• November 2011

The State of Our Future

“What happened to the America I thought I knew?” asks Tom Brokaw, our November Entrepreneur of the Month.

His new book, “The Time of Our Lives,” hits bookstores this month, and in it he asks the American people some pointed questions: “What happened to us? Have we lost our way? Will our children and grandchildren have better lives than we do?”

Is it true? Are our best years behind us? Brokaw, who spoke at the Greater Washington Board of Trade on Nov. 3, and then the National Press Club, challenges us to engage in a conversation about the future of our country, asking us for ideas on how we can revitalize the American Dream. Click here to watch his NPC speech.

From school that stays in session 11 months a year, to more private-public partnerships, and some serious belt-tightening that will help us spend less and save more, the experienced journalist who has covered four decades of world events offers intriguing ideas and insights into how we can keep America the land of opportunity.

In this issue of the magazine, our columnists certainly have ideas about the “State of Our Future:”

  • Don’t miss our November Book of the Month, Millennium Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America, by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. This insightful hardcover, reviewed by business strategist Chris Carbone, focuses on the power of Generation Y (born 1980-2000), also known as the Millennials. [Winograd and Hais, who are marketing strategists as well as educators, offer their thoughts on Brokaw’s book in our main feature, below.]
  • And our favorite Millennial, professional soccer player Joanna Lohman, gives us a glimpse inside her world. “I am the beneficiary of two things that my mother and grandmother never dreamed of: Title IX, and social media.
  • For a Boomer perspective—one that’s influenced by a little magic and mystery—don’t miss our Truly Amazing Woman of the Month, Alice Hoffman. She has written 28 books in her illustrious career, including her current bestseller, The Dovekeepers.

We leave you with this parting thought from Thomas Jefferson: “We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”

No matter which generation you fall into, here’s to your success!Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher & founder
Be Inkandescent Magazine / Inkandescent Networking

Tom Brokaw on "The Time of Our Lives"


By Hope Gibbs
Be Inkandescent

“What happened to the America I thought I knew?” asks respected broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw in his new book, The Time of Our Lives.

With this sixth title he has penned since leaving the anchor seat of NBC Nightly News in 2004, Brokaw says he is determined to have a conversation about America with the people who can make a difference in setting her course. The author describes this tome as a discussion about “who we are, where we’ve been, and where we need to go now, to recapture the American dream.”

And Brokaw, whose previous bestsellers include, “The Greatest Generation,” “A Long Way From Home,” and “Boom!” insists that he is not the only one who is worried about the future of America.

“Wherever I go I am asked, ‘What has happened to us? Have we lost our way? Will our children and grandchildren have better lives than we do? Is that essential part of the American dream disappearing?’ I believe it is time for an American conversation about legacy and destiny.”

Brokaw wants to know: “Have we simply wandered off course—but only temporarily?” To find that answer, he encourages Americans to reflect on where we have been and how we are going to move forward together, and to do it with more listening and less shouting.

Mostly, he wants all generations to consider how we will respond—now and going forward—“to the manifest challenges facing all of us in the brief time we have on this precious planet.”

Brokaw asks: “Have we allowed ourselves to be so divided that we’re easy prey for hijackers who could steer us to a crash landing?”

Brokaw realizes that he can’t separate his beliefs and worldview from his past experiences or upbringing. Rooted in the lessons and verities of generations past, and of his South Dakota upbringing, Brokaw knows that he is a child of a generation that is steeped in specific values and expectations.

In his view, the key to having a successful future is to foster a rebirth of family, community, and civic engagement as profound as the one that won World War II, built our postwar prosperity, and ushered in the Civil Rights era.

As a result, in “The Time of Our Lives,” he traces the changes in modern life—in values, education, public service, housing, the Internet, and more—that have transformed our society in the decades since the “age of thrift,” in which he was raised.

Throughout the book, he weaves together dozens of stories of Americans who he believes are achieving the American dream. “The Time of Our Lives” is also a history lesson, as told through the eyes of a highly experienced journalist, who began his career in 1962, “when America was investing in a new generation of leadership and promise. … I couldn’t wait to be part of it all.”

Fast forward to June 5, 2009. A half-century later, Brokaw writes, “it is a much different world, and I am a weathered survivor of the rearranged American landscape.” And so he begins the book at the moment in time when he found himself “at the intersection of history, and my life, while on assignment in Europe.

