Millennials and Boomers Should Complement One Another

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There has recently been a lot of interest in how millennials and boomers can better get along with one another. In fact, rather than working alongside one another, the two demographic groups are often known to blame the other for their dissatisfaction with life. Boomers often complain about the millennials’ lack of loyalty and work ethics; while the millennials usually perceive the older group as dinosaurs whose reluctance to retire accounts for the high percentage of youth unemployment.

As a recent Globe and Mail article commented, young people are regularly maligned for being self absorbed and entitled; not willing to “pay their dues;” and impatient to get the promotions and compensation they feel they deserve. Consequently, the widely held sentiment is that they cannot be counted on to stay in one company for long, nor ever be loyal to the company. However, boomers’ definition of loyalty may, perhaps, need to be redefined. Take me, for an example – I’ve worked with only two firms in my professional consultancy career: one for 12 years and the other for close to 18 years. The first one is a global leader in my field and offered me a one-year training program in New York City when I first started out in my career. Thereafter, it had been a vertical trajectory in my career path within that organization in Asia and North America. The second organization, from which I retired, is a national pioneer and leader in Canada. I was made a partner in its largest office in Toronto – the first woman and the first Asian Canadian – after three years with the firm. There were lots of temptations during my 18-year tenure there to move elsewhere or to start my own business. But, the firm always gave me opportunities to grow and learn, and to take up new challenges just at the time when I might feel bored and itchy to move. So when I was working there, loyalty meant a “lifer” with the company.

But the millennials’ frame of reference is very different – they think of being tied to an organization in terms of months, not years. Career employees are no longer dreaming of the day they retire with gold watches at the age of 65 or even younger. Today’s millennial employees are probably thinking of themselves more as free agents. They get bored easily and are always looking for variety and exciting opportunities. They do not want to be stuck with only one-track responsibilities. They want plenty of opportunities to learn and have fun at the same time. While boomers are, very often, workaholics, millennials want more work-life balance instead. Employers need to showcase a work-hard, play-hard environment, and flexibility is key. Even then, you can’t expect your employees to be with you forever because most of them won’t. If you do all the right things to motivate your millennial employees, you might get them for at best three years.

A major TV news outlet recently contacted me to gauge my interest in joining a millennial-boomer duo panel on a weekly basis to discuss topics such as the purchase of a home in your 30s or when is the right age to get married. The TV program is still work in progress, but I think the media outlet understands that this would generate interest among both demographics. Points of view will, of course, differ between the two generations and, at times, there might even be a showdown.

The best approach, however, is to create opportunities for boomers and millennials to work harmoniously with and learn from one another. The Hollywood movie, The Intern, featuring Robert De Niro as the intern and Anne Hathaway as the millennial boss, has now become reality. According to The New York Times, a few enlightened U.S. companies have already paired older executives with junior workers so that the latter could mentor the former. Millennial mentors, as many companies call them, are being pulled into formal corporate programs to give advice to the top ranks of their companies. Some executives want the views of young people on catering to new markets and developing new products; while others are simply looking for glorified tech support – Snapchat 101, Twitter tutorials and emoji lessons.

Renowned companies such as Mastercard, Cisco Systems and Mars Inc. have experimented with these mentoring programs. The same New York Times article reported that the chief executive of insurer Lloyd’s of London has said that her 19-year-old junior mentor has a totally different perspective and leaves her inspired. Even Gen-Xer managers are catching on. David Watson, 38, a managing director at Deutsche Bank, who has been mentored by a 29-year-old engineer in the Wall Street bank’s global markets technology division, said that he’s been given good tips for retaining young employees, like giving them more flexible work-from-home arrangements, and with helping him spot trends in the financial tech industry.

