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Bonnie and the Boomers



Last night my husband and I went to see Bonnie Raitt at Wolf Trap, a lovely outdoor venue in northern Virginia.  It is one of those traditions that helps kick off summer.  We are big concert fans, and each year try to see 3-4 shows.  The last time I saw Bonnie was July 9, 1994.  It was my birthday and I had just moved to Cincinnati, OH.  She toured with Bruce Hornsby that year, and it was an incredible show.  What a talented artist she is.  So when the concert schedule came out and she was featured, I was thrilled to get lawn seats to the sold out show.  As many of you might know, the 'lawn' at these outdoor venues has its own personality.  As I get older, I tend to prefer seats to the lawn, and I will admit, I have been pretty spoiled in recent years with premium seats to shows like U2, Cold Play, Train, John Mayer and Maroon 5.   The last time I was on the lawn was at Merriwether Post Pavillion to see Jack Johnson a couple of years ago and while it was an amazing show, I vowed to never 'do the lawn' again.

 Wolf Trap is different. It is an intimate venue which allows you to bring coolers and adult beverages of your own!  The ritual begins by arriving to secure a strategic parking spot around 5 pm.  (Exiting these shows can be a nightmare.)  They don't let you in to fend for your piece of real estate until 90 minutes before show time, so you schlep up to the entrance and wait with the other fans.  We arrive at the gate about 5:40 and there were probably 200 people ahead of us.  I looked around in delight to see that these fans were a sea of Baby Boomers.

 

As most of you who follow me know, I am passionate about Millennials and have been hanging out with a lot of them lately.  So obviously I am older than dirt by comparison, and my ego has been recovering from that. :)  But not THIS crowd!  I am actually a 'cusper.  A young Boomer, or an old Xer, or my new favorite subgroup I wrote about, Generation Jones.  But these fans were hard core Boomers.  I loved it!  I even saw a friend from college from across the crowd!   It made me think back to when I saw the Eagles, Heart and Little River Band at the Yale Bowl on June 14, 1980 (the last concert for that venue!).  I did not know it was EXACTLY 32 years ago that I saw them until I started writing this today.  So strange how that day came up so clearly last night.  It was all the same people.  Just 32 years later.  The same familiar energy. Driven, fun, laughing, light, and fabulous.  It was exhilarating.

 

About 7000 people attended last night.  And there was a lot of white hair, no hair, and colored hair.  And everyone was so comfortable in their skin.  There was a confidence surrounding me that I had forgotten I have earned.  As I approach 50 next year I have started to think about age more than I have in previous years.  I did not know I was 'old' until one of my darling 30 year old protégés clued me in that I am (compared to her.) But in this crowd I was actually young!  And it felt great!  These are the parents of the subject I have become obsessed with - Millennials!  And it is no wonder these Millennials are smart, tech savvy and want it now.  I looked around preshow and everyone had their smart phones out.  It was hysterical.  Wine in one hand, iPhone in the other.

 

I hold Bonnie Raitt in high regard.  Her music always spoke to me, and her energy is that of wisdom, grace and class.   She is very cool in my book.  And I won a few Karaoke contests singing her songs!

 

Mavis Staples opened for her, and she came out and played a song with her and the crowd roared.  It was so nice to experience her talent with such a civilized group of people.  It was a cathartic experience in many ways.  I embraced that I am a Baby Boomer in many ways, and I appreciate all the generations before and after me.  Today I am feeling grounded, centered and grateful.

 

We get to see Joe Walsh at Wolf Trap next. Now that crowd will be interesting!


 

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Millennial Madness: May Showers of Hope

I found myself waiting at the SLC Airport surrounded by twelve high school seniors headed to DC for a graduation trip and college visits.  They are well armed with their technology (as am I, so at least I fit in from that perspective).  They all have a handheld device of some sort – Samsung, iPhone, Droid, all the major brands are well represented.

 

Five have laptops – Mac, Dell.  Six have iPods plugged in their ears, while they are all multi-tasking.  They are also having very vigorous conversations (which bursts the myth that they do not know how to talk to each other.)  One young man is clearly obsessed with technology (the Mac guy) and he has rambled off the names of at least 30 different plug ins, apps, hardware, and takes pride in showing his female peer with the Dell all about it.  Twitter feeds, Facebook profile pics, and You-Tube clips.  They all talk about food too. Food is a universal language for us all, and this group of Millennials are no exception.They are also doing a fine job of keeping an eye on each other as their boarding time draws near.  Genuine concern for their friends.


As I lift up my head from my Inspiron-mini I see two large groups of young Millennials arriving from their location for a Rocky Mountain retreat.  A musical group maybe?  Their matching shirts actually look like the Mad Men logo although I know that can’t be true.  A plethora of diversity.  Young men, women, and numerous cultural backgrounds.  It warms this writers heart to see this as a normal condition.

I hear many of our leaders expressing concern about the Millennials ability to communicate verbally.  Many eye rolls at their ability to write in anything but text-ease.  But you know, I feel increasingly more confident as I am immersed in this Millennial moment that their parents raised them the best they could.  Exposed them to so many opportunities, and gave them an amazing start.  Just like any other generation, there will be some that thrive, and others that will not.  And I think we will see this generation thriving more than not.  I am happy to be a mentor to pass over the reigns.  I don’t need to lead any longer.  I am in the deconstruction of my career ego, and focusing more on how I can make an impact.  It is sort of a relief.

I had the opportunity to train at a large Military-base. My class was filled with retired military recently hired into a civilian federal agency.  Most were younger Boomers and older Gen Xers, with one lone Millennial. It was interesting to hear about those who ascended to fairly high leadership ranks prior to their retirement just wanting to get a job, keep their head low, and NOT lead.  But in reality, the real leaders stand out. They couldn't keep away, they want to be a role-model, a mentor.  As much as they wanted to fight the urge, and achieve the life balance, they can’t help but fulfill a calling to make an impact.  I related to them.  The word wisdom came up a lot.  This lone Millennial was very talented among the sage group.  And they showed her respect.  Wanted to hear her perspective.  And she THRIVED!

I think it is that simple.  To get the most out of Millennials, show them respect, that their voice matters.  That your HEAR them, not just see them.

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