Aging Boomers and Millennials


I've been re-reading a couple of books (Generations: The History of America’s Future for one)  by William Strauss and Neil Howe as a result of seeing several posts on Facebook about the uneasy relationship between Millennials religion and politics. This book was published in 1991 and because I was born in 1946 I especially like the sections on the relationship between Boomers and Millennials.   The description of Boomers as they age is not flattering.  The authors see us as tending toward people who will  “grow increasingly pompous intolerant uncompromising snoopy and exacting of others.”  Not only that but we will likely be “an ascetic elder glowering down from Sinai looking upon himself as a critical link in human civilization without whose guidance the young might sink into Philistinism.” Of course an even worse scenario would be like that described in the Old Testament when two aging generals – Abner and Joab – decided to have a number of their young soldiers fight each other to the death for sport.  Hopefully ” we will find another way to engage this generation.

It’s even likely we would have some redemptive qualities in that a segment of Boomers will find it in themselves to become discerning and helpful wisdom figures who are secure enough to play the role of a “repository of culture” the reminder of stable deeply rooted values and…to age elegantly.”  I bring this up because I see more and more aging Boomers interested in the work of organizations like Praxis Echoing Green ” Ashoka and other organizations helping to support and accelerate the missions of “social entrepreneurs” who are themselves heavily drawn from the Millennial generation.

In a real sense” they are our investment in accomplishing what we see as our unfinished work as radicals of another era. "Elderly Boomers will see in this generation (Millennials) an effective instrument for saving the world. Having themselves screamed against duty and discipline when young Boomers will now demand duty and discipline from post adolescents. They will get both. In return old Boomers will shower youthful heroes and heroines with praise and reward. Inevitably rising Millennials will start feeling the intoxication of hubris. They will resist elders – Boomers included – whom they perceive as unwilling to relinquish private and material privilege…and will rise up against whomever they perceive to be enemies of community solidarity and public action…Assuming the crisis turns out well ” Millennials will be forever honored as a generation of civic achievers."

I would encourage the Millennials to take advantage of the desire of aging Boomers to support their initiatives and projects – even if our motives are more than a bit self-serving.  There are many Boomer donors who would love to find a way to be engaged with the exciting work of these Millennial entrepreneurs.


  1. Recent research shows the georeatinns aren’t talking to each other in the workplace – which isn’t very different than in the greater cultureeither. But the cost to the company can be very significant.Mark Larson of Workforce Management recently wrote about this research by Randstad. InterestinglyRandstad found that Generation Y the youngest group actually outnumbers Boomers in the workforce laying to rest the fear of a worker shortage as Boomers retire. Alarmingly howeverRandstad’s findings also show there is little to no knowledge transfer in organizations between those who hold most institutional knowledge – the boomers – to their heirs in Generations X and Y.As reported in Bneta Harvard Business School research team also recently found very little interaction across three major organizational boundaries: business unitfunction and geography.Neither finding is particularly surprising. We’ve seen these informational and relational silos in place for decades. The most effective way to break them down is with a simple thank you through strategic employee recognition programs that allow anyone in the organization to thank anyone else for their helpinsights above-and-beyond efforts etc.To foster sharing of institutional knowledge between the georeatinns also requires giving people of the various georeatinns opportunities to collaborate together on projects and learn from each other through the work. Then using strategic recognition programs as the mechanism to both acknowledge efforts and thencritically communicate those contributions and capabilities to members of all georeatinns overcomes these barriers of distrust and misunderstanding.Did a subject matter expert help with your project but he’s based in another country? Thank him anyway! Did you work on a team drawing from multiple offices to achieve a strategic goal? Thank everyone equitably. Recognize people when they go above and beyond and see them want to repeat the tasks. Our clients have done this successfully across multiple georeatinnsregionsdivisions and even continents.

  2. What is TSA NEXT GENERATION?This is a New Generation of Advisory Boards consisting of Juniors and Seniors in High SchoolCollege/University StudentsYoung Adults and a few Senior Advisors. The Aim is to cratee a Media Platform for the Next Generation to tell the Story of The Salvation Army with Relevance and Conviction which leads to ACTION!!!In a short few months since reading your article we have assembled a smallbut potent team of young leaders. The buzz has started and in the new year we hope to officially launch this initiative.Cherie Miller Wilkinson TSA Next Generation AdvisorKatie Wilkinson – National Honors Society Inductee. Katie is a Jr. at Corona del Sol High School is the Founder of the Nations’ first Red Kettle Club.Kiara Hines ASUwas selected as the first ever “Young Humanitarian Scholar” by the Don Carlos Humanitarians.Emilio Gale1nASUwho won a 2010 Edson Grant for his start-uphonest Healthto cratee a health care network for the uninsuredwill serve as student vice director for Changemaker Central.Keep your eyes open for future updates.


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