Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 10:48 pm | Fair 52º


John Daly: Baby Boomer Behavior Still Rocks in Millennial Workforce

A few weeks ago, I watched a movie, The Intern. I was quite taken by the diversity between the old way vs. new work practices and individual relationships.

The movie stars Robert DeNiro (Ben) as a 70-year-old widower who becomes an intern in an online retail clothing company founded and run by Anne Hathaway (Jules), a thirty-something mother and wife.

The company, started in Jules’ kitchen, grew from a startup to 200 employees in 18 months. Ben interviews and joins the company because he has become bored with retirement and because the company has started an outreach program for seniors.

Jules is in constant motion, taking dissatisfied customer calls, moving around in her office on a bike, rarely stopping to celebrate co-workers’ birthdays or have a complete conversation with her mother.

Ben, a former executive with a telephone book company, secures the job to be Jules’ intern, a situation that she reluctantly agrees to try.

The stark differences between Ben and the younger employees are immediately apparent with Ben’s impeccable work attire (suit and tie) versus T-shirt and jeans, and a rudimentary knowledge of computers vs. advanced understanding.

But the differences go deeper. It’s obvious that Jules doesn’t feel that Ben has anything to contribute, and she just tolerates him, or completely ignores him, unless he’s assigned to dropping off and picking up her dry cleaning.

In the meantime, he makes himself productive, getting to know the ropes, learning how to deal with the technology and helping the younger employees whenever he can. He earns the nickname, Mr. Congeniality. He also gives Old School, sensible advice to the youngsters when they need it.

Gradually, through his patient helpfulness and wise advice, Ben and Jules form a growing friendship. This expands to all of Ben’s close work associates, who look to him for his insightful opinions and useful experience.

As a result, Jules gives Ben more and more responsibility and he becomes a best friend to Jules as he guides her through both business and personal crises.

I hope that my point is obvious. Experience and knowledge still have a critical place in the workplace and in life.

So often people think that older people have little to contribute. And, they scoff at the “old way” of doing things.

But, those old ways boil down to compassion, respect and tolerance. The same things I’ve keep repeating, hoping that they will sink in. 

Having an outreach program to bring in that senior knowledge and experience shouldn’t be lost on anyone who manages a business.

I’m not saying you should go out and round up anyone who has wrinkles on his or her face. But there are so many vital older people in our community who want to remain productive after their careers have ended.

I’m probably a classic example with The Key Class. Not everyone has the luxury of launching a nonprofit organization in their later years, but many do want to keep on contributing.

I suggest we find ways to give them that opportunity. What do you think?

This clip from The Intern will drive home my point: 

Watch a short trailer of The Intern. It will drive home my point!

(Warner Bros. Pictures video)

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or click here to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, is available on Amazon. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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