend, which leads us into the next section. So we’re talking about you’ve got the job or you’ve got the whatever kind of employment it is, whether you’re a contract worker or freelancer or a worker on a professional level. That’s let’s talk about actually getting the job and being able to demonstrate and applying for the job or applying for the gig that you’re actually capable of it. And I’ll open it up by something you just you just referenced a moment ago, and that is a few about a month ago, David Stewart and we are anxious to talk t About a It didn’t list the number, but numerous HR Hiring people, people in the
Hr, the hiring part of HR with years of experience. And they said, Look, you know, it’s it’s not just ageism, it’s that these boomer candidates that we see are just not up to speed on the way of the world. And it’s it’s really incumbent on them to demonstrate that not only be upskilled and aligned with the way the world is, but but to be able to convey that because as one person said, and this is what you alluded to. Part of what we do is like a dating service. We fundamentally have to make sure that who we’re hiring can fit in with the group they’re going to be working with, and it’s incumbent on boomers to Be able to That and convey that. So what is your advice? To to show this, demonstrate this, leverage This to find That gig or that job Well, to find the job or to fit in, to Find the job, first of all, just to even get the employment because we’ve been kind of talking about fitting in. How do I demonstrate that so I can get a gig?
Well, you know, from the standpoint of finding the job, it’s being able to use your life experience in ways that fit best in. The dialogue that we’ve been having for the last 30 minutes, which is how do I the how do I become somebody that is adding to the evolution of innovation, if you will? And if I’m going to be adding to innovation, I have to have a style that’s more oriented to inquiry and questioning and curiosity and being having a growth mindset and being open minded and being a learner. And if you show up to that particular interview with a an attitude about. I’ve been there and done that, and I can help you because of my experience through all the the work that I’ve done through my career. That list of things you’ve done is valuable, but what’s going to be more valuable is your curiosity, interest and inquiry as to who am I going to be working with? How can I best? How would I say? Add to the chemistry of that particular Environment, just fit in, but Actually add to the chemistry. So bringing bringing your stage with you is part of what you contribute. But what you also want to be able to describe and have a selling point for yourself is your ability to relate to the innovation and the curiosity and your appreciation of things that happen in a way that are different than the experience that I’ve had to this point in my life, if you will. So, you know, it’s it’s it’s a matter of studying the generations as best you can spend time with people who are of those age groups and find out more about how they think, how they innovate, what, what processes they use to evolve. Um, and how they come to decisions and and what their the chemistry is for their ability to rectify our. Because that’s the environment you’re going to be working. Adapt or die? Exactly. That’s the most simple way of putting it,
That’s for sure. Sorry, but let’s call it what it is.
But you know, part of that, what you just said there, Paul, is it’s more than just adapting. It’s being a showing that you have an interest and an attraction to being. And then in an environment that has the dynamics that are inclusive of all the behaviors of those generations. That’s very important, right?
And in my research in terms of looking for a job, whether it’s in the cover letter or somehow referenced in your resume or certainly in an interview or networking opportunity, It’s kind of like it’s up
To you to bring forth the fact to say, Hey, let’s deal with the The elephant in the room, you know, I.
Which is what I could honestly say. I have worked with younger generations who are in a different mindset than I was back then or whatever. And I love that. You know, I love being inclusive of it, and I love being able to, you know, bring something like you said to the chemistry, you know, adding to the chemistry and showing that you embrace it rather than.
You’re right. Much better than saying, Well, I can adapt to it done next, yeah. Yeah. And be honest about what you’re interested in learning.
Yeah. Oh, in learning and learning, right?
Yeah, that’s very important as well. So, you know, here’s a a little bit of. Of. Experience in the last few weeks, my daughter is home from college, doing online work here with school, my wife’s a chiropractor. It’s a hands-on job. She’s always working at our office and she’s home now and she’s never done. My wife is a few years younger than me. She’s a boomer and she has never done any online work, any coaching or support through the medium we’re working with right now. And it’s scary to her. Really scary to her.
