Thursday, January 16, 2020

So Witty

I vividly remember seeing Oscar Levant on Jack Parr and thinking that he was the wittiest and most clever person I ever had the privilege of hearing. Then I read his book, Memoirs of an Amnesiac, and I was sold. Concert pianist and composer were his main callings, but for me his brilliant and spontaneous wit was the main attraction.

So it came as a real shock to bump into Levant as I was entering the dentist’s office and he was leaving.

Oscar Levant! Am I glad to see you!

“Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.”

Okay, but I’m not the only one to believe that you are/were a genius.

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.”

You object to being called a genius?

“What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.”

But you’re joking about the insanity thing.

“I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients.”

That can’t be true.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I.”

You look good though.

“Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.”

Millions of people still adore your wit and talent.

“It’s not what you are, it’s what you don’t become that hurts.”

That’s harsh.

“I’m controversial. My friends either dislike me or hate me”

You made a lot of people happy.

“Happiness isn’t something you experience, it’s something you remember.”

Are you working on anything new?

“So little time and so little to do.”

But you must be in demand for talk shows.

“I’ve stepped on too many toes on the way down.”

But you would have a lot to say about what’s going on now in our world.

“It’d be nice to please everyone but I thought it would be more interesting to have a point of view.”

Maybe you just need to get more rest.

“I had always resented sleep as an intrusion on my nocturnal self-pity”

Ah, the amnesia thing still has a grip on you. Well, I’ll let you go but I just had to tell you how much I, we, have missed you.

“In some situations I was difficult, in odd moments impossible, in rare moments loathsome, but at my best unapproachably great.”

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Spanning the Divide

There’s more talk than ever in the workplace about tapping the baby boomer knowledge base before they are out the door. Smart companies and organizations began this process years ago, but now the leading edge of the boomer generation is getting serious about leaving the workplace for good. Okay, maybe they will take part-time jobs as crossing guards just to say active, but they will be saying so long to sophisticated careers.

The chasm between the oldest and youngest workers, that is boomers and millennials, is fifty years. 50! Bridging a gap that large is no easy feat but smart organizations have been doing this for a while now and have developed some useful techniques.

It starts with what some call Tribal Knowledge Transfer. Simply put, you get the boomers to tell the millennials all their secrets and tips. Most of it can be done with mentoring, but there will not always be a grey head to talk to. To address that issue, organizations are tapping older workers’ knowledge base and putting it down in writing.

Reverse Mentoring is another technique that taps the knowledge base of millennials and engages them with boomers in a way that builds respect across the generational divide. Putting the generations together in the same room allows for mindsets to rub off on each other. The reverence for work that boomers have can influence millennials, while millennial reverence for a work-life balance can rub off on boomers. Everyone wins.

The third strategy is Building Resiliency and that has almost nothing to do with boomers other than the hope that their loyalty to the career rubs off on millennials who are known for their high rates of turnover. Organizations that can eke out more than a one or two-year commitment from millennial employees are helping to boost their productivity.

Intergenerational Communication is another piece of the puzzle. A diverse generational mix within the organization is going to make it a lot easier to communicate the organization’s goals or product benefits.

Bridges are not easy to build, especially with a span of fifty years. But those organizations that put in the work to make it happen are the organizations that may still be around in fifty years, when the boomers are long gone.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Glut, Glut

We don’t want your stinkin’ homes. So sayeth millennials. To be more accurate, they can’t afford our stinkin’ homes and even if they could afford them, they hate the location.

Nine million homes are projected to go on the market between now and 2027. As boomers die or age out, the homes come on the market at a time when younger generations are looking for smaller homes in more urban locations. Locales with declining populations in the rust belt or in retirement communities are the last places younger would be buyers will be looking.

Then there’s the affordability problem. Millennials and Gen Xers have more debt and financial stress than almost any prior generation. About 70 percent of millennials and around 50 percent of Gen Xers surveyed indicated they would like to buy a house one day. Less than half of them are actually saving to buy. Eight percent of millennials and 23 percent of Gen Xers surveyed think they will never own a home.

