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  • Writer's pictureAnnette Kassis

Taking Inspiration from Millennials

Full disclosure time…I am a proud Baby Boomer, arriving on the scene at almost the end of the Boomer time span. In fact, growing up as one of 6 kids (I’m number 5), I realized that from oldest to youngest we pretty much span the entire Baby Boomer generational segment. And for that, I can tell you there is a big difference between the beginning years of the Boomers and the ending years.

I like to refer to those of us born in the final Boomer years as “Cool Boomers.” Speaking for myself, I think that the strength of the Cool Boomer is having a foot in each world. I realized this most acutely when I entered graduate school at the age of 48 and emerged at the age of 50 with my master’s in history. At the time, I was co-owner of a Sacramento-based advertising agency that had been around for almost 20 years—K&H Marketing—and had jumped feet first into the changes in technology that made it possible for a small local ad agency to have big reach. When I entered grad school I was as much a user of tech as my younger counterparts.

But I also felt I had an advantage as someone who had gone to school, written, worked and researched before some of the tech tools were available. I knew how to find things that had not yet been digitized; I knew how to do analog searches of material in libraries; I was one with the microfilm; and I was well-equipped for the patience required for historical research—digging through archival boxes and old volumes for letters, diaries, memos, copies of telegrams, probate lists and other hidden gems that can’t always be found with an online search.

Is one way better than the other? Absolutely not. Both are important, and both fit together to form a more complete picture, as some of the younger students in my classes learned when they asked me for a quick tutorial on research the “old-fashioned” way.

And that’s my point…we learned from each other, and it was wonderful.

Today in my marketing “day job” I’m very fortunate to work with some amazing Millennials and Millennial/Gen X borderline dwellers. I’m the mother and mother-in-law of Millennials and I love working with them and learning from them. Kiah Twisselman, the young woman in the photo with me, was in the iHeartRadio San Francisco studios to record an episode of my podcast, “Feed Me!” She is quite the inspiration, and I can’t wait for you to hear her episode, which drops November 11. In chatting with her after we’d completed production, she shared so many of the things that she’s interested in and wants to develop, and I found myself completely caught up in her enthusiasm. I shared some of my current projects with her as well and was bowled over with her show of genuine support and excitement. I feel like I’ve just increased my network of valued “co-conspirators” by one, and I couldn’t be more excited and energized.

Ageism is real. But recognize that door can swing both ways. Those of us in the “older” category don’t want to be discounted or marginalized because of our age…we don’t want our years of experience and knowledge to be discarded as irrelevant. But don’t be guilty of the reverse and dismiss the ideas, enthusiasm, desire to learn and willingness to engage that someone younger is offering you. New ideas and new experiences are the real fountain of youth, but you won’t get anything new if you constantly hang on to the old.

And nothing makes you seem older than continually looking back, and starting every other sentence with, “In my day, this is how we did it…”

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