The Traditionalist Generation – Still Killin’ It!

What do Jack Welch, Helen Mirren, Robert De Niro, Mick Jagger, Tom Brokaw and Martha Stewart all have in common? They are members of the Traditionalist Generation born between 1925 – 1945 and they are still working… and still killin’ it! In this post you will learn to marvelous contributions Traditionalists continue to  make in society and your well being. After you read it, call you mom and your gramma!

Traditionalist = Tough Times, Sacrifice, and Hard Work

The Traditionalist Generation—also known as the Veterans, the Silent Generation, and the Greatest Generation—is comprised of men and women born between 1922 and 1945. This group not only survived the Great Depression of 1930, but they also brought us out of WWII and helped make the United States a world power. Patriotism, teamwork, sacrifice, “doing more with less,” and task-orientation very much define this generation. Rules of order, respect for authority, and following directions are all important touch points for Traditionalist.

When it comes to technology, this generation has to adapt. The only entertainment they grew up with were the voices coming out of a box—the radio. They were raised sitting around a radio with their family, listening to spellbinding stories, like “The Shadow,” “Dick Tracy,” “Lux Radio Hour,” and “Our Miss Brooks,” which filled their evenings with suspense and entertainment. When you think about the wonder of those times, it was their minds that created the pictures they heard from the voices on the radio. There were no MTVs or video games—maybe that is where the genius of Walt Disney was nourished. Although Disney was born before the Traditionalists in 1901, he was still part of an era that relied on their own imaginations for entertainment.

Traditionalists Words of Wisdom

They were also raised listening to their parents spouting proverbs that centered around, work, patience, and delayed gratification. These proverbs were a part of the Traditionalist’s DNA, and they quoted them often to their own children.

How many of you remember hearing these adages?

·      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

·      A penny saved is a penny earned.

·      A stitch in time saves nine.

·      Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

·      Don’t judge a book by its cover.

·      Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

·      If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

·      If the shoe fits, wear it.

·      Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

·      People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

·      Practice makes perfect.

·      Save for a rainy day.

·      The early bird catches the worm.

·      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

·      The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

·      Waste not, want not.

·      What goes around, comes around.

·      Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

·      You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

A Peek into the Traditionalist Workplace

If you think about it, the country had just left WWII, which was won by the U.S. entrance into the conflict, and this “military way of doing things” trickled into the workplace. The traditional take on organizational structure in a business back then was very military-like and hierarchical, with power flowing vertically and upward, and employees were departmentalized. All employees follow a chain of command. For instance, the CEO has final say on operations in all divisions, but each department has a manager who runs day-to-day operations and ultimately reports to the CEO. Just like the military, every soldier answers to his commanding officer, while the president of the United States is at the top of the chain as commander-in-chief. This is what the workplace resembled during the Traditionalist era.

If you want to see just what it was like working in America in the 1950s, I suggest you rent “Madmen” and watch the first season. The early 1950s were a time where conformity ruled, and women and minorities did not share spaces with “the men.” TV shows of that era portrayed the loving and dutiful wife, a.k.a. June Cleaver, at home cooking and cleaning, and happily greeting her hard-working husband when he returned in the evening. Shows such as “Donna Reed,” “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave It to Beaver” were the rage. The workplace was a man’s world filled with rules: defined office work hours, face-time meetings, and obligations. Work was the first and primary interest of all those employed—the boss ruled and the worker was committed to work first and family second.

If you really think about it, this style of management has been a part of the U.S. workforce for many years. The Boomers tweaked it, Gen X tried to change it—and got angry—but really it’s the Millennials who actually have blown it up!

NASA, Medicine, and Equality

The Traditionalist generation spawned the first true innovators. They were responsible for developing NASA, which has led to today’s space program. Back in the 1950s, NASA chose seven men (astronauts) who would fly on the Mercury spacecraft and called these men the “Mercury Seven.” John Glenn, one of them, was the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.

Traditionalists also created vaccines for many diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, and whooping cough, laying the foundation for today’s technological environment.

This generation was the first to pursue equality through the Civil Rights Movement that began in the mid 50s with protests against racial segregation and discrimination. The movement began by attempting to tear down the inherent discrimination in public facilities that segregated blacks from whites. As the movement expanded, their struggle for freedom and reform extended to economic, political, and cultural arenas. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, lead the Civil Rights Movement from the mid 1950s until his assassination in 1968.