Same thing I have. Yeah, and. I’ve had to lean into her in a way whereby asking questions of what’s the business that you’re in? To help her look at a wider frame, if you will, of what’s possible for her to be able to do in this medium that we’re experiencing right here between you and I, which I’m used to because I work with a lot of tech clients and I had to make that adaptation about 15 years ago, if you will. Most of my work was was lived, live coaching, live workshops, live everything. I was with people. And as a result of my work in tech, I had to adapt to this environment, if you will, to deliver a lot of the work I do coaching by phone, coaching this way, delivering webinars to all sorts of stuff, which is brand new for me at another time and very scary. Yeah. And I’m sort of helping her migrate, if you will, during this time to trying to do some work with our own clients. And I said, is it about the adjustment on the table? That is the most important thing that you do during the time we’re experiencing right now. Or is it the wellness and health of the folks that you work with, right? And what are they interested in? So for us to be able to make the adjustment to find our way into the chemistry of of intergenerational work, it’s sort of the same migration, if you will, is what is it that that the folks that we’re going to be interacting with are going to want most from us?
So is it to say that I want you to say that again? That’s a very good point. Say that again, please.
What is it that the folks we’re going to be working with in this intergenerational sort of scheme are going to want most from us? So if you look at Z and you look at millennial and you look at X and you look at fellow boomers, each one of those. The folks who fit into those age brackets are going to want things slightly different from Us or in a way that’s different, maybe you want the same Thing, but I want it Like this.
And how you bring it different? Sure, that would be a good way to put it, but it’s a study in human and human character and style. And again, finding that bridge to what what is going to be most valuable to the folks that are of the different generations that we can bring that is going to bring a chemistry and a result?
And you know, this really, this really comes down to, you know, what’s become very popular in the corporate world over the last five or six years, which is diversity and inclusion DNI sure. And this isn’t about quotas, how many minorities, gender, it’s literally that it’s supposed to be a best practice for business, that the more diverse your workforce and your teams are, the more different looks and opinions you’re going to get at the same at the problem. As one expert said, I don’t need more of me when I’m trying to make something or innovate or solve a problem. I need different viewpoints. So the inclusion thing is is they create an environment in which anybody can speak up and offer their ideas, and it will be considered. The interesting thing is, and I’ve talked to deny experts about this is that they still say, Well, yes, it’s different people from different nationalities. And so they never talk about age. They never talk about having an older, more experienced worker in that formula to make it work. And I find that very an inadvertent ajuste attitude of people. But sometimes I also wonder is how much of that is our fault for not being inclusive and sensitive, as you put it, attuned to the other people as well?
Yeah, that’s a very good point. And it is about diversity and it is about inclusion more than it has to do with race or age or culture or whatever it might be. It’s the very essence of diversity inclusion, which is who are we? What do we think and what does our diverse opinion or thinking or experience bring to that given moment? And in order for that chemistry to work, there needs to be patients and and time. And. Respect. For differences without making judgment. Because I said something earlier on, you could be right or dead, right? Uh. Killing an idea of a younger person as an older manager, you you lose the trust you built for the last six months in two minutes. Mm hmm. And it works in the exact opposite way as well. So if a younger person is impatient with me and me bringing something to them, it’s going to kill my trust with them. So there’s something to learn across the generations that we can share with each other, which is very generic, which is being including diversity and inclusion into our realm with a certain degree of patience and questions. And. And nuance that has to do with. Curiosity, I think more than anything.
And when you talk about how you can killing that idea can kill the relationship of trust, it’s a really good point and it also comes to mind something I’ve been thinking about for years. And and that’s also to the fail fast fail. Often, the fundamental intent on that is almost like what we heard. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough or it’s kind of like, just try it and go for it and then learn that it’s going to fail. But I often see in wonder how much it becomes an excuse that, oh, this isn’t working out well or it’s not quite working out, right? So it’s OK. I can feel fast forward to go off. And then I know I read in,
I read in Tim Ferriss book Tools of Titans. Oh my gosh, the name just went out of my head. The guy that started Netscape. Scandinavian. Oh, my gosh. Anyway, you know, one of One of the creators Of the modern day world wide web, and he made a very good point about this and he said. You know, and I think this is what boomers bring to the table is that, well, sometimes it shouldn’t be like, well, we failed, let’s move on. Sometimes you’ve Just got to keep Going and push harder and adjust and pivot. But sometimes you’ve got to break down the brick wall to get where you’re going. You can’t go around it. And I that would seem, though, to me to be a challenge where You’ve got a younger Generation saying, Hey, let’s bail. This isn’t going to work as opposed to, no, I think it’s going to work. We just need to do some different things and you see that I do experience.
