Saturday, May 17, 2008

Interview With Linda Thompson - Author of 'Every Generation Needs A New Revolution'

I recently spoke with Linda Thompson, CEO of Life Path Solutions and author of 'Every Generation Needs A New Revolution'. ( Those of you who know me know that I do not recommend anything lightly, as my recommendation is my reputation. That being said, I highly recommend this book.

As a matter of fact, if books could be rated on a scale of 1 -10, this book is a 12. I am not exaggerating here. I believe this book hones in on a solution to a problem that nearly every business, family or group of people experiences - failure to communicate effectively. The question is not IF we wish to communicate effectively with one another - that is a given. The question becomes WHY CAN'T WE DO SO?

This book gives us the answer to that most perplexing of questions. Not only that, but it also provides us with the solution to a problem that causes more breakups and breakdowns - at both the business and family level - than any other single problem we face.

Do yourself a favor. Buy this book. This is one of those books you will keep forever and will strongly recommend to your friends, business associates and family members. I have my own autographed copy. You cannot have mine. I am greedy. I am keeping it solely for investment purposes . . . .

1. Linda, the title of your book, Every Generation Needs a New Revolution, sounds familiar. Is it a quotation?

Yes, Thomas Jefferson said it in the late 1780s. My thought was that there is really very little new; that each generation from the beginning of time feels a compelling need to set itself apart in some way. Being a Boomer, I feel my generation was the epitome of this quotation.

2. What is Every Generation Needs a New Revolution about?

Since we are living longer, as many as five and six generations are living and/or working together and that can cause some unique challenges. The book addresses the conflict of values and belief systems of six generations across nine decades and offers insight on what makes the different generations tick. It also shows how to use that knowledge to your advantage, whether it be to create a cohesive team in the workplace or a peaceful home.

3. Your subtitle is: “How six generations, across nine decades, can find harmony and peaceful coexistence.” So, how do they?

Two very simple words – understanding and communication. We are living longer, more productive lives, and this is resulting in a vastly diverse workforce. We can see three, four, and sometimes even five generations working for the same company. And because each of these very individual groups believes their way is the only way, chaos ensues. If a manager can get these groups together and discuss how each learns, hears, does things in a different manner, then the manager has something to work with.

For example, Boomers like “face time.” They love meetings, they like to be seen working, and their whole identity is dependent upon their career. An Xer or Gen Y is much more technologically savvy. Therefore with the help of a laptop computer and a Blackberry, they can get their job done from the beach. They don’t care if they ever go to the office because nothing gets accomplished there.

4. That’s on the office side. How about at home?

Now that can be a real challenge, because everyone wants to be in charge. If you are in the sandwich generation (probably a Boomer or an Xer), taking care of kids and elder parents, perhaps you think it would be easier to move the parents in with you. Maybe and maybe not. The key here is to get everyone involved to voice their expectations – then compromise. All expectations will not be met, but by compromising, each person should be satisfied with the end result. Setting the ground rules prior to the move-in is imperative.

5. Perhaps now would be a good time to define each of these six generations you speak of. Who are they?

Although there have been some differing names put to each, the ones I found most often used are the ones I write about in my book. They are: The Veterans (born between 1909 and 1929); the Silents (born between 1930 and 1945), the Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), the Xers (born between 1965 and 1976), Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1990) and last but not least are the Millennials (born starting in 1991 and still coming).

6. You talk a lot about communication and how each generation is affected by different methods. Please expand on that some more.

Remember the famous line “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” from the movie Cool Hand Luke? Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it that gets the point across. For example, A Veteran prefers a formal and direct approach, A Boomer responds to the more personal approach and Generation Y wants positive and, yes, more often than not, in a digital format. That means a manager of a multi-generational team has his or her work cut out for them if they want to effectively communicate with each.

7. What inspires you to write books that are educational and informative, yet infused with a lot of humor? Why not just write a business book?

It’s from those business and/or reference books that I take a lot of my inspiration. However, those business books are laborious and difficult to read, and to be quite honest, more than a little boring. I’ve written all of my books in a manner that you can get something out of each paragraph without having to read an entire chapter. I use a lot of quotations to help make my points. The one that spoke the loudest to me is: “In all our efforts to provide advantages, we have actually produced the busiest, most competitive, highly pressured and over-organized generation of youngsters in our history.” I’m sure that makes you think of the Xers and younger of today, doesn’t it? Would it surprise you to learn that an American Educator, Eda J. LeShan, said this in 1922?

8. What is the primary message you want readers to get from reading your book?

That today’s society is changing like never before. Because we’re living longer, we are interacting with a more diverse population, and it can be rather like navigating shark infested waters. If you don’t tread carefully, you can be eaten alive. We not only need to understand those from other generations, but to appreciate what they can teach us. And that isn’t just for the young – I liken it to a child teaching grandma how to send a text message or send an e-mail on the computer. It is only through understanding what influenced us to become who we are, will we find a way to peacefully coexist with the six and, yes, perhaps even seven generations currently inhabiting this planet.

9. Will there be a follow up book on the same subject by Linda S. Thompson?

That’s something I’m certainly thinking about. I offer workshops to companies and other organizations ranging from “A New Paradigm for Today’s Workforce – The Good, The Bad and The Crazy in a Multigenerational Office,” to “Six Generations, Six Languages – A New Paradigm for Marketers Because This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile!” In every workshop I’ve facilitated, I gain more knowledge that could certainly lead to a Part 2 because each organization brings new and different challenges to the table. Sign up for my newsletter at and we’ll let you know if it comes to fruition.

10. Can you leave us with one bit of advice that brings home that point?

I’d love to. My favorite quote from the book comes from a Nike ad that shows an Xer telling a Boomer how to best communicate with them. The Xer said, “Don’t insult our intelligence. Tell us what it is, what it does, and don’t play the national anthem while you do it!”

Every Generation Needs a New Revolution, How Six Generations Across Nine Decades can Find Harmony and Peaceful Coexistence, is Linda S. Thompson’s most recent book. She is also the author of Planning for Tomorrow, Your Passport to a Confident Future, a common sense approach to life planning; and A Caregiver’s Journey, You Are Not Alone, a survival guide for working caregivers. To find out more about Linda’s books and presentation topics, contact her by email at, visit the website at or call 480-899-8647