Good-bye to Traditions

Traditionalists may be the last generation to help pass on the individual family traditions. Growing up, my sisters and I loved our family traditions. Coming from an Italian family background, we knew that every Sunday we would have either homemade lasagna or tortellini or, maybe, rigatoni, and always meatballs. At Christmas, my mom made tins of homemade cookies, breads, and our favorite almond biscotti. My mom loved special family dinners and set a fancy table with the family china, crystal, and silver.

Every Thanksgiving we counted on Mom to make the stuffing recipe exactly the same—and we would get really upset if she added anything extra like mushrooms or sausages. My dad would carve the turkey with the special knife reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Regrettably, as time has marched on, many of our family traditions have gone by the wayside.

When Baby Boomers (1946–1964) began to develop their lifestyles, families changed. Their children, Gen X (1965–1984), share memories of holidays described as a “happy blur” with a “working mom” doing some frenzied cooking and cleaning, along with the dreaded car trips from one relative’s house to the next. If the relatives all lived in the same city, Thanksgiving could possibly be two or three huge meals packed into one day.

When Gen X moved out of the house (college, job, marriage) many continued these traditions by traveling home and spending a few days or a week at the parents’ home from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. Movies such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home for the Holidays (1995), and Four Christmases (2008) capture well those hectic years.

When Gen X married, another “holiday issue” was set into play: deciding which family gets them, followed by the travel arrangements and subsequent tight sleeping quarters. Many X’ers admit that they would break their parents’ hearts if they didn’t come home for Christmas. But, the question is how do they decide on which family to go to?

After the grandchildren arrive on the scene, numerous X’ers and now Millennials often decide to forgo many of their past traditions and begin their own, but admit they still call Grandma and get all the delicious family recipes.

If your grandparents are still with you, take time to ask them to share ideas and traditions with your family and try to keep some of those important customs alive.

If you have some time over the weekend watch one of these classic Traditionalist movies!

Casablanca , Citizen Kane, Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, North by Northwest, Rear Window , Grapes of Wrath, Unbroken Vertigo, Some Like it Hot The Philadelphia Story, From Here to Eternity, have fun!

Understanding the Boomers and their Contribution

I started speaking on Generations in the Workplace, to corporations and associations  back in 2000, when the Baby Boomers were in the heights of their careers and businesses. Back then, Boomers were the leaders in most organizations. Today, it’s a different story.  Boomers have either retired or are facing retirement in the next few years. Since the Boomers have left their mark on America and our ways of doing business I decided to write this post giving you a peek into “The Why” Boomers are Boomers and the impact they have made in our lives.

Boomer’s Photo by:

Who is the The Baby Boomer?  Born 1946–1964

The name “baby boomer” refers to the tremendous spike in births when WWII came to an end. In fact, the birth of the boomers signaled the end of 16 years of depression and war. But now as peace and prosperity returned, America was ready for a new start.

The post-war era brought not only babies, but also a new confidence in the economy. Corporations began to grow larger and more profitable, and labor unions were in their heyday promising higher wages, benefits, and a brighter future for their members. Parents of this new generation wanted to give their children so many of the opportunities and things they did not have in their own childhoods.

Boomer’s Lifestyle Changes and the Women’s Movement

One of the first lifestyle changes after the war was the birth of “the burbs.” Visionary developers bought land on the outskirts of the cities and built mass-produced homes (tract homes) on the land. Low-interest rates through the G.I. Bill for vets tempted many city dwellers to move out to the burbs, while others just wanted to leave the city life and raise their families in a safer environment.

Although the flight from cities to suburbs was great for family life, many women felt isolated and trapped away from their city lifestyle. Another point to remember is that during the war some 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces, both at home and abroad. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just one percent in the pre-war years). Rosie the Riveter symbolized the new-found strength of the working woman during the war years.

However, in the 1950s, a shift in thinking was on the rise, and women were told to go back into the home where their most important job was to bear and rear children, along with being a good wife who knew how to cook and keep a tidy home. For some women, this shift in lifestyle and values generated a huge dissatisfaction, and the women’s liberation movement began contributing to the feminist movement of the 1960s.

Television, Credit Cards, and Consumerism

The post-war economy was able to raise the standard of living for many families. Moving from apartment living to a home with a “family room” required more furniture! A new concept in buying with a credit card was born, and people began purchasing on credit products of the revved up economy: televisions, hi-fi systems, new cars, and clothing. Consumerism wasn’t just for the adults as marketers begin to realize there were huge profits to be made from the boomer babies too. They began to watch the habits of the newest generation, who were now watching TV and, in particular, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Boomer children begged their parents to buy them mouse-ears, Davey Crocket hats, hula hoops, Frisbees, and lots of other toys now being advertised on TV. The boomer child had buying power! Looking back on this new affluent spending may have been the precursor to the boomers’ philosophy of spend-now-and-worry-later lifestyle.

