Geeks & Geezers - AchieveMax® Top Ten Book Review


Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders by Warren G. Bennis & Robert J. Thomas

Most every organization today employs members of the younger generation just out of college and, in some cases, even high school. In fact, I recently read of a west coast firm that hired several middle school students to do part-time programming after school and on weekends. Those same companies employ their share of A.A.R.P. members nearing retirement. Both age groups, as well as those in between, bring tremendous value to the table in terms of education, experience, creativity, talent, etc. However, consider the cultural, environmental, motivational and personal goal differences of these two diverse employee groups. Then consider the fact that they are being thrown into the same chaotic, rapidly changing business environment and instructed to achieve ever-increasing levels of productivity and profitability! To expect such lofty expectations to be met would, of course, require, at the very least, a basic orientation to members of each group of the vast differences existing in each of the areas mentioned earlier. In fact, education and discussion of these differences and their possible consequences should be on-going. Now think about your own organization. Is this orientation currently being offered? Has it ever been offered? Should it be?

If any organization were to recognize the importance of this education and decide to provide it for their employees, the benefits would be phenomenal! The ideal textbook for such a program would have to be Geeks & Geezers by Bennis & Thomas. In this groundbreaking study, the authors compare and contrast these two disparate groups-affectionately labeled "geeks" (aged 21-34) and "geezers" (aged 70-82). They asked successful geeks to share the secrets of their youthful triumphs and distinguished geezers to tell them how they continue to stay active and engaged despite the changes wrought by age. Today's young leaders grew up in the glow of television and computers; the leaders of their grandparents' generation in the shadow of the Depression and World War II.

The authors, who bring considerable experience to the table (Bennis has written over 30 books on leadership and Thomas is a senior fellow with Accenture's Institute for Strategic Change), interviewed more than 40 leaders who they deem either "geeks" or "geezers" to evaluate the effect of era on values and success. The two groups vary in terms of their ambitions, heroes and family lives, but members of both sets share one common experience: all have "undergone at least one intense, transformational experience," which the authors call a "crucible." In some cases the crucible was an actual hardship, e.g., geezer Sidney Rittenberg spent 16 years in prison in China for speaking out against the government. For others, it was a dramatic experience, such as NYSE pioneer Muriel Siebert's entry into male-dominated Wall Street in 1967 or geek Liz Altman's stint working at a Japanese Sony factory before becoming a Motorola VP.

Among the findings of their research, Bennis and Thomas learned that Geezers and Geeks had quite different concerns when in the age range of 25-30. The Geezers' concerns were making a living, earning a good salary, starting and supporting a family, stability and security, working hard and getting rewarded by the system, listening to their elders, paying "dues" to various organizations, and using retirement to enjoy life. It also reveals the critical traits they share, including adaptability, vision, integrity, unquenchable optimism, and "neoteny"-a youthful curiosity and zest for knowledge.

In contrast, Geeks' concerns (during the same age range) were making history, achieving personal wealth, launching a career, change and impermanence, working hard so they can write their own rules, wondering if their elders "got it wrong," deciding where loyalty should lie, and achieving a balance between work and life. These are significant differences which Bennis and Thomas explain in terms of the different eras in which Geeks lived (at ages 25-30), the societal values of their respective generations, and various "defining moments" such as those associated with the Great Depression, World War II as well as Vietnam and the emergence of the Internet and World Wide Web.

Geeks and Geezers is a book that will forever change how we view not just leadership but the very way we learn and ultimately live our lives. Highlighting the forces that enable any of us to learn and lead not for a time, but for a lifetime, this book is essential reading for geeks, geezers, and everyone in between.

More than 100 business book reviews written by Harry K. Jones are available at www.AchieveMax.com/books/index.htm">http://www.AchieveMax.com/books/.

Reprint Information

Your organization may reprint this article for your newsletter, online publication, or mailing list. We ask that you print the:

  • article in its entirety;
  • byline of the writer;
  • information about the writer, which is available at the end of each article; and
  • contact information, including our toll-free phone number in the U.S. (800-886-2MAX) and link to our website - www.AchieveMax.com.

We would appreciate a tear sheet or electronic copy of the articles you reprint.

www.AchieveMax.com/motivational-speaker-harry.htm">Harry K. Jones is a professional speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Harry has made presentations ranging from leadership to employee retention and time management to stress management for a number of industries, including education, financial, government, healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing. He can be reached at 800-886-2MAX or by visiting www.AchieveMax.com">http://www.AchieveMax.com.


MORE RESOURCES:

CNN

Florida fire started by book burning destroys at least 10 homes
CNN
The fire started Wednesday afternoon when a man was burning paperback books, said Annaleasa Winter of the Florida Forest Service, in a briefing Wednesday night. "It was an illegal burn," she said, adding that it's against the law to burn household ...
Florida Man Accidentally Destroys at Least 10 Homes While Burning BooksGizmodo
Guy Burning Books Ends Up Burning Down 10 HomesNewser
Florida man accidentally destroys 10 homes after burning books in his yardOrlando Weekly (blog)
WPEC -UPI.com -Reuters
all 54 news articles »


These doctors prescribe books
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“This was an attempt to get books into the hands of everybody, but especially the kids with no or limited contact to books.” The program is an efficient and easily implementable tool to improve public health, said Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast ...

and more »


Washington Post

10 great graphic books that deserve to win the Oscars of the comics ...
Washington Post
A NEW comics-awards season is ramping up ahead of Friday, which is the submission and nomination deadline for the Eisners (a.k.a. “the Oscars of comics”).

and more »


Vogue.com

The Must-Read Books of Spring 2017
Vogue.com
And New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul recalls the stories that have given shape to her own narrative in her appealingly roving memoir, My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues (Henry Holt), which includes the likes ...



Essential Reading: 5 Books About Dramatic Supreme Court Nomination Hearings
New York Times
Ethan Bronner's “Battle for Justice” (1989) dissects the hearings for Robert H. Bork, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1987. According to The Times's critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt the “mesmerizing” book lays out the intellectual and ideological ...

and more »


The Advocate

Literacy program to donate 1000 books to Stamford children
The Advocate
STAMFORD — A company known for its national literacy program is donating 1,000 books to city children in March as part of its “Read to Succeed” month. KPMG — an audit, tax and advisory firm with offices in Stamford — has distributed three million ...

and more »


Books in brief
Nature.com
Science writer Paul Bogard chronicled the invasion of nocturnal darkness by light pollution in The End of Night (Little, Brown, 2013; see T. Radford Nature 499, 26–27; 2013). Here he delves into another overlooked resource — soil. This “wonderland ...



Newsweek

The Bannon Canon: Books Favored by the Trump Adviser
Newsweek
People who know Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, often talk about his love of books, his penchant for quoting from them and a desk piled with obscure tomes, open to pages where he's searched for quotes or inspiration. But his ...

and more »


New York Times

Fran Lebowitz: By the Book
New York Times
There are no books on my night stand, because I'm a lifelong insomniac, so eight or nine years ago, I thought: “Don't read in bed. It's too stimulating. Watch TV instead. It's boring.” And it's true. TV is boring, but apparently not boring enough to ...



Author, illustrator talk books with Moundridge students
McPherson Sentinel
For some elementary students, a book in their school library was written just across the street. Moundridge author Casie Wiens and illustrator Jessie Pohl spoke with students about writing, reading and creativity at Moundridge Elementary School Wednesday.


Google News

thatware.org ©