Before discounting what the ‘old’ people have to say, why don’t you try asking them ‘why’ – the answer may (or may not) shock you.

 

I recently overheard an interesting conversation and saw on television a media clip I first saw about 28 years ago. In both cases the speakers were between 60 and 80. In both cases, they were plain ‘wrong’ and ‘dated’.

The perspectives were scary. Because they were actually very, very right by their frame of reference.

The first was an older lady talking about her recent hospital treatment. Her words, nearly verbatim were: “I tell you what if it wasn’t for all of those bloody Indians and Asians there would be no one to look after me in hospital… They were actually very good at what they did.”

The next comment was: “How about those Germans… They use to invade borders, then they put up a big wall… now they’re letting people in willy-nilly…”.

I nearly gagged. “Those bloody Asians”? Glad we weren’t talking about Paris. I wanted to say “You can’t say that”.

old person

On television was a US Senate Committee in the 80s talking about violence in video games. An old man with grey hair holding up a pink plastic Nintendo toy gun saying “this is a gun, we are encouraging kids to shoot with it… It’s a gun…..”.

The games lobby argued he “get with the times”. I saw this clip when I was 13, playing Nintendo and thinking “Shit man, its just a video game… we don’t need ratings systems.” The classification system came in later, for awhile blocking grand theft auto. You know, the game where you can shoot and rape people.

The old lady had lived in London during the German Blitz as a child, the house next door blown up in an air raid. She later lived overseas as her husband served in the Army. In her mind, the people playing modern day saints and looking after her so well in hospital were the same people she lost friends to in war . Now she is told to accept them as “friends”. As for the old Fart with grey hair… those kids playing those Nintendo games are now the ones holding the guns every other day in a mass shooting in the states.

Their ‘antiquated’ views are based on a frame of reference significantly longer than my lifetime. They have lived through changes and seen the patterns and understand what works and what does not. I’ve seen this in business as I have sought older mentors, often the ones taking me under their wing as their careers enter twilight.

intern 3

I don’t always agree, but the wisdom is gold. More often than not, they are right to a degree that scares me, my lack of maturity slowing my understanding of their voice. That voice that sounds over 60, makes us, anyone over 15 and mostly, under 45, think they are irrelevant. “Come on gramps… the world has changed…”. Has it?

I reflect on changes in the travel industry, local and abroad. We have seen technology revolution the Internet. It has driven innovation, driven down prices, increased efficiency, and started cutting out the middleman, travel agents.

Consumer protections have been stripped back because they are hard to provide and we are hearing about hundreds going to Sydney airport to find out their tickets are non-existent, like the cash they use to pay for them. We are about to see the rollout of NDC.

The intern

There are some strong voices promoting change and they are the change agents and that is natural. Mostly by techo’s who have an interest in some way of driving change.

We need to collectively stop disregarding the opinions of the older people. We need to understand why they take their positions. We need to embrace some of their wisdom. We do not need to agree with but we must understand where their perspectives are coming from.

This older generation has the best chance of understanding what change will mean. Might be an idea to listen.

So next time you hear someone a generation or two above you promoting a viewpoint that sounds old, , invest a few minutes to understand what it is they are saying and most importantly, why.

They have been wrong before, right before and know which one is the right one to aim for.

<end rant>.

Do you adhere or ignore what experienced industry folk have to say?