“It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain showers,” he writes in Chapter 1, “and I was standing on the terrace of the Royal Palace in Dresden, Germany, awaiting the arrival of the young president of the United States, Barack Obama, for a Today show and Nightly News interview.

“Mentally, I reviewed the loose ends of my appointment: What should I ask about his upcoming visit to the notorious Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald? How would he compare his challenges as president with those of FDR during the Great Depression and World War II? What did he plan for his speech the next morning, at the 65th anniversary of the Normandy invasion? But now I was with a young president who would face his own tests of vision, courage, and political acumen in the 21st century.

“President Obama arrived right on schedule. He strolled with his easy athletic gait along the walkway of the magnificent baroque building, past the priceless porcelain vases collected by Saxony kings, and gave me a soft shout-out. ‘Hey, Brokaw—we’re here.’”

Brokaw goes on to discuss the challenges faced by President Obama in the two years following that interview, including rising unemployment, the Tea Party, China, and India, and the continued involvement of the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve experienced grave crises before, but never so many all at once representing such a wide range of disastrous possibilities: the new world DIS-order,” Brokaw insists on page 15. “None of us has all the answers, but so many of the problems are self-evident that we should begin by first addressing those that threaten our core values: political pluralism, broad-based economic opportunity, national security secured by means other than the barrel of a gun, and cultural and religious tolerance.”

What is the first step? Brokaw calls us to action when he writes, “What better time than now, when we’ve been through the searing, frightening experience of a historic economic setback? What better time than now, when our principal political, economic, and cultural competitors are expanding at a breathtaking pace, especially in educating their young for the demands of a new age.”

“As time goes by,” he fears, “we’ll have fewer ideal opportunities to reignite the American dream and face the territory ahead with a renewed sense of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re determined to go.”

And so, his 18-chapter book is a guide to help Americans reclaim this ideal. He divides it into four parts: Getting the Fundamentals Right, Assignment America, Help Me Make It Through This New Age Dot-Com, and “What Now, Grandma and Grandpa?”

Within those sections are chapters, each of which begins with a fact and a question, followed by an analysis of the topic through the lens of “the present,” “the past,” and “the promise.” Most poignant, perhaps, is Chapter 18, entitled, “September of my years.” Brokaw writes, “For so long, the autumn of my years seemed to be a distant season. But now, inexorably, that season is upon me. While like everyone I’d like to put time back on the clock of my life, I have no rational reason to wish for a reset.

“Rather, my short and long objectives are to make the most of the time remaining, and to get through the autumn with grace, compassion, and always a commitment to leaving the world a little better place for family, and everyone.” [The book can be bought at Amazon.com.]

So what does it take to be a “Great Generation?“—or maybe just a great generation? “Tom Brokaw’s works celebrating the GI Generation is a real tribute to civic-mindedness, and the spirit of honor,” explain Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, the authors of our November Book of the Month, Millennium Momentum.

“We believe that America’s next great generation will be the Millennials, born 1982-2003, for they will contribute just as much as their great grandparents did, and will build an even more successful future for this country.”

Click here for ways to successfully manage four generations of employees: Are you up to the challenge?

How to Successfully Manage Four Generations of Employees

By Greg Hammill
Former Executive Director of Student Programs
Fairleigh Dickinson Silberman College of Business

Think of the last time you heard comments like these: “You’re right, but I’m the boss!” Or, “Just do your job!”

How about: “I remember when …” Or, “The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job!”

How did you react?

Were you offended? Were you okay with the comment? Did you understand, or not understand, why someone would say these words? The words and your reaction, as well as the reactions of others, reflect generational differences in the workplace.

If you don’t think generation makes a difference, think of this example. When asked to recall how and where Kennedy died, the Veterans and Baby Boomers would say gunshots in Dallas, Texas; Generation X remembers a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; and Generation Y might say, “Kennedy who?”

There is a serious new problem in the workplace, and it has nothing to do with downsizing, global competition, pointy-haired bosses, stress, or greed. Instead, it is the problem of distinct generations—the Veterans, the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y—working together and often colliding as their paths cross. Individuals with different values, different ideas, different ways of getting things done, and different ways of communicating in the workplace have always existed. So, why is this becoming a problem now?

The Power of Four

This is the first time in American history that we have had four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Remember, if you are old enough, when older workers were the bosses and younger workers did what was asked of them, no questions asked.