Reverse mentoring – younger people training older workers – is apparently not a brand new concept. In the 1990s, Jack Welch, the then chief executive of General Electric, required 500 of his top managers to pair up with junior workers to learn how to use the internet.  Boomer executives are now obsessed with better understanding millennials. It was reported that millennial consultants now advise companies like Oracle, Estee Lauder and HBO, charging as much as U.S.$20,000 per hour to give executives advice on marketing their products to young people. Overall, American organizations spent about U.S.$80 million on “generational consulting” last year, according to Source Global Research, a firm that studies the consulting industry.

Rather than hiring outside young consultants, many companies prefer to use the young people already on the payroll. Instead of a top-down management hierarchy, mature senior executives find sitting down with someone who’s on the org chart six levels down an educational experience. The traditional mentoring benefit remains in place so that millennials continue to learn from more experienced corporate leaders. But mentoring in both directions helps improve relationships and encourage collaboration within the organization. Instead of a showdown or a blame game, millennials and boomers can definitely co-exist in the workplace in harmony.

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Fashion Industry Embraces Mature Women

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About two-and-a-half years ago, I have posted an article on this blog lauding two luxury brands featuring older models – Joni Mitchell for Yves Saint Laurent and Joan Didion for Celine. The excitement about the then 71-year-old Mitchell and 80-year-old Didion emerging as the newest fashion faces generated a lot of buzz and attention in the media. I questioned at that time whether it was really a marketing campaign acknowledging diversification or just a promotional gimmick. It looks like the fashion and beauty industries are really waking up and embracing mature women and models.

Nobody made bigger news recently than iconic actresses Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren making their debut appearances on the fashion runway for LOreal during the Paris Fashion Week this year. The 79-year-old Fonda and 72-year-old Mirren have been trailblazers all their lives, and now they are brand ambassadors for a leading beauty and cosmetics brand. Fonda has always been comfortable in her own skin in spite of her age. In 2016, she told the Daily Mail that after she turned 60, she began to understand who she was and she became young again. She said she is feeling pretty good about life now that she is in sight of her 80th birthday. She repeated the same observations in a recent TV interview with Megyn Kelly on NBC.

These septuagenarian brand ambassadors are not the only ones walking the runway with the hottest young models such as Gigi Hadid. Last month,it was announced that Maye Musk, 69, was the new face of CoverGirl, making her one of the oldest ambassadors for the brand. Having been modelling since she was 15, Musk is, of course, no stranger to the world of beauty and fashion. What is noticeable is her continued success, as she ages, as a brand ambassador in an industry which has traditionally been perceived as skin-deep superficial. In an interview with Vogue last year, Musk said: I hope my success gives other women hope that they can look good and feel good when they are past 60. I was on a shoot yesterday, and the young models were so excited to see me because they say it gives them hope, too, that they can carry on.

The accomplishments of Musk are, of course, beyond the fashion runway and photo shoots. She is the mother of three successful adult children including Elon Musk, Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX and co-founder and CEO of Tesla Inc. This Regina-born grandmother, with 10 grandkids and also a successful business as a dietitian, perfectly exemplifies brains and timeless beauty.

The list of mature models does not stop here. Versace also featured former supermodels of the 1990s – Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer and Carla Bruni – in its latest runway show. These mature women walked the runway alongside the new guard, including the daughter of Crawford, Kaia Gerber, and the current reigning supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid.

Even Zara, the Spanish fast-fashion brand popular among young women around the world, is using three veteran models over 40 to showcase its new Timeless Fall and Winter Collection. In marketing campaign materials and on its website, the three beautiful women – Malgosia Bela (40), Yasmin Warsame (41) and Kristina de Connick (53) – discuss the effect of aging on their personal style. The ladies have collectively walked for Dior, Valentino, Givenchy and Dries van Noten.

Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, and Loewe have also followed suit in recent years, hiring older Hollywood stars, such as Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren and Charlotte Rampling, as brand ambassadors. Age diversity seems to be increasingly in vogue now on fashion runways for the past few seasons: Amber Valleta walked the runway for Tom Ford; Stella Tennant for Ralph Lauren; and Carolyn Murphy for Michael Kors.

