It never fails. Wherever I go, whomever I’m speaking to, someone thinks Generations X and Y are a hopeless bunch of saps.Just recently I had a client tell me “those kids and their stupid iPods have no appreciation for anything great or meaningful in this world.”Ouch!And last week I was beaming after 1200 people at a conference in Chicago gave me a standing ovation, and one person had to voice her complaint about that “young girl who is trying to push the older generation out.”Seriously? Is that what people think? That Generations X and Y have no purpose or place in this world? That we have nothing to contribute and we should just sit down and shut up?I’ve been accused of age discrimination before, but I’m beginning to think I’m the one being discriminated against. Even though we are now the majority of the population, Generations X and Y are still getting the short end of the stick. We’re still getting referred to as “kids” who need to “pay our dues”.But businesses and associations alike will soon realize that dismissing our generations was a huge mistake. Nearly every industry worldwide is already struggling to capture the devotion of Generations X and Y and by 2010 the talent gap will be painfully obvious.Finding and nurturing future leadership talent should be a primary concern as we brace for the pending retirement of the Boomers and the loss of valuable knowledge, experience—not to mention workers.Like it or not, if businesses and association leaders fail to focus on the next generations now, our businesses, economy, and country will also fail.Undoubtedly, the Baby Boomers play a key role in our country’s ability to bridge the talent gap. They have wisdom to share, a workforce to recruit and retain, and a legacy to leave. They shouldn’t consider succession planning a threat, but rather an opportunity.Some of us are young. Some of us are not. So what? We’re all in this boat together, and whether it sinks or floats is ultimately up to us and our ability to work together.
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