There were definite rules as to how the boss was treated and how younger workers treated older workers. No longer: Roles today are all over the place and the rules are being rewritten daily.

At work, generational differences can affect everything, including recruiting, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, managing, and maintaining and increasing productivity. Think of how generational differences, relative to how people communicate, might affect misunderstandings, high employee turnover, difficulty in attracting employees, and gaining employee commitment.

Each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits, and motivational buttons.

Research indicates that people also communicate based on their generational backgrounds. Learning how to communicate with the different generations can eliminate many major confrontations and misunderstandings in the workplace and the world of business.

Let’s try an analogy to help illuminate the issue. What often happens when a family gets together for a holiday or a vacation? Four generations—you (let’s assume you’re a Boomer); your children (Xers); your grandchildren (Gen Y); your brothers and sisters (Boomers); and your parents (Veterans)—all trying to get along together.

How long does it take before someone mentions “the good old days” and another says “I remember when … ?” Is that when things become testy? How many times is so much friction created that family members leave the gathering saying “never again”? Do you usually attribute this to “your family” or do you find yourself saying, “that’s just what we’re like whenever we get together?” Could this be due to generational differences and not just “the way the family is?”

Whether at a family gathering or in the workplace, how do you manage inter-generational groups with conflicting work ethics, dissimilar values, and idiosyncratic styles? How do you get them to stop snarling at each other? How do you motivate them to get along or work together?

Every generation has created its own commotion as it has entered into the adult working world. And, every generation says the same things about other generations—“They don’t get it,” or, “They have it so much easier than we did.”

Unlocking the Mystery

To begin to understand how individuals in different generations act and react, one must first start with understanding oneself. Begin by locating your birth year on the “Generation Timeline”: Veterans (1922-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), or Generation Y (1981-2000). Since this timeline represents a conglomeration of many views, the starting and ending dates of the generations are subjective, not scientific or fully agreed-on time spans. However, this subjectivity poses no real problems since the variation of years is not significant enough to impact the big picture of a generation’s description.

The first thing to consider is that individuals and their underlying values, or personal and lifestyle characteristics, seem to correspond with each generation.

For example, education characteristics vary widely by generation. Veterans regard education as a dream; Boomers as a birthright; Gen Xers as a way to get where they want to be in life; and Gen Yers as an incredible expense. Other personal and lifestyle characteristics that vary similarly by generation include core values, family structure, mode of communication and use of media, and attitudes toward money.

And those characteristics listed above are but a very few of those that have been studied and reported by various authors. Obviously, not every person in a generation will share all of the same characteristics with others in the same generation. However, these examples are indicative of general patterns in the relationships between and among family members, friends, and people in the workplace. Individuals born at one end of the date range or the other may see overlapping characteristics with the preceding or succeeding generation.

These generational distinctions make it easy to see why Generation X (which grew up as latch-key kids) cannot understand what their grandparents mean by the traditional family or what fun it was to spend Christmas together as a family. Are you worried about the possibility that your Baby Boomer children may be unable to retire or have to move in with you or their children as they reach the later years of their lives? Possibly you should be.

Do you now see why your view of education might differ from your children’s views? Do you understand why your children may not want to go to a movie with you? Can you see how generational issues, such as what to do for entertainment, can create friction on those family vacations or at holiday get-togethers?

Understanding these characteristics about individuals makes it easier to look at workplace characteristics by generation, and how they manifest themselves in business. Workplace characteristics such as work ethic and values, attitude toward work, leadership style, interactive style, communications, feedback and rewards, messages that motivate, and work and family life balance all vary by generation.

Here, for example, are messages that motivate members of different generations: Veterans: “Your experience is respected.” Boomers: “You are valued. You are needed.” Generation X: “Do it your way. Forget the rules.” Generation Y: “You will work with other bright, creative people.”

At the beginning of any team formation, an effective leader should consider spending time learning how team members wish to communicate.

An example, based on these traits, would be to think about how words are received differently. When a Boomer says to another Boomer, “We need to get the report done,” it is generally interpreted by the Boomer as an order, it must be done, and done now. However, when a Boomer says to an Xer, “This needs to be done,” the Xer hears an observation, not a command, and may or may not do it immediately.

Getting Back to Work

With the above observations in mind, let’s look at a few work situations and how one might handle them.

• At annual appraisal time, a manager from the Veterans generation gives out a nice bonus for a project well done. The Generation X employee is ungrateful and says, “Why didn’t I get this six months ago, when the project was completed?”