Perhaps everything old is really new again! As I have said before on this blog, the fashion and beauty industries are finally realizing that the consumers buying their products are no longer just spring chickens, but mature women with more disposable income. Let us hope that this awakening to the aging reality is not simply a fad and mature women and men will no longer become invisible as they age.


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Distracted Driving Needs To Be Stopped



About this time last year, my blog post titled, It Is Time To Criminalize Distracted Driving, advocated that more severe legislation should be introduced to punish distracted drivers who text or talk on the cell phone and take their eyes off the road. Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has said last September that distracted driving is a big problem and promised to raise the issue with his provincial counterparts.

Yesterday, the Transportation Minister of Ontario, Steven Del Duca, announced at a news conference that the Ontario government will bring in higher fines for distracted drivers and drivers who do not yield to pedestrians. It will also introduce a new offence of careless driving causing bodily harm, with penalties that would include a licence suspension of up to five years, a fine of up to $50,000 and even jail time of as much as two years. This is very good news because even though it may still not be severe enough to a lot of people who have lost their loved ones in accidents involving distracted drivers, at least, it will send a loud message to motorists about the need to be alert at all times when they are in charge behind the wheel.

Other changes in the Ontario government proposal included drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians will face a maximum $1,000 fine and four demerit points. Distracted drivers will face a licence suspension of three days – a first in Canada – and a maximum fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties for further offences. Minister Del Duca said the plan will reach the legislature for approval some time in the fall.

Upon approval, the new Ontario law against distracted driving would be one of the strictest in the entire country. With the exception of Nunavut, every province and territory in Canada has legislation against using a cell phone while driving. Penalties range from three to five demerit points and fines from $100 to $1,000, depending on the province or the territory.

However, according to CTV News, a majority of Canadians believe that technology is the best way to stop drivers from being distracted by the phones in a new poll conducted by insurance company Aviva Canada. The poll found that 78 percent of Canadians believe only technology that stops people from texting and using other phone functions while driving will make our roads safer, not police crackdowns or peer pressure. Such technology would look like the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature on the newest Apple mobile device operating system iOS 11.

Today, more people die on Canadian roads from distracted driving than impaired driving. According to the RCMP, four out of five collisions occur when a driver has their eyes off the road for just three seconds. According to a Globe and Mail report by Oliver Moore, over the past five years, more than 450 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in motor vehicle collisions in five most populous cities of Ontario and on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Last year, Moore calculated that the number of pedestrians killed in Toronto from 2011 to 2016 was greater than the number of fatal shootings. The Ontario Transportation Ministry says in its news release that on average, one person is killed on the roads of Ontario every 17 hours. In 2014, pedestrians and cyclists made up approximately 25 percent of road fatalities in the province. Many of these deaths are, of course, avoidable.

Kudos to the Ontario government for taking prompt action, but I still believe that the province needs to adopt the textalizer tests as proposed by the New York State legislature to have police digitally scan the phone of distracted drivers to see whether they were texting or posting on Facebook while driving. Most of the victims run down by motorists were older pedestrians or cyclists. As a society, we need to protect the most vulnerable by introducing more severe laws such as permanently suspending  the licences of distracted drivers and longer jail terms. But the recent proposed legislation by the Ontario Transport Minister is a solid first step to change the attitudes of drivers.

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Wellness Travel Popular Among Boomers

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I recently conducted an interview with a freelance journalist who was drafting an article on the latest boomer-travel trends for publication in a newsletter for Manulife Financial. I told her that wellness and slow travel will become a major trend for this demographic for the next decade or so.

According to the Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI), an offshoot of the not-for-profit Conference Board of Canada, baby boomers will be the main pleasure-travel market over the next 10 years, spending more than CDN$35 billion annually. Because boomers are healthier and living longer than their parents, they want to maintain their good health to enjoy life and their new-found freedom after retirement. This explains why they want wellness and fitness programs, not only in their daily lives, but also when they travel.

