I achieved what many would consider impossible. If not impossible, most would say it was unlikely.
I was a college dropout, yet I was able to earn high profile positions with some of the biggest businesses in their industry, earning more than twice that of my peers in my age group. All seemed good initially. However, there was trouble in paradise. Thanks to the economy, budget cuts and company-wide layoffs, I had three different jobs in three years. I left each company on good terms, but I left with a bad taste in my mouth.
I was smarter than every manager I ever had. I mean no disrespect, and by me saying I was smarter, I'm not implying that they were dumb or incompetent. However, I had a track record of proven success in my field. That was the reason they hired me over the countless others who were competing for my position. I went into each job thinking about the value I could provide and how excited I was to work with veterans. I hoped to learn the ropes, better understand the company politics and dynamics. In return, I would provide my much needed expertise in digital marketing. This was experience my managers completely lacked, because they were older and used to traditional marketing. SEO, SEM, PPC and social media were completely unfamiliar territory.
As I would settle into my role, I would notice that after a month a look and sense of overwhelming fear and panic would come across the face and body expressions of my managers. In group settings, conference calls and team meetings it would begin. I would say something brilliant that many in the room would agree with, and then I'd quickly be silenced by my manager.
My manager would take the "stage" and begin spewing off a bunch of nonsense that he/she and everyone else around us knew was proverbial B.S. I would then sit there blank-eyed wondering why I was not allowed to have a seat at the table. Why was I not able to contribute?
Here's how older generations are ruining the workplace.
Gen Xers and Baby Boomers come to a workplace now filled with people that are in the same age range of their children. As such, they tend to take on a condescending, elitist attitude as if these "kids" couldn't possibly know more than them. At the same time, in the back of their mind, they know that in many respects these kids know tremendously more than them.
In the business world, Millennials are in many ways better suited to lead than their older counterparts. Why? The reason is simple. Millennials value authenticity. They know that shoving a boring, self-serving advertisement down the consumers' throats won't work, so they're better suited to tell it like it is and find business solutions and marketing positions that consumers are more likely to digest.
Move aside Don Draper. Your days are done.
When older generations bring their 1985 skill-set into the workplace, baggage comes along with it. They know that they are yesterday's model and that the new fresh faces have valuable things to contribute. As a tactic of self-preservation, older generations intentionally keep their younger counterparts oppressed in hopes that they can slip under the radar and continue to pitch proverbial B.S. for another 10-20 years until they're up for retirement.
I've got news for these people. They're ruining the workplace for themselves and everyone around them, and they're causing the world to progress slower. They're destroying innovation and they're destroying opportunity. They think they can hide, but eventually their time will be up and they won't be able to stay hidden until retirement. They'll be fired, re-org'd or replaced.
We need veterans and rookies to work together. That's the only way a team will ever win, but this starts with all parties checking their egos at the door and coming into the office ready to roll up their sleeves and play in the same sandbox.
Michael Price is an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial's Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World. An advocate of ideas for radical change, he has received critical acclaim for his lessons in education, career, entrepreneurship, and personal finance.