A tale of two generations

At a dinner last month, the host (Chairman of a Business Angels Network) and I realised that we were probably the oldest two in a room of 50. It is not that we are that old (mid-50s), but that in the work we do clients and colleagues are getting younger. Law 21, one of my law blog feeds, had a series of interesting posts some weeks ago on the issues both of employing Generation Y and having Generation Y as clients.

Law 21 is Canadian law blog, but the problems either side of the Atlantic are the same, and there is little difference in the way we approach the issues (or, as is often the case, don’t), and it is certainly not just technology but culture as well.

I thought of this again the day before yesterday. The day started at Twofour Communications in Plymouth, at an event both celebrating their 20 years in business and targeted at the South West professional community, to whom they would like to sell more services. What was most noticeable was that almost without exception the guests were a generation older than the hosts (which led me to ask whether they had in fact asked the right people). At the end of the day Caroline and I were at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter, for a concert by Tasmin Little and John Lenehan, as part of the Exeter Summer Festival. Here we were among the younger members of the audience. The contrast between my day’s start and finish could not have been clearer, or more illustrative of the the different worlds in which we now live and work.

Generational issues are much in my mind as a lawyer, and not just the prospect of employing Graduate Divas. Nicholas Carr’s closing to his latest book, The Big Switch, is relevant both to lawyers, and also to Twofour,

All technical change is generational change. The full power and consequence of a new technology are unleashed only when those who have grown up with it become adults and begin to push their parents to the margins. As the older generations die, they take with them their knowledge of what was lost when the new technology arrived, and only the sense of what was gained remains. It is in this way that progress covers its tracks, perpetually refreshing the illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be.

Life was ever thus.

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