I do the the the challenge with Boomer and say with a millennial. A lot of times comes from speed and patience. That intersection, having that blend together and become the the best possible chemistry comes from each of the parties being curious as to what we can learn from. Where that particular person is coming from. So if the if the younger person is innovating very quickly, using technology to get information and taking things forward, and the boomer is saying, let’s take some time to think through this a little bit longer experiment a little bit, if you will, if there’s an inability for the millennial to experiment and for the boomer to work quickly. You have to find that quick experiment kind of idea. So how do we experiment patiently? Quickly?
If you will, it’s it’s sort of a blending of different speed. It’s a blending of different ways of thinking. It’s to blend a blending of. Technology and non-technical thinking, because some sometimes it’s just a matter of having a way of thinking of things in a very simplistic format, which is let’s look at what history has told us about this. Which somebody who hasn’t had much history doesn’t relate to because they haven’t been there. Right. Right. Somebody who has the history relates to them because they’ve been through things over and over and over again, and as a result of that have iterations of understanding of going through hoops and overcoming challenges and crossing chasms and jumping over a canyon and so on, which a lot of a lot of that sage experience when trust is built between the differences can be of great value to both and when. I’m. When the patience isn’t there for that, problems exist. I was a bit, oh, I’m sorry, go ahead. All right. Since it’s both parties, we have to find a way.
So but I, you know, I put out there to all boomers who are looking to to fit into the chemistry and bring something to it or find that job or something. It’s really the reality is it’s up to you to adapt and blend and it’s up to you to prove it and to show otherwise because hiring. Hiring a millennial or Gen Z is easy, and it’s kind of like nobody ever got fired. Buying IBM, hiring a older person. You’ve really got to prove to them that your your. I can assuage your concerns and show the value that I bring. It’s up to us to prove it. We have to prove that every step of the way I want to pivot to something else, and that is is something you’ve been working on and adapting and adjusting and growing and evolving for years. And that’s your total life compass. All right. Give a brief description of it, but with the emphasis ending up on on. You know what it is and how you’re applying it to the given? Well, this generation of older people, so to speak, because this is the way it is for us with the longer healthspan and lifespan of technology and business, the economy is different and more promising than than it was for previous generations. So first of all, a brief explanation on the total life.
Well, the life compass is a an evolution of something that I started working on in nineteen seventy eight. So it’s it’s had its own life, if you will, the total life compass. So it looks at eight areas of life mind, body and and values or spirituality as or if you will, if you will, or core competencies, if you will. And then challenges and choices of life, which are family and financial and lifelong learning and career and social interaction and social networks and that sort of thing. So it’s being able to understand what you value most, how satisfied you are and how you’re actually doing in those eight areas of life. And the combination of those intersections, of those, those points of what I value most and how satisfied I am and how I’m actually doing. Help me set goals that make life easier, make life more worthwhile. Make life more results oriented. If I’m if that’s my focus and more balanced and integrated, if you will. And in recent time, I’ve been working on a project that’s focused on your best years yet, if you will, which was something that I defined for 50. The 50 year old and beyond. And when I started talking to some of my younger clients about the concept, this was a real. How would I say it and Earth some thinking to me that I hadn’t contemplated before? And what they come up is a couple of 30 year old, high potential leaders that I was working with. I ran the idea of pass them your best years yet. And they said, I need that. And I said, interesting. Yeah, I could see why you would want to do life planning and total life management type of work, but why do you need your best years yet? What was that about? And what was interpreted to me about their circumstances was that I’m hitting the wall a lot earlier than you did. Yeah, because the speed in which they’re working, they’re hitting, they’re hitting a space in their career where they’re making choices about making adaptation earlier than Boomer would, if you will.
This is like the burnout, right? Right, right? Yeah.