Gen X wants instant gratification, whereas a person in the Veterans generation is happy to get money any time. The solution here may be for the company to explore reward plans geared to the different generations, or things like monetary rewards and recognition given when they are earned.

• A Generation X manager tells a Boomer he has been working too hard and should take time off to take the family on vacation. Instead of saying thanks, the Boomer replies, “I work to get ahead, to get a promotion, not for a vacation.” The next time that situation comes up, the manager might elect to give this particular employee a bonus, rather than suggest a vacation.

• A top-notch, cross-functional team with individuals from several different generations has been set up to recommend a solution to a nasty manufacturing problem. After a couple of weeks, the manager responsible for the team cannot understand why there is constant bickering and nothing is getting done.

If the manager were aware of just one characteristic of each individual relating to communication needs, he or she might understand the stalemate.

The Veterans on the team are looking for handwritten notes and direct, specific requests for work to be done.

The Boomers do not like to work independently, and they expect to have meetings any time, any place—and it is fine if they are called day or night.

Xers do not want to hear about the project outside of work, and don’t dare call them at home. And the Yers don’t want any meetings at all, they only communicate via voicemail and email.

Is it any wonder that the team is having trouble getting motivated toward the goal?

A Boomer is working for a Generation Y individual, and there is nothing but animosity between the two. Why? Generation Y individuals, born since 1980, have many of the traits of the Veterans. They are not like their parents. They are curious, goal-oriented, and loyal. Solution: consider having Boomers work for Veterans rather than Gen Ys.

There are more pronounced differences between the generations today than ever before. What can one expect with the dramatic changes in our world in the last 60 years?

Being aware of these differences can help individuals tailor their message for maximum effect, regardless of the task, or the relationship—family, friends, workplace peers. Good business is based on understanding others. The majority of us think that the correct way, and the only way, is our way.

In business, as well as in personal life, that is just not true. To work effectively and efficiently, to increase productivity and quality, one needs to understand generational characteristics and learn how to use them effectively in dealing with each individual.

About Greg Hammill

Before retiring in 2006, Greg Hammill was the executive director of Student Programs, in the Silberman College of Business at Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

Previously, he was executive director of FDU’s Center for Human Resource Management Studies (CHRMS).

Hammill was director of employment for AT&T in the 1990s, when he recognized the need to develop an understanding of generational differences to assist in the hiring and retention of managers. He explains, “Without understanding characteristics of the generations, it was impossible to understand why recent college graduates were not interested in employment at AT&T, or why managers in their 40s and 50s were leaving AT&T.”

Before coming to Fairleigh Dickinson, Hammill was the chief operating officer of Talent Alliance, Morristown, NJ, where he oversaw career development software support and Web design.

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in Fairleigh Dickinson University Magazine.

Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation that indicate opportunities for success.”

– Peter F. Drucker

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

– Andrew Carnegie

Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”

– Betty Smith

Ripeness is all.”

– William Shakespeare

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

– Albert Einstein

‎Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

– Booker T. Washington

There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

– Christopher Morley

Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

– Martha Beck

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

– Henry Miller

I can’t go back to yesterday—because I was a different person then.”

– Lewis Carroll

Letting go of expectations is a ticket to peace. It allows us to ride over every crisis—small or large—like a beach ball on water.”

– Martha Beck

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

I was taught at a very young age that you can do whatever you want to, but you have to make it happen — not just talk about it.”

– Kathleen Jo Ryan

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

– Ecclesiastes, 7:10

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Do you believe it is important to give back some portion of your wealth to support charitable causes?”

– Steven Schussler

If you were independently wealthy and never had to work a day in your life, would you still choose to spend your time attempting to become a successful entrepreneur?”

– Steven Schussler

I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

– Marty Skler, executive vp, Walt Disney Imagineering

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

– Brian Tracy

Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading.”

– Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leo Jozef Suenens

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

A person who learns to juggle six balls will be more skilled than the person who never tries to juggle more than three.”

– Marilyn vos Savant

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

– Chinese proverb

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

– Magical

An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.“

– Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries

I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

– Thomas Edison

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.”

– Byron Katie

It is to no purpose to turn away from the real nature of the affair because the honor of its elements excites repugnance.

– Carl von Clausewitz, On War

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”

– Lisa Earle McLeod

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”

– Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton

Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.”

– W.E.B. Du Bois

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”

– Robert H. Schuller

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