So what is going to become of these nine million homes? Turn them into baby boomer museums/monuments? Maybe they will hate the location, but if mom and dad gift their home to a child or grandchild, will they say no? The renters among them who are put off by the costs of home ownership probably will take a pass on the deal. But others may recognize that life out in the burbs isn’t so bad if you don’t have a mortgage payment. That savings could offset the cost of Ubering back and forth to the city for entertainment and to see their rich friends who could afford houses there.

This projected housing glut has a familiar ring to it. Not only do younger generations not want our houses, they also do not want all of our stuff. The china settings for 12, the crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork, the furniture and the damn tchotchkes – all of it is going begging at garage and estate sales. It’s stuff alright. The stuff of nightmares. We can’t give away “brown furniture” to younger generation minimalists.

Maybe the best advice then is to start downsizing now. Sell the big house and furnish the new smaller abode with the kind of furnishings a millennial would want. They will be glad you did.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

See Me

You might as well yell SEE ME! a little louder, because the fact is that the advertising world ignores us. We should be an easy bullseye for marketers but in reality, not so much. A third of the U.S. population is over 50, but when it comes to media images (talking TV and print) we only garner 15 percent according to research done by AARP. It was based on a random sample of more than 1,000 images published or posted by popular brands and organizations.

Face it. We’re caricatured in marking images as looking old and out of it and heading fast for the dustbin. Despite the fact that more than 53 million people over 50 are still working as one third of the U.S. labor force, only 13 percent of the images showed these older individuals at work. Instead, they were often shown at home or with a health care provider. Younger workers, on the other hand, were shown with their also young co-workers, and often with technology products. Only 5 percent of the images showed older workers using technology, despite the fact that 69 percent of people between 55 and 73 own a smartphone. You can bet those same people own computers and are online much of the time.

A big part of the problem is that most workers in the advertising and marketing industries are young themselves. Their natural inclination is to use images of people who look like them. Ageism is the norm in the advertising world so it’s no surprise that boomers are either invisible or shown in ways that distort who we are and the contribution we are still making to the economy. Even worse, we are often portrayed as clueless and out of touch, just foils for younger people to dismiss as “practically dead.”

The good news is that AARP did something about this trend. They teamed up with Getty Stock images to introduce a collection of 1,400 images showing older people doing what we do…running businesses, participating in sports or active pursuits and interacting with younger generations in ways that are far from insulting.

So the problem is not solved but things are looking up. Searches for “seniors” on Getty have increased 151 percent from a year ago. The most popular image now is one of women in t-shirts doing yoga. A decade ago, the best-selling photo was an older couple in sweaters on the beach.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

OK BOOMER

Could there be a more patronizing way to dismiss us? I’m talking about the OK BOOMER meme/viral sensation that seems to be everywhere in the last few weeks. Generation Z’s response to baby boomers who don’t “get” them is OK BOOMER. They are fed up with us and anything that appears to be condescending about them or the issues that matter to them.

It’s become so prevalent that the meme has morphed into merch. One of the big sellers is a hooded sweatshirt that says “OK BOOMER – Have a terrible day.”

Where is the anger coming from? Ask a Gen Zer and they will tell you it’s about inequality, political polarization and climate change ignorance, all of which foment into anti-boomer sentiment. They are fed up and angry. Just because they have tattoos and green hair does not mean they are irrelevant, and that’s how they believe boomers make them feel.

There’s always been pushback by younger generations. Remember when boomers were the anti-war, give peace a chance generation that could not understand how irrelevant their parents were. It’s kind of like that, only with more anger and frustration.

Some teens honestly believe that boomers are actively hurting them. When boomers and those in power make choices that adversely affect Gen Z, it becomes personal. Choices such as ignoring climate change or the rising college and health care expenses come across as active dissing to teens and young adults.

To be fair, Gen Zers say they are not just angry with boomers, but they are frustrated with any older adults that are putting them or their attitudes down. If you don’t like change or understand new technology, you are a target for their hostility. So ultimately, boomer is just a state of mind.

Describing it as the digital equivalent of an eye roll, teens describe “ok boomer” as the ideal response to the way they are treated. It’s their cool way of insulting us for the way we treat them and the issues they care about.

For a generation that’s often put down as snowflakes, “ok boomer” is a passive-aggressive way to let us know they are tired of being ignored and harmed by our indifference.

So a word to the wise. Stop criticizing and marginalizing your favorite Gen Zers. Ok, boomers?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Eat, Eat

According to recent research by the National Restaurant Association, boomers are beginning to “age out” of the restaurant market.

Since when do baby boomers “age out” of things? How did that become a thing? Aging out. We’re too old to eat outside of our homes? I call bullshit on this one. Supposedly, there are fewer boomer patrons due to mobility issues, unwillingness to drive after dark and the availability of dining options within senior living communities. I will accept that these factors might limit a small percentage of the boomer population, especially if you bear in mind that the oldest boomers (born in 1947) would be 72 years of age now.

In any case, restaurant operators are setting their sights on younger patrons. So rather than staking a claim on our barrels of money, they would rather focus on younger patrons with less expendable income. They predict a slow and steady decline in boomer dollars (which apparently will parallel our own slow and steady physical decline?). So it’s all about Generation Z now. You know them. They were born after the year 2000 and cannot spell or write.

Okay fine. So while restaurants are infatuated with Gen Z, the research suggests that boomers have shifted their dining dollars to take-out and delivery. Too feeble to make the scene anymore, our dining choices will be limited to what a teenager can bring to the door.

I don’t like where this is going. Are restaurants just in the vanguard of a movement to keep boomers at home where they can receive all their goods and services when the doorbell rings?

How about we fight back against this restaurant trend by taking a bunch of Generation Z kids out to dinner a few nights a week? Everybody wins. The restaurants get our dollars, the Gen Z kids get a meal they could not afford, and they can show us how to reboot our iPhones. And don’t forget — they don’t mind driving at night!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Face It

Let’s face it. Or not. Boomers are jonesing for plastic surgery procedures that will turn back the clock. The over 55 demo is seeking liposuction, botox and fillers that will make them look younger. What’s driving the big increase? Besides just wanting to look younger, this group also has a high divorce rate and that means they are back in the dating pool. Bad online dating site photos can kill a boomer’s chances right out of the gate.

Facelifts (rhytidectomy) top the list and last year boomers accounted for two-thirds of them. And half of all eyelid surgeries. The facelift fixes sagging skin, deep fold lines, jowls, and those turkey neck things that can really kill the buzz. Plan to spend north of $7K if you’re in the market for this fix.

Liposuction removes fat and contours what’s left behind. Throw a tummy tuck in there and you’re looking at a $3,500 and up price tag.

Hair transplants can remedy thinning mats and bald spots for men who want to get back that Woodstock look they’ve been missing. The cost varies with how much acreage you need to repair.

Breast augmentation is still popular and involves implants or fat transfer. That will run somewhere over $4K.

Finally, botox and fillers help to correct crow’s feet and forehead lines for as little as $400 bucks.

Add in a gym membership, loads of vitamins and health supplements, and a sporty car and you’ll be all set to start dating again.

Is it really worth it? I guess that depends upon how unhappy you are about your physical appearance and how motivated you are to seek out rewarding companionship. Anything that makes you feel more happy about your self-image can’t be all bad. We look in the mirror every morning and every night (and some of us look even more times than that) so if what you see makes you unhappy, maybe it’s time to invest in your physical and mental well-being.

Or you could just buy a Kindle and a Netflix streaming account and not leave home anymore. Life is harsh.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.