My book leads to a Lexus webinar

 Former students, Jiya Jaisingh and Danielle Thouin to my left and The Lexus Difference  Communications’ agency owner, Dr. Renee Fraser (hand on her red Lexus), to my right

Former students, Jiya Jaisingh and Danielle Thouin to my left and The Lexus Difference  Communications’ agency owner, Dr. Renee Fraser (hand on her red Lexus), to my right

Two years ago when I wrote Sorry Millennials, we’re not dead yet: The Boomer Rebellion, the issue of generational interaction was first surfacing as a crucial subject. Now, it has risen to a boiling point. Today, the discussion is everywhere. While Millennials have grown into management positions, many Boomers have continued on in positions of power and importance. While Millennial sensibilities have become mainstream culture, Boomers have not pulled back from their societal influence. This new rhythm has thrown off the balance of generational transition. Smart, aware professionals, corporations and nonprofits see this reality, and are aware that generations in the workplace need to understand one another and work effectively together. There are many intergenerational collaborations waiting to happen that were never possible before, rooted in creativity, culture, wisdom and experience.  For the next decade or more, this will become a well-traveled path for successful organizations.

 

Three challenges:

When I was asked by two former students, to co-moderate a Lexus webinar on this subject, I quickly realized I was facing thee challenges:

  1. How do I do an excellent job and make Lexus, the communications agency owner, and the former students all feel they made the right choice hiring me to be the expert voice in this Boomer-Millennial tension?
  2. How do I adapt to a reversal of roles when past students become my clients?
  3. How do I co-facilitate with a former brilliant competitor whose ad agency developed the program for this client?

 

1. The past student challenge.

Danielle and Jiya were hired at separate moments by Fraser Communications in Los Angeles to work on the Lexus account. They discovered that they had both been in my classes.

I was their professor in the Masters program at USC Annenberg, the world’s Number One Communication school, teaching them, guiding them, giving them feedback and ultimately grading them. And now the table had reversed. I had to move to their expectations and deliver. The last thing I wanted was to not measure up in front of the people who were my students and mess things up for them professionally. They were depending on me to make them look like they made the right decision. The pressure was on.

 

2. The Fraser Communications challenge.  

Renee Fraser, whom I have known for years, was an ongoing competitor when I owned my ad agency. She has commanded my respect since the beginning. Renee, a PhD, who has also served as an adjunct at USC, emerged as a force in the communications industry when few women were running their own ad firms. Today, as a fellow Boomer, my hat is off to her even more so as she continues to be a relevant, smart, strategically-driven executive with an impressive client list. It includes a program she developed called The Lexus Difference, managing internal training for Lexus dealers across the US.

It was generous of Renee to bring me in. She was no longer my competitor, but now my client bringing me in front of her client. I wanted to prove to her we could indeed work together and that she had made the right choice. The pressure was on here, as well.

 

3. The Lexus webinar challenge.

Lexus had expressed to Renee an interest in the relationship between their Boomer and Millennial employees whom they call “associates.” And conversely, the relationships between these intergenerational associates and their Boomer and Millennial clients whom they call “guests.” And, of course, the relationships with all the labeled generations between, beyond and below—GenX, GenY, seniors, digital natives.

Danielle, Jiya, Renee and I worked together across generations, modeling possibility, discussing strategies, and then moving to create the content and deck. 

Renee and I co-moderated the webinar. I followed her lead. She was insightful and extraordinary. The webinar turned out to be the largest they have had, attracting dealers across the country, possibly being listened to by up to 300 associates.

The proof of success is that Lexus has since indicated to Renee that they would like another webinar on the subject.

 

The Red Table

Jumping into the interaction between generations? Or into the tension between two sides of an issue be it business or nonprofit?  Or between two departments? Or between any parties on different sides of the table? Do you want the two sides to collaborate with an audience and produce creative solutions to solve the tension.....  all in 120 minutes?  That's right, 120 minutes that can change everything.  Then talk to me about the Red Table. 

Gary Wexler