Research by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) confirms that wellness is one of the world`s fastest-growing, most resilient markets – clocking double-digit growth while the global economy shrank by -3.6 percent. According to data released by GWI in October 2016, the global wellness industry grew 10.6 percent in the last two years, from a US$3.36 trillion market in 2013 to US$3.72 trillion in 2015. Among the 10 wellness sectors analyzed, fitness and mind-body (+21 percent), and wellness tourism (+14 percent) were among the top five fastest-growing from 2013 to 2015. Wellness tourism now accounts for 15.6 percent of total tourism revenues – amounting to almost one in six of total tourist dollars spent. One of the major contributors to this growth is the baby boomers who are seeking experiences rooted in meaning, purpose, authenticity and nature.

Wellness incorporates fitness, mental and physical health improvement, as well as eating healthy. Over the past decade, boomers are looking for healthy hotels, wholistic cruises, hiking, cycling, mindfulness and yoga retreats, medical tourism and more. Everyday commitments, particularly for those who are still working, prevent boomers from participating in fitness activities or attaining health goals. So, vacations focusing on wellness – adventure, exercise, self-improvement or volunteerism – become more and more compelling.

I always remind people that due to the almost 20-year-gap between the youngest Canadian boomers born in 1966 to the oldest ones born in 1947, we cannot lump all boomers together. For the younger boomers, who are probably still working, exercise, fitness and cycling vacations may be more appealing. According to Forbes Magazine, slow-travel programs that bring people to national parks and forests for one- or two-week guided backpacking adventures seem to be an ideal exercise and fitness vacation for younger boomers who want to unplug, de-stress and recharge. Canada`s Fitz and Fowell based in Montreal and Cycle Treks in Victoria, B.C., also offer cycling tours, whale watching, culinary tours or a seaside trek.

For the older boomers, also called leading-edge boomers, mindfulness or yoga retreats may be the way to go. The Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, which also houses the Chopra Center  for Wellbeing, helps groups incorporate wellness into their workplace and personal lives. Mindfulness, offered by Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, includes programs that cover healthy lifestyle changes, self-discovery and transformation. Apart from spas, more and more hotels are joining the wellness bandwagon. Westin Hotels recently launched a US$15 million well-being campaign for both employees and guests to smile and listen more, worry less and sleep better.

Although cruise lines have recently begun to lure millennial travellers, boomers remain their most stalwart customers. Celebrity Cruises emphasizes on well-being centred on mind, body and spirit. The cruise line has a special program dedicated to seven different types of yoga. Passengers can also enjoy other fitness classes such as Pilates, indoor cycling as well as personal training focusing on blood pressure, bone health and more. With the current huge interest in ballroom dancing, cruise lines such as Cunard and Crystal receive accolades on their devotion to ballroom dancing. Professionals teach waltz, tango, samba and other dances during the day, and passengers can practice their moves at themed formal balls held in the evenings. Crystal also provides gentlemen hosts present on every cruise to make sure single ladies do not turn into wallflowers.

Oceania, Regent Seven Seas and Cunard`s Queen Mary 2 all integrate the Canyon Ranch Spa dining menu on board. Each cruise line offers the specialty spa cuisines in select restaurants throughout their ships. The menu includes organic foods and dishes high in protein, fibre and healthy fats, as well as vegetarian options.

In addition to ocean cruise vacations, leading-edge boomers are also increasingly attracted to river cruises which offer slow and leisurely travel. A Rhine or Danube river cruise offers passengers cycling tours through the countryside and cities, or even encourages cruisers to  ride along the river, catching up with the ship in the next port. River cruises also offer culinary cooking classes which can include a visit to the local market with the chef, shopping for fresh seafood and produce at ports of call.

Last, but not least, solo travel has become a growing trend. Whether they have just lost a loved one or going through a divorce, boomers refuse to stop travelling. According to Visa`s Global Travel Intention Study 2015, the number of affluent adults, who vacation on their own, has more than doubled to 32 percent, up from 14 percent in 2013. Travel companies, cruise lines and the wellness industry are already adjusting their travel offers to better accommodate solo travellers.

