Boomers are supposed to be angry mofos.
That’s if you ask Gen Z and millennials. I don’t see baby boomers that way. I feel like every new generation thinks the older generations are old, cranky, stupid, and useless.
But age brings wisdom, and that can teach you a lot. I’ve spent way too much time around boomers and love to ask them questions.
Here are a few lessons they taught me that created powerful micro shifts in my life.
A great depression will happen again
There are plenty of sky-is-falling-in peeps around.
They’re not all wrong. Famines and depressions have happened throughout human history. No one can predict them.
They occur when greed goes too far and a reset is required, often, in the form of wars. I’m not fearful of a depression.
My boomer friends’ parents lived through the depression of the 1930s. It didn’t actually sound like a bad time. People were poor … and on the contrary they were grateful as hell for even the tiniest things in life.
I can’t help but think we’ve become too entitled as a species and a mass reset that forces a gratitude epidemic may not be a bad thing.
Without bad times there can’t be good times.
Real estate prices won’t go up forever
Real estate has had a mega run.
Housing affordability is a dumpster fire. Most Gen Z and millennials will be lucky to afford a shack in the middle of the desert. I’m 36 and still don’t own a home. I’d say about 70% of my friends rent.
And about 50% of them may rent for life.
Boomers have taught me that real estate prices always ebb and flow. They love to remind me of the 1990s. My boomer parents even tell stories of mansions here in Melbourne that were selling for half price in the 80s and couldn’t attract a single buyer.
I still remember driving to school each day and saying “Dad, how come all those half-built commercial buildings are abandoned.”
“Well, son, that’s the after-effects of the recession where people took on too much debt,” he’d sadly say.
No one knows when prices will drop. But they will. Let’s hope all those landlords don’t end up in “Wreck City.”
It’s okay to change your mind
People love to throw the word “hypocrite” around.
“You said this but now you’re saying this.”
I get it all the time as a blogger. The truth is it’s fine to change our minds. At the start of the March 2020 bat virus, I believed lockdowns were a good thing. 2 years later most governments agree they’re not the solution.
2 years ago if you said lockdowns were bad your tweet or video would get labeled as misinformation. Now if you said it no one would bat an eye (pun intended).
The speed of change is accelerating thanks to technology. Artificial intelligence is throwing rocket fuel on that fire.
We have to let people change their minds. And we have to ensure we don’t take what some boomer did 20 years ago and apply today’s standards. See what haters say about the tv show “Friends” all these years later as reference.
Sure, it was a lame show and wouldn’t fly now. But back then it reflected the times.
A changed mind is sexy. A fixed mind is ugly.
Life isn’t a competition where there are winners and losers
It’s far too easy to treat life like a sport.
Recently I fired one of my business advisors. They did some dumb stuff and their promises turned out to be false.
I told them “no hard feelings. Sometimes things don’t work out. Let’s agree to disagree.”
They sent me back a fiery email: “You don’t value us so screw you, you’re not getting your data.”
This is the sports mentality. I fired them so they saw that as a loss, whereas I saw it as we both lost and learned lessons.
Two boomers in my life taught me to always part ways with people on good terms. You never know when they might show up again. And what you say and do behind closed doors determines your reputation.
Winner/loser mentality is for adult babies who throw tantrums.
Following orders only gets you so far
Boomers helped build the small business world we have now.
So many boomer business owners have told me to try launch a business at least once in my life.
They say “eventually you’ve got to think for yourself.”
Sure, a job is comfortable and comes with a predictable salary. But it’s also where you get told what to do and have to be careful what you say. True freedom is doing work you enjoy without being told what to do.
This is why side hustles and one-person businesses have gone viral.
Empires will change
Ray Dalio is one smart boomer.
He runs the world’s largest hedge fund and is a billionaire. His book “The Changing World Order” dares to venture into history.
It talks about how over time the dominant empires fall.
Right now America is the dominant empire and the US dollar is used in more than 80% of world trade. Ch!na isn’t far behind.
Ray argues this dominance will change. Maybe India or Africa or some other superpower will challenge America. But if there’s one thing history tells us, no one rules forever.
So “buy the S&P 500 index to get rich” could be terrible advice if America’s dominance is one day destroyed. That’s why it pays to always diversify.
Increase friction to increase mental resilience
I feel like younger generations have got softer.
Many of us have the luxury of sitting in comfortable offices looking at Apple computer screens. Yet somehow we complain like crazy via tweets and want Utopian equality that’s likely to never exist.
All it takes is for the toilet paper in the dunny to run out and we’re in full outrage mode. Reminds me of this tweet:
Yet boomers taught me that friction isn’t a bad thing. A hard day’s work feels amazing. You get a natural dopamine high from the progress.
When we do hard things we achieve greatness. Some might say that’s a dying goal for millions of people who want the easy life — for free.
Those who do what they say earn unfair levels of trust
During my boomer parents’ heyday a person’s word was as good as blood.
Contracts weren’t as popular and people trusted each other more. Fast-forward now to what I have to deal with, and boy, things have changed.
You get to the end of a meeting at work and there’s this real buzz. Everyone claims to be helpful and to complete the action items. Rarely happens though.
“Ghosting” has replaced a person’s word.
Say you’ll take action to avoid conflict, and then ghost the bastard if you change your mind.
The old fashion mindset of do what you say has got me far.
(Thanks boomers for the great advice.)
Generosity makes you a magnet for opportunities
The bat virus of 2020 wasn’t just a huge health lesson.
No. It revealed the Individualism P@ndemic. People did what they wanted despite the impact on their neighbors. This outcome goes against what boomers have taught me.
Selfishness is repellant for everything good in this world. But generosity unlocks all sorts of treasures.
Generosity makes us think and act optimistically and treat our fellow humans the way they deserve.
Music is a time machine
As a former DJ and musician, it’s apparent to me that thanks to Spotify that most music is now disposable.
Boomers taught me how to play music back in college. They made me see albums and individual songs as bookmarks. If I ever wanted to go back in time and relive a beautiful moment, all I had to do was play the song.
We’d sit in class for hours and deconstruct songs from the 70s and 80s. Those songs are still around, stronger than ever.
It makes you think: is all this fast food content we consume destroying our memories and erasing the bookmarks that mark moments in time?
Bringing it all together
Most of the boomers in my life are getting older.
It dawned on me that many of them will die far sooner than I want. That my time with them is running out.
It’s why I stay close to my parents. All they want is time with me before their time comes to an end. And that feels too important to ignore, because look at all the boomer lessons one can get from their generation.
If your parents are still alive, you’re rich.