I am finding it hard to admit that I’m no longer 25 and that the world has changed significantly over the last 20 years. I try to stay relevant with new trends but have run into those as young as 40 who don’t want to adapt to how business is done today.
While teaching a project management class for the California Highway Patrol a few years ago, the department had just switched all the Commanders and managers to Blackberrys. It was pretty hilarious listening to all the stories about how hard it was for them to adjust to the “new” technology.
The other day I was sitting in Starbucks chatting with an acquaintance who owns a small business. He believes in the “old” way of doing business. He sends out monthly newsletters, makes phone calls, ensures you get a birthday card in the mail. He depends on word of mouth advertising and sitting down with clients when discussing business. He doesn’t have a website, doesn’t use social networking, doesn’t text. I think the way he does business is great. I agree that business should be personal. However, he can’t keep this up forever. He readily admitted that people in their 20s don’t appreciate the the things he brings to the table. They want instant responses and don’t place a lot of value on face to face meetings. Welcome to the Facebook and Twitter generation.
One of my recent clients is a government organization that doesn’t see the value in technology. They give their staff restricted use of the internet, but don’t allow instant messaging. Although they have a LAN and an electronic filing system, almost everyone keeps paper “backup”. While this may have been necessary 20 years ago, paper backups should be a thing of the past.
If you are over 40, you may not realize it, but the world has changed and the way we communicate has changed along with it, forever. Many people my age complain that video games and texting are making relationships a thing of the past. Their most common fear is that young adults today are becoming impersonal and are losing touch with each other. I would argue that the same thing could be said when letters took the place of a face to face meeting. How about the telephone? Didn’t that change the way we communicate? Sure it did. How about television? Yup. No more sitting around as a family and reading stories together. Change is inevitable. If you want to stay relevant, you must start to learn the new ways of communicating.
As a leader, you should realize that there are many new ways of marketing and advertising. There is Google’s Adwords, social media, social networking, blogging, viral video distribution. There are podcasts and online radio shows. The list goes on and on. Relationships are also built differently now. To stay relevant you should be learning how to text, have a Facebook page and know how to use an “application” on your cell phone.
Here’s a warning to those over 40. With the economy in such bad shape today, many people in their early twenties are opting to stay in school and get their master’s degree. In 5 years when the economy is picking up, there is going to be a flood of young highly educated workers, willing to work at significantly less than what you are making, to get their feet in the door. You will become expendable, UNLESS, you stay relevant and change the way you lead or do business over the next few years.
If you are in business, don’t forget that in 5 years, these youngsters will begin to have an increasing amount of disposable income. If you don’t adapt the way you do business, you are going to find yourself with decreasing market share. Don’t make the mistake of resisting change. It is inevitable.
All the best!
All the time!