Boomers and the  Counter-Culture of the Sixties

The first boomers entered their teens and said so long to Elvis and hello to the Beatles, Stones, and the Dave Clark 5. Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as civil unrest exploded with the Vietnam War, and many baby boomers began to gravitate to a counterculture. Rejecting the status quo, student activism appeared on many college campuses. Young adults became activists protesting civil rights and the war. Other boomers dropped out completely and they were called hippies. The hippie arrived on the scene with their long hair, Birkenstocks, tie-dye clothing, peace signs, and hallucinogenic drugs.

Living the American Dream Requires “Work, Work and More Work”

When the oldest boomers entered the workforce in the late ’60s and early ’70s, they brought with them their vision of the American Dream, a competitive nature, a strong need to be seen as an individual, and a new style of leadership. They replaced their predecessors’ “my way or the highway” style with a more democratic consensus of leadership and teamwork.

Their dream was challenged early on. The 1970–1980 decade was filled with uncertainty in the U.S. workforce. The U.S. was moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and the transition involved downsizings, mergers, and reorganizations. Attitudes towards work and the employer were changing. As the uncertainty grew, some boomers felt betrayed, but they continued to work longer and harder. Boomers have felt they are hardwired for work. As boomers have aged, they also have admitted that they have stayed in jobs that had no growth or future, but still continued to work hard calling their work a “badge of honor.”

In 1991, we signed the North American Tread Agreement, and many U.S. manufacturing companies moved to Mexico and overseas. The look and feel of work was changing and many boomers moved into management.

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

Busting Myths about Millennials

Because I speak on Generations in the Workplace and I focus on Millennials, I decided to start using Uber – as a research project- interviewing the drivers.

My first trip was in DC visiting my daughter, Meredith. She got me on the app and boom in a few minutes a driver was there.  I used Uber throughout my visit. It was so much easier that walking to the metro or waiting forever for a cam.

When I got back home to Houston, I decided to use Uber more and drive my car less. At first, I only used it to get to and from the airport, but soon I was Ubering it to events all over town. I loved it! In addition to providing me with transportation, Uber has been a great way for me to conduct research. Since I speak on “Generations in the Workplace” and most of my Uber drivers are Millennials, I was getting pages of research.

These interviews have allowed me to expand my insights and bust some myths about Millennials.

Millennial with iPhone

  • Millennials are not lazy. They just look at work differently than their Boomer parents did. They do want to work and they are hard workers, but their biggest difference is that they want independence. Most of my drivers have been part-timers who like the freedom that Uber provides. The can pick their own schedules as to when they want to work, and I have learned that they are ambitious. Over and over, I hear how Uber fills a financial need. I have garnered this info from college students, business majors, and graduate students working on master degrees. I have encountered a web designer, a programmer who works from home and drives just two hours a day (mid-day while taking a break), a high school teacher who only drives on weekends, and a guy that not only drives for Uber but rents out his apartment on a regular basis through Airbnb.
  • It’s been said many times that Millennials do not know how to do face-to-face communications. I have found just the opposite to be true. Actually I have enjoyed great conversations in almost every ride. One of my drivers was getting her master’s in social work, and she confessed to me that before driving for Uber she was very quiet and introverted. Her professors suggested that she work on her face-to-face communications because talking and drawing things out of her clients was going to be a big part of her work after graduation. She said that she decided to practice talking to her Uber customers. At first she admitted that she was nervous, but she kept at it. It was a surprise to hear that she struggled with conversation because we talked all the way home.
  • We are told over and over that Millennials are always connected to their phones. I have never had a driver listening to headsets, talking on the phone, or texting while driving. I cannot say the same about my cab rides.
  • We have heard that Millennials are not loyal to their employers. To the contrary without exception, every driver I have interviewed from Albuquerque to DC has said that they love the entrepreneurial spirit of the company. Drivers have taken me through the vetting process on how they became one. They proudly show me the badges they wear around their neck, the pick stickers on the right front window, stating that they are a certified driver. And every driver has mentioned the five-star rating system. The passenger gets to rate the driver—and get this—the driver gets to also rate the passenger for real-time accountability. Several of the drivers have shared with me that they strive to get as many five-star ratings as possible because if your rating goes below a certain number you are put on probation. I am impressed not only with Uber but with the drivers who want to succeed and who care about my experience in their car.
  • Here’s a new one… Millennials are fun, bold, and creative and they made a ride home an  experience … in a good way!  The last driver I had was really into Adele, I mean really into her.  I head Hello as I entered the car. We sang Adele songs together all the way home ( he must have seen this on youtube). It was an experience.


Today, I am a Millennial and Uber evangelist. I have discovered that the Millennials I am meeting are ambitious, respectful, hardworking, and loyal to their employer. They care about the quality of their work, are accountable, and are terrific conversationalists. Thanks Uber! and if your are reading this TIP your driver!

Grow Your Executive Presence

In 2000 I  left the fashion industry behind and I began my new career as a  professional speaker.  Coming from a Ralph Lauren  inspired  fashion industry my first presentations were focused around professionalism  and dress. I soon found those subject very limiting and changed my area of expertise to  Change, Workplace Trends and Generations in the Workplace, and I put the professional presence presentations on the shelf.

Well…guess what?

Presence is back and it is stronger than ever under the name of Executive Presence.

Executive presence has a lot to do with the way you carry and convey yourself, including confidence, gravitas,  decisiveness, authenticity and the ability to communicate in a clear and  articulate manner. I realize this may seem  a bit shallow or “old school” – thinking that people might judge you as not being “executive material” just because you look, act or sound a certain way, but people do make judgments on an unconscious level all the time. If you look and act the part, people will give you the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, not having executive presence can be a deal breaker.

In today’s competitive business environment, executive presence can make or break your ability to lead and influence others. Executive presence encourages people to seek you out and opens doors.Yet, with the acceptance of a more casual and laid-back workplace many people mistakenly underestimate its importance.

Leadership potential isn’t enough to launch men and women into the executive suite. Leadership roles are given to those who also look and act the part.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Executive presence is a combination of certain qualities that successful leaders exhibit. The truth is that you may have all the experience and qualifications of a leader, but without executive presence, advancement/success is not guaranteed.

I recent read a great book  EP by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. In it she states  that today as in the past, professionals are still judged on their presence (how they act, speak, and look) as well as their performance.

The good news is you don’t have to born with executive presence . If you have a bit of self-confidence and a willingness to be open to feedback and change the executive presence skills are learnable.  If you practice you can transform your ability to connect, engage, and inspire others.

Here are several tips on expanding your own executive presence.

1. Appearance and dress do matter.   Looking the part is the first step in getting your foot into the leadership door.   Executive Presence Guru, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says this about appearance,  “We found that leadership roles are given to those who look and act the part.“ Notice the “uniform” of your organization and make sure you are dressing to fit the look the part of one who leads rather that one who follows.  Focus on being well groomed, hair and nails count – Simple stylish clothes and accessories trump bold and flashy. Don’t wear wrinkled, soiled, or seams coming open clothing. Take time and invest in a career wardrobe that fits your body, your style, and your business environment.

2. Focus on building your character. The one word that continues to show up on every definition of executive presence is GRAVITAS-, which is the ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure, decisiveness, integrity, build your reputation, and show compassion.

3. Communication matters. Notice your communication style. Do you have empathy? Can you walk in another’s shoes and see their point of view?  Are you open and a good listener?  Are you clear in what you say? Do you communicate in a concise, compelling manor? Is your voice strong? And what about the non-verbal communication?  How are people reading your body language and do you have the ability to read other?

4. Are you inclusive?The other day I was waiting for a client in the lobby and I noticed a diverse group of people standing in a circle headed by an attractive man who appeared to be the group’s leader.  He was commanding,   energetic, and had many of the qualities mentioned above. I felt his executive presence, but I noticed that he was talking to only one other man in the group, ignoring the other six. Several were trying to listen and a few even tried to add something to the conversation, but the leader ignored their efforts.  He needed a lesson on inclusion. People who have executive presence are approachable and engaging, whether they’re talking with a new hire, receptionist, or the CEO. They are inclusive, they exude warmth and they show a genuine interest in those around them..

5. Here’s my favorite – Become a master of presentation skills – face to face, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and webinars – Never underestimate the value of a great theater! Practice, get a coach, and practice some more- Learn how to connect with your audience, tell stories (I teach my students make them “Right and Tight”) and let your authenticity and personality shine through – Yes, you need to video yourself  (If you need help in this area email me.)

6. Lastly you have to be open to receive feedback. Those who are oversensitive to feedback will not make the grade-We are talking “product development” here and YOU are the product.  There will be moments where improvement is necessary.

There is a very thin line between authenticity and conformity.  As you explore your executive presence and your ability to connect and lead, more of who you are will shine through. The first step is getting you in the leadership line.

The rest will follow