Right? So so the interesting concept in me around that was, huh, maybe I should think about bringing all the generations into one room to talk about life management or total life corpus. And I did. So I brought a pilot group of folks in a 17 year old twenty five year old to 30 year old to 40 50 and so on. And we had a discussion about this and the intersection. More than anything that folks related to the most was that career planning and life planning today are not separate. So we have to figure out how to plan our career and plan my life at the same time, if you will, so that it works for us. And how again, when you think about we were talking earlier in this conversation about making it work at work, it also can be something of value where intergenerational conversation about what total life, compass and planning can be of great value to us being in conversation across those generations as well. So that’s that’s been a new stimulus for me and my thinking, and I haven’t arrived in a place where i know I’m actually going to do with that yet, but I know it’s a value and and more importantly. The the workplace of the younger generation has is being styled with their life and work lives in the same space. So going back to the idea of the boomer fitting in. One of the things that you can contribute and and have impact on in joining a workplace as a boomer is bring the sage life experience you’ve had to a place that’s interested in both life and work domains, right? So it’s beyond just your work capacity, it’s your life experience you can bring there. So you ask me introducing the total life campus as a. A process and a program that I’ve been evolving with for many years. I’m at a place, to be very honest with you, Paul, where I’m questioning what I’ve done with that to this point, because it’s been it’s been very prescriptive to this point. You fill this out and you evaluate this and you assess this and you assess that. And what I’m starting to realize is that it’s going to be it could be more valuable in the dialogue conversation environment than just prescriptive.
The combination of those two is going to be really important so that I’m at a very interesting intersection with my own work of 30 years around that and questioning. What I’ve done and I’ve gotten a lot of accolades for what I’ve done, and thousands of people have used this technology of mine, and what I’m starting to realize at the moment is that there’s an opportunity to use this context right for the intergenerational world whereby which that idea of total life compass. Having a great life and having great work at the in the same space considering in the same space is something that. Uh, is going to take innovation on my part,
But innovation, innovation and execution, but not not necessarily in the fundamentals of how you look. I mean, what I love about it is the fact that you’re saying, Hey, it’s not work, it’s not life. It’s not. It is this integrated holistic. In our life, which changes constantly, but we seem to forget that so when our relationships, you know, one thing that I had a video blog on today is how many people because of the lockdown are suddenly out of their relationships, like with the spouse or whatever. And you’re used to having my life in your life and going here and timing and everything else. And all of a sudden you’re thrown in together and it’s just like retirement, where one or the other or both suddenly retire. And it’s well to cut it short. It’s the reason why there is a spike in the divorce rate amongst retirees. I mean, twenty five percent chance you’ll get a divorce because you’re you’re assuming that the way things were are the way they are now. And when I looked at your total I compass for the first time, I thought,
This is Brilliant because it takes everything to account and especially the fact that We change.
As you said, what was true in the morning is a lie in the afternoon. And so I would think foundationally you’re it’s still very true. You’re talking about changing maybe the process or what.
Yeah, it’s a matter of having life management and career management be sort of in sync, if you will. So the more that that’s in sync, the better. So, you know, let’s take, for instance, in the past we had we went to school and educated ourselves for a career. We had the career and then we retire. Right? That that lifeline today is not. It’s intermittent. It’s a I learn and I work, and then I have to upskill again, and I might take sabbatical to do that. Or I might define my workday differently than a boomer might have early stages of their career. You work nine to five and then after work, you went and did whatever you did today. People take two hours off in the middle of the day and they do something for their life and they come back and they compartmentalize their organization for their life. So both life and work work right and that that concept in the new workplace is natural. So the newer, evolving workplaces, if you’re going to go participate in that environment, you’re going to have to be comfortable with the intermittent ness of. High levels of focus, time off, high levels of focus, time off and that time off for what? To have my life and have my work so that my work is purposeful. I have my passion, I have my energy, I’m managing my stress effectively. I’m taking time for relationships and things of that nature. So all of that has brought up to somebody who’s been a behavioral scientist, if you will, around the idea of life management and life work practices over the years. My recent sort of aha, if you will, has been. A combination of thinking about how to bring that to the workplace rather than it be a retreat, right?
Well, I tell you it’s it’s not madmen, it’s not the world of Mad Men or Ozzie and Harriet, right? So let’s get let’s get over it and let’s get on with it. Mark, this has been absolutely fantastic. So many things, I mean, this is one of those interviews might be work for some people to listen to twice.
What’s the best
Way for people to connect with you?
Well, through t my website, it’s probably the best place to do that, which is www.Michelsenleadership.com and all my details are there. So if you want to email me, it’s Marc@Michelsenleadership.com and my phone number is on my website, by the way. That’s Marc with a C.
Thank you so much. If you like this, there’s a lot more on YouTube. Also, there’s even more on new way forward. That’s www.NewWayFWD.com . There you can subscribe. You’ll get a free newsletter regularly, you’ll get special updates and you’ll get a free download to help you step by step. Get going on your new way forward.