With longer lifespans and a greater emphasis on health and fitness, boomers will continue to be interested in wellness travel for many more years to come. Marketers and the travel industry stand to win big if they pay greater attention to and focus more efforts on offering new and meaningful experiences for this affluent demographic.



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Carole King Musical Pulls Boomers’ Heart Strings

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Beautiful:The Carole King Musical, from the Mirvish Productions, has been a huge success for a variety of reasons. It’s a musical tracing the career of Carole King, and endorsed by the iconic singer of the 70s herself. King is a musician whom most boomers love and the musical, featuring a lot of her songs from the Tapestry album, understandably pulls the heart strings and, therefore, the purse strings of the boomer theatre-goers.

The musical is currently touring Toronto after garnering seven Tony-Award nominations and winning two of them (Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Best Sound Design) in 2014, and following a year-long tour in the U.S. After Toronto, two simultaneous tours will take place in the U.K. and Australia. The musical also won three Drama Desk Awards in 2014 and a Grammy Award in 2015. Adapted from the book on the early life and career of Carole King by Douglas McGrath, Beautiful is a substantial work of art featuring not only great music, but a witty and funny dialogue, and outstanding orchestrations. It’s a musical that makes boomers laugh, reminisce and sing along. For boomers like me, who didn’t know much about the singer in the 70s except to appreciate her songs, the musical told a story of how a young musician went through her early life of love, success, heartbreaks, motherhood and friendships.

For the Toronto audience, it’s particularly heartwarming to see the homecoming of Chilina Kennedy, the lead Canadian actress from Oromocto, New Brunswick, who plays King. Kennedy, who replaced the Tony-Award winner Jesse Mueller in Broadway’s Beautiful in March 2015, had to take a leave of absence from New York City to perform in Toronto. The young actress has a rich theatrical pedigree on both sides of the border having spent three seasons at both The Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival in Ontario. She also starred in a touring production of Mamma Mia and played Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. Playing opposite Kennedy is another Canadian, Liam Tobin, who hailed from St. John’s Newfoundland. Tobin plays King’s first handsome and talented husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, probably the second most important character in the musical.

Entertainment production companies have recently been paying a lot of attention to boomer audiences. The Desert Trip Music Festival last year, which featured The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and The Who (average age 72), was a resounding success. Goldenvoice, a division of AEG Worldwide, produced this event as well as the renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each spring in Indio, California. Unlike Coachella, which targeted mainly millennials and GenXers, the Desert Trip Festival was geared to the moneyed-boomer crowd with attractions such as US$10,000 tents, vintage shops, galley space, a pinball-machine arcade and an organic farmers market. It would be interesting to see whether they have enough boomer musicians to do an annual roster for The Desert Trip!

As posted before on this blog, Casino Rama and Fallsview Casino in Ontario have also been featuring big-name boomer musicians to lure the mature crowd. Upcoming shows include performers like Kiss, Donny and Marie Osmond, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck and Buddy Guy. Similarly, going through the list of scheduled events at Fallsview Casino is like a stroll on memory lane, featuring bands such as Air Supply, America, Creedence Clearwater Revisited (instead of Revival), and KC and the Sunshine Band.

In the world of entertainment, producers have definitely been targeting at and marketing to the boomers. Even Steve Coogan, the British screenwriter and filmmaker who is famous for his “Trip” travelogues, has just turned 50 and joined the league of boomers. His latest film, The Trip to Spain, is full of self-deprecating humour about insecurities and aging. We boomers obviously look forward to seeing more quality and inspiring entertainment coming our way. Unfortunately, Beautiful‘s extended run in Toronto will end on September 3. In the meantime, we are anticipating another musical, the revival of The King and I – undoubtedly another popular hit with boomer audiences – which will be in a Mirvish theatre next summer.

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