Last Monday, generational expert and keynote speaker Phil Gwoke was interviewed live on our Facebook page, by our own Ari Frangias at our South Orange, N.J. headquarters. With his relaxed and kind demeanor, he explained the importance of bridging generational gaps and how it can affect various environment.
A: “A generational expert is someone who has taken the time to study what makes a generation who they are and more importantly why. I think with this subject, everyone has an opinion on what generations mean. Everyone is from a generation. Everyone is born a certain time, so that is something we all share in common. As an expert, what I try to do is understand some of the nuances from one generation to the next and what took place to shape that generation and what its personalities are.”
Q: You said everyone is from a generation. What are some of your generational labels?
A: “The label that people hear the most about are millennials. Depending on exactly who you look at, millennials are currently aged roughly 21-36 years old. Young professionals and young adults would be millennials. The generation that came before them is called Generation X. Generation X right now is aged 37-51 years old. I am a “Generation X’er.” Then, prior to them were the Baby Boomers who are currently aged 52 to roughly 68-69 years old. Before the Baby Boomers were what we would refer to as the traditionalists or the “silent” generation. The big question is who is coming up after the millennials.”
Q: What would you consider the generation coming up now?
A: “As far as a label for the generation after millennials, history has not exactly decided what they are going to be called yet. You can Google it and find many names. The most common name is “Generation Z,” which is kind of like a follow-up to Generation X, then Generation Y, then Z. They have even began to label the generation after Generation Z as “Generation AA,” but those labels are like placeholders. Some call them “centennials” or Generation Edge.”
Q: I know that you have used the term “generational collision” before. Can you share an example of how this takes place in the workforce?
A: “Absolutely! There are lots of them. I would say probably one of the most common collisions would be in work ethic. For the first time in history, you have four generations in the workplace. Life expectancy is pushed back and people are loving their jobs so they are working longer. The predominant generations in the workforce today right now are the millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomers.”
Q: Do you think there are any best ways to avoid generational collision or is it something that is too hard to avoid?
A: “I think understanding is key with anything. I think they come up naturally. I cannot anticipate every frustrating situation that is going to come up across generations. What I try to do is build that “why” and that empathy so that if you understand some general “why’s,” you can apply it to your unique situation. I help my audiences understand what key factors shaped that generation’s personality.”
Q: Do you have a target audience?
A: “No. My background for 20 years has been working with young people, but I would say my target audience now is people. I am intrigued at where people are at and what makes them tick across every level. I have worked specifically on helping that transition from adolescence into adulthood in a variety of different ways.”
Q: How does your message translate to a corporate audience?
A: “The clients I present to want some return on their investment. One aspect I speak on is building stronger cohesion within the team. The other aspect is how you can better understand the generations being marketed to. In a corporate world, we help improve their productivity.”
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