It’s time for millennials to teach boomers a thing or five

I was talking to a neighbour not too long ago. She’s a first or second year lawyer with a big corporate firm. She asked me what I did and when I told her, said she doesn’t use social media at all – not even LinkedIn.

I tried to explain the benefits of social networks for someone at the beginning of a career – even one as auspicious as hers…

But it got me thinking that many millennials have been taught/mentored by successful people who, because social networks weren’t part of their lives, have no interest in or understanding of them. 

As a result, some future leaders enter the workforce with an old fashioned attitude of how to do their job and connect. This is further reinforced by their bosses.

And rather than adapting or helping their organizations adapt to the new communications landscape, they’re ignoring it professionally.

Part of the reason is boomers are so full of – well, you fill it in (but in your own heads, please).

While we – yes, I am one and I’d like to apologize for my generation right now! – have many talents, embracing big change we didn’t think of first doesn’t seem to be one of them. Or maybe that’s always the way it is for the generation-in-charge.

The trouble is it’s causing frustration, missed opportunities and hardening the arteries of speedy innovation.

Is there a remedy?

Here are two things millennials can do right now:

Fill bigger shoes. Regardless of what’s being done in your workplace, take it on yourself to figure out how to use social networks strategically. But do it on your own time. It’s second nature for you to get started on the platforms. For boomers, not so much. Then try to move from the role of student to one of student/master and gently cajole your boomer mentors into the new world.

Know when to put on a tie and when to act casual. Demonstrate you innately grasp the intricacies at the intersection of the personal and professional and that you have the smarts and judgment to know the appropriate course of action when worlds collide. And then show people that not being in control isn’t such a bad thing. They can loosen or even take off their proverbial ties and still get lots accomplished.

And a word of advice for boomers:

Take out your earplugs. Listen. Accept that what you like and the way you do things is no longer the best – or only – way. Maybe it never was. You know what you know and that’s not enough.  It’s time to embrace your inner Dylan.

It won’t be easy. There’s probably going to be a fair bit of kicking and screaming. Likely on both sides.

But in the end, I think it will be well worth the effort.

What would you suggest millennials and boomers do to better understand each other and our new communications landscape?

P.S. Points to anyone who can identify where this photo came from. Hint: it’s from an album.


About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.


With the right knowledge you can achieve anything you want! keep educating yourself, Be proactive and follow your passion!


Mutual respect comes to mind and a desire to learn more about each other. We have the tools but do we have the will?

martinwaxman moderator

Great point, Peter. I sure hope we do. It will takes one real listening on both sides. Thanks for your comment.