How LDRBRNDs think about generations
There are differences but we focus on what connects us all - our humanity
This post was inspired by all the writing I see every day about how different all the different generations are. Millennials do this, Gen Z does that. We have 5 different generations in the work place for the first time ever. Here’s the problem I see with all this:
It’s just too much to remember and consider in the every day interactions with people.
Why not instead get down to fundamentals instead?
It’s so much easier to remember to treat people like human beings instead of trying to remember all these generational generalizations (which may be wrong entirely or only anecdotally true).
So here is what a LDRBRND does:
They take time to get to know people at an individual level.
What are their needs, desires, wants, strengths, weaknesses, proclivities, etc.
The problem is that we are always looking for a silver bullet or a shortcut when it comes to everything. And while they may work in a manufacturing plant or factory, it simply doesn’t work with people.
When it comes down to it, we are finicky. We are emotional creatures and how we operate can change in an instant depending on internal and external pressures. But we rush to put everyone into a box with a label and a bow on it, so we can make our lives easier.
From a marketing perspective, we want people to be grouped together so that we can economize our efforts. But that is not the path forward for this industry or any for that matter. We must be striving to create greater human touch points with people. Then they will feel needed and wanted. That attachment creates belonging and a passion to be associated with a company, organization, brand, person, or any entity.
So why do we continue to bang on about generations?
A couple of reasons come to mind. The first being general laziness. We don’t want to do the hard work of investing time and energy to get to know people. That is hard work. It’s costly work. But that is the nature of the work that needs to be done. We can’t rely on articles on the web entitled: 7 ways to cater to the Gen Z mindset. We even can’t rely on more scientific research (if its even being done).
So called experts on one generation or another rely on their experience. But there is no way they can capture the essence of a whole generation and how best to serve them. They are taking a calculated approach. They extrapolate data points and apply them to a whole group of people who are a collection of individuals. Those individuals have incredibly diverse backgrounds, experience, skills, etc. That approach doesn’t honor people for who they are and will continue to be rejected more and more.
The second reason that comes to mind is that we have accepted the paradigm that says generations are characterized by this mentality or that way of thinking. We have become so entrenched in this environment that we don’t even consider that there may be more to it. It’s like being part of a company culture where they do things a certain way just because “it’s always been done that way.”
That’s dangerous and ineffective thinking.
Where’s the critical thinking?
Where are the rebels that say “I don’t believe that and here’s why.”
We can’t simply accept that generations of people can be boiled down to a few characteristics. We are dehumanizing people in the process. We are saying that there are no individuals and that they act in lock step with one another. This obviously isn’t the truth. But we have become overly reliant on historical ways of thinking. But just because something has been said for a long time or over many years doesn’t make it truth.
As LDRBRNDs we relish the opportunity to know people (our fans, followers, audience, customers, competitors, and collaborators). We respect them and we look for ways to better serve them AT THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL. We look for ways that people connect at a deep level.
We talk about big ideas and themes. We look at ways that people connect (emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually) and find those commonalities.
Here are some that I think of that are important regardless of generation:
- Self Control
What if we spent way more time building bridges with people based on these higher level ideals?
Who cares about lazy and grossly negligent mischaracterizations?
For instance, Millennials got a bad rap for a long time for being lazy and entitled. That simply wasn’t true. Some may have been but there are plenty of others who were highly motivated and achieved amazing things. But somewhere, someone made this characterization and it just caught on. It even became part of our culture as reflected in those humorous McDonald’s commercials.
The problem though is inertia. The damage is done by these ideas. Now it’s a Herculean effort to disprove a generational generalization.
[For the record, I was born in 1979 and have tendencies of both Gen X ears and Millennials. I’ve seen the label Xennial, Star Wars Generation and Oregon Trail generation bandied about. All I can say is that, I don’t care for the labels. The solution definitely isn’t to create more labels for micro generations.]
We as LDRBRNDs are the ones who need to be leading the charge here. We treat people with dignity and respect. We care about what makes them an amazing and unique individual. We show it when we spend the time to learn people’s names, their families, their backgrounds, and what makes them tick.
Even though there is a cost involved, it’s an investment in the present and future of our brands. It’s an investment that yields high returns because when we treat people like people – not generations – we create real connections that lead to authentic relationships and deeply fulfilling communities.
Thinking about generational differences only serves to separate people. Being divisive doesn’t create community. Being a bridge builder does. That is where LDRBRNDs excel. And it doesn’t happen by accident. It is an outcome based on sincere effort to serve humanity.
These are big thoughts but this is what it means to be a LDRBRND in this day and age. We have to be willing to tackle difficult subjects. We have to be willing to exert our energies on behalf of our people (customers and even employees).
If you lead a team, are you having discussions with your people?
Or are you simply lumping them into a category?
The choice is yours. One is expedient and leads to less effectiveness as a leader. The other is hard work but leads to long term health and prosperity for your brand because it focuses on the prosperity and health of your people first.
My hope is we all make the right choice. Not that we won’t make mistakes. We aren’t perfect as leaders. But let’s keep this idea in our mind and strive to grow each and every day. That grow occurs when we choose to say no to generational generalizations.
Thanks for reading today’s post. I hope it stirs you to action.
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I’ve been helping leaders become better marketers for over 21 years and would love to help you take the next step in your spiritual leadership journey.