There is a great piece in the April edition of Management Today by Denise Kingsmill about the potential for baby boomers to become entrepreneurs. Among othet things, Baroness Kingsmill is currently a non-executive director of British, European and US boards.
As the first of us reaches sixty five this year, she argues against the view that we are the ‘me’ generation, expecting the world to change to meet our needs and with a highly developed sense of being special. She goes on to illustrate her point by referring to our achievements quoting the social changes that took place in the second half of the 20th Century, for example, civil rights, feminism and gay rights etc.
She goes on to talk about the pensions’ burden we will put on future generations and that we probably will have go on working much longer! But as you would expect from a baby boomer, she quotes an academic study* that suggests we will be peculiarly well-fitted to do so as entrepreneurs!
Apparently the mature mind has abilities critical to successful entrepreneurship. Academic research is showing that with age there is improved coordination between right and left sides of the brain – between analytical skills and creativity. The part of the brain that regulates emotion starts to work better, making us much less likely to get bogged down in the detail and more likely to come up with holistic creative solutions. We are more likely to stay focussed.
Already baby boomers make up 60% of the annual Management Today ranking of Britain’s Top 100 entrepreneurs.
It gave me a great boost to read her piece.
Yes we do have to work longer! But if that is so, my generation will set the world on fire doing it! Oh yes, by sheer force of numbers we will turn the world of enterprise grey or rather bright, shining and energetic silver.
And then I stopped and thought a bit. Oh dear this is the Sixties people doing their thing, all over again, and we won’t be loved for it.
Yes, this great creative generation of mine will change the world at sixty five, seventy and possibly eighty, just as we did at twenty and forty. Part of it will be force of numbers and part of it will be that other thing the boomers have. It’s a kind of cross-cohort self belief. Far from thinking the world should change for us , we thought each and every one of us could change the world!
But we didn’t get to finish the agenda. Many of us in the sixties recognised the pressures of an increasing population and scarcity of resources as well as the lack of justice in the world. Green Peace and Amnesty International are a typical baby boomer response. Then most of us just got bogged down in the usual pressures of family and work. In reality, most of us did very little!
Now we do have to work on into our old age and many of us will do it well, with ingenuity and verve. But it will be a pity if we make such a song and dance about it that yet again we alienate those who come after us. One thing the baby boomers never did learn was to shut up and just get on with it. Yes, we started out believing each and every one of us could change the world! But as for me, I just wish we had passed that same self belief on to our children!
- First Baby Boomers Turn